Test Results When Cycling a New Tank

Discussion in 'Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle' started by kinezumi89, Mar 12, 2012.

  1. kinezumi89

    kinezumi89Fishlore VIPMember

    I set up a 55 gallon show tank on March 4th (my birthday!). In order to cycle it, I removed the filter assembly from an established (0,0,0 test results) tank and set it up in the 55 gallon, as well as the filter that goes with the tank. (The occupants of the 10 gallon tank moved, as well.)

    I've been testing the water with the API Master Test kit roughly every other day. While the ammonia readings went from 0 to somewhere between 0 and 0.25, the nitrite and nitrate readings have remained firmly at zero. I did one water change this past weekend (one week after setting up the tank) and vacuumed the gravel, and replaced with dechlorinated water. I haven't used Prime or anything else that may skew the test results.

    Should I be doing fewer water changes until I get some nitrite/nitrate readings? Should I be doing more water changes? I had planned to get some Prime, but I'm not sure I want something to be altering the test results before I figure out what's going on.

    Thank you for any information! :)
  2. Lexi03Well Known MemberMember

    As long as you wait 24hrs after dosing Prime, your test results will be accutrate. It will take longer for waste to build up in a larger tank, expescially since you already had some bacteria on your filter from the first tank and the bio load is small. Daily water changes aren't nessisary if you aren't getting a ammonia or nitrite reading.

    It could be that since your other tank was established that the nitrites where filtered out before they got high enough for the test to read and the nitrates just have not gotten high enough for the test to read yet.

    If it where me, I would wait a couple more weeks, keeping a close eye on it for any spikes, then if all stays well , add one or 2 more fish, and monitor the water again.
  3. OP

    kinezumi89Fishlore VIPMember

    That sounds good to me, especially since spring break is next week, and I was hoping to be able to add fish :) Just a betta and a pleco in a 55 gallon tank generally looks like an empty tank.

    If this is my current stocking plan, would you suggest I add platys next? (That was suggested originally, but it was also originally suggested I wait 4-6 weeks to add any fish, so I just want to make sure I shouldn't add a different fish first for some reason.)

    1 angel fish
    2 apistos
    6 platys
    8 tetras
    6 cory cats
    1 bamboo shrimp
    1 nerite snail

  4. Lexi03Well Known MemberMember

    Yeah I would do the platies next, just keep an eye on the water incase something spikes. I would do 1to 3 of them first then 2 or 3 weeks later add a few more if the water is testing good.

  5. OP

    kinezumi89Fishlore VIPMember

    Sounds good, thank you :) I am hoping to leave the betta in there, as long as he's being good and not nipping at anyone's fins. This way I can get another betta for the 10 gallon!
  6. Lexi03Well Known MemberMember

    You can use the 10 as a QT until the big tank is stocked:)
  7. OP

    kinezumi89Fishlore VIPMember

    That was my plan! Another reason I hope the betta behaves himself. Also, I really want to buy another betta :) I think I may be developing MTS...I keep thinking "well, I'll just get another small tank for my desk" or "a tank might look nice here..."
  8. Lexi03Well Known MemberMember

    It is contagious isn't it? We started with 2 tanks in Nov 2010, by July 2011 we had 13.
  9. OP

    kinezumi89Fishlore VIPMember

    Ooh! Another question. Currently the filter from my 10 gallon tank (which used to house the betta and pleco) is in the 55 gallon tank. (Since you've been reading a few of my threads, I'm sure you've heard this before, so sorry for the rehash :)) Anyway, I'd like to use the 10 gallon for a hospital tank when I get a few platys soon. If I move the filter for the 10 gallon tank back to the 10 gallon tank on, say, Tuesday of next week, do you think there would be enough bacterial built up in the 55 gallon filter? Or should I wait a little longer, to make sure that there are enough bacteria so that when I move the 10 gallon filter back, the ammonia doesn't spike in the 55 gallon tank?

    (I hope that makes sense, I feel like I rambled a bit...)
  10. Lexi03Well Known MemberMember

    I'm not sure that it has been on there long enough to remove it yet, that does cause a bit of a pickle since the bio load of the 55 is so low. Even when the 55 filter is seeded, with both filters running, a large portion of the bacteria will still be in the 10 gal filter. I'm afraid if you move it now, you would end up doing daily water changes on the 55gal. Hmm, this would be easier if the ten had better media, that could be divided. I seed spare sponges in my filters to use in QT tanks when needed, but with the small bio load of the 55, I'm afaid it would never seed( plus it would Take 4 weeks).

    Is it possible to get a spare filter for the 10gal? Then just do daily water changes on it with prime (or use TSS)during QT?Since you will be using it for a while to QT new stock for the 55gal, it should get cycled before the 55 is stocked, then you could leave the two other filters on the 55gal, and by the time you had it stocked both filters would be well seeded and if you ever did set up another tank, then you could move the 10gal filter off the 55 for an instant cycle.
  11. OP

    kinezumi89Fishlore VIPMember

    So, just to make sure I understand...buy a new filter to go in the 10 gallon apparatus, move it back over to the 10 gallon tank (with the new filter) and leave the old filter in the 55 gallon tank filter-apparatus thing (not sure what its official title is). So the quarantined fish would be in a tank with a new filter? Would that be okay? I haven't washed the rocks yet, but the tank is empty of water, so I'm sure any bacteria in the substrate have since died.

    Of course, the whole "quarantine tank" idea is null and void if my betta can't be a good boy and leave his friends alone. I'm hoping that since it's such a big tank he'll be okay, but we'll see. I really don't want to have to deal with a tank infested with Ich or something, so I'm hoping it all works out well.

    Also, with the 10 gallon filter...I know I'm not supposed to rinse it in tapwater (though I accidentally did that awhile ago), so I've been swishing it in the water siphoned out from the tank, but I've noticed that there's a bit of overflow in that the water that is sucked up through the intake can't all go through the filter, so some pours back out the intake side (if that makes any sense). Should I cut it open and take out the carbon? Would that even do anything? I know by now the carbon isn't helping anything, but I'm not sure if it's hurting anything either, and I don't know if it would possibly be causing the flow to be restricted.
  12. Lexi03Well Known MemberMember

    That was just one idea, because I don't think the filters have enough bacteria to hold a cycle on both tanks, and since you don't want to add fish to the 55gal without QTing , and risk getting your fish sick, increasing the bioload so that you could have enough bacteria for both tanks isn't a option. The best senerio would be to get a new filter cartridge for the 10gal leave the old filter cartrige for the 10 in the 55gal filter. Put the filter with the new cartridge on the 10gal and do a fishless cycle on the 10gal, but I realize that would take a long time, which is why I suggested the water changes with prime or TSS.

    If you want to cut the pouch open and dump the carbon out, that is fine, but it is very important that you save what ever material is holding it and put it in the filter for the 55gal. If you do decide to get new media for the 10 gal, I would suggest instead of gtting the media you had, get a piece of bio sponge or a media bag to hold some bio balls. What kind of filter is it?
  13. OP

    kinezumi89Fishlore VIPMember

    Seeing as I still can't get a nitrate/nitrite reading when I test the water, I'm not sure there's enough bacteria to cycle one tank! :( I hope my test kit isn't subpar. I've never seen anything but zeros for nitrate/nitrite, even when I tested the 10 gallon the day the water change was due. I just tested the water, and everything is zeros except ammonia is at roughly 0.25 again.

    The filter came in a Top Fin 10 gallon tank starter kit, so the filter cartridges look like these:


    When I was raiding my mom's aquarium supplies, there was a box of filter material; they were just little white rectangular sponges. Would there be any reason to stick one of those in there, or would that only be to have an extra bit on hand in case I wanted to start up another tank?

    At any rate, I'll pick up some different filter material (just the sponge media, no carbon) this weekend, and I'll definitely hold on to the goods on the old filter (though I'll probably cut it open and dump out the carbon so it takes up less space in the 55 gallon filter housing).

    I don't think I have enough time until I would be using the 10 gallon as a QT tank to do a fishless cycle (originally I had been planning to wait 4-6 weeks per members' suggestions, but if you think another week or two from now would be satisfactory, then I'll probably do that; partially because it will be during spring break, and also because I'm getting tired of looking at an empty fish tank. :) Anyway, I would probably be putting a fish in Tuesday of next week, and I'm sure that's not nearly enough time. I had liked the idea of using Prime with water changes anyway (once I can get some normal test readings) so I'll probably get a bottle and use that to cycle the QT tank, keeping a close eye on water parameters (especially since it's a smaller tank). I would probably just get three platys to start with.
  14. Lexi03Well Known MemberMember

    Just a thought when you are doing the nitrate test, whenit says you need to shake the bottle vigoruslly, it means you need to bang the holy out of it, I bang it against a table or counter to shake it up, if it is not aggitated enough it will give a false reading.
  15. OP

    kinezumi89Fishlore VIPMember

    Really...I do shake it quite a bit (I loosely drape a towel over it so it doesn't get all over, but I know air needs to get in the tube for the test to work properly), but I guess next time I'll shake it more. Are the other tests the same, in regards to how much you have to shake it? If it's just the nitrate test, I feel like I should at least have a nitrite reading, but it's always that same old blue.
  16. Lexi03Well Known MemberMember

    Sorry I wasn't refering to the test tube, but the Nitrate test soultion (bottle #2).
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2012
  17. OP

    kinezumi89Fishlore VIPMember

    Oh! Really! I haven't been shaking the bottles at all before I put the drops in the test tubes. (In hindsight, that's probably not very smart.) I'll definitely need to redo the tests tomorrow, then.

    If I can also ask briefly (so I don't need to start a new thread) do you know if angel fish and dwarf gouramis are compatible? I plugged the fish into one of the "check your compatibility" things, but I know they're not the most reliable. I was thinking of getting some sort of apistos, but the only ones I've seen at the LFS are rams that were unfortunately not pretty at all. There were some pretty DGs though, so I was thinking of getting one of those instead (and just one, of course).
  18. Lexi03Well Known MemberMember

    I have never tryed Gouramis and angels personally, I know I have seen other members do it, seems to be depenant on the indiviual fish. What kind of rams where they? You have to remeber fish usually don't show their best coloring at the store.

    I would definatlly redo the tests, not all the soultions needt to be shaken, but the nitrate test soultion does.
  19. OP

    kinezumi89Fishlore VIPMember

    I think they were German Blue Rams. I know colors are usually not as vibrant at the store, but these were also suuuper small, so that may have had something to do with it. We were kind of thinking of using them as a secondary centerpiece fish, which is why we're thinking of maybe going with a DG instead? I guess it all depends on the stocks of the stores once we get to that point (which seem sooo far away from now).
  20. OP

    kinezumi89Fishlore VIPMember

    So when I did the test the next day (shaking the bottles vigorously), the results were pretty much the same. However, I probably haven't been waiting the full five minutes for the "colors to develop." Today after I did all the tests, I let the tubes sit while I did some dishes. I came back to look at them, and pretty much they were all the same, but the nitrate tube was noticeably oranger.

    1. How long do you let the tubes sit?
    2. How is it possible that I have ammonia and nitrate, and no nitrite? I've never seen even a hint of purple in the tube, it's always clearly blue.

    Ammonia is at 0-0.25, and nitrate is around 5-10. (Hard to tell precisely.)

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