New 20g Tank, some advice! Help

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by ronin, Nov 23, 2009.

  1. roninNew MemberMember

    Ok, so I went out and purchased a 20 gallon tank, and I am having some trouble with the initial cycle.... I have read a lot of information on this site and it's great! but I still am a bit confused...

    Basically, here is what happened...

    Purchased a 20 gallon tank. I have a Aqueon power filter (charcoal), All glass submersible heater, bubble bar.

    I was an IDIOT and did not do my research!

    -Set up the tank, got it running for 12 hours.. stable temp of 77-78 degrees
    -Used tap water, used Amquel+ to take away chlorine etc..
    -Bought 3 Albino Corydoras, didn't acclimate them properly to the new tank. They were all fine for the first few hours
    -1 Albino died within 3 hours, another one died later that night. Just slowly stopped swimming and started floating around.
    -Bought a Zebra Danio since I heard they were hardy and good to get the initial cycle going.

    -Started reading this forum, felt like an idiot..

    So now I have 1 Albino Cory and 1 Zebra Danio in the tank. The Zebra was properly acclimated today. He seems fine. The Cory is moving all his fins at the same time and is just staying in one spot near the bottom of the tank. He just really hangs there not moving around much. He still looks fine, and darts a little once and a while, but normally just hangs there in the same spot. I am assuming he is stressed.

    This is my second day with the tank, and now I am not sure what to do. I want to try and keep these fish around and get the tank cycled.

    Here are some specs of the tank..

    Ammonia - 0
    Nitrate - about 10 (based on judging the color on the test strip)
    Nitrite - 0
    Total Hardness - 1000? (it is easily the highest color on the test strip)
    Total Alkalinity - 300? (it is also the highest level on the test strip)
    pH - 8.5? (it is also the highest level on the test strip)
    Temp - 77/78

    I have only provided a very small pinch of food to the three Cory's when i first got them, (none of them ate) (Tetramin Tropical Flakes)
    I gave a super small bit of food to the Zebra Danio today, he ate a good bit.(Tetramin Tropical Flakes)

    I also had the bubble bar on nonstop, and it seems the two fish like it better off. Should I leave it on?

    I am just not sure what to do now. Should I worry about the super hard, super high pH levels? I'd rather just get fish that can acclimate to those levels.

    Should I cycle out some water during the first few days? How often during this beginning stage should i change some of the water? I just dont want to kill these last two fish, and I want to get my tank going properly. Any advice would be AWESOME!

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 23, 2009
  2. aquarium dunceValued MemberMember

    Don't feel like and idiot... you ought to have heard all the trouble I had when I started...these guys on the forum are the best... great accurate information they will really help you out. Since you already have fish in the tank you might have some luck with tetra safe may help to jump start the cycle and keep the fish safe. Just make sure you shake the bottle up well before adding and follow the directions. As far as food goes... I have found that my cory's love sinking wafers and shrimp pellets to eat.
    Also you should look into getting an API master test kit much more accurate than strips. Hope this helps!!
  3. OP

    roninNew MemberMember

    Thanks for the advice. :;thx I will look into the Tetra Safe Start and get a master test kit. I had the fluorescent light on for a lot of the time, just now turned it off and the Cory started moving around the tank a lot more. I guess too much light was bugging him, or maybe it's just a coincidence? Hopefully he can hang on!

  4. ShadowbeamValued MemberMember

    As far as I'm aware Cory's are more active when it is dark. Tank looks beautiful btw :)
    I've never used Tetra Safe Start myself but i hear other members have had luck with it.

    Don't worry about how things started, I was there myself! I think alot of us were. Aquarium Dunce is right when he says this forum is a fantastic place to help! They really helped me out many times :)

  5. Lucy

    LucyModeratorModerator Member

    Welcome to Fish Lore :)
    I'm sorry about your fish :(
    Many of us started they way you did, so don't feel bad.

    Your tank looks really good, but are you sure thats a danio? It looks like a Serpea Tetra.

    As aquarium dunce suggested, the API Master kit is much more reliable than the strips.
    If we can believe the strips (which I doubt)
    It's odd that you have a nitrate reading. That usually doesn't happen until the end of the cycling process which can take up to and sometimes over a month.
    I would suggest you test your tap water for nitrates.

    Here's a basic explanation of the nitrogen cycle:
    First your ammonia (from fish waste and left over food) will rise.
    In a few weeks bacteria will start to develop and you'll see the nitrite levels rise and the ammonia levels start to drop.
    After a few more weeks a different kind of bacteria begins to develop and you'll see the nitrate levels rise and the nitrite levels drop.
    Ammonia and nitrites are toxic to your fish.
    So until your cycle is complete, you need to keep the levels down with 50% daily water changes.
    If your pH differs greatly from tap to tank 2 25% changes a day would be safer.
    Using Prime (amquel+ detox's ammonia, I think) as your water conditioner will detox the ammonia for 24 hrs between water changes.
    When you having readings of 0 on both ammonia and nitrites with some nitrates showing, your cycle is done.

    Many fish can adapt to different pH's. It's usually best to have a stable pH than to mess with it. There are certain fish that require a lower pH.
    I think the fish you have will be ok in your pH.

    If you can get Tetra SafeStart, you won't have to do the daily water changes, but it can be hard to find.
    Best of luck!
  6. jdhef

    jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    You got some good advice above and I just want to note two things. It is possible that your tap water contains nitrate (mine does). If that is the case you are going to need to keep an eye on your nitrates once you are cycled since you won't have much wiggle room for keeping the nitrates below 20. So in that respect using Amquel+ will be benificial since it does detox or eliminate nitrates.

    The other thing I wanted to mention was that if you are using Amquel+ and if you use the API liquid test kit, the ammonia test will read positive for ammonia whether you have ammonia or not. So I went to Kardon's (the manufacturer of Amquel+) website and bought there powder based ammonia test kit. I was forced to order from their online store since that appears to be the only place you can purchase it.
  7. OP

    roninNew MemberMember

    Thanks for the advice!!

    I think your right, the first fish I bought is indeed not a Cory, but a Serpea Tetra. Thats what I get for buying fish from dreaded Walmart. Never again.

    The Tetra seems to be looking OK, i think he might just be lonely with only one other fish in the tank with him.

    So here is the plan...

    I will start doing two daily 25% changes with my tap water until i can get some Tetra Start. Treat the tap water with my Amquel+. The pH should stay the same, as I have not messed with any chemicals to change it. Is this the right procedure..?

    Fill a clean dedicated aquarium bucket with tap water, put in proper amount of Amquel, let it sit till it is the same temp as aquarium. Pull out 25% of the tank water, and dump the new water in.

    I am also buying the proper master test kit to get some better data about the tank.

    Sorry for all the newbie questions, and i thank everyone for taking the time to help!!!!!!:;toast
  8. jdhef

    jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    Everything sounds good, but if you use both hot and cold water to get to the correct temperature when filling the bucket, there is no need to let the water sit.
  9. OP

    roninNew MemberMember

    Sweet, thanks jdhef!
  10. OP

    roninNew MemberMember

    Ok, so now I am unsure of what to do. I have been retesting and cycling water in my tank, levels look good. My Tetra just wont eat anything. I have been feeding both fish sparingly, but the Tetra wont even try to go for any food. He just sits in the corner. If I turn the light off, he will move around, and he seems fairly alert but just wont eat. The Zebra is eating fine.
  11. Meenu

    MeenuFishlore VIPMember

    Welcome to fishlore. Don't feel bad about what's happened so far - you're in good company, as most of us started the same way. All you can do is look forward now.

    Honestly, at this point, I wouldn't be too worried about the eating. The fish shouldn't starve to death in a couple of days. I'd be more worried about the water parameters. Tetras are not hardy fish and I've read that they usually don't survive a cycling tank - they need to be in a well-established tank. They are also schooling fish, and need several buddies to hang with. I'm hoping your tetra makes it, but just want you to know that if he doesn't, it isn't necessarily anything you did. Walmart definitely shouldn't have those mislabeled. :mad:

    If you still want to use the quick-cycle stuff: Call around to any locally owned fish stores in your area and see if they sell Tetra Safe Start. It has to be that brand. Sometimes they will tell you they don't have it, but they have <stresszyme, nutrafin cycle, etc> and it does the same thing. But only TSS will work properly, as it is the only product currently on the market that has the correct bacteria to do the job. Also make sure it isn't expired.

    Once you have it, wait 24 hours to let the amelquel + wear off, then shake the bottle and add the whole thing. You should add more fish at the same time, as Tss is made to work with fish in the tank. I only had 2 fish for my first TsS bottle, and it wasn't enough ammonia being produced, so the tank didn't cycle. Once it is in, don't test the water for 7 days. After 7 days, test. If the readings aren't 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, some nitrates, then wait and test again after 3 days. should be cycled by then. While the Tss is doing its thing, no water changes, chemicals, tests. Just feed the fish.

    If you are going to cycle without the TSS, the best thing is to continue as you have been.

    By the way, danios prefer groups too. Keep an eye on yours - they get aggressive if they are kept in too small of a group.
  12. OP

    roninNew MemberMember

    Thanks so much for laying that all out for me!! It's all starting to make sense now. I will follow your advice and see how things go! :)
  13. DigglyWell Known MemberMember

    He hasnt got a danio he has a sepae tetra (I cant spell it though!)

    I would advise going the way you are now with water changes and tests, tss doesnt always work and you are doing the right thing now with water changes, amquel detoxifies ammonia for 24hrs so keep doing the changes and your fish will be safe.

    Keep us updated!!
  14. Meenu

    MeenuFishlore VIPMember

    Hi Diggly,
    He thought his tetra was a cory. I think he's indicating that he has a danio and a serpae tetra.

    I'll have to respectfully disagree about the tetra safe start. I think fishless cycle is best, but Tss is safer for the fish than the fish-in conditioner/daily water changes way. Look at poor Jackie Frost's fish.

    If you can find Tss and afford it, I think you're better off at least giving it a try. It gives your tank the necessary bacteria rather than having to wait weeks for it to build up. The worst case scenario is that after a couple of weeks (the fish are safe during this time) with the TSS in your tank, it didn't work and you have to do the other method. If you can afford it, it is at least worth a try.

    I think the cycling with fish, doing daily water changes with Prime/Amelquel plus method seems like it is a last resort, emergency situation: we advise people to use it when they come to this website already with fish in their tank and worried about where they have gone wrong.

    Just my two cents.
  15. phil saint

    phil saintValued MemberMember

    Hi Ronin

    I made the same mistake when i got my first tank at the start of sept and ended up cycling with 10 neon tetras. i was doing daily water changes (using nutrafin aqua plus water conditioner) and seen the ammonia rise and fall then the nitrite rise and fall then the nitrate rise and fall. All my neons survied and are fine so dont worry to much ! (like i did haha) as long as you do the daily water changes it should be fine, iv never used TSS myself so i dont know how good or bad it is but iv never had any bad advice from anyone here.

    good luck.....Phil
  16. Shawnie

    ShawnieFishlore LegendMember

    welcome ronin!!
    your getting some great advice!! but everyone remember, amquel+ is great for ammonia, but does NOTHING for nitrites which are just as prime is best but harder to find....and I agree that tetras safestart , if used properly, works far its the only proven live bacteria that does what its suppose to do..cycle a tank in 7-10 days...but most failure of it, is because it wasnt used the way it was intended to be used ...
  17. jdhef

    jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    Shawnie I cut and pasted thos from Kardon's website:

    "removes/detoxifies all forms of ammonia/ammonium/nitrites/nitrates from the water, including ammonia in chloramines"

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