I am after some advice. I'm not experienced at keeping fish, although I have done plenty of research.
I decided to do a fish-in cycle (I have 2 boys who were very impatient...) & I've had my tank for almost 2 weeks now. I filled the tank up, brought it to temperature (24.8 degrees), set my filter up and added bacteria/tapsafe 3 days before adding the fish. I took a sample of the water on the day of buying them (before buying them, I must add) and it came back as: 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, between 20-40 nitrate (its difficult to distinguish between the two on the API test card), and a pH of 7.6. I determined this as a good result.
So, I added 4 Guppies, 4 Red Shrimps and 2 armoured shrimps, 1 live plant and 1 moss ball to the aquarium (I possibly went overkill on the shrimps, but I figured they'd do their bit to help reduce the amount of waste that's produced during cycling)
I've been taking samples everyday (every other day at the absolute least) and the results initially were pretty stable. I've also been doing 25% water changes every other day with a gravelvac.
Over the last few days, I've noticed some anomalies occurring. One day I had 0.25 Ammonia, 0.25 Nitrite, 20-40 Nitrate; I did a 40% water change once I had noticed this. The next day, I had 0.25 Ammonia, 0 Nitrite, 10-20 Nitrate; I did a 25% water change.
It hasn't dropped from 0.25 Ammonia, 0 Nitrite, 10-20 Nitrate (although this does fluctuate between 10-20 and 20-40, this may be my interpretation against the test card but it never gets higher than 40)
I've now started doing water changes everyday to see if I can get rid of the high ammonia. I did happen to test what the ammonia is at the tap, (without adding tapsafe) and that did come back as 0.25.
My questions are:
- Is this all normal in a fish-in cycle? - is it likely that i'm getting the high ammonia because of what is coming from my tap rather than a spike in the tank? And if so, what can I do to keep on top of this? (Add prime every couple of days?) - Am I going about the fish-in cycle in the right way?
I'd appreciate any advice you guys can throw my way.
And also for reference, the 4 guppies I have are all appearing in high spirit. They are active, there are no obvious signs of illness, their fins are in good condition and they are still brightly coloured. They get fed 4 individual flakes of fish food every couple of days.
The API test often shows a 0.25 reading when there's no problem so I would only worry if it goes above that or if you see any nitrite.
With only 4 small fish and daily partial water changes you won't see a huge ammonia spike (which is good) so it sounds like it's going well at the moment.
Regarding the nitrate test - the ingredients in bottle 2 can fall out of solution and give you a false result so make sure to bang it on something hard and give it a really vigorous shake for 30 seconds whenever you use it.
All's going well still, I've managed to last 4 days with ammonia staying the same (somewhere between 0-0.25 on the API test which was mentioned before as a "normal" reading...). The nitrite however has spiked to 0.25, and Nitrate has stayed the same.
I understand that this is due to my fish tank not being fully cycled yet. I'm planning on adding in some extra moss balls, and another live plant to help with the nitrite spiking, and in addition to this I'm planning on adding, every week and water change, beneficial bacteria supplements to assist.
My question is, is there any harm in also adding a few more shrimps, and a couple more fish? My local fish store suggested that as long as my Nitrite and Ammonia aren't spiking really high (5ppm) then there's no issue with adding in a few more & I just want to check that all of you fish hobbiests out there happen to agree...
I would no add more while you have a nitrite reading. Adding more fish will increase the bioload and thus raise the nitrite level (and possibly also ammonia level) even higher: more fish = more waste, therefore, more ammonia and subsequent nitrite. Never add shrimps to a tank with even a hint of ammonia or nitrite present as they are particularly sensitive to it.
Okay. Would you recommend carrying on with regular water changes (now decreased from daily to once every four days as thats when a spike occurs) for another 3 weeks (by this point, my filter would have been cycling for 8 weeks) until I can stabilise the ammonia/nitrite before adding more fish/shrimps?
Do a partial water change if either ammonia or nitrite rise. When both have been at 0 consistently for a few days you can add more stock, but only add a few at a time, once a fortnight or so until fully stocked if readings stay stable.