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Old 01-09-2022, 06:57 PM   #1
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Cardinal Tetras Keep Dying ):

I have had my Fluval Roma 125 set up for a few weeks with water conditioner and the Fluval Cycle added. I decided my first fish were going to be 5 cardinal tetras. Were all okay, and swimming around fine for a few days. Then one of them started gasping for air at the surface of the tank. Found him an hour later belly up at the bottom. The others all seemed okay, schooling and eating. Another CT began gasping, same story as the other one. Is there something Iíve done wrong? Ammonia is reading 0.5, nitrate is 70 mg/l and nitrite is 0.35 mg/l according to my Tetra Aquatics app.

This is my first aquarium and Iím convinced Iíve messed up. Any help appreciated ):

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Old 01-09-2022, 07:48 PM   #2
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Your tank isnt cycled. Despite what it says on the bottle Fluval Cycle will not cycle a tank in a few days.

What do you know about the nitrogen cycle?

Do you understand how to cycle a tank?
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Old 01-09-2022, 07:54 PM   #3
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Your tank isnt cycled. Despite what it says on the bottle Fluval Cycle will not cycle a tank in a few days.

What do you know about the nitrogen cycle?

Do you understand how to cycle a tank?
The tank has been sat for 3/4 weeks with no fish. I was told to add 4-6 fish so the bacteria in the filter is able to break the ammonia from fish waste, uneaten food, etc, down into nitrites and then into nitrates. I wasnít planning on adding any more fish until my values all went down but my fish are dying anyways.

Maybe I misunderstood my LFS employee but they explained that with no fish in the tank, the bacteria has nothing to break down and therefore will not grow as well as when fish are added. Have I made a mistake adding them so soon?
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Old 01-09-2022, 08:04 PM   #4
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No. The fish store is right in telling you to add fish to start the cycle. They should have explained that you need to do regular water changes to control waste until your cycle establishes.

Ill post a fish in cycle procedure.

Your fish may be dying of other issues, but the most obvious cause is waste in the water because your cycle hasnt established yet. Do you have plenty of surface agitation from your filter or a bubbler to oxygenate the water? Maybe the fish are unhealthy from the store and the stress of the move was too much. Many reasons why fish die, especially in new tanks. But getting cycled should be your priority as it will solve many issues either now or in the near future.
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Old 01-09-2022, 08:05 PM   #5
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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 it 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 01-09-2022, 08:09 PM   #6
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The filter moves the surface of the water but doesn’t create bubbles or anything like that. How do I cycle without fish if they all die? I have noticed that before the fish die they tend to look bloated and then they start going white almost? It literally takes 30 minutes for them to go from being fine, to gasping, to being dead. I have another one that has just started gasping at the surface again
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Old 01-10-2022, 05:41 AM   #7
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As long as there is good surface agitation that should suffice to oxygenate the water. You dont need to be actually forming bubbles.

I would see if water changes improve your fishes condition. Follow the guidance given on what water changes are needed to keep ammonia + nitrite combined below 0.5ppm

You water is above that threshold, so i would change half the water as soon as you are able.

Are you testing with the tetra strips? I would recommend a liquid test kit.

Lets see if we can resolve your situation and keep some fish alive before changing to fishless cycling. If we get there we can discuss how to that if you still want to go down that road.
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