New 55 gallon tank: hopeless situation-need advice


Well, I remember setting up my 29 gallon tank, added two convict cichlids & Bio Spira & all was well. That tank is still in good shape...just 30% water change once a month to reduce nitrates & all is good. So, you can add Bio Spira & your tank is cycled & life is good....right? Well, as Glen Beck would say.........Ah....not so much! Actually, I've lost faith in that product it has not worked at all in my new 55 gallon & I wouldn't recommend anyone buy the product.

Much of the problem is that I'm sure my filtration system is being overwhelmed. I have six Red Bellied piranhas in there. They are about 3 inches in size. I've video taped them slaughtering gold fish feeders & have been entertained by them, but they must go, but I can't get rid of them until Monday. A pet store owner has agreed to buy them from me. I think one would need at least a 300 gallon tank for these guys. I have my 55 gallon treated with Amquel+. That's the only way they could survive. I honestly have never seen nitrate & nitrite levels that high before. I could do an 80 % water change & the water quality would be the same.

The piranhas will be gone on Monday. I can't see any point in adding any different fish. I'm just gonna let it run without fish, but what are some suggestions. Should I take all of the water out & start all over?, add Cycle after a partial water change & see what the water quality does? or something else? any suggestions are greatly appreciated. You don't have to know anything about piranhas, just nasty tanks & what to do about them. That's the advice I need. Oh & if you are wondering about my is a Tetra Whisper power filter for 60 gallons.


I don't know much of piranahs,
but I used to have 2 oscars and a pleco in a 29,
but I didnt know of the stuff like nitrates then,
I would re-start the 55 with a large gold fish,
and re-start the 29,
you might not get much replys,
lots of people here are against feeder fish,
and "poor little dying fish", try reposting some wher else or modify this topic with out the slaughtering gold fish part,
you might get more responses from more experienced people.


My 29 gallon took longer than I ever thought it would, and I used Biospira. As my parents used to say- sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn't.

I have read that live foods and fish such as yours do create more waste by far than other types- which would explain the current problem. Adding both fish, and the additional waste all at once, even to a big tank, probably just overwhelmed the bacteria in the Biospira. Meaning, you didn't do anything wrong, just a bit fast for the bio to catch up.

All the advice I have is to do 20%ish water changes twice daily (if possible) and feed less. Fish can go weeks without food, so till Monday with very little food (or even none) and they will be fine. When you do the water changes, I recommend rinsing out the filter in the old water to get out any gunk that might have built up. I lost fish in my cycle because I did too much of a water change when the nitrites were scary high. So, small frequent changes seemed better. If I had done smaller water changes and not way overfed the fish in the first place, things would have worked out far better. Live and learn!

Once you return the Piranahs, I would recommend doing a water change but not necessarily the gravel. As you have gotten halfway through the cycle, I would say continue it and then it is done and good. You can continue it with either a super hearty fish, or fishless with fish food or ammonia.

Good luck! One the tank has cycled, it will be worth it!



HI Walt. Don't give up on Bio Spira, like Radcliffe said the bio load just overwhelmed the establishing bacteria.. Usually adding fish to any new tank has to be done slowly, even using a product to speed the cycle along. My suggestion would be to change 90% of the water, vacuum the gravel (keep it wet to keep bacteria alive), rinse filter as suggested, in tank water, refill with new water, and keep the cycle going either fishless with food every 12 hours (just a few flakes), ammonia, or if you want to get 2 or 3 small fish that don't produce all that waste, that would be OK also.

If you do decide to use fish, keep testing the water every other day, and if the ammonia or nitrite go up as high as 1, do 50% water changes as needed to keep it under 1. Once the nitrate goes up, do water changes as needed to keep it between 5 and 10. This will be best for keeping healthy fish. Best of Luck.

Land of the Midnight Sun 8)

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