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Cycle not finishing - Fish dying - Help!

Discussion in 'Cycle your Tank' started by Aynia, Nov 4, 2019.

  1. Aynia

    Aynia New Member

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    Hey all, brand new here and fairly new to the fish keeping hobby. We always had fish growing up, and I had betta's in university, but it hasn't been until the last few months that I've really been diving into the hobby and learning as much as I can.

    About 2 months ago we got a brand new 38gal bowfront aquarium and stand and got it set up. We let it run for a few weeks to get the cycle started but ended up not liking how we did the tank and drained about 80% of the water, rearranged and filled back up. We let it set for another couple of weeks and the ammonia went down to pretty much nothing, we were getting nitrites and getting nitrates. We knew we were in the process of cycling and let it set another week but noticed we were still getting high nitrites and nitrates. We went to our lfs hoping to find some natural ways to speed up the cycle if possible and get a few plants to help out as well. Long story short, the guy at the fish store talked us into getting fish, saying that the tank sounded like it was cycled enough, we'd been waiting for weeks and it was time to put in some fish.

    We weren't sure we agreed but he kind of pushed us saying it was the next step, and said he'd help us pick out some hardy fish. Welcome mistake number 2. We got 5 Blue Moscow guppies and two Bristlenose Plecos, but the kicker was that he sold us on YoYo Loaches being 'very hardy fish'. I'd done some research on loaches but didn't know how strict they were on water parameters so we took his word for it and got 6 gorgeous YoYo's.

    Fast forward to today, our nitrites are still pretty high, around 10 ppm, and nitrates are also getting pretty high, between 10 and 20 within 24 hours of a water change Ammonia is staying between 0 and .25 ppm but much closer to 0. We've been doing testing 1-2 times a day, water changes 1-2 times a day as the nitrites and nitrates get high, adding in Seachem Prime, Stability and Stress Guard with every water change, but we've now lost two loaches. I'm worried that we got them so soon that none are going to survive the cycling process.

    tl;dr: We bought fish too early and I'm worried that our YoYo's aren't going to survive the rest of the cycling process. Has anyone else been through this with their loaches and do I have any chance of keeping them alive?
     
  2. Aynia

    Aynia New Member

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    A note to add, when we drained the 80% of the water we also added a second aquaclear filter and jam packed everything with sponges and bio balls. I feel like we just haven't built up enough bacteria to convert nitrites yet, but I don't understand what's taking it so long. Its going on 5 weeks now since we 'reset' the tank and nitrites really aren't dropping .
     
  3. Fishmanic

    Fishmanic Moderator
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    It does appear you are not fully cycled. I recommend getting a container of "safe start" by tetra. It has beneficial bacteria that hopefully will speed up your cycle. Also you will need to do large water changes whenever your ammonia and nitrites are just a bit above 0. You may need to do daily water changes to accomplish that. Eventually the beneficial bacteria will grow enough to establish a cycled tank.

    Fish stores are known to often give poor advice as they want to sell you fish even if your tank isn't yet cycled . And they often will sell you fish that grow too large even if they; don''t know your tank size. You would do better to listen to the advice given on forums such as ours.
     
  4. Deanasue

    Deanasue Moderator
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    It’s not unusual for a tank to take 6-8 weeks to cycle. You are in your end phases but this phase takes the longest. I realize you have to do the water changes but that is also contributing to the delay in reaching the finish line. I would try doing water changes every other day and dosing with Prime in between to protect the fish. The nitrites will go up and eventually drop. If you are already getting nitrates then you are close.
     
  5. Aynia

    Aynia New Member

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    Thanks guys! I'm going to talk to the hubs about maybe doing water changes every 2 days and to keep dosing prime in between. The other thing that I didn't realize we may be doing wrong, we got a Python system, and when we do water changes we use the hook attachment to fill it from the sink once we get it to the right temperature, and just dose it with Prime as we start, in the middle and at the end. I'm kind of of the opinion we need to be doing the bucket method and treating all the water before it goes in the tank, because I don't think prime will work instantaneously and I don't want the fish exposed to any chorine at all. In addition it means that the bacteria are also getting exposed to chlorine if for a short time, and I wonder if that could be holding the cycle back? I think he feels this is a bit excessive as the Python method has been what everyone we've been researching uses to fill. Is it ok to fill from the tap if you add prime as the water goes in, or do we need to do the bucket method to fill the rest of the tank?
     
  6. Fishmanic

    Fishmanic Moderator
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    When I do 50% water changes using the python, I add enough prime for the size of the entire tank. I sprinkle the proper amount around the surface of the aquarium and then for a minute or two while adding water via the python hose I move it thoroughly up and down and all around the thank water to help distribute the prime fully. Then I just dangle the python hose over the edge of the tank and let it fill the rest of the way. Works for me.
     
  7. Deanasue

    Deanasue Moderator
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    I do the same thing, Fishmanic.
     
  8. Aynia

    Aynia New Member

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    Update: We held off on doing the water change yesterday and instead dosed with prime. Got up this morning and the biggest loach I was 100% sure was dead. Grabbed the net and tried to fish him out, as soon as I touched him he started swimming. Waited 5 minutes, looked dead again, floating sideways, kind of a c shape. This time when I moved the log he was draped over he shot off and then proceeded to fall to the bottom of the tank. I netted him out and put him in a 1gal container, sprinkled a few drops of prime and treated him with Stress Guard. I put in some fake grass so he has places to hide and dropped in a wafer. The only thing is we didn't think we'd need a quarantine tank so early, so he's just in one of the big tupperware containers we have reserved for fish stuff. I ordered an airstone and a small corner filter that should arrive by tonight, and I'm just doing everything I can to keep this loach alive. Is it better to add him back into the tank or keep him quarantined? It'll be about 3 hours before I can come back home for lunch and check on him. In the meantime I just don't want the levels in the water to spike or him suffocate. There's about a half gal of water in the 1 gal container at the moment.
     
  9. Deanasue

    Deanasue Moderator
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    Just dose with Prime.
     

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