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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I have a friend who doesn't know much about fish tanks. He set up a brand new tank, and dropped two 4-5 inch oscars in it, and a couple gold fish (they didn't eat them). I believe this is about a 20 gallon tank. He is using a three stage filtration system with activated charcoal and those white things for growing bacteria (sorry, I'm still a noob myself). I showed up at his house and seen the water was really cloudy and the fish were kind of lethargic.

So, I went to my house and got some emergency chemicals and test strips. I tested the water and nitrites were literally way off the scale.

I immediately did about an 80% water change and vacuumed up all kinds of waste. I added salt, and ammonia reducer, and good bacteria. I tested the water again with still high to dangerous levels of nitrites. I told him to continue changing 25% of the water every day.

I went over there yesterday, (about 4-5 days later) and he said he was changing the water religiously. Yet, the water was still a little cloudy, and upon dipping another test strip I found that nitrites were off the scale again, and nitrates were also very very high. (I have not been testing for ammonia as I don't have the tests for it).

He has since seperated the two oscars, and I fed his goldfish to my oscar. So, the tank is only supporting the one oscar now. My question is, what is the best way to get this tank in check without stressing the fish more than necessary and still allowing it to complete its cycle?

On a side note, the fish now look like they are doing quite well.
 

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Number one, for 2 oscars, a 125g tank is minimum, and this is not guaranteed to work.

A 20g would work for about 2 months...

Second, his tank is cycling. This is very dangerous to fish. Search here for cycle, cylcing, etc.

Water changes are the only thing you can do. Don't add things to "remove" ****. "Good" bacteria products are also **** unless they are a cooled product such as bio-spira.

I wouldn't use feeder goldfish in any of my tanks either. They are very likely to contain diseases that could easily hurt your fish.
 

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I have used and it works well, Sea Chem. prime it will help with the nitrates and nitrites
it change the water every week just about 20-30% it will help get the toxins out of the tank
use the Prime for the fresh water. GET RID OF THE GOLD FISH!!!!!!!
and one of the oscars maybe both get some african cichlids just about five or six for a 20 gallon tank
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The water is in really, really bad shape.. The nitrites are off the scale and nitrates are extremely high. Are you sure 20-30% changes once a week are going to work? For the safety of the fish shouldn't the current rate of 25% daily work well, or will this effect the ability of the bacteria getting established in the tank?

khpeople said:
I have used and it works well, Sea Chem. prime it will help with the nitrates and nitrites
it change the water every week just about 20-30% it will help get the toxins out of the tank
use the Prime for the fresh water. GET RID OF THE GOLD FISH!!!!!!!
and one of the oscars maybe both get some african cichlids just about five or six for a 20 gallon tank
 

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Get some Prime. You can use it to neutralize the ammonia/nitrite/nitrate in the water, although be aware that it uses up some of the oxygen in the water, so make certain you have an airstone and/or plenty of surface agitation to reoxygenate the water.

Give him some of your filter media. Keep it wet and get it into his filters. Your bacteria will help jumpstart his.

That tank is not even big enough for one oscar. Tell your friend to take them back to the store. The goldfish are only going to make it worse; goldfish are some of the messiest fish around, except of course oscars, which are filthy.

The problem with doing so many water changes is that you're sucking out what cycles the tank, which means you're slowing down the cycle.
 

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I would remove the oscars from the tank and house them somewhere else temporarily.
Keep the goldfish - use them for your cycling. once the tank is under control then i would remove the goldfish and bring the oscars back in (with a bigger tank).

The fact that there are nitrItes and nitrAtes indicates that the bacteria is already starting to establish itself.

I would do more frequent water changes than 25% a week (this is what you do when the tank is cycled and running).

Do a 40-60% water change now and then wait a day & then test then repeat.

ideally with the fish present you want 0ppm ammo, 0ppm nitrite and keep nitrates as low as possible wouldn't go above 30-40ppm.

that tank (20gal) is way way too small and it wouldn't take much for the levels to constantly be through the roof.

I heard that an oscar can urinate its own body weight every day. dont know if it is true or not but it is a good thing to use as a guide.
 

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id be afraid that with that small of a tank you are going to remove to much bactiria. when you do a water change us a gravel siphon it will pull out alot of the waste from the fish. you might cut back on feeding or stop it all together for a couple of days to let the tank catch up with the waist load try diffrent fish they are both messy types of fish.
 
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