Nitrogen Cycle help

Zackm873

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Hello,
I am new here and new to the hobby. I know this was a rookie mistake but I went online and bought a 20 gallon tank off someone, wasn't until shortly before I got there that I found out it had fish in it!!! The fish were bagged and the tank was about 80% emptied. I brought it home, set up the filter that came with the tank, added new water treated with API Stresscoat+ and Topfin Readistart nitrifying bacteria starter. Once the temp got high enough, I added the fish bags, got them up to temp, and added the fish slowly. This was three days ago.
My question is, since the tank had been previously established and I didn't change the substrate or filter, and kept about 20% of original water, do I get a head start on the nitrogen cycle or am I still at square one? I, of course, am testing (currently using strips that are reading what looks like 0 nitrites and slightly above 0 nitrates). I don't have ammonium testing yet, but getting it ASAP. I am trying to learn as much on nitrogen cycle as I can, but trying to find out where in the cycle I might be. I am also not planning on adding new fish until this has some time to cycle, just the adopted fish that have always lived in the tank. Let me know if you dis/agree with that decision.
I have two black neon tetras, two loaches, and a betta. I did lose on neon tetra in the first 24 hrs. Any advice on this is helpful. Thanks!!
 

PheonixKingZ

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My question is, since the tank had been previously established and I didn't change the substrate or filter, and kept about 20% of original water, do I get a head start on the nitrogen cycle or am I still at square one? I, of course, am testing (currently using strips that are reading what looks like 0 nitrites and slightly above 0 nitrates). I don't have ammonium testing yet, but getting it ASAP.
Welcome to TFF! :hi:

I suggest getting a liquid test kit, as they are generally more accurate than strips. The API freshwater master test kit is an excellent option, as it tests for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH - it also has over 800 individual tests.

If you are getting 0ppm nitrite and very low nitrate, then your cycle should be complete. You would need to wait for the ammonia test kit to come in, before knowing for sure.

—-

How long has the new tank been setup?
 
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Zackm873

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Thanks for the quick response. I will pick up the liquid test and definitely appreciate the brand recommendation. I have two different strips right now, Imagitarium (came with the fish) and API and they seem to show different results but nothing too extreme. Ammonia test is coming tomorrow. The tank has been running 3.5 days now. The fish seem active and happy, although the tetras don't seem to be eating much. The betta is eating, and not really sure about the loaches yet.
 

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Thanks for the quick response. I will pick up the liquid test and definitely appreciate the brand recommendation. I have two different strips right now, Imagitarium (came with the fish) and API and they seem to show different results but nothing too extreme. Ammonia test is coming tomorrow. The tank has been running 3.5 days now. The fish seem active and happy, although the tetras don't seem to be eating much. The betta is eating, and not really sure about the loaches yet.
No problem!

Once you get the test kit, go ahead and re-test all the parameters just to be sure. :fish:
 
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Zackm873

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Alright, just received the API freshwater master test kit and did all the testing per instructions. I would say next time I will read them in a brighter room but I think this is a reliable start.
Results:
pH: 7.2
Ammonia: .25 - .5 ppm
Nitrite: .25 - .5 ppm
Nitrate: 5 - 10 ppm

I believe these numbers are safe although not perfect? My plan of action is to continue to run as is before making any changes to the tank. Will do a small (25%?) water change this weekend. Any other recommendations on what I should be doing?
Thanks everyone,
Zack
 

CaptainBarnicles

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Both ammonia and nitrite need to be at 0, so you need to be doing large water changes every day (50-70%) until you're at zero. Your ammonia will read 0 first, then nitrite. When you're at that stage you'll be fully cycled
 
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Zackm873

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Thank you! Just did my first water change. Will continue them daily until both reach 0.
 
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Zackm873

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So I ran my tests today and completed another water change. Anyone else find water changes to be highly stressful? Always afraid it's going to destroy my tank. From what I seeing on the tests ammonia is on the higher side. If I understand the cycle, when that drops nitrite will rise, then drop? Question...I am starting to see a little algae on the sides of my tank, should I be really vigilant about removing it all or will a little help me cycle? Any other recommendations you have I would greatly appreciate! Thanks!

ammonia 5.5.jpg
nitrite 5.5.jpg
 

CaptainBarnicles

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Big water changes during cycling won't destroy your tank, leaving your fish in a poisonous environment will ?? ammonia levels will rise then drop while nitrite levels rise, then they should both read 0 as your nitrate level rises. Dont worry about algae, it won't hurt being there ?
 
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Zackm873

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Thanks @CaptainBarnicles, I will definitely keep up the water changes just still getting used to it. I took these tests right before another water change and made sure to clean up everything on the bottom that I could find, same as yesterday. Would love to see this ammonia go down but I will be patient and vigilant. As for the algae, I might let a little accumulate without letting it get out of control. Hoping it will help with any nitrogen even if just a little?
Can't thank you and PheonixKingZ enough for giving me advice. I can watch as many videos and read as many articles but it is helpful to talk specifics out, so thanks again.
 

CaptainBarnicles

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Thanks @CaptainBarnicles, I will definitely keep up the water changes just still getting used to it. I took these tests right before another water change and made sure to clean up everything on the bottom that I could find, same as yesterday. Would love to see this ammonia go down but I will be patient and vigilant. As for the algae, I might let a little accumulate without letting it get out of control. Hoping it will help with any nitrogen even if just a little?
Can't thank you and PheonixKingZ enough for giving me advice. I can watch as many videos and read as many articles but it is helpful to talk specifics out, so thanks again.
No probs, glad to be of help ?
 
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Zackm873

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For anyone who may still be watching, so much happier with my results today although this played out more quickly and not quite as I expected? I guess the water changes really do help! Thanks for all of your help.
ammonia 5.6.21.jpg
Nitrite 5.6.21.jpg
 

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