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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok all, time to swallow my pride and confess a few things. I used to keep cichlids (labs and zebras mostly) about 12-15 years ago, in my high school days. When I went away to college, my mother took my 55 gallon tank, got rid of the cichlids, cast it into storage, and I forgot about my love affair with these beautiful fish.

So much had I forgotten, that once I caught the bug again to keep these fish, that I had forgotten to do my research. Foolishly, I went to my mother's attic, found my old gear, and brought it home. My kids and wife were excited, and that pumped me up, and I wanted to get this thing set up ASAP.

I cleaned, I scrubbed, and cursed at those old stains, but I got most of them. I invested in some new lights and filter and heat. I even bought a brand new stand. Life was good, and I was soon going to have my fish again. I purchased some crushed coral from my LFS, got my rocks, cleaned all of it, and poured in my water. I had seen discussion about this thing called "cycling", but alas, all I did in the "old days" was let the water sit for a week, and dump my lot of fish in the old boy!

So I went to a PetSmart one day, found this Seachem product that said "relieves New Tank Syndrome". It had Prime, Stability, and Clarity all in the box. I thought, that oughta do me fine. Read some reviews on the stuff, and people claimed that they were putting fish in a day after. I started my "cycling" with this stuff on April 8th. I had two yellow labs in the tank by April 10th. I even took my water to the LFS. He said it looked fine. Gave me a piece of paper with my chemical readings on it, everything 0 except my pH at 7.5. The two labs looked so healthy, I even went back two days later and bought 2 more yellow labs. THEN I really started to read posts on this forum...

So I know I'm in the bad. I know I didn't cycle. I know I've brought shame upon my family and will never gain any credibility on this forum for my wrongs. That being said, I am an educated man, and an educated man believes he can solve problems. This is a problem I need to solve, but I need your help. Here is my detailed situation after that long drawn-out intro (but I said this was a confession :D )

On 04-08-11 my water went in. On 4-10-11, the LFS tested it and had 7.5 pH, 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrites, and 0 Nitrates. At the time I had no idea, so this sounded awesome to me.

On 04-13-11, when I added two more labs, the levels were the same. pH had risen to 7.8 however. I added the two new labs, and all was good... Until the next day. I lost a lab. BUT, I think he was sick from the get go, as he was always hiding and never came out, even to eat. I thought he/she was being harassed by the bigger tank mate, hence the reason I ran out and bought two more. Either way, at this point I'm down to three labs.

On 04-14-11, I read heavily into cycling and why it is so important. Needless to say, I was confused, mad, embarrassed, and sad. How did my fish live years ago? Did I get lucky? Why would my LFS sell me fish knowing my situation? What would anyone say if I came out with the truth on here of what I had done? My poor fish are going to die. What to do?!? Well, the Seachem stuff had been working, so I decided to continue on with it for the full 7 days it recommends, and I ran out to buy my own API water chemistry test kit. I had to be checking water everyday I decided.

On 04-15-11 and 04-16-11 I tested. 0 ppm of everything, except my pH is now up to 8.0. I have stopped adding the Seachem Stability as of 04-16-11 and took some gravel out of an established 2.5 gallon tank my wife has on our kitchen counter top. Actually, it isn't gravel, it is marbles. I took them, placed them in a medium/large filter media bag, and popped it in my tank next to the intake hose for my filter. Hoping that the proper bacteria might wash off those marbles into my media.

That brings me to present day, 04-17-11. No change. Nothing has happened. Could it be that the Seachem is holding my tank in limbo? Is there any chance that my fish survive this? There is no ammonia, no nitrite, no nitrate. I hate to do a fish-full cycle, but I don't know what else to do. My LFS won't take back the fish, and I have no friends with established tanks for them. Suggestions? Lashings? Any ideas?
 

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I'm not an expert on cycling as I too made the same mistake years ago and since have not needed to cycle as I've had an established tank. Don't get too overly worried for the labs. Cichlids are tough, however I'm sure some will tell you to rehome them for the time being. The fact the fish store won't take them back sucks as I would lose respect for them for that. You atleast added prime, that's a good start. Now that I raised your spirits the real experts can chime in and help you. Good luck
 

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Keep your ammonia and nitrites under 1 ppm with water changes, and you should pull through in a couple of weeks. Don't bother testing for nitritates until your nitrites drop, you'll get a false reading.

It's going to take some work, but you should make it :)
 

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The Stability may work for you, but too early to tell. Double check the nitrate test and make sure you're shaking bottles and tubes for the full time or you could get a false 0 reading.

Since you can't take the fish back, just stay the course and wait it out. Something will give, nothing is 'stuck'.

If you can rehome the fish and fishless cycle, you could add a full load of fish all at once. As it is, you'll have to plan additions carefully because you'll have to add fish slowly.

And no one is going to flame anyone, we're not like that here, so no reason to be so melodramatic about it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'll retest today for Nitrates and make sure I'm shaking the 2nd bottle for the full 30 seconds, then the mixed vial for the full 1 minute. I'll post the results again later.
 

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prov356 said:
And no one is going to flame anyone, we're not like that here, so no reason to be so melodramatic about it.
Agreed. This corner of the internet is not like the rest :thumb:

If you still have stability I would keep dosing it. Probably not worth buying another bottle though.

Manage any ammonia/nitrite spikes with water changes as previously mentioned.

Oh and make sure you really shake that bottle of stability good before dosing your tank. You want it nice and mixed. I dosed my filter directly when using stability on a new 20g tank. Not sure if it mattered much but it made me feel good.
 

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Fishless cycles are recommended but it is also done with fish. It's not smart in my opinion but it can be done. Just make sure when you do your water changes get the temp,and ph as close as possible. Make them identical. If you can do this, 50% wc can help you through this tough process.. good luck .
 

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I did the same thing as you and I am pretty sure most people will admit to doing the same. Once the Nitrites and Ammonia started to rise in my tank, I started doing water changes every day. I ended up coming out of it with only losing a couple fish and I had wayyyyy more fish then you do in the tank.

Live and learn.
 

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I admit I have done it myself. Just don't miss a wc during the spikes.
 

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You have gotten alot of good advice. I got to admit though, your post might have been melodramtic, but it was great reading :thumb:
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Ok, so, you guys think I'm melodramatic... but the story is what keeps you reading! And besides, my editors love my melodrama!

That aside, I tested again tonight, and nothing. 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrite, 0 Nitrate. I have done 0 water changes. Fish look good and are eating and begging for more.

I'll check again tomorrow. Thanks all for the inputs.
 

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natedgg said:
Ok, so, you guys think I'm melodramatic... but the story is what keeps you reading! And besides, my editors love my melodrama!
LOL! I KNEW you were a writer, just a tad obvious. :p

We've all been in your shoes before. Live and learn. It sounds like your fish are going to pull through and that's the important thing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
UPDATE: My first trace of Nitrates has arrived! 5ppm. My 3 labs are still healthy and active. Nitrites are still at .5, and I've been WC'ing every night for the last 5 days. Ammonia never registered. I'm using the API kit.

So, I've drawn a conclusion or two from this. Seachem Stability does NOT cycle your tank (as if you all didn't know that). Apparently, from what I've read, it binds to Ammonia, stabilizing that, but still allows for the building of Nitrites.

This being said, their claims about "being able to add fish at any point while Stability is being used" is probably valid. It might not kill your fish, but they will probably suffer if you aren't doing WC's and testing for Nitrites. Since the Nitrites are less damaging, the fish probably can withstand it until the Nitrates kick in, but it isn't healthy.

Did Stability help me cycle my tank faster? Probably not. Lesson learned? Fishless cycle is the way to go!

How high should I let my Nitrates get before stocking about 11 more fish?
 

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So, I've drawn a conclusion or two from this. Seachem Stability does NOT cycle your tank (as if you all didn't know that). Apparently, from what I've read, it binds to Ammonia, stabilizing that, but still allows for the building of Nitrites.

This being said, their claims about "being able to add fish at any point while Stability is being used" is probably valid. It might not kill your fish, but they will probably suffer if you aren't doing WC's and testing for Nitrites. Since the Nitrites are less damaging, the fish probably can withstand it until the Nitrates kick in, but it isn't healthy.

Did Stability help me cycle my tank faster? Probably not. Lesson learned? Fishless cycle is the way to go!
Very insightful. Hats off to you. :thumb:

How high should I let my Nitrates get before stocking about 11 more fish?
It's about the nitrites. When they read 0, then it's time.
 

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Actually nitrites are more damaging to the fish than nitrates. You want nitrites to be zero as Prov said and nitrates are good between 10ppm and 20ppm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Yeah DJ, I meant Nitrites less damaging than Ammonia. But, yes sir, you are correct. Either way, my bad and it won't happen again! :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
UPDATE: My tank fully cycled on Sunday, May 1st! The labs made it and are all healthy. I stocked it today with 9 juvie White Top Hara's :)

Thanks all.
 

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Watch your levels. You might end up in a mini cycle . The fish you added might be pushing the bioload .
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Will do. I'll keep testing over this week.
 
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