Water Changes While Cycling (fish-in)

jesse96

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Disclaimer: I know fish-in cycling isn't the best. I was misled by a large retailer and I've been researching & monitoring my tank nonstop to ensure safety of the fish. I posted two days ago in regards to my first fish tank.

How often should I be doing water changes during a fish-in cycle?
I have a 5-gallon tank that has had two female fancy guppies in it for 5 days now. The fish are doing well; they swim all around the tank and gobble up their food with vigor (I'm making sure not to overfeed).
The ammonia in the tank stays at around .5 ppm or so; my tap water has about 2 ppm so for some reason it's less in my early-cycling phase tank. No nitrites yet.
For the first few days, I treated all of the water with API Stresscoat & Stresszyme and an Aqueon ammonia neutralizer AND I was doing 25% WCs every day. I now have Prime and I use that instead. I did not do a WC today. I'm wondering—are daily WCs necessary or are they more harmful to the tank & fish? The safety of the guppies is my concern here; I don't mind if the cycling process takes longer for their safety. I also don't mind doing frequent WCs. However, the ammonia levels don't really go down with the WCs (I check the ammonia levels around 4x daily; I really want these little guppies to be ok).

Thank you for your help!
 

Islandvic

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Smaller tanks are always harder to cycle.

Is the tank you have one of those betta tanks with the filter integrated into the lid?

Water changes are not going to hurt anything.

When using something as concentrated as Prime, I suggest getting a 1mL plastic syringe from a grocery store or pharmacy to dose the Prime. It should have 0.1mL interval markings in the barrel of the syringe.

0.1 mL Prime treats 1.0 gallon of water
0.5mL Prime treats 5.0 gallons of water
 
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jesse96

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Smaller tanks are always harder to cycle.

Is the tank you have one of those betta tanks with the filter integrated into the lid?

Water changes are not going to hurt anything.

When using something as concentrated as Prime, I suggest getting a 1mL plastic syringe from a grocery store or pharmacy to dose the Prime. It should have 0.1mL interval markings in the barrel of the syringe.

0.1 mL Prime treats 1.0 gallon of water
0.5mL Prime treats 5.0 gallons of water
The tank has a removable filter that hangs on the side inside of the tank! The water flows back into the tank like a waterfall. It's a rectangular tank.

I'll get one of those droppers tomorrow! I heard I could dose up to 5x with Prime during the cycling process every 24-48 hours?

Thank you!
 
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I've personally have had good luck in quickly fishless cycling with ammonia by adding Marineland Bio-Spira (and I've heard others recommend Tetra Safe-Start), which definitely wouldn't hurt if it's within your budget. From the sound of it, your tap water may actually contain more ammonia than your tank water (what test are you using BTW?), so if that's the case it may actually be a better idea to feed every other day instead of doing a partial water change if the newly added water contains more ammonia the the current tank water.

Also, if you have another tank, or have a friend with an established tank you can speed up the cycling process by getting some of their filter media or gravel and adding it to your filter.

I should also add that daily water changes of up to 25% from my understanding are perfectly acceptable if they're lowering your ammonia/nitrites and nitrates, as the beneficial bacteria is found mostly in your filter, gravel, or any other items in your tank and not the water itself

Hope that helps!
Gabe
 

Michael.j.gomez

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The tank has a removable filter that hangs on the side inside of the tank! The water flows back into the tank like a waterfall. It's a rectangular tank.

I'll get one of those droppers tomorrow! I heard I could dose up to 5x with Prime during the cycling process every 24-48 hours?

Thank you!
Hello, when using prime I dose 2 drops per gal(20 drops-1mil)& use a childs med dropper($store).
5×dose this is done if case there is an emergency when ammonia 5.0(1 dose can handle 1.0ppm)& this gives 24-48hrs to deal w/issue. Just beware if problem not handled within time frame water becomes toxic again!!!!! Hope this helps.
20190301_051720.jpg
 

coralbandit

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The amount of water changed [in %] is the amount [in %] the ammonia or any nutrient will be reduced.
So for a 5g tank with .5 ammonia you would need to change 50% to get ammonia down to .25 .
many say lower but for cycling just keep ammonia below 1. When it hits one do a 50% water change . Same for nitrites .
The prime will detoxify the ammonia but it will still register on your test .It last 48 hours so can be dosed every other day .
For .5 -1ppm ammonia I would just change water and use normal dose .
Good luck fish in cycling is not a sin. Some of us learned that way in a different century !
I like to think of 'fish in cycling' as a primer to keeping and changing water which is where so many fail to begin with ..
Good luck and hang in there .Sounds like things are going just fine .
 

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I am an old school fish keeper and have no problem with folks such as yourself doing fish in cycling. I know you are willing and able to do what it takes to keep the fish safe.

I am a firm believer in water changes but in this case since you have ammonia in your source water doing water changes will not lower the ammonia in your tank.

I am happy to hear that you now have Prime. It should protect your water pets. Prime will pretty much detoxify the low amount of ammonia in your tank.

I have to think that the StressZyme added some of the necessary bacteria to this tank. That is the only explanation I have for the ammonia in the tank being lower than the ammonia in your source water and that is a good thing.

What I would do in this case is let my test results be my guide as to how much and how often to do water changes. As long as the ammonia in the tank stays below one just add a few drops of Prime. Some folks say it is good for 48 hours but I would have no problem adding a few drops every day as long as there is an ammonia and/or nitrite reading. Since you used a bottled bacteria it is possible that this cycle will skip the nitrite phase and go straight to nitrates. Only time will tell.

Since water changes will be adding ammonia instead of removing it you may want to only do water changes when the ammonia in the tank rises to the level of your source water or you may want to consider buying natural spring water or just plain drinking water often sold from dispensers in the bigger grocery stores.
 

oldsalt777

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Disclaimer: I know fish-in cycling isn't the best. I was misled by a large retailer and I've been researching & monitoring my tank nonstop to ensure safety of the fish. I posted two days ago in regards to my first fish tank.

How often should I be doing water changes during a fish-in cycle?
I have a 5-gallon tank that has had two female fancy guppies in it for 5 days now. The fish are doing well; they swim all around the tank and gobble up their food with vigor (I'm making sure not to overfeed).
The ammonia in the tank stays at around .5 ppm or so; my tap water has about 2 ppm so for some reason it's less in my early-cycling phase tank. No nitrites yet.
For the first few days, I treated all of the water with API Stresscoat & Stresszyme and an Aqueon ammonia neutralizer AND I was doing 25% WCs every day. I now have Prime and I use that instead. I did not do a WC today. I'm wondering—are daily WCs necessary or are they more harmful to the tank & fish? The safety of the guppies is my concern here; I don't mind if the cycling process takes longer for their safety. I also don't mind doing frequent WCs. However, the ammonia levels don't really go down with the WCs (I check the ammonia levels around 4x daily; I really want these little guppies to be ok).

Thank you for your help!
Hello jess...

Using fish to cycle a tank is simple and won't harm the fish if you use a hardy species and keep an eye on the water. The problems begin when you use a sensitive fish species and don't check the water chemistry every day. Female Guppies are the best, but Platys, Swordtails and any of the species of Minnows will work too. Use three to four fish for every 10 gallons of water you want to cycle.Once the fish have been acclimated, you feed a little every day and test the water for traces of ammonia and nitrite. If you have a positive test, remove and replace 25 percent of the water, but not more. The bacteria must have ammonia to reproduce. Large water changes starve the bacteria and delay the cycle. Just test the water daily and change it when needed. It's a good idea to add some kind of floating plant to help steady the water chemistry. Water lettuce is about the best. In a month or so, you get several tests with no traces of ammonia or nitrite. The tank is cycled. Then, change out half the water every week for as long as you keep the tank running.

Old
 

CichlidTai

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Smaller tanks are always harder to cycle.

Is the tank you have one of those betta tanks with the filter integrated into the lid?

Water changes are not going to hurt anything.

When using something as concentrated as Prime, I suggest getting a 1mL plastic syringe from a grocery store or pharmacy to dose the Prime. It should have 0.1mL interval markings in the barrel of the syringe.

0.1 mL Prime treats 1.0 gallon of water
0.5mL Prime treats 5.0 gallons of water
Why are they harder to cycle?
 

jdhef

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Okay...first thing, are you drinking this water? I'm not sure that drinking water with 2ppm ammonia is very healthy. If this is municipal water you may want to talk to the water company. But on the other hand, what are you testing you water with. Test strips are notorious for being inaccurate. If you are using test strips I would highly recommend the API Master Test Kit for Freshwater. It's a little pricey, but it is very accurate.

Do you know your pH level by any chance? the pH level can dictate how toxic the ammonia in your tank really is. At a pH above 7.0 ammonia stays in the form of highly toxic ammonia. But as the pH level drops below 7.0, that ammonia starts turning into ammonium which is much less toxic (some claim it's not toxic at all).

It's good that you are using Prime now. A standard dose of Prime will detox up to 1ppm of ammonia for 24 hours. I an unclear if a double dose will detox 2ppm or if the max it will detox is 1ppm. But SeaChem claims that you can safely does 5X, but I think this is in reference to elevated nitrites and not ammonia but you may want to check their website to see if that is clarified.

Assuming you are getting good test results and you really do have 2ppm of ammonia in your tap water, you may want to consider using bottled water. If you cut your tap water 50% with bottled water, you would effectively be lowering the ammonia level to 1ppm which I know I dose of Prime will detox. Also as @mattgirl mentioned, I would recommend dosing Prime daily if you have any ammonia present in the tank.

Best of luck
 

Islandvic

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@CichlidTai , I probably should have phrased it that smaller tanks are sometimes harder to keep the water parameters in balance.

There can be a rapid build up of ammonia and nitrites in a 5 gallon tank compared to a larger tank that dilutes it.

The rapid build-up may be unnoticed by the fishkeeper until the fish become symptomatic.

Also, most tanks in the 5 gallon range utilize very small filter cartridges, so there is not much room for beneficial bacteria to colonize on.

Once it does colonize on the cartridge, it is too easy to over clean it when rinsing or swishing it around in a container of tank water, effectively sloughing off the bacteria. That could put the tank in a mid-cycle.

Even worse, when those little cartridges are replaced, your only left with the beneficial bacteria is the substrate, which in a 5 gallon tank, there may be none to very little in some cases.

With a larger tank, there is usually room for a primary and secondary filtration. For example, a HOB could be the primary and a sponge filter could be the secondary (or vice versa with a large sponge filter!).

Having room for a secondary means of filtration will help keep the water parameters in check or at least help mitigate a sudden increase in bioload.

A smaller 5 gallon tank may not be able to sufficiently hand a sudden increase in bio-load. Less water in a smaller tank to dilute the ammonia.

But that is just my take on the subject, I am certainly not an aquatic biologist! Ha
 
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jesse96

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I am an old school fish keeper and have no problem with folks such as yourself doing fish in cycling. I know you are willing and able to do what it takes to keep the fish safe.

I am a firm believer in water changes but in this case since you have ammonia in your source water doing water changes will not lower the ammonia in your tank.

I am happy to hear that you now have Prime. It should protect your water pets. Prime will pretty much detoxify the low amount of ammonia in your tank.

I have to think that the StressZyme added some of the necessary bacteria to this tank. That is the only explanation I have for the ammonia in the tank being lower than the ammonia in your source water and that is a good thing.

What I would do in this case is let my test results be my guide as to how much and how often to do water changes. As long as the ammonia in the tank stays below one just add a few drops of Prime. Some folks say it is good for 48 hours but I would have no problem adding a few drops every day as long as there is an ammonia and/or nitrite reading. Since you used a bottled bacteria it is possible that this cycle will skip the nitrite phase and go straight to nitrates. Only time will tell.

Since water changes will be adding ammonia instead of removing it you may want to only do water changes when the ammonia in the tank rises to the level of your source water or you may want to consider buying natural spring water or just plain drinking water often sold from dispensers in the bigger grocery stores.
Thank you! I check the water levels like it's my job. I do think the StressZyme has helped me out a bit here. I'm religiously checking the water and keeping an eye on the guppies' swimming patterns to make sure they're doing ok.

Hello jess...

Using fish to cycle a tank is simple and won't harm the fish if you use a hardy species and keep an eye on the water. The problems begin when you use a sensitive fish species and don't check the water chemistry every day. Female Guppies are the best, but Platys, Swordtails and any of the species of Minnows will work too. Use three to four fish for every 10 gallons of water you want to cycle.Once the fish have been acclimated, you feed a little every day and test the water for traces of ammonia and nitrite. If you have a positive test, remove and replace 25 percent of the water, but not more. The bacteria must have ammonia to reproduce. Large water changes starve the bacteria and delay the cycle. Just test the water daily and change it when needed. It's a good idea to add some kind of floating plant to help steady the water chemistry. Water lettuce is about the best. In a month or so, you get several tests with no traces of ammonia or nitrite. The tank is cycled. Then, change out half the water every week for as long as you keep the tank running.

Old
Thank you! I'll see if I can source any water lettuce. That's the water change schedule I've been doing after running daily tests, so that's good to know. I'm new to this and want to be sure I'm doing everything correctly and safely!

Okay...first thing, are you drinking this water? I'm not sure that drinking water with 2ppm ammonia is very healthy. If this is municipal water you may want to talk to the water company. But on the other hand, what are you testing you water with. Test strips are notorious for being inaccurate. If you are using test strips I would highly recommend the API Master Test Kit for Freshwater. It's a little pricey, but it is very accurate.

Do you know your pH level by any chance? the pH level can dictate how toxic the ammonia in your tank really is. At a pH above 7.0 ammonia stays in the form of highly toxic ammonia. But as the pH level drops below 7.0, that ammonia starts turning into ammonium which is much less toxic (some claim it's not toxic at all).

It's good that you are using Prime now. A standard dose of Prime will detox up to 1ppm of ammonia for 24 hours. I an unclear if a double dose will detox 2ppm or if the max it will detox is 1ppm. But SeaChem claims that you can safely does 5X, but I think this is in reference to elevated nitrites and not ammonia but you may want to check their website to see if that is clarified.

Assuming you are getting good test results and you really do have 2ppm of ammonia in your tap water, you may want to consider using bottled water. If you cut your tap water 50% with bottled water, you would effectively be lowering the ammonia level to 1ppm which I know I dose of Prime will detox. Also as @mattgirl mentioned, I would recommend dosing Prime daily if you have any ammonia present in the tank.

Best of luck
I don't drink this water, although I do use it to cook with.. I believe these levels are safe for humans in moderation (I wouldn't advise drinking 4 litres a day of this city punch).
I use the API 5-in1 test strips and then the liquid API Ammonia test. I'm going to grab the master kit once I'm able to! I do bring water samples to my LFS whenever I stop by as well. My pH stays around 7.2 consistently.

I get my drinking water in a 5 gallon reusable container that I take to the store and fill up from a filtered machine, so perhaps I'll pick up another one and use that water for the tank!
 
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mattgirl

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I get my drinking water in a 5 gallon reusable container that I take to the store and fill up from a filtered machine, so perhaps I'll pick up another one and use that water for the tank!
That is what I would do at least until the cycle is complete. Once that is done the bacteria will process the ammonia in your tap water so quickly that you will just have to add Prime on water changing days to neutralize the tap water ammonia.

If you do this be sure to check the PH of the filtered water to make sure it is at the very least 7.0. If it is lower you may have to go with a mixture of tap and filtered. With filtered you will be adding no ammonia. Mixing it will add some but not as much as straight tap water.
 

DanInJakarta

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Goodness gracious. Water chemistry is simple and at the same time complex. It is complex because the values that you measure in any given sample of water change because of other values in the water.

Disclaimer: I know fish-in cycling isn't the best. I was misled by a large retailer and I've been researching & monitoring my tank nonstop to ensure safety of the fish. I posted two days ago in regards to my first fish tank.

How often should I be doing water changes during a fish-in cycle?
I have a 5-gallon tank that has had two female fancy guppies in it for 5 days now. The fish are doing well; they swim all around the tank and gobble up their food with vigor (I'm making sure not to overfeed).
This is good, no problem with this.

The ammonia in the tank stays at around .5 ppm or so; my tap water has about 2 ppm so for some reason it's less in my early-cycling phase tank. No nitrites yet.
If true, .5ppm of NH3, your fish would be dead. No nitrates means no cycling has started. Please see my post here: Help - Api Ammonia Turning Blue

Tapwater is a .2ppm? Ugh...

Parameters:

TAN (Total Ammonia Nitrogen) .5ppm This is what all test kits measure.
pH 7.2

I need the temp to properly figure out why your fish aren't dead. so I will compute the low temperature extreme @ 22C/71.6F for guppies, and you can do the math for 24C/75.2F, and 26C/78.8F.

The formula is TAN x conversion multiplier=NH3. TAN-NH3=NH4 (ammonium). NH4/100=toxicity of NH4. NH3+NH4 toxicity=Harmful Ammonia.

Conversion Multiplier @pH 7.2

22C=.0072
24C=.0083
26C=.0096

@ 22C
.5 * .0072=.0036ppm of NH3
.5 - .0036=.4964 of NH4
.4964 / 100=.004964 ToxNH4
.004964 + .0036=.008564 ppm of harmful ammonia.

pH is the measure of free hydrogen in a solution, in this case water. So a pH of 6 has many more free H atoms dissolved in it. A pH of 8 has far fewer free H atoms dissolved in it. So, the ammonium, NH4 can "donate" an H atom and what is left is NH3.


For the first few days, I treated all of the water with API Stresscoat & Stresszyme and an Aqueon ammonia neutralizer AND I was doing 25% WCs every day.
Nothing that I am aware of "neutralized" ammonia permanently. In fact, if your water supply contains only CL (chlorine), you don't need Prime, you need only sodium thiosulfate. However, because your water contains NH3, that NH3 will bind to CL and form NH2CL (chloramine) naturally. In that case, you do need a product similar to Prime.


I now have Prime and I use that instead. I did not do a WC today. I'm wondering—are daily WCs necessary or are they more harmful to the tank & fish? The safety of the guppies is my concern here; I don't mind if the cycling process takes longer for their safety. I also don't mind doing frequent WCs. However, the ammonia levels don't really go down with the WCs (I check the ammonia levels around 4x daily; I really want these little guppies to be ok).

Thank you for your help!
Prime splits the NH2CL into NH2 and CL. The CL is removed, however, the NH2 is bound for up to 48 hours and then released back into the water. Continued use of Prime causes an up and down effect regarding ammonia. This becomes problematic to your beneficial bacteria because the Ammonia Oxidizing Bacteria (AOB) got through "feast and famine". Your Nitrite (NO2) Oxidizing Bacteria have a very hard time getting started, therefore, no nitrates (NO3).

What is needed is beneficial bacteria so that when Prime releases the ammonia, something is there to convert it to nitrites and something is there to convert the nitrites to nitrates. If you wish to speed up the process and stop the swings in the values that you have, get a media bag, stuff it full of Seachem Matrix, dose it with some bacteria in a bottle and drop it in the bottom of the tank for a couple of weeks. Adding some clean plants helps, like anubias will help also. Any plant really, but a plant that is losing it's leaves will contribute to decaying matter in the tank and work against your goal.

Stop checking the water 4 times a day. API test strips are very inaccurate. The API Master Test Kit is very good, but remember, it still measures TAN, not only NO3.

Good luck.
 

Faytaya

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Disclaimer: I know fish-in cycling isn't the best. I was misled by a large retailer and I've been researching & monitoring my tank nonstop to ensure safety of the fish. I posted two days ago in regards to my first fish tank.

How often should I be doing water changes during a fish-in cycle?
I have a 5-gallon tank that has had two female fancy guppies in it for 5 days now. The fish are doing well; they swim all around the tank and gobble up their food with vigor (I'm making sure not to overfeed).
The ammonia in the tank stays at around .5 ppm or so; my tap water has about 2 ppm so for some reason it's less in my early-cycling phase tank. No nitrites yet.
For the first few days, I treated all of the water with API Stresscoat & Stresszyme and an Aqueon ammonia neutralizer AND I was doing 25% WCs every day. I now have Prime and I use that instead. I did not do a WC today. I'm wondering—are daily WCs necessary or are they more harmful to the tank & fish? The safety of the guppies is my concern here; I don't mind if the cycling process takes longer for their safety. I also don't mind doing frequent WCs. However, the ammonia levels don't really go down with the WCs (I check the ammonia levels around 4x daily; I really want these little guppies to be ok).

Thank you for your help!
Hi. I'm a newbie going through what you are too. I've had my tank almost two weeks. A lot of advice I have says to do it as needed. Prime should nullify the ammonia and you can feed every other day if you're worried a lot about it so the ammonia doesn't get out of control. (Thanks to everyone who posted.) From what I read, Prime lasts 48 hrs, but I wouldn't let it go any more than a day and a half without conditioning or changing water. No more than 50% at a time. You can boost with bio bottles too.
 

oldsalt777

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Hello...

Actually, once the tank is established, there's nothing to do but remove and replace half the water every week. Just doing this simple task, you guarantee steady, pure water conditions for whatever you have living in the water. You really don't need to do anything else.

Old
 

Vancouver Mike

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Disclaimer: I know fish-in cycling isn't the best. I was misled by a large retailer and I've been researching & monitoring my tank nonstop to ensure safety of the fish. I posted two days ago in regards to my first fish tank.

How often should I be doing water changes during a fish-in cycle?
I have a 5-gallon tank that has had two female fancy guppies in it for 5 days now. The fish are doing well; they swim all around the tank and gobble up their food with vigor (I'm making sure not to overfeed).
The ammonia in the tank stays at around .5 ppm or so; my tap water has about 2 ppm so for some reason it's less in my early-cycling phase tank. No nitrites yet.
For the first few days, I treated all of the water with API Stresscoat & Stresszyme and an Aqueon ammonia neutralizer AND I was doing 25% WCs every day. I now have Prime and I use that instead. I did not do a WC today. I'm wondering—are daily WCs necessary or are they more harmful to the tank & fish? The safety of the guppies is my concern here; I don't mind if the cycling process takes longer for their safety. I also don't mind doing frequent WCs. However, the ammonia levels don't really go down with the WCs (I check the ammonia levels around 4x daily; I really want these little guppies to be ok).

Thank you for your help!
Sounds like your willing to do the "work" and thats a huge part and congrats on getting involved in the hobby, i think u will enjoy watching and raising your Guppies! They are such colorful and fun active little guys. I had good success with Tetra safe start ,it knocked my cycle time in half. GL
 
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