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Old 12-19-2022, 03:52 PM   #1
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Growing Beneficial Bacteria

Hi everyone,

I'm a newbie to the hobby. I have a 55-gallon tank with two small goldfish in it. My filtration right now consists of two large sponge filters with lots of airflow, each supposedly rated for 60 gallons. I used Prime for dechlorination and used a whole 16oz bottle of FritzZyme 7 to start the growth of nitrifying bacteria. I added the fish to the tank on the first day (the FritzZyme bottle said I could, but it seems like this might have been a bad idea), and the tank has been running for six days. Here are my water parameters as of today (tested with API freshwater master test kit):

pH: 7.5
Ammonia: 1.0ppm
Nitrites: 0ppm
Nitrates: 0ppm
Temperature: 72įF

I've stopped feeding to keep the ammonia down. I've been dosing Prime every other day to detoxify the ammonia. My fish don't show any difference in behavior, but I'm still worried about them.

I've gotten a wide variety of conflicting advice on what to do. Some are telling me to wait it out. Others are saying to do a water change right away. Still others are saying to turn up or down the temperature to either boost the bacteria (increase) or make the ammonia less toxic (decrease). I'm very confused and concerned, and I'm humbly asking for your informed opinions. The one thing I don't want to do is get rid of the fish.

Thank you all!


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Old 12-19-2022, 04:26 PM   #2
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You are doing what is called a fish in cycle. You need to control toxic ammonia and nitrite through water changes. Your target should be to keep ammonia + nitrite combined no higher than 0.5ppm. Your current wated parameters are double that, so a 50% water change will bring this down to that target (assuming your new water contains zero ammonia).

Cycling a tank is about patience. Typically cycling a tank takes a couple of months. You need to keep your water reasonably safe until your cycle establishes and the 0.5ppm combined ammonia and nitrite leaves enough waste in the tank whilst keeping it safe.

Products like fritzzyme "might" speed things up a little, but more often do nothing useful. A better way to speed up this process would be to put a small amount of filter media from an established filter into your filter, or get a sponge from an established filter and squeeze it into your tank water. Perhaps you have a friend who keeps fish who could let you have some? This will seed your filter with the bacteria you are trying to grow and speed up the process.

Turning up the temperature will speed up things also, but higher temperature means your fish will have a higher metabolism, produce more waste, and ultimately this is detrimental to their health, especially in an uncycled tank. Your water is already on the warm side for goldfish. Dont turn it up any higher.

Water changes are your friend. Your priority should be the health of your fish. A fish in cycle used to entail throwing fish in a tank, when they died you replaced them. When they stopped dying you where cycled. More is known about the nitrogen cycle now, more is known about ammonia and nitrite toxicity. Better testing is available. There is no need for a fish in cycle to be harmful to your fish if its done properly.
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Old 12-19-2022, 07:26 PM   #3
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Thanks so much, that's really helpful! I did a 50% change like you said and will continue to monitor the water daily. Again, thanks so much for all of your help, Aiken!

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Old 01-12-2023, 08:10 PM   #4
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Get yourself some Seachem prime and pretreat your water, doing a daily partial water change...keep close monitor on your ammonia.
I have to be honest, goldfish are tough...they grow large and do best in an outdoor setup. At 55 g you'll be okay for awhile but be prepared for the day they need more room.
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Old 01-12-2023, 11:53 PM   #5
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Hi Isaac and welcome to the forum

Aiken has covered it pretty well, as usual

The pH of the water can affect how the ammonia affects the fish. If the pH is below 7.0 the ammonia is less toxic to fish compared to if the pH is above 7.0. Having said that, nitrite (the next stage of the filter cycling process) is less toxic in water with a pH above 7.0.

Your pH of 7.5 is fine for goldfish and whilst the ammonia will be a little more toxic in the water due to the pH, do not worry about the pH. As long as it stays around 7.5 it is fine for the fish.


You can feed the fish once every couple of days. They should eat the food within 20-30 seconds. They won't starve and will be fine getting fed a couple of times a week. Unlike birds and mammals that use most of the food they eat to keep warm, most fish take their body temperature from the surrounding water. This means any food they eat is used for growth and movement. This allows fish to go for weeks or even months with little or no food. Once the filter has established, then you can feed them more often.

The filter bacteria take time to grow (around 4-6 weeks but sometimes longer). During this time you minimise feeding and do big regular water changes to keep ammonia and nitrite levels low. In a couple of weeks time you should start to get a nitrite reading. A few days after that the ammonia levels should drop to 0ppm. A few weeks later and the nitrite levels will go up and come back down to 0ppm. When it does the filter should be cycled.

Don't bother testing for nitrates until the tank has finished cycling because nitrate test kits read nitrite as nitrate, and give you a false reading.

Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before you add it to the tank.


You can contact your water supply company and ask them what the GH (general hardness) and KH (carbonate hardness) of the water is, as well as if they use chlorine or chloramine. You can also check their website for this information and water company's usually have a page showing what is in the water.

Most water conditioners have a single dose rate for chlorine and a double dose rate for chloramine. Check the instructions on the dechlorinator.

At this stage, just reduce feeding, do water changes, don't add any more fish until after the filter has established, and wait.
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