Restarted tank incorrectly!?

Discussion in 'General Freshwater Information' started by JBert, Sep 7, 2012.

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  1. JBert

    JBert Plankton

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    Sep 4, 2012
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    Hey gang-

    After having my long surviving 30 gal fall apart, I left it running fishless for a few months and recently decided to restart it.

    I replaced both filters ( Marineland 300 w/biowheels ) and the old substrate, replaced the evaporated water and let it run for another 2 weeks.

    Without doing my research and jumping the gun, I added 3 orange platties and 3 silver tetras (all chem levels were fine before adding). After discovering this forum, I now see how big of a mistake it and that I should have cycled the tank before hand.

    I'd like to do my best to make the cycle process as smooth as possible for the current crew in there. I've been checking the levels every day, and started doing 4 gallon water changes (daily) today.

    Any suggestions that you guys could make would be appreciated!

    Here's the rundown of my daily water tests since adding the fish:

    Date pH Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate
    9/4 7.6 0 ppm 0 ppm 0 ppm
    9/5 7.6 0.50 ppm 0 ppm 0 ppm
    9/6 7.6 1.0 ppm 0 ppm 0 ppm
    9/7 7.6 1.0 ppm 0.25 ppm 10 ppm

    I've all ready begun to slowly bring the pH down a bit.
     
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  3. Corailline

    Corailline Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi JBert,

    While I have not done FW in many years it seem as though some of the basics of SW still apply. When live stock is exposed to ammonia in a SW tank we typically do water changes and use ammonia binding products to decrease the stress to the livestock until the ammonia level begins to drop off.

    I imagine that for FW there are also products available that provide the beneficial bacteria.

    Good Luck.
     
  4. Lady J

    Lady J Peppermint Shrimp

    Joined:
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    Hi---I want to qualify upfront that I've only been running my freshwater tank for a few months although I ran a reef for 9 years. But, maybe I can help just a tiny bit as you wait for the experienced people to join in.

    As you now know, since the biowheels had no bacteria a cycle started. Running it for several weeks really did nothing unless you were introducing real ammonia or food that would decay to turn into ammonia. But, it seems that you were trying to be patient and get things started correctly and that's a good thing! :)

    First, to date how are your fish doing? Watch for signs of ich because that is a common disease when fish are under less than healthy conditions. Be very careful that you don't overfeed them. ONLY give the fish enough to be healthy yet not let excess food sink and consequently rot (if they can't eat all of it in 3 minutes you're feeding too much).

    Second, IMHO I would do larger daily water changes so as to keep the ammonia and nitrites low while still continuing the cycle. Since you're seeing some nitrates the biowheels are definitely processing the ammonia and nitrites but obviously it's not done yet.

    Third, if it's possible you could add some live plants as they will use the ammonia and nitrites, thus removing it from the water (this is on the assumption that you don't already have some in your tank). Depending on the type of light you have, a few low light plants like anubias and java ferns would be great and also are very pretty. And, get low light plants insofar as you don't have to deal with carbon dosing, fertilizers, etc. FWIW, I'm in the learning curve right now regarding adding these in the correct doses for my tank and I doubt you want to deal with that right now.

    Fourth, I wouldn't mess with the ph right now although someone with more experience may suggest otherwise. Unless you have fish that absolutely require a lower ph, well, you might be in for the battle of your life trying to keep it lower than 7.6 My tapwater is at 7.6 so my tank runs the same as yours and I've chosen to just leave it. Unless you use distilled or RO/DI water this is more than likely going to be a constant uphill battle. So far my fish are doing very well, are healthy and happy, so I'm not going to mess with it. The problem with trying to lower it is that it will revert to its original 7.6 unless you change your water source. As you know, the ph is then constantly changing which definitely adds stress to your livestock.

    I can't think of anything else right now but if I do I'll try to help you more. :)

    Edit: Corailline and I must have been responding at the same time. :) Definitely add Amquel+ or something similar as it will bind the ammonia and provide immediate relief to your system. Then do the water change and remove that.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2012
  5. The Reef Daddy

    The Reef Daddy Astrea Snail

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    The fish you have in there will be fine. They wont like the cycle too well but they are tough and they will survive. Just keep up with small water changes and keep them fed.
     
  6. TrialandError

    TrialandError Spanish Shawl Nudibranch

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    Your PH is fine don't mess with it freshwater fish can adjust better to any PH than saltwater fish.

    If you know anyone with a freshwater tank ask them for some filter squeezings. You want all the nasty stuff they can get out of it. Pour that in your tank, yes it will look nasty but will speed up your cycle.

    Do not add any chemicals to raise or lower PH if you want to raise it use crushed coral to lower it RO water or peat, but don't mess with it right now.

    Prime is your friend right now. You can not overdose prime and it will help with ammonia and nitrite.
     
  7. sim1killa

    sim1killa Astrea Snail

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    buy a bottle of safe start, since you have fishin there. works very well. It will cycle your tank very quickly.

    Regards,
     
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  9. reef_enthusiast

    reef_enthusiast Astrea Snail

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    Like sim1killa suggested, throw in some startup bacteria additives such as Teta's Safe Star (Tetra Safe Start) or Dr. Tim's One and Only Live Nitrifying Bacteria (DrTim's Aquatics).

    If you have friends with freshwater tanks, see if you can get a piece of their sponge or if their powerfilter uses bio material such as aquaclear biomax or fluval biomax ask if you can have some of the ceramic material to help jump start your bio filter.
     
  10. JBert

    JBert Plankton

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    Thanks guys for the replies!

    The fish look to be doing great! Active, exploring, have an appetite - no signs of distress.

    All my buddies have SW tanks, so I'll have to go the additive route for the tank start. I'll definitely try the Ammonia binder too. One of them as as a RO/DI filter set up, so that may be a good option to keep the pH in check.

    I did a larger change last night, and will check it in a few hours to see what the current levels are at.

    All the plants are fake for the moment. I've always looked at live plants as one more thing to worry about. If they will help the tank, I'll definitely look into them.
     
  11. JBert

    JBert Plankton

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    Sep 4, 2012
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    I've been running the same filters since the restart. Should I look to change them soon or let them sit as the tank cycles?
     
  12. TrialandError

    TrialandError Spanish Shawl Nudibranch

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    Leave the filters. Don't change them for like a month or 2 and even after that just rinse them one at a time in old tank water.

    The thing with freshwater is all the bacteria is in the sponges not so much on the gravel or decor. Unlike salt you want the gunky nasty stuff in the filters but not so much it slows the water down.