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Old 06-27-2011, 11:01 PM   #1 
lessandler
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Fish In Cycle & Fin Shredding

Before I begin I must say I understand that doing a fish in cycle is not ideal or particularly humane. I ordered a gorgeous halfmoon betta from aquabid for the first time and purchased a new fluval chi 6.6 at the same time. I was told by my transhipper before bidding that the shipping would take more than 2 weeks to arrive so I thought I could at least get the tank cycled for ammonia. However, lucky me due to the purchase date I recieved my fish in less than a week and did put the new betta, Floyd in the new un-cycled tank.

Now on day 6, his top fin and upper areas of huge tail fin are suddenly looking split and slightly shredded (not large areas for loss but definitely splitting). There are no signs of rot or disease, he's eating like a pig and very very active. The tank has 2 decent sized anubias nanas and a java fern (glued on river rocks), fluval edge heater and tahitian moon sand with no other decor. I noticed the top fin lost some finniage 2 days ago and moved the heater down as he likes to sleep on top of the heater wedged between the cord and glass. I thought it would adress the issue since it allowed for a bit more space to sleep, but today the fin loss suddenly is worse.

The other factor is that I accidentally left the light on all night (I know it's terrible). But I did paint the back of the tank black, so even with the light on where he sleeps near the top is actually quite dark (the fluval chi light is submersed and a few inches below the water surface) and I have found him sleeping there during the day with the light on. Also another factor is he seems extremely active compared to when I first recieved him and fairly active for a betta in general.

But I am guessing the biggest factor is that the tank is not cycled and I tested today the ammonia was between 0 and .25 ppm (closer to the .25 ppm color) and the nitrite barely perceptible as well (maybe .25 ppm) I am using Hagen's Cycle and have done a 30 % pwc. I remove his solid waste using a turkey baster daily. All other water parameters - hardness, ph, alkalinity is all good. (Although my water is on the soft side, from my understanding bettas from thailand need very soft water since that is what they have been bred in and hard water will cause them to lose their finniage.)

Could this level of ammonia cause sudden fin damage? Is it where he sleeps since it is only on the top of the fish? Or the light on all night causing too much stress? And since I have plants, should I or should I not salt the water? I also have Melafix and Betta Revive but have not used either yet since he appears disease free.

And in terms of fish in cycling, how much do I let the ammonia rise in order to allow bacteria to grow? I see opinions ranging on this matter from doing daily 50 % WC to none at all for 2 weeks. My plan was to do one every week but I now plan on every 2-3 days depending upon the ammonia and nitrite readings.

Thanks for taking hte time to read this and I appreciate any responses.
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Old 06-27-2011, 11:16 PM   #2 
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An update... I tested my tap water for ammonia and I am shocked that the reading looks almost the same. I have never done this before because I was told that where I live in Marin County, CA that we have some of the cleanest water in the States. Could this be a false reading?

I am using the API Ammonia NH3/NH4 test kit with the liquid tester tube (not paper). I only rinse the tube, I do not use cleansers on it.

If I do have some levels of ammonia in my tap, should I use an ammonia remover (and risk disturbing the cycle) or buy bottled water or run it through my brita first?
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Old 06-28-2011, 01:22 PM   #3 
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Hi lessander, I'm no expert on cycling but I'll give you a few pointers and then I'll let the experts on the forum give you the full response. I owned a goldfish once so I learned tons on the subject as I watched her grossly endure a full tank cycle. It's ugly. She lost her eyesight due to the ammonia. In my opinion, I would get Floyd out of your 6.6gal and house him in a fish bowl while your tank cycles. I'm currently doing this while my 10 gal cycles. I chose the fishless cycle method and you can read about them right here on the forum. They have a "sticky" posted with various methods and it's loaded with awesome information. Currently, I have a female in a 2.5 gal bowl with a heater and a betta log and I change her water 50%, 2x/week. She's happy and healthy and her new home is slowing coming around. Bowls and little heaters are cheap to purchase and they're a great back up in an emergency. Anyway, back to your issues: I live in the East Bay (close to you!) and my tap water is loaded with ammonia too. Floyd may appear more active because he could be experiencing some burning from the ammonia. I would do an immediate 50% water change and use the water conditioner product called Prime. It converts ammonia into a non-toxic form and allows the filter to remove it. I know they use it quite a bit on this forum. However, your ammonia readings will still read the same because the Prime doesn't "remove" it, it just converts in to a non-toxic form. However, once your filter is established then the beneficial bacteria will actually remove it. It's a little expensive but worth every penny!! In regards to your cycling timeframes, I found a website that specifically charts the cycle. However, each tanks cycle time can vary depending on a lot of factors ie. fish-in, fishless, amount of fish in your tank, etc. Here's a link that may help http://fins.actwin.com/mirror/begin-cycling.html In regards to Floyd sleeping behind the heater, he may just be hiding due to stress. My female was diseased when I purchased her and all she did was hide behind the heater. I even had a Betta Log in her tank but she chose the heater. Now that she's well, I haven't seen her behind the heater once. I'm sure the stress from the ammonia and the light being on too long are all factors for what you're seeing. Just in general, make sure you have adequate hiding places for Floyd because they love hiding and they love to explore. If he has a place to hide when he's stressed, that will help him too. So I hope I've helped you a little. Most important is I'd get Floyd into a temporary home while your new Fluval cycles. Awesome tank by the way! Good Luck!
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Old 06-28-2011, 01:59 PM   #4 
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You can safely cycle the tank with the Betta provided that you make the needed water changes....make a regular weekly 50% with vacuum and make a second weekly 50% water only based on water prams...ammonia, nitrite 0.25ppm or higher......

Are you sure he is not fin biting.....

Check your source water for ammonia and if you have ammonia in the tap water use a dechlorinator like Prime this changes the ammonia to ammonium that the nitrifying bacteria for the cycle and plants can still use this for the cycle and for plant food-but harmless to the fish......

Also, sometimes with the long fin male the water flow and space of the tank can be the cause of fin issue......you may need to baffle the filter....and he may need more time to build muscle to swim in that much space....sometimes their fins will never look the same or can be maintained in too much space depending on his age, genetic, immune response...good nutrition can sometimes help....sadly, with a man made fish their delicate fins can't handle water movement and space...kinda like a flag blowing in the wind......

Can you post a pic.....
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Old 06-28-2011, 02:30 PM   #5 
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Shake the crud out of those testers. I have seen many people, including myself, have darker than normal test readings with those API testers. Shake shake shake! Then test again. I just finished cycling my tanks, I did fish in, not because I had a choice though.

I also did w/c every 2-3 days. I also shook out my filters into a bucket of aquarium treated water, and tossed it in my tank every time I did a w/c to help speed up the cycle. 2 weeks and my nitrites are nil. This was all brand new tank. Do you know anyone with a filtered established tank that could shake the filters into some tank water for you?

Last edited by Pitluvs; 06-28-2011 at 02:38 PM.
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Old 06-28-2011, 03:47 PM   #6 
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Seeding the tank from a healthy established aquarium can help to speed up the cycle, however, I would either use a piece of the filter media or a hand full of gravel from the top.... since the nitrifying bacteria are sticky and adhere to surface areas......

And very true...especially with the #2 bottle of nitrate reagent in the API brand test kit....it tends to settle and can give skewed results...shake and bang the reagent on something and shake some more....

You know the tank has established the nitrogen cycle when you have ammonia, nitrite 0ppm and nitrate 5-10ppm for several days without ammonia/nitrite spikes, however, live plants can sometimes skew reading due to them using the ammonia before conversion and you may not see nitrate readings for much longer if at all...this depends on the number and species of live plants and their growth state....but the nitrogen cycle is still happening....
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Old 06-28-2011, 05:13 PM   #7 
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I usually say shaking the filter off, because I have yet to find a person who has a filter they can give me (putting a brand new one in a tank is a no no) and most of my friend won't let me steal their rocks or decorations :( I have mean friends.

:P
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Old 06-28-2011, 07:20 PM   #8 
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OldFishLady is right on. The Prime removes the harmful ammonia components but it still allows the tank to cycle ie. the ammonia is still present to feed your good bacteria, but it isn't toxic to the fish. As she stated, the good bacteria lives on your filter media, rocks, decorations. If you're fortunate to have a friend who has an established tank, even a handful of rocks from the top layer would work wonders. However, be sure you transport them in some tank water. If the rocks dry out then the bacteria dies. You have keep them wet. Make sure it's tank water and not tap water too - the chemicals in the tap water will kill the bateria as well.
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Old 06-28-2011, 08:52 PM   #9 
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I am on it. Using prime, did WC, also asing a an ammonia remover called microbe lift that says it does not disturb cycling. Ammonia reading 0 currently with barely perceptible nitrite and nitrates. I am going to do WC frequently and Hagen cycle. But I think I will not fully allow this one to cycle fish in and transfer him to the fluval edge that I am fishless cycling (yes with the water down not filled of course).

The reason being, I realized that a behavoir he has been doing from the start - taking long deep gulps of air with his gills fully open - is likely ammonia burn he got during transit. It would explain the sudden fin shedding 2 days after arrival as ammonia burn weakens the structure of the fins. Therefore I cannot let the ammonia or nitrite levels rise at all to cycle this tank while he heals. Super bummed on this matter :(

Luckily the edge is halfway through fishless cycling so I can transfer him soon.

I don't think the heater sleeping is hiding, this is not a shy or inactive fish. As soon as I turn on the light he is running to the front begging for food or interaction. I think that the heater preset temp of 78 may be colder than he is used to in thailand and it is pleasureable to sleep there. But today he was sleeping on an anubias so perhaps he is used to the temps.

I have opened another thread in the fish disease section about the ammonia burns and thank everyone for thier response here, but Floyd's saga continues there with pics and more info. If anyone has experience with ammonia burn please go to that thread. Thanks!
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