HELP!! Confused by Mixed Advice

vin

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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..... >

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!!
 

Gunnie

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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.



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!
 

Jason

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Beat me to it.

Vin just do exactly what da master of fishkeeping says (Gunnie)
 
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vin

vin

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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.
 
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vin

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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.
 

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

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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!
 

Butterfly

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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
 
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vin

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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.......
 

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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.
 
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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!
 

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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.
 
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vin

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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.
 
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vin

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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........
 
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vin

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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.
 

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Hang in there, it really does get better Would you list all the chemicals your using in your tank please? Thanks
Carol
 

Butterfly

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Personally I think your using too many chemicals. I would drop the chemicals and see what your water perameters REALLY are. refresh my memory as to why your using the salt please. just my opinion.
Carol
 
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vin

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I'm using Ammo-lock to combat the ammonia toxicity.
Salt (1tsp/gal) is being used to neutralize the nitrites + I have live breeders.....
I haven't used the proper pH for past several days because I want to drop the pH down to about 6.8 to help the remaining ammonia become less toxic. Ammo-Lock and AmQuell only detoxify 3.0ppm according to their labels.....My water is currently at 4.0ppm
The only other thing I am using is Stress Coat - (which I forgot to add earlier) in order to dechlorinate the water when changing.

What I'm doing seems to be working because the fish are acting normally, eating, chasing, playing.....I do notice the rapid breathing which is the stress caused by the ammonia and nitrites. It wasn't until I added the gravel from the pet store tank that the cycle actually started to kick in.

I know my parameters as I have the AP complete test kit. I have tested the water everyday both prior to adding the chemicals and after. As I had mentioned above, it wasn't until I added the gravel from the established tank that the cycle actually kicked in. I've also tested straight from the tap to get my base pH, nitrites, ammonia and nitrates without chemical enhancement. According to the AP test kit, using Ammo-lock with the two part test will not skew the readings. Salt will not skew the nitrite readings as it doesn't remove them, only helps to neutralize them to make them less toxic while the cycle does it's work. I've read that in several places.

The day before adding the gravel the readings were:

pH - 6.4
Ammonia - 2.0
Nitrites - 0
Nitrates - 0

Tap Water after gassing out:

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

My readings in the tank today:

pH- 6.8
Ammonia - 4.0 (steady from yesterday)
Nitrites - .5 (on the rise)

If I don't try to combat the toxic compounds, the fish will die, which is what I am trying to avoid.
 
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vin

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I took your advice and haven't added chemicals for several days  - since Feb. 2 and have done only one water change in that time.....

Readings as of yesterday...

Ammonia -8.0 (rose 4 pts since last post)
pH - 6.4 (dropped .4 since last post) ???
Nitrites - <.25 and dropping (were on the rise several days ago) ???
Nitrates - 0 (have remained steady for several weeks. ???
Water temp 78 degrees 8)

Water has been cloudy white for at least a month. >

Fish appear to be fine. No rapid breathing, healthy appetite, playing and chasing - Male sword trying to mate with pregnant female! (guess he's not too bright)

To recap:

15 gal, Whisper 30 filter, Ebo-Jaeger 75 w heater.
Stock: 3 emerald Corydoras, 3 Green Swordtails (2 female - one is pregnant, 1 male), 4 sword fry 4 weeks old

I am at a COMPLETE LOSS and am tempted to start over completely from scratch. > > ??? ???
 

Butterfly

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If you start over you will just have to do this all over again Keep doing the water changes to keep your ammonia down. That's the only thing you cant't stop doing. Using a lot of chemicals kind of hides what stage your cycle is really at.
I know it's a slow process but it will be worth it when it's done.
Carol
 
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I hear ya! This is taking far too long to cycle. Nowhere have I read that it should take any more than two to three weeks.....We are in week 9........with constantly fluctuating readings. Nothing steady.......

Readings yesterday:

Ammonia: 4.0
pH - 6.6
Nitrites - 0
Nitrates - 0

So from what I can tell, the ammonia is falling, but the nitrites and nitrates remain at zero. It just doesn't make sense. The water is milky white and has a serious odor to it. I haven't added chemicals other than the water treatment when changing water. Which I have done twice since last week. There is also a film on the water's surface......

I feed only once a day and there is nothing left after feeding with the exception of the shimp pellets I feed the corys....Though they don't last much longer than the time it takes for them to break down. And if the sword tails get to them, then they really don't last!
 

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gunny for the water testing info. It doesn't say how many test you get with this kit and kind of spendy but at least the results would be accurate. You said in a previous post that "cycle" is a waste of $. I don't know much about this product but how about that tetra stuff that claims you use it once a week and you don't need to do partial changes for 6 months. I tested my goldfish water before and a few days after using this stuff and it was almost identical results I am skeptical of all these chemicals. Lately I feel like a chemist buying all these chemical for ick ect and most don't seem to work.
 

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Jim, if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is. Even the stuff that says that if you use it you don't have to do water changes for six months. During that period of time without water changes you will be adding food and your fish will still producing waste. The water might look ok but your ammonia and nitrates will be out the roof. Besides who would want to swim around in their own waste for six months. YUCK!!!
As for the testing supplies their is enough for quite a lot of testing.
Carol
 
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Still no progress....

Water readings as of today:

pH: 6.8
Ammonia: 4.0 (and steady despite water changes every other day)
Nitrites: 0
Nitrates: 0

Fish swimming, eating. Active as if nothing wrong.....

I am at a total loss.........
 

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IMO I think with an ammonia level of 4, you could raise the water changes to 30% every single day, but NO gravel siphoning - leave that alone. You may be disturbing beneficial bacteria. Also, If I were you, I would never use the Proper pH again. Its way better to have a consistent ph of 6.8 than one that is constantly changing.. Hope I helped a little, and hope things get better for you. Just make sure to leave the filter media alone and the gravel alone (unless grabbing up uneaten food) for a while. Let that good bacteria establish itself (Not to say to give up siphoning altogether, it's a vital part in maintaining the health of your tank, just give it a while.
 
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Thanks, but I haven't vac'd the gravel in a few weeks....I feed the fish once daily and they eat EVERYTHING....It's actually funny to watch because they eat like they've never eaten! The water is starting to smell and I'm doing 30% water changes every other day. I haven't used any chemicals for two weeks other then stress coat to condition the water and remove the chlorine. I haven't changed the carbon pouch in over a month and have never changed or cleaned the bio sponge. I even have a separate bucket for clean water that's being aerated......What more can I do? ??? :'(
 

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Like I said, with an ammonia level this high, start doing 30% water changes daily.
 
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Thanks. Was doing that for a while and the ammonia level never declined.......It was as high as 8.0 at one point and after I stopped using the chemicals it went down to 4.0 with water changes......The nitrites and nitrates haven't moved..... ???
 

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I know it seems crazy, but the beneficial aspects of doing water changes will soon kick in and you will see the LIGHT!! 8) LOL
 
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I've been doing so many water changes, the water company sent me a gift basket and a big thank you card!! ;D
 
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Not sure if you would recall this but - As Ed Norton once told Ralph Kramden - SMILE, RALPHY BOY! SMILE!! ;D

As discouraging as it is, there's really nothing else I can do.......But keep going.
 

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Keep your chin up. We have all had to do the "water change waltz" at least once. Some of us, including me have had multiple goes at it. You think you cannot do one more ... then one day the readings are ... NORMAL! ;D : It's kind of like having children you have to go ahead once they are here even if some days you want to park them all out on the curb with a FOR SALE sign on them. But you continue because it is a labor of love. It IS worth it, I promise.

Rose
 

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