Help cycling tank with fish already in it.

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by hmayes, Jun 25, 2016.

  1. hmayesValued MemberMember

    Okay so my wife and I have had a Betta in a big jar for about a year. We decided he deserved an upgrade so a few weeks ago we went out and purchased a 20 gallon starter kit. Gravel, fake plants, etc. Of course being total newbies we just filled the tank, added water conditioner, and put the Betta in.

    We then researched what kinds of fish can live with Bettas, so we got a couple albino bristle nose pleco, a couple octicinclus, four glass cats, and six ghost shrimp. Everything was good for a few days. Then one of the glass cats died, then an octocinclus died, then a shrimp. I started doing some research and come upon the nitrogen cycle—which we absolutely did not do. So I went out and bought an API master test kit today. We also added a live plant. Ammonia was crazy high somewhere between the 4 and 8 ppm colors. PH was also off the regular chart so i had to use the high range PH which came in at about 8.2

    So i did about a 40% PWC, and used an ammonia neutralizer. Two more ghost shrimp died this evening.

    My tank set up:

    20G high
    Quietflow 20
    78º heater
    1 Betta
    3 Glass Cat
    2 Albino Bristlenose Pleco
    1 Octicinclus
    2 Ghost Shrimp

    My questions are:

    1) what is the best way to get my tank to cycle with fish already in it?
    2) Will the pleco and octicinclus slow down/delay the cycle? I ask this because I know the nitrifying bacteria grow on surfaces (hence why you want to have a lot of surface area in your tank), and they seem to scrub every surface they come across
    3) will using an ammonia neutralizer delay the nitrogen cycling?
    4) will using tap conditioner delay the nitrogen cycling?

    P.S. Here is a pic of the tank. image

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2018
  2. codyrex97Well Known MemberMember

    I believe you're over stocked but I'm not sure.

    Prime and Stability is what you want for cycling fish-in. Prime is a conditioner that also detoxifies ammonia and nitrite. Stability helps grow bacteria.

    Your tank surface area is really nothing to do with the bacteria. Your main source of bacteria is in the media in your filter.

    Prime will not delay the cycle. It detoxifies ammonia and nitrite, making it harmless to fish but still available for your bacteria to eat.

    Prime's conditioning won't affect the cycle at all either.

    NOT CONDITIONING YOUR TAP WATER WILL MESS UP YOUR CYCLE. The chlorine/chloramine in the water will kill your beneficial bacteria.

  3. hmayesValued MemberMember

    Thanks for the advice Codyrex. I'll get those two items tomorrow.

    I do think I'm pushing it with the stock level, especially since it's a brand new tank and I'm a newbie. I used an online stocking calculator and I noticed that the two pleco use up 40% of the available capacity of the tank. I had no idea they were so demanding. I guess they produce a lot of waste?

  4. codyrex97Well Known MemberMember

    Fish requirements can be based mainly on a few things,
    Activity (example Cory Cats. Small fish but love to adventure and swim on bottom of tank so need a large footprint)
    Adult Size (Example, among many others, Bala Shark. You buy these little couple inch long fish and then realize they grow over a foot long)
    Schooling (any fish that is only comfortable in larger groups, usually minimum of 6. This means you have to multiply that one fish you want by 6)
    Pooping (Example Goldfish, these guys poop up a storm and are one of the messier fish there are. Not to mention they also can grow to a foot long!)
    Other things like compatibility with other fish and preferred water parameters come into play as well but those are the main things.

    Hopefully one of the forum's more knowledgable members can point out the problems and solutions for your stocking.
  5. el337Fishlore LegendMember

    Welcome to the forum :)

    IMO, I think the extra BN pleco is pushing it. I wouldn't even put one in it since they are definite poop machines and will take up most of the bioload in that tank. A 29/30g would be the minimum for one.

    The other thing is you have temp compatibility issues. Your betta likes it around 78 while otos and glass cats prefer it cooler. I think they like it around 75 if I'm not mistaken. The otos and glass cats are also schooling/shoaling fish which mean they like to be in a large group. Recommended is at least 6+ per species.

    Personally, I would rehome the plecos, move the betta to its own tank (5g min) and then up the otos and glass cats. If you really wanted to try a betta in there (they're a hit or miss in community tanks), I would rehome the oto and glass cats and go with a warmer species of schooling fish.

    Edit: I also agree that using Seachem Prime and Stability would be the way to go in cycling this tank. The high ammonia is likely due to adding too many fish at once in the tank, resulting in deaths. I would do some extra large water changes to bring that down close to 0.
  6. fishayfishay1020New MemberMember

    I dont know about stability, but prime is a great product. If you want a fish to clean up the tank i would go with a ghost shrimp. They are inexpensive and are good at eating left over food. 2 plecos have a huge bioload for that tank so i would personally not even have one in that tank. For cycling a tank i would use Tetra Safe Start Plus.
  7. hmayesValued MemberMember

    Thanks for the advice folks. All my ghost shrink are dead now so I'm not going to add any more until this tank stabilizes. I'll see if I can rehome the plecos
  8. codyrex97Well Known MemberMember

    Keep us posted on wether you decide to relocate Betta (they can be very happy with 5-10 gallons of water but don't go under 5) or rehome the cats and oto! Good luck!
  9. gilpiValued MemberMember

    Your nitrifying bacteria grows in your filter, one reason you should never change the filter media, just rinse it a little.
    At this point just do some partial water changes and don't over feed to keep ammonia levels down to a safer level for your fish and in around a month or so your tank will be cycled.
  10. hmayesValued MemberMember

    I'm going to ask my LFS today if they can help rehome the pleco. I don't have a larger tank and I don't have the budget to get one right now. I also don't have a smaller tank for the Betta, other than the jar he lived in for a year. He's not going back to that, so I'm going to try to keep him with the glass cats and oto. When I look online all three have similar pH and temp ranges (6.5-7.5 and 75°-80°). Do y'all think that would work?

    Just hoping I don't lose anything else before my tank gets cycled.

    Also wanted to see thoughts on upgrading my filter? What about oversizing it and moving up to a bio wheel like a penguin 200 or something?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 15, 2016
  11. el337Fishlore LegendMember

    A lot of online sources are inaccurate. Fishbase and Seriouslyfish are more reliable for info. Keeping them in the lowest/highest end of temp ranges shorten their lifespans.

    Recommended filtration is 10x your tank size so you want at least 200 gph. I would use the current filter you have and add another filter that has 100 gph. I think the Aqueon 20 has 125 gph.
  12. hmayesValued MemberMember

    Okay thanks. I did a 75% PWC today. Used Prime and Stability. Ammonia down to .25 PPM after. No nitrites. I'm hoping if I do 25% PWC every day and use the stability and prime this tank will stay in good shape until the cycle completes.

    Also, I've found new homes for both pleco. Still need to further research the glass cat and oto with the Betta.

    With respect to temp: seriouslyfish has the Betta at 72°-82°, and the glass cats at 68°-78°. If I move my tank down closer to 76° or 75° do you think both species would be happy? That way both are more towards the middle of their temp ranges.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 15, 2016
  13. fishayfishay1020New MemberMember

    I would keep it at 75 and as long as both fish seem happy it should be ok
  14. hmayesValued MemberMember

    Okay I'll try that. Thanks! I'll let you all know if I have any more problems. Thanks so much for everyone's help. I really appreciate it.
  15. MothercrowWell Known MemberMember

    To repeat what was told to me by CindiL -- test your water,...
    If ammonia + nitrites = less than 1ppm, dose Prime and Stability
    If ammonia + nitrites = 1ppm or more, do a large water change and dose Prime and Stability
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2016
  16. CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    I think she meant on the first line :)

    If ammonia + nitrites is < (less than) 1, dose prime and stability, re-check in 24 hours.

    This will keep your fish safe, allow your cycle to complete.

    The bacteria actually grow everywhere in your tank on all surfaces but the filter generally holds the most room for them with a sponge and/or bio-media.

    Btw, welcome to fishlore :;hi2
  17. MothercrowWell Known MemberMember

    I'm backwards again. Sorry! :p Yes, that's what I meant.

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