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Uncycled Tank. Help Me Save My Fish Please.

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by H2oAngels, Mar 19, 2019.

  1. H2oAngelsValued MemberMember

    Hi guys, I am going to attempt to keep this brief. I’m new to aquariums and did the typica newbie goof. I fell for the PetSmart trap and believed that API QuickStart would insta-cycle my tank. In all honesty I knew nothing about it but skipped that part of my research, I thought the little bottle I purchased took care of everything. I purchased 3 gorgeous blue pearlscale angel fish along with a single flying fox on Saturday and had them in my tank that night. The tank is 20H hex. I did do my research in most other aspects and am very aware this tank will not house them long. (Angels are quarter size, Fox is under 3 inches). I only need them in this tank for 4-5 months. I set the tank up, added quick start and water conditioner, put the filter on high. The fish were in the tank 4 hours later. The test strips I purchased in sheer ignorance do did not include an ammonia strip. I thought my tank was perfect. Two of my fish started getting all wonky so I hit the internet, seems like cookie cutter swim bladder but it got me worried enough to really research. Last night at about 10pm it dawned on me that tank was a ticking time bomb. I finally had some knowledge of the nitrogen cycle. I had no way to test my ammonia levels. And at this point I understood that nitrates and nitrites were virtually non factors. In a moment of panic I did the only thing I could think of. I knew ammonia levels had to be rising so I blindly did a 25-30 percent wanted change. Today I immediately went out and bought a master kit. Ph 6.8-7 ammonia is .35-.4 PPm. In my panicked search I found information on Prime. I added the recommended dose an hour ago. I picked up a bottle of Tetra SafeStart earlier today. I plan on testing the water one more time tonight. Tomorrow morning I plan to do one more water change. 25percent give or take then add TSS tomorrow night around 7 pm (24 hours after addition of Prime). So in all I have to cycle my tank with 4 fish currently in it. I now have most of the knowledge I wish I had before this weekend. I don’t want to make this any longer any help would be greatly appreciated!

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    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 20, 2019
  2. SixThreeOhWell Known MemberMember

    Just follow the safestart directions. Your fish will be fine.
     




  3. H2oAngelsValued MemberMember

    Does swim bladder usually sort itself out? I picked up on it quick, fasted them for 30 hours. Fed them some peas tonight. One of the three looks like . Sits in the corner and flops over most of the time. The other one that was also wonky seems to be pulling it together. I’m just wondering if I should get back to feeding them or not. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, I probably won’t rest really well until this cycle is completed. Caring to much paired with ignorance is a bit rough lol.
     




  4. IslandvicWell Known MemberMember

    I think you're on the right track now for sure.

    Is that an Aquaclear 30 in your tank?

    Using Prime is the way to go.

    When you have time, try finding a 1mL plastic syringe to dose it with. Easier than using the cap and you have zero wastage, allowing the bottle to last longer.

    0.1mL Prime treats 1 gallon of tap water
    1.0mL Prime treats 10 gallons of tap water
     




  5. H2oAngelsValued MemberMember

    Aquaclear 50, I only plan on keeping them in this current tank for a few months. I have a 45 gallon permanent home lined up so I figured bigger was better. I just tested my ammonia again and it’s right around the .35- .4 from a couple hours ago. From what I understand given my water temp and current ph 3.1 ppm of ammonia is lethal. I also heard 2.0 would be a good panic number. Should I do a 25 percent change before bed or will it hold steady over night? They haven’t been fed much at (swim bladder). There are some chunks of peas at the bottom of my otherwise crystal clear tank. I just don’t know what to expect as far as time frames. I don’t want them to all take a dump and have the peas start breaking down and cause a lethal spike. I’m probably being way over the top ( 3 water tests in 6 hours).

    The syringe was the only thing i haven’t bought. I’ll post a photo of all the stuff I’ve bought. Half of which I’ve come to reaize is nonsense. I forgot to hit relply on my previous post.

    I’m invested to say the least
     

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  6. IslandvicWell Known MemberMember

    I would even suggest a larger water change. Between extra doses of the Prime and large water changes, that should keep the ammonia in check.

    Here is a trick to help with water changes.

    A tip I learned was to remove the thermometer from the tank and hold it under the faucet so you can temp match the tap water to the tank water.

    That way when you do a water change, the temperature is matched within a degree and there is no large differential to stress the fish.

    You have an excellent stash of supplies and variety of foods which is a great start.

    I noticed the Easy Balance and the Proper pH bottles. Try not to get to caught up chasing the pH up or down. Most fish will acclimate to your water's pH. Main thing fish do not like is large swings in pH, either up or down.

    Here are some great videos on water parameters from Jason and his Prime Time Aquatics channel on YouTube. He is one of the few people that has earned multiple university degrees applicable to our hobby with a YouTube channel.



     
  7. mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    My thoughts on this situation....

    You can of course go the bottled bacteria route. Lots of folks have been successful with it but lots of folks have had nothing but trouble with it.

    I've never used it but from all the threads I have followed, using it is hit or miss.

    You are doing a fish in cycle. The number one most important thing you can do for the safety of your fish is keep the ammonia level down as low as possible with water changes.

    It you could commit to doing water changes every day if necessary this tank will cycle without adding bottled bacteria and your fish will never be in danger. It won't hurt to add the TSS and it might help even if you don't follow the instructions to a tee.

    The folks that have been successful with it say pour it in there and do nothing but lightly feed the fish for 2 weeks unless the fish seem distressed then do water changes. I say why take a chance of damaging the fish when water changes to begin with will keep them from being distressed to begin with.
     
  8. H2oAngelsValued MemberMember

    Thank you for your response. That is where I was stuck. I really don’t like the idea of dumping the bottle in and not doing any water changes. From what I read ammonia levels will sit around 1-2 ppm during those two weeks. In my 20 gallon that doesn’t give me much room for error if there happens to be a spike. I just tested my water again. Since last night it has been more or less holding steady around .35- .5 ppm. I tested for nitrites crossing my fingers (only 3 days in unrealistic to expect nitrite) they were 0 as expected. My concern here is I get freaked out when my ammonia test comes back a little bit more green than yellow. Of course 0 ammonia would void the cycle entirely but what is the least stressful yet affective level. Should I water change now and try to knock that down a bit?
     
  9. 1MermaidNew MemberMember

    They’re so cute! Also you can help your tank cycle quicker if you use water from an established tank to add to your tank and perhaps a used filter from an established tank.
    There is the possibility of adding parasites that way though.
    When I started my 40 g ibises water from my smaller tank and filters from that smaller tank on my new tank just tobadd the friendly bacteria. I set it on floor for a while, and added a smaller one directly into my filter.
    It can be a risk, but it can also add the needed bacteria quicker.
     
  10. ETNsilverstarWell Known MemberMember

    If you're concerned about the lack of water changes while doing TSS, keep enough water for a decent water change on standby for 24+ hours then you won't need to worry about interfering with the TSS. I have a tank going through a mini cycle right now and I added TSS. My ammonia is sitting at .02 and I've been keeping up with normal feeding. It's not time for a water change yet, but I did have to add some water yesterday because it was a little low. I had already planned for it and had water waiting to use. I would recommend getting the seachem ammonia alert, as it only measures the ammonia that you need to worry about. It adjusts up within a few minutes (I think 15), but takes about 4 hours to adjust down (so don't freak out if you don't see it adjust immediately after a water change). It's how I've been keeping an eye on my tank and how I knew it was going through a mini cycle.
     
  11. H2oAngelsValued MemberMember

    Thank you very much! I actually just got done testing my tap water. A day late and a buck short but I have the numbers. I tested PH and it came back very blue. Looked like 7.6+, I ran the high range immediately after which was 7.4 spot on. So I can confidently say my tap water is between 7.4 and 7.6. My test water is straight from the faucet (I have a bowl sitting for a more accuret bench mark tomorrow. With that being said. I set up the tank Saturday knowing none of that. I had previously read to stay away from chemical ph balancers but figured it wouldn’t hurt to have on hand. I did use the API Proper PH the very first day before the fish were introduced. I couldn’t accurately test the water at that point but my test strips said 7.0 so in my angels went on Saturday. Yesterday I picked up my master kit and haven’t really stopped testing since. Last night (tuesday) I tested my ph water properly for the first time. It read 6.8-7 PH so I was pleased. I tested again about an hour ago and the PH read 6.6 - 6.8 so it appears to be dropping. My concern here is water changes. My tank water is sitting slightly sub 7 but my faucet water is mid 7’s is that change too drastic if I have to do a 50 percent change?
     
  12. ETNsilverstarWell Known MemberMember

    I'd do 25% then wait a few hours and do another 25% to accommodate the pH difference. If you're concerned, you can do even smaller water changes in a similar fashion to make the change even slower. Most fish can take a .2-.4 change without issues, but the ammonia in the tank could make them more sensitive to the change as well. Since you already did one 25% change without any negative effects, I'd say that should be a safe amount.
     
  13. H2oAngelsValued MemberMember

    I may contact my LFS and try to acquire some established material. I don’t trust any of my friends tanks since I’m the newest to the hobby and now I’m teaching them things. Luckily I’m a lunatic so I test the water basically every two hours. Water changes aren’t an issues luckily the tank is only 20 gallons so I’ll do as many water changes as I need to. Just about finding the proper balance at this point. I want my ammonia high enough to keep the cycle going strong but low enough that my little stooges experience as little stress as possible. I’m a 6’5 covered in tattoos biker, yet here I sit stressed out telling my little angel fish I’m sorry lol.
     
  14. mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    My 55 gallon tank sat empty for 6 years. When I set it back up I basically started from scratch. I set it up, filled it up, turned on the filters and let it run for a couple of days to make sure everything was running as it should. I then fully stocked the tank.

    I never got an ammonia reading in this tank but that was because I was changing out enough water often enough to keep it down too low for the test to register a reading. I know the ammonia was there because there were fish in there and the tank did complete its cycle in about 6 weeks.

    A few weeks into the cycle I did get an off the chart nitrite reading. At that point I was doing large water changes every day but fortunately that phase only lasted for 5 days.

    All of this to say. You can keep the ammonia down too low for the test to register any and the cycle will continue to grow. The ammonia continues to be added between water changes and that will be enough to feed the cycle. Keeping it that low will protect your fish.

    I also added prime to make what ammonia was there safer for my fish. I am happy to say that most of the fish I started with are still with me 3.5 years later.
     
  15. H2oAngelsValued MemberMember

    Perfect that’s exactly what I was thinking thank you.

    Awesome glad to hear they all made it! My tap water actually read .15 - .25 ppm of ammonia. So I guess that will be my benchmark for my “low stress” level. I think I’m just going to kind of freestyle the SafeStart. I’ll add the bottle tonight and keep an eye on the ammonia. They say not to change the water but I really don’t like the idea of exposing my adolescent angels to .5 ppm plus of ammonia. I’ll probably end up causing the product to work less efficiently but hey if some of the bacteria in that bottle survives I’m happy.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 20, 2019
  16. mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    That sounds like a plan. One big plus to adding the TSS. Quite often when it has been added the tank skips the nitrite phase. I have to think it contains a lot of the nitrite eating bacteria.

    Concerning your PH lower in the tank than from the tap. The PH does quite often seem to fluctuate during the cycling process. You could pick up some crushed coral. Either put it in you filter (best option) or in a media bag situated right below the output of your HOB filter. The crushed coral should help stabilize the PH in the tank. Once the cycle is complete it can be removed if you find it is no longer necessary.

    By doing this the big water changes shouldn't cause any problems.



    I have to think your tap water has chloramines instead of chlorine. From all I have read chloramines show up as a low ammonia reading. It is important to use a water conditioner that neutralizes chloramines. I think most of them do but I am a firm believer in Prime. It is first and foremost a water conditioner but it has the added benefit of neutralizing low amounts of ammonia. It doesn't remove the ammonia so if it is in the tank or tap water it will still show up in the test. The tests can't tell the difference between treated and untreated ammonia.
     
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  17. H2oAngelsValued MemberMember

    Alright guys, there’s a lot going on so I’m going to attempt to consolidate a bit here. This first part will be more for any newcomers like my self that can learn from my silly mistakes. The second part is more for you vets who have been giving input. First guys if you are running a tall tank and you your heater is shorter than the depth of the tank submerse it! I had this paranoid fear that if I put my heater all the way underwater it would malfunction and insta-kill my babies. I was making things terribly hard on myself. Everyone I did a water change I would have to unplug the heater. Then rush everything before temperature dropped. Now my heater sits below the 50 percent mark so when I do a water change it stays running. No more stupid risk and my fish hardly even notice I’m doing anything. Also as mentioned above use your thermostat under your faucet to get your water close to running temp. I have only been doing 25 percent changes so I had been guessing. Another unnecessary risk, luckily I guessed today before I used the thermostat and I was within 4 degrees of my temp. I ran my water a touch high to componsate for cool down while I worked. Worked perfectly, the heater never even kicked on fish look very happy. I’m going to purchase a few more 5 gallon buckets and maybe even a small tank heater. That way I can have water changes on stand by as a member above mentioned.

    Now for you experienced folks. I did just completed another 25 percent water change in an attempt to drop my .45 - 5 ppm ammonia reading. The fish had zero trouble if anything it looked like they enjoyed my company. (Hungry bastards). I haven’t tested the water just yet I wanted to let the filter run for a little while. This leads me to my next question, filtration. Luckily this is one thing I did decent research on prior to adding fish so I upgraded my single filter 20 gallon kit filter to a fluval aqua clear 50. Have the regular course sponge, carbon, and bio max insert. I also added a strip of poly-fil as a polisher. My water looks absolutely incredible. My question here is flow. I have a habit of cranking the thing full boar post of the day. 200 GPH so mathematically it’s filtering my tank 10 times an hour. Does this high flow make it more difficult for the bacteria to colonize my filter. Does it make my filter significantly less efficient? I will post results to water change test shortly. Thank you all in advance you’re awesome!!!
     
  18. H2oAngelsValued MemberMember

    Alright guys, there’s a lot going on so I’m going to attempt to consolidate a bit here. This first part will be more for any newcomers like my self that can learn from my silly mistakes. The second part is more for you vets who have been giving input. First guys if you are running a tall tank and you your heater is shorter than the depth of the tank submerse it! I had this paranoid fear that if I put my heater all the way underwater it would malfunction and insta-kill my babies. I was making things terribly hard on myself. Everyone I did a water change I would have to unplug the heater. Then rush everything before temperature dropped. Now my heater sits below the 50 percent mark so when I do a water change it stays running. No more stupid risk and my fish hardly even notice I’m doing anything. Also as mentioned above use your thermostat under your faucet to get your water close to running temp. I have only been doing 25 percent changes so I had been guessing. Another unnecessary risk, luckily I guessed today before I used the thermostat and I was within 4 degrees of my temp. I ran my water a touch high to componsate for cool down while I worked. Worked perfectly, the heater never even kicked on fish look very happy. I’m going to purchase a few more 5 gallon buckets and maybe even a small tank heater. That way I can have water changes on stand by as a member above mentioned.

    Now for you experienced folks. I did just completed another 25 percent water change in an attempt to drop my .45 - 5 ppm ammonia reading. The fish had zero trouble if anything it looked like they enjoyed my company. (Hungry bastards). I haven’t tested the water just yet I wanted to let the filter run for a little while. This leads me to my next question, filtration. Luckily this is one thing I did decent research on prior to adding fish so I upgraded my single filter 20 gallon kit filter to a fluval aqua clear 50. Have the regular course sponge, carbon, and bio max insert. I also added a strip of poly-fil as a polisher. My water looks absolutely incredible. My question here is flow. I have a habit of cranking the thing full boar post of the day. 200 GPH so mathematically

    The test with a touch of yellow was at noon today. The second test which has lost a lot of yellow is from 3pm post 25 percent water change. It’s climbed in 3 hours even with a water change. I’m waiting another 4-6 hours and testing again. Odds are I will be doing another potentially larger change at that time. I’ve been conditioning my change water with a dose of prime. Thus making the safe start I put in there in a few hours useless. But hey if 2 percent of that bacteria survive I’m happy. I just hope this next change shows a drop in Amm.
     

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  19. mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    I don't believe one can over filter a tank. As long as your fish aren't struggling with the amount of flow then wide open should be fine.

    You have asked a question that I am not sure about. I would think allowing the water more time to go through the filter media would be better while cycling. That means turning down the flow but I can't be sure whether or not it matters.

    I keep both of my HOB filters turned down because it seems my fish act more normal with less water flow.
     
  20. ETNsilverstarWell Known MemberMember

    I wouldn't worry about the flow of the filter as far as bacteria is concerned. With all the media in there, you're not getting the advertised 200 gph, since that all slows down the flow. I have an aquaclear 30 on my 10g and I always keep it on max flow without any issues, and I currently have a high bioload goldfish in there. The flow is more for what your fish prefer.

    If you're up for the water changes, I'd just stick with doing that over worrying about TSS. When I used TSS on my 10g, I was having a hard time getting the ammonia even below 1 ppm, so TSS was my attempt to speed things up and keep my fish safe. Luckily there was an immediate change and I'd say my tank was fully cycled in about 3 days.
     
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