Tank Cycling

Tank Cycling

Hello Venus,

I’m goldfish sitting again. This time, just for 12 days. Since the pump and pond sponge was added last time, it appears that good bacteria were able to grow in the tank!

This is a 5.5 gallon tank with 3 small fantails. Unfortunately, I will not be able to upgrade the tank size as it is not my tank 🙁

Current readings are:
Ammonia=0, Nitrite=0.5, Nitrate=5, pH=7, KH=0.
(No GH reading until new tester arrives).

One of the fantails’ tail frayed before and apparently the tank was salted. When the tail healed, it became black. Current salinity is 0.03ppm. One side of the black tail is longer than the other. I’m not sure if it’s completely healed but I imagine this happened as a result of cycling. The top fin of that fish is also slightly torn. Should we add any treatment to assist in the fin/tail healing? Or is fixing water parameters enough?

Do you think we are in the middle or tail end of cycling this tank? With the current nitrite and nitrate levels, how often should I be doing water changes and how much water should I be changing? Should I dose Prime for the amount of new water added or the entire 5 gallon tank?

Since the KH=0 (very low mineral quality), should I add some backing soda? Our tap water also has close to no minerals and low pH. I have already ordered some small wonder shells to arrive next week. In the meantime, should I add baking soda to raise KH and then add the shells to maintain KH? Or just wait for the shells and rely completely on the shells to raise and maintain KH/GH? If I add baking soda first, how much should I add for 5 gallons?


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  1. emme February 16, 2018 at 11:20 am

    What do you think about rinsing the sponge? There’s quite a bit of debris there.
    Or would it be too disruptive to the cycle at this point?
    I was reading your other posts on pumps/sponges but I couldn’t find a proper way to do it. Should I be putting aquarium water in a separate bucket then putting the sponge in there?

  2. Venus February 16, 2018 at 8:04 am

    Nitrite was .5, and is now .3, so that’s a good sign. Ammonia is up, but….it’s possible you feed a little more than the fish owners. Feed a smidge less, and let’s see if the ammonia doesn’t back off to zero. Ammonia is created from waste; the first toxin in the nitrogen cycle. When you see ammonia appear in a cycled tank, the food source isn’t consistent

    Even though you’ve been performing daily water changes, the nitrates remain at zero, so if no water changes were being performed, the levels would be climbing, which is also a good sign

  3. emme February 16, 2018 at 12:50 am

    Hi Venus,

    An update with water parameters:
    Ammonia 0.1-0.3, Nitrite 0.3, Nitrate 5, KH 60. I’m dosing Prime for the whole 5 gallon tank and doing daily 15-20% water changes with remedy. I’m working on slowly increasing KH. My main concern now is that ammonia/Nitrite are slowly creeping up. I think it may be due to my overfeeding? I feed twice daily – presoaked flakes in the morning and peas in the evening. I find that the mushed peas often crumble before being consumed and get vacuumed into the aquarium sponge. I haven’t rinsed the sponge with aquarium water at all since the tank arrived. Should I be doing that? How often? There’s quite a bit of debris on the sponge but it’s not affecting surface action.

  4. Venus February 14, 2018 at 11:07 am

    I’m sure it will; correct itself. The wonder shells; good idea. Those things are awesome. My tap has a decent KH level, but over the years the levels have climbed in my fish houses due to water evaporation and mineral concentration. Now a days I have to use a little distilled water and or vinegar to keep the levels safe. It’s always something

  5. emme February 13, 2018 at 11:41 pm

    Hi Venus,

    I’m performing daily 15-20% water changes with Prime and soda. I only add enough soda to ensure the KH of the fresh water added is 100 because I worry about overdosing if I add directly to the tank. I also added 5 small wondershells today. Hopefully the KH will slowly correct.

  6. emme February 13, 2018 at 12:56 am

    Sounds good. I’ll keep doing the water changes. I’m ok with ordering the remedies if the whole treatment can be completed in 4-5days because I will be returning the tank a few days after the package arrives!
    Alternatively, can I buy my own pure aloe juice to try?

  7. Venus February 12, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    The standard 8 oz remedies treat 10 gallons per ounce. I’ll design the remedy for a 10 day treatment. The remedies you bought for your pond were concentrated; pond strength. I do have one ounce bottles, but they wouldn’t be large enough to get the job done

    Should we hold off on the remedies? Shipping crazy expensive

    Use enough Prime to treat the entire tank size with every daily water change. This way, if levels were to rise, the fish would be safe

  8. emme February 12, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    Hi Venus,

    Thank you! I wonder why only one fish got burns while the others are completely fine

    I’ll do 15% daily water changes for the next week. Do I add one dose of Prime to just cover the amount of water changed (15% aka 0.75 gallons) or enough Prime to dose the enter tank (5 gallons)?

    I can go for priority shipping but only if I can get the smallest quantities of remedies to last a few days of treatment while the fish are with me. They don’t have testers and likely won’t be willing to do daily water changes/ use remedies longterm so I ordered Wondershells to maintain KH/GH, as they’re lower maintenance.
    If I add enough soda raise KH to 100 now, would we overdose once I add wonder shells in a few days?

  9. Venus February 12, 2018 at 11:55 am

    Priority shipping (two to three days) is $39.25 for one remedy; $42.10 for two. No shipping charge for standard shipping (seven to 10 days) If you’ll pay the $42.10 for priority shipping, I’ll throw in the Water Boost for free to make up for the standard shipping fee I would have to pay

  10. Venus February 12, 2018 at 9:37 am

    You have a heart of gold Michele

    Nice looking set up; natural. It would be hard not to get attached. The one with the black looks like a real character; big expressive eyes

    From the readings you posted, it looks like the cycle is close to completion, but still, keep a close watch. Hopefully nitrates will rise as nitrite lowers. Even though the nitrite reading is insignificant, it might be wise to use water treatment to convert; just to be on the safe side. If you’re using Prime, perform 15% daily water changes using one dose. If you’re using Amquel Plus, use one dose, but perform 15% water change every other day

    Yes, use soda to increase KH readings to 100 ppm. I would recommend a little higher, except for the recent salt treatment. Carbonate mineral contains salt, and if levels are healthy, the fish get all the salt they need. Their organs may be a little stressed right now. You might raise KH to 120 ppm just before you send them home

    My guess is, you’ll need to raise GH after you get the tester

    Fixing water parameters is first and foremost, but this only works for longterm, and these fish will only be with you for less than a few weeks. Let’s concentrate our efforts. I’m going to check on shipping costs, and if it’s practical, I’m thinking of an aloe combo tonic that you could use daily. If you’re up for it, I could prepare a water boost remedy to send home with them. I don’t think we could hope to expect they would use soda to buffer KH, but they might add teaspoon of tonic to freshwater during a water change. Water Boost gently buffers GH, KH and pH. It contains magnesium, bicarbonate of soda and H202

    They obviously care for the fish, and want to see them healthy

    Hopefully, the tank will have completed the cycle by the time they pick them up. Discuss how much you’ve been feeding, and encourage them to do the same. Give them the consistency lecture. lol

    The blacker the tissue during the healing process; the more severe the injury. I’ve seen fish burned over their entire body. The tissue is delicate, and we want to make sure there are no repeats. It will take many months for the tissue to repair itself, even in the best water

    I’ll be back soon with some info

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