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Old 07-16-2011, 10:40 PM   #1
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Hi Everyone - New member and need advice!!

Hello - I am a new member/new fish keeper and seriously ready to throw in the towel! By now, I am so confused and I listed below what is going on. First off, I bought a used 55 gal tank that came with a 15 in or so clown knife fish, 2 large oscars, 1 smallish pleco, and 1 poor little albino cory cat. My intention was to get rid of the knife fish and the oscars but my son had other ideas!

So now, the knife fish, a new huge pleco, and a med sized catfish are living in a 75 gal tank. Since we were in a hurry to set it up, I used Prime for conditioning the H2O, let it sit for 5 days, then threw in Turbo Start to start the bacterial field. Waited a couple of days - ammonia spiked, nitrites spiked and all seemed clear - I added the fish. This tank is approximately 1 month old and seemed fine I did a H2O change two days ago of about 20% due to water being so cloudy. Tonight, the nitrite level is through the roof (5), ammonia .25, nitrate 10 - ph 8 (this will always be this way - got tired of adding chemicals and having fluctuations which is worse for the fish). I lug H2O down a flight of stairs for the tanks so very, very discouraged and don't know what is wrong. I feed algae tabs, sinkable pellets, and then live gold fish for the knife who averages about 5 a day - he just started eating again so we aren't sure what he will do in the future. That is the first tank. Oh, I added aquarium salt to this to try and help with the nitrite tonight.

The second tank is my 55 gal. I wanted a peaceful community tank - I love angels and plan on getting more once I get comfortable with it. It was going fine - everything seemed okay. I will be removing the shark, pictus catfish, and buenes aires as they seem to be picking on my other fish plus all 11 of my neon tetras are gone and my lone male cherry barb; so hence, am setting up the 20 gal again for them. Tonight when I got home from work, the tank was very quiet and everyone seemed to be hanging at the top or gasping - I lost 6 headlight tetras, a small barb, and a blue ram so am very upset. I just did a 20% H2O change with Prime added - added some tonic and aquarium salt. I had been treating this tank with Melafi and Pimafix as my med angel looked very bad. I have only treated for 2 days. I just replaced the filter with a Fluval 405 leaving out the carbon due to the med. treatment. The reason I did the H2O change was due to the nitrate being 160 - pH 7.4, ammonia .25, nitrite 0. Obviously the fish were suffering - I watched the poor headlights die hourly.

Any help would be greatly appreciated as I am second-guessing my decision to have fish to help reduce my stress - it isn't happening, in fact, it is way worse with all the testing, H2O changes, conflicting advice, etc. I have worked more on this for the last month than ever before and this is not counting the stupid 20 gal tank that started it all!

One of my questions is this:

You have to use Prime to treat your water - then you cannot add any bacteria for 5 days to help your filter because Prime will render it useless. By that time, it is ready for another H2O change.

To complicate matters, giving meds to the tank and cannot use the carbon filtration yet. Am seriously thinking about stopping treatment - the angel looks fine now (if she makes it through this last H2O change).

So, I have a 75 with through the roof nitrite after only 1 or 2 days H2O change and a 55 with through the roof nitrates - with H2O change tonight. I am exhausted from the changes (hauling H2O down a spiral staircase in 5 gal bucket, worry, stress, guilt from the loss of my fish. I am tired and dejected. Any help would be greatly appreciated............

Sorry so long but you need to know the whole story!
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Old 07-16-2011, 11:10 PM   #2
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to AA!

I'm sorry to hear about your dilemma, I'm sure a very helpful member eco23 will come along shortly to help ... if he doesn't beat me to the punch ...in the meantime here's what I can add.

1. Do NOT ... IMO ... use bacteria in a bottle to kickstart the bacteria growth. Plenty of members have had issues with the viability of that bacteria and having a tendency to die out on you causing a crash. The best way to get good bacteria going quickly is to get media ... filter material, substrate, decorations, from an established tank.

2. Sounds like the 75 gal was not cycled by you mentioning it was cloudy. Was it a whitish milky cloudiness? If so that may have been a bacterial bloom. If that bacteria was from the bottle it may have died out on you? Tough to say
but it seems the bacteria that converts nitrite into nitrates is not established.

3. Skip using any pH chemicals ... your fish will adapt to your tanks natural pH. Those chemicals just fluctuate pH and end up doing more harm than good.

Below is a link I think you need to look at.

I just learned about cycling but I already have fish. What now?!.

IMO ... what's needed is constant 50% PWC's to get the parameters under control. Are you using the API test-master kit to test the water? If so then the numbers should be accurate. Test strips are garbage practically. By prime I assume you mean seachem prime? If so continue to use it ... it will be your best friend by locking ammo and nitrites for up to 24 maybe more giving your fish breathing room.

It's really a waiting game now for the beneficial bacteria to work their way into the tank and grow. Don't give up ... we're here to help. I know lugging buckets is not fun ... but your doing the right thing by coming here for help!
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Old 07-16-2011, 11:32 PM   #3
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Thanks so much for your reply - yes, I am using Seachem Prime and also the API test master kit.

So am I doing the right thing by filling the tank - waiting 5 days and then adding good bacteria? Do I have to wait 5 days? I just had a thought - my daughter's 10 gal tank has an established filtration - could I swish around her filters in both my tanks? For the life of me, I don't know why her tank is the one without problems! We actually have put any fish that were acting funny from my tank into hers and saved their lives - go figure!

Anyway, maybe I should use her filters. I have picked up quite a bit from reading the articles on here already - like NOT replacing filters - just rinse them out in tank water and put them back - huge savings there! Am thinking of doing a QT tank also (my daughter would probably appreciate that). Good stuff on here - so glad I joined!

Thanks - will update as I go along. Just wish I would of found this place sooner before I started any tank!
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Old 07-16-2011, 11:45 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeAnne View Post
Thanks so much for your reply - yes, I am using Seachem Prime and also the API test master kit.

So am I doing the right thing by filling the tank - waiting 5 days and then adding good bacteria? Do I have to wait 5 days? I just had a thought - my daughter's 10 gal tank has an established filtration - could I swish around her filters in both my tanks? For the life of me, I don't know why her tank is the one without problems! We actually have put any fish that were acting funny from my tank into hers and saved their lives - go figure!

Anyway, maybe I should use her filters. I have picked up quite a bit from reading the articles on here already - like NOT replacing filters - just rinse them out in tank water and put them back - huge savings there! Am thinking of doing a QT tank also (my daughter would probably appreciate that). Good stuff on here - so glad I joined!

Thanks - will update as I go along. Just wish I would of found this place sooner before I started any tank!
Your daughters tank not having problems is simple ... it's established. It's cycled so the bacteria are doing their job. Compare the difference ... established tank + minimal PWC's = happy healthy fish. Uncycled tank = many more PWC's + risk of fish dying from ammo / nitrite poisoning.
It's amazing what good clean water will do for fish.

Forget any more bacteria in a bottle and better yet ... use some of the substrate or your daughters tank to help seed the others. Some members take the gravel, and put it in the filter next to the filter cartridge since it's in the filter media where a majority of the BB live. Or if your daughter has a few filters running, stuff a filter cartridge next to one of hers to really seed it. Continue to do PWC's with prime and let nature do the rest.
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Old 07-16-2011, 11:51 PM   #5
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Welcome to the site

First, the good- You seem to already have a great knowledge and capacity to learn and care for the fish you have. The level of commitment you're showing is already a major bonus for both your fish, and your ability to finally enjoy the peaceful and relaxing aspect that an aquarium will (eventually) give you.

Now the bad,- You're definitely getting some bad advice from other sources.

First, the Seachem Prime. Prime temporarily converts ammonia and nitrIte into a non toxic form for 24-36 hours. But it DOES leave the ammonia and no2 available for your bacteria to consume. It will in no way hurt your cycle and will be you and your fishes best friend during the process.

The real key here is to get ready to stretch out your back, because you've got some serious water changes in your foreseeable future. We recommend a safe threshold of maintaining your ammo and nitrIte at or below .25 during the entire cycling process. Contrary to what the pet store might tell you...water changes WILL NOT hurt your cycle, and are necessary to prevent harm to your fish. Both ammonia and nitrIte can be extremely deadly to your fish, and it's our responsibility as their care takers to keep it as low as possible until the tank establishes and stabilizes.

Since you have larger tanks...investing in a Python or Aqueon water changer can (literally) be a life saver. With my Python I can do a 50% pwc on my 46 gallon tank in 5-10 minutes. Trust me, you'll consider it a godsend.

As for the "instant cycling" products. My personal recommendation is to stop using them immediately. Without going to deep into the science (we can do that later), they are normally a waste of money and can potentially develop a dangerously unstable bio-filter.

Getting the tanks cycled is absolute priority #1. Use the guide jcolon linked and follow it to a T.

Once we get everything settled, we can worry about compatibility / stocking problems. If you have the option of re-homing some of your fish...that will dramatically reduce your work load because there will be significantly less toxins being released into your water.

I've got more, but my fingers are cramping, lol.

The real key...the only things you need for a healthy aquarium are a bucket, fresh water, a bottle of Prime and commitment. Solutions are never in bottles of chemicals (other than Prime, lol) You've got all those things at this point . Just follow the guide, ask us any questions you come across and we'll be there to help the entire time.
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Old 07-17-2011, 01:02 AM   #6
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Am really appreciative of your help (both of you)! I will utilize the substrate from my daughter's tank in the new 20 g and put some in the 75 and 55 ASAP - So glad to have someone reinforce what I was feeling in my gut - I hated adding all these chemicals to my tank - one just seemed to combat another - I was worried for my fish! My daughter will be absolutely tickled to hear that her little tank is going great - and she will be helping mine out!

My plan now (and correct me if it is wrong) to do daily water tests with Prime - 50% H2O changes to keep all the parameters in check - add the substrate to my filters - and pray!

When I am not worried to death and stressing - I love sitting in front of the tanks and watching the fish - it truly does relieve my stress. Hopefully, I will get there without too many more deaths.

BTW, there are 2 LFS and one can tell where I had been going before because of all the acid buffers, neutralizers, blah, blah. However, they were the ones that sold me the Turbo Start! Their advice was all I needed was Prime, Turbo Start, Stress-Zyme, and Stress-Coat. But doesn't Prime provide slime coat? It says so right on the bottle! Let me know your thoughts. Also, the pH in my water runs 7.2 - 7.4 and I decided it was a waste of time to try to change it a long time ago - reinforced by a wonderful FS about an hour's drive away - I will be going there for any more fish and/or supplies - they were definitely more reasonable - been in business 40 yrs (family owned/operated) and they were very down to earth - they supply all kinds of fish - ponds, etc.

Thanks for your advice - truly appreciate it with the goal of a peaceful future in mind!
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Old 07-17-2011, 01:08 AM   #7
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To Eco23 - I forgot to add - sorry to hear about your cramping fingers, LOL! I am a medical transcriptionist so mine get a work-out every day! Fastest fingers in the midwest!
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Old 07-17-2011, 01:12 AM   #8
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Sounds good to me, glad we could help.

Testing and PWC's with Seachem Prime's all you need right now. Oh ... can't forget patience. A little substrate from your daughter's tank should help ... just don't take too much .. otherwise the 10gal could go into a mini-cycle. Figure a handful for each tank to start with. What you can do is put the substrate in a media bags, that way you can either plop it in the filter, or in the tank .. don't worry, the bacteria will make their way through ... and when the tanks are cycled, can put that substrate back in the 10gal.
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Old 07-17-2011, 01:27 AM   #9
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Wish there was more I could add...but you're in great hands with jcolon

Your pH is perfect, ditch everything except the Prime and the bucket and you'll be enjoying a healthy aquarium in no time. Just make sure to also keep testing your daughters tank after you remove the media in case it in any way destabilizes it. If so, a couple days of water changes will straighten it right up.

Another great tool for seeding a new tank is a pair of scissors. You can cut off about 20% of the filter cartridge and donate it to the cycling tank. 20% shouldn't be enough to cause problems with the tank you're removing it from...but filter media is the A+++ source of where to find the most beneficial bacteria. If the cartridge has carbon (little black granules), you can just cut a slit in the side of the pad and shake it into the trash. The carbon will also contain some of the beneficial bacteria...so again, watch out for mini-cycles anytime you remove something from an established tank.

I know it's a bit overwhelming at first, but trust me...you're already far ahead of the pack in terms of getting off to a great start
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Being responsible...fishless cycling defines it, fish-in requires it. Choose wisely.
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Old 07-17-2011, 01:38 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeAnne
To Eco23 - I forgot to add - sorry to hear about your cramping fingers, LOL! I am a medical transcriptionist so mine get a work-out every day! Fastest fingers in the midwest!
Lol. Believe it or not...my normal problem isn't my fingers (though the iPad doesn't help them), it's normally that my hands move faster than by brain and when I read back what I wrote I see like 15 typos, lol.

BTW...don't be surprised if this thread gets moved to the getting started section of the site. The mods will probably see it and shoot it over there since it's become more of a help thread rather than an introduction. Just don't want you to freak out if it seems like your thread is missing
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