10 Gallon Tank Trouble with my tank cycling

FishDuster

Member
Hi everyone,

I am still cycling a new tank, a beginner to that process. I have 2 guppies in there, the've been doing great all week.

However, over the past day, my tests are getting more and more confusing. Ph, GH, KH have all dropped, ammonia has risen (still very low) and nitrate has risen (still very low).

I just retested everything, as I'm about to do a water change. I could really use some help understanding why this happened, as I believe it's related to my soft tap water. Not sure about why I got nitrate before ever seeing nitrite, but I'm less concerned about that.

Tank
What is the water volume of the tank? 10 gallons
How long has the tank been running? 8 days
Does it have a filter? Yes HOB
Does it have a heater? Yes
What is the water temperature? 82F but I've just reset it to go down to 80...
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.) 2 male guppies, small.

Maintenance

How often do you change the water? once a week, but this is my first week, so first water change tonight
How much of the water do you change? planning on 25% (2.5 gal)
What do you use to treat your water? prime
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water? both? haven't done it yet...

Parameters

Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? nope
What do you use to test the water? api test kit, including gh and kh kit
What are your parameters?
Temp: 82 °F
Ph: 5
Ammonia: 0.25 - 0.30 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrate: 5.0 - 7.0 ppm
Kh: 17.9 ppm -35.8ppm
Gh: 89.5 ppm

Feeding

How often do you feed your fish? once every other day, to keep ammonia low during cycle
How much do you feed your fish? a nice pinch
What brand of food do you feed your fish? fluval bug bites flakes
Do you feed frozen or freeze-dried foods? not yet! but I will spoil them for sure... just ask my dog!

Illness & Symptoms

Fish seem happy still. No illness visible.




Some more context: a few days ago I added some marine salt and baking soda to slowly increase Kh and Gh, which seemed to register as an increase on my test strips. Now that my actual API test kit for KH and GH has arrived, I can see a more accurate reading and it's at very low levels. If Kh, Gh, and Ph are all intertwined, what's the best way to increase all three after my water change?

FYI - I have a HOB filter above the water line, air stone, gravel substrate, no fertilization. Have added bottled bacteria slowly throughout the process (Smart Start Complete) and a whole bag of bio-Spira...

One last thing I've noticed is that the tank has a very faint odor. Previously, no smell. Doesn't seem like that would be a good thing

I've tried to find good info about increasing KH GH and PH but it's all varied... what's the best way to increase it in a stable way, so it fluctuates less? I'll be treating the water I add back to the tank with prime, but should I add anything else to help?

Thanks in advance, I'm a total noob.
 

N13

Member
If nitrates and ammonia have risen that shows that the cycle is working! No need to worry just continue water changes, ammonia is eaten by bacteria so that means that nitrates have have started to come.. when you se nitrites rising keep doing your water changes every week until everything is 0 once everything is 0 for a solid week then add more fish! As for the ph, gh, kh this happens naturally in all aquariums and it is normal for this to happen try hardening the water with Seachem Equilibrium or crushed coral.
 
  • Thread Starter

FishDuster

Member
N13 said:
If nitrates and ammonia have risen that shows that the cycle is working! No need to worry just continue water changes, ammonia is eaten by bacteria so that means that nitrates have have started to come.. when you se nitrites rising keep doing your water changes every week until everything is 0 once everything is 0 for a solid week then add more fish! As for the ph, gh, kh this happens naturally in all aquariums and it is normal for this to happen try hardening the water with Seachem Equilibrium or crushed coral.
That is a little reassuring. Any reason why it's got a slight odor?

I don't have Equilibrium on me, so I'm about to run to the store and grab some before they close. I do have Marine Salt, but am worried about increasing the salinity too much. Sounds like Equilibrium is the trusted solution for extremely soft water.
 

LowConductivity

Member
Thats some crazy water! Is your 17-39 ppm kH after adding baking soda? What is your tap water like in temrs of kH?
 
  • Thread Starter

FishDuster

Member
LowConductivity said:
Thats some crazy water! Is your 17-39 ppm kH after adding baking soda? What is your tap water like in temrs of kH?
LFS who shared the same water supply as me before moving locations confirmed the very very soft water and the need to add "marine salt" with the Prime when treating water. She said some stuff about Ph swings being common, but I don't wan them to be common! lol

Should I just add more Instant Ocean Marine Salt and Baking Soda and see how that changes things? Or would Equilibrium be my best bet? Seems like I'll still need to use Baking Soda for alkalinity. Equilibrium doesn't influence alkalinity?

I'll test my tap water too and post it here to share.

Thank you so much for the quick replies. This community is amazing!
 

N13

Member
Alright! make sure to update on what your tank is like.

remember to water change!
 

LowConductivity

Member
FishDuster said:
LFS who shared the same water supply as me before moving locations confirmed the very very soft water and the need to add "marine salt" with the Prime when treating water. She said some stuff about Ph swings being common, but I don't wan them to be common! lol

Should I just add more Instant Ocean Marine Salt and Baking Soda and see how that changes things? Or would Equilibrium be my best bet? Seems like I'll still need to use Baking Soda for alkalinity. Equilibrium doesn't influence alkalinity?

I'll test my tap water too and post it here to share.

Thank you so much for the quick replies. This community is amazing!
You get a fine line to walk here, proceed with caution. At your current pH, the ammonia in your tank is in the NH4 form, and isn't really a health concern for the fish till you get to silly levels (20-30ppm). When you add the baking soda, and swing the pH above 7, that not very toxic ammonia (in NH4 form), will drop a hydrogen and be in NH3 form, which gets increasingly more toxic as the pH climbs.

If you want to have beneficial bacteria (and a cycle), you'll have to give them kH, and keep the pH up. No kH, and they won't be able to eat the ammonia.
 
  • Thread Starter

FishDuster

Member
\
LowConductivity said:
You get a fine line to walk here, proceed with caution. At your current pH, the ammonia in your tank is in the NH4 form, and isn't really a health concern for the fish till you get to silly levels (20-30ppm). When you add the baking soda, and swing the pH above 7, that not very toxic ammonia (in NH4 form), will drop a hydrogen and be in NH3 form, which gets increasingly more toxic as the pH climbs.

If you want to have beneficial bacteria (and a cycle), you'll have to give them kH, and keep the pH up. No kH, and they won't be able to eat the ammonia.

Very informative. Thanks! Will a dose of Prime every 24-48 hours help to keep the ammonia toxicity down?
 

N13

Member
Yep!
N13 said:
Do that for 3 days and you should be set, keep in mid to test every day as well.
 

LowConductivity

Member
FishDuster said:
Very informative. Thanks! Will a dose of Prime every 24-48 hours help to keep the ammonia toxicity down?
If the pH climbs above 7, Prime will help. If the pH remains below 7, the excess H+ in the water will keep the toxicity down for you.
 

mattgirl

Member
Please stop adding baking soda. Some folks do use it but it can spike the pH up to unsafe numbers if you aren't sure how to use it. Water change the marine salt out of there too. We don't add marine salt to a fresh water tank. Aquarium salt has some uses in fresh water but not in this case.

What is the pH of your tap water and what is it in the tank? Were the numbers above taken with water from your tank after adding baking soda and marine salt? If so they are not the true numbers. Run the same tests on your tap water with nothing added to it. Before you start adding anything else to this tank we need the numbers from water with nothing added to it.

Even though you are adding bottled bacteria you are still very early in this cycle. Cycling a fish tank takes a lot of patience. It isn't unusual for it to take at least a month to cycle a tank even after adding bottle bacteria.
 

BettaBoomer

Member
mattgirl said:
Please stop adding baking soda. Some folks do use it but it can spike the pH up to unsafe numbers if you aren't sure how to use it. Water change the marine salt out of there too. We don't add marine salt to a fresh water tank. Aquarium salt has some uses in fresh water but not in this case.

What is the pH of your tap water and what is it in the tank? Were the numbers above taken with water from your tank after adding baking soda and marine salt? If so they are not the true numbers. Run the same tests on your tap water with nothing added to it. Before you start adding anything else to this tank we need the numbers from water with nothing added to it.

Even though you are adding bottled bacteria you are still very early in this cycle. Cycling a fish tank takes a lot of patience. It isn't unusual for it to take at least a month to cycle a tank even after adding bottle bacteria.
Hey! Hope you don't mind but I saw this thread and found it interesting. Clearly cycling one tank versus another can be very different. It's cool that you understand all of this so well. I'm learning a lot of different things but I realize what's happening here doesn't necessarily apply to my cycling adventure. So, I'm just trying to pick up bits and pieces of generalities while taking it all with a grain of "marine" salt (lol). BTW, "Patience" is now my middle name!!!
 

RelaxingBettas

Member
FishDuster said:
That is a little reassuring. Any reason why it's got a slight odor?

I don't have Equilibrium on me, so I'm about to run to the store and grab some before they close. I do have Marine Salt, but am worried about increasing the salinity too much. Sounds like Equilibrium is the trusted solution for extremely soft water.
A slightly dank smell comes with the Prime and added bacteria, I guess I would ask re: 'odor', is it more like the smell of mossy earth getting rained on, a little funky for things like getting on your hands, but generally not noticable without your face in it- a living kind of smell, or a repulsive foulness that makes you step back?
(I meant to add, slightly off topic, I had two male guppies I wasn't sure what to do with in a five gallon for a couple months, and while they seemed ok at first- they'd been being picked on by some of a different strain, and appreciated getting away from the other bully males, they began to fade and get sad, it really wasn't a very fulfilling life for a guppy- I have them in with the rest now- not just other aggro males- and they brightened up three shades, and have so much more life and vigor in them swarming around with the rest. Not to discourage you, it's just something I (a fellow novice, although I bred my first guppies half a century ago, lol) happened to notice recently, as I was moving fish around- it may give you some ideas for your next tank, which is always so much easier to get started than the first! Good luck!
 
  • Thread Starter

FishDuster

Member
mattgirl said:
Please stop adding baking soda. Some folks do use it but it can spike the pH up to unsafe numbers if you aren't sure how to use it. Water change the marine salt out of there too. We don't add marine salt to a fresh water tank. Aquarium salt has some uses in fresh water but not in this case.

What is the pH of your tap water and what is it in the tank? Were the numbers above taken with water from your tank after adding baking soda and marine salt? If so they are not the true numbers. Run the same tests on your tap water with nothing added to it. Before you start adding anything else to this tank we need the numbers from water with nothing added to it.

Even though you are adding bottled bacteria you are still very early in this cycle. Cycling a fish tank takes a lot of patience. It isn't unusual for it to take at least a month to cycle a tank even after adding bottle bacteria.
Thank you for your expert advice! It makes a lot of sense that you would want to understand my tap water conditions first. Unfortunately, I rushed ahead with adding more baking soda and instant ocean sea salt before seeing your reply. -___-


10 Gallon tank conditions from my test today (2/11) at 4PM:
(Same numbers posted at the start of this thread)
Temp: 82 °F
Ph: 5
Ammonia: 0.25 - 0.30 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrate: 5.0 - 7.0 ppm
Kh: 17.9 ppm -35.8ppm
Gh: 89.5 ppm


A little over 3 days ago is when I added a small amount of baking soda and instant ocean marine salt. Here's a history of me noticing extremely soft water and low alkalinity and then what I did to help based on what I understood at the time:

Prior to 2/7:

On 2/7
  • used strips to test and kept getting the same readings: 20 ppm KH and <25 ppm GH
  • strips suck, so who really knows.
  • I ordered real test kits
  • slowly added:
    • 9:15 PM +1g of Instant Ocean Marine Salt
On 2/8
  • slowly added:
    • 11:45 AM + 4g of Instant Ocean Marine Salt
    • 7:55 PM +0.25g of Baking Soda

This allegedly increased my KH to 40 ppm and GH to 75 ppm, according to the test strips. That's very little change if anything. I figured I should wait for my REAL test kit before I go adding more things I can't properly test.

Today, when I used my new test kits, it read Kh: 17.9 ppm - 35.8ppm, Gh: 89.5 ppm and pH 5.

pH was 7.6-7.8 constantly before, so I kinda panicked. At 6:30 PM today (2/11) I did add

  • + 6g of Instant Ocean Marine Salt
  • + 6g of Baking Soda.
  • + 1 mL Prime
6g is just under a teaspoon, so I hope it's not too detrimental.... In any case, here are where things stand now, tested at 12:30 AM 2/12:

My Tap Water:
pH: 8.4
Kh: 53.7
Gh: 35.8

Current 10-Gal Tank Conditions
Temp: 82 °F
pH: 8.0
Ammonia: 0.25 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrate: 7.5-8.0 ppm
Kh: 161.1 ppm
Gh: 125.3 ppm


So definite increase in pH Kh Gh... seems like too big of a jump for the fish. Definitely learned my lesson. Considering my tap water quality, how would you suggest I treat my soft water to increase hardness and alkalinity?


As for the smell mentioned earlier in the thread....

Tsutey said:
A slightly dank smell comes with the Prime and added bacteria, I guess I would ask re: 'odor', is it more like the smell of mossy earth getting rained on, a little funky for things like getting on your hands, but generally not noticable without your face in it- a living kind of smell, or a repulsive foulness that makes you step back?
(I meant to add, slightly off topic, I had two male guppies I wasn't sure what to do with in a five gallon for a couple months, and while they seemed ok at first- they'd been being picked on by some of a different strain, and appreciated getting away from the other bully males, they began to fade and get sad, it really wasn't a very fulfilling life for a guppy- I have them in with the rest now- not just other aggro males- and they brightened up three shades, and have so much more life and vigor in them swarming around with the rest. Not to discourage you, it's just something I (a fellow novice, although I bred my first guppies half a century ago, lol) happened to notice recently, as I was moving fish around- it may give you some ideas for your next tank, which is always so much easier to get started than the first! Good luck!
Not quite in any category, you described completely. I would imagine without any action on my part it would quickly become foul enough to make you step back. It was noticeable just in the whole apartment, never smelled like that before. Wasn't repulsive, just noticeable. Not like wet leaves or rain, more like, fungus/rotting. A hint of turtle... Kind of like dead bees mixed with test kit smells... idk. The weirdest thing is there's no longer a smell. It went away almost immediately upon dosing the baking soda and instant ocean marine salt at 6:30 pm. Maybe it's related to Prime? The bottle suggests a sulfury smell isn't unusual.

Thanks for your note about your guppies! These boys could use some company I am planning to hold off on adding more fish until the cycle completes. It's only a 10 gallon so I have to choose wisely. I'm also hesitant because I don't have a quarantine tank set up yet.

Right now, I'm a little confused about whether or not I should do a water change at these levels. They seem to be at safe levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. Also, it should be detoxified by Prime. Is it true that skipping my first week's water change might be beneficial to my cycle? Does the water temp and elevated pH negate Prime's detoxifying effects?

Thanks again, everyone!
 

RelaxingBettas

Member
When in doubt I do a water change, I'm really pretty hopeless when I try to do things by numbers (instead of using them as a supplemental guide); it took me thirty years to gain enough courage for something as ancient and simple as brewing beer- decades of reading how many spendy chemistry kit items I'd need intimidated me from even trying (I am someone who works best on an intuitive level, give me the lesson on how something works and why, and I will gestalt it long before memorizing seemingly random lists, remember how many 'experts' push the dread carbon filters as a must have!)
Tl;dr version (not really, I go on and on during coffee hour ), parameter numbers and chem lab discussions (while interesting) eventually make my eyes glaze over, I work better getting out of the way and letting my subconscious do the heavy lifting of telling my hands what to do. If it was my tank, that smell would be what I would be focused on- I had a vile odor in the ceramic media balls from my sponge filter I just washed out yesterday that smelled like someone let a fish rot in a barrel of old cheese. It wasn't pervasive in the room or tank, but rinsing it outside in old tank water- wow. Wow. (Smelling that funk yesterday reminded me of things like Florence Nightingale discovering the source of the cholera epidemic was water being filtered through a dead horse. If anything is more repulsive than poop smell it is that of putrification- feh! I am not afraid of bacteria, we're made of them, lol- but it doesn't mean they all belong in my tanks! It can't be a dead fish caught in *your* bio balls, lol, but that is the smell I am 'picturing'. my best advice (if I was advising myself) is step back from the testing and alchemy a moment, replace with spring water (well, test that first lol) of acceptable parameters, the great luxury of the nano tank- in *small* amounts somewhat frequently, observe those guppies, and keep smelling until it's a fine faint earthy petrichor kind of smell you really have to whiff off your wet fingers. I get so bogged down in trying to do things 'right' according to the book I forget I am an instinctive enough naturalist that I would raise wasp grubs to adulthood with honey on a toothpick after the neighborhood dad's whacked them off the porch as a six year old, I certainly didn't read that, or how to keep 'sowbugs' (our local name) in a vivarium- I just did it, because I must. I say, watch- smell- change slowly with perfect natural water- then fuss with the chemistry set.
 

mattgirl

Member
My Tap Water:
pH: 8.4
Kh: 53.7
Gh: 35.8


Maybe I am missing something but I don't see this as being soft water. In most cases it is better to just use what comes from our tap instead of trying to chase specific numbers. I have to run crushed coral in my tanks because, unlike your water, mine truly is soft and is almost devoid of minerals. My fish were fine in my water. I run CC to keep my pH stable at 7.2 I also add Equilibrium but only because my plants die without the minerals it provides. If not for wanting live plants to thrive I wouldn't even be adding it. I have cut the amount I use down to the bare minimum. I don't run the gh/kh tests. I use a TDS meter.

In my humble opinion, the fewer things we add to our water the better it is. I would prefer to only add my water conditioner. In most cases that is ALL that is really needed. I have to think your guppies will thrive in your tap water. Stable is so much better than specific numbers. In the long run you will be saving yourself and even more importantly your fish from going through unnecessary stress.

I won't press it anymore after this but I highly recommend you get the salt out of this tank and stop adding all these things to your water. The only thing you need to do is add prime to the fresh water before pouring it in the tank.
 

LowConductivity

Member
Whoa....easy on the baking soda. You've gone from South American soft, to the bottom end of African Rift lake there. You might want to target kH somewhere in the 60-90 mg/L range. Nice safe, middle of the road type numbers
 

PURP

Member
Hi guys I must be missing something... my process for setting up a new tank is nowhere near as complicated as what’s being discussed here...(?)
My simple method:
1) Add water from tap (well -> pH 7.4, KH 35, GH 150). I add Prime as well, even though I don’t need it.
2) Add Equilibrium and Pristine (both Seachem products).
3) Wait an hour, for everything to circulate.
4) Begin livestock acclimation process.
That’s it. I’ve never lost a single fish or adf by doing this. I will buy fish, take them home, find an available empty tank, set it up decor-wise, and do the above. The tank goes from ‘dry’ to ‘new home’ in under four hours. I have the API test kit that comes in the little blue briefcase-looking thingy, and I monitor all parameters. Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate varies between 10 and 40, depending on the water change cycle. What am I missing?
 

N13

Member
PURP said:
Hi guys I must be missing something... my process for setting up a new tank is nowhere near as complicated as what’s being discussed here...(?)
My simple method:
1) Add water from tap (well -> pH 7.4, KH 35, GH 150). I add Prime as well, even though I don’t need it.
2) Add Equilibrium and Pristine (both Seachem products).
3) Wait an hour, for everything to circulate.
4) Begin livestock acclimation process.
That’s it. I’ve never lost a single fish or adf by doing this. I will buy fish, take them home, find an available empty tank, set it up decor-wise, and do the above. The tank goes from ‘dry’ to ‘new home’ in under four hours. I have the API test kit that comes in the little blue briefcase-looking thingy, and I monitor all parameters. Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate varies between 10 and 40, depending on the water change cycle. What am I missing?
That's wrong...
1. Set up tank (this means equipment, substrate, etc.)
2. Equilibrium puts PH higher
3. You dont wait an hour you normally wait 2 - 6 weeks and each day or two you test your water with API master test kit
4. After that add livestock if tank parameters are good
 

BettaBoomer

Member
N13 said:
That's wrong...
1. Set up tank (this means equipment, substrate, etc.)
2. Equilibrium puts PH higher
3. You dont wait an hour you normally wait 2 - 6 weeks and each day or two you test your water with API master test kit
4. After that add livestock if tank parameters are good
Note to Purp and N13.

Purp: I'm glad you have a process that works so well for you. My friend that turned me on to bettas did something very similar. This was about a month ago and she has had no problems whatsoever. I'm jealous of both of you lol.

N13: While I'm pleased that Purp has been successful, after doing a lot of research I felt more comfortable with the approach you recommend. It just seemed more logical to me, I like the idea of going through the process and I have enough patience to wait a few weeks before getting my first fish (plus it gives me more time to anticipate exactly what species (did you know there are over 70 recognized betta species although not all are suitable for an aquarium), color, temperament, etc. to choose.

From what I have seen here and online there are many, many different approaches which is one of the reasons this hobby is so interesting.
 
  • Thread Starter

FishDuster

Member
LowConductivity said:
Whoa....easy on the baking soda. You've gone from South American soft, to the bottom end of African Rift lake there. You might want to target kH somewhere in the 60-90 mg/L range. Nice safe, middle of the road type numbers
Oh no! :eek: lol thanks

I was going off my research into the ideal water conditions for guppies and for building up the biological filter. I only plan to keep my two male guppies and a couple of plants until the tank has completed cycling. So based on my research, it would seem the ideal water conditions for guppies would be 72-82 °F (22-28 °C ), pH: 6.8-7.8, and hardness: 8-12 dGH (133.4-200ppm). I read the cycle is benefited by a higher temp so I had kept it at 82 °F for the first week, now 84 °F.



mattgirl said:
My Tap Water:
pH: 8.4
Kh: 53.7
Gh: 35.8


Maybe I am missing something but I don't see this as being soft water. In most cases it is better to just use what comes from our tap instead of trying to chase specific numbers. I have to run crushed coral in my tanks because, unlike your water, mine truly is soft and is almost devoid of minerals. My fish were fine in my water. I run CC to keep my pH stable at 7.2 I also add Equilibrium but only because my plants die without the minerals it provides. If not for wanting live plants to thrive I wouldn't even be adding it. I have cut the amount I use down to the bare minimum. I don't run the gh/kh tests. I use a TDS meter.

In my humble opinion, the fewer things we add to our water the better it is. I would prefer to only add my water conditioner. In most cases that is ALL that is really needed. I have to think your guppies will thrive in your tap water. Stable is so much better than specific numbers. In the long run you will be saving yourself and even more importantly your fish from going through unnecessary stress.

I won't press it anymore after this but I highly recommend you get the salt out of this tank and stop adding all these things to your water. The only thing you need to do is add prime to the fresh water before pouring it in the tank.

Thanks for your advice. I think that's a good philosophy on water quality - less is more! I definitely learned a lot from your feedback so thanks. I did a water change 3 or 4 days ago. Water has been pretty stable since then:

temp: 74F
pH: 7.8
ammonia: <0.25 ppm
nitrite: 0ppm
nitrate: 5ppm
dGH: 5 (89.5 ppm)
dKH: 5 (89.5 ppm)


I don't plan on adding anything else to influence GH and KH and will continue to monitor as I do weekly water changes. Seems like my cycle is getting close to completion. Waiting for the ammonia to read 0! Any day now?
 
  • Thread Starter

FishDuster

Member
Things are looking pretty good so far, waiting for those ammonia levels to drop down to 0 before I'll call it cycled.

Based on research so far, it seems like the HOB that came with my 10 gallon tank could use some modification. Right now it's only got the disposable filter pad it came with! I believe there's activated carbon in it too.

I want to make the following additions to the HOB filter. I was inspired by this video and some other resources online.

– Add filter sponge
– Add filter fiber
– Add Seachem Matrix in a small mesh bag


Will adding these things mess up my cycle? Is there anything I should be aware of when making HOB filter modifications like this? Seems like a lot of people do this. It also seems like people are split on whether or not to use carbon filter pads in their filter. Will try to see if I can find any relevant posts on fishlore but so far no luck (I'm still new!)
 

mattgirl

Member
FishDuster said:
Things are looking pretty good so far, waiting for those ammonia levels to drop down to 0 before I'll call it cycled.

Based on research so far, it seems like the HOB that came with my 10 gallon tank could use some modification. Right now it's only got the disposable filter pad it came with! I believe there's activated carbon in it too.

I want to make the following additions to the HOB filter. I was inspired by this video and some other resources online.

– Add filter sponge
– Add filter fiber
– Add Seachem Matrix in a small mesh bag


Will adding these things mess up my cycle? Is there anything I should be aware of when making HOB filter modifications like this? Seems like a lot of people do this. It also seems like people are split on whether or not to use carbon filter pads in their filter. Will try to see if I can find any relevant posts on fishlore but so far no luck (I'm still new!)
Adding more media can only help. You just don't want to remove any Carbon really isn't needed. I've not run carbon in my filters for a very long time. The only times I can see you needing it is to remove medications or if your tank has an offensive odor. Carbon will help in those cases.

It seems most pre-made cartridges do come with it. In my humble opinion the only thing it does is clog up the cartridge leading to have to replace it because water will no longer flow through it. If someone is going to use the cartridges I highly recommend dumping the carbon out before using it. The cartridge will last much longer if the carbon isn't in there to break down and clog the fiber.
 

PURP

Member
N13 said:
That's wrong...
1. Set up tank (this means equipment, substrate, etc.)
2. Equilibrium puts PH higher
3. You dont wait an hour you normally wait 2 - 6 weeks and each day or two you test your water with API master test kit
4. After that add livestock if tank parameters are good
I mispoke (miswrote?) earlier... It was Pristine and ‘Stability’, not Equilibrium, that I put in the tanks to start them off. [I have just about every product that Seachem makes that’s not specifically for marine, so I get the names mixed up. :confused: ]. I do monitor parameters, and the only thing that’s ever off is the NO4 getting too high... which is remedied by a water change.

I still don’t understand what is gained by the multi-week procedure...(?) Aside from having appropriate water parameters and the good bacteria, what else is there? I’m not being argumentative; I really don’t know. o_O
 

RelaxingBettas

Member
FishDuster said:
Things are looking pretty good so far, waiting for those ammonia levels to drop down to 0 before I'll call it cycled.

Based on research so far, it seems like the HOB that came with my 10 gallon tank could use some modification. Right now it's only got the disposable filter pad it came with! I believe there's activated carbon in it too.

I want to make the following additions to the HOB filter. I was inspired by this video and some other resources online.

– Add filter sponge
– Add filter fiber
– Add Seachem Matrix in a small mesh bag


Will adding these things mess up my cycle? Is there anything I should be aware of when making HOB filter modifications like this? Seems like a lot of people do this. It also seems like people are split on whether or not to use carbon filter pads in their filter. Will try to see if I can find any relevant posts on fishlore but so far no luck (I'm still new!)
No one is split on carbon the only 'experts' that promote it are bought corporate hustlers. That's the thing about being newish to a field of study, be it health, nature, nutrition, medicine, husbandry- noobs are sitting there jangling their pockets and there's a predatious mindset in this world (just like the Amazon). Imagine there's a wolf fish (or eight thousand of them) trying to steal your resources (ie, life). Those are the filter pimps.
 

N13

Member
PURP said:
I mispoke (miswrote?) earlier... It was Pristine and ‘Stability’, not Equilibrium, that I put in the tanks to start them off. [I have just about every product that Seachem makes that’s not specifically for marine, so I get the names mixed up. :confused: ]. I do monitor parameters, and the only thing that’s ever off is the NO4 getting too high... which is remedied by a water change.

I still don’t understand what is gained by the multi-week procedure...(?) Aside from having appropriate water parameters and the good bacteria, what else is there? I’m not being argumentative; I really don’t know. o_O
It takes multiple weeks for the nitrogen cycle to start, you need to add ammonia aking with prime and stability, once ammonia is in bacteria start to eat it which leads to nitrite which is consumed then leads to nitrate and with a good amount of water changes , nitrate is gone, which takes 2 - 6 weeks, after that if your water parameters are good you can get fish, make sure to research each fish.
 

mattgirl

Member
I will apologize up front for kinda derailing this thread and it would be a good thing if this and the posts that prompted it could be moved to its own thread.

N13 said:
It takes multiple weeks for the nitrogen cycle to start, you need to add ammonia aking with prime and stability, once ammonia is in bacteria start to eat it which leads to nitrite which is consumed then leads to nitrate and with a good amount of water changes , nitrate is gone, which takes 2 - 6 weeks, after that if your water parameters are good you can get fish, make sure to research each fish.
I don't really want to get into a she said/he said thing here but you may want to put a disclaimer that this is your opinion. Fish in cycles are totally doable and were done long before fishless cycling was even a "thing". I didn't even know fishless cycling was a thing until I joined this forum 5 or so years ago. Personally I would never do a fishless cycle but I have learned how it is done to better help folks that choose fishless over fish in.

A bit more clarification. Prime does nothing to help cycle a tank. When doing a fishless cycle any of the many water conditioners will work just as well since all we need to do is add it when we first fill up the tank and during water changes to remove chlorine/chloramines from the tap water. When fishless cycling we don't need the ammonia detoxed. It has been said so often, now folks are beginning to think they need Prime to cycle a tank. It simply isn't true. In fact it may even be detrimental to the cycling process when fishless cycling. We don't need detoxed ammonia if no fishes lives are in danger.
N13 said:
That's wrong...
1. Set up tank (this means equipment, substrate, etc.)
2. Equilibrium puts PH higher
3. You dont wait an hour you normally wait 2 - 6 weeks and each day or two you test your water with API master test kit
4. After that add livestock if tank parameters are good
One more thing, Equilibrium doesn't raise the pH level. Equilibrium is intended to raise GH in the aquarium. However, Equilibrium does not contain buffering agents or acids, so it will have no impact on the KH or pH of an aquarium. I am sorry but if you are going to tell someone they are wrong your information should be correct.
 

N13

Member
mattgirl said:
I will apologize up front for kinda derailing this thread and it would be a good thing if this and the posts that prompted it could be moved to its own thread.


I don't really want to get into a she said/he said thing here but you may want to put a disclaimer that this is your opinion. Fish in cycles are totally doable and were done long before fishless cycling was even a "thing". I didn't even know fishless cycling was a thing until I joined this forum 5 or so years ago. Personally I would never do a fishless cycle but I have learned how it is done to better help folks that choose fishless over fish in.

A bit more clarification. Prime does nothing to help cycle a tank. When doing a fishless cycle any of the many water conditioners will work just as well since all we need to do is add it when we first fill up the tank and during water changes to remove chlorine/chloramines from the tap water. When fishless cycling we don't need the ammonia detoxed. It has been said so often, now folks are beginning to think they need Prime to cycle a tank. It simply isn't true. In fact it may even be detrimental to the cycling process when fishless cycling. We don't need detoxed ammonia if no fishes lives are in danger.

One more thing, Equilibrium doesn't raise the pH level. Equilibrium is intended to raise GH in the aquarium. However, Equilibrium does not contain buffering agents or acids, so it will have no impact on the KH or pH of an aquarium. I am sorry but if you are going to tell someone they are wrong your information should be correct.
Sorry if I put equilibrium buffers ph that I didn't know of, however I do think that fishless cycling is easier because usually when doing a fish cycle the fish can die due to how harsh the water conditions are which is why I say fishless cycle is better, but that is my opinion / advice, also I meant to say add prime in order to dechlorinate water not to cycle it, hope I cleared any confusion!
 

PURP

Member
mattgirl said:
I will apologize up front for kinda derailing this thread and it would be a good thing if this and the posts that prompted it could be moved to its own thread.


I don't really want to get into a she said/he said thing here but you may want to put a disclaimer that this is your opinion. Fish in cycles are totally doable and were done long before fishless cycling was even a "thing". I didn't even know fishless cycling was a thing until I joined this forum 5 or so years ago. Personally I would never do a fishless cycle but I have learned how it is done to better help folks that choose fishless over fish in.

A bit more clarification. Prime does nothing to help cycle a tank. When doing a fishless cycle any of the many water conditioners will work just as well since all we need to do is add it when we first fill up the tank and during water changes to remove chlorine/chloramines from the tap water. When fishless cycling we don't need the ammonia detoxed. It has been said so often, now folks are beginning to think they need Prime to cycle a tank. It simply isn't true. In fact it may even be detrimental to the cycling process when fishless cycling. We don't need detoxed ammonia if no fishes lives are in danger.

One more thing, Equilibrium doesn't raise the pH level. Equilibrium is intended to raise GH in the aquarium. However, Equilibrium does not contain buffering agents or acids, so it will have no impact on the KH or pH of an aquarium. I am sorry but if you are going to tell someone they are wrong your information should be correct.
Hi there just to clarify my original post, because I listed some of the information incorrectly in my original post. My point-form process is, aside from substrate:
1) add water (I add a dash of Prime, though my well-water doesn’t require it)
2) add Stability and Pristine to the water in the tank.
3) let the pump circulate the water for an hour (hour-ish)
4) start the acclimation process for the livestock.

if I’m using RO water (‘why’ is another story :rolleyes: ), I add Alkaline Buffer to bring the pH to 7.4, which brings the KH to 30. I will also use Replenish or Equilibrium to bring up the GH, depending on whether or not it is it planted tank. I monitor the GH as a way of regulating the water change schedules.

I apologize for such long posts… but I find that brevity in posts sometimes leads to misunderstandings.:eek:
 
  • Thread Starter

FishDuster

Member
I achieved a sort of "cycle" yesterday... finally stayed at 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and 5-7.5 nitrate. Not having much trouble anymore, but I wanted to just keep the thread updated for anyone else who may be interested in trying what I have just done.

Today during my weekly water change, I ripped open the basic carbon filter pad that came with my tank. It was a bit slimy with new bacteria, yay! I cut it open and removed all carbon. Then I cut out as much of the filter pad fiber I could, removing it from the plastic housing. Then, I added that slimey filter stuff to bunch of new filter media. I'm using a Tetra PF10 filter. The type of media I added was a flayer fiter sponge, a layer of filter fiber, and a layer of Seachem Matrix zipped up in a mesh bag.

The tank was pretty cloudy after all this. I obviously disturbed my freshly born bacteria! It was cool to get in there and see how the pad changed in less than 3 weeks. The cloudiness of the bacteria went away in a few hours. I think this will ultimately be the right decision. I am expecting the tank to take at least a week to get back to 0 ammonia. Maybe with these water conditions and the 84F temperature, the bacteria will re-colonize the filter and new media quickly.

My current water conditions are (5 hours after the filter mod + water change):

0.25 ppm Ammonia
0.00 ppm Nitrite
5.00 ppm Nitrate
7.80 pH
Alkalinity: 5 dKH (89.5 ppm)
Hardness: 4 dGH (71.6 ppm)

Still blown away at how these aquariums, filters, and pads are marketed...


I am still interested in the uses of Instant Ocean Sea Salt in freshwater aquariums. I haven't added anything to mess with the pH, GH, and KH of my water. Taking it as it comes from the tap for now. However, I have been doing more research into salt and its uses in freshwater fishkeeping. It's interesting to me that it can be used as medicine in certain situations. Thanks for keeping an open dialogue here and definitely important to note that everyone has their own way of doing things. I chose a fish-in cycle because I was confident I had the time and resources to maintain a quality of water that would not harm my two, strong. pioneer guppies. Even though that's the route I took this time, I would love to try a fishless cycle at some point in the future. The more experiences the better.

For the future, I'll monitor the re-development of my filter bacteria, add some more beginner plants, and a new light this week.
 

PURP

Member
O
N13 said:
It takes multiple weeks for the nitrogen cycle to start, you need to add ammonia aking with prime and stability, once ammonia is in bacteria start to eat it which leads to nitrite which is consumed then leads to nitrate and with a good amount of water changes , nitrate is gone, which takes 2 - 6 weeks, after that if your water parameters are good you can get fish, make sure to research each fish.
ok, I understand that you are explaining your methodology, which works for you, obviously. I’m not saying that you’re wrong, I just don’t see what your system accomplishes that mine does not. Is the goal not to establish a good bacteria base on all surfaces of decor and substrate? Please explain
 

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