Nitrogen Cycle Question

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by tnap, Jul 18, 2017.

  1. tnapNew MemberMember

    Hey everyone
    I have pet goldfish for about 3 months now. I have recently read about the nitrogen cycle that is required for fish tanks and also read about fish-in cycling. I am very unsure if the nitrogen cycle has commenced but I assume it hasn't due to the water parameters.

    pH: 7.6
    Ammonia: 0.5ppm (will be doing a water change tomorrow)
    Nitrite: 0ppm
    Nitrate: 0ppm

    I assume the cycle has not begun yet due to nitrite and nitrate still remaining at 0ppm. Although it has been 3 months, would I just wait for the nitrite levels to increase?
    Thanks heaps.
  2. popsikle

    popsikleNew MemberMember

    What kind of filter are you using?
    With what media?

    What additives are you adding to the water?

    What's your PH/GH/KH?

    How often do you do water changes?

    What size is the goldfish?

    What size is the tank?
  3. OP

    tnapNew MemberMember

    Currently using the Marina Internal Filter i160. Not too sure about the media but it does state it contains carbon and zeolite if that helps!
    Water conditioners that are being used is the API Stress Zyme and Azoo Plus Aquaguard Plus (this was recommended by the aquarium shop owner). pH is 7.6. I don't currently have the GH and KH test kits so I am not too sure about those.
    I originally do water changes weekly, however recently have been doing water changes 2-3 times a week because I recently purchased the API freshwater test kit and ammonia levels were incredibly high.

    I have 9 goldfish in a 23 gallon tank. Fish sizes are roughly 2-3 inches :)

  4. popsikle

    popsikleNew MemberMember

    That's waaaay too many goldfish in that tank, this cycle is going to be real rough on them, and long term health will be questionable.

    Aquaguard Plus will bind ammonia afaik and not make it available for BB. Your filter has a bioscreen, any BB living on it? I would stop adding the aquaguard and do 20% daily and watch your AM levels.

  5. OP

    tnapNew MemberMember

    My mother seemed to have gotten carried away with all the goldfish colours, and ended up purchasing quite a lot. I did read that 2 inch fish per gallon for freshwater fish would be acceptable, although that is just a guideline.
    With the bio-screen, I don't see anything visible on there so I am not too sure if there are any bacteria growing.
    If I stop using the Aquaguard Plus, would you recommend another water conditioner to replace it?
    If the Aquaguard Plus is binding to ammonia, would that be a possible reason as to why the ammonia cannot be converted to nitrite?
  6. tokiodreamy

    tokiodreamyWell Known MemberMember

    The old "rule of thumb" of so many inches per gallon is extremely outdated and unreliable. Especially with high waste fish like goldfish. What type of goldfish are these? I would seriously recommend returning or rehoming the majority of the fish if not all (depending on the breed). If they're common goldfish, they'll get over a foot in size. Think of them more like koi. They'll need a pond and will out grow your tank rather quickly. However, your tank is suitable for a lot of freshwater fish! They might be a good alternative for you. Less of a bioload as well.
    I highly suggest seachem prime and seachem stability. I've been using them for years and have never looked back!
  7. bopsalot

    bopsalotWell Known MemberMember

    Welcome to fishlore! I'm glad you posted! If the aquarium shop employee told you that you could keep 9 goldfish in a 23 gallon tank, he was probably just trying to make a big sale, sell you equipment in the future, and cannot really be trusted. Maybe he just doesn't know, though. Hard to say...

    Common goldfish grow to well over a foot long and require hundreds of gallons or a pond. (It's quite an amazing myth that a goldfish can be kept safely in a bowl.)

    Fancy-breed goldish are usually squatter and shorter, and typically only grow to 4-5 inches, some up to 8 inches. After decades of experimentation and a lot of experiences, it has been determined that 30 gallons is the recommended minimum tank size for a single fancy goldfish. With multiple fancy goldies, add 10 gallons minimum for each additional fish. So you're looking at 100 gallons minimum. And that would be quite crowded. Goldfish are messy, they produce more ammonia than most fish, so most goldfish keepers add extra filtration capacity. At least double what the rating says for tank size for each filter.

    Your fish are still small, but to provide a stable environment for their needs, you'll either need a very big tank, or a couple 60 gallon tanks, and lots of filtration equipment to continue to keep your goldfish. If you are not prepared for this, consider finding them a new home, either returning them to the store, or giving them to someone who has the means to take care of them.

    In the meantime, they'll need large, daily dechlorinated water changes to keep ammonia down. Unfortunately, that tank will never cycle with such a high bioload.

    You could try keeping one goldfish in your tank, if it were a fancy, but it really it is too small, and goldfish really are social and like to be kept in pairs and groups. Your tank is too small for this.

    Sorry, I know it's hard news to hear! But I want you to have success and not have a terrible experience with your tank. They can survive for a little while in there, but there is no chance at all for long-term success! Keep learning and researching, and feel free to ask any questions. Sorry for writing you such a long post! Good luck!
  8. OP

    tnapNew MemberMember

    I currently have 2 Black Moors, 4 fancy goldfish and 3 common goldfish. My mother had only wanted to have pet fish as a hobby and thought it was really simple, but turned out to be more complex that she thought! I will take that advice, thank you!
    I have family friends who have the same amount of goldfish as me, however their tank is about 20L, not too sure how that is working but probably won't survive in the long term?
  9. bopsalot

    bopsalotWell Known MemberMember

    No. That won't work, unfortunately. Fishkeeping successfully is all about creating a stable environment, providing for their needs, and minimizing stress on the fish. Most fish have evolved in a very stable environment, and they don't respond well to chronic stress...
  10. OP

    tnapNew MemberMember

    I am indeed surprised that 30 gallons would be needed for a single small fancy goldfish. I had assumed that since my goldfish are relatively small, they would survive for a while, and we would switch to a bigger tank when they had grown a bit more. Thank you so much for the advice!
  11. bopsalot

    bopsalotWell Known MemberMember

    You're welcome! They will rarely tell you this kind of stuff at the pet store. People just don't want to hear it, and get turned off to the hobby, so no sale. Lol. It's ok, this happens all the time. Someday, wisdom will spread around and fish will be happier! Good luck!
  12. OP

    tnapNew MemberMember

    I am also wondering would you know how long I could continue with this tank?
    We've spent about $600 already within 3 months, so I don't think my mother would look forward to me telling her this. We cannot give back the fish since they only had a 1 month policy, as well as family friends seem to be in a more worse condition than I am right now.
  13. minervalongWell Known MemberMember

    If you have room, then splitting the population into a couple more tanks would help until you can get things sorted. Petco is having their 1$ a gallon sale and you could pick up a couple of 40g. Look around on craigslist too. Ebay for filters and look up King of DIY on youtube, he builds some great cheap ones. This will lessen the stress on the current tank and give you time to sort things out. Once you have rehomed most of the goldfish, you can resell the extra tanks on craigslist for a dollar a gallon.
  14. OP

    tnapNew MemberMember

    Thank you! I live in Australia and I don't think I've got those stores around here. Tanks seem to be awfully heavy priced here as well, I will check out the DIY!
  15. bopsalot

    bopsalotWell Known MemberMember

    Minervalong has some good advice there. With daily water changes, you'll likely be ok for a couple weeks, but they are under constant stress from ammonia and overcrowding, and will be at increased risk for infectious disease and stunted growth, so something could happen at any time. Keep a close eye on ammonia, that will only get worse as they attempt to grow. Keep the tank as tidy as possible. Any bigger tank would be a vast improvement, but the cheapest solution if you want to keep all the fancies is a pair of 60 gallon tanks with good, big filters. But still, the 3 common goldfish won't do well there for long. Someone with a pond will take them.

    I don't know where to get cheap tanks in Australia. We have some good members here from there, though. Maybe they'll see this and chime in. Used tanks are usually a good value, but be careful that the equipment works and the tank holds water, etc... A new 60 gallon set-up with stand, hood, and lights goes for $199 US at my local big box pet store. Hope this helps!

    And they may still take the fish back at the store, you just might not get anything back for them. Maybe a store credit or something if they're cool.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 18, 2017
  16. minervalongWell Known MemberMember

    Whoops, didn't notice location lol. Sorry. Do you have anything similar to craigslist? In a pinch, you might be able to use food grade plastic bins with a filter and bare bottom, anything to lessen the ammonia ppm. Using seachem prime and stabilizer would help too.
  17. AllieSten

    AllieStenFishlore VIPMember

    Hi there. Welcome to Fishlore.

    Everyone else is addressing your stocking issues, but you do still need to get your tank cycled.

    What I would recommend is to buy some bottled bacteria if you can. This will speed up the process. You probably were cycled at some point, but you changed your filter media (the pads inside the filter) and it will have started your cycle over. The good bacteria live in and on your filter. Doing some research into alternative filter media will help with this. Using things that last longer, will keep your cycle stable in the long run. At this point the most I would do is rinse your filter media gently in old tank water when you do water changes. Then put the filter media back into the filter.

    The products I recommend are Seachem Prime and Seachem Stability. Prime is a dechlorinator, but it also detoxifies Ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates up to 1ppm. Stability is a bottled bacteria and it is made to be used with Prime. Prime will replace the water conditioners and stress coat. So you won't need to add anything else to your water.

    If you aren't using Prime (or another ammonia locking product) then it is recommended to Keep your Ammonia at 0.25ppm or lower. This will be hard to achieve with your bioload of fish. Goldfish are HUGE waste producers. This is why they need such big tanks. To dilute the waste to water ratio. Aside from them growing quite large too.

    I would also increase your filtration. Since you are kind of in an impossible situation, more filtration will help. Your filter is adequate for your size tank, with a normal bioload. I would add a second filter if the same size. Double your filtration. It will help with maintaining your tank and keeping your Ammonia level down.

    Good luck. You are getting some great advice.

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