How long will it take?

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Gina423

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Ok, you ready?

I have had a thirty gallon tank running since the summer. I have had many fish and finally my last one died (I do not know why). I bought four neon tetras and added them to the tank (mind u its been running on in the cycle since the summer). Within an hour two had died and the other two were floating around the top. I quickly took the two and put them in a 5 gallon tank where there behavior has improved by 150%!

Anyway, I freaked out and emptied 75% of the water in my 30 gal tank. I took my filter and wiped it down and replaced a cartridge. I then cleaned the gravel. I put in 75% new clean water and added conditioner and got the ph to 7.0.

Anyway, my question is, since my old gravel and 25% of my old water is in the tank do I still need to go through a lenghty nitrogen cycle? Can I add fish as soon as this weekend? How long should I wait?

Thanks in advance!
 

sgould

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How much time passed between your old fish dying and the new ones going in the tank? Have you tested the water for ammonia and nitrite readings? Having old water in there will not affect whether/how long you need to cycle as the bacteria that you need to keep the ammonia under control are not free-floating, but rather grow on surfaces. Some bacteria may have been in the gravel, but if so was likely lost in cleaning. The greatest concentration of good bacteria grows in the filter media, and may have been lost as well when you changed the cartridge. I think you are going to be basically starting a cycle from scratch now, which could take several weeks. This is not to suggest that the cleaning you did was wrong...obviously something was up in the tank to have the fish die that quickly after hitting the water. Depending on how much time passed between your old fish and your new fish, the nitrifying bacteria may have already died out. At this point though, everything is guesswork. I think your next step needs to be to test your water and find out for sure what the levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are. With that information, we can probably get a better idea of what is going on.
 
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Gina423

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How much time passed between your old fish dying and the new ones going in the tank? Have you tested the water for ammonia and nitrite readings? Having old water in there will not affect whether/how long you need to cycle as the bacteria that you need to keep the ammonia under control are not free-floating, but rather grow on surfaces. Some bacteria may have been in the gravel, but if so was likely lost in cleaning. The greatest concentration of good bacteria grows in the filter media, and may have been lost as well when you changed the cartridge. I think you are going to be basically starting a cycle from scratch now, which could take several weeks. This is not to suggest that the cleaning you did was wrong...obviously something was up in the tank to have the fish die that quickly after hitting the water. Depending on how much time passed between your old fish and your new fish, the nitrifying bacteria may have already died out. At this point though, everything is guesswork. I think your next step needs to be to test your water and find out for sure what the levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are. With that information, we can probably get a better idea of what is going on.

My fish died yesterday and I bought the new ones today. When I went to the pet store (which is great and has a good reputation-he garuntees his fish and quarutine them), he checked me water. Nitrates and ammonia were at 0, I really had perfect aqaurium water, so maybe a disease was floating around there, even though my dead fish's body was fine.

Even though I changed the cartridgeI still had the bio cartridge in there. (it's a cartridge that u never clean and it houses the good bacteria). I only have ammonia test strips at home (waiting for a masters test kit to come soon). So with the combination of the good bacteria cartridge being in there and some of the water and the decorations in there, do u think the cycle will be faster?

Thanks
 
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Gina423

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oh and one other thing, when I cleaned the gravel, there was so much nasty food and yucky stuff that went right to the filter. Now wouldnt all that nastiness feed the benificial bacteria in my filter and furthur the process?
 
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Gina423

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OH AND ANOTHER THING

I have one of those nitra-zorb bags in my filter as well (also houses beneficial bacteria and takes out the nitrates (or nitrties-not sure)

sorry I keep forgetting things, but I swear this is it!
 

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I wouldn't get too frustrated. I've been there. I have a 30 gallon and went through alot of growing pains in the beginning. You mentioned that there was alot of old food and junk in the bottom of the tank. Is it possible you're over-feeding? How often have you been doing water changes and cleanings? Do you use a gravel vac? When wiping out the filter and such, what are you using to wipe them out? However, if your amonia and nitrite levels are at zero, you may have a basic case of some very stressed out fish. How are you introducing your new fish to the tank? Obviously alot of questions but maybe we can identify something that you're doing (or not doing) that could make a difference. You may want to consider getting some very hearty fish in the beginning...that always helps.
 
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simpleton said:
I wouldn't get too frustrated.  I've been there.  I have a 30 gallon and went through alot of growing pains in the beginning.  You mentioned that there was alot of old food and junk in the bottom of the tank.  Is it possible you're over-feeding?  How often have you been doing water changes and cleanings?  Do you use a gravel vac?  When wiping out the filter and such, what are you using to wipe them out?  However, if your amonia and nitrite levels are at zero, you may have a basic case of some very stressed out fish.  How are you introducing your new fish to the tank?  Obviously alot of questions but maybe we can identify something that you're doing (or not doing) that could make a difference.  You may want to consider getting some very hearty fish in the beginning...that always helps.
I was very careful not to over feed, but I did lack on using the gravel vac (i hate it), but I did change 25% of my water about every week. I just quickly wipe algae off of my filter with a paper towel (the wash cloth is too risky due to laundry detergent).

I do wonder if the fish were fish were stressed out. This is how it went:

I put the bag full of fish in my tank (to adjust to the water temp).
I put some salt in the tank to help with the stress.
I then opened the bag after a half hour and very carefully and gently let the fish in the tank. I kept the tank light off to make them more comfortable.
They swam around very fast and darted back and forth.
I went to play a video game and did some dishes.
I went back to the tank and one was struggling to swim and two were almost lifeless at the surface and gasping for air.
I decided to wait a bit more and when I came back two of the neons were colorless and lifeless stuck to the fliter. The other two were going to die shorty.
I scooped the two neons up in a tubberware container and put a couple of rocks of salt in the container. I ran downstairs to where my 5 gallon is (which luckily is all set up, but with no fish in it).
Almost IMMEDIATELY, they seemed to have calmed down (which is weird because it was the same water).
Gradually I added some of the 5 gallon tanks water to the tubberware and after 20 minutes, I added the fish (with a net, not the water) into the 5 gallon. They were calm and swam like a fish should.
They are still looking good tonight.
The thing I don't get is that the 5 gallon has been set up for about two months, but I have never added ammonia or fish food, so I do not even know if it is cycled?


so...any ideas?
 

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Well first off... no it's not cycled. Without ammonia in the tank there isn't any way for you to get the good bacteria going. Those fish will be starting the cycle by introducing ammonia to the tank. However, neon's are not very hardy tetras and don't do well (as you've noticed) with less then ideal water conditions. Not to panic. If you keep up with water changes to keep the concentrations of ammonia, and eventually nitrite low they will live through it. Though I would get Amquel+ or Prime to help detoxify the current water in the tank and all future water changes.

As for your main tank, do you have any way to test your pH? It sounds like the water from the pet store was a very different pH then your tank. If it wasn't pH then I would test for nitrate as very high levels of that can act like acid to the fish. In any event, if you don't have one I would highly recommend getting a master test kit like . If you can't afford it then you can also take water to your pet store and have them test it for you. Let us know the levels of pH, ammonia (probably will be 0 since it's an old tank), nitrite (also most likely 0), and nitrate in your main tank and we can go from there.

One last question, what kind of salt are you using? Table salt or aquarium salt? If table salt... then stop using it right away as that isn't helping. You really don't need to use any salt, but if you want to (some people swear by it others don't like it) make sure it is specifically aquarium salt (i.e. only has NaCl as a chemical ingredient). Also it's better to keep the salt levels low in the tank and then when you notice the fish acting differently add 1 tbsp per 5 gals of water to the tank. It's the up and down of salt that helps the fish, not a constant level.
 
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Gina423

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Luniyn said:
Well first off... no it's not cycled. Without ammonia in the tank there isn't any way for you to get the good bacteria going. Those fish will be starting the cycle by introducing ammonia to the tank. However, neon's are not very hardy tetras and don't do well (as you've noticed) with less then ideal water conditions. Not to panic. If you keep up with water changes to keep the concentrations of ammonia, and eventually nitrite low they will live through it. Though I would get Amquel+ or Prime to help detoxify the current water in the tank and all future water changes.

As for your main tank, do you have any way to test your pH? It sounds like the water from the pet store was a very different pH then your tank. If it wasn't pH then I would test for nitrate as very high levels of that can act like acid to the fish. In any event, if you don't have one I would highly recommend getting a master test kit like . If you can't afford it then you can also take water to your pet store and have them test it for you. Let us know the levels of pH, ammonia (probably will be 0 since it's an old tank), nitrite (also most likely 0), and nitrate in your main tank and we can go from there.

One last question, what kind of salt are you using? Table salt or aquarium salt? If table salt... then stop using it right away as that isn't helping. You really don't need to use any salt, but if you want to (some people swear by it others don't like it) make sure it is specifically aquarium salt (i.e. only has NaCl as a chemical ingredient). Also it's better to keep the salt levels low in the tank and then when you notice the fish acting differently add 1 tbsp per 5 gals of water to the tank. It's the up and down of salt that helps the fish, not a constant level.
Darn, so its not cycled? I now see the tetras are not hardy fish ( I thought they were). My ph was very acidy (nitrites and ammonia were 0), but the guy at the pet store gave me ph increaser and he said, "since ph increaser works immediately you can just add this and then put your fish in." Was he right?

I am getting a masters kit, and it shipped and should arrive by the end of the week. Yes, I only use AQUARIUM salt. I bought the salt at the pet store. I heard that salt is great when u first introduce fish because it helps with the stress-is that true? Also, will too much salt hurt the tank?

Any idea how long it will take my tank to cycle?
 

Luniyn

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Well neon tetras specifically aren't hardy fish, however, other tetras are actually very hardy (Serpae tetras and Red Eyed tetras for example). And yes a high acidic pH would definitely cause what you saw. Also what was the brand and specific product name did he give you. There is a difference between a pH increaser and a pH neutralizer. If he gave you anything other then one that is supposed to balance out your pH to 7.0 then he made a mistake. Even still I wouldn't have added fish until at least 24 hours. Even a small change like 0.3 up or down can cause a great deal of stress on a fish. It's possible they were introduced to the water as it was still adjusting and had to live through that. Getting the 2 others to the 5 gal was the best thing you could have done as they would have been goners otherwise. Keep them in there until you get things sorted out in your main tank, and you may want to drop a few flakes of fish food into your main tank every 12 hours to keep the ammonia going and not allow the good bacteria to die off which would mean you would have to cycle your main tank all over again. Just when you wake up drop a few in and before you go to bed and you should be able to keep it in it's current state without fish.

As to the smaller tank it will be a few weeks before it is cycled. However, if we can correct the main tank we could possibly share some of the good bacteria from there to help things along. But I wouldn't do that until we are sure the main tank isn't toxic. So just do the fish food thing and hold out till you get your test kit. Also read this short article on the nitrogen cycle just to get an understanding of why I'm asking you to feed an empty tank
 
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Luniyn said:
Well neon tetras specifically aren't hardy fish, however, other tetras are actually very hardy (Serpae tetras and Red Eyed tetras for example). And yes a high acidic pH would definitely cause what you saw. Also what was the brand and specific product name did he give you. There is a difference between a pH increaser and a pH neutralizer. If he gave you anything other then one that is supposed to balance out your pH to 7.0 then he made a mistake. Even still I wouldn't have added fish until at least 24 hours. Even a small change like 0.3 up or down can cause a great deal of stress on a fish. It's possible they were introduced to the water as it was still adjusting and had to live through that. Getting the 2 others to the 5 gal was the best thing you could have done as they would have been goners otherwise. Keep them in there until you get things sorted out in your main tank, and you may want to drop a few flakes of fish food into your main tank every 12 hours to keep the ammonia going and not allow the good bacteria to die off which would mean you would have to cycle your main tank all over again. Just when you wake up drop a few in and before you go to bed and you should be able to keep it in it's current state without fish.

As to the smaller tank it will be a few weeks before it is cycled. However, if we can correct the main tank we could possibly share some of the good bacteria from there to help things along. But I wouldn't do that until we are sure the main tank isn't toxic. So just do the fish food thing and hold out till you get your test kit. Also read this short article on the nitrogen cycle just to get an understanding of why I'm asking you to feed an empty tank
The stuff is a ph increaser made by Jungle Laboratories. Oh Boy, so you are telling me that if I get a ph Neutralizer, it will automatically bring my ph to 7.0? Where can I get a neutralizer?
So after I balance the ph and wait 24 hours, it will be safe to add fish to my main tank?

Thanks again!
 

lolagurl

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well u already got the new fish now dont u
 
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Gina423

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yes, but it's in my 5 gallon i want to know if my 30 gallon is safe for fish
 

lolagurl

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well guess not
 
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Gina423

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yes, but my question is if I use a ph neutralizer will I be able to add fish after 24 hours?
 

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i dont know what tthat is..i have never used chemical yet to cycle my tank....(which i think that is)..and if it is that... it should work..i would do it ;D
 

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A cautionary note on pH: Most of the time it is not a good idea to try and change the pH of your tank. This is because once you start playing with pH, it is very difficult to maintain it at a consistent level and it ends up yo-yo'ing up and down. A pH that is constantly shifting up and down is much more stressful on fish than a constant level that is outside of the norm. Unless your water is really extreme, once fish get acclimated to a certain pH, they will do just fine with it so long as it stays consistent. I would therefore be much more concerned with ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate readings. If you are concerned that there is a big difference in pH between your water and the water the fish are used to at the fish store, then I would suggest a more prolonged acclimation period before turning them loose, rather than trying to artificially change your tank water. Float the fish for 15-20 minutes for temperature, then open the bag and add 1/2-3/4 cup of your tank water to the bag. Wait 10 minutes, then add another 1/2-3/4 cup. Keep repeating that for about an hour. If the bag fills up before you are done, just dip some of the water out of the bag and dispose of it, then continue. This will allow the fish to gradually become accustomed to your water, rather than just being suddenly turned loose in it with no adjustment period. Also, when you release the fish, net them out of the bag and then put the fish in the tank and dispose of the bag water...do not let water from the fish store into your tank. This is a precaution against unknowingly bringing diseases to your water from the fish store's tank.
 
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Gina423

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sgould said:
A cautionary note on pH: Most of the time it is not a good idea to try and change the pH of your tank.  This is because once you start playing with pH, it is very difficult to maintain it at a consistent level and it ends up yo-yo'ing up and down.  A pH that is constantly shifting up and down is much more stressful on fish than a constant level that is outside of the norm.  Unless your water is really extreme, once fish get acclimated to a certain pH, they will do just fine with it so long as it stays consistent.  I would therefore be much more concerned with ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate readings.  If you are concerned that there is a big difference in pH between your water and the water the fish are used to at the fish store, then I would suggest a more prolonged acclimation period before turning them loose, rather than trying to artificially change your tank water.  Float the fish for 15-20 minutes for temperature, then open the bag and add 1/2-3/4 cup of your tank water to the bag.  Wait 10 minutes, then add another 1/2-3/4 cup.  Keep repeating that for about an hour.  If the bag fills up before you are done, just dip some of the water out of the bag and dispose of it, then continue.  This will allow the fish to gradually become accustomed to your water, rather than just being suddenly turned loose in it with no adjustment period.  Also, when you release the fish, net them out of the bag and then put the fish in the tank and dispose of the bag water...do not let water from the fish store into your tank.  This is a precaution against unknowingly bringing diseases to your water from the fish store's tank.
wow thank you so much, I had no idea. Well orgionally I changed my ph because it was EXTREMELY acidity. But now I am all worried about the ph increaser that I used, what should I do?
 

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Well, I may have missed it, so forgive me if you have already said...what exactly is your water's pH before you change it?
 
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sgould said:
Well, I may have missed it, so forgive me if you have already said...what exactly is your water's pH before you change it?
well the guy tested it so I don't know the exact number, but I saw the chart and it was the lowest color on the chart (I am guessing 6.0, but I could be wrong). I also know it was very acidity because of my large amounts of brown algae.

I just tested it again and the color chart says that it is between 7.0 and 7.5 (I am getting a masters test kit, but am currently waiting for it to come-probably by saturday).

So do you think my water will stay in this nice 7.0-7.5 range or will it bounce because I added increaser?
 
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