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Messed up cycle. Can it be fixed?

399 Views 6 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Bombalurina
I goofed. How do I fix this?

I have a 4 week old 10 gallon tank, filtered and heated. It’s inhabited by Silky, an awesome female CT. Living with her are 2 Koi Swordtails and 3 Corys.

The tank has never been properly cycled. Not knowing any better, I took the advice of the guy at a pretty reputable pet store and came home with tank, fish and “Bacteria in a bottle” that he assured me would save me the pesky and time consuming chore of cycling the tank the old fashioned way. Since I live in a small town 1.5 hours from the store, the temptation was too good to resist.

You all know what happens next. Of course the “Bacteria in a bottle” doesn’t seem to work and the ammonia levels start creeping up. I’ve been trying to keep them in check with frequent, usually daily, 50% water changes.

So far the fish all appear to be doing well. Growing, eating, active, etc.

My question is this point is there any way to establish a cycled tank without destroying these poor fish? Should I try more “Bacteria in a bottle”? I know that the ideal levels of ammonia and nitrite is zero, but failing that how high is too high? Right now I’m trying to keep things below .25ppm but I fear that I will never get the tank to cycle with the levels that low, and I fear casualties if I let it get too high.

Please go easy on me. I’m a beginner trying really hard to do right by these fish and making a few mistakes along the way. Thanks for any help you can offer.
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I fell for the "bacteria in a bottle" scheme! So you're not alone there!

It looks like you'll have to do a fish-in cycle. Test your water everyday if ammonia or nitrItes are at 0.25ppm or above, 50% water change and only water. Test your nitrAtes every few days or so, once your nitrAtes are at 5 ~ 10ppm without any ammonia or nitrItes spikes, you are most likely cycled.

Also do you have any live plants in your tank? I'm only asking this because it'll affect how your tank cycles.
Thanks for the feedback. No sign of nitrites yet. If I understand correctly, you're suggesting that the tank will eventually cycle, even with only low levels of ammonia/nitrites.

No live plants at this stage. Really thought I would try to keep things simple to get started and would consider plants once I seemed to have a grasp on the basics, which I clearly don't yet.
Yeah since you have your fish in your tank right now, correct? They're your ammonia source. The bacteria needs a source of ammonia to eat and convert into nitrItes then finally nitrAtes. Just be sure to keep testing your water parameters and react accordingly to the results.

Okay no live plants. :)
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