New Tank Parameters?

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by Christian Villanueva, Apr 22, 2017.

  1. Christian VillanuevaValued MemberMember

    Hey guys!

    I'm fairly new to this forum and fish keeping in general so let's get straight to the question.
    I've recently started a 10 gallon tank after failing miserably on my 5 gallon (no fish were harmed, I promise). The 10 gallon is about 10 days old, with fish already inside it. I set up the tank, waited 3 days and added tetra safestart plus to it and after reading around, I decided to add 6 neon tetras to the tank. About 2 days later one of my friends gave me some beneficial bacteria from his own tank and I've been testing my parameters every two days ever since. I've also decided to add my Betta into the tank and 5 more neon tetras so overall my tank has 11 neon tetras, 1 betta, 1 otocinclus and 4 ghost shrimp. I know my tank is a bit overstocked but my main question is about my parameters. My ammonia is constantly at 0.25 ppm, nitrite at 0 ppm and nitrate at 20 ppm. I've tested 4 times now which means its been roughly 8 days since I've started testing but nothing has changed ever since. When should I be expecting a change in my parameters? Or am I just one of the lucky people that have an instant cycle from the beneficial bacteria that my friend gave me?
    Thanks for the help!
  2. Bizarro252Well Known MemberMember

    Likly you are cycled from the filter material you got from your buddy, what are your Nitrates at the tap? If much lower than your tank you are cycled :) Looks like you are overstocked though with a constant ammonia reading your filters cant keep up, however this could just be one of those phantom false positives... I really like the Seachem Ammonia Alert things, they only read free (the bad type) of ammonia and do so all the time and last a year - check those out :)

    Oh and if you have a Petco near you, there dollar a gallon sale is going on for one more week, get yourself a 20gal :p

    Edit: And welcome!

  3. AllieStenFishlore VIPMember

    Your tank seems cycled to me. Your Ammonia will remain high more often with an over stocked tank.

    How often are you changing your water? With an overstocked tank you should be doing 50% water changes every 4-5 days. I would definitely try it and see if your Ammonia drops to zero.

    Edit: if you use Seachem Prime it will convert the ammonia to ammonium which is a non-toxic version, up to 1ppm, for 24-48 hours. It is a dechlorinator so you would add it every time you do a water change. It also gives peace of mind that your fish aren't being harmed with an ammonia spike going on.
  4. Christian VillanuevaValued MemberMember

    Quite honestly I have yet to do a water change. My friend told me to wait a few more days and expect an ammonia spike which in this case never happened. Should I hold off on the water change or go ahead and do one right now?

    And also, should I do a water change even though my parameters are still 0.25 ammonia, 0 nitrite and 20 nitrate? When I do the water change, how long do I have to wait till prime kicks in and I can add the water? Thank you again!
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2017
  5. EternalDancerWell Known MemberMember

    I know it wasn't the main question, but you do have some stocking issues (above being overstocked). I'll give you the information I've picked up over the last couple months of being on here, so you can decide if you'd like to make some changes.

    Bettas need a minimum 20g tank if they're being housed with other fish. It might all seem to work for now, but things can change fast and you could quickly end up with dead fish.

    Betta and Neons have different temperature requirements, bettas need much warmer water.

    Ottos need to be kept in groups of six or more to prevent stress.

    Neons and possibly ottos need a bigger tank than 10g due to activity levels.

    Have you tested your tap (or whatever source) water for ammonia?
  6. AllieStenFishlore VIPMember

    Ok so yes you can do a water change since you appear to be cycled. It depends on how you are filling your tank.

    If you are using a bucket or pitcher of water to refill your tank, then fill the bucket, and dose Prime 1 drop per gallon for the amount you are replacing. I usually do a 50% water change, which is about 5 gallons to replace. I can't lift a 5 gallon bucket, so I fill the bucket with 2.5 gallons and then put 3 drops of Prime into the bucket and pour the bucket gently into the tank. Then I repeat it with a second bucket. Dosing the bucket itself will prevent you from overdosing. I do it a bucket at a time for dosing, it just is easier that way.

    Now if you are using a tank filler, you need to dose Prime into the tank for the full tank volume. So 10 drops into the tank then turn on the hose. Prime works immediately. So you don't need to wait any certain amount of time between dosing and adding the water.

    Normal tank care dictates changing your water and vacuuming once per week. It is up to you how much water you want to change. With your stocking I would do a 50% water change twice per week with a good vacuuming both times.

    During your water changes do not change your filter. Your nitrogen cycle lives in your filter, so if you throw it away, then you will lose your complete cycle. If the filter media (cartridge or biobag or whatever you are using) appears dirty or is clogged, then rinse it in the dirty tank water you just removed. Tap water will kill your nitrogen cycle because of the chlorine. As long as you are gentle but firm, swish it around in the bucket of dirty water, then place your media back into your filter. You will probably have to do this about once a month or so.

    Edit: I just upgraded 2 of my tanks by the way. I used already cycled media to add from my 10g to my 29g and it was fully cycled in 6 days. Probably sooner but I skipped a couple days of testing, because I was being lazy. I also upgraded from a 5g to a 10g with borrowed media, and it cycled in 3 days. So using borrowed media can cycle your tank almost instantly.

    I wouldn't keep using Tetra Safe Start at this point. I really honestly believe your tank is cycled from the borrowed media. After a couple of days, you will know for certain. Especially after the water change. We all shoot for Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0, Nitrates below 20, but it isn't always perfect. My original 10 gallon was overstocked and for the last 3 weeks before I upgraded I couldn't get the ammonia down below 0.25. My tank was fully cycled, but my filter just could not keep up with the bioload of all those fish. So something to keep in mind.

    I say keep the 10g for the betta and get a 20g for all the others. Win win situation and another member added to the multiple tank syndrome association lol
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2017
  7. Christian VillanuevaValued MemberMember

    Alright I will definitely do a 50% water change tomorrow. But before I do that, what about the water temperature? Since I'm getting it straight from the tap, do I need to worry about water temperature? And as much as I would like to have a 20 gallon tank I don't have room for it, though I do have a 2.5 gallon tank right now which has a fairly young betta inside. As for the filter, I currently have a hang-on filter but I was thinking of changing to a sponge filter. I've heard that a sponge filter is less maintenance and it basically eliminates the need to change the filter cartridge. I currently have a small sponge filter on my 2.5 gallon and it seems to be doing the job fairly well.

    Also, no I haven't tested my tap water for ammonia levels. I most likely will tomorrow when I do the water change.

    Lastly, as much as it worries me that my tank is overstocked, I'd hate to return the fish I have now since I feel like I've saved these guys from the pet store. Turns out I get attached easily so I will definitely suck it up and do the require water changes and tank maintenance.

    As for one last question, I've been testing my parameters every two days but since it seems like my tank is cycled, how often should I test the parameters now? And should I expect an ammonia spike at all like my friend mentioned?

    Thank you guys for answering all my questions. You've all been a great help!
  8. scarfaceFishlore VIPMember

    hi and welcome!

    Sorry I won't be able to answer all your questions (somewhere to run), so I'll try to make this one quick. I rather not make any assumptions without knowing how your tap tests out, but if it is 0, 0, 0, and your tank water you are seeing nitrates, then I'd say you are indeed cycled. .25ppm ammonia won't kill your fish, but may stress them out. I don't think it will take long for the bacteria to grow and convert that to where you will no longer see it.

    Now, as far as, filters go, I'd stick with the hang-on filter since it takes a lot less space than a sponge filter will. What kind do you have, btw, and also, what's the gph? The higher GPH helps bacteria convert faster.

    As far as the ammonia spike that your friend mentioned, I think you are seeing it, the .25ppm. And if he indeed gave you mature filter media, it should be gone in no time. I wouldn't worry about doing a water change. Let it do its thing, but watch it closely just to make sure it doesn't go up further.

    I'm overstocked too, but my nitrates always stay between 10-20ppm before a weekly water change. If you can keep it in this range without too much difficulty, then I'd say you're fine. Some here may have other issues with it, like overcrowding, compatibility, but I personally don't care. I got real world stuff to worry about. I keep warm water fish with cold water fish. Some people put pink colored gravel that washes out and painted logs. Good for them. If they didn't seem okay, I wouldn't do that. In the end, it's up to you to decide if they're doing well.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2017
  9. AllieStenFishlore VIPMember

    You do have to be careful about the water temperature. I use a digital thermometer to match the temps within a degree or so. I just use my regular digital meat thermometer since it never goes inside the tank, it is just the fresh tap water. But you can use a variety of methods. A lot of people just test it with their hands and get as close as they can that way. It is pretty reliable, actually.

    I would add the sponge filter to your tank now, and let it run for a month with the HOB also running. Then you can get rid of the hob if you want. It takes about a month to seed the new filter.

    As far as testing. I would probably continue to test everyday for at least another week. Maybe even two. Just to Make sure that your values are within normal limits. Then you can test weekly after that. Or just before each water change, depends on how much you want to monitor it.

    If at any time you notice your fish behaving oddly. First thing test the tank, and no matter the results, do a 50% water change. It will give you a head start on correcting whatever issue is going on in your tank.

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