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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I lost my Bumblebee cichlid. :( He was only $2.50 at PetSmart, but still..

So, which brings me to a question.. how's my water? I have a test kit I bought, manufacturer is Mardel.

Ammonia - .2 ppm
Nitrate - 0-5 ppm
Nitrite - 0 ppm
Hardness - 150 ppm
Alkalinity - 180 ppm
PH - 6.5 - 7.0

It looks like my hardness and alkalinity are low, and my pH is too low as well. What can I add to the water? Should I add baking soda (1 teaspoon per 5 gallons)? And salt?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
SandBagger said:
Did you cycle your tank?

Ammonia should read zero before adding fish.
It cycled for about a week.. I know, I got impatient. I didn't add anything to my water though, should I?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
dielikemoviestars said:
It cycled for a week? What does that mean? You let it sit and run?
Yes... When it first started, the ammonia level was like 5 ppm.. and now it's down to close to 0. But, I guess I'm doing it wrong. I just read through the library section on how to properly cycle the tank, I'm going to do it right this time.
 

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Your alkalinity is fine, so not sure why your pH is low. You want to cycle the tank before raising it though because the higher the pH, the more toxic the ammonia. See this article.

Good for you for reading up and getting it right. Your fish will appreciate it. :thumb:

To answer your questions, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is what you'd use to raise alkalinity and pH. I'm not a proponent of salt additions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I think I need to find a better test kit. The kit I have seems hard to read. You match the closest color, and while I'm not color blind, it seems that this kit could easily be mis-read or inaccurate. What's the best test kit to get?
 

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Many use the API kits, but keep in mind that precise readings aren't usually necessary. Many kits have the same issue of being hard to match the colors.
 

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lelandgray said:
SandBagger said:
Did you cycle your tank?

Ammonia should read zero before adding fish.
It cycled for about a week.. I know, I got impatient. I didn't add anything to my water though, should I?
That's not cycling.

Cycling is allowing the bacteria to grow and feed off of Ammonia, which makes them produce Nitrites - then another bacteria forms and turns the Nitrites into Nitrates.

There has to be Ammonia in the tank for the bacteria, or they will starve to death and/or never form.

It takes around a month for the whole process to be completed. I'm on day 33 of a fishless cycle(I'm adding ammonia - instead of using/harming fish). It's still not finished yet.

By putting the fish in the tank before it's cycled, you've condemned that fish to die from Ammonia/Nitrite poisoning. It will keep happening. Even if the fish survives it, you've damaged them greatly.

It's not fun to breath acid, or have it pumping through your blood. :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I've been adding ammonia every morning for the past three days, after checking my ammonia levels. So far I've gone from about .3 ppm to 3ppm, but my nitrites and nitrates have stayed the same.

Tell me if I should be doing it a different way, but this is how I've been adding ammonia. I went to my local Ace Hardware and picked up a bottle of ammonia. It's clear, and says it contains 10% ammonium hydroxide. I shook it up and it didn't foam or bubble. I put a little bit in a Ziploc baggie, then poke a hole in it with a toothpick. Then, through the small hole I can drip the ammonia one drop at a time. I've been adding about 25 drops at a time.

So, I guess I'll keep doing that until my ammonia spikes to 5ppm, then I'll keep adding ammonia daily until my nitrites spike and then get down to 0ppm? And then I do a 50% water change.
 

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I wouldn't recommend going all the way up to 5ppm. Some of the more respected folks around here think that is too high and not necessary. Shoot for 3ppm and you will be good.

Just as an fyi to prepare yourself. My fishless cycle was non seeded and took around 60 days. I now have a full, healthy and happy tang community tank. The payoff after a long wait!
 

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lelandgray, When I was cycling my tank I followed these instructions from Rhinox and it worked perfectly, some of the best written instructions I've come across.

For fishless cycling, while the article is good, the method has been unofficially refined in the forums. Here is how I do it from scratch:

First, make sure you have something like ace hardware janitorial strength (AHJS) ammonia, or another brand with no surfactants, perfumes, etc. Also, you will need a test kit like the API master, and I've found it helps to have a graduated syringe to help with testing your water, and for adding the ammonia in known amounts.

Day 1: add enough ammonia to get to 1-2ppm. remember how much you had to add. If you use the AHJS ammonia, it should take between 8-9 ml of the ammonia to get to 2ppm.

Days 2-14ish: check ammonia daily if you want something to do. If it looks like ammonia has dropped below 2ppm, you can add a little more ammonia to get back up to 2ppm. You're looking for the ammonia to read 0ppm. It may happen very suddenly when it does. Mine dropped on day 14.

Day 15ish and on: Good news, no more testing ammonia. From now on, you need to add the 2ppm of ammonia every day to feed your new bacteria (thats why you need to know how much it took on D1 and remember so you can add that much every day). Its ok if you have to miss a day now and then. Now start testing for nitrites. You'll probably find that the first time you test for them, they are already off the scale high. You want to keep this up until nitrites drop to 0ppm. Mine dropped somewhere around Day 35.

Optional: You may choose to do water changes to keep nitrite on the scale. It may or may not cycle the tank more quickly, but in my experience, I can confidently say that water changes did not slow the cycling process. This will also help somewhat with the final step.

Final step: after nitrites drop to 0, I typically add ammonia for a couple more days just to make sure. You now have to do a big water change. Maybe even 2. Each 1ppm ammonia turns into 3ppm nitrate, so if you added 2ppm on day 1, and 2ppm each day from day 14 to 35, and didn't do any water changes, your tank will have over 130ppm nitrate. A 90% water change at this point will still leave you with 10-15ppm nitrate. To get to a 95% water change, you're basically removing all the water except what you can't get out of the sand. After a big water change like that, you'd wanna add 2ppm ammonia again and make sure ammonia and nitrite both read 0ppm after 24hrs - then thats another 6ppm nitrate added to whatever remained after your first big water change, so you might want to end up doing a second smaller water change at this point to get the nitrate back down again.

If you started doing water changes to keep nitrite low earlier in the cycle, then nitrate will be lower at the end as a result, meaning a smaller final water change will be needed, and by that point, you will be confident that a WC will not disrupt your bacteria so the extra final water change probably won't be needed to double check.

Waiting for the first fishless cycle to finish cycling is the hardest part, but your fish will thank you. Just remember that your mbuna can live over 10 years, and your synos can live over 20 years, so by that point, you'll have long forgotten about the agony of waiting for your tank to cycle without any fish. My tanks only had fish for 4 months, and I've already forgotten about the cycling wait.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I'm trying to understand this better.. is the bacteria stored in the sand, on rocks/plants, and in the filter media? So, by doing a huge water change, you're not losing any bacteria?
 

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I would say 80% in the filter, 10% on rocks/plants, 10% in substrate.
massive water changes don't normally affect your bacteria, but if you're still cycling, it can.
 

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It's mostly damaging if you're adding chlorinated water to the tank. It's going to kill some of the bacteria, even if you add dechlorinater. Chlorine kills bacteria on contact - or so i've heard.
 

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I have to say that "Iamaconvict" gave you valuable, easy to understand, information and,should be easy to follow , you also have... I think, one of the best people in prov356 to help with any questions and concerns you might have :fish:
p.s. no slant to anyone else intended
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I broke down and bought an API master test kit. I should have just done that to begin with. I feel it's so much more accurate than those stupid strips I was using.

Anyway, I just tested my water with the API kit and here are my results:

Ammonia - 4.0 ppm
Nitrites - 0.0 ppm
Nitrates - 0.0 ppm
pH - 8.2

The pH was the biggest shock to me. When I measured my water yesterday with the Mardel 'strip' test, it showed my pH to be 7. The day before it was 6.5. Can pH change that fast though? From 7 to 8.2 overnight? Or was it just a difference in test quality?

Does hardness and alkalinity matter? I only ask because the Mardel kit tested for those, while the API does not.

I appreciate the help guys! I'm a pretty smart guy, not to be prideful, but this water thing has been a challenge for me for some reason.
 
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