Just over a week ago I set up a 20g(Long) tank, naturally planted. I'm having a hard time figuring out how often to do water changes (I have non-betta fish in the tank) and how to tell if my cycle is going as it should. Most if not all of what I find is about plantless/filterless tanks. I did a 10-15% water change on Sunday, and last night I noticed my neon tetras acting funny. They lost almost all of their color and were scattered instead of schooling like they have been. I checked the parameters this morning and some seem kinda high.
Additives- Seachem Prime, API CO2 booster (only 1/week), API LeafZone (1/week), API StressZyme(only at original filling)
Should I be doing more than 1 water change a week or do these parameters sound right for a beginning cycle? Should I do a change today?
I presume you meant that nitrites were 4.0 and not 40. It sounds like you are making progress, but how heavily planted is your tank? The NPT method really needs the tank to be pretty heavily planted from the start in order to help reduce the cycle time and keep parameters from being so high. I'd say you may need to do the PWC's every couple of days about 30-50% to keep the Tetras alive but also keep the cycle going. This is how I did my single NPT and it worked out good, minus the fact that I hadn't planted heavily enough and it created problems down the road.
definately need to do more water changes with a fish in cycle, nitrates that high could hurt your fish. It will probably take another few weeks for the nitrites to drop out. Just keep up the water changes and testing.
Did you seed from another tank?
Daily water tests & lots of water changes of at least 50% will keep your fish healthy & happy. Do a water change if your ammo hits .5, if you show any nitrItes or if your nitrAtes hit 40 or more. I have 2 tanks currently fish in cycling, one is going on 6 weeks the other 5 weeks. I haven't lost any fish following the guidelines I listed.
Keeping the water clean and clear of ammonia and nitrIte is extremely important to the health of any fish, but I just wanted to add that from my personal experience Neons are more sensitive to nitrAte levels in the water than many other fish. I've found that it's better to do more frequent, smaller water changes with them so that the nitrate level stays low enough not to be harmful, but doesn't fluctuate very dramatically, either. For example, going from 30ppm of nitrate down to 10ppm after a water change over and over again will be much harder for their systems to tolerate than staying around 20ppm fairly consistently. Once the bacteria catches up to the bioload and the cycle is complete, the nitrates will usually remain steady, so you won't have to worry about it as much, but a cycling tank is a dangerous thing for a fish, and the littler ones seem to have a harder time getting through it. It sounds like you're getting close to the end of it, if your nitrates are spiking - so hooray for that! I just wanted to share my experience, hope it helps, and good luck on the new tank!
Thanks every one for all the advice! I changed about 17% of the water in hopes of not shocking the little guys too much.
The Ammonia has been consistently at 0 this whole week, nitrites have been >/= 0 and nitrates have been lowish. I haven't been checking everyday or logging my results, so I don't know each exactly, but I'm keeping a log now.
I was concerned about their sensitivity when I chose the neons, but really didn't want to cycle with fish that I didn't plan to keep as pets. These little guys really have been troopers, they managed to bounce back within a few hours (before the water change) and are doing even better after the water change.
It really seems bare, but I have quite a few plants in there.
Crypt parva, cilata, lutea (1 large, 2 cuttings), amazon sword (3), aponogeten ulvaceus, water wisteria (floating), ludwiga (floating), and java moss (meandering where it pleases). I know I definitely need to rearrange it a bit, looks sloppy after all my wisteria and ludwiga decided to float.
I think it looks like the tank is off to a great start! Those little plantlets are going to fill in quickly!
If you have an easy way to get them, I've found that fast growing stem-plants like Anacharis, Cambomba, and Hornwort are really helpful in keeping toxins at bay in a cycling tank - especially when left floating.