Newbie needs API test help

Marnold143

Member
Backstory: I’m an animal lover and wanted something easy (HA!) for my kids and I to care for. We bought a 2 gallon from PetSmart with the intention of 1 beta. Set up the tank and waited 3 days before going back for our fish - as instructed by the fish guy. When we went back the guy said why not get a guppy for each kiddo. After researching why one was sinking to the bottom learned they were VERY overcrowded. Got a 10 gal tank on July 11th and used the ammonia neutralizing conditioner before switching fish over. When we switched them over a second guppy died. Since then... we got three neon tetras. They were found dead the next morning. Apparently you’re not supposed to buy them day of shipment. The a Mickey Mouse Platy and glo tetra. The glo tetra was aggressive so I took him back... but he had damaged the fin of Platy and he died shortly after. I watched the mollies for a long time and found one that seemed docile not timid. Good fit. Then we got another Platy. So 2 guppies, 1 Platy, and 1 Mollie - They were a great bunch nicknamed ‘the monkeys’. Apparently the Mollie is actually a female because we found three babies! We’ve gone through a full container of the Top Fin brand stabilizer since July 11th, over half of Saechrum (?) Stability, and bought and added some ‘Prime’ yesterday along with an API Master kit. Platy and Mollie died last weekend. So now we have the two original fantail guppies and three baby mollies. I’m testing daily, doing 25- 50% water changes every other day with prime, stability in the evening, and only feeding a pinch once per evening. Are we on the right track to being able to breathe?! The first two test pics are from 2 days ago and the last two of ammonia and nitrite from today.
 

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mattgirl

Member
Thankfully yes, you are well on your way to a cycled tank. I am sorry you have had to go through so much while following the advice from the folks that sold you the fish. You are not the first and sadly won't be the last that followed the advice of someone that should give good advice.

Since you just got the test kit we can't know if you have gone through the nitrite spike yet but I am not seeing any nitrates so I have to think you haven't.

One thing I would stop doing is adding anything other than Prime while doing your water changes. As long as you keep the ammonia down to no more than .5 your fish should be safe and your cycle will grow,
 

ElysiumPlants

Member
Best advice I can give you is to take it slow, do some reading, and cycle your tank. Also, bigger tanks are actually way easier to manage than smaller ones. I’d consider going at least 20G.
 

StarGirl

Member
Your ammonia and nitrite look really good. I think you may have done the nitrate test wrong though. Its a trickier test than the others. Fill to the line, add bottle 1, Shake bottle 2 for 30 seconds, add bottle 2, shake vial for 60 seconds. Wait 5 minutes. If you don't do it right the test will not work. ;) If it doesn't turn orange at all you may not be cycled yet.

I would also add, I would not use any kind of ammonia remover or stabilizer. Your bacteria that eats the ammonia need it to colonize. The prime will handle the ammonia for you. Try to keep ammonia as low as possible. The only thing I would add to your water is the Prime when doing a water change. Less is better. :)
 

ElysiumPlants

Member
StarGirl said:
Your ammonia and nitrite look really good. I think you may have done the nitrate test wrong though. Its a trickier test than the others. Fill to the line, add bottle 1, Shake bottle 2 for 30 seconds, add bottle 2, shake vial for 60 seconds. Wait 5 minutes. If you don't do it right the test will not work. ;) If it doesn't turn orange at all you may not be cycled yet.

I would also add, I would not use any kind of ammonia remover or stabilizer. Your bacteria that eats the ammonia need it to colonize. The prime will handle the ammonia for you. Try to keep ammonia as low as possible. The only thing I would add to your water is the Prime when doing a water change. Less is better. :)
Agreed on all counts. I’m not entirely convinced that they’re cycled yet.
 
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Marnold143

Member
Pretty confident I’m doing the Nitrate test correctly as I am sure to use a stop watch and ‘shake the living lights out of it’ Just curious if I’ve already had that spike before purchasing the test
StarGirl said:
Your ammonia and nitrite look really good. I think you may have done the nitrate test wrong though. Its a trickier test than the others. Fill to the line, add bottle 1, Shake bottle 2 for 30 seconds, add bottle 2, shake vial for 60 seconds. Wait 5 minutes. If you don't do it right the test will not work. ;) If it doesn't turn orange at all you may not be cycled yet.

I would also add, I would not use any kind of ammonia remover or stabilizer. Your bacteria that eats the ammonia need it to colonize. The prime will handle the ammonia for you. Try to keep ammonia as low as possible. The only thing I would add to your water is the Prime when doing a water change. Less is better. :)
 

bamos1

Member
StarGirl said:
Fill to the line, add bottle 1, Shake bottle 2 for 30 seconds, add bottle 2, shake vial for 60 seconds. Wait 5 minutes. If you don't do it right the test will not work.
I have found that after adding bottle 1 to the vial, I have to shake the vial for 5 seconds, then shake bottle 2 for 30 seconds. When I don’t do that I get weird results.

It looks like you are well on your way to a cycled tank.
 
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Marnold143

Member
Think I might have had a previous spike when using the strips? Definitely had a bacteria bloom with the cloudy water...
mattgirl said:
Thankfully yes, you are well on your way to a cycled tank. I am sorry you have had to go through so much while following the advice from the folks that sold you the fish. You are not the first and sadly won't be the last that followed the advice of someone that should give good advice.

Since you just got the test kit we can't know if you have gone through the nitrite spike yet but I am not seeing any nitrates so I have to think you haven't.

One thing I would stop doing is adding anything other than Prime while doing your water changes. As long as you keep the ammonia down to no more than .5 your fish should be safe and your cycle will grow,
 

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mattgirl

Member
Marnold143 said:
Think I might have had a previous spike when using the strips? Definitely had a bacteria bloom with the cloudy water...
If that is the case you are well on your way to a cycled tank. It is possible the reason for little or no nitrates is the fact that the bio-load is very low in this tank now and you have been keeping them down with the water changes.

edited to add: I agree. It does look like you had a nitrite spike at one point.
 
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Marnold143

Member
Can I let up on the water changes yet?
 

fishnovice33

Member
It seems you’re determined and I am glad you’re now on this site. I’m not sure where you’ve been getting your info this but I would ignore it. Plenty of very easy mistakes were made causing the death of the fish that could have easily been avoided with simple searching. I also would not be so impulsive, these things take time and should be done gradually. I’m sure this is extremely hard to understand with kids.

No, you cannot let up changes because your tank is not cycled. You’re doing a fish in cycle and it has more or less been a bumpy road because of several factors and it appears to me you’re in the middle of it. Fish in will take a bit longer because you’re essentially getting rid of what hurts the fish but helps the bacteria with water changes.

You can’t really stop until your tank starts to produce nitrates and you don’t see any spikes for 3-4 days (ammonia and nitrites stay co consistently at 0). As suggested, water changes and prime will be your future probably for the next 2-3 weeks.

I don’t think you’ve mentioned your filter. It’s very important that you don’t not clean it or change the ‘cartridges/media’ during the cycling phase. I have a hunch this may be a contributing factor.
 

mattgirl

Member
Marnold143 said:
Can I let up on the water changes yet?
Let your numbers be your guide. Don't let the ammonia go over .5 but preferably no more than .25. By leaving a bit in there the bacteria you are growing will still have food but it will be low enough to be safer for your fish.
 
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Marnold143

Member
fishnovice33 said:
It seems you’re determined and I am glad you’re now on this site. I’m not sure where you’ve been getting your info this but I would ignore it. Plenty of very easy mistakes were made causing the death of the fish that could have easily been avoided with simple searching. I also would not be so impulsive, these things take time and should be done gradually. I’m sure this is extremely hard to understand with kids.

No, you cannot let up changes because your tank is not cycled. You’re doing a fish in cycle and it has more or less been a bumpy road because of several factors and it appears to me you’re in the middle of it. Fish in will take a bit longer because you’re essentially getting rid of what hurts the fish but helps the bacteria with water changes.

You can’t really stop until your tank starts to produce nitrates and you don’t see any spikes for 3-4 days (ammonia and nitrites stay co consistently at 0). As suggested, water changes and prime will be your future probably for the next 2-3 weeks.

I don’t think you’ve mentioned your filter. It’s very important that you don’t not clean it or change the ‘cartridges/media’ during the cycling phase. I have a hunch this may be a contributing factor.
Thank you!! We initially got our info from the PetsMart fish guy and asked if I was being impulsive but reassured that wasn’t the case... haven’t purchased any more fish since joining a few forums and realizing we were going about this wrong.
Haven’t messed with the filter, thankfully! So what should our water change schedule be?
 
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