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Old 03-01-2013, 05:28 PM   #1
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Advice for guppies in freshwater tank that is currently cycling


I'm a complete newbie to the wonderful world of aquariums and realized last week that I had made a complete mistake in not researching before jumping in. ("fish" person said guppies are easy, bought guppies, realized I know nothing. Regret the impulse buy but am happy I seem to be learning without killing the fish. They're characters! I'm totally in love with them and with the little ghost shrimp. One of them comes to the front of the tank in the morning and wiggles at me and then hitches a ride on the airstone bubbles to the top.)

I'm doing a TON of reading but with all the advice out there I'd rather talk to people so that I don't risk missing something and doing the WRONG thing.

My aquarium is now a week old and the numbers are starting to shift into cycling numbers.

Ammonia was zero ppm until yesterday when it spiked up to 1ppm. I did a 25% water change and today it is now .25ppm I'll be doing another water change in an hour. (I'm testing with a kit, not strips. The "little test tube with the 8 drops from bottle one, 8 drops from bottle two, compare it to the colors and pick a shade of yellow to green" test. And I'm rounding up to the closest shade of green so my numbers are actually lower than the 1ppm and .25ppm mentioned above.)

Nitrates: 20 (up from 0)
Nitrites: .5 (up from 0)
Hardness 50 (consistent)
Alkalinity: 80 (test says I should add "buffer up"?
pH between 6.8 and 7.2: (test Says I should add pH-Plus for the 6.8 range but that the 7.2 range is ideal..?)

My questions are this:

1- I am reading that ammonia is less toxic at a lower pH, does this mean that I should possibly (at least temporarily) ignore the recommendation of my testing kit to "add pH-Plus" and bring the pH up?

2- I'm reading that I should add aquarium salt to the tank to help the fish deal better with the nitrites that are starting to appear. I have live plants, three guppies and 5 ghost shrimp in a freshwater setup at the moment. Should I consider adding aquarium salt as I have seen it recommended? Or bad idea?

3- The way I'm currently doing water changes is I'm letting a bucket of water sit overnight to come to room temperature and then I'm floating bags of water in the aquarium for an hour before adding the water. Is there an easier way to do this? A 25% water change takes about 5 hours but I don't want to shock the fish by pouring in a bag of colder water.

4- I'm reading that the filter I have is not good for establishing a biological filter but that it can be done with the addition of a pre-filter sponge. For a guppy tank should I possibly consider upgrading to a new filter now before I establish a biological filter? Or should I just ride it out with what I have since the cycle has already started? (Wish I had researched before buying. Grargh.)

3 fancy male guppies
5 ghost shrimp
Gravel substrate
Live plants (java fern, water lily and some grasslike plant)
Aqueon Quietflow 10 (100GPH)

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Old 03-01-2013, 06:05 PM   #2
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Location: Kansas City, MO
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I'm surprised noone is answering this but i have 3 guppies as well. I bought some gallon drinking water $0.80 at walmart and use that during a water change and fill it up with tap water and then put the containers in the room with the heating duct and water heater so itll basically be at room temperature which is fairly close and just siphon the tank and pour the warm water right in. The guppies love swimming right under that.... Thinking about getting an air pump and stone but not sure if it's even worth from a "look" standpoint of it...

Chad H
5.5Gal Fresh ~ Top Fin 10 ~ 50 Watt Heater at 76°F
3 Male Guppies and 1 Peppered Cory Catfish
Marimo Moss Ball ~ Anubias Nana ~ Echindorus Paniculatus
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Old 03-01-2013, 06:29 PM   #3
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Hi and welcome to AA!

1. Don't touch PH unless you absolutely have to for whatever reason. Most fish will adapt to your PH as long as it's stable. Trying to adjust it can cause swings which end up being worse for the fish in the long-run.

2. You can add salt to help with the nitrite phase but with shrimp I'm not sure I'd risk it. Maybe others can give more advice on shrimp and salt though. IMO, as long as you do water changes to keep the toxins low (<.25 for ammonia and nitrite) the salt probably isn't needed.

3. What water source are you using? If it's tap water you can use the hot and cold to get the water to temp. Are you using dechlorinator?

4. Your filter is probably OK. I prefer Aquaclear myself. If you want to upgrade filters you can either run the current filter with the new filter for a month or so before removing the old one or you can move the media from the current filter to the new one (you may have to cut it so it will fit though).

You've probably seen these guides already but in case not, here are the links:
I just learned about cycling but I already have fish. What now?! - Aquarium Advice
Guide to Starting a Freshwater Aquarium - Aquarium Advice
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Old 03-03-2013, 12:12 PM   #4
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Awesome, so it seems like I'm doing the right things so far and should just continue to test the water frequently for ammonia and nitrite/nitrate levels, and do frequent water changes/gravel vacuums and clean the filter until everything levels out (barring sudden unexplained spikes in numbers).

Other than the water chemistry is there anything else I should be looking out for? I'm watching the fish to make sure that nothing changes about their appearance, and I'm getting to know their behavior better.

Is there anything else I need to watch for that might strike a new aquarium?
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