New Tank Cycling

  • #1
Hi y’all!
I finally got my first tank and wow it is a lot more than I expected. Although I love the challenge. I have the 29 gallon starter from Petsmart and have used Stress Relief as a dechlorinator and quick start to begin the cycling process. I added 4 Zebra Danios to help with a live cycle. I also have about 5 live plants in there as well.

The problems (s) I have run into are the PH and Ammonia levels. The PH is sitting around 7.6-7.8 which doesn’t seem too bad from what I read but ideally should be closer to 7.0 if I understand correctly.
On top of that the Ammonia level has gone from 2.0 to about .25-.5 while Nitrates went from 20 to 5 and Nitrites are now at 0. This was 3 days ago and has not changed since. I did a 5 gal water change yesterday, using sea hem prime as a dechlorinator, via reading some of the infinite articles on the topic.

Today makes a week since starting, so this may be me lacking patience during this learning process. Should everything be stable or should the ammonia be jumping?

Any help is appreciated!


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  • #2
Hi Ruckus08
Welcome to fishlore. Do not be concerned about the PH . For two reasons.
The PH in a tank that is cycling can swing up and down that is normal in a cycling tank.
Most (all) tank raised fish can adapt to almost any stable PH . The key word to remember is stable. For this reason it’s always better to not “ chase “ a correct PH. A stable PH is easy enough with common sense but also requires a KH above 5 or 6 ish. Don’t worry about the PH at the moment.

There are two main ways to cycle a tank .
With fish and without fish. Also called fish less and fish in.
The two ways require a completely different strategy.
You have fish in the tank . Most people want to keep the fish alive? To do this you need to be doing partial temperature matched conditioned water changes any time the ammonia is above 1 ppm or there about. While the fish may not die this week it also giving them liver damage.

The toxicity of ammonia is dependent on the level of the PH and water temperature but that’s a long story for another day.

Change some water today if you have time .
Don’t clean any hard surfaces.Don’t clean the filter.
  • #3
Hi Ruckus08

Flyfisha said it perfectly.

I would add, don’t overfeed your fish while the tank is cycling. They don’t require food every single day, especially if ammonia levels are too high. The general rule of thumb is whatever your fish can eat in two minutes is enough food in one sitting.

Your filter will need time to establish beneficial bacteria that will consume the ammonia/nitrite (it’s also a good idea to keep an eye on nitrite levels). Try to keep the ammonia levels between 0.25-0.5ppm and your tank will still cycle, and be safer for the fish.
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
Thank you for the advice. I will do another water change today and limit feeding to every other day.

During the cycling process should I be vacuuming the gravel as well? What about Adding BB, quick start, with every water change? I read that some people have put seachem prime and then QS in the new water. It seems a little much for me but I am a newb.

I put the Zebras in there because I read they were hardy and capable of surviving the process. I hope they don’t die. I plan on adding a couple more for a school of 6.
  • #5
Do not vacuum the gravel. You can hover over the top 1/2 inch from the gravel and some solids will be sucked up and removed without disturbing the gravel.

A conditioner is used with every water change forever and always.
I would say use the QS until it’s finished but don’t waste your time or money on buying another bottle.

You should not be cleaning any hard surfaces until the tank is cycled.
Smashing out a five minute water change is the key to the next few weeks.
I realise you have a 29 gallon and will need to change around 10 gallons which is two 5 gallon buckets. But honestly matching the temperature and remembering the conditioner are all you need worry about. What starts as a ten minute job will become shorter and shorter. Maybe not 5 minutes but certainly not something to put off until tomorrow.

I personally still do water changes after midnight and before breakfast. Do a quick water change as the coffee is being made. IMO there is no need to fluff around testing the water daily. Not for the next fortnight/ 4 weeks or so anyway.
I know you are new and will test the water and possibly even write down the results. Sure that’s fine but smash out water changes. A little and often.
Never change more than 50% or you risk shocking the fish with different parameters. You can however do a second water change a few hours later ( 4) on the same day should you be to busy one day.

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