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Old 02-05-2013, 02:35 AM   #1 
laur3namb3r
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Cycling and ammonia questions

Hey guys, I've had my tank up since 12/29/12... So basically a month. I had no idea about cycling tanks, so I had the tank running for about 2 days and then I got Copernicus. Since then I have been doing 25-50% water changes every 2-3 days, and testing the water almost daily.

Recently, I've noticed that the ammonia level is always at .25 so today I decided to test the water right after I changed it, and it read .25 again. This time I tested our tap water and it was also reading at .25. Should I be adding anything to lower the ammonia levels? Also, I show no nitrates when testing, so I assume my tank isn't cycled? Am I doing something wrong? How can I get it to cycle?

Also, is aquarium salt something good to add to tanks? My boy's dorsal fin still looks a little raggedy, but no holes and its not getting worse so I'm still not sure if its fin rot, but would aquarium salt help it any?

I have the 5 gal fluval spec with 2 live plants. Thanks!
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Old 02-05-2013, 09:49 AM   #2 
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If your ammonia isn't going any higher than .25, don't do any water changes. That level shouldn't harm your fish if you are paying attention and testing daily to make sure it doesn't go any higher. If it does go higher, make small water changes to bring it back down - if you were cycling without a fish, you'd want your ammonia up around at least 4ppm to start the cycle. You need to be more careful with the fish in there though.

If your only source of ammonia is one fish in a 5 gallon, your cycle will take a long time. Do you have another tank that is currently up and running, or do you have a friend that does? If so, you could take/borrow some gravel from the running tank and put it into a mesh bag, and put it on top of your filter in the Spec's media chamber. There is plenty of room up there, and almost all of the water going through the filter enters through the top. It will go through the "live" gravel (which should already have bacteria), and the bacteria should seed your filter much faster. I don't know if you're using a heater, but heat helps the cycle. A Hydor Theo (25W or 50W) will fit perfectly into the chamber that has the pump if you don't already have a heater! I have the same tank, and I use a 50W Hydor.

After a week or so, you could remove the gravel (or leave it in the bag in the top of the chamber, it won't hurt anything!).

I wouldn't add any salt to your main tank. If your fish needs some, use a quarantine tank where you can control things better. If you move him to a smaller tank for a while, you could dose extra ammonia in your tank - or just feed the tank even though he's not in it to keep the ammonia going.
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Old 02-05-2013, 10:17 AM   #3 
Otterfun
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tekkguy View Post
If your ammonia isn't going any higher than .25, don't do any water changes. That level shouldn't harm your fish if you are paying attention and testing daily to make sure it doesn't go any higher. If it does go higher, make small water changes to bring it back down - if you were cycling without a fish, you'd want your ammonia up around at least 4ppm to start the cycle. You need to be more careful with the fish in there though.

If your only source of ammonia is one fish in a 5 gallon, your cycle will take a long time. Do you have another tank that is currently up and running, or do you have a friend that does? If so, you could take/borrow some gravel from the running tank and put it into a mesh bag, and put it on top of your filter in the Spec's media chamber. There is plenty of room up there, and almost all of the water going through the filter enters through the top. It will go through the "live" gravel (which should already have bacteria), and the bacteria should seed your filter much faster. I don't know if you're using a heater, but heat helps the cycle. A Hydor Theo (25W or 50W) will fit perfectly into the chamber that has the pump if you don't already have a heater! I have the same tank, and I use a 50W Hydor.

After a week or so, you could remove the gravel (or leave it in the bag in the top of the chamber, it won't hurt anything!).

I wouldn't add any salt to your main tank. If your fish needs some, use a quarantine tank where you can control things better. If you move him to a smaller tank for a while, you could dose extra ammonia in your tank - or just feed the tank even though he's not in it to keep the ammonia going.
I like the gravel idea, so would it be ok if I remove the carbon bag and replace it with the gravel bag? Or should I just put the gravel on top of the foam block housing the carbon and Biomax?
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Old 02-05-2013, 11:03 AM   #4 
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Removing the carbon would actually be perfect - the carbon is useless after a couple of weeks and should only really be put in if you have a tank condition to solve (like removing medication or cloudiness).
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Old 02-05-2013, 11:35 AM   #5 
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Originally Posted by tekkguy View Post
Removing the carbon would actually be perfect - the carbon is useless after a couple of weeks and should only really be put in if you have a tank condition to solve (like removing medication or cloudiness).
cool, i will try the gravel idea in March (just replaced the carbon 2/1/13), hopefully the wisteria and hygrophilia will grow faster then.
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Old 02-05-2013, 11:37 AM   #6 
laur3namb3r
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Hmmm... Ok. I should have listened to my fiancÚ then haha. He's been telling me that .25 is ok, just to make sure it doesn't go up anymore than that. I've been just so concerned with it because people here tell me that any traces of ammonia is not okay for them. Copernicus hates water changes too, so many I will test the water daily and if its still at .25 after 3 days, leave it and do a small water change on the fourth day? He's still a baby, so I want him to have clean water. :]

I don't have another tank, as I'm not really supposed to have one anyway...apartment complex doesn't allow pets. But, if I were to get him a critter keeper to do the salt treatment, how long should I leave him in there? Is a week too long (obviously doing water changes daily)? Because I could start the treatment, and "feed" the tank while he's out maybe speeding up the cycling process?

Thanks for your help!
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Old 02-05-2013, 03:06 PM   #7 
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What kind of testing products are you using and all the numbers for Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH for both the tank and the source water-Test the source water with and without your normal additives-This will give you a base line and tell you if any additives are causing skewed results/interactions.

Since you already tested the ammonia on the source water to know you have a 0.25ppm level-making water changes are not going to help much-until your biofilter is established and this can take up to 8 weeks more or less. I do agree that 0.25ppm isn't that bad-but it can get bad fast if you are not careful. You might need to get a dechlorinator that covers/neutralizes ammonia like Prime, however, you still might test positive for ammonia-but it will be neutralized and ammonium so it won't be harmful to the livestock-but the beneficial bacteria and plants can still use it for food.

Good that you have live plants-how are they doing-If they are thriving-the plants can help with the small amount of ammonia in the source water to a degree.

It is best to QT if you need to treat the Betta-Can you post a pic of the fin issue. Has the fins always been ragged or just since he was placed in the tank with the filter. Reason being, some of the Long fin males can get tattered due to the filter/water movement-not all-just some....Unless it is rot, I wouldn't treat with anything other than clean water and good nutrition-but with water movement and ammonia in the source water-You might want to wait until you have ammonia neutralizer before you QT.
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Old 02-05-2013, 11:36 PM   #8 
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I use a drops kit to test, and when I tested it the nitrates and nitrates were both at 0, the ph is 8 (I have a high ph level), and the ammonia was .25. I also use nutrafin aqua plus as the water conditioner. The ammonia never usually rises, since I change the water so often. Would switching water conditioner help?

Also, my plants are doing very well. I've even had to move them around a few times and they are still doing good!

I don't want to treat him for something, even if its only aquarium salt, until I make sure. I might just be paranoid, but I don't want it to go on if its something more serious. Here's two pictures (it was really hard to take a good one, when he swims, it looks more raggedy):




His tail has always had the grey/black part. I'm not sure if its just a deformity, or his fins growing. Like I mentioned before, he's still a baby. As his fins started growing, the dorsal fin started doing that.
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