Reassure A Beginning Medical Student

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by Gammawaves17, Apr 9, 2018.

  1. Gammawaves17New MemberMember

    Hello, I have been creeping on this forum for a while and decided to finally join due to necessity. First, I would like to introduce myself and give a little bit of background. I apologize in advance for the length of this post, and probably the thousands more that are similar on this forum.

    I am a 26 year old medical student who was given a Betta as a valentines day gift from my girlfriend. Me, being someone with no prior fish experience, and not wanting him to have a bad life decided to do some research.

    To start I was keeping my betta in a half gallon bowl.... quickly learned this is a horrible idea for the fish, and quickly tried to get him at least something slightly better. I learned about beginner maintenance for an aquarium, and being a science guy, decided to find out about the biochemistry of aquariums leading me to learning about the nitrogen cycle and its utter importance to the hobby.

    fast forward to present...

    My fish is currently in a 3 Gallon Tetra LED square aquarium, with the included tetra whisper filter (more on this a bit later). I purchased a master test kit to try and find out the quality of the water. I just needed a little bit of guidance through the cycle process, as i am forced to do a fish in cycle and would like to not have a casualty at the cost of cycling this tank.... you know Primum Non Nocere and all.

    testing my water quality today showed an Ammonium level 0.25 ppm, Nitrate 0.25 ppm, and Nitrite +5 ppm.

    My questions are as follows,
    1. I am assuming this tank has started its cycle based on the elevated nitrate level. Is this correct?
    2. I have read on the forum a great deal about doing frequent water changes and dosing with seachem to handle the existing ammonia and nitrite levels to protect the fish while the tank cycles. would this advice still stand in my instance?
    3. Would anyone be willing to mentor me through this first fish experience? every time I read something online I get one answer and 5 more questions. This makes trying to come up with a finite strategy to fish keeping difficult for a beginner.
    4. are there any other informative things I should know/purchase/read that would make my new hobby slightly less stressful?

    I currently have on order (should be arriving within the week) an Azoo Mignon 60 filter for the tank with aquaclear biomax, and aquarclear 20 gallon foam inserts to replace this apparently horrendous filter that came with my tank. I will be stripping the media cover off the old filter and putting it in with the new filter so as not to disturb the cycle to much.... hopefully.

    I want to say thank you in advance for anyone reading this post and hopefully responding, and helping a very new fish keeper to make his little buddy all he can be. If there are any questions, or things I did not include please let me know and I will try to answer to the best of my knowledge.

  2. Bettafishies126Valued MemberMember

    Your nitrite levels are harmfully high, so you should for sure keep on top of water changes until you see 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and less than 40 nitrate. Make sure you don't do water changes that are too large though or you risk prolonging the cycle

  3. WanhiBettaValued MemberMember


    First of all, your tank is cycling, but not fully cycled. It will be fully cycled when you only see nitrates. Now, 0.25 of ammonia and nitrite is not the best, but it's also not a disaster. What is your water conditioner? Are you using Prime? If ammonia and nitrites combined give you more than 1ppm, do a 50% water change. Are you dosing your tank with any bacteria? Like Stability?
    Edit: forget what I said previously. Generally people list first ammonia, then nitrite, than nitrates. You put your nitrates before the nitrites and I didn't see it, my bad. 5 ppm+ is extremely dangerous, you should do a 90% water change. As said previously though, while cycling, try to keep ammonia&nitrite at less than 1ppm together.

    I'd be happy to help you and "mentor" you if you need. I have myself 2 bettas, along with other fish and invertebrates.

    Last edited: Apr 9, 2018
  4. LorekeeperWell Known MemberMember

    Your Nitrite levels are indeed way too high. Contrary to what the person above me says, I'd do a 100% WC in order to get those down. Ammonia and nitrite both need to be under 1 PPM during a fish-in cycle for it to be "safe".

    1) Yes, your tank has started, and looks like it's halfway done with it's cycle.
    2)Yes, definitely! Change out 50% of the water everytime ammonia or nitrite hits 1 PPM. That'll prolong the cycle a bit, be much less harsh on the fish.
    3)You'll get all the answers you need here. Sometimes it's not black and white, or there are differing opinions, but you'll be well taken care of :)
    4)Just really read around online about stuff you don't quite understand. Ask questions on the forum, or even PM members if you feel like the question doesn't deserve it's own thread. It's really quite simple, once you have it down!

    Good choice with the filter. Just be sure that the flow from the Azoo isn't too much for the betta, as I have the same filter and had some issues! If it is, we can talk about creating a cheap baffle.

    Personally, I'd be dosing prime every 24 hours and then I'd add a bottle of stability or TSS+, if you don't mind the extra cost. It might speed things up a bit!

    One thing you didn't mention is if you have a heater on the tank. Bettas ARE tropical (contrary to what a petstore often tells you), so they need water somewhere between 76F and 82F, with 78F being the general target for freshwater.
  5. WanhiBettaValued MemberMember

    Your comment made me read the post again and I saw that I got confused in his nitrites and nitrates. Thought that the 5+ were nitrate, my fault. I edited my answer.
  6. david1978Fishlore LegendMember

  7. Gammawaves17New MemberMember

    Thank you for the replies everyone. Water conditioner used is top fin water conditioner, I was given a bottle of Readistart Nitrifying Bacteria Starter by top fin from the very nice lady at the pet store.

    I have a heater on the tank which is holding at a steady 78 degrees.

    I don't not have stability or TSS but instead the ReadiStart... not sure if they are similar in efficacy but they seem to accomplish the same goal.

    Prime I have read alot about and seems to offer protection against ammonium and nitrite... will grab a bottle tomorrow after my hospital shift and start immediately dosing after a 50% water change and update with water parameters.

    Should any precaution be taken with Prime in relation to a somewhat established filter bacteria? Should i dose the Readistart again after the water change? From my understanding you are using prime to clear protect against ammonia and nitrite, then use bacteria starter after to increase biological media load. would this be a proper way to think about this?
  8. WanhiBettaValued MemberMember

    There is no 0.25 color for nitrate on the chart so I'd say it's possible.

    Could you confirm that your NITRITES reading is 5+ and NITRATES reading is 0.25? Or is it the opposite? That would change a lot of things...
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 10, 2018
  9. Gammawaves17New MemberMember

    Also yes 100% switched those levels around

    Nitrite 0.25 ppm Nitrate +5 ppm
  10. librarygirlValued MemberMember

    I did a fish in cycle with a 3 gallon as well with my betta. I found I had to do daily 30% water changes to keep my levels okay. After my tank cycled, I dropped to doing 30 to 40% water changes 2x a week.
  11. Gammawaves17New MemberMember

  12. WanhiBettaValued MemberMember

    Okay, in that case follow what I firstly said. 50% water changes if ammonia & nitrites get to 1ppm together. Your current levels are not extremely dangerous. I don't know your bottled bacteria or your water conditioner, but if you could I'd definitely switch them for prime & stability, which are great and work extremely well together. They're not really expensive.

    When your tank is fully cycled, you'll want to keep your nitrates below 40, or below 20 is better.
  13. david1978Fishlore LegendMember

    thats alot better. Lol. So what are you studying to become?
    Yes your tank is starting to cycle
    Your keeping the ammonia and nitrites low enough
    The only thing i didn't notice you mentioning was a heater.
  14. Gammawaves17New MemberMember

    So my understanding is 50% Water change if> 1 ppm combined ammonium and nitrite?

    As for prime and stability, am I still dosing these daily? In what order are they dosed?
  15. WanhiBettaValued MemberMember


    Dose prime every 24 hours, and add some to the new water whenever you do a water change. You can add Stability everyday too. All instructions regarding to the dosing are on the bottles of the products.
  16. Gammawaves17New MemberMember

    My heater is one that’s been working great, its holding temp at 78 Forgot the name of it, the packaging is at my girlfriends apartment I’ll update with the name of the heater when I get a chance to get the packaging.

    I am currently studying to hopefully become an emergency medicine physician. Finger crossed for me!
  17. LorekeeperWell Known MemberMember

    Yes, that's correct!

    Prime, dose the "emergency dose" (or something close) every 24 hours (12?). Stability, some say to dump the entire bottle in at once, and others tell you to dose normally. I've always done about a fifth of the bottle a day, and it seems to work well.
  18. Gammawaves17New MemberMember

    Thank you. One more question regarding prime and stability... are these dosed the same way after the cycle has been complete?

    I am assuming once the cycle has completed my goal will be ammonia and nitrites 0 and a water change when there is any variation from 0. Would you still be using those two compounds daily even after a completed cycle? Or would you limit it to only when you change water?
  19. LorekeeperWell Known MemberMember

    You'd stop dosing prime daily, and stop stability altogether.

    Correct, ammonia and nitrites at 0, and water change whenever you get any ammonia or nitrite reading and/or nitrates are above 20-30 PPM. You'd only be using prime during WCs!
  20. Gammawaves17New MemberMember

    Y’all are life savers and have made my understanding of the water chemistry much clearer. Thank you to everyone. I will update tomorrow after work with water parameters and hopefully do a 50% water change pending readings being over 1 ppm total.

    Please stay with this thread as I would like to let you all know how everything is going with the tank!

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