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Old 04-08-2008, 05:28 PM   #1
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Need some cycling advice

I am running a 47 gallon, FW tropical tank with no live plants, that has been up for 2 years, relatively happy, with an African Ciclid, some red and black skirts, and a few other random small fish. I had a major problem with Algae though. I had the green stuff that grew on everything, and even some purple stuff on the decorative castle in the tank. I had never before done a chemical test, and recently (2 weeks ago) purchased a Fluval FX5 filter and a test kit. After setting up the filter, I did the testing, and had some suprising results. I have tons of Ammonia (I don't remember the actual number), zero Nitrites, and 40ppm Nitrates. I have done a series of PWCs over the last week hoping to lower the ammonia, but it has not changed. I have tried adding bacteria supplements, but nothing I do seems to help at all. Am I just too impatient, or should I be doing something more to level out the ammonia and Nitrates?
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Old 04-08-2008, 07:45 PM   #2
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Moving this to the FW area where more people will see it. Welcome to AA.
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Old 04-08-2008, 10:14 PM   #3
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test your tap water and let us know what your results are along with your tank water
ph nitrates nitrite, and ammonia.
What kind of test are you using the strip test are not very acurate.
How many fish do you have in your tank.
How often are you doing water changes, and how much
What kind of dechlorinator are you using.

This info will help us better answer your questions.
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Old 04-09-2008, 12:52 AM   #4
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Also please test your tap water for Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate as well. Please check the date on your Ammonia Test Kit to ensure that you didn't buy one that is already expired. You'll probably want to take a sample of your water to the LFS to test as well to either confirm you numbers or determine if you have a bad results. A possibility is that you didn't follow the instructions probably. Make sure to reread the instructions and ensure that you follow them exactly and see if you still get the same results. The order that you add reagents and the amounts can make a big difference.

The fact that you didn't mention your fish acting ill makes me think that your test results are suspect. Please make sure to report the brand of Water Conditioner that you are using and the brand/type of test kit. Certain kits will have a false positive when used with certain conditioners, depending on the timing of the testing.

What type of maintenance do you perform on the aquarium. Frequency and size of waterchanges, filter cleaning, etc.
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Old 04-09-2008, 11:33 AM   #5
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I am using the AP Master test kit, and I just bought it 1.5 weeks ago, along with my brand new filter media for my new FX5 canister filter. I have used AP Stress Coat as my water conditioner and TopFin Bactieria Supplement. I only add the conditioner when I changed water. I have 10 fish in my tank, and all but one are about 1-1.5 inches long. The large one is the African Ciclid, at about 3.5 inches. They are all seemingly healthy and happy, and eat excitedly every time (the ciclid especially). I have re-done the tests multiple times to be sure that I did it right, and I followed the instructions explicitly, so I know I'm not doing it wrong. I have not yest tested my tap water by itself though. I figured that as long as my fish didn't die, I could change the water to whatever condition I want it to be with additives and such (can't I??).

I have done 2 large PWCs in the last week (25% & 40%). The main reason for me doing that was because shortly after installing the new filter, the water got super white and cloudy. The fish didn't seem to care, but it just didn't seem right. Along with the second larger PWC, I rinsed the filter and media, thinking maybe the white cloud was related to particulates from the media. The water is clear now, so I am concentrating on the chemical stuff. I will try testing my tap water later today and see what I get from that. I will do a complete comparison test of both Tap and Tank water and post that later tonight.
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Old 04-09-2008, 11:38 AM   #6
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The tank could be re-cyling. When you put on the new filter, did you remove the old one completly? Did you preform a water change at the same time?

Nix the additives. All you need is a dechlorinator. Living in STL you probably have relatively hard water. I'm assuming it is city water and not from a well so you're fine in regards to water quality from the tap.
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Old 04-09-2008, 12:00 PM   #7
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When I added the new filter, I completely removed the old filter first. I was not as educated at that time, since I had never heard of "seeding" a tank before. After reading through some of the stuff on this site, I now know a lot more than I used to about all that .

The water I am using is normal city tap water. I kinda figured the tank was re-cycling, but after reading the posts on this site, the conditions I am seeing don't match what I think it should be doing.

I have tons of Ammonia, which should be food for the bacteria, and lots of Nitrates, which is the byproduct of the bacteria processing the Ammonia and Nitrites. The thing that gets me is that there are no Nitritres at all. That's why I am wondering if I am just impatient and the ammonia is left over from the old filter, and the nitrates are from the tap water. Should I just give the bacteria time to process the huge amount of food they have and re-test in 3 weeks?
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Old 04-09-2008, 02:14 PM   #8
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The Nitrates were probably already present before you removed the old filter. They probably slowly built up over time, and since you weren't testing you never noticed. Also since it happened slowly you fish would have had a chance to get used to the rising levels, which is why they didn't appear adversely affected. When you added the new filter without keeping the old one or it's media, you started the cycle over from scratch which explains the high Ammonia levels.

Be prepared to do lots of water changes to keep the Ammonia and Nitrite under 1ppm until it finishes cycling again. The cloudiness would have been a bacteria bloom and a good sign.

Testing the tap water allows you to know what you're putting in the aquarium. If you've got Ammonia in the tap water then it would make sense to see some in the aquarium shortly after a water change before the biofilter has had a chance to convert it.
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Old 04-09-2008, 11:56 PM   #9
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OK, here are my newest test results:
Tank water:
PH: 7.2
Ammonia: 4ppm
Nitrites: 0ppm
Nitrates: 40ppm

Tap Water:
PH: 8.8
Ammonia: 1ppm
Nitrites: 0ppm
Nitrates: 10ppm

Prior to today, I did the tests on the tank water on 4/1, and the results have changed very little. On 4/1, the tank water results are as follows:

PH: 7.8
Ammonia: 2ppm
Nitrites: 0ppm
Nitrates: 40ppm

What is going on at this point? Should I be doing anything other than waiting for the bacteria to take hold? The fish seem perfectly happy, but I am a bit of a perfectionist, and would like to give them the conditions that are best for them. Any suggestions?
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Old 04-10-2008, 12:05 AM   #10
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Iwould do a water change and try to get the ammonia level as well as the nitrates level down. You might try changing your decholorinator to Prime it will help with the ammonia level that is already in you tap water.
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Old 04-10-2008, 02:33 AM   #11
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Definately do a large water change to get your ammonia level down, 4ppm is too high. Since you already have 1ppm in your tap water it may be difficult to get it below 1ppm, so try to get it as low as possible. Definately use Prime or another quality dechlorinator the detoxifies Ammonia and follow the dosing instructions to dose higher to neutralize the Ammonia.
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Old 04-10-2008, 06:12 PM   #12
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Will Do. Thanks. I will let you know what happens.
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Old 04-11-2008, 07:47 AM   #13
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I agree with the opinion that your cycle has restarted due to the installation of brand new filter media (without keeping the old for a while). Don't worry too much about that. It's all a learning experience.

Ideally, you want to keep the ammonia level below 0.5ppm. You may even need to do daily water changes of 30% or so to keep it down as low as you can.
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Old 04-11-2008, 12:31 PM   #14
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If you do a large water change Check the PH of the water you're addinning. A large shift in PH can kill fish. If it's 8.8 out of the tap I'd use a buffer to drop it so it's really close or the same as the tank water. Seachem makes buffers that you can get at your LFS.
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Old 04-11-2008, 03:50 PM   #15
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I just bought some Prime, and a couple of real plants I am so excited! Real plants!! At the suggestion of the LFS person, I also got some liquid fert for the plants. I plan a large PWC tonight. With the water level down, that will give me the opportunity to get the plants down in the gravel when I can actually reach it. I also bought a new 18,000K bulb for light, since I had not changed the bulb since I bought the tank. I will continue to monitor the chem levels and we'll see what happens!

Thanks to all!
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Old 04-11-2008, 05:06 PM   #16
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That's great Catatonic!

I wouldn't worry about using pH adjusters. They usually end up causing more problems. I perform 50 to 75% water changes weekly and haven't ever adjusted the pH. A water change is simliar to an acclimation. You're not replacing all the water and you are adding the new water slowly.
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Old 04-11-2008, 05:17 PM   #17
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Ok, that brings up another question. The process of PWC's. When I have done it in the past, I just siphon out as much water as I feel like for the time and dump it out. Then I use my old plastic drink pitchers (2.25 qt.) to fill up at the sink and dump them in the tank, basically as fast as they will fill at the tap. I try to add a tiny bit of warm water in the flow to match the tank temp so I don't shock the fish. After I'm all done, I add the necessary water conditioner, and clean up my dribbles off the glass and the floor.

Is this process how it's usually done? Or is there a better way? Should I take it slower? Would it be ok to fill a bucket (2-3g) and use that instead of the pitchers to make it go faster?
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Old 04-11-2008, 05:28 PM   #18
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There IS a better way. It's a product called a Python. It attaches to your kitchen faucet. You put the gravel vac of the python into the tank and turn ont he faucet. The suction pulls out fish waste and water then drains into the sink. When you have enough out, flip the knob on the Python at the base and it will put water back into the tank. Add your dechlorinator as it is filling or even afterwards. It will save you from carrying buckets and spilling water.

You can find this at Wal-Mart, PetsMart, petCo, and most LFS. It will make water changes MUCH faster. I can do my 55 gal tank in about 15 to 20 minutes using the Python. And that includes temping the water. If you want to continue the bucket brigade, you can. But the python is a lot easier.
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Old 04-11-2008, 05:30 PM   #19
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That sounds SO COOL!! But is the hose long enough? My closest faucet is at least 15-20 feet from the tank.
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Old 04-11-2008, 05:34 PM   #20
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Never mind. I just found it on Petsmart.com, and they have up to a 100' kit! A little pricey (50' for $50), but I think I will start saving up for one of those.
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