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Old 07-22-2011, 01:57 AM   #1
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Learned about water cycling... after I got the fish.

I knew NOTHING about fish tanks and whatnot and I bought my boyfriend a five and a half gallon tank and got him two tetra neons (I know five gallons isn't enough for them, I just found that out. I also know I should have more than 2.) and a two white fish that I don't know what their name is. Now, after I got him the fish, he noticed that the white ones were only staying near the top and that they were breathing hard. After some research, I found out that I should get a filter (I got one that has a little water fall effect) and that it would spread the oxygen around. Then he noticed the tank was cloudy, and I looked up that it was an ammonia issue because of cycling. SO, I bought ammonia test strips (though I know liquid is better, they don't have any in the store I'm at) and ammonia treatment, as well as water conditioner. The ammonia strips were really bad, and so I added two doses of AmmoniaSafe and they got better, and the water cleared, but it's still between stress and safe. But, the strips are so hard to read, I'm not even sure if that's right. So now I'm lost. I don't want his fish to die because they weren't meant to be 'cycling fish', they were meant to be his pets. I need some clearer advice, and more realistic ones. I'm not getting him a bigger tank, we don't have the money. And we have no where to get real plants, either. The neon tetras seem perfectly fine, the white ones are doing bad though. One is already dead, but once I came home and treated the water with both AmmoniaSafe and some Water Conditioner, as well as installing the filter, the remaining fish is swimming around a lot more actively. It's still breathing hard, though. Is there anything I can do to keep the fish from dying? Also, I used spring water, but it's now conditioned, so what water should I use? Is distilled good? His tap water is full of all kinds of nasty floaty stuff, so I don't think I should use that.

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Old 07-22-2011, 02:03 AM   #2
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Try to do partial water changes with dechlorinator and try to match the temp... That'll help lower ammonia

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Old 07-22-2011, 02:04 AM   #3
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You'll need to do some reading tonight: I just learned about cycling but I already have fish. What now?!
You'll need to get an API Freshwater Master Test Kit, most members use that as it's much more accurate than strips. We also use SeaChem Prime. Try to return the fish if possible. Keep us updated!
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Old 07-22-2011, 05:52 AM   #4
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When I first got my 36 gallon tank I had NO idea about cycling till they started getting sick and dying off. 96$ worth of fish died because the people at the pet store neglected to tell me, even after i asked exactly what did i need to know because I was a newbie! Nadaa ): So I was in the same boat as you were! Although I did have a bit of an idea of how to care for fish (the water conditioner basically) because I had a few betta previously. But beside the fact, it's going to be trial and error. Honestly what it comes down to is whether or not you want to put a lot of time and work into the tank or not. If you do, or at least want to try, a warning, keeping fish CAN (not always will be) be very difficult and can get expensive. Especially when they get sick. (PS. I suggest you take a little time to look up fish illness' online! Just so you know if your fish are ill & what they have. it will show pictures of what each illness is, what the usually cause is, and how to cure it)(PPS a good cheap cure, for Ich anyway is aquarium salt and heat if you have a heater) The smaller the tank is, the more time you will have to dedicate to it. or so I have experienced.. Since it's a small tank and NEW! If you put too many fish into a new tank, your fish WILL get sick and die off with whatever sickness they can catch (Ich I've noticed is the easiest illness fish catch). It's called new tank syndrome, definatley a killer. I'd say try and return a few fish. & keep one or two fish to begin with, if you decide you want to cycle the tank. Then once it's cycled slowly add a fish here and there, and it should be alright. Less ammonia will be produced and it will be less stressful for the fish! Also to take down ammonia do a partial water change %10- %40 depending on how bad it is! I don't know how much you know of cycling but if you don't know much a good note is if your cycling, never do a %100 water change or all the good bacteria that you need will be washed down the drain!

On the other hand If you don't want to put lots of work into keeping fish or try it a feel it's not for you.. whatever haha, I would suggest getting a betta. SUPER easy to care for. You don't need to cycle the tank. Low cost. You uuuusually don't need heater, filters, or test kits either. I bought food once and my betta, & a year and a half later he still doesn't need more food. What I do is a %50 water change one week and a full water change the next! With water conditioner of course (A must!) feed it and your good to go! Hope this helped! & good luck!

Also! You don't need live plants in a tank, so no worries about that! They help with disposal of waste along with other things, but they another whole big thing.. they require special lighting.. and fertilzers etc. etc. plastic plants gravel and a rock/decorations should be fine. its basically put in the tank so the fish feel safe. which helps them stress less.
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Old 07-22-2011, 07:32 AM   #5
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Yeah def check that link out which bruinsbro1997 showed and have a good read, to get the ammonia lower though do water changes (use a good dechlorinator) as already suggested. I wouldn't rely on bottles to sort that (lower ammonia) out for you. and again as the others say API Master Test kit is a must as well, so really I am just emphasising what others have posted already. Make sure to get the ammonia to or below 0.25ppm and test your water daily because if your going to cycle with fish you'll prob need to waterchange most days!
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Old 07-22-2011, 10:31 AM   #6
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API Water Test Kit is $24.00 at Amazon.com. I paid 32.00 for it at Petsmart and they only keep one in stock at a time. I have to say it was well worth the investment. It gives me peace of mind that I'm not huring my fish horribly and if the levels get up too high, I change the water. Many stores will do water testing for you for free. Petsmarts uses strips too... You may want to find a place that uses liquid testing.

I am in a *similar* situation but with a 36 gallon tank, and a (considered hardy) silver molly fish that HAD to come out of my established 10 gallon tank or it would have killed my newest fish in that tank! I got my tank from a independent fish store and he didn't say anything either. Just told me to put some rock from my old tank in to my new in a mesh bag to seed bacteria. So I didn't know about cycling a tank either. I'm truly glad I didn't plop in my new Angel fish or my Gourami!!!

SO I'm testing every day and doing partial water changes. And using "Prime" water additive = 6.99 on Amazon - I can't remember what I paid at Petsmart but I needed it fast. Unfortunately this IS going to cost you more money, but it is a small tank... Keep in mind that the smaller the tank the more it will be sensitive to fluctuations and *errors*. I hope your other fish makes it! Consider Danios in the future for hardiness. Good luck!
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Old 07-22-2011, 10:44 AM   #7
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The first thing you should do is 50% water changes every day for a while. Dumping the ammonia stuff in isn't going to help much in the long run, nothing helps like good clean water. If you can get Prime, get it, it's a better dechlorinator that most out there. Otherwise what you have is fine, but you'll need to do large water changes every day for a long while to keep the fish alive. Temperature match the water that is going into the tank with the tank's water (feel it with your hand) and add dechlorinator before putting it in. Change out half the water and do this once per day.

If you can get a liquid test kit, that will help you immensely. The strips aren't accurate at all (neither is that sticky) and you'll also need to test for nitrate and nitrite as well as ammonia.

Does the tank have a heater? Most tropical fish need a heater.
Do NOT add aquarium salt (or any salt) to the tank, freshwater tanks don't need salt unless you are treating for a specific disease.

If you can take the fish back to the store for a refund and re-think this plan I would do that. Really think about whether you want to invest the time, effort and money it's going to take to care for fish. If you do, then take the fish back and cycle fishless (link is in my signature to this also). In the meantime you can research proper fish to keep in your tank and how to care for them.

If you really really really can't take the fish back, then read the link on fish-in cycling in my signature (same one they gave you above). Read it many times and do what it says. Good luck.

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ammoniasafe, cycling, water conditoner

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