Aquarium Setup • Fish in cycle

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Fish in cycle

Postby Rmywife316 » Thu Dec 19, 2019 5:14 pm

Hello everyone!

I have a 125g tank currently fully stocked with 2-3 inch peacocks and haps. The tank was I THOUGHT precycled with pure ammonia before the fish were added. However, three weeks ago, there was a leak from the hosing of my FX6 which completely ruined my tank stand as it was particle board. The tank was fully drained and not running for a week and a half while a solid wood stand was built. A week ago I refilled the tank and restarted the filter assuming the bacteria were still alive in the filter. it didn’t even occur to me that they could’ve died with a week without ammonia. Due to living in Alaska I placed an order for all the fish I wanted to stock at once. So I now have a tank of 25 African cichlids. I added the fish about 5 days ago and ended up with an ich outbreak I’m assuming due to the stress of shipping. I’m treating with heat and salt and see no spots on the fish anymore but I’ve read to hold the heat at 86 for two weeks. This morning I check the parameters and got readings of .50 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 0 nitrate and 7.6 Ph. I added a dose of prime. All of the fish are acting completely fine other than occasional flashing from a couple of them last night that I was blaming the ich for. I’m aware that the ammonia is going to go much higher than .50 and then the nitrites will spike as well. What can I do to keep them alive and as unharmed as possible?

I’m not new to fish keeping. I haven’t had a tank in about 10 years however. All of my other tanks were cycled with fish back then as I had no idea about the nitrogen cycle. I never lost any fish with my new tanks back then thankfully. I tried to do it right this time with my first fishless cycle and I believe I would’ve been fine without having to shut everything down. Thanks for any help. I feel terrible and don’t want to lose these guys.
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Re: Fish in cycle

Postby ken31cay » Thu Dec 19, 2019 5:47 pm

Daily water changes. If you have a Python or an Aqueon water changer then I would do 50% daily water changes until the cycle catches up. Feed a bare minimum until then to minimize the toxin buildup. I would also run to my local fish store and beg them for some cycled media from their filters which will help greatly.
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Re: Fish in cycle

Postby Deeda » Thu Dec 19, 2019 5:54 pm

I agree that you should do enough water changes to keep your ammonia and eventually nitrite levels as low as possible. Prime can be used as a temporary measure which you are already doing.

I doubt if your beneficial bacteria are completely dead in the filter as they may just be dormant with the downtime due to the leak and stand replacement.
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Re: Fish in cycle

Postby DJRansome » Thu Dec 19, 2019 5:56 pm

It was not the 1.5 weeks without ammonia that killed the bacteria, it was the fact that water and oxygen was not running through your filters.

Did you keep the filters wet during the 1.5 weeks...and then just start them up after refilling?

It is wise to assume you completely lost your bacteria, hope for the best plan for the worst.

You may end up having to do daily 50% (or more volume or frequency) water changes for the next six weeks.

Test daily and keep ammonia and nitrite below 1ppm.
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Re: Fish in cycle

Postby Rmywife316 » Thu Dec 19, 2019 6:06 pm

Thank you Deeda and ken31kay!

I’m contacting the local fish store to see if they’ll sell me some media. I do own a python and will be changing the water when I get home from work. My husband just checked and the ammonia hasn’t increased since this morning. I’m hoping the bacteria is dormant and not dead.

DJRansome, I kept everything wet but unhooked it from the tank and set it aside. I restarted it when I refilled the tank. I never opened the filter on either occasion.

Will the prime actually keep the water safe for the fish during this process? If I keep the parameters under 1 ppm will the bacteria have enough to eat. I’ll do as many changes as needed and add whatever they need. Thanks again
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Re: Fish in cycle

Postby DJRansome » Thu Dec 19, 2019 6:20 pm

Prime will compensate for small fluctuations that may happen with a cycled tank, but it will not complete negate all ammonia and nitrite that is generated by a cycle. If that were true, you could just use Prime and no need for a cycle at all.

They would go dormant after a month or two without ammonia. But normally you would not stop circulating water/oxygen through the media for more than a day without suffocating them.

When I have a power failure I run the filters for a couple of hours every morning and every night with a generator.
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Re: Fish in cycle

Postby Rmywife316 » Thu Dec 19, 2019 6:25 pm

I wish I would’ve thought about that. I guess I thought once they live in the filter they’ll live forever lol. My LFS is going to sell me a sponge filter from their tanks. Should I assume more is better and buy two and shake them out really good in the tank? Should I worry about infecting my fish if they had something in their tanks? I’ve never seeded a tank with media so I have no idea what to expect with this.

Thanks again! I’ll definitely stop assuming prime is the ammonia cure.
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Re: Fish in cycle

Postby DJRansome » Thu Dec 19, 2019 6:38 pm

LFS don't always have well established filters since fish turn over so frequently.

Ideal would be to actually RUN the sponge filters in your tank. At minimum I would float them intact in the tank for a month or so. If possible, you could stuff them (intact again) inside your canister filters.

I would not squeeze them out.

For a 125G? Two or more. If the sponge filter was in a 20G at the LFS with 5 3 inch fish in it...that is how many it will support in your tank.

Yes the filters could introduce disease.
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Re: Fish in cycle

Postby ken31cay » Thu Dec 19, 2019 6:49 pm

Rmywife316 wrote:My LFS is going to sell me a sponge filter from their tanks. Should I assume more is better and buy two and shake them out really good in the tank? Should I worry about infecting my fish if they had something in their tanks? Thanks again! I’ll definitely stop assuming prime is the ammonia cure.


You don't want to disturb the bacteria on the sponge so I wouldn't shake or sqeeze it. Put it in your filter where you know water current will flow over it. I would say two is better than one. The amount this helps depends on how well established the bacteria are on those sponges.

RE: infecting your fish: this is a risk you're taking but in your case I would most likely take that risk if it looks like the LFS is well kept. If you don't want to take the risk then doing at least 50% daily water changes until the cycle catches up works too.
450gal Frontosa (blue Zaire Moba) & haps
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Re: Fish in cycle

Postby Rmywife316 » Thu Dec 19, 2019 7:34 pm

Thank you! The fish store actually had quite a few large dead fish. I’m leaning more on the side of daily water changes to keep the levels down. What are the chances of huge spikes during the day while I’m at work or at night? Also, should I leave the temps up? I was told the bacteria like warmer water.
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Re: Fish in cycle

Postby DJRansome » Thu Dec 19, 2019 7:36 pm

78 is sufficient. If levels spike then you change morning and night and/or you change larger percentages, like 75%. Whatever it takes to keep the levels under 1ppm.
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Re: Fish in cycle

Postby Rmywife316 » Thu Dec 19, 2019 8:45 pm

Okay great! I’ll keep an eye on the parameters then. I read about using tetra Safe Start. Does anyone recommend this? If so, how do I use it without the prime?
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Re: Fish in cycle

Postby DJRansome » Thu Dec 19, 2019 9:42 pm

I would not add anything. Experiences have not been great with bottled bacteria products.
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Re: Fish in cycle

Postby Rmywife316 » Thu Dec 19, 2019 10:09 pm

Okay thank you! I’ll stay away from the bottles
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