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Old 01-11-2005, 10:42 PM   #1
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Help, PLEASE cycling

Hi, I am a VERY inexperienced fish owner who inherited 4 baby guppies from my sister's aquarium at home. (I go to college about an hour south of where my family lives). Her guppy had about 40 babies, of which about 25 lived and I took 4. Her tank now has the mother and the about 8 of the babies she did not give away. I went to a local pet store, bought a 10 gallon tank for my apartment, a stand, filter, heater, and several other fish including a cory and a snail. I now have 4 mollies, the 4 guppies, the cory and the snail which I hand picked with the help of the pet store owner. The staff was very knowledgeable, it seemed, even told me not to get several of the fish I liked because they would get too big. Recommended aquarium salt and food and knew a lot about setup/fish. No one, however, told me about "cycling" the tank. Now that I have read more about fish takes to try to b e a responsible pet owner, I have discovered that my fish probably have about a week to live before they die of high ammonia levels. Is there anythin I can do to keep my fish alive? My sister is coming on Saturday with rocks from her tank and about a gallon of water she will collect over the course of the week to hopefully add some healthy bacteria to my tank. My 10 gallon aquarium was set up on Sunday. I have also ordered a bacteria starter called "cycle" which should be here early next week. Please help, any advice will be greatly appreciated. I love animals, and don't want to lose these fish. In summary,

10 gallon tank
4 mollies
4 guppies (babies, about 4 months)
1 cory
1 snail

water temp: approx 79 degrees, tank lighted half of the day, I turn the overhead light off when I go to bed, but am considering leaving it on 24 hours a day because I have heard it promotes the growth of bacteria.
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Old 01-11-2005, 10:58 PM   #2
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Welcome to AA Regen! If you want to save the fish at this point, either give them to your sister or take them back to the LFS. There is no bacteria in the tank water Have your sister bring some of her gravel (with the water) or filter media which will have bacteria. Some plants or other decorations will also have live bacteria.

You will need test kits to monitor your water parameters (NH3, NO2, NO3 and ph). Get the liquid (re-agent kits) and not the strips. You will need to use an ammonia source to keep the ammonia level up to feed the live bacteria and to activate the dormant bacteria that is present in your tank. Fish food or pure ammonia can do this (not the detergent type).

It's a shame that the LFS don't advise people about cycling.

Good luck!
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Old 01-11-2005, 11:01 PM   #3
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Is there any way the fish will survive after I add the gravel and water my sister brings? I'm really confused because none of her fish died and she never cycled her tank at all. I guess she just got lucky.
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Old 01-11-2005, 11:06 PM   #4
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Can I replace the water, half or more, of it daily and keep the rocks intact? Will this possibly keep the fish alive for long enough for the rocks/water my sister brings to give the tank enough bacteria to make it?
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Old 01-11-2005, 11:11 PM   #5
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Her tank did cycle at some point. People have been lucky in this regard. It really depends on a number of factors. ie: her original bio-load, filtering, etc.

Your fish could survive but there is no guarantee. This will take some work on your part. Test the water often and try to keep the NH3 level down. High levels of NH3 or NO2 are toxic to fish.

Check the articles section for the "nitrogen cycle". It explains the process in detail.

*Edit* - Rocks/gravel are we speaking of the same thing? You need not disturb it. A gravel vacuum is great for lightly (top surface only) to remove debris.
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Old 01-11-2005, 11:19 PM   #6
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thanks so much for your help. I've been reading a lot of articles about it, trying to find solutions. So far, I think the most realistic option I have is to just try to add the rocks (I mean gravel, sorry for the confusion) she brings, replace most of the water daily and check the nitrate levels as you said. Hopefully most of my fish make it. It's so hard, because theyre already starting to develop "personalities" and I don't want to lose any of them! Thanks for all your help though, and any more would be greatly appreciated. My email is a-herrick@onu.edu and aol instant messenger raine0311, if you have any more advice. Thanks again, and anyone else who has advice, PLEASE let me know. Thanks!

Also, now that I remember, she originally had a male guppy, a platy and a cory. The cory died, and a few weeks later she put in a female guppy. The original male guppy died leaving her with the pregnant female and the "old" platy. I'm sure now that the "mysterious" deaths were a result of the cycling.
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Old 01-12-2005, 12:37 AM   #7
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I have an idea, if anyone is still reading this. My sister has a 2.5 gallon tank which was the original tank she used. If she were to put some of her rocks, some water from her 5 gallon tank and one of her guppies in it for a few days, then, run her filter from her 5 gallon tank in the 2.5 gallon tank to transfer some of the bacteria into the 2.5 gallon tank, then brought the 2.5 gallon tank to me with the water and everything still in it, it's only a one hour drive, I could use that tank to "house" some of my fish. Here's my question, could four mollies and possibly a cory survive in a 2.5 gallon tank with a heater and a filter for about 2 weeks or however long it takes for the rocks (gravel) /water she brings me to establish itself in my big aquarium? The other fish I have are 4 guppies, which can live in cold water. I have a smaller bowl I used a while ago when I had a betta. The guppies are small, still babies, so don't produce too much waste. Do you think they could live in that bowl for a couple weeks if I replaced some of the water regularly? If you think that is a viable option, please let me know, because I want to try to save these fish. Do you think that would work?
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Old 01-12-2005, 12:59 AM   #8
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Hi Regen311,
I think that 2.5 gallon tank will be pretty small for all the fish, even for a few weeks. If they were in there, you'd be doing daily water changes to keep them comfortable. This is what I would do: Have your sister bring some of her gravel, with water covering it, to your house. Put this gravel into your 10 gallon tank. Your sister could also bring over some other tank decorations because they have good bacteria on them too. She'll have to keep them in some tank water on the way over to your house so the good bacteria doesn't dry out and die, but the water itself won't hold much bacteria. If she can possibly spare a bit of filter media to put in your filter, that would be good too -- like if she could spare some bio-balls, if she has that type of filter media. If not, her gravel will be very useful. If you don't like the color, put it in some clean, new, (never washed) pantyhose. The bacteria will still help to colonize your gravel, and in 2-3 weeks, when your tank is cycled, you could remove the gravel in the pantyhose. But if you like her gravel, then you could just put it on top of yours and leave it there.

You will then still have to do water tests to check for ammonia and nitrite every day, and change up to half of the water every day to keep the fish comfortable through the cycle. In a 10 gallon tank, that shouldn't be too time-consuming. With the addition of bacteria from your sister's tank, your cycle should progress smoothly, but still keep in mind that you'll have to test and do water changes accordingly.

I wouldn't use the "cycle" product. I would just use your sister's gravel and let that bacteria colonize your tank, and not add another bacteria additive to the mix. I have used this product before, a while ago, and it didn't do anything. The best way to cycle is with gravel or media from a cycled tank and that's what you're going to use.

You could (just so you know) also cycle with ammonia or with fish food like Jchillin said, but this is called "fishless cycling" and fish should not be present while you add ammonia to the tank. The idea is to go through the ammonia and nitrite spikes naturally, while no fish are in the tank to be harmed.

I have used a bacteria additive called Bio-Spira, and it works well. I'm using it now, and it cycles a tank in a few days. I'm still testing and doing water changes to make sure everything is ok (fish are in this tank) but the ammonia and nitrite spikes are not high at all because the bacteria is already present from the Bio-Spira. Hopefully you'll get through your cycle with low ammonia and nitrite readings also, because your sister's gravel will jump-start your cycle.
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Old 01-12-2005, 01:03 AM   #9
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[center:a98cdadd6b] Welcome to AA, Regen311!! [/center:a98cdadd6b]
Quote:
I have an idea, if anyone is still reading this.
Of course we are

First, kudos to you for being a responsible fish owner!!

Your fish will live through this--you found us and we can help. I disagree with Jchillin on some points. The best thing is for you to see your fish through this. Get the liquid test kit for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. The pH test kit may come in handy too.

You can add the gravel your sister brings to the filter and that will help. OR, even better, ask your sister to squeeze her filter into a ziplock baggie. From the squeezing, the water will be brown (if her tank is established) from the bacteria you need. Have her place it in a cooler, so it is insulated during the drive. Add that water to your filter and you have cycled the tank Take readings with the test kits to see if the tank cycled.

In the meantime, do 25% PWC every other day. This should keep the levels of ammonia low enough until the bacteria arrives. As for the product cycle, I have yet to find someone that loves it.
Quote:
considering leaving it on 24 hours a day because I have heard it promotes the growth of bacteria.
That's not necessary, you will only promote algae growth. The bacteria you want "eat" the ammonia that is produced by the fish and turn it into nitrite. Then more bacteria grows that converts nitrite to nitrate and the cycle is done! Nitrate is basically fertilizer and with weekly 25% PWC, the nitrate will never become toxic.
Continue posting questions as they come up
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Old 02-03-2005, 02:19 PM   #10
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Just an update... My sister only ended up bringing me about 3 tablespoons of rocks for her tank. I put those in the toe of some old pantyhose, put that in the filter and have left them there since. I've added "cycle" every week since then and have only done 3 50% water changes in that time period. It has been approximately a month. My tank is crystal clear (after a few random cloudy days that cleared themselves up almost immediately) and has been for about a week. I did not lose any of my fish, in fact, they all seem very healthy and happy and active. Just wanted to say thank you to everyone for your help. I think I got my fish through all of this and everyone is happy Thank you SO much!!
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Old 02-03-2005, 03:20 PM   #11
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Wow...that is absolutely great Regen! Thanks for letting everyone know.
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Old 02-03-2005, 03:55 PM   #12
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I think I got my fish through all of this and everyone is happy Thank you SO much!!
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