To prepare the newly filled aquarium for the first fish, I added Nutrafin Cycle doses according to the bottle instructions, the odd pinch of fish flakes and daily doses of water from my existing tank. After a good week it had cycled enough that there was no ammonia, no nitrite but 20ppm of nitrate when tested. Hours after adding the first fish, I tested the water and was surprised to see the presence of nitrite as well at nitrate. It shouldn’t really have been a surprise as that is a common occurrence when adding first fish according to many Internet sources but I was too confident because my first tank never had a nitrite peak – lucky me!
As well as the 6 lovely Mbuna Cichlids, I also collected stroppy George the Sucking Loach from the LFS; they had been looking after him for months after I returned him due to his harassment of the other fish in the community tank. Every visit we would make sure we saw George and said hello. Yes, we did get odd looks at times. Especially from George. After realising that this sort of algae eater was suitable for the new fishies, I added him to the new tank too. He was very happy…until the second day when he was dead at the bottom of the tank. He WAS such a hardy fish, not even picking up Ich when other tank mates had it, being passed around to tank share with all sorts of fish in the LFS: yellow labs, an axylotyl and crabs to name a few. It was either a coincidence or I accidentally killed him with nitrites. I hope not. There was no sign of nibbled fins, lumps, discolouration, etc. but his anal vent looked red… Too much information?! Sorry George.
The second night, the Mbunas displayed behaviour I didn’t expect, the White Tailed Acei AND the Yellow Labs in a gang seeming to gulp at the surface. Yet more internet reading and I adjusted the inflow pipe so the water had a lot more agitation therefore more oxygen. Very quickly they all went back to normal. Result. I should say that to combat the nitrite peak I did a big water change and added more Nutrafin Cycle.
Since then my tests have shown ammonia present, no nitrites and still 20ppm nitrates. I’ve been adding doses of SERA ‘toxivec’ to neutralise ammonia.
The fish are looking great, really healthy and active. They recognise me already so follow me to beg for food. So far all is well.
I tested the water today and it is the same happy story as before: Ammonia 0ppm, Nitrite 0ppm, Nitrate 10ppm, pH 7.4. I bought a mechanical timer for the lighting so that there is a set pattern of about 10-11 hours of light per day.
This picture shows tank buddies Speckled Jim the shrimp hanging upside down on the bogwood with Lemony Snicket one of the female platys swimming by. Her belly is getting bigger and she is fairly transparent in places so I can see darker marks which may indicate some developing young. Watch this space…
Speckled Jim is strutting around his manor tonight. No longer hiding under the log, he is scurrying about, climbing over plants and even climbed the glass in front of my camera. The show off. I’m not sure how much algae clearing he is doing but George is always on the job. They both posed in the same plant for this photo opportunity.
I tested the water this afternoon and the ammonia is still at 0ppm and Nitrates at 10ppm.
Hi there, I’ve tested my water chemistry today with the following results:
Nitrate, 5/10ppm (shown in pic)
pH, 7.6 – at the top of the scale so I refined the result with…
High Level pH Test, 7.4
I still haven’t seen any big spikes in Ammonia and haven’t detected any Nitrite at all, but Nitrate is present which is good. The fish are alive and looking very spry today!
I did the full range of tests today, starting with Ammonia before another 6% water change: 0.25ppm. A short while after changing some water the results were…:
Ammonia, 0.25ppm. (pic shows the before and after Ammonia tests)
Hmmm. I’m enjoying the test tube experiments even if there is little or no change at the moment!
Just a quick update, as I tested my water again today. Well, the aquarium water… Not much has changed despite a little water change yesterday. I have a bucket of tap water getting up to room temperature, already de-chlorinated, so I will do another change tomorrow. Maybe this is my tank going through its real cycle after a fake start?!
According to the test instructions, a new aquarium can surge in levels of Ammonia to 4ppm or more, then fall rapidly as the biological filter becomes established. I’m not panicking over my result then. New aquarium Nitrate levels are supposed to gradually climb, with a reading of 40ppm or less recommended for freshwater aquariums. The pH should be ok as it varies even throughout one day and it is sudden changes that are most harmful to my fish. As long as the fish are looking healthy it shouldn’t be a problem to leave pH to its natural level.
From reading online, I expected a peak in Ammonia, then for that to reduce and for Nitrite to peak, lastly the Nitrates to be present, showing that the essential bacteria had grown. Online forums have suggested this would take 3-6 weeks. The bacteria must be present for the Nitrate to appear so it appears to have cycled. I will continue testing as maybe it is a freak result and it hasn’t really happened! Can it be that easy? Have I spoken too soon?!