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Old 02-20-2022, 10:41 PM   #1
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Question Problems with 55 gallon tank

Hi everyone, I have a 55 gallon tank with an Oscar (still a baby) and a pleco (also a baby). I also have some nerite snails. The tank measurements are showing around 7ppm nitrate, so the tank is cycled (it has been set up since December), however it showed an alarmingly high ammonia. I randomly decided to test ammonia, and good thing I did. My fish are showing no symptoms, but I dosed prime immediately. What could be causing an ammonia spike in a cycled tank?

I thought my api kit was wrong cause the tube is all stained and hard to see so I went to my lfs and they got the same results. My tank has 2 sponge filters (the kind with 2 sponges per filter for a total of 4 sponges) a HOB (that I customized cycled gravel, then bio rings, then filter floss, with a uv light.) I also threw in a random filter with carbon filter cartridges cause I happen to have it. It is an internal canister meant for a 29. My lfs says they think I donít have enough filtration and they think I need some expensive canister filter, but doesnít that sound like I already have plenty? Any advice is greatly appreciated!

It is worth noting that it is a planted tank that currently has both an ich and green water issue. I am treating ich with 5 tbsp of kosher salt, high temp, and top fin ich remover. I am using algae fix and uv for green water.

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Old 02-21-2022, 02:42 AM   #2
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You arent cycled. Just showing nitrate isnt enough to say you are cycled. How did you cycle the tank?

A cycled tank will show zero ammonia and nitrite when subjected to ammonia, either fish waste or some other source of ammonia (eg. pure ammonia). What may be happening is you have some beneficial bacteria, enough to process some ammonia into nitrite and some nitrite into nitrate, but not all of it. Or possibly your tap water contains nitrate which is what you are detecting.

You need to do a fish in cycle. Do you know how to do this? Dont rely on prime alone to detoxify ammonia. The only surefire way to control ammonia in an uncycled tank is water changes and getting your tank cycled.

What are your water parameters?
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Old 02-21-2022, 09:39 AM   #3
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Thanks for your reply! My ammonia is around 3-5ppm, nŪtrate 5-7ppm, and my nitrite appears to be none (however I would take that test with a grain of salt). I would of done water changes, but i assumed that would make cycling take longer? The ick med also said to avoid doing water changes for 6 days except for a 30% change on day 3 (tmr).
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Old 02-21-2022, 09:52 AM   #4
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The ammonia in the tank will do more harm than ich. Your priority should be to cycle the tank. Its pointless treating ich if your fish just die of ammonia related issues. 3 to 5ppm ammonia is way too high. You need that no higher than 0.5ppm. Based on 5ppm ammonia that's 4 x 50% water changes needed.

This has been asked twice now without an answer, once in this thread and once in another. You say you cycled the tank before adding fish, how did you do this? Probably 9/10 people on this forum with a problem with their cycle who say they cycled the tank before adding fish, didnt. Or how they thought you cycle a tank wasnt in fact doing anything useful.

Yes, water changes might slow down how long it takes to cycle a tank (marginally) but keeping your water parameters safe for your fish is more important than knocking a short time off the period it takes to complete your cycle.

Ich is a parasite that lives in many (if not most) aquariums. Healthy fish live with it and show no signs of infection. Its only otherwise unhealthy or stressed fish with weakened immune systems that tend to show signs of ich infection. In your case the likely cause of this weakened immunity is living in an uncycled tank. If you dont resolve this as your priority, things like ich will just keep cropping up.
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Old 02-21-2022, 10:36 AM   #5
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Also. Turn off the UV until you are cycled. Beneficial bacteria will start out in the water column before it establishes in filter media, so your UV will be killing the bacteria before it has chance to establish.
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Old 02-21-2022, 11:24 AM   #6
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Ok, thank you very much!
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Old 02-21-2022, 11:32 AM   #7
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I will keep doing this everyday until it is cycled. I also added a cycled sponge filter so that should speed it up
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Old 02-21-2022, 11:37 AM   #8
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There is no need to do water changes everyday, do them as your water test dictates. Get ammonia down to 0.5ppm. Test for ammonia and nitrite daily, if it is above 0.5ppm combined (say 0.5 and 0.25 or 0.75 and 0.0) change enough water to get it down to 0.5ppm combined. This might be daily, might be twice daily, or once a week.
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Old 02-21-2022, 11:51 AM   #9
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Ok, sounds good. I assume then that my lfs was just trying to sell me a $200 canister filter that I donít need if the only problem was the cycle.
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Old 02-21-2022, 12:09 PM   #10
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I would hope an internal filter rated for 29g plus 3 other filters would be sufficient for a 55g. Personally i would rather operate and maintain 1 cannister than 4 different filters, but thats a different discussion.
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Old 02-22-2022, 02:50 PM   #11
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Nobody really ‘needs’ a canister filter, or even a hang-on-back for that matter. There’s not a tank on this earth that couldn’t be maintained by a $15 sponge filter. But, we all have personal preferences and not everyone likes high maintenance, so we have better filter options available!

I don’t think you have a lack of filtration capacity at all. It just sounds like you’re not cycled yet
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Old 02-22-2022, 03:30 PM   #12
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Thank you both so much! The main reason I started this thread was for reassurance that I donít NEED to buy a canister filter. My LFS told me that I absolutely must get a fx5 or better, which sounded like overkill for 2 fish.

My reasoning for having such an odd filter setup is because I found the tank for a really low price of $99 at petsmart and it included this HOB and a heater.

I found a cheap bottle of api quick start thinking that would help, but now my test kit is showing no nitrate, no nitrite, and no ammonia. I literally changed nothing, so I have no idea how this happened over night. I am not sure if this is connected but the green water also fixed itself overnight. Should I assume the tank is cycled or wait a few days and test again?

Edit: I forgot to mention that (unless you advise against it for some reason) I will be preforming a 25% water change today per the instructions of my ich med (top fin ick remover).
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Old 02-22-2022, 03:33 PM   #13
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Test daily, if you see no ammonia or nitrite for a week or so, consider yourself cycled for the fish you have.
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Old 02-22-2022, 03:37 PM   #14
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The tank still isn’t going to be cycled and most importantly ‘seasoned’. But with the addition of adding the cycled sponge filter, that particular filter is cycled and should be sufficient to maintain water quality until the other filters cycle
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