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Old 06-29-2022, 03:06 AM   #1
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Help with Ammonia!!!!!

Hello,

I have a 29 gallon tank with about 4small plants, two small snails, 3 mollies, 3 glo tetras, 2 glo danio and 5 guppies. I started having high nitrites 3 ppm and nitrates 40ppm results on the API test strips but no ammonia (I also have the master test kit). I did 2 8gal change daily for two days. Yesterday I went to a pet store and was advised to remove the Fluval Clearmax pouch, to do a large water change (I did 13gal), to a add a Seachem Purigen pouch and a Fluval Nitrite remover pads to the Top Fin cartridge that was already in the filter media. Today I tested with the API test strips and while the nitrites are significantly lower (0.5ppm) and nitrates are at 0ppm, the ammonia went up. I tested with the API master kit and it was in between the colors of .25ppm and .50ppm. I did a 8gal water change (I always use API Stress Coat to condition the water and add API Stress Zyme as well) I waited a few hours and retested and the ammonia seems to be higher and closer in color to the .50ppm. During the course of this time I vacuumed the substrate twice, first one mainly on top but a little bit more deep the second time during the 13gal water change cause of the pet sore rep suggestion. How can I lower the ammonia and stabilize my fish tank?


Thank you in advance.

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Old 06-29-2022, 03:41 AM   #2
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Your fish store has really gone to town with you. All you need is water conditioner when you do water change. Everything else they are selling you isnt needed and they are just telling you to spend money on stuff that at best doesnt work as they claim, at worst does nothing at all.

Stop buying things just because the fish store tells you to. Their job is to get you to buy stuff. They don't really care if its not needed or doesn't really do anything useful.

You arent cycled. While cycling you should have a target of ammonia + nitrite combined of 0.5ppm. Test daily, if you are above that target do sufficient water changes to get it below that target. Ill post a method of cycling a tank with fish below this post.
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Old 06-29-2022, 03:42 AM   #3
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To cycle a tank you need to grow denitrifying bacteria to consume ammonia and nitrite that your tank produces. The bacteria needs an ammonia source to grow colonies sufficient in size to consume all the ammonia and resultant nitrite and turn it into nitrate which typically you remove through your regular water changes.

A fish in cycle uses fish waste as an ammonia source and regular water changes are undertaken to ensure that water parameters are maintained at relatively non toxic levels.

Set up your tank. Make sure everything is running smoothly. Make sure you have used a water conditioner product with any tap water you have put in your tank. Seachem Prime is a water conditioner that will also detoxify some ammonia for a day or two, so is a good choice for a water conditioner while cycling a tank with fish.

You should have a test kit. Preferably a liquid test kit. It should test for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.

In ideal circumstances you should be starting a fishless cycle with a low bioload (number of fish). 1 small fish per 10 gallons/40 litres is a good number of fish, but this can be tweaked a little for fish that are social and don’t do well on their own. Ideally a hardy type of fish. You may have fully stocked (or overstocked) your tank before you knew about cycling. In these circumstances, if its not possible to return fish, you will have to make the best of it.

If you haven’t already done so, add your fish. Acclimate them to the water in your tank before doing so.

Feed lightly to start with. Daily as much as is eaten in 2 minutes, or as much as is eaten in 3 minutes every 2 days. You can increase to full feedings if you are confident your parameters aren’t getting too elevated too quickly and water changes don’t become a daily thing.

Start to regularly test the water for ammonia and nitrite. At least daily. Depending on your bioload you could start to see ammonia quite quickly. Nitrite will likely take a little longer to appear.

Your target should be to keep ammonia + nitrite combined no higher than 0.5ppm by changing water whenever your water parameters exceed this target. 0.5ppm combined is a level of waste that is sufficient for your cycle to establish but relatively safe for your fish.

If you see 0.5ppm ammonia and 0.0ppm nitrite (0.5ppm combined) then leave things be. If you see 0.5ppm ammonia and 0.25ppm nitrite (0.75ppm combined) then change 1/3 of the water. If you see 0.25ppm ammonia and 0.75ppm nitrite (1.0ppm combined) then change 1/2 the water. If water parameters get worse than these levels it may require multiple daily 50% water changes to maintain safe water conditions. This is more likely to happen with a fully stocked tank.

Remember to add water conditioner whenever you put tap water in the tank.

Over time the frequency of water changes and amount you need to change to maintain your ammonia + nitrite combined target will reduce. You can also start testing for nitrate and should see this rising. If you are finding the ammonia and nitrite in your tests are consistently low, and you aren’t already fully stocked, you can add a few more fish. It may take a few weeks to get to this point.

Once you add a few more fish, continue to regularly test the water and continue to change water if you exceed the 0.5ppm combined ammonia + nitrite target. With added bioload the frequency of water changes and amount you need to change may increase again until your cycle has caught up. Again once you are consistently seeing low ammonia and nitrite you can add some more fish. Rinse and repeat with testing, water changes, and adding fish when safe to do so until you are fully stocked.

You can then cut back on water changes to control nitrate only. Typically you want to keep nitrate no higher than 40ppm, but I would recommend changing some water every 2 weeks even if your water test says you don’t need to.

A fish in cycle from an empty tank to fully stocked can take several months.

A good 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.

Another option is bottled bacteria like Dr Tims One + Only or Tetra Safestart. These products wont instantly cycle a tank as they claim but in a similar manner to adding established filter media they can seed your filter with the bacteria you are trying to grow to establish your cycle. These products are hit and miss as to whether they work at all, but are an option if established filter media isnt obtainable and may speed up the process from several months to several weeks.
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Old 06-29-2022, 09:48 PM   #4
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That’s a pretty decent bio load for doing a fish-in cycle!

Like Aiken stated the fish shop is there to sell you products so please try and research as much as possible! Unfortunately this is the juggling game we call a fish-in cycle. It’s going to take quite a few water changes before this is all over, but it’s nothing that can’t be accomplished.

Just remember that changing water by the barrel full is not good either. Your target isn’t a reading of 0-0-0 on the tests, you need to maintain a safe level of ammonia and nitrites to feed the bacteria for the cycle to establish. .5ppm combined is more than a safe level to aim for. Depending on your waters ph level and temperature you could safely go much higher
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Old 06-29-2022, 09:59 PM   #5
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Thank you so much to both of you. I am committed to fully cycling my tank and hopefully save all my fish. My water temperature is 81 and my ph level is pretty balanced. Should I vacuum while the tank is establishing? If so, how often should I do vacuum changes? Also, should I take out the Nitrite Sponge and the Seachem Purigen pouch or just let them be?


Thanks again,
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Old 06-29-2022, 11:49 PM   #6
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Personally I’d leave the nitrite sponge and purigen out until the tank is established. Maybe even forever lol

Fish-in cycling is a big deal, it just takes some effort is all. I would personally forego too much vacuuming or vacuuming at all unless you have major buildup or if a reasonable amount of daily water change cannot keep the water quality acceptable for the fish. Remember, we need gunk and things growing to establish the cycle, it can’t happen in a ‘sterile’ environment!

What you do really depends on how time time and effort you can put into the tank. You can make it easier but more likely to prolong the time it takes to cycle or if you have the time and ambition you can (hopefully) help things cycle faster by going with more regular and smaller water changes and less super-cleaning of the tank

My first tank was a 29g with an absurd amount of comets. It was a lot of water changes but it was manageable and it all worked out. Started cycling in a couple weeks and was sustainable under a month! Definitely wouldn’t recommend to anyone that wants to only do a weekly water change during cycling lol

I’d opt for more water changes of a smaller volume myself if possible. This is going to seem like an endless game of water changes but it will be a much more stable environment than doing a massive water change all at a time.
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Old 07-02-2022, 09:47 PM   #7
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Thank you so much for your help, so far my fish seem good and I am making small water changes and testing the water.
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Old 07-13-2022, 07:58 PM   #8
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Hello,

My Ammonia and Nitrite have been at zero for about a week and my nitrate goes up to 5ppm, I am thinking it has finished cycling?

Also I bought the recommended product of Seachem, I will be using it in my next water change.

All this to now ask about algae, lol. I have algae in the live plants, decor, glass walls, and substrate. I have cleaned some of the walls but its coming back. The water remains clear and I have two small snails that doesn't seem to be enough to make a change. Should I leave the algae for now or can I start cleaning it? Should I maybe buy more algae eaters?

Thank you,
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Old 07-13-2022, 08:52 PM   #9
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It is cycling but I wouldn’t say it’s ‘finished’, the process has just begun and it takes time to establish enough bacteria to sustain the tank. I would personally just stick to cleaning the front glass for a week or 2 and slowly start cleaning up sections of the tank. The last thing you want to do is go at it Rambo style and clean everything and accidentally crash the cycle while it’s in it’s early stages! And whatever you do, don’t do any tank cleaning, water change and filter maintenance on the same day right now (or ideally ever) as disturbing that much of the bacteria can easily crash the cycle on a newer tank

On the same note. Unless the tank is horribly imbalanced, the algae phase isn’t going to last forever. It can be bad for the first few months, but as the tank seasons it will get better (again, if somethings not totally out of whack)

So it’s up to you, if you choose to throw in a bunch of cleanup crews, in time you will likely have to supplement a lot of their meals as the tank won’t be producing near as much algae for them
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