Help with new to me, cycled tank

PearlTigress

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Hello! The tank I bought off of Craigslist is here. Two very large Oscars and a convict cichlid in a 60g - yikes. Obviously they're all getting rehomed ASAP. Meanwhile i have concerns about the cycle. During the move across town, the canister filter was kept full of water and the substrate in the tank had a few inches of water, so I'm hopeful that the beneficial bacteria were preserved. I ran a test this morning to check the water parameters. The ammonia looks like maybe a slight positive but it's hard to tell. Nitrite was zero. Nitrate - YIKES. Dark red. I'm very surprised because the tank was filled with new water 12 hours ago! I tested my tap just in case and there's no nitrates. There was a decent amount of water that the fish were transported in which was added to the tank, maybe around 10 gallon?

So what do y'all think happened here? My two ideas are 1) the nitrates were extremely extremely high in the water they came in, or 2) they're just so large for this size tank that the nitrates rise that quickly. That would surprise me but...?

Obviously I'm doing a big water change today. I'm also going to take a look at the canister filter. I've never seen the inside of one until yesterday so I have a lot to learn there but YouTube should help. It's a marineland c-350 I think. I'll clean it but I don't have any replacement media right now if it needs that so I'll just do what I can! Thanks for any input and tips. I don't know what is normal here I guess! I'll update after a water change.
 

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utahfish

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Oscars are extremely dirty fish and moving an aquarium with water in it is going to stir things up from the substrate into a limited water column equals a concentration of nitrates. Id change all the water maybe even fill it and empty it again doing a really thorough gravel vac. The majority of beneficial bacteria is in the filter medis so try to keep that running so you dont have to recycle tank.
Good luck!
 
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PearlTigress

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As I'm emptying the tank water I'm realizing the water they came with was more like 20 gallons, so between that and what you said I feel much better about all of this! My water is also pink, which I noticed in the existing water, so I pulled out a red plant decoration it can't with and put it in a white bucket of tap water to see if it turns that pink.
 
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