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Last Online:05/24/2015
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About Me
About Me: Hundreds of fish and 25-30 tanks, depending :) Freshwater livebearers, cichlids, angels, killis, mollies, swords, rainbows, many others.
Registered Endler Breeder/Keeper
POTM winner August 2013, July 2014

Pets are a commitment. Pets are forever. Pets are part of your family. Don't forget, their lives depend on you.

Fish-in cycling
(pulled from one of the many places I posted instructions, each written for the particular situation, the initial tank flushing may not be necessary)

What you're doing is fish-in cycling, not a recommended practice, a tank should be cycled before adding fish. Cycling sets up a portion of the nitrogen cycle to remove ammonia generated by the fish as they breathe. Bacteria are grown to do this, these bacteria colonies are called the biofilter.

Here's a link to explain what cycling is: everyone-358.html

Here's what happens when you cycle using ammonia, the cleanest way: establishing-nitrogen-cycle-bacteria-2447.html

But you have fish, so the tank will be cycling with fish in it, which is possible and can be done safely if done correctly. If not, the fish will either die or be severely damaged and probably die a few months later.

Your water conditioner has to be either Prime or Amquel Plus, Amquel Plus is better for cycling
because it detoxes nitrite and nitrate in addition to ammonia. Either of these will detoxify ammonia, Stress Coat and most other conditioners remove chlorine, but not ammonia and are useless during fish in cycling. That particular bacteria additive is fine, but not necessary, Prime or Amquel are what will keep the fish from being damaged as the biofilter grows. Safe Start is designed to keep ammonia below 2 ppm to keep most fish from being killed immediately.

Nitrite is less of a concern because salt in the tank from food, etc detoxifies quite a bit of it.

First thing to do is change all the water by doing 5-6 50% changes. Do the first refill in 2 steps, waiting 15 mins after filling to 75% to fill completely, this will reduce the possibility of shock. The rest can be filled completely each time. Use Prime or Amquel for these refills and any in the future.

Ammonia will rise continuously, then nitrite, then both will drop to zero. At that point the biofilter has grown completely and cycling is complete.

Test ammonia daily, when it first gets over 1 ppm, change enough water to get it down to .25ppm or so. This may have to be done daily and may require more than one change; if large changes are done daily, shock won't occur, so 2-3 in a row are no problem.

3-4 days after ammonia begins to rise, start testing nitrite, too. Nitrite will spike to very high levels if unchecked, but again, do large pwc's down to .25ppm whenever nitrite first exceeds 1 ppm.

About 3 weeks from addition of fish, cycling will complete if water changes are done as described,
the tank is kept at about 78F and very strong aeration is provided.

Again, cycling completion is when ammonia and nitrite both test zero.

Do not use any other additives or chemicals of any sort in the tank beside Prime or Amquel Plus. Nothing.

The pwc's are important, high ammonia slows bacterial growth, especially nitrite eaters.

1 ppm is an arbitrary figure to make dosing easy and reduce the amount of water needed for each change and it will speed cycling by a few days.

What Others Say
Thanx Snowman. You really put a lot of effort into that text and I am thankful for it. A lot of users think I don't know anything, but now I do! -I have power 🔮-
Great advice! Thanks for such thorough responses. I have learned a lot from you.
- Guppy stiff white pectoral fin
Snowman is the MAN! Thank you for your help and friendly guidance through my goldfish crisis. I learned a lot about water chemistry, stuff I wish I had known long ago. Very knowledgeable about medication issues as well. Thank you so much.
Most wonderful, helpful and considerate person. Thank you for all of your help. God bless you
Really informative and helpful posts.
Alls I know is you've been my fish veterinarian for a few weeks and the small amount of a purchased question doesn't seem nearly enough for all the help you have given(99% free!) They should put an option on here for "send a gift card,etc. by PayPal"
Thank you so much, hopefully theyll all get better soon!
Snowman has a wonderful talent for answering questions in concise, easily understandable posts. He's a great source of information.
OMG you always give me the BEST most specific advice which is really needed for beginners like me!
- Elicia
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