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Old 10-25-2011, 12:09 AM   #1
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Question Needing some pointers on cycling and basics

Hello all,
I am new to the hobby but have always loved watching friend's and families aquariums. I do know about the cycling process and have 2 10 gallon tanks that I am trying to cycle. I know the size limits the amount of fish and size of fish I can have being a military family I don't want to go too big since we move every couple years. I was trying to do a fishless cycle with fish food for about 4 weeks and got talked into adding 3 guppies to one tank and 3 glo fish to the other by a Petsmart employee. They dropped like flies. Clamped fins and some even have little red spots on them (ruptured blood vessels?). I felt absolutely horrible. I went today to a local family owned pet store and bought an established filter from them to seed our one tank and then I plan on moving it to the next to do the same. I do have the API testing kit and have been monitoring the water every other day, doing 20-30% water changes when a fish dies or atleast every other day. My pH in both tanks ranges from 7.4-8.5. The GH and KH are always maxed. No nitrites or nitrates yet and ammonia is always around .25ppm. So I am unsure why the fish died. I know there are typically casualities when cycling with fish but 6 in a 24 hour period does not seem right to me. Is it my pH? I have tried to use API pH down and it will drop to 7.0-7.4 but within a day it is back up to 8.0 atleast. Our tap water is typically around 7. I have read up on buffers and reverse osmosis but the RO systems are not only expensive but confusing. Be kind please! I am educating myself as best I can but I swear as soon as I finish reading one thing it adds another question to the mix. Thanks!
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Old 10-25-2011, 12:30 AM   #2
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This will help you a lot:
http://www.aquariumadvice.com/articl...ing/Page1.html
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Old 10-25-2011, 02:36 AM   #3
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Welcome to AA!

One of the things I learned on this forum from other members was not to mess with the pH, especially with liquid additives such as API Up/Down. Most fish can adapt to changes in the pH when you drip acclimate them before adding them to your tank. Only when you're keeping really sensitive fish (i.e. discus) should you attempt to change the pH. But you should only do so by adding in RO water and natural buffers (i.e. peat moss, shell, substrate, co2 injection, etc.) that would keep the pH steady and not fluctuate. The API Up/Down will just make the pH change like a roller coaster, which would cause more harm than good to the fish.

As for your fish dying like that... I think when you were doing fishless cycling for 4 weeks prior to adding in those fish, your ammonia levels were too high. I mean one of the main components to the fishless cycling method is too constantly be adding in Ammonia which is the food for the beneficial bacteria (BB) to get going. Unless you did some major partial water changes (PWC's) prior to adding in those fish?
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Old 10-25-2011, 07:06 AM   #4
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It sounds to me that you are doing the water changed too frequently. You should only do around 25% once a week. And make sure the gravel is clean or your ammonia levels will spike.
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Old 10-25-2011, 07:20 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Magikalgirl79
It sounds to me that you are doing the water changed too frequently. You should only do around 25% once a week. And make sure the gravel is clean or your ammonia levels will spike.
If you are doing a fish in cycle you need to change water whenever the levels of ammonia or nitrite are too high, this could be several times a day. Its really not possible to do too many pwc.
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Old 10-25-2011, 11:14 AM   #6
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HI and welcome to AA!

Fishless cycling with fish food isn't really that accurate in my opinion. It's hard to determine how much ammonia fish food puts out and how long it takes to decay. So it's possible the fish food didn't produce enough ammonia to get the cycle going, then when you added fish the waste (ammonia) they put out was too much.

Clamped fins and sores are usually signs of ammonia poisoning. You should try to test the water daily with the test kit and any time ammonia and/or nitrite read over .25 do as many water changes as needed to get them down. Are you doing daily water changes or only when a fish has problems? Daily water changes are important to keeping the fish healthy when cycling . So do you still have fish left? How many in each tank?

The seeded media can help, but you should still test the water daily and do water changes as needed. It probably wont' instantly cycle the tank and if you remove it too soon from one tank to the other it could set the first tank backwards.

What kind of dechlorinator are you using with water changes? Prime is best if you can get it; it helps to detoxify ammonia and nitrite in between water changes (but not to be used in place of water changes).

I'd start with a 70% water change in each tank as soon as you can. Then test water 1-2x daily and do water changes as needed to keep ammonia and nitrite under .25 at all times. There's a link in my signature called "new tank with fish" that will help.

Sorry about the loss of your other fish. Fish-in cycles are possible, so don't give up.
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Old 10-25-2011, 11:37 AM   #7
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As a newbie I don't have much advice but I will say the same... Don't give up! I'm doing a fish in cycle now. Although not easy I do feel I will succeed! Just stay on top of it. I test twice a day and now I leave at least four 5 gallon buckets filled and ready for a quick water change. I just did a water change yesterday after work and refilled my "clean" buckets so there ready for another water change which will probably be today or tomorrow. I use Prime which does work. Just stay on top of it and do your water changes.

Also just to add I use different buckets for taking out and putting in.
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Old 10-25-2011, 12:30 PM   #8
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Well unfortunately the last glo fish died this morning. I checked the levels before I went to bed and they were pH 7.2, Ammonia .25ppm and Nitrites were 0 ppm. Last night I also added the new filter I got from the pet store. This morning after I found the dead glo I checked again and it had been about 12 hours. The pH was 7.4 and the ammonia and nitrates were the same. Maybe the CO2 is off? I hope I don't sound like an idiot lol. I am just stumped because all of the tests have come back normal so I am unsure as to way the fish all died. We do have hard water I do know that but I was told guppies like that type. Now that all the fish have died should I start using ammonia? Even when I was doing the fish food the ammonia would never go above .25ppm and that is why I let the Petsmart guy talk me into getting fish for both tanks. Hoping that maybe they would produce enough ammonia to really get cycling going. Should I do a major water change in both tanks and then add ammonia? What is the best way to change the water? Since we have a small tanks I would syphon the water out into gallon water bottles dump them outside and use the same bottles to refill the tank. I was adding the conditioner to the bottled tap water before adding it to the tank. I was afraid that if I added it start from the tap the chorline would start to kill the bacteria. Am I doing this right?
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Old 10-25-2011, 12:45 PM   #9
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Do you have your receipt from Petsmart? They have a fish guarantee of 14 days I believe. You can at least get your money back if you bring the dead fish back. Then you can decide whether to go fishless or fish-in cycling. I can understand the guppy dying but the glofish is basically a zebra danio and those are typically very hardy and often used for fish-in cycling. So that's real bizarre that they died too, especially with your test results. Something else is going on here.

Do you have any friends near by with an established tank? You should do another major water change, then "seed" your tank with some filter media and/or gravel from their tank. Then proceed with fish-less or fish-in cycling... they both have different procedures so read up on thr method of choice.
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Old 10-25-2011, 12:52 PM   #10
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Might I ask how you went about acclimating the new fish to your aquarium before adding them to the tank?
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Old 10-25-2011, 01:49 PM   #11
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Yes I still have my receipt and I am going to take them back today. I am also going to take in some water samples to see if they can test for something I can't. The fish died super fast too which made me think they were either sick or something is off in my tank even though all my readings are in range. I don't have any kind of weird substrate in them or wood or stone. Just plan gravel, 3 river rocks for decoration and a bunch of plants to help the guppies feel safe and adjust well.

WY Renegade- I always thought you just put the bag of fish in the water for 15 minutes and then release them by dumping their water into the tank with them. However I went up to the library and got 3 books so I could read from a reputable source instead of sifting through tons and tons of opinions that didn't exactly pertain to my situation. It had said to dump out half the water they are in and replace with my tank water. Let it sit like that for a few minutes and then net the fish and put them in the tank without adding the old water. It makes sense because of possible water chemistry differences and diseases. Was this the wrong thing to do? Or did I miss a step? I also have a 3 gallon tank that I am turning into a quarantine/hospital. So if it was illness hopefully it won't happen again with mass casualties. I am more then open to constructive criticism because that is how I can learn from my mistakes. I am a huge animal/fish lover and it breaks my heart that I did/didn't do something that killed them. I don't want this to happen again and want to do it the right way.
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Old 10-25-2011, 01:50 PM   #12
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When I say fast I mean in less then a 48 hour time span not 10 minutes or anything.
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Old 10-25-2011, 02:03 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Jadedrain_06 View Post
WY Renegade- I always thought you just put the bag of fish in the water for 15 minutes and then release them by dumping their water into the tank with them. However I went up to the library and got 3 books so I could read from a reputable source instead of sifting through tons and tons of opinions that didn't exactly pertain to my situation. It had said to dump out half the water they are in and replace with my tank water. Let it sit like that for a few minutes and then net the fish and put them in the tank without adding the old water. It makes sense because of possible water chemistry differences and diseases. Was this the wrong thing to do? Or did I miss a step? I also have a 3 gallon tank that I am turning into a quarantine/hospital. So if it was illness hopefully it won't happen again with mass casualties. I am more then open to constructive criticism because that is how I can learn from my mistakes. I am a huge animal/fish lover and it breaks my heart that I did/didn't do something that killed them. I don't want this to happen again and want to do it the right way.
Nope, I'd say you did better than average. I was just curious as I thought perhaps lack of acclimation might have explained the "sudden" death. Personally, I usually do about a third of the water from the bag at a time, and never dump any of the water from the bag into my aquarium (just cause you never know what has been added to the water at the LFS).
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Old 10-25-2011, 07:01 PM   #14
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Cycling is very hard on fish. Even though your levels came down it's just possible the fish was already weakened from the cycling process. Sorry you lost him.

When you say you added a new filter, did you add it to the tank in addition to the filter you were using or did you replace the other one totally? You definitely want to keep the filter you've had on the tank b/c that's where all your beneficial bacteria is. If you remove it, you've uncycled the tank.

You can certainly start again with a fishless cycling using ammonia. The cycle may not take as long since you're cycle did progress some with the fish. Just follow the fishless cycling guide and in the meantime research proper stocking for your tanks. It's best to ask here rather than the fish stores (I didnt' want to say anything before but a 10 gal tank is rather small for Glofish as they are active and need more horizontal swim room than a 10 gal can provide).

Let us know if we can help further (oh, the fishless cycling guide link is in my signature: 'new empty tank' if you haven't seen it yet). Good luck.
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Old 10-25-2011, 09:54 PM   #15
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Yeah I felt horrible realizing all I didn't know and having the fish suffer. I also knew nothing about the glo fish and reading what I have I won't be getting anymore until I upgrade in the future. I did not replace it just added it to the tank. I once I have the 10s cycled I am going to use the new one in the hospital tank when one gets sick. Thank you for the link it was helpful. I got some pure ammonia today from Walmart for less then $2 and have been slowly adding through out the day to get to 4ppm. Slowly but surely it is getting there. I would rather add small amounts then have to do big water changes. Thank you for your advice =)
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Old 10-26-2011, 09:37 AM   #16
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Yeah I felt horrible realizing all I didn't know and having the fish suffer. I also knew nothing about the glo fish and reading what I have I won't be getting anymore until I upgrade in the future. I did not replace it just added it to the tank. I once I have the 10s cycled I am going to use the new one in the hospital tank when one gets sick. Thank you for the link it was helpful. I got some pure ammonia today from Walmart for less then $2 and have been slowly adding through out the day to get to 4ppm. Slowly but surely it is getting there. I would rather add small amounts then have to do big water changes. Thank you for your advice =)
It happens to most of us, it's not your fault. The important thing is you found AA and are open to advice and help. You'll be a great fishkeeper, I think. The same thing happened to me with the Glofish: PetSmart told me it would be fine to put them in a 5 gal hex tank. I knew nothing about cycling either. Thankfully I had found this site within a day or two after and upgraded the tank quickly. Good luck with your fishless cycle. Let us know if we can help further.
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Old 10-26-2011, 06:54 PM   #17
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Jadedrain, I just wanted to mention, because it has come up before, that the ammonia has to be completely pure, with NO additives, perfumes, and whatever. The best way to tell, they say, is to shake the bottle. If it's pure, it will not bubble or foam. On the other hand, if it's got any additives, it WILL bubble up or foam. Just check, cause if there are additives it will definitely stall your cycle, and may put future fish in jeopardy. I have read threads where people had to completely strip down their tank, clean it and start over for that very reason. And like it says in Eco's Guide, if you can find an Ace Hardware, their own janitorial strength ammonia is pure.

Good Luck with your cycle, and DON'T give up. You will find all the mistakes have taught you so much, and given you lots of experience (and believe me, we have all made them, you are NOT alone). Just bone up on the fishless cycle, and you'll have it made.
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