Help cycling a fully stocked 10 gallon tank

Discussion in 'Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle' started by Kellyt, Jun 2, 2016.

  1. KellytNew MemberMember

    Background: I am not a fish person and have zero experience maintaining an aquarium. A few weeks ago, my kindergartener begged me to let her have a goldfish that her teacher needed to rehome. I figured we'd just toss it in a bowl and throw it some fish food, so I agreed to let her have it. We ended up putting "Rosie" in a one gallon tank that we got from a neighbor and we put the tank next to her bed bc she liked watching Rosie swim as she fell asleep at night. Well, I finally got around to googling goldfish care and quickly realized that poor Rosie was not the fish for us, as I had no intention of buying a 30 gallon tank. Many tears were shed, but we managed to rehome Rosie and I promised my daughter that we could get a bigger aquarium and several fish. We purchased a 10 gallon starter tank (the largest tank that would fit on her bedside table) at a local pet store and the employee helping us recommended a betta (which my daughter really wanted) and 2 glofish tetras. The employee told us that we needed to use Stability so that our tank would cycle quickly. We set it all up and things were great. I caught a bit of fish fever though, and 2 days later added 3 African dwarf frogs, followed by 3 more glofish tetras a day after that. Suddenly I realized that I had $90 worth of fish in this tank and I should probably make sure I was doing everything right. So I'm sure you know where this is going...

    I bought some test strips last night (I know another mistake) and the ammonia was .5. I immediately did a 50% water change and added more Stability. This afternoon I tested again and ammonia was again at .5, so I did another water change (probably 30%). Checked the tank one last time about an hour ago and it was .5, so I did a 50% water change and added a capful of Stability.

    Would anyone be willing to walk me through the cycling process? We are already attached to our fish (and I don't think they are returnable). I am willing to do whatever needs to be done to keep these fish (and frogs) alive and get our tank cycled. I just need confirmation that I'm doing the right thing. And for what it's worth, all fish and frogs seem to be happily living together and thriving in their new home (even the betta)!

    Here are my readings before the latest water change:
    Ammonia .5
    Nitrate <20
    Hardness 150
    Chlorine <.5
    Alkalinity 40?
    PH 7.2
    Nitrite 0
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 5, 2016
  2. Skyy2112

    Skyy2112Valued MemberMember

    Chlorine? If your tap water contains such, use a better/more water conditioner. I think Stability 'should' dechlor water. I use prime. (Dont check my CL, no test for it. But I can double my prime to dechlor.

    Nitrates. Seems odd you have no nitrite. I know some tap water contain Nitrates. Might be a decent idea to invest in a plant. (They use nitrate as food)

    Ammonia, my first suggestion, use regular waterchanges as you have, but add some bacteria. A lot of the time I have used betta water. It contains BB (beneficial bacteria) or TSS (Tetra Safestart bacteria (green label)) this will help your bacteria and ensure you have enough for your stock's waste.

    It wasnt mentioned about your filter, but just to add, usually you should have more filtration than it says on the box. (My 20g has a 50gph Aquaclear on low w/ a sponge on the intake) Etc. (GPH should be 5-7x higher than the size of tank, thus a 10g should have 50-70gph. Sometimes more depending on stock) Also, doesnt Active Carbon in filters absorb the Chlorine???

    Also heater running? Or a constant 76-80*f?

    Lastly, .5 Amm seems accurate for your stock (to me) but continue regular waterchanges so you dont stress fish. (Yes it can be irritable every other day, but once you dont have ammonia/nitrites... (W/ TSS/betta water I'd think it would be done w/i 2 wks) Then you should do about 15-30% every week or two depending on nitrates.)

    Lastly, I'm not a huge frog person, but I'd double check your frogs so that they are dwarfs. (Front claws should be webbed, I think... Or 4 fingers on hind legs? I dont remember. Done a bit of research for a upcoming setup) Also take a peak online or from other members about their diet. I know I may overstress on that myself.

    Hope this helped. Others will add in also! =]
  3. SmilingJocker

    SmilingJockerValued MemberMember

    What they said

    Last edited: Jun 2, 2016
  4. Aquaphobia

    AquaphobiaFishlore LegendMember

    Can you please test your tap and post the results? Having added Stability it may be that the tank is at least partially cycled which would explain the presence of nitrates but it may also be that your tap contains them and they are not the end result of the nitrogen cycle.

    Starting out with fish, especially somewhat unexpected ones, can be a steep learning curve. Test strips are not "bad", they're just not the best or cheapest option. They're good enough for now and to my mind are a little less overwhelming for someone just learning about the chemistry of keeping a healthy tank:)


  5. Lucy

    LucyModeratorModerator Member

    Hi Kellyt welcome to FishLore!
    Thank you for giving re-homing Rosie. It's a tough decision to give up a beloved pet but you did the right thing.

    Unfortunately it sounds like there is another misstep in stocking. Having a betta in with other fish is risky.
    Some would advise against it. Others will say it's ok. Just be sure to keep a close eye on them. If you see any signs of nipping or stress be prepared to move someone.

    African Dwarf Frogs have webbing on all four feet. African Clawed Frogs only have webbing between the toes on the back flippers.
    When African Dwarf Frogs are kept with fish it will be very important to make sure they are eating. It may involve spot feeding them with a turkey baster or plastic blunt nosed tweezers (like for reptiles). Fast fish often get the food before the frogs know it's there.
    They should also have food that is appropriate for frogs not fish food. :)

    I have never cycled with stability so I'll leave that question for some one else.

    Here are some links that might help you along:

    FishLore's FREE Freshwater Aquarium E-Book

    Post some pictures soon and good luck!
  6. Skyy2112

    Skyy2112Valued MemberMember

    Ps. API freshwater testkit is the way to go. (Test strips can be inaccurate in my experience, and they expire I think?...) the drop test is 20-30$, but should easily last months.
  7. superbutterfly12Well Known MemberMember

    I think you need seachem prime. It declorinates and stability doesn't do that. I would use the two together until your tank is cycled. The chlorine is probably killing off the bacteria you are adding and slowing you down
    And fish shouldn't have any chlorine in their water
  8. codyrex97

    codyrex97Well Known MemberMember

    Yeah Prime and Stability will help you through this process very well. Be sure to do lots of research into the nitrogen cycle and get the API master test kit. And I don't know as much about the stocking but I'd say just keep an eye on them. I don't think you should add anything else, at least for now if not in general.

    EDIT: you'll probably wanna do prime every 24 hours or so, or with a water change, and do stability daily.

    A word on what those do.

    Prime dechlorinates the water as well as detoxifying the Ammonia, Nitrites, and Nitrates to keep them from harming your fish for about 24 hours. One dose of Prime will detoxify about 1ppm. It says in emergencies you can dose up to five times normal amount but hopefully that won't be the case. This might sound like Mumbo Jumbo if you haven't researched the Nitrogen Cycle, so do so.

    Stability helps establish and strengthen a colony of Beneficial Bacteria (BB) which are the things that will run the nitrogen cycle.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 3, 2016
  9. Skyy2112

    Skyy2112Valued MemberMember

    Disregard this double post. Saw it in my written bar and posted twice accidently.

    Ps. API freshwater testkit is the way to go. (Test strips can be inaccurate in my experience, and they expire I think?...) the drop test is 20-30$, but should easily last months, maybe years.
  10. OP

    KellytNew MemberMember

    Thank you so much everyone! Here are my tap water perameters:
    Ammonia 0
    Nitrate <20? (Just slight change in color on the test strip)
    Hardness 150
    Chlorine .5
    Alkalinity 80
    PH 6.8
    Nitrite ??? (The strip turned green, which isn't even an option!)

    I forgot to mention that I was using Aqua Safe to treat my tap water, but I ran out yesterday and decided to switch to Prime since so many people recommend it. It looks like I'm not using enough of it though. Should I add some Prime directly to the tank to treat the chlorine?

    The frogs are definitely African Dwarfs. I am feeding them frog and tadpole pellets that sink.

    The Betta has shown absolutely no signs of aggression. When we added the frogs, he slowly swam over and paused like he was giving them a sniff, then swam away. We have spent an embarrassing amount of time watching him (lol) and he has been nothing but gentle with the other fish. We will continue to keep a close eye on him though.

    Thanks again for all the responses!

    Forgot to mention I am running the heater that came with the tank and water has been steady 80 degrees. The filter is marineland "bio-wheel penguin 75 power filter" and also came with the tank.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 3, 2016
  11. Aquaphobia

    AquaphobiaFishlore LegendMember

    Ok, that explains the presence of nitrates in your tank. Can you try the nitrite test again? That doesn't sound good. Nitrites are very toxic to fish.

    If you can't afford the liquid test just yet, can you have your LPS test your water for you and get a second opinion? If so be sure to ask them for the actual results and write them down. I would take a sample of tap water as well as of tank if you go.
  12. OP

    KellytNew MemberMember

    I can buy a liquid test kit, I was just hoping to avoid it since I bought 2 different packs of test strips already. Sigh.

    I just tested the tank water and the readings are exactly the same as the ones I posted last night. Nitrite reading is zero.
  13. Aquaphobia

    AquaphobiaFishlore LegendMember

    It was the nitrite reading I was concerned about. When you said it turned green and that wasn't an option I was worried that they were off the charts!

    Yeah, I know the liquid tests seem expensive but they last a lot longer than the strips and are much cheaper per test as a result;)
  14. codyrex97

    codyrex97Well Known MemberMember

    And much more reliable!
  15. Aquaphobia

    AquaphobiaFishlore LegendMember

    And way more fun;D One of these days I'm going to start doing all my water tests while wearing a white lab coat and just give in to my desire to be a mad scientist:p
  16. codyrex97

    codyrex97Well Known MemberMember

    A mad fish scientist!
  17. AtomicMudkip

    AtomicMudkipValued MemberMember

    Aquaphobia Don't forget the hazmat mask! I do actually do my fish maintenance wearing latex non - latex gloves and a lab coat!
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2018
  18. OP

    KellytNew MemberMember

    Update: ammonia has been at zero since my last water change yesterday afternoon! I did a 50% water change and used a quadruple dose of Prime to treat the new water. I also added a capful of Stability. Thanks again for everyone's help!!
  19. Aquaphobia

    AquaphobiaFishlore LegendMember

    Good news!
  20. OP

    KellytNew MemberMember

    On Monday (2 days after my last post), the ammonia was reading .5 again. I did a 50% water change, dosed full tank with Prime, and added a full capful of Stability. Yesterday I bought the API master test kit and my parameters were:
    PH 7.6
    Ammonia .25
    Nitrite 0
    Nitrate 0

    I dosed the full tank with prime and added half a capful of stability.

    I retested today and the ammonia read .5 and the other numbers stayed the same. I dosed the full tank with Prime and added a full capful of Stability. This is day 11! Shouldn't there be some nitrates? Anyone have advice on how to proceed? Thanks!!!

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