Newbie Upgrade, Some Water Quality Issues.


hI guys, I am new here and also a newbie to fish keeping. I have a 12 gallon fish pod tank, and committed all the newbie mistakes imaginable when setting it up. Lucky I found the forum early enough to prevent any fishy deaths. My local pet store was not very good in giving advice. They told me I didn’t need to check the water quality of the tank and that I could add my fish all on week 2, they also told me that I should do water changes every 2 weeks and just top up evaporation. So you can probably understand the situation I am in.
So basically 12 gallon/48 litre fish pod aquarium from interpet, a 100w diatherm heater, one air pump and a CF1 filter are the kit the cake with the aquarium.
My temperature is 25 degrees and pretty stable, I make sure I check it every water change.
I bought a test kit when I realised my gourami was glass surfing like a lunatic.
So basically,
My nitrites are rising to 3-5 on a daily basis. So I am treating with prime 3-4x the amount recommended for normal maintenance, and changing at least 50% of the water on a daily basis to keep my fish ok.
I have had the tank for 4-5 weeks but only realised the error of my ways and the deadly rise in nitrates 2 weeks into the ownership of the tank. Since then after reading plenty here on the forum (thanks guys, you are lifesavers, and no I didn’t know about fishless cycling until it was too late) I have been keeping to my routine and my gourami seems happy (he became my water quality fish)
My community consists of (luckily no fish deaths since the start)
1 male gourami
1 male Dalmatian molly
3 female mollies
6 neon tetras
4 Amano shrimp
1 zebra snail
Live plants and moss balls.
I am upgrading to a larger tank 94 litre (river reef (interpet) as I think a bigger tank/filter will help me with my daily task and will be better for my fish.
I don’t want to make the same mistakes I made at the start of my 48 L and I don’t want to transfer the error of my ways to the new tank.
What’s the best way to set it up?
I don’t want to be in this constant fear of nitrite rise and fish deaths on a daily basis.
I am not getting any new fish for this new tank until it is stablished.
Thank you


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Good on you for upgrading! I'm sure your fish will be happy. When you set up the new tank, transfer the filter media from the old one, that way the beneficial bacteria will be moved to the new tank.

Live plants can help with nitrates, but to keep those alive you need decent lighting and some kind of fertilizer ( root tabs, liquid ferts, or use a nutrient rich substrate). Hornwort or anacharis are easy to grow plants.


Thank you, Handelma! I am keeping an eye on the plants and they seem happy, the fishpod came with quite potent lights. I will probably add a better substrate during the change as I don’t want to disturb my poor fish at the moment on top of the daily water changes.
Do you think a carbon infuser is a good idea?
Should I also bring in the old gravel from the old tank to the new one?
I am thinking of running the old filter as well as the new one for the first few weeks anyways. As I seem to need all the filtration I can get at the moment.
Sometimes my nitrites are still 1-2 even after a 50% water change and prime addition.
In this case should I change it more than once daily until I get my new tank (arriving Monday, so excited!!! :woot (I live in a hard water area by the way), ph is usually between 8-8.4. I also add aquarium salt at every water change.


If you are having nitrite issues then your tank needs more time to cycle. In a fully cycled tank ammonia and nitrite should be 0, with nitrates around 20 ppm.

Also if you pH fluctuates between 8 and 8.4 that could be a big change. There are substrates you can buy that help to stabilize pH.

I think the daily 50% water changes is good enough until Monday.
Did you know you can also buy beneficial bacteria to help speed along the nitrogen cycle? One brand is API quick start, but there are other brands.


Ha how freaky, I just went out and bought Seachem stability before reading your reply. I was using the biological booster that came with the tank but just read somewhere else that I might as well have thrown it away as it is useless.
Thank you again for your reply!
Went out and bought some more live plants, plant feeding solution and plant substrate for the new tank. They are in a bucket as we speak.
Can’t wait


Good luck!


Ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates are a direct result of how much food goes into the tank, not how many fish you have. If you're doing 50% water changes every day and your nitrites are still at 3 to 5, you're probably overfeeding. I'd recommend cutting down to half what you're feeding, with the same daily water changes.

I don't use cycle additives when I cycle my tanks. Letting nature take its course, doing frequent testing, and doing partial water changes to keep the levels in check will let you see exactly what's going on with your water. Water changes will keep the levels exactly where you want them. If you use the cycle additives, you'll see on the instructions you're not supposed to do water changes for a period of time. It will also create wacky water readings where you won't know what's happening with your water. I cycle with fish in, and keep the combined ammonia and nitrites no higher than 1 ppm. The fish are fine and there's enough elements to feed the cycle. If you add live plants it will speed up the process, and should take about a month.

A bigger tank will probably be easier to maintain. You're about maxed out size wise with the fish you have.


Your tank is looking nice with the stones. My 10 gallon needs something like that!

I noticed you had an airpump.

Try one of these from Amazon (). It's an air driven filter, that uses the rising column of air to draw in tank water through the media.


Instead of using that gravel looking media and cheap ceramic rings it comes with, get 2 small bags of Fluval Bio-Max for $2 each, also from Amazon ().


The extra filter and media will give your beneficial bacteria extra space to colonize, cycling your tank quicker.

Then you can use it to help cycle your new tank.


Cheers guys!
Do you reckon then my 1-2 nitrite readings after water change could be the result of me using prime?
How interesting!
Thank you Islandvic, for the hint about the air filter, I might go with that, since I like the bubbles anyway, might as well make them useful...
I’ll see if amazon UK has a similar if not the same pump to sell
Guppydazzle, thank you, I only feed a tiny pinch morning and evening, and I don’t see any leftovers, but I shall feed them only once a day until I get better readings
Thank you veeery much, guys

Good luck!
Thank you


My upgrade has arrived!!!! Thanks guys, for the tip I made all the changes yesterday, the river reef 94L has a monster of a filter.
Ammonia and nitrites seem under control at the moment (it was approx 0.25 for both, so I treated with prime and I am adding stability daily for 7 days... I used the same gravel and added filter media from the old tank to aid the process) .
My fish seem happy
When the time comes and my new tank is established I’d like to add more fish.
But how many and what?
At the moment there’s
1 male dwarf gourami
6 neon tetras
1 male Molly
3 female mollies.
4 Amano shrimp and one zebra snail.

I’d like something colourful and a bit bigger (like my gourami, love him)but that wouldn’t eat my tetras or fight... what do you guys
I will add a couple more tetras... but other than that I am out of ideas. What do you guys suggest?
Thanks again
You are all so helpful


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