Help! NEED ADVICE 29 Gallon Tank

  1. jcmguy Member Member

    So I bought a fish tank 3 weeks ago and I treated the water and dechlorinated it. Then I proceeded to go to Petco where I found some beautiful guppies and I asked the guy if I could put them in my tank. He told me: Sure! Just use this stuff first! And handed me a bottle of SafeStart which supposedly has the bacteria to start the nitric cycle. I put the SafeStart in and let it sit for a week just to be sure and then went and got my guppies. I mistakenly believed the man at the store because from signs in my fish I can tell there is a lot of ammonia in the tank, they have reddish gills and appear to have lost some color. I'm guessing it's ammonia poisoning. But now I'm wondering if my nitric cycle will eventually start or not and how long will it take. I've been religiously doing 20 percent water changes in the morning and at night before I shut the light off and right after I turn it on to keep ammonia levels down. I lost 3 fish but the rest I have left are looking better. I have 5 guppies, 1 albino plecostomus and 3 neon tetras at the moment. Should I take the fish back and let the tank do a fish less cycle or what? Any suggestions are helpful. Thanks.

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  2. junebug Fishlore Legend Member

    There is ammonia because you didn't use the safe start properly. It doesn't work without fish, so by the time you added your guppies, any nitrifying bacteria had long since died off.

    The proper way to use safestart is to add it to the tank after fish are in, provided the tank is lightly stocked, feed once daily, and not do water changes for two weeks. At the end if the two week period, test your water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate and change water accordingly. You shouldn't have any ammonia or nitrite by this time. If you do, the tss hasn't worked and you need to start over.

    I'd suggest doing a large water change, as much as you can remove without harming the fish, treat the water with dechlorinator, and at least 24 hours later, addtss. DonDon't add it early or the dechlorinator will kill the bacteria in tss.

    What size tank is this? What species of pleco do you have? I would take the neons back to the store. They are not going to do well in a cycling tank and have vastly different water requirements from guppies.
  3. Viriam Karo Well Known Member Member

    Hi :) welcome to the forum!

    Your fish guy was actually right, but he wasn't clear about the whole process. When you use Tetra SafeStart (TSS), you have to put in fish right away, or at least another ammonia source. Since there are good bacteria in the bottle, they need food as soon as they're put into the water column, otherwise they just starve and die. So waiting a week between putting the TSS in and then the fish wasn't a good way to do it. Here's a thread with the very specific instructions:

    Do you have a test kit, or does your pet store offer free water testing? Since TSS has very good success rates (I've cycled two tanks with it, myself), I would personally do a very large water change on the tank, wait 24 hours (as per the instructions in the above link--some water conditioners take away food sources for the bacteria), and then dump in a bottle of TSS. That should get the ammonia low enough for the fish to be happier while the cycle starts up. IME the TSS cycle takes a week, but they say you should allow for 14 days.

    ETA :;nin2
  4. Adam55 Well Known Member Member

    Hello and welcome to FL.
    So, a few things. Adding TSS was good, but you have to add it and then add your fish within a couple hours or so. TSS is bacteria in a bottle. That bacteria needs a food source (ammonia) which comes from fish. You killed all the bacteria by waiting a week in between adding TSS and introducing fish. You also have a bit of a heavy load for a new tank. The bacteria that consumes ammonia and nitrite is a living colony. It will grow to match the amount of food it is being supplied with, but it's a process. New fish need to be introduced gradually, even in tanks that have been running for years. Add too much at once and you risk a mini cycle. To compound that load issue a little, plecos are waste factories. Your cycle is being tested right now. I would get more TSS and add it to the tank, but first test the water. If the ammonia and nitrite are high, do a water change. Treat the new water with Prime, wait 24 hours, and add your TSS. You do have to allow that 24-hour window in between adding the Prime and adding the TSS.
  5. junebug Fishlore Legend Member

    I just realized this is your first post! Welcome to fishlore :)
  6. jcmguy Member Member

    Thank you for advice! I will check the ammonia and nitrite levels tonight and see if I need Prime and a water change. I was questioning buying a pack of test strips but now I know I need them so I'll get some tonight along with a decoration or two. Thanks again!

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  7. Viriam Karo Well Known Member Member

    Wait wait! jcmguy don't get test strips, get the API master kit (liquid). It may seem more expensive up-front, but there are literally hundreds of tests for $20, whereas the strips are like 6 tests for 4 dollars. Also, the liquid tests are accurate, and the strips are notoriously inaccurate.
  8. Castiel* Well Known Member Member

    +1 this, API master kit is far more accurate than test strips, just make sure you follow directions exact! You have enough information above to get you started on your tank. After you get your parameters in check, I'd definitely look into adding at least another two neon tetras too, they do better in a small school with at least 5+ of them. Also did you get just male guppies or both male and female?
  9. junebug Fishlore Legend Member

    Noooo! No test strip lol. Get yourself an api master test kit. Great kit, affordable, and you'll find it much more accurate than strip.
  10. jcmguy Member Member

    Oh okay! Thanks again! I just did a 50 to 60% water change and had some left over TSS so I added that... hoping it turns around but I won't be able to get a test kit for more accuracy and more TSS for two days. Thanks all. Glad I came to Fish Lore with my questions.

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  11. Viriam Karo Well Known Member Member

    Make sure you have enough to dose the entire tank. You can't overdose TSS, but you CAN underdose. I think the smaller bottle is made for 30 gallons, and the bigger one for 70, or something like that? You might see an improvement with leftover TSS in the next two days, but keep an eye on your fish :)
  12. nhaiflich Member Member

    When getting more TSS you will want to look at the gal size written on back of bottle in the directions for starting a new tank. Don't go by what says on front.

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  13. jcmguy Member Member

    So my girlfriend bought me the api master test kit and after using the left over TSS and letting it sit for 5 hours after the water change of 50 percent.. it seems the ammonia and nitrite are at 0. But I'm not jumping to conclusions yet. I'll test tomorrow afternoon too. But it appears my pH is at 8.2 according to the test. Is that bad for guppies??

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  14. hgrad98 Member Member

    Eeep!!! get that pH down to 7.0!!! Just kidding, the recommended pH level for guppies is 7.0-8.1

    However, it is recommended to have a pH level of 6.0-7.8 for neon tetras, and a pH level of 5.8-7.0

    So...... lemme rephrase this....

    Eeeep!!!!!!!! get that pH down to 7.0!!!!!!!!

    glad I could help :p

  15. jcmguy Member Member

    I'm confused though!! The tetras have been doing better than the guppies! Is this some sort of fluke or are they mutant tetras?

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  16. hgrad98 Member Member

    idk, personally i find guppies to be invincible!!! no seriously i have never had a single guppy die on me.... However, by brother (not the wisest aquarist (not saying I am either)), managed to kill off all of his guppies... that takes mad skill!!!!!! :p

    a bit of advice: don't go crazy. the fish might just be adjusting, as you said, this is a rather new setup, right?

  17. nhaiflich Member Member

    If it were me I wouldn't trust the pH until after the TSS cycle and you've done your water change. I checked mine once about a week after added the TSS. Out of curiosity. I got about what you did. Checked again 24 hrs after tank was cycled and had changed water. Got 7.4...

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  18. jdhef Moderator Moderator Member

    PH is not really very important, and most fish will adjust to any pH between about 6.0 to 8.5

    So long as your neons are doing well, I wouldn't try altering the pH since that can lead to bigger problems.