Help! Tank Not Cycled And Running Out Of Time

Goldiemom
  • #1
I swore I wasn't going to ask you good people anything for a while because I am so full of questions. However, I have an emergency and need advice.
1. Set up QT tank Sunday evening as I was ordering new fish. Put in used sponge filter from another tank and some Stability.
2. Monday, tank looked cycled, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 40 nitrates. Figured instant cycle from used filter.
3. Tuesday still same parameters and all good.
4. Yesterday, Wednesday, found filter unplugged in A.M. I guess I knocked it out of the outlet Tuesday night when I push the tank back against the wall and it was off about 12 hours. Parameters showed cycle had been knocked out...2.0 ammonia, 2.0 nitrites, and 40/80 nitrates (hard to tell). No more cycled filters ready at this point. Panic! Fish are due in on Friday. I quickly cut off all excess used filter floss from all old cartridges (edges of the cartridges) and stuffed them in the filter. Put in more Stability and additional gravel from cycled tanks.
5. Thursday (today A.M.). Ammonia has dropped to 0 but nitrites still 2.0 and nitrates still at least 40, maybe 80.
6. No more extra cycled cartridges or sponges. The filters on my other tanks are way too big for my QT tank so moving one to it is not an option.

With fish coming in tomorrow (after being in a shipping box 4 days) and I know they will be stressed. So my options are:
1. Keeping pray that everything drops before tomorrow.
2. Cut filter floss from an entire cycled cartridge and hope that helps. Can't use the entire cartridge because it won't fit.
3. Put fish in QT tank and finish with in fish cycle which I have never done to a fish.
4. Go ahead and put the new fish in the tank with the neon tetras that have only been in there 5 days. Only lost one tetra and all others doing well. Thought one had ich but false alarm.

Please give me some advice. I feel so badly for these poor fish coming in. If I should do the fish in cycle, do I change water daily and use Prime until cycle completes? Again, I have never done a fish in cycle and completely ignorant to it. Sorry for another crisis and the long post. NOTE: new fish coming in are guppies.
 
N00B-Keeper
  • #2
Water change, put some floss from other filter, even put some substrate from the other tank if you have it.
 
Wraithen
  • #3
Drop in safe start plus. It's got plenty of the middle stage bacteria. You didn't lose any of your bacteria, they just got 12 hours behind. They will catch back up soon. Also, do a huge water change prior to getting your new fish and prior to adding the safe start plus. You'll be fine
 
Goldiemom
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
Thank you so very much for the quick response. I should have asked you guys yesterday but feel like I have posted too many things. I laid awake all night worrying about this. Thanks for setting me at ease.
 
Alan1212zz
  • #5
I have a thing called API AmmoLock, it basically converts ammonia to a non-toxic form, I use it when I get ammonia spikes and have had no issues with it. It could help if your issue is ammonia.
 
Goldiemom
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
Drop in safe start plus. It's got plenty of the middle stage bacteria. You didn't lose any of your bacteria, they just got 12 hours behind. They will catch back up soon. Also, do a huge water change prior to getting your new fish and prior to adding the safe start plus. You'll be fine
I just realized that I won't have time to use the Safe Start Plus. If I go home this evening and do a water change and then add Prime to remove the cholorine, then I have to wait another 24 hours before adding the Safe Start Plus. The fish could be delivered before that.

I have a thing called API AmmoLock, it basically converts ammonia to a non-toxic form, I use it when I get ammonia spikes and have had no issues with it. It could help if your issue is ammonia.
Yes, Prime will do that also, I believe. I guess it will be Prime and water changes until it cycles. Unless, by the grace of Almighty God things have improved by the time I get home.
 
Wraithen
  • #7
If you do a huge water change you won't need to add the prime, and it won't affect what you're doing even if you did use prime. It says not to use prime because of the concern of the nitrifying bacteria. You already have that, and safe start seems to have a ton of nitrafying bacteria in it. It's not that prime kills it, it's that it might starve it.
 
Goldiemom
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
OK, great. Then I'll stop and get some Safe Start + on the way home. Thanks so much!

If you do a huge water change you won't need to add the prime, and it won't affect what you're doing even if you did use prime. It says not to use prime because of the concern of the nitrifying bacteria. You already have that, and safe start seems to have a ton of nitrafying bacteria in it. It's not that prime kills it, it's that it might starve it.
What do I do about removing the chlorine if I don't use Prime?
 
Wraithen
  • #9
If you have chlorine or chloramines in your water, add the prime right before acclimating your fish. It will have plenty of time to do its job. I doubt it would hurt anything in your case even if you added it right after the safe start plus. You aren't recycling, you're just slapping on a quick bandaid for something that would resolve itself pretty quickly naturally.

There's a tetra water conditioner also, of that would allay your concerns
 
stella1979
  • #10
There's a tetra water conditioner also, of that would allay your concerns
My thoughts exactly. A chlorine remover without an ammonia binder would remove the chlorine, and have no ill effect on the TSS. One more tip on the TSS OP, check the expiration date for sure. Even before expiration, these bottled bacterias can become inviable before you even get them, which means the bacteria is dead and will be of no use in cycling the tank.

Thank you so very much for the quick response. I should have asked you guys yesterday but feel like I have posted too many things. I laid awake all night worrying about this. Thanks for setting me at ease.
Please, please don't worry about asking too many questions. That's what this place is for. If people here weren't willing to hold my hand, I would have been lost in some very troubling situations. I get fishy stress too!

So, in my opinion you have two options.

1. Use TSS, which in my experience works about half the time. If the TSS is viable, parameters will swing wildly for some time, and you are not supposed to water change for the first week. This is not good for fishy stress or your own, but it could work.

2. Do a fish in cycle. I know that's scary too, but I think I would prefer this method because it's less of a hope approach, and more about you controlling the parameters. So, you would do a huge water change and be able to use Prime before adding the fish. You could also use Seachem's Stability, which should help. After the guppies are in, you'll have to test every day. If ammonia + nitrites are one or less, (that is ammo and nitrite added together = 1 or less), you only dose Prime and Stability. If ammonia + nitrites are over 1, you do a water change to bring the levels down to 1 or less, then dose Prime and Stability. Fish in cycles can take a while because levels are kept low for the fish, so bacteria have less to 'eat' and therefor grow at a slower rate. I have a feeling you might get through this quicker though, because your filter was so recently cycled.

Either way could stress the fish, which I know you don't want to do. Unfortunately it's the situation you're in, and a lot of us have been there. I feel the fish in cycle would be more work, but less stress on you because you know what's going on with the water chemistry.

FYI - We have a goldfish that has been with us almost 7 years. He belongs to my son, who is young enough that he doesn't remember a time without our George. We love this fish immensely. Last summer, George got sick, and I freaked! In trying to save him, I tried 4 different medications (STRESSFUL, not proud of that), and the last med killed the cycle in his tank. Huge daily water changes and Prime prevented this stressful situation from making George sick again. Then, only a few months later, Hurricane Irma hit and we had a week without power. All I could do was aerate our tanks many times a day by manually created surface agitation. George's cycle was killed again, so another fish in cycle had to take place. I realize I'm talking about a hardy goldfish here, but I just wanted to share that stuff can happen that's totally out of our control. We do our best and hope for a good outcome. George is still with us and healthy as a horse.
 
Goldiemom
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
Thanks so much for this information and so glad George is still with you. I will probably never get to use TSS anyway because I have to keep using the Prime. Lol! I will try your suggestion as I have both the Prime and Stability. I have always raised goldfish and love mine. These tropical are a whole new ball game and because they are more sensitive, I am stressing more. I hope these guppies get here soon. I am so worried that they have been in a box for almost 3 days now. With all their stress, I’d like to make their transition as stress free as possible. Again, thank you.
 
Goldiemom
  • Thread Starter
  • #12
I did a big water change and added Prime and Stability. Let it sit while I went to work. My husband just got home and called me to say the fish were sitting on the porch. The box had a big sticker on front instructing the delivery person to ring doorbell and knock. We have a camera that shows visitors on porch and all he did was put it on a bench on the porch and walk away. Doesn't really matter since we weren't home but he should have tried. Anyway, I instructed my husband to open the box with the lights out so as not to add any further stress when the fish see daylight. They were each packaged in their own little bags so he cut the corner of each bag and let the fish drain into the net one at a time and put them each individually into the tank as he opened them. He said they are all alive right now with one sitting on the bottom and the others swimming. I'll check them in a about 1 1/2 hours when I get home. He put the lid back on and just letting them rest for now. They have a filter and air stone going plus a plant in their. When I get home, if they look ok, I'll give each a pellet of food. Don't want to push them much on their first day. Also going to check the parameters again to make sure nothing got funky while I was at work. Can't wait to see what they look like. Say a little prayer they all stay healthy and alive.
 
stella1979
  • #13
Wishing for the best and hoping to see some beautiful guppy photos in the next few days.
 
Wraithen
  • #14
That's not a good way to acclimate them. You want to match water in the bag temperature to the tank temp, then quickly net them and put them into the tank.
 
Goldiemom
  • Thread Starter
  • #15
They really might live. You might already know, but in that situation, float the sealed bags for temperature without opening, but the second you open the bag just pour them into a net over a bucket and put the fish in their tank. There's some phenomena where the sealed bag with the co2 and ammonia isn't as toxic but as soon as you open the bag, chemical changes with the oxygen make it turn lethal. So do the temperature aclimatiom but skip the mixing water part you would do if it was from the petstore.

That's not a good way to acclimate them. You want to match water in the bag temperature to the tank temp, then quickly net them and put them into the tank.
When they’ve shipped in a bag for several days they say to use the plop and drop method due to ammonia phenomena. They say once the bag is open, the ammonia becomes highly toxic and you need to get the fish out of the bag immediately. I read a bunch before deciding to go this method. I do the match the water for fish bought at local lfs.

So far, so good. The guppies are so happy to be out of that box after several days! Here’s also a pic of my neon tetra’s that I bought last week. Only lost one of those so far and they are doing great. So excited! Guppies are in an opaque plastic qt tank right now so better pics later!
 

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stella1979
  • #16
I love guppies! They are so beautiful. I have not had good luck with them unfortunately, so I'll look forward to seeing yours.

I have a hard time telling people they've done something wrong when the person is doing their best and already stressed.... but, I have to agree about floating the bag first. The plop and drop method is best for shipped fish, but prior to plopping and droppin, it is recommended to match temperature. I've seen Rachel O'Leary do it without floating bags, but I'm certain she lets the bags come to room temp first, and she keeps the room warm to avoid using so many heaters.
 
Goldiemom
  • Thread Starter
  • #17
Oh wait, they did float first. I thought we were talking about adding a little water, waiting 5 mins, then adding a little more, etc. I learned to float the bags when I was a kid. I’m sorry, I guess I thought that was just a given.
 
stella1979
  • #18
I kinda figured.....
 
Wraithen
  • #19
Oh lol. You made it sound like the floating part was skipped. You are right about the ph swing and ammonium rapidly converting to ammonia.
 
Hunter1
  • #20
In my experience, guppies are pretty hardy although I haven’t had them shipped. Neons on the other hand, won’t buy em since they are so sensitive.
 
Goldiemom
  • Thread Starter
  • #21
Woke up this morning to everyone very hungry and still very much alive. Hope that means they made it through the trauma...or should I say made it through the drama! Lol.
 

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