New tank testing

Sunny

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Hi!  I bought my first fish yesterday.  I just learned that I should have started with a couple of fish at a time, but oops, too late, I got nine!  Now that they are here and that I am already in love with them, I need your advice in order to protect them best!  Here's my question:

The guy at the store told me that I should not do ANY testing and adjusting to the water quality the first 6 weeks in order to let the cycle be established.  But I read on the web that the ammonia and nitrite level usually become very high in new tanks, so much that it may hurt/kill the fish…  Totally contrary advices...

- How often should I test the water in my new tank?
- How often should I change the water and what percentage? (remember, I have nine (tiny) fish in a 10 gallon tank)
- If the ammonia, nitrite or nitrate still get too high, what can I do?  Is there any filters against these?

I have four natural plants and a water heater.  10 gallon tank.  9 fish.  Cute.  Please help me keep it that way!  Thanks in advance.

Sunny
 

JMatt1983

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with a new tank and that many fsh, I would be testing for ammonia everyday, and doing 50% water changes accordingly, which will probably be daily for a couple of months. you only really need to worry about ammonia and nitrite, continue doing water changes until these ones are zero, if your nitrate gets over 40ppm, its time for a water change, this is the good stuff that you want in the tank.

unfortunately, it sounds as though your tank is overstocked depending on the kind and size of fish you bought, if they are neons, you're fine, the general rule is one inch of adult fish per one gallon of water, so a 10 gallon can only hold 10 one inch fish or 5 2 inch fish and so one
 

tan.b

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first of all sunny, welcome to fishlore! you'll love it here! loads to learn, loads of great people and fish too!

yep I agree with that!! the guy that said "DONT TEST WATER" makes no sense? how will you know if its toxic or not with out testing it?!  ???
i'd test it daily and do 50% water changes if the ammonia or nitrite gets to 1.0. do not let it get higher than this, and some people prefer nitrates below 20. plenty of water changes! I was doing 2 x 50%^ water changes a day until my ammonia and nitrite got to 0.25. then eventually zero. patience is the key (which like most people I find really hard!!). rinse the filter sponge in old tank water (the water you're about to throw away). don't rinse it under the tap or the chlorine in it will kill the good bacteria. make sure you add a de-chlorinator to the tap water before adding to your tank. halso have a read of this if you haven't already. its vital to understand the nitrogen cycle or everything else won't make sense!!
https://www.fishlore.com/NitrogenCycle.htm

you'll know if the ammonia is too high as the gills on your fish will go red and inflammed. this is worth a read too

high nitrite makes the fish slow and sluggish.
any water problems make the fish susceptible to disease, so water quality is essential.
also bear in mind what jmatt1983 said about the inch per gallon rule. this is based on the adult size...not the size they are now, so you may have to get a bigger tank or take some fish back to the shop? overstocking can lead to stunted growth and high ammonia/nitrites/nitrates etc which as i've already said is not good!
we all make mistakes and often buy too many fish too quickly!! so long as we learn from the mistakes and do our best to put them right all is well.
good luck, and any help/questions, let us know. hope to see around the boards and let us know how your fish are doing! what sort of fish do you have?
tan
 

susitna-flower

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HI Sunny, I can't imagine a person working in a fish store giving that kind of advice! Testing is really the only way to keep your fish safe! Other wise you would just wake up to dead fish, THEN start wondering what happened. It is very straight forward, and I would suggest getting a Master Test Kit for freshwater. It has everything you will need, and will last quite a while.

You mentioned in your post that you have: fish, plants, a heater and a tank. Do you have a filter? This is REALLY important also. A small tank can get by with a HOB filter. (Hang on Back), but you have to make sure it processes AT LEAST 10 times the # of Gallons per hour of your tank. This will assure you of good filtration. The bacteria you want to culture to change ammonia to nitrite, and nitrite to nitrate live in the filter, (as well as in the gravel, and on decorations, and the tank glass itself. Knowing this you can cut down later on "minI cycles" as you clean your filter, and so on, just like tan.b said. Don't wash them with tap water, or water to hot or cold. When you think your filter media is really discusting and you just want to throw it away, refrain. Just squeeze it out in your tank change water, and re use. This will keep those little bacteria happily growing, and doing their job!

One other thing your fish, AND the bacteria will need is air. You need to get an air pump and air stones, or a corner sponge filter run with air, or combination of both.

Your plants will also need light. If you don't already have a hood with lighting, you will want this. Just make sure not to have the lights on more than 10 hours a day, and keep your tank out of direct sunlight, this will keep your algae down. When you start seeing algae, you will want to add something to your tank to graze on the algae, my best suggestion for a 10 gal would be 20 or so algae eating shrimp, and 3 Otos (a very small cat fish that eats algae like you wouldn't believe)

Now that my tank is cycled, I have to do water changes still, and when my Nitrates are up as high as 20, I do a 50% change, check it again the next day and do it again,until it is back down around 5-10. The smaller tank, and the more overcrowded it is, the more you will have to do water changes to keep it healthy. Best of Luck!

Fish in the Frozen North. +10 today, sunny & wind. 8)
 
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Sunny

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Thank you so much for your help.  You are all so very nice!

I realize I will have to take some of my fish back to the store...  I am so disapointed that no one at the store told me I was buying too many fish for my tank!  I will bring back my chinese algae eater and my five red phantom tetras  :'( .  That will bring it back to 7.5 inches for a 10-gallon tank.  I listed my three remaining fish in my signature like you do (I hope it will work).

Do you have any tips for heating the new water when you do a water change?  I thought to do that on the stove but I realize all my pots have been in contact with soap...  I'm afraid to use the microwave because of possible side effects...  How do you do it?

Thanks again so much!  By the way, I do have a filter.  Thanks.   

Sunny
 

tan.b

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Sunny said:
Thank you so much for your help.  You are all so very nice!

I realize I will have to take some of my fish back to the store...  I am so disapointed that no one at the store told me I was buying too many fish for my tank!  I will bring back my chinese algae eater and my five red phantom tetras  :'( .  That will bring it back to 7.5 inches for a 10-gallon tank.  I listed my three remaining fish in my signature like you do (I hope it will work).

Do you have any tips for heating the new water when you do a water change?  I thought to do that on the stove but I realize all my pots have been in contact with soap...  I'm afraid to use the microwave because of possible side effects...  How do you do it?

Thanks again so much!  By the way, I do have a filter.  Thanks.   


Sunny
good morning sunny! no prob! that's what we're all here for!! to help you and your fish and make sure you get the most enjoyment from them!
with the water change question, I don't know if there is a "correct" way to do it, but I'll tell you what I do and see what everyone else does!
I just add de-chlorinator (nutrafin aqua plus) to the bucket (this bucket is for fish use only. used for discarding old tank water and adding fresh water. not for use with any other household duties, ensuring soap and chemical free at all times) and use hot and cold water from the tap and just using my hand see if its about the same temp as the tank water. after every bucket of water added to the tank I check the thermometer strip on the glass to ensure its not fluctuating. if its gone up a bit the next bucket I add will be slightly cooler etc. nowt technical or time consuming at all! as I said, I don't know if there's a correct way, but my fish, shrimps and plants have come to no harm doing this! also as you won't need to replace more than 50% of the water at any one time, you'll always have a mixture in your tank of "old" and "new" water, so any slight differences in the water you're adding (pH, temp etc) will be halved once in the tank if that makes sense? so long as its warmish (25C), wet, clean and dechlorinated I don't think fish mind too much!!

glad to hear you've less fish in your tank now. it will be more stable and shouldnt have fluctuating and difficult to manage ammonia etc with fewer fish. your fish will thank you for it! also good to see you have a signiture with your fish listed! these are a great tool as you can see at a glance whos got what!! also good for ideas looking at other peoples to inspire you!

you will learn that staff at fish stores generally don't have a clue about fish!! take what they say with a pinch of salt! many just hire staff with no experience of fish care. there are a few good ones out there, but unfortunately they are the minority . any questions, let us know and we'll do all we can to help!

tan
 

susitna-flower

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You will be especially glad you took the chinease algae eater back! I got one, and as you can see by my signature he is the ugly little step child :-[ stuck off in a 10 gal all by himself. He was a nasty , BAD BOY. Really aggressive, and mean. So that is what he gets. I also understand after they get above about 4" they don't even eat algae much any more! I'll never make that mistake again!

As for tempering the water. I am on my own well water, and I just use warm water right out of the tap. I syphon with a gravel vacuum, hooked up to the faucet, then when I am ready to refill, I just leave the hookup to the faucet cracked enough for a little water still to drip out. I place a spare tank thermometer under the drip and keep it coming out at approx the same temp as the tank. I do lots of water changes this way, and it never has stressed the fish out.

One caution, some say running water through your hotwater lines can contain copper, which is hard on some fish and snails, so run your hot awhile before using that side, to clear any standing water out of the pipes before you run it into the tank.

Like tan.b said if you are on city water, or water that is treated at all, use the dechlorinater. Good questions!
 

tan.b

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if there was any copper then, in my hot water ,my snails wouldnt be breeding at an alarming rate!!! i've heard something about copper in hot water before and wondered about it, but as my fish are ok I didnt worry too much! the fact my snails are unfortunately thriving shows there's no copper in there. i'm rambling again aren't i?!
Tan
 

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