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 will be leaving my friend Nicola in charge of the fish while I celebrate my birthday this week, so I have made foil fish food parcels for the days I’m away. That way I can still be ‘anal’ about my fish care! I read online somewhere fishy, that the food blocks you can plonk in the tank can affect the water chemistry, so I’m playing it safe. I filled a couple of buckets of water from the cold tap, added de-chlorine drops and will leave them to get to room temp. before doing a 10% water change tomorrow after an algae scrape. The Nitrate level today seemed to be between 10 and 20ppm, but sometimes I find it hard to see… What do you think from the pic?
The aquarium is a birthday gift from my gorgeous husband so this week it will officially belong to me yay!! I’m pleased to have had it set up for a few weeks now so I know everything is stable and hopefully will remain that way. I did feed Nicola’s fish while she was away and her plec died a couple of days after her return, so I hope she doesn’t wreak a terrible revenge on my fish! I wonder if I’ll miss them while I’m away…
The shrimp and catfish must be good clean folk: Ammonia test showed 0ppm today and Nitrates are still at 10ppm. Jim has done some serious peeking today from behind the log. He must be exhausted as he peaked yesterday.
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?!