HELP!! Confused by Mixed Advice

  1. vin Well Known Member Member

    HELP! It seems that no matter where I go - net, pets stores, other enthusiasts, I'm getting mixed info all over the place. I've been reading this forum for the past two days and seem to see consistent advice as opposed to what I've been getting.

    My setup: 15 gal. set up. Whisper 30 Power filtration system, aerator w/ stone. I've used test strips and have taken water samples to local pet shop. Set up about 4 weeks ago.

    My situation:

    As of today:

    My readings using test strips: Nitrites - 0 Nitrates - 0 KH - 120 pH - 7.0 Ammonia - .25
    Pet Shop Readings for pH & Ammonia only- pH - 7.5 Ammonia - 1

    Why such drastic differences in ammonia readings? ???

    I waited two weeks prior to putting fish in the tank and at the advice of a pet shop owner added fish as "the system hasn't started to develop without fish adding to the culture to form the bacteria".

    So, we added 3 green swords (1 male, 2 female) one of which was apparently pregnant unbeknownst to us and actually gave birth Saturday (1/7) to 3 fry 8) - two appear to be fine (swimming, eating) and unfortunately, one escaped into the population and was eaten by the male before we could get a breeding net set up.

    Reading levels had stabilized and late last week we then added 3 corys as we had been told by several people including a shop owner that not only are they peaceful fish, but they are pretty tolerant of water conditions. Sounded good...so...this afternoon I go down to check on the fry and notice that the smallest of the 3 corys had died..... :( :mad:

    I've also noticed that only the the largest of the 3 cory had any interest in rooting for food or swimming about the tank. For the most part they will move from one place to another only coming up for air every 20 minutes or so as I have read they do as part of their normal behavior. Took water to the pet shop the other day and ammonia was around .5

    The 3 swords appear to be doing fine, however, the two females are swimming about frantically along one side of the tank. I'm wondering if one or both are still undergoing the birthing process...... :-\

    I went to the pet shop the other day to get a reading and was told to change my water - 30% and filter media.....Did so and the readings above are what was the result.....I feed small portions every other day.

    Can someone please tell me what's going on?

    THANK YOU!!
     
  2. Gunnie Well Known Member Member

    Welcome to FishLore! Wow, it appears you got some bad advice, but we will try and help. First off, test strips are notorious for false readings. They are usually very unreliable. My recommendation would be to order an Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Master Test Kit online (they usually run about $15.99 plus shipping), or see if you can find one locally. The local stores usually sell them for around $30.00, but sometimes you can get lucky and get them on sale. If you haven't already, please read the articles in the link below. They will explain the cycling process and some good stuff for those new in the hobby.

    FishLore Articles for Beginners

    The next step is don't buy any more fish until your tank is cycled. Once you read up on cycling, you will understand why I tell you this. Also, if you need to, you can do water changes while your tank is cycling, but don't change the filter media unless you cannot get any water through the filter. It it's clogged, try and rinse/squeeze it in some old tank water and then put it back. This is where most of your bacteria is, and you start from scratch when you change the media like that in an uncycled tank.

    Once you get your new test kit, please post your ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels, and we will be able to help you get through this. Cory cats don't do well in an uncycled tank, but we will do our best to help keep them alive through this process. It's great to have you with us, and once you get through this, you will enjoy the hobby immensely. Don't give up, and post those readings ASAP!

    Master Test Kit at Big Al's

    Master Test Kit at Aquarium Beauty
     

  3. Jason Well Known Member Member

    Beat me to it. ;)

    Vin just do exactly what da master of fishkeeping says (Gunnie)
     
  4. vin Well Known Member Member

    Thanks guys!! I will do that and report back.
     
  5. vin Well Known Member Member

    Ordered the test kit on line from PetSmart - $13.50 on sale... 8) Thanks for the tip!

    In the meantime, took another sample to the pet store for testing today.

    Ammonia: .25
    pH: 7.0

    We've got a total of 5 Green Sword fry - all apparently doing well. Chasing each other, eating and growing. The two adult females have calmed down a bit, the male is still a flake and the two remaining corys have begun eating the pellets I've been feeding. SO! Maybe we're seeing some light at the end of our cycling tunnel???

    Thanks.
     
  6. Gunnie Well Known Member Member

    Sounds good! What's your nitrite level?
     
  7. vin Well Known Member Member

    The store doesn't test the nitrite level for some reason...... ??? So I checked with my not-so-reliable test strips and it reads -0- and the nitrates are reading above -0- but have not yet registered to the next color on the strip which indicates a safe level of 20........My test kit is due to arrive tomorrow, so no more trips to the pet shop - at least they're only 5 min. down the road - but I can then rely on my own information and be able to test all levels properly.

    I'm beginning to notice the adult swords peck at the plants and other decorations in the tank. This is leading me to believe that I'm beginning to develop a little bit of algae......As long as the water continues to stabilize and the activity of the corys continues to pick up, the 5 of them should be able to help control the algae situation, don't you think? Any recommendations as to what I can add at a later time that can be happy alone and won't get too large to help with algae control? No Plecos please! LOL!! Again, we're in a 15 gal. I won't be adding anything more until the sword younglings are old enough to move out.....

    Thanks again for the advice.
     
  8. Gunnie Well Known Member Member

    Sorry, I read wrong, and thought you bought your kit locally. I didn't pay attention. Please post it when your kit arrives. ;)
     
  9. vin Well Known Member Member

    Ok Gunnie - this tank has been set up since Dec. 17 and frustrations still abound.....Got the kit at your suggestion and tested the water today:

    Ammonia - 1
    Nitrites - 0
    Nitrates - 0
    pH - 6.8

    WHAT'S GOING ON???? ??? ??? ???

    I've been doing weekly water changes and siphoning. My last siphon and water change was Sunday, Jan 15. I did a 20% change.......This time last week my ammonia was down to .25....I haven't changed a thing in the routine.

    My question is why hasn't this thing cycled out yet and why the Ammonia spikes week after week? I feed only a small amount of flake food once a day with two shrimp pellets for the corys....

    My sword fry are more active then ever and eat like there's no tomorrow. The corys seem happy, eat and are pretty active. The swords as well.....

    I'm at a LOSS!
     
  10. Butterfly Moderator Moderator Member

    Hang in there!! Sometimes it takes 6 -8 weeks to cycle and has only been a little over 4 ;)
    Wheat is the temp of your tank and do you have live plants in it?
    Carol
     
  11. vin Well Known Member Member

    Hi Carol,

    No. No live plants. Temp is at 78. Just did a 20% water change. Thanks for any advice.....

    Vinnie
     
  12. vin Well Known Member Member

    Still having issues with ammonia - constantly at 1.0 after daily water changes of 25-30%.......Something is NOT right. Nitrites and nitrates still read 0 with pH at 7.0. With daily water changes I would think the reading would go down, wouldn't it? ??? I would also think that after 5 weeks I should be seeing some signs of conversion.......
     
  13. Gunnie Well Known Member Member

    Although necessary when there's live fish in the tank, water changes can slow or stall a cycle. Just hang in there. It will happen, just a little more slowly. ;)
     
  14. vin Well Known Member Member

    Would it be beneficial to add a jump start to the tank such as Cycle or Eco-Start? Should I continue to change the water, siphon and clean the glass?

    Thanks!
     
  15. Gunnie Well Known Member Member

    Don't waste your money on buying cycle, and I know nothing about the other product. Continue to do water changes when the ammonia levels rises above 2, and/or the nitrite level goes above 1. Some folks think the ammonia level shouldn't go above 1 either.
     
  16. vin Well Known Member Member

    Thanks. I'll keep doing the water changes. I've been doing them daily and as mentioned, the ammonia level continues to hover around 1. Last night it was between .5 and 1, but no changes to nitrites or nitrates....I'll just continue to ride it out.
     
  17. vin Well Known Member Member

    OK - Completely frustrated, confused and lost -

    Recapping - 15 gallons, Whisper 30 mechanincal filter - Fish added after bad advice from pet store - 3 green swordtails, 5 sword fry, 3 emerald corydoras.

    Tank was set up on December 16.......Has been 'cycling' ever since.....Started out with ammonia at 1.0, dropped to .25, spiked back to 1.0 and has remained there and higher despite daily water changes of 25%-30%........Testing water with AP Complete test kit w/ 2 part ammonia test every other day.

    As of today:

    Ammonia - climbed to 2.0
    Nitrites - 0
    Nitrates - 0
    pH bottoming out to 6.4 DESPITE use of Proper pH 7.0 when changing water........
    High Range pH at 7.4

    Water is cloudy and has been for two weeks despite water changes, I am using Ammo-Lock to detox the ammonia, now have build up of brown slime or diatoms as I've read that they are.

    Only feed once a day.

    Small amt of flake food + 2 shimp pellets for the corys. Supplment once a week: Blood worms on Tues and 1/2 algae tablet on Thurs.

    Why have I not seen any changes in ammonia, nitrites, nitrates and why is my pH bottoming out?? I would think and have read that the pH should actually climb with fish in the water.....

    Can someone please tell me what's going on and what I should do?

    Thanks, I'm at a total loss and right now what was supposed to be fun and enjoyable isn't........
     
  18. EmptyH Initiate Member

    Are you using a de-clorinator when you are doing your water changes? If not it is possible that the chlorine in the water is killing off the beneficial bacteria.

    Just a thought ???

    MTH
     
  19. vin Well Known Member Member

    Yup, using Proper pH and Stress Coat which both dechlorinate and detoxify tap water. But thanks.
     
  20. vin Well Known Member Member

    Went to pet shop and got a handful of their gravel out of one of their tanks. Put it in cooking grade cheesecloth pouch and dropped it in. Within 12 hrs, nitrites started to climb.

    As of today:

    Ammonia - 4 (ouch) Treating with Ammo-lock
    Nitrites - .25 (partial water change, adding aquarium salt)
    Nitrates - 0
    pH - 6.8 (lower pH should help the ammonia toxicity)

    Perhaps we are starting to come toward the light?

    Fish seem stressed, but are active and hungry. Doing my absolute best to keep them comfortable.