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Old 09-20-2021, 09:09 PM   #1
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Hello, new tank!

Hi everyone! I have a 5 gallon tank I set up this summer. It was cycled before adding a couple cherry shrimp. Everything was good so I added a few more a couple weeks after. I started to have a nitrate/nitrite spike after adding the second time and I've been trying to get it under control ever since. It seems if I don't keep doing a small water change (~10%) aboute every other day the nitrite level starts going up slightly. Currently nitrate is at about 20 ppm and nitrite is 1.5 ppm and pH is about 8. Does anyone have some advice? It is a planted tank and I have barely been feeding them since the small spike.
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Old 09-21-2021, 01:25 AM   #2
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You arent cycled or you crashed your cycle. How did you cycle the tank before adding your shrimp? Did you do anything to crash your cycle? Perhaps overcleaning the filter?

Your small water changes arent enough to maintain safe water parameters. Your target should be sufficient changes to keep ammonia + nitrite combined no higher than 0.5ppm combined until you are cycled and they stay at 0 without changes. 10% every couple of days isnt enough.
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Old 09-21-2021, 10:08 AM   #3
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I used nutrafin cycle right at the start. Right before adding the second batch of shrimp I did change both filters at the same time as doing a bit of a larger water change (25%-30%). I probably messed up the cycle right there right? This morning my tank is a bit cloudy and one of the shrimp is now dead.
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Old 09-21-2021, 10:21 AM   #4
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Adding products that cycle a tank dont actually cycle a tank. They might claim to, but in reality they might speed up the process from months to weeks. It might seed your filter with some of the beneficial bacteria responsible for your cycle, but not enough will establish to be considered "cycled". You still need to manage waste in the tank with water changes until your cycle establishes. Depending on stock levels, volume of water etc, this could require daily water changes for a while.

As said you should target 0.5ppm combined ammonia + nitrite as an upper limit. You have 1.5ppm nitrite, so to get that to safe levels will require 2 x 50% water changes.

Changing filter media isnt a good idea as you will be throwing away the bacteria responsible for you cycle and need to start over to some degree. Unless its falling to bits, just rinse and reuse. Chlorinated water can also kill off bacteria, so use dechlorinated water or water from your tank. I presume your filter is the type with 2 cartridges? If you have to change them, dont change them both at the same time. A better option is to throw away those cartridges, cut some sponge and get some biomedia and use that in your filter.
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Old 09-21-2021, 12:32 PM   #5
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So would it be safe to do a 50% water change right away while I wait for it to actually cycle? Doing that big of a water change won't affect it? And I do use tap water but I have water conditioner (as long as that actually works unlike the nutrafin cycle).
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Old 09-21-2021, 12:44 PM   #6
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The beneficial bacteria lives on surfaces. Substrate, glass, decorations, but mostly filter media. Anything with surface area that has water flowing over/through it. Very little lives in the water so water changes have low effect on your cycle.

Having said that, water changes can be stressful for whatever is living in there. But less stressful than living in waste. If you are concerned 2 x 30% water changes a few hours apart is less stressful than 1 x 50% change. Make sure you reduce the impact of water changes by temperature matching the water. Changing water regularly avoids rapidly changing water conditions. And always use a water conditioner.
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Old 09-21-2021, 12:54 PM   #7
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Ok that's good to know! I did quite a bit of research (or so I thought) before setting up the tank and thought I had all the right information but apparently not! Thank you for the help!
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