Setting up a New 20 gallon freshwater tank, need advice please

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by Madmartigan219, Jun 2, 2016.

  1. Madmartigan219New MemberMember

    Hello all, not only am i new to the site, i am also new to proper fish care taking. thought i would ask you folks on here because i dont want to end up harming the little boogers.

    so anywho, i set up the tank on saturday May 28th, 2016. I was advised by petsmart to set everything up without fish at home, set up my filter and put food in once on the first day, and a chemical called "stress zyme" in there with no fish and just let everything run for 1 week and it will be ready. so thats what i did.

    oh, its also of note that i purchased a "quietflow 30" filter, it says it can filter up to a 45 gallon, so i figured it would do really good in only a 20 gallon?

    however, the water turned cloudy after a few days, on Monday May 30th, 2016, and i began doing my own research, and learned about "cycling" and why its done. i went to a different pet store and followed the (possibly bad) advice of the person there. which was basically that i needed alot more chemicals.. these are the ones i added below..


    so today on June 2nd, 2016. i bought a freshwater test kit and tested my water. the results are below.. (they are both the same tests, just slightly different angles)


    also this is what my tank looks like, the cloudiness may not be "super" apparent in the pics, but it IS cloudy. this is a front, then side profile pic of the tank currently.


    could anyone help me with how to proceed from here? i plan on just having a small school of neon tetras in the tank (and maybe some other friendly little guy that wont bother them) i dont know if i can trust the conflicting advice that i keep getting and reading. so id really appreciate any help, you guys seem to know your stuff

    thanks :D
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2016
  2. New Fish in TownWell Known MemberMember

    I'm not an expert on the nitrogen cycle, but if it turned cloudy after a day, or two then you were doing it right.

    Anyway, neon tetras are cool, but they are a mid swimmer. Consider some cory catfish and then some danios, or hatchet fish. Having Top, mid, and bottom swimmers makes the tank look full.
  3. Lucy

    LucyModeratorModerator Member

    Hi Madmartigan219
    Welcome to FishLore We have removed the links to your pictures. Please up loud them directly to your post,

  4. OP

    Madmartigan219New MemberMember

    Ok, hopefully that works? Sorry I didn't know links were forbidden

  5. Tk82

    Tk82Valued MemberMember

    You can add some fish food to the empty tank while its cycling to speed up the ammonia process
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2018
  6. OP

    Madmartigan219New MemberMember

    Thanks "new fish in town" I'll keep that in mind for when I'm able to stock the tank

    Thanks for the reply tk82. So I should continue adding food? How much and how often? A pinch daily?
  7. RandyS8229

    RandyS8229Valued MemberMember

    There is a lot of conflicting information when it comes to those bacteria in a bottle. That pretty much what all of those are. Your tank is still cycling that's why you have the ammonia still. It's on its way tho since you have nitrates.
    There are ppl that sware fish less cycling is the best route but I don't have the patience. SeaChem make a product called prime that make ammonia not as toxic and same with nitrites. It's fairly cheap and works for 48 hours. Your test kit will still read there is ammonia but it's in a different form. You can add it and safely add fish.
    You could get like 6 or 8 neon and a few Cory cats. The tetras like the open water so some bottom fish would be good
  8. Lucy

    LucyModeratorModerator Member

    Thank you. :) Most links are allowed. There are some exceptions.
  9. RandyS8229

    RandyS8229Valued MemberMember

    Just gotta keep using the prime until you don't have ammonia anymore. Water changes might help too but depends on your ammonia in your tap water. I have like 1.5ppm in mine so in your situation I would just use prime
  10. OP

    Madmartigan219New MemberMember

    Thanks randy, I will definitely pick that up tomorrow. I appreciate it. Should I keep adding food in there also?
  11. RandyS8229

    RandyS8229Valued MemberMember

    No problem! You only need the prime if you have fish already. The bacteria feed off the ammonia. Turns it to nitrites. Another bacteria feeds off the nitrites and turn them into nitrates. If your going to continue to cycle fish less I would add a little bit more food to bring the ammonia up. If you can get the ammonia to go up to like 4 then it drops within a day or so your cycled.
    But like I said you've got nitrates so your well on your way
  12. OP

    Madmartigan219New MemberMember

    Thanks again randy. I'll add some food now. So if the ammonia is down to zero by Saturday you're saying I'll be ready for the fish?
  13. RandyS8229

    RandyS8229Valued MemberMember

    Ideally you want 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, and under 40 nitrates (of coarse the lower the better). And you may see a spike in your chemistry after adding fish. Prime is always good to have around in case of emergency.
  14. Dragones5150918

    Dragones5150918Well Known MemberMember

    Hi! Welcome to FishLore!

    A small correction is needed here. Prime only makes ammonia and nitrite safe for 24 hours, and only up to 1ppm. It does not remove it or make it inert, just covers it up so it won't harm the fish. In your test, you will see the ammonia still there after the use of Prime.

    As for you cycling, I would recommend you test your tap water for all peramaters. Instead if the food causing the ammonia, it could be coming from your tap.

    Cycling with food is rather daunting because you do not get a consistent ammonia level to cycle your tank. If your determined to do fishless cycle, I would recommend to buy Seachem Stability and ammonia. You need a consistent level of 2ppm to 4ppm to cycle your tank, and unfortunately using food does not do it as well as a bottle of Janitorial Grade Ammonia. You can pick that up at hardware stores, but please make sure the ingredients say only ammonia and water. You can also purchase Dr. Tim's ammonia on line. You would add one to 2 drops per gallon until you teach the 2 to 4 ppm, and let it go while the bacteria in Stability does its job. After a few days you will want to check and not let the ammonia drop to 0 for to long before you refeed the bacteria. Try to keep some ammonia in the tank until the nitrites cycle out. This can take 10 to 14 days. Going with food only can take longer.

    If you decide to go fish in, you could use the stability, and take care of your fish. You will have to test daily to make sure your peramaters do not get to high and harm the fish. Then you would do water changes to keep it balanced.

    Another method is Tetra Safe Start Plus for Staring Fish tanks. I see you have Safe Start, but not sure what one you have. It has to say + and Start Up. Not the one that says Monthly. Since you all ready have water in it, I would top it off with water and your conditioner, and then don't add anything to your tank for 24 hours. Add one fish per 10 gallons, then add the entire bottle of TSS+ (I think there is one bottle smaller then the 3.38oz bottles, but not sure, but it takes the entire bottle to do it right). Then set it and forget it lol. You do not test because it will give you some pretty wacked readings yet fish seem fine. Only test the water if something is wrong with the fish. Ammonia could he to high. Then in about 14 days your cycled. Just feed your fish and enjoy pretty much.
  15. Dragones5150918

    Dragones5150918Well Known MemberMember

    Oh and please read up on Nitrogen Cycle (click on the blue words and it will take you there).

    Also on the pH on your tank says 7.6, I would retest it using the high range test. I think you might be higher then 7.6.
  16. jmarks

    jmarksValued MemberMember

    to me it sounds like you need to keep researching the nitrogen cycle so you can truly understand what happens..basically fish poop is ammonia, which is toxic to fish, naturally a bacteria will form that converts ammonia into nitrite (also toxic), once you have nitrites, a second form of bacteria will naturally develop to convert nitrite into nitrate, nitrates are toxic but at high levels, weekly water changes will help keep these down

    a fishless cycle is performed by adding an ammonia source that isnt from fish (food, shrimp, or pure ammonia) which is what you are doing by adding food

    a typical cycle takes 5 to 8 weeks to complete

    in short, i dislike fishless cycling as i dont have the patience, so i would prefer seachem prime and stability to use and just go ahead and add 6 to 8 tetras

    this will require daily water tests and probably daily small water changes to keep the fish alive during the cycling process
  17. RandyS8229

    RandyS8229Valued MemberMember

    Thanks dragones for clarifying :).
    I read somewhere where the person quoted an email from seachem about cycling with prime and she said it would work for 48 hours. Now I don't recall who posted it so I don't know how reputable they are. I apologize if I steared you wrong, definitely not my intent. I did know about it only working for 1ppm per dose. And I agree to test your tap water hence telling you about mine having ammonia. My tap also has a pH of 7.8.
  18. OP

    Madmartigan219New MemberMember

    So much info
    Thanks a lot for the dragones!
    So you would recommend I put a couple fish in there? And do a fish-in cycle? How harmful would it be to them at my current readings?

    Also what about the cloudiness? Will this clear up with time? Is it normal for it to have been cloudy for 4 days now?
  19. OP

    Madmartigan219New MemberMember

    No need to apologize randy, there's so much info out there. And it's all really contradictory. That's why it's good that you guys have a whole community here to help

    Thanks jmarks, I just saw your post. So adding the tetras with those 2 chemicals will be ok for the fish? It won't shorten their lives?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 3, 2016
  20. Dragones5150918

    Dragones5150918Well Known MemberMember

    The cloudiness looks to be a bacteria bloom, which is fine. You are cycling, but I doubt enough bacteria to sustain fish. I'm still suspecting the reading you got is from your tap. Both the ammonia and nitrate. My own tap has .5 ppm ammonia and 20ppm nitrate and pH comes out 8.8+, but settles to 7.8 after it aerates for an hour or so. Also, the nitrate test, do you beat up that second bottle? Some people even pound it on tables to make sure its mixed. I pound it on my hand. Just make sure you beat up the bottle well for 30 seconds and shake the test tube for the minute so you get the accurate reading.

    As for making any suggestions, please test your tap water first, then we can take it from there.

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