New Aquarium Help/Advice

Brett22

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Hello, this is my first post
I have just started my first aquarium with some unfortunate events but am eager to learn and start my journey of fish keeping.

I have a 20 Gallon tank, and was advised by workers at PetSmart to run my aquarium for a week before adding fish. They recommended I use Nutrafin Cycle as well as Nutrafin Aqua Plus. I used the water conditioner and started adding Nutrafin Cycle following the instructions on the bottle adding for the first 3 days.
The water was clear for the first 2 days then became very cloudy. I checked the water parameters after a few days using the 5 in 1 test strips along with ammonia test strips. Nitrates have been 0, Nitrites 0, PH 7.0, KH 80, GH 60, Ammonia at 0 & temperature around 76 -78 degrees. I went to a closer pet store as I live in a small town very far from the city called best west pet foods to pick up my first fish after waiting about a week. The bottle of Nutrafin cycle says it allows for immediate introduction of fish and I have also heard from other pet stores that you can add fish in 1 - 3 days. I bought 2 Glofish tetras & 2 Black skirt tetras and unfortunately all of them have died within 4 - 6 hours of being in my tank. Very disappointed and saddened by this experience I called both PetSmart & Best West pet foods for advice. PetSmart was unsure why my fish had died their best explanation was "some fish just don't make it" and recommended a water clarifier for the cloudiness. Best West pet foods suggested the tank was not quite ready just yet and advised I wait about a month while adding fish food to the tank everyday and to pick some hardier fish to start. As for the cloudy water they suggested I take out 2 - 3 cups and add in 2 - 3 cups of fresh water, which is what I did and used a small amount of water conditioner with it. I asked about doing a water change of around 20 - 30 % and they said that would be too much. Also when I got the fish I added in more Nutrafin Cycle as advised by the bottle for new fish, some Nutrafin waste control, as well as some of the Nutrafin Aqua plus water conditioner following instructions for stress relief due to acclimation. I acclimated the fish for about an hour mixing my aquarium water to the bags letting them float in the tank. I have now been doing some research on the nitrogen cycle and am aware of a few different methods, Adding pure ammonia to the tank everyday, adding fish food everyday, asking a store for a used filter or piece of a used filter to jump start the beneficial bacteria, and also doing a fish in cycle which no one is a fan of. I feel bad for having those fish suffer the way they did and am unsure of how to continue. I've spent nearly $500 on setting up my aquarium and getting all the necessary supplies and am not willing to give up. I had fish when I was young and loved them, now I have rediscovered my love for fish keeping and am very eager to care for my new aquarium. I plan on adding the fish food every day or every other day, monitoring the water parameters and waiting until the water clears and my tank has been cycled before adding any new fish.

Any advice on how to move forward or possibly speed up the cycling process would be greatly appreciated.
What should I be looking for with my water parameters? & Should I be checking them everyday?
How long will it take for my water to clear? & could this be caused by the bacterial bloom or possibly the artificial plants and decor or gravel from PetSmart? ( I thoroughly rinsed all before adding to the aquarium)
How long does a typical cycle take using the fish food? 4 - 8 weeks? How much of the flakes should I be adding? & How soon will I be able to add more fish?

Thank you for taking the time to read my post, I look forward to sharing my experience and learning more about the wonderful world of fish keeping.
 

Mongo75

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Welcome to Fishlore :).

I'm so sorry you listened to the people that sell fish and fish supplies. Probably the worst advice you will ever receive. Some know what they're talking about, but most don't. Lesson Learned!

Please read this, Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle.

Then read these, READ FIRST: Freshwater Beginner Important Topics | Freshwater Beginners 14296.

If you don't have a liquid test kit like the API Freshwater Master Kit, that should be your next purchase, along with a bottle of Seachem Prime water conditioner. The test strips are known to unreliable, and very sensitive to handling and storage. The Prime will remove chlorine and chloramines, and will detoxify small amounts of ammonia and nitrites from 24 to 48 hours.

Prepping a tank for fish (the nitrogen cycle) isn't (usually) that difficult, but it takes a lot of patience and time, and more than likely, your fish died from too high ammonia.

You've done the right thing, by asking. You'll get a lot of good advice from the good people here at Fishlore :).
 

Gel0city

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First of all, welcome! Tanks should be running for longer than one week IMO. I haven't heard of Nutrifin Cycle, but if it is working then you should stick to it. The cloudy water is called a bacterial bloom, and its common in new tanks.
As for checking water parameters, buy yourself an API master kit, as it is more reliable than test strips. I use Prime as my water conditioner, and one benefit is that Prime detoxifies Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate for 24 hours (detoxifies, not removes).
Also, don't stress too much about nitrate, because without live plants it probably will not be 0ppm. Ammonia and nitrite should always be at the desirable 0ppm ONCE your tank is running properly.
 
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Brett22

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Mongo75 said:
Welcome to Fishlore :).

I'm so sorry you listened to the people that sell fish and fish supplies. Probably the worst advice you will ever receive. Some know what they're talking about, but most don't. Lesson Learned!

Please read this, Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle.

Then read these, READ FIRST: Freshwater Beginner Important Topics | Freshwater Beginners 14296.

If you don't have a liquid test kit like the API Freshwater Master Kit, that should be your next purchase, along with a bottle of Seachem Prime water conditioner. The test strips are known to unreliable, and very sensitive to handling and storage. The Prime will remove chlorine and chloramines, and will detoxify small amounts of ammonia and nitrites from 24 to 48 hours.

Prepping a tank for fish (the nitrogen cycle) isn't (usually) that difficult, but it takes a lot of patience and time, and more than likely, your fish died from too high ammonia.

You've done the right thing, by asking. You'll get a lot of good advice from the good people here at Fishlore :).
Thank you! :)

Lesson learned for sure!
I will read those right now.

& I'll look into purchasing both of those, I appreciate the advice.
Glad I found Fishlore.
 
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Brett22

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Gel0city said:
First of all, welcome! Tanks should be running for longer than one week IMO. I haven't heard of Nutrifin Cycle, but if it is working then you should stick to it. The cloudy water is called a bacterial bloom, and its common in new tanks.
As for checking water parameters, buy yourself an API master kit, as it is more reliable than test strips. I use Prime as my water conditioner, and one benefit is that Prime detoxifies Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate for 24 hours (detoxifies, not removes).
Also, don't stress too much about nitrate, because without live plants it probably will not be 0ppm. Ammonia and nitrite should always be at the desirable 0ppm ONCE your tank is running properly.
Thank you for the warm welcome!
I will stick with the Nutrafin Cycle, it says to add a weekly dose after the first 3 days to maintain a strong beneficial biology colony. Is that normal for a cycling supplement? Typically how long does the cloudy water from a bacterial bloom last? I will definitely look into purchasing the API master kit. Good to know Prime not only conditions the water but also helps detoxify the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate I will look into purchasing that as well.
I do not currently have any live plants in my aquarium, would that help with safe water parameters?
Which method have you used for cycling tanks? Am I going the right route with adding fish food flakes every 12 - 24 hours? Any recommendation on how much I should be adding?

Thank you for the advice, appreciated very much
 

Gel0city

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Brett22 said:
Thank you for the warm welcome!
I will stick with the Nutrafin Cycle, it says to add a weekly dose after the first 3 days to maintain a strong beneficial biology colony. Is that normal for a cycling supplement? Typically how long does the cloudy water from a bacterial bloom last? I will definitely look into purchasing the API master kit. Good to know Prime not only conditions the water but also helps detoxify the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate I will look into purchasing that as well.
I do not currently have any live plants in my aquarium, would that help with safe water parameters?
Which method have you used for cycling tanks? Am I going the right route with adding fish food flakes every 12 - 24 hours? Any recommendation on how much I should be adding?

Thank you for the advice, appreciated very much
I think adding the fish food is fine, I would add live plants once the tank is cycled. Just for clarification, Prime doesn't get ride of ammonia entirely, just makes it less toxic and easier for your BB to "eat" it up. :)

Edit: Prime makes it less toxic for about 24 hours. Also is a water conditioner that removes chlorine and chloramine.
 

Mongo75

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Brett22 said:
I do not currently have any live plants in my aquarium, would that help with safe water parameters?
Which method have you used for cycling tanks? Am I going the right route with adding fish food flakes every 12 - 24 hours? Any recommendation on how much I should be adding?
Live plants will process ammonia, nitrites and nitrates, all 3 are major components of most fertilizers. Be warned though, it will take a lot of plants before you see any real difference. I seem to only be able to keep Anubias and Java Fern alive, so I use them and I also use sweet potatoes (ask and I will explain).

I've always done fish-in cycles, but if you choose that route, you really need a liquid test kit like the API Freshwater Master Kit for daily testing, and you will be doing a lot of water changes. A lot of people say the bottled bacteria is unnecessary. I don't know. I use Seachem Stability, and it works fine for me. Is it helpful or necessary? I don't know...

If you want to do a fish-less cycle, I would recommend using pure (no detergents or fragrance added) ammonia. It's cleaner, and takes the guesswork out of how much to add, over using fish food as a source of ammonia.
 

Gel0city

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Mongo75 said:
Live plants will process ammonia, nitrites and nitrates, all 3 are major components of most fertilizers. Be warned though, it will take a lot of plants before you see any real difference. I seem to only be able to keep Anubias and Java Fern alive, so I use them and I also use sweet potatoes (ask and I will explain).

I've always done fish-in cycles, but if you choose that route, you really need a liquid test kit like the API Freshwater Master Kit for daily testing, and you will be doing a lot of water changes. A lot of people say the bottled bacteria is unnecessary. I don't know. I use Seachem Stability, and it works fine for me. Is it helpful or necessary? I don't know...

If you want to do a fish-less cycle, I would recommend using pure (no detergents or fragrance added) ammonia. It's cleaner, and takes the guesswork out of how much to add, over using fish food as a source of ammonia.
I don't know if Brett22 is wondering, but I was just curious, why do you have sweet potatoes in your aquarium? I think it was you that posted a picture somewhere and it intrigued me.
 

cmid21

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Gel0city said:
I don't know if Brett22 is wondering, but I was just curious, why do you have sweet potatoes in your aquarium? I think it was you that posted a picture somewhere and it intrigued me.
It is just one way to soak up nitrates. Pothos plants are another (what I use). There are several plants that you can use to soak up extra nutrients.
 

Gel0city

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cmid21 said:
It is just one way to soak up nitrates. Pothos plants are another (what I use). There are several plants that you can use to soak up extra nutrients.
:eek: Wow! That's pretty cool :) I just stick with my easy to grow anubias and hornwort.
 
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Brett22

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Mongo75 said:
Live plants will process ammonia, nitrites and nitrates, all 3 are major components of most fertilizers. Be warned though, it will take a lot of plants before you see any real difference. I seem to only be able to keep Anubias and Java Fern alive, so I use them and I also use sweet potatoes (ask and I will explain).

I've always done fish-in cycles, but if you choose that route, you really need a liquid test kit like the API Freshwater Master Kit for daily testing, and you will be doing a lot of water changes. A lot of people say the bottled bacteria is unnecessary. I don't know. I use Seachem Stability, and it works fine for me. Is it helpful or necessary? I don't know...

If you want to do a fish-less cycle, I would recommend using pure (no detergents or fragrance added) ammonia. It's cleaner, and takes the guesswork out of how much to add, over using fish food as a source of ammonia.
Good to know! I may have to get some live plants in the future.

What are some of the hardiest type of fish you would recommend for a fish-in cycle if I decide to switch to that?

I have seen 2 different types of master test kits at LFS would you recommend the API or Fluval brand? I have seen some posts of people seeing inaccuracies with testing the ammonia with both kits.

Also I am having a hard time determining my ammonia levels with the API test strips, it says to dip for 5 seconds and then wait 60 seconds for results but the longer it sits the more the color changes, is that normal for test strips? If I wait 60 seconds it shows up as 0ppm but if I let it sit for another minute or two it shows the ammonia levels are somewhere between 3.0ppm & 6.0ppm
 

Gel0city

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Brett22 said:
Good to know! I may have to get some live plants in the future.

What are some of the hardiest type of fish you would recommend for a fish-in cycle if I decide to switch to that?

I have seen 2 different types of master test kits at LFS would you recommend the API or Fluval brand? I have seen some posts of people seeing inaccuracies with testing the ammonia with both kits.

Also I am having a hard time determining my ammonia levels with the API test strips, it says to dip for 5 seconds and then wait 60 seconds for results but the longer it sits the more the color changes, is that normal for test strips? If I wait 60 seconds it shows up as 0ppm but if I let it sit for another minute or two it shows the ammonia levels are somewhere between 3.0ppm & 6.0ppm
I would recommend the API Master Kit, the one with bottles not test strips, as those are inaccurate. I have never done fish in cycles, but hardy fish I know are guppies, neons, and danios. I'm sure others will chime in as well.

EDIT: White Cloud Minnows are also hardy as well, if you can find some in your LFS.
 

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