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andry6

Cycling a new tank. Please help!

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Hello! I am very new to this whole fishy thing. Let me give you a little "background".

It all started when our daughter won some feeder fish at after prom and brought them home for our 8 year old son. We bought a 29 gallon tank and all 4 feeders were dead in a week. (I'm assuming they were sick when she brought them home. They ended up with ich and we treated the tank and did whatever possible to keep them alive but with no luck)

Anyway, after burying the little guys in the back yard, we emptied the tank, rinsed everything in very hot water (no soap) and left it all out in the sun to dry. We then set the tank up again, let it run for a week, adding a "beneficial bacteria" product given to us by the pet store and followed the directions to a T.

Next, we went to an aquarium store that specializes in fish, since we were afraid to buy the new little guys from Petsmart or another "chain" store. We purchased two fantails (1 calico and 1 red capped)

so. . .this is where we are:

29 gallon tetra brand aquarium

whisper power filter 30 (with carbon cartriges - hangs on back of tank)

1 bubble strip and 2 decorative bubblers

all artificial plants - no live plants

2 fantail goldfish - approx. 3-3 1/2 inches in length

feed pellet and flakes, sometimes peas - feed 2 times a day (they eat it immediately - nothing sinks to the bottom)

no heater on the tank - room temp usually aroung 76 degrees

use API freshwater master test kit daily to monitor levels

Since I'm new to this whole thing, I am paranoid about stressing these cuties out and possibly killing them, so I have been doing daily 8 gallon water changes to keep the ammonia below 1.0ppm. I'm usually aroung .5, never lower).

It has been 6 weeks since we put the fish in the tank and I still have a nitrite reading of 0 and a nitrate of 5.

I have read that water changes are necessary to keep the fish healthy but also that water changes will prevent the tank from cycling. I am at a loss here and am desperate for help. We have 30 days before we leave for vacation and I need this tank to cycle. Please help me. I am so ignorant when it comes to fish and everything I read contradicts each other.

Edited by andry6

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Oh, I forgot to mention: I use tap water with aquasafe plus to condition/dechlorinate and also add freshwater aquarium salt to the new water that is being added to the tank. Our ph of our tap water is 7.6 and all other levels are 0 on the tap water.

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Hi and welcome.

It looks like you are doing things right. Unfortunately it just takes a while for tanks to cycle . . . Have you had nitrites at all yet?

It's important to keep doing water cheap gets to keep ammonia and nitrites low so as to not stress the fish. What is your tank and tap pH? Have you tested your tap for ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates?

Also, please remove the carbon. Carbon is ok for removing medications but isn't usually necessary for regular use. And, if it does anything for your cycle, it would be to slow it down, not speed it up.

What water conditioner are you using and what media do you have it your filter? :idont

Hang in there. I bet you didn't expect to be bombarded with all those questions. :teehee

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Just saw your other post. See if you can find Prime conditioner. It helps detoxify SOME ammonia and nitrites, not all. But some is better than none. Also, ammonia and aquarium salt don't mix so please do a 100% water change or two very large back to back WCs to remove all the salt in the tank. :)

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I have never had a nitrite reading yet and it's been 6 weeks!

The readings on the tap water is ph - 7.6, ammonia, nitrites and nitrates all 0

daily readings before water change on the tank is ph - 7.6, ammonia between .5 and 1.0, nitrites - 0, nitrates - 5.0

I do a daily 8 gallon water change and the readings are always between .5 and 1.0 on the ammonia.

The pet/aquarium stores that I have talked to tell me no water changes and let the tank cycle. The fish will be fine.

I don't believe that and don't want to harm the fish.

They say I'm going to kill the fish with the daily water changes. I fill the buckets of water the night before and prep it with the conditioners and salt and let it sit over night to give it time to come to the same room temperature as the tank so as not to shock the fish with a temperature change in the water.

Believe me, I'm doing everything I think possible to do what's best for the fish, but now the stores are telling me that I'm doing everything wrong and I'll kill them and the tank will never cycle.

I'm going crazy over this and just need some advice.

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Oh my goodness. I didn't realize that the salt and ammonia don't mix. I was told by Petsmart that it helps with the overall health of the fish. (and I only use 2 teaspoons per 8 gallons when replacing water. Nowhere near what the directions on the box say to use, if that helps. . .)

I can say though, that both fish seem extremely happy and healthy at this point.

Why is the salt bad?

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Oh if I had a dollar for every time a pet store gave poor advice, I could upgrade my tank. :rofl

Daily water changes will not kill your fish. Skyrocketing ammonia and nitrites will.

Our advice is to test your ammonia and nitrites daily. If the amount of ammonia + nitrites are less than 1.0 you can dose Prime and skip the WC. If ammonia + nitrites are over 1, you need to do a WC to lower them. And aquarium salt should not be used on a regular basis and especially not during the ammonia phase of cycling.

The fish will produce plenty of ammonia to keep the cycle going. The nitrite phase lasts even longer than the ammonia phase (usually) but we may be able to help you out with that. I'm at work now and have to go see a patient so don't think I've deserted you. We will get you cycled but it's not a fast process. :D

Edit: I believe the salt makes the ammonia more toxic. Salt is great to use if you are treating for disease. But like an antibiotic, you don't use it all the time or different parasites and such will become resistant to salt and it will lose it's effectiveness.

Edited by fantailfan1

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Thank you so much for the help. This is all starting to make me crazy!

I was also told today that I need to ignore the tank for at least 10 days and let it do its thing and that monitoring the levels daily will just drive me crazy. My opinion is that by ignoring it I would be harming the fish and possibly adding more problems from ammonia poisoning.

I was also told that I am preventing the tank from ever cycling by taking out the ammonia. I thought that I would slow it down, but not stop it. Everyone tells me something different. This is more stressful than I ever imagined. I just hope I can get this done by the end of the month before we leave for vacation. I don't want my "fish sitter" to have to worry about all of this. . . just feed them and be done!

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How is your tank doing?

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Heidi030 - The tank looks beautiful! Crystal clear. I just can't seem to get any nitrite readings yet. Ammonia never below .5 and I'm doing daily 8 gallon water changes on a 29 gallon tank.

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Get some Prime (or Amquel Plus). Prime will detoxify 1ppm of ammonia/nitrite combined. So if you test the water and there is less than 1ppm ammonia you can add Prime and let it brew. You will stress (or possibly kill) your fish by letting the ammonia rise without changing the water. We will guide you and your fish through this.

Who is feeding the fish while you're away? How long are you gone?

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My husband's cousin will be feeding them and we will be gone for one week.

And I hate to sound ignorant, but what steps should I take, exactly, from here on out?

Should I start with, let's say, a 50% water change (to eliminate some of the salt that's in the water) and then start dosing the new water with Prime? Or do I just add prime to my tank as it is right now?

I'm sorry, but I really need my hand held on this since I'm just learning the ropes.

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We are happy to help. :)

Right now we need to get the salt out. I would do a large (80%) WC to get most of the salt out. I don't think you have a whole ton in there so a large WC should be fine. Then test your water again tomorrow and see what the ammonia level is. If its below 1, add Prime and check it agin later that day. If its above 1, do a WC. How big will be determined by the amount of ammonia in your tank. :)

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Thank you so much. I'll give it a try and keep you posted!

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:goodpost:welcome

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You're getting lots of great help from FF1. We've all struggled to cycle our tanks, so hang in there. :heart

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Yay! Today I'm finally getting a nitrite reading! I think my tank is finally beginning to cycle!!!

Ammonia 1

Nitrite .25

Nitrate 0

Should I do a water change? If so, how big? or Should I just dose the tank with Prime?

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If ammonia + nitrite > 1, then you need to do a WC. So, yes, please do a WC, at least 50%. Then add Prime, of course.

Keep in mind, those nitrites you've been waiting so long for have arrived and they will spike like crazy so you need to keep a very close eye on the level, OK? You'll want to test daily for ammonia and nitrites.

Keep us posted and if you have more questions, ask away!! :D

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Thank you! I'm on it! I'll be watching those levels like a hawk!

I'll keep you posted. Again, thank you so much for the advice. You have no idea how much I appreciate the guidance!

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OK... so I did the water change monday like you said, but only took out about 30% and added Prime. Yesterday the ammonia was 1 again but nitrites were ZERO! Nitrates were zero too. I did another water change yesterday, this time 50% ,and today ammonia is .5 and nitrites still zero.

What is going on? I know for a fact that the test tube was purple, not blue, on monday, so I know I'm not going crazy.

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You're just beginning to show detectable nitrite readings, right? I'd just hang in there a little bit--I remember when cycling my own tank, when I'd first start getting slight readings, they'd come and go. A couple days later, they'd be there, and grow in number.

It could be that you changed enough water for your nitrite levels to be zero, but it's only the water that you've replaced. Your bacteria will still be there. :heart

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You're just beginning to show detectable nitrite readings, right? I'd just hang in there a little bit--I remember when cycling my own tank, when I'd first start getting slight readings, they'd come and go. A couple days later, they'd be there, and grow in number.

It could be that you changed enough water for your nitrite levels to be zero, but it's only the water that you've replaced. Your bacteria will still be there. :heart

:bingo:

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ok...so I did what you told me. Yesterday, ammonia was 1, nitrites ZERO, nitrates ZERO. Did another 50% water change. Today ammonia .5, nitrites and nitrates sitll ZERO. I know for a fact that the test tube was purple for the nitrites two days ago. Please tell me I'm not going crazy! I have no idea what is going on with this tank now... :no:

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You're not going crazy.

Did you add back any ammonia after the WC?

It'll happen. Many of us have been there. Watching paint dry is more exciting. We know. :rofl

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