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Hello all! I'm new to the aquarium forum but this is technically my second thread as my first was in the new members forum. If you care to read:
http://www.aquariumforum.com/f13/hello-aquarium-forum-5458.html

anywho, let's get down to business because I'm trying to save three fish.

I've got a ten gallon glass aquarium that originally came with a petsmart (TOP FIN) starter kit. I recently replaced the original TOP FIN filter with a Hagen Aquaclear 20. I got it going and I noticed that the nitrite levels were increasing (currently at 1 ppm). I put the fish in a small plastic container (filled with distilled water) and they seem to be doing fine but what can I do to get the tank to cycle quickly (because I don't see the fish lasting in their temporary quarters for a month while the new tank cycles) ? From what I've read you are supposed to add ammonia to the tank (and keep it at a certain level) until the nitrite level goes to zero? Is this correct ? any help the board could provide would be greatly appreciated.
 

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You put your fish in a small uncycled container of distilled water?! :facepalm: Distilled water is not ideal for fish, it is too clean. The kH and GH are like 1 or lower, and in a small container any waste will cause an ammonia spike and fluctuate the pH.

Work with the tank you have now, go out and get some Prime or similar product that makes ammonia, chlorine, nitrite, and nitrates non-toxic. Add it to the tank and then re-acclimate the fish slowly. You will still get a nitrite reading but it will be non-toxic if you follow the dosing instruction. Do small water changes until you get your bacteria back.

Now the real problem. Removing your filter should not cause a spike because your gravel should still have bacteria in it if the tank were cycled. My guess is that your tank still has not fully cycled and you rushed to get too many fish? How many fish did you have in the tank and how long has it been up?
 

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Dmaax,

thanks for the reply. Yeah, so I had no idea you couldn't put fish in distilled water (actually, I put them in there because it doesn't have any chlorine) so my first task is to get them out of that stuff. As for the nitrite spike, I forgot to mention that I vacuumed the gravel before I put the new filter in as I was having an excessive cloudy/hazy water issue. In the past, when I vacuumed the gravel and replaced the filter I could still contaminants getting past the new filter and creating a film on the surface of the water. I figured a new pump and filter (hence the Hagan Aquaclear) would be able to solve this issue (which I believe it has because the water is clear and no more film). However, in removing the old pump (and vacuuming the gravel) I guess my good bacteria went out with it. I will try and pick up some of this "prime" stuff on my way home tonight. Also, what do you think about running the old pump (with a new filter) concurrently with the new pump and filter? The idea I have is that the good bacteria on the inside of the pump will keep the water safe for the fish while bacteria colonizes on the new pump. After a certain amount of time I turn the old pump off and run off the new pump and test again for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates.
 

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Zoff,

I've some good experience with adding additional bacteria to your aquarium after filter / big water changes or after excessive cleaning of ground etc.

You can get decent products at your petstore like "cycle" or others and keep adding small quantities of those bacteria for the coming 3-5 days. That should accelerate your first cycle considerably.

Good luck!

R+
Chris
 

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How many fish did you have in the tank and how long has it been up?

Because that cloudy haze was probably a bacteria bloom that is normal with a new tank. If you still have your old filter, use that and your old pump. Vacuuming should not remove the majority of your benefical bacteria. They stick very well to the small pores in the gravel, but from now on, I would vacuum in quadrants just to be safe. For example vacuum the front half one week and then the back half the next week...etc.

Prime will dechlorinate the water.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I had/have three fish (2 tetras and a molly) and the tank has been up and running for about 8 months.
 

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No, I did not medicate the tank or anything but when I originally set it up it had maybe 2 inches of gravel and I removed about an inch of that maybe four months ago. I also removed about 95% of the water when I vacuumed the gravel (due to the excessive amount of crud on the bottom that would cloudy the water when the gravel was disrupted) before I installed the new pump and filter.
 

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Update: I went out and bought the Seachem Prime and added it to the tank (following the dosing instructions). As for the fish it turns out that I didn't put them in distilled water but rather purified water. Regardless, the small carrier I put them in (approximately 0.5 gallon) showed showed traces of ammonia (I don't remember the reading) so I treated a new batch of tap water with API Stress Coat and placed the fish in that water instead. However, I found it strange that the API Stress Coat water showed about 1 ppm of ammonia after treatment. Is this a case of "you will still get ammonia readings but it won't be toxic" or am I doing something wrong? Also, given that I put the Seachem Prime into the tank tonight, when can I put the fish back in the tank again?
 

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Stress coat is worthless if I remember right. It detoxifies chlorine but most cities now use chloramine. What remains is the amine part which is actually ammonia which stress coat does not treat. Just use Prime, it also contains the stuff for the slimey coat to protect the fish. With Prime you will still see a reading unless you use Seachem kits, but it will be non-toxic if you continue to treat and follow their instructions.

So you completely changed the filter, you deep vacuumed the gravel and removed around 95% of the water from your tank?! You can't keep doing that when the tank looks dirty. You probably did start a mini-cycle which will make the tank cloudy due to a bacteria bloom. Try to just leave you tank alone for 2 weeks and only do 25% water changes at the most and continue with the prime. After this you can do larger water changes (up to 50%) but vacuum as stated above. You should put the fish back in, because without them your tank will not have the ammonia needed to complete the cycle. Just make sure you acclimate them slowly by placing them in a bag (bag in the tank) and adding water from tank into the bag every 5-10min until you have a 50/50 mix.

Good luck.
 

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Stress coat is worthless if I remember right. It detoxifies chlorine but most cities now use chloramine. What remains is the amine part which is actually ammonia which stress coat does not treat.
Stress Coat does actually treat both chlorine and chloramine.
 

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Either I am thinking about another product or they recently changed it. One of the chlorine removers/water conditioners had to be used in conjunction with another product like Ammo-lock in order to detoxify the ammonia from chloramines.

Anyhow, reguardless of what conditioner you use, make sure it treats both!
 
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