Late last night, I noticed ich on my neons. I bought medicine, but before I added it I noticed that it was not suitable for frogs and snails. I had some de-chlorinated water handy, so I dumped the frogs and snail in a vase with the water for the night.

Today, I have bought a new, larger tank. I want to put the frog and snails in there while the fish are being treated. When the fish are done being treated, I will move them to the larger tank as well.

However, right now I have two frogs and a snail in uncycled water. How can I safely and quickly establish the new tank?

Some thoughts:

  • I have a neighbor with a goldfish, I could borrow some water, but don't know what might be in their tank.
  • I have bacteria supplement from top fin, but I think that only has the nitrite eating bacteria, not the ammonia eating bacteria.
  • Maybe I just need to go buy a instant starter from the pet store, but am not sure if I am overreacting.

Thanks for the help

3 Answers 3


I agree with Manuki and I'd also add a few other things:

  • The amount of ammonia in the water will depend on how much the inhabitants are producing.
  • If you're feeding very sparsely, they'll produce less ammonia.
  • A snail and some smallish frogs should be relatively low impact.
  • The more water you can put them in the better (for stability and for soiling).
  • Make sure you're testing the water every day too. The initial signs of ammonia poisoning can be subtle.
  • I've had limited success with 'instant starters'. Best thing to do is borrow already established filter media from another healthy tank (although I realise this isn't an option for you).

Finally, it's worth noting that the beneficial bacteria almost exclusively live on the solid surfaces of the tank (filter media within the filter for example) and is not normally free floating, borrowing water from someone else is unlikely to yield you any results and, as noted by Manuki, more likely to cause you issues.


Since the medicated water and the neighbor's water both might bring undesirable consequences, and we don't have another trusted aquarium to provide water, I will suggest that you can mitigate the effects of the new cycle by changing water very regularly, for example 50% every single day. (with dechlorinator)

This way any explosion of ammonia will be managed and the water should remain clean. With a filter and some plants, some kind of cycle should start within some days, but it will take some time before it's established. You can measure the parameters of ammonia nitrites and nitrates very often also and change some water when you notice a spike. Don't overfeed.

The most dangerous thing you can do is to not change the water for an extended period of time, and then the water might become very cloudy very fast as there will be a bloom of bacteria or ammonia. Keep the pure, clean tap water coming in.

tldr; compensate with A LOT of water changes

also a heater might be needed to keep the temperature stable in this scenario


Manuki and Henders have both provided great advice. I was concerned I needed to act fast, so I made an executive decision before they had responded. However, I think the decision I made is reflected in their advice.

I have a bottle of the Top Fin Bacteria Supplement. I put that in the vase to help break down the ammonia that was building up in their vase.

It took many hours, but I got the new 30 gallon tank set up that night. Since I figured since the tank was so large for two frogs and a snail, that if there was any nitrite or nitrate build up it would be relatively small.

I have been testing the water daily since, and have not seen any nitrite build up. Now that it has been a few days, I will add the bacteria supplement to start breaking down the little bit of waste that is now in there.

I hope this helps anybody else.

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