Water Changes (fish In Cycle)

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by BloonStuff, May 20, 2018.

  1. BloonStuff

    BloonStuffValued MemberMember

    Hi there,

    I wanted to ask this question for my aunt. I’m not very familiar with the protocol when it comes to a fish in cycle as it was never something I considered. However, my aunt is currently doing one. She never asked me any advice before getting the fish so I wasn’t able to warn her off any of the bad advice etc she was given.

    So basically a week ago she added four male guppies and two female mollies to a tank she had had running for a week. She isn’t 100% sure but she thinks her tank is 60 litres (but possibly 80). Within the first week she didn’t do any water changes and two of her guppies have since died.

    I was just wondering when performing a fish in cycle, how often and how much of a water change should you be doing to make the water quality liveable? I’ve also told her to look into getting seachem prime and her own master test kit. Oh and to find out what volume her tank is for sure.
  2. Mick Frost

    Mick FrostValued MemberMember

    There isn't really a rule on WC, there are too many variables involved. Ammonia testing should be done every 1-2 days, starting the morning after the fish go in, until you're satisfied that it's not going to stress the fish too much. Start testing Nitrite on day 10 (sooner if using a booster) and test every 1-2 days until either it spikes (test Nitrate, do extra WC) or flattens off (test everything). The test results will tell you how much WC need to be done. On that small of a tank I'd even recommend testing daily or more.
    Once Nitrite appears, Ammo test can be dropped to weekly. Same for Nitrite test once Nitrate ramps up and Nitrite hits 0.
  3. Fahn

    FahnFishlore VIPMember

    60 litres is 15 gallons, 80 litres is 20 gallons. While the fish she added are arguably appropriate for tanks of that size, she added too many at once. If she wanted to do a fish-in cycle, two guppies would have sufficed.

    Reason being is that in new tanks there are no beneficial bacteria to process fish waste. This leads to ammonia, a by-product of fish waste, quickly building up with nothing to break it down into less harmful substances.

    Introducing the fishkeeper, who keeps ammonia in check with frequent water changes, frequent testing of their water, and products to keep ammonia under control such as Seachem Prime. In a fishless cycle 3-4 water changes per week are necessary in the beginning, of at least 50%.

    Eventually, enough good bacteria will grow to convert ammonia to nitrites. These are less toxic but not by much, and the fishkeeper should continue the routine of water changes and frequent testing. Then, eventually, another type of bacteria will grow that converts the nitrites to nitrates. This is the final step in the nitrogen cycle. When you test your water and consistently get 0ppm ammonia, 0ppm nitrites, and trace amounts of nitrates (preferably 20ppm or less) you are cycled! You can speed this process up with a bottled bacterial starter culture such as Seachem Stability.

    Even after cycling, don't just add all the fish at once. The bacteria have only grown to accommodate the two guppies at this point. Add one or two more fish, then wait two weeks or longer before attempting to add more. During this time you might get small ammonia spikes, so be diligent. Eventually the bacteria will grow enough to accommodate the new fish. When your tank is matured and your cycle complete, you can cut water changes to 1-2 a week.
  4. oldsalt777Well Known MemberMember

    Hello Bloon...

    Here's your answer: Your aunt needs a water testing kit that tests for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Feed the fish a little every day or two and test the water for ammonia and nitrite every day. If a test shows traces of ammonia or nitrite, remove 25 percent of the water and replace that with tap water treated with a product that removes chlorine and chloramine and detoxifies ammonia and nitrite. I use Seachem's "Safe", but there are others too. Just test every day and remove and replace the water when needed. When several daily tests show no traces of ammonia or nitrite, the bacteria colony is established. This will take a month or a bit longer. After the tank is cycled, you just have to remove and replace half the water every week to keep the fish healthy.

  5. jdhef

    jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    Okay, you didn't ask this part but she does have some stocking problems. I think the minimum recommend tank size for mollies is 29g since they are pretty active and large ammonia producers. But worse yet guppies and mollies can interbreed, so she may end up with a tank full of muppies. But as far as I know, muppies are infertile, so there shouldn't be any offspring form them.

    As far as cycling. she really has two choices. She can cycle without a bacteria additive, but she will need Prime and an API Master Test Kit for Freshwater. Then she can just test her water every 24 hours. If ammonia+nitrite is less that 1ppm, just add enough Prime to treat the entire tank volume. If ammonia+nitrite is 1ppm or above, perform a 50% or larger water change with enough Prime to treat entire tank.

    Or if she want to do it the easy way (and who doesn't) she can get a API Master Test Kit and a bottle of Tetra SafeStart+. Then just do a large water change (or several back to back water changes) to get the ammonia/nitrite level as close to 0ppm as possible. WAIT 24 HOURS (very important). Then add an entire, well shaken, appropriate sized bottle of Tetra SafeStart+ to the tank. Then do nothing but lightly feed the fish for the next 14 days. On day 14 test the water and if all worked correctly...she'll be cycled.
  6. TexasGuppy

    TexasGuppyWell Known MemberMember

    edit: jdhef beat me to it.. tss+ for the win.
  7. OP

    BloonStuffValued MemberMember

    Yeah, I figured she had stocking issues but it's kind of a difficult situation because she'd already bought the fish by the time I found out. And she didn't seem interested in any of my advice. My family tend to think I'm 'fanatical' when it comes to pet care, so they don't like me being involved. Anyway, now it's a matter of me trying to drip feed her advice without being pushy and hoping that she'll take it. It sucks knowing in the mean time fish are suffering but I can't force her to listen to me.

    But yeah, I had already broached the breeding implications with her after one of her guppies (now dead) was constantly chasing her balloon molly around the tank. She's planning to just get female mollies in the future but I'm going to have to try and tell her her tank isn't really big enough but we'll see how that goes.

    Anyway, she took her water to the aquatics store and found out her pH was 7.2, her ammonia was 5ppm, nitrites are 0ppm and nitrates are 10ppm. They sold her some kind of aquarium bomb (not sure which brand), told her to do water changes every other day and not feed the fish for a week. Then bring the water back in a week to be tested again.

    Instead I was able to convince her to get her own testing kit (the API master test kit is the same one as I'm using for my fishless cycle atm) because I feel like the shop are trying to keep her coming back so they can keep selling her stuff.

    I had told her to buy something like Seachem Prime to neutralise the ammonia asap and it also means she can act fast if there are spikes in the future, instead of relying on a one time bomb. But she didn't listen and just went with what they told her. It's frustrating and a bit heartbreaking when these things are out of your hands.

    Thank you for all the advice. I've been doing a lot of research for my future fish but it's been centred around a fishless cycle in a much smaller tank for a single betta. A little different than what my aunt has jumped into.

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