End of Cycle water change needed to save fish? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 01:14 PM Thread Starter
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End of Cycle water change needed to save fish?

I am am nearing the end of cycle for a 75 gallon planted tank (tank has been up for about 5 weeks). First week had 2 Endler's, then had an emergency (leak in another tank), and moved over 10 juvenile panda corys, 1 asian stone catfish, and a few mystery snails. Lost one baby cory the day after moving them. Two weeks later moved 5 rili shrimp (other tank leaked again). Unsure if all the shrimp are alive, I haven't seen more than four at a time for several days (but the tank is heavily planted with lots of driftwood and hiding places).

Current water parameters: Water temperature is 74 to 75. PH is 7.2, ammonia 0, nitrite 0.5 ppm (maybe a hair higher, hard to judge the shades of purple for the test), and nitrates around 5ppm (maybe a bit less, the orange is kind of pale compared to the color chart). This is the first day I have had a definitive nitrate reading (the last several days there was only the faintest hint of color change above the zero point).

I am wondering if I should I do a water change to keep the nitrites down? Looking over the fish, one of the smallest baby panda does look a little stressed (the fin on his back seems a little clinched). I've been doing water changes every 2-3 days. I've also been using Prime every second day during the cycle since adding the cory crew when nitries showed up, but I am not due for more Prime until tomorrow. Or should I stick it out and not do a water change since I finally have nitrates, and hope the nitrites zero out quickly? Really nervous about losing the baby corys, I am really attached to the little guys as they were unexpected spawn in my first planted tank.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 02:11 PM
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This is just my opinion of what I would do so take it with a grain of salt.

Sounds like the bacteria is going/starting to go nicely. I would do a water change and take a look around to make sure there arent any dead critters while at it. I wouldnt clean filters or vac too much gravel. I usually only used prime when adding new water, dont think it needs to be added every other day but I could be wrong.

Get some fresh water in there and should be good to go once the bacteria catches up with the new bio load.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 10:23 PM
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Prime should never be used as a substitute for water changes when cycling with fish. A nitrIte reading of .5 will affect fish differently. Old fish, young fish, genetically weak fish will be stressed quicker than others- leading to secondary bacterial infections etc...
I would be doing as many water changes while doing a fish- in cycle to keep my levels of ammonia and nitrIte undetectable until established - not adding prime as a substitute for this.


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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 03:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Discusluv View Post
Prime should never be used as a substitute for water changes when cycling with fish. A nitrIte reading of .5 will affect fish differently. Old fish, young fish, genetically weak fish will be stressed quicker than others- leading to secondary bacterial infections etc...
I would be doing as many water changes while doing a fish- in cycle to keep my levels of ammonia and nitrIte undetectable until established - not adding prime as a substitute for this.


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I would do this as well. Also to clarify what he's saying, conduct daily testing and only do a water change if you find the ammonia or nitrite levels above the normal level for a biologically mature tank.

I also agree with what Discusluv said about using Prime to detoxify the ammonium compounds, most definitely not a replacement for water changes.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 01:52 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the feedback but you are making an incorrect assumption. I was not adding prime as a substitute for water changes, but rather in addition to water changes. I have been doing water changes every other day. My understanding was too many water changes (i.e. daily) could slow down the cycle. I should have been clearer in my post (my bad). I was concerned that too many water changes would hurt more than help by slowing the cycle and stressing fish longer, but I think I will go to daily water changes to keep the levels lower, particularly since the fish look a little stressed.

Did about a 30% change yesterday and a few hours later nitrite was down to 0.25 ppm.

Did an light vacuuming of the sand in case decaying food increasing nitrite values. I feed the corys in a dish but they re sometimes messsy and spread the food about.

Tested this morning and nitries were up to at least .5 ppm again, with nitrates still about the same around 5ppm, ammonia still 0.

Did another approximately 30% change and tested again several hours laters. Nitrites down to 0.25. Ammonium still 0, Nitrates look to be close to 5ppm. I have a ditial nitrite tester on the way, as it is hard to tell exactly which blue/purple values best matches up to the API test chart.

I'll test again tonight and if the values are up again, I will do another 30% change. I think I will just do the 30% changes once or twice a day until nitries zero out for a couple of days.

Thank you everyone for your suggestions. I know I just need to stay the course now, and not be quite so nervous.

Last edited by Darkblade48; 05-17-2019 at 12:00 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 05:54 PM
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Do you have already-cycled biological media from your leaking tank that you can swap over to the tank in question in order to speed up the cycle?
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 06:12 PM
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The cycle can be simple or we can get into lots of small points and get confused. Does new water slow the cycle? Depends on how you are doing things. If you are doing a fishless cycle and adding the correct amount of ammonia to do the cycle, taking ammonia out is not the correct move but if you are risking doing it with fish in, keeping the ammonia down is going to be walking a fine line between giving enough ammonia to let the bacteria grow and getting too much and doing damage to the fish, even if you can't see the damage. You may only burn things a little bit and they appear to be okay but only live 6 months instead of 6 years.
So most folks will find it much, much better to move some used media over and do an almost instant cycle rather than doing the trauma of testing and water changing while still risking damaged fish.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 08:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shanmoon View Post
Thank you for the feedback but you are making an incorrect assumption. I was not adding prime as a substitute for water changes, but rather in addition to water changes. I have been doing water changes every other day. My understanding was too many water changes (i.e. daily) could slow down the cycle. I should have been clearer in my post (my bad). I was concerned that too many water changes would hurt more than help by slowing the cycle and stressing fish longer, but I think I will go to daily water changes to keep the levels lower, particularly since the fish look a little stressed.
Oh, okay- yeah, that was not clear to me at all.

Water changes do not slow down the development of a cycle. Fish are more stressed by the presence of ammonia or nitrite than a water change.



The whole stress on fish because of water change- where did that come from anyways- lol?



I raise discus and give them frequent water changes up to 75% daily when they are juveniles and 75% 2 x weekly when adults. Are they stressed from it- obviously not enough to effect their health because they grow to be big and healthy. So, anyone that tells you the risk of a water change is higher then its benefits- ignore them.

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Did about a 30% change yesterday and a few hours later nitrite was down to 0.25 ppm.

Did an light vacuuming of the sand in case decaying food increasing nitrite values. I feed the corys in a dish but they re sometimes messsy and spread the food about.

Tested this morning and nitries were up to at least .5 ppm again, with nitrates still about the same around 5ppm, ammonia still 0.

Did another approximately 30% change and tested again several hours laters. Nitrites down to 0.25. Ammonium still 0, Nitrates look to be close to 5ppm. I have a ditial nitrite tester on the way, as it is hard to tell exactly which blue/purple values best matches up to the API test chart.


I'll test again tonight and if the values are up again, I will do another 30% change. I think I will just do the 30% changes once or twice a day until nitries zero out for a couple of days.

Thank you everyone for your suggestions. I know I just need to stay the course now, and not be quite so nervous.
Any reason you are doing 30% water changes instead of larger ones to bring nitrites to undetectable levels?

When nitrites and ammonia are present should do large water changes ( back to back if necessary) to get to zero.

180 g. low tech w/ wild South American cichlids, corydoras eques, and African Congo riverine tetras.
60 g. low tech w/ F1 Alenquer pair /Stendker "Tefe" discus and wild Altum Angels
30 g. low tech w/ Wild Tucano tetras
30 g. low-tech African Biotope
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 08:17 PM Thread Starter
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Do you have already-cycled biological media from your leaking tank that you can swap over to the tank in question in order to speed up the cycle?
Yes, I have Fluval FX filters on the tanks. I swapped about half of the bio rings out from the old tank with half of the new bio rings from the new tanks. I probably should have said that in the original post also. The old 45 tank is due for filter changes tomorrow, was thinking about taking part of one of the old sponges and throwing it in one of the filter baskets in the new 75 to see if that will speed things along.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 08:30 PM
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Obviously, as this case makes evident, there is no such thing as a universal "instanta cycle or an almost instant cycle" through using media from a cycled tank.

I think that we need to be more careful with new aquarists that we do not give the impression that using cycled media to cycle another tank will make it unnecessary to test water and do water changes when fish have been added. Not true.

There is also no safe amount of ammonia or nitrite exposure on fish-any amount is too much. Same as there is no "balance between ammonia for the cycle and the most fish can handle"- that number is always zero.
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180 g. low tech w/ wild South American cichlids, corydoras eques, and African Congo riverine tetras.
60 g. low tech w/ F1 Alenquer pair /Stendker "Tefe" discus and wild Altum Angels
30 g. low tech w/ Wild Tucano tetras
30 g. low-tech African Biotope
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 11:53 PM Thread Starter
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The reason for the 30% is that that is as many buckets as I have available to transfer water from my water source to the tank, and as much r/o water as I usually have available. It's actually pretty hard for me to transfer more water that that anyway. I have a very damaged arm and shoulder from a hanggliding crash years ago, and it fatigues pretty quickly.

I did just check the nitrites again, and they are now pretty close to zero....test came out a pale blue, maybe a hair darker than the api test sheet, but defiitely no purple. I'm obessively checking the values morning and evening, and will probably continue to do so for another week or two until settling down to a normal test schedule.

Seems like the worst may be over. For the future, planning on addinf fully automatic co2 to the tank (most of the parts have been ordered), and getting an R/O system setup closer to the tank to make water changes easer, maybe run some plubming to pipe it right next to the tank.

Once things are stable for a week, I will start moving a couple baby cories over each week, until the old small tank is cory free, although at the rate they keep spawning, I suspect more will pop up several weeks after the adults are moved over!

Last edited by shanmoon; 05-15-2019 at 11:57 PM. Reason: more typos
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-16-2019, 12:09 PM Thread Starter
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Nitrites zero this morning, nitrates 5 ppm, ammonia zero! Looks like the cycle is about done, but I will definitely make sure things are stable for a week before moving over the other corys a few at a time and introducing any changes to the tank (except perhaps another tissue culture plant or 2 and swapping to automatic CO2).

Thanks again! Just having a forum to share my newbie trials was quite reassuring.
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Last edited by shanmoon; 05-16-2019 at 08:53 PM. Reason: typo
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-18-2019, 10:09 AM
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So I kind of re-read(and/or skimmed) through the thread and see it's a fish-in cycle, and the values at what they are make me think you're nearing the end. To be frank, I think the best thing to do would be the end stage steps of a fish-in cycle. Just keep looking at values, and if they are high then do the water change. I found great success doing 40% water change once a week during a very light bioload fish-in cycle in a couple tanks simultaneously.

Also, the fish already there are a great indicator of how the tank is doing. If they seem vibrant and content, relish it while keeping up with testing. A good aquarist can spot odd behavior and knows when something is wrong, even if they can't diagnose the problem themselves.

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