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Old 09-10-2011, 11:57 PM   #1
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Cycle question

I started up about 4 months ago with a 20g tank and listening to the people at Petco on how to start up the tank. I was told that I just needed the basic equipment, some water cleaner and fish.

I put it all together, and the next day went out and got myself 2 Dwarf Gourami's, 3 Neon Tetra's, 1 Pictis Catfish, chinese algae eater and a bichir eel. I had the setup for 2 months, all the fish lived. I would do about weekly waterchanges, using testing strips for the water, and feeding flakes.

I never intentionally knew or did a tank cycle. Like I had said, I listened to the people at the store and I thought they knew what they were talking about. Mistake.


After the 2 months or so, I started reading more about the hobby, learning and understanding it. I understand what Ph I need and how to control it, that you want 0 ammonia and nitrites, but are allowed a rough range of 20-40ish nitrates. That my water needs agitation for oxygen, and fish compatability.. etc etc.


Then I decided to upgrade, I wanted a bigger tank and fish. I decided on Oscar because they have a great personality, and a Pleco because they are good tank-mates with an oscar. That day I got my 55G tank, I asked another guy at the store about cycling my tank before putting the fish in it. He told me that if I just take all the gravel from my old tank and put it in my new one, and run the old filter w/the new one, that I would move the BB to the new tank, thus avoiding cycling.


So I filled my new tank with gravel and took all my fish out and moved the old gravel on top of the new stuff. Transferred all my fish, gifted the two Gourami's, pict cat and chinese algae eater to a friend after about 2 weeks. That's when I got my oscar and pleco, they was small but I knew the oscar would kill those tank mates, I left the Tetra's in the tank, as well as my eel, to let nature run it's course .


Now I just have my pleco, oscar and the eel. (the oscar and eel get along, it's weird).

I still have never done an intentional cycle on the tank, and it's been about 2 months. There was one outbreak of ick, a month back, I was able to cure it up by increasing temp to 81 and adding some salt. Also used "Ick Attack", a natural substance that doesn't require daily water changes. It's all gone, it's been gone, and my 3 fish have been nothing but happy and healthy as far as I can tell.


I am now running an API Nexx Canister filter, and a topfin 60 HOB filter. The canister is new but the Topfin has been in since I got the 55G tank.

Today was water change day.

LOG:

pH: 7.6
Am: .15ish ( I use the API Master Test Kit, it wasn't quite .25, but not pure yellow either)
NO2: .15ish (Same deal, it wasn't quite the color of 0, but not dark enough for the .25)
NO3: 20

I'm reading that to obtain best water quality (0 ammonia / 0 nitrite) you have to have a fully cycled tank. True?


I'm sorry for the book of text, I just wanted to get my whole story out so someone could tell me if I needed to take action and do a cycle, or is my tank cycled naturally?

TLDR: Do I need to cycle my tank?
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Old 09-11-2011, 12:18 AM   #2
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When you cycle the tank you are just allowing the ammonia to exist until the bacteria turn it to nitrite. Then, the nitrite to exist until a different bacteria turn it to nitrate. By moving your BB from the old tank to the new and reducing your bacterial load by removing fish, I would say you are good to go.

Sounds like the levels are near to 0'ish and you were lucky enough to not lose any fish when the levels were sure to have been high. I would do as you are doing, performing weekly PWC and test the levels every couple weeks to a month. Keep an eye out for stuff like ich, and enjoy the new additions to your family.
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Old 09-11-2011, 12:32 AM   #3
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I would say with a fish in cycle, water changes EOD at the start is necessary, even .15 ppm of ammonia or nitrites can be harmful after 24 hours, so I would check levels daily to see if it's time to lower the levels again. Once the BB get established you will notice that you don't have to change the water as often, but as soon as the levels are detectable again it's time to swap some water. There is a thread in the FAQ section about a fish in cycle that I would definitely read over to get the full story, I will look for a link for you.
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Old 09-11-2011, 12:34 AM   #4
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Found it in the getting started section
I just learned about cycling but I already have fish. What now?!
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Old 09-11-2011, 12:34 AM   #5
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Thanks for the replies. I just got one of the python vacuum's that hook on to my sink. This is heaven compared to buckets haha. I'll be doing daily water changes until I reach 0 ppm ammonia.

EDIT: Thanks for the link. I'm checking it out.
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Old 09-11-2011, 12:52 AM   #6
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So by reading that article, correct me if I'm wrong, it's telling me that I just have to pretty much spend the next month (or so) babying the tank? Daily water checks / changes. Then at some point when I'm testing, the ammonia and nitrites will sit at 0, my nitrates will rise and my tank is cycled. Then I can calm it down and just do water changes when my ammonia gets to .25
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Old 09-11-2011, 01:05 AM   #7
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Ammonia will rise and fall, then nitrites will rise and fall, then nitrates will rise somewhat slowly. Once nitrates exceed 40ppm or so, water change. At that point, most will just resolve to doing PWC once or twice a week in volumes from 25 to 50 percent.
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Old 09-11-2011, 02:17 AM   #8
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Thanks for the advice.

I hope I'm not overfeeding him, I'm feeding him pellets in the morning and one block of beefheart at night. Then while he's grabbing the beefheart I drop defrosted bloodworms in so they scatter down for my eel, lots get sucked up in the filters though =/. Then typically when the lights are out, I drop a couple algae wafers for the Pleco where he hides. I don't feed the pleco daily, only about twice a week with the wafers, he eats all the algae and picks up some bloodworms / beefheart scraps sometimes.
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Old 09-11-2011, 02:45 AM   #9
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The more I read, the more I feel like I've spent the majority of my life overfeeding aquariums. My current regimen is food for two minutes in the morning, and another two minutes in the evening. Twice a week I'll substitute freeze dried brine shrimp or frozen bloodworms. Once a week I'll skip feeding for a day, usually skipping the evening meal and the next morning. Sometimes just skipping a couple breakfasts in a row.

I drop in blanched cucumbers or zucchini twice a week, but only the Mystery Snail really searches it out. The Gold Barbs and Boesemani Rainbow will nip at it and tear off chunks. I've seen an Oto latch on a couple times. I have some algae wafers I'll drop in twice a week and I swear the Bristle-nose Plecostomus can smell it. He's out and on it within a few minutes.

I've also read where random feedings instead of the same time every day mimics more of the natural habits, which makes sense. I've never seen a fish with a watch complaining that lunch was late.

Then, if we happen to be leaving for a couple/three days, I'll just leave them. I've never lost any and the only time we've had anyone feed them is if we are going to be gone longer than a week.

Some feed more, some feed less, and this is going to be one of those things where you are going to get a variety of responses with none of them an absolute right and none of them an absolute wrong. Just some specific species recommendations pertaining to specific fish you might have.
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Old 09-11-2011, 03:23 AM   #10
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That makes sense.


My biggest issue is my Oscar, it's so hard for me not to want to feed him because he's hilarious about it. He swims at me and freaks out when he knows he's getting fed, like a dog lol. Also, getting food down to my eel, he will NOT eat things floating or in the middle, he will only scavenge off the bottom and my Oscar eats so fast, and so much. I really need him to eat well because if the Oscar outgrows him by too much, I fear I'd have to get rid of him. I wouldn't want to ignore it and let him die, he's awesome.

Maybe I should invest into some feeder tongs. Put a frozen bloodworm cube right inside his hideout. I don't like reaching into the aquarium unless it's needed.



The left structure is where my pleco hangs during the day, it's pretty big in there so he should be able to grow to a pretty decent size and still use it. On the bottom right there's a lil cave for the eel to hide if he needs and I got pretty small plants / structures because i wanted to allow the oscar plenty of swimming room. Also that ugly air stick in the back is only temporarily going to be mounted like that haha.
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