Cycling 3 weeks with fish

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Apr 2, 2002
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I would not worry about 2 ppm for a day or two.

I am thinking that whatever is in Quickstart is handling nitrite. I am also thinking that the reason is even yhough it is thw wrong bacteria for the long term, it will work in the short term. What will happen is the API bacteria will die back and be replaced with the ones which will be in the tank longer term. I am also thinking that the ammonia ones are somewhat similar. The bacteria which wind up in SW v.s FW are different to some extent. There is a greater variety of ammonia oxidizing bacterial strains in FW than SW tanks. So the ammonia bacteria from API is not as usefull as what is in Dr. Tim's or SafeStart Plus. So these work faster.

Then there are plants. When they use the ammonium in TA, the do not create any nitrite and therefore you get no nitrate either. Some plants will use nitrate but most prefer ammonium if it is available.

But the biggest clue as to what you should do is still the behavior of your fish. One of the best signs that a fish is sick or infected with something is that it tends to hide. And when all the fish in a tank are having the same issue, you will know. The problem for us as fish keepers isn't in being able to spot when things are not right, it is with the frequent difficulty we have in figuring out the cause.

You have an advantage here because you are cycling. Therefore if the fish start acting differently, it is a pretty good chance it is cycling related. And the solution to pollution is dilution. Or in simpler terms, water changes.

Also, if you can get crushed coral in a mesh bag (the foot end of an old stocking would work) you can hang it in the tank near the bubbles coming up from an airstone or in the tank near to or exactly where the filter return comes out. You just need water movement through.over it.

Finally, slow as they are, the nitrifying bacteria reproduce in hours. Under optimal conditions the ammonia ones will do so in 8 hours and the nitrite ones in about 11. On the other hand you fish should be producing a fairly constant level of ammonia. You can help hold ammonia down by feeding less. Most fish can go days without eating. This does not apply for new born ones/fry. So you can feed them every other day and it will not harm them.

Finally, if you hit 2 ppm or even a bit higher. You do not have to drop the level drastically. The more you can leave in the water the faster the cycle will proceed. A 1/2 change leaves you with 1 ppm, a 1/3 change leaves you with 1.33 ppm and a 1/4 change results in 1.5 ppm. What causes the bacteria to reproduce is when there is more ammonia/nitrite than they can use.
 

mommy2girls!

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Jul 31, 2022
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Today I have hit 2ppm. Yesterday the tank water reached 84 degrees so I left the lid and light off hoping to lower the temperature a little. It’s back down to 80. I’m leaving the lid off again today since I will be out and can’t watch them. Everyone is out and about but not interested in eating much. I gave them a crumbled piece of flake each but then scooped half of it back out because they didn’t eat it. Normally they are jumping at surface to get it. It’s a little concerning. I can feel their pain. I’m holding myself back from changing water. Still no nitrites or nitrates. Crushed coral is coming tomorrow. I couldn’t find any in stores.
 
Apr 2, 2002
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I would consider doing a water changes based on the fact that the fish show lack of interest in the food. The more you feed the more they poop and the more they poop the more ammonia it will make. So feeding less during a fish in cycle is a good idea.

Consider doing a 1/3 water change. That should drop the TA to about 1.32 ppm.

When it comes you want to put about 1/2 cup into a folter bag or old stocking. Then it needs to contact the tank water and have that water moveing through it. The bag can be in the filter ft that works or near the filter out flow in the tank if not. The goal is to move tank water though the bag.

Next, when you add the coral and it begins to raise the pH, this will increase ow much of the ammonia is in the toxic NH3 form. So you need to monitor the pH and, as it rises, recalculate the NH3 level. The coral chould also speed the cycle as the bacteria use it for inorganic carbon and when that is lower they are often slower.

Finally, you should continue to monitor nitrate levels. Every other testing cycle is enough for now. Save money by not using the test With fish in the tank these matter a lot more than when doing a fishless cycle. But I get the feeling your earlier water changes have kept them down.
 

mommy2girls!

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Jul 31, 2022
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I just returned from our day trip to find all of our fishy friends running to the front of the tank to meet us. I checked their Ammonia right away and realized something of real importance. I had bought the api ammonia kit before receiving the master kit. The color chart that came with the separate one does not match the master even though it’s the same liquid test. The color green for 1ppm is the same color as the green for the master kit at 2ppm. I’ve attached a pic so you can see what I mean. My daughter actually pointed this out to me when I was asking her for a second opinion on the color. So now I’m not sure if it’s 1 or 2ppm. Also everybody is starving racing up and down at the few crumbs I offered. Maybe they didn’t eat earlier just from being too hot? For now I have not done a water change yet. Since they are acting ok for now I’ll wait to get your advice first. Thank you so much for all your help. I feel so lucky to have someone to talk to.92FF570F-C50A-477F-8446-37B9E0E838A4.jpeg2FF94F57-86C7-45A2-BF7B-EED571E7F4FF.jpeg
 
Apr 2, 2002
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This is why so many people hate the color card test kits. How we percieve colors is somewhat subjective. If we were all rich we could afford a lab grade test which actually analyzes the color frequency to determine the result. This removes the subjective judgement.

It is important when using the API and similar kits to do a few things. One it to try and use the same light source for readings. SUnlight is the best because it has a constant frequency based on the time of day. Color cards can also fade over time. As a rule if thumb if you have multiple test cards, use the newest one if you can.

Also, the light source should come from behind you as you hold the tube and card up to view them. No shaddows on anything either. Alway hold things vertical as well. Laying it all flat causes the liquid in the vial to thin out. It should be viewed through a part of the tube completely filled. The thinner the water is the lighter the result will look.

So far it sounds like things are going just fine. While ammonia can be really nasty. nitrite is often what does fish in. This is bbecause most hobbyists do not know that the chloride in salt blocks the nitrite from getting to where it will do harm. This is not possible with ammonia or nitrate. These must either be handled biologically or by dilution. Yes Ammonia can be detoxified, but this slows a cycle. There is no need for this in a fishless cycle but when fish are involved it offers a chemical protection.

In the case of the chemical solution to ammonia what is done is it keeps the ammonia in the NH4 form. However, as I have mentioned this does not mean any level of ammonium (NH4) can be tolerated for any amount of time.

The information you are using here tends not to be learned by most folks new to keeping fish. So what we see all over the place is folks saying if we have any amount of ammonia in a tank a big water change must be performed. This is not the case for all the reasons you now know. Here is the best part of all of this. When you set up your next tank and then the ones that may come after that, you will be equiped to cycle faster and more safely.

I will also let you in on one of my secrets. When I want through high school I switched schools halfway through. Because the two schools had slightly different science curriculums I never took a chemistry course. Instead I got biology twice. So when I got into the hobby 22 years ago, I had to learn a lot of things for which I had no education or practical experience. I am basically self-taught. Fortunately along the way I was smart enought to contact some of the Ph.D.s who are also fish keepers and they helped a lot.
 

mommy2girls!

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Jul 31, 2022
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My coral just came. I ran a bucket of tap water and dechlorinated it. I then added 1/4 cup of coral to a bag and let it rinse in the water for a minute. I then used a strip to check for chlorine. None was present and the ph jumped to about 7.8 and kh to about 120ppm. I believe this was in relation to 1 gallon bucket plus a lot of dust. I’m sure just rinsing would remove a lot of this concentration. However I did just add 1/4 cup to the tank and will add more tomorrow if I don’t see results. The fish think it’s a snack and were pecking at the bag. I had to string it up around the filter casing right where the water comes out since there is no space inside. Let me know if it looks good. Thank you21E99327-A11F-4D97-BF13-8F9EA341639B.jpeg
 
Apr 2, 2002
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New York
That looks fine. No need to rinse it, the powder will dissolve faster than the shells which is fine.

The way coral, and other calcium carbonate heavy things work is that they respond to acidity. This causes them to dissolve which n turn raises the KH and that is what holds up the pH. The more acid the water, the faster the coral will dissolve.

This is why rift lake cichlid tanks and salt water tanks often use an aragonite or crushed coral based substrate. They help buffer the pH which these tanks need at about 8.2. Another thing that helps in this respect is baking soda which is sodium bicarbonate. This will drive the pH towards an equilibrium of 8.2. However, the sodium is not good for many FW fish as they do not need that amount which can be harmful to them.
 

mommy2girls!

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Jul 31, 2022
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7 hrs later the ph is now 7.8 gh&kh both 2. Ammonia is 2ppm with NH3 at 0.087
Fish are all still swimming around normally. The ember red is schooling with the neons nicely. The poor flame tetra sticks to himself. His gills look a bit red. But he is swimming about and eating. 809D318F-93CB-4BAA-9460-D38D7F1C2EBF.jpegHow are the fish going to handle the change in water parameters after doing pwc? I haven’t changed any water in 8 days.
 

mommy2girls!

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Jul 31, 2022
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Now that I look at some pics online they seem to have that redness naturally. I may have just not noticed before.
 

mommy2girls!

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Jul 31, 2022
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Oh gosh it’s 4am and I just had this horrible sinking feeling in my stomach. I just remembered the .05 limit. Thankfully all the fish seem ok. I ran about and did a 2 gallon wc real quick. Shoot I didn’t even use the hose I just started dipping with a fishy bucket. Probably freaked all the fish out of their sleep. I sure was scared. Seems that I brought the ta down to maybe about 1.75ppm NH3 to 0.0311. Not sure if it’s accurate since I didn’t wait any time in between adding and testing. I’m praying for my fish real hard tonight
 
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