Is my tank mid-cycle? Can I add more fish?

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by ccraw024, Jun 30, 2016.

  1. ccraw024New MemberMember

    Hi everyone! I posted a few weeks ago about my snail not doing so well and wondering why my tank was not cycling. Anyhow -- I just got back from a week vacation (the previous week I had added StartSmart Bacteria cycle product) and voila! I now have 0 ammonia, 5 ppm Nitrite (EEK!!) and 10-20ppm Nitrate (before I did the water change it was like 40ppm. OMG). I have 2 candy cane tetras, 2 white skirt tetras, 1 bleeding heart tetra, and 1 red tail shark and 1 nerite snail. 29 gallon tank no plants.

    I am happy to see my ammonia is 0, but the PWC did not budge the Nitrite levels and Nitrate is still high. I feel like I have a pretty decent understanding of the nitrogen cycle, and it seems like I am in mid cycle. I added prime to my water change water so nothing should be toxic (I hope). it okay to add a few more fish? I wanted to add a few top dweller fish but I am nervous because of my nitrite and nitrate levels. If the bacteria is clearly processing the ammonia, will it really effect anything if I add a few more fish since all I am waiting on now really is for the bacteria that eats Nitrite to start doing it's thing??? SIDE NOTE: Grandma was feeding the fish once a day while I was gone, but I think she really spoiled them because my shark is fat!! That could be why the nitrite level is high??? I am going back to feeding every other day....

    What do you all think? Can I add a few more??

  2. Sarah73Fishlore VIPMember

    You shouldn't have all of those tetra's with groups of only 2. You need groups of 6 tetra's for each of the tetra's you have. Second having a red tail shark in your 29g is not good. They grow much bigger than a 29g. You need to sort your tetra's and fish out before you even consider getting more fish.

  3. el337Fishlore LegendMember

    No, I wouldn't add any more fish until you are cycled. Ammonia and nitrite should both be zero. You'll need to do a couple of large back to back water changes to bring that nitrite down asap. You could do 50% right now, re-test to see what the level is and then probably do another 50% afterwards. Do you have a good water condtiioner like Seachem Prime that detoxes the ammonia and nitrite?

    I'm not familiar with that bacteria supplement but I would recommend Seachem Stability in your situation because of the need for water changes with the stock you have.

    Further, you have some stocking issues. The shark isn't appropriate for your tank size and I would just pick 2 of the 3 schooling fish you have, rehome the other and then up the rest to at least 6. Only after you are cycled and you rehome the shark, you can add more fish.
  4. ccraw024New MemberMember

    I did have 2 bleeding heart tetras but one of them died, so I got 4 candy cane tetras because they look almost identical to the bleeding hearts and my local fish shop said they would school with the bleeding heart. I had 4 candy canes, 2 bleeding hearts, 2 white skirts. They all school fine and get along great, but I lost 2 candy canes and 1 bleeding heart which is why my numbers are messed up. I have a juvenile RTS who is less than 2 inches long. I plan on getting a 50 gallon tank at the end of the summer -- I know that RTS need a larger tank.

    I did a 25% water change with Prime and I did a surface gravel vac -- this did NOTHING for the Nitrite level but brought down my nitrate by 20ppm.
  5. el337Fishlore LegendMember

    25% won't do much and would only mean your nitrite level is above 5ppm (off the color chart). I would do at least a 50-60% water change and maybe a couple more after that as previously mentioned.

    It's not the deaths that would have caused the spikes but the reverse.
  6. codyrex97Well Known MemberMember

    Try to keep the nitrite at 1ppm, manageable for your prime but providing food for bacteria.
    Rehome shark.
    Do NOT add any fish until cycle is done.
  7. el337Fishlore LegendMember

    It's fine to do enough water changes to get it below 1ppm and ultimately for it to get to zero. There will always be a constant source of food for the bacteria since fish will be constantly producing waste.
  8. jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    Welcome to FishLore!

    I can't stress enough that you need to do some water changes to get those nitrates down ASAP. High nitrites impair a fishes ability to get oxygen out of the water. Nitrite poisoning is also called "brown gill disease" because it affects the fish's gills.

    Secondly, nitrite levels that high can actually inhibit the nitrite converting bacteria, slowing or even stalling your cycle.

    I would aim to get and keep those nitrites under 1ppm at all times. And make sure when doing your daily partial water changes, you use enough Prime to treat the entire tank. You may even want to overdose with Prime. SeaChem (the maker of Prime) even says that in a case of high nitrites you can dose 5X the normal dose.

    For the sake of your poor fish, I hope you choose to take the advice everyone in this thread has given. I know it a lot of work doing daily partial water changes, but it shouldn't be for too long a time before you are cycled (especially if you use Stability), and you really don't want to see your fish suffocate.

    Oh and to answer your other question. please do not add any additional fish until the cycle completes. One of the most important aspects of fish keeping is to have patience. And sadly, that is the one thing the fish store does not sell.
  9. Mom2someWell Known MemberMember

    Welcome to fishlore, if I didn't get to say that previously. As stated above you need to do several 50-60% water changes back to back to at least be able to tell what your nitrite level is. At > 5 you are probably stalling your cycle. Once you get your nitrite level down i would guess your cycle will complete quickly. Many people here have been in your shoes when first starting out in the hobby and some of the recommendations for stocking are based on lots of experience. You will see more natural behaviors from your fish if they are stocked appropriately (ex groups of 6 of the Same kind for schooling fish). Similarly group experience is that buying fish for a tank you Plan to get can be problematic because life happens and sometimes you can't get the bigger tank, then you are stuck with a too big fish in a too small tank. Keep posting with questions and progress! And we like to see pictures of your tank!
  10. ccraw024New MemberMember

    Hi everyone! Thank you for all of the replies! Here is my current update!
    I GOT A BIGGER TANK!! :;rocker
    I took everyone's advice about how my shark needed a bigger tank so I went and bought a 60 gallon!

    (don't mind the band posters)

    I wanted to really start from scratch since my tank seemed like such a 'problem' tank and I did not want my fish suffering anymore. I got the 60 gallon, added water and prime, let it sit overnight, added StartSmart Complete the next day along with all 6 of my fish and nerite snail....

    As of 4:00pm today, I am already getting a Nitrite reading, which to me just shows that the nitrogen cycle has already started thanks to the StartSmart. I am expecting Nitrate readings by the end of the week and think this is a step in the right direction for my fish hobby! Haha. I was getting so discouraged, but I think just being minimal with this tank and not constantly messing with it and only checking levels will be the best move. I am going to wait until it fully cycles before adding anymore fish, but I will definitely take the advice I was given and get proper schooling sizes for my current tetras.

    Thanks everyone, I will upload more pictures when I get more fishies! :;group
  11. Mom2someWell Known MemberMember

    Congrats! Bigger tanks often are easier to maintain water parameters in. Now head on over to the stocking sub forum and figure out what you want your final stocking to be. Did you transfer any of the media from your old filter?
  12. ccraw024New MemberMember

    Thanks for the suggestion to check out the stocking forum -- I'll totally do that.

    I did not transfer any filter media from my old tank because the filter was a smaller size and my media for my new fluval aquaclear is so tight it hardly fit -- so I did not see how the media from my old tank could fit :(

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