View Full Version : Very Frustrated

04-19-2009, 07:16 PM
I don't have a clue whats going on with my cycle. I've added used filter media and haven't cleaned a thing. As of last night my ammonia dropped to 2ppm but this morning it was about 4ppm. My nitrites have never spiked but my nitrates go up, AND down. Last night nitrates were about 20ppm, now they are at 5ppm. I don't get it.

I've had the used filter media in there for a little over a week. Used pure ammonia to start the cycle. With the used filter media I should have seen at least a drop in the ammonia level. Any ideas on what is going on?

04-19-2009, 07:22 PM
We need to know more about the tank. Size? Fishless or Fishy cycle?

04-19-2009, 07:24 PM
Fishless, 30 gallon

04-19-2009, 07:29 PM
Not possible to have ammonia rise unless you have something decaying in the tank or you have added another source of ammonia?

04-19-2009, 07:32 PM
Thats what I don't get. If anything my ammonia should be really low, I have the new filter media and used filter media in my Whisper 40. Tank has gone from cloudy to clear cloudy to clear about 3 times. I have no clue why my ammonia hasn't come down yet, and my nitrites never spike. My filter sponges look ''dirty'' like bacteria is growing on them.

This is really frustrating why I can't get it to drop.

04-19-2009, 07:36 PM
Something is wrong here, just doesn't make any sense. Was the established filter media very dirty?

I don't really have any ideas for you, sorry. Hopefully one of our other members will have some idea.

04-19-2009, 07:37 PM
No the established filter media was clean looking, and wasn't squeezed out when they took it out of the tank at my LFS. It now looks darker then before with one or two black-ish spots.

04-19-2009, 07:40 PM
Stumped me on this one unfortunately. I'm sure someone else more knowledgeable will have some better ideas.

04-19-2009, 07:42 PM
Dam ok. Its been over a week so i should have clearly seem some droppings in the ammonia with new/used filter media.

04-19-2009, 07:46 PM
Well keep adding your ammonia as needed. The filter media changes you describe have me worried a bit.

04-19-2009, 07:47 PM
What should they look like? Its just darker in color like something is living in the space

04-19-2009, 07:48 PM
Well the change in color is just odd, I don't understand why it would do so.

04-19-2009, 07:50 PM
Could it be from the carbon thing?

Theres a spot for the sponge and this little white baggy thing, I think its carbon inside of it.

Edit: its called a bio bag.

Its a Whisper Series 40

04-19-2009, 07:56 PM
Ahhhh, carbon is the problem. Remove the carbon, it is stalling your cycling attempts. There is no need for carbon in a "normal" tank.

04-19-2009, 07:57 PM
Omg I'm about to rage, how long after I remove that you think it will start to drop.

Ok, threw out that dam bio bag that has been killing my cycle and making me crazy. Hopefully that will help it out.

04-19-2009, 08:03 PM
Should start helping out immediately. I think you'll be back on track now.

04-19-2009, 08:05 PM
Thank god, i was actually getting pissed lol.

04-19-2009, 11:37 PM
ammonia levels reading the same; 2-4ppm
nitrites: 0ppm
Nitrate spiked again: 10-20ppm

04-20-2009, 10:32 AM
Stay on top of the readings and it should be fine.

04-20-2009, 10:34 AM
Ya. Just did all except nitrate (lack of time needed to do that)

Ammonia 4ppm
Nitrite .5ppm

Nitrate would probably be around 20-30ppm, thats where it has been

Jv Torres
04-24-2009, 01:40 PM
i also dont get it,
maybe theres something decaying? :14:

04-24-2009, 01:49 PM
Do you have live plants in the tank?

04-27-2009, 03:13 PM
What test kit are you using? Could the results be suspect? Nitrate doesn't go away on its own, it only accumulates.

It sounds like there is/was rotting organic material on the filter.

At any rate, since you now have nitrites, things are moving ahead very quickly. Let the ammonia drop to 2-3 and keep adding smaller amounts.

04-27-2009, 08:10 PM
Ok, im getting completely used filter media from a tank thats been around for a year +. So, I'm going to drain the tank, clean the substrate, and fake plants and what not then fill with tap water, condition and get the media and a couple fish tomorrow. Sound right?

04-27-2009, 08:16 PM
No - dont add fish yet

It'll take a day or two for your tank to cycle with used media

04-27-2009, 08:34 PM
There won't be any source for ammonia, so I have to. The tank is completely empty right now, no water, substrate, decorations- anything. I'm cleaning everything, putting completely new water and clean everything back in, dechlorinate, then wednesday (not tomorrow sorry) I will get the filter media/fish.

04-27-2009, 09:01 PM
Add liquid ammonia bought at a fish store. It cost me $1.49 for like a gallon at walmart

A lot cheaper, and safer than adding fish

04-27-2009, 09:02 PM
I'd rather just put two cheep feeder goldfish in there to make sure its good to go. And just test readings daily. My last fishless cycle took a major dive.

04-27-2009, 09:11 PM
Goldfish are a poor selection for that. You'd be better using a hardier fish.

Ammonia would be cheaper, easier and more humane.

But hey, its your tank do what you want with it

04-27-2009, 09:14 PM
The filter media has been seasoned for more then a year, judging by the size of the pleco/frog in the tank, probably about 2 years, plenty of ammonia\/nitrite eating bacteria on it, I can't see any problems happing. Many people here do it.

04-27-2009, 10:01 PM
Ok, so after the complete water change, cleaning everything my Ammonia level is at 0-.25ppm!!!! The only concern is this. When I did the complete change, I couldn't completely get all the water/''gunk'' on the bottom. Should I clean my substrate heavily to get it out? Or leave it? What should I do?

04-28-2009, 03:45 AM
Have you tested your tap water for ammonia? What kind of substrate is it? Some of the substrates for plants have organic matter in them that decays and will cause an ammonia spike until the cycle establishes itself.

04-28-2009, 10:12 AM
Ya I did yesterday, came back at 0. I think once I get the used media in there, I'm going to degravel it and clean the hell out of the gravel again. As for the gravel, its just normal riverbed looking pebbles

04-28-2009, 10:15 AM
Just tested tank. At .25ppm. Not to worried becuase when I did clean out everything, I couldn't get all the stuff on the bottom of the tank because my vac wouldn't take it. What I'm going to do is: take the fish net, scoop out the gravel then let the water sit for about 15 minutes while I'm cleaning the gravel so all particles settle again, then vac the bottom where debry is.

04-28-2009, 12:17 PM
Ok, threw out that dam bio bag that has been killing my cycle and making me crazy. Hopefully that will help it out.

He said it was your CARBON filter stalling the cycle, not your biobag.

Biobags and carbon filters are two completely different things.

Carbons filters are full of carbon. Carbons binds just about everything, and thus makes a decent filter for fish if you aren't dosing meds or fertilizers that would also get absorbed.

Biobags are bags full of porous material. The pores offer additional surface area for your beneficial bacteria to colonize. Biobags offer the perfect surface for the bacteria you're growing to colonize. Carbon removes the ammonia that triggers to colonization of this bacteria. A biobag is a good thing to use during a cycle because it gives your bacteria lots of surface to grow on.

Ok, so after the complete water change, cleaning everything my Ammonia level is at 0-.25ppm!!!! The only concern is this. When I did the complete change, I couldn't completely get all the water/''gunk'' on the bottom. Should I clean my substrate heavily to get it out? Or leave it? What should I do?

If you did not have fish in there, there should be nothing on the bottom of your aquarium. If there is, either someone put it there, or it fell into the tank.

What I'm going to do is: take the fish net, scoop out the gravel

Fish nets were made for netting fish, not gravel. Fish are much lighter than gravel, and don't have all the rough edges. Fish net material is usually pretty thin and a little fragile. I would personally use your hand or a cup to avoid damaging the net.

If your ammonia readings are rising on their own, something IS producing it inside your aquarium. You say you have gunk on the bottom. Most likely whatever you're doing to produce that gunk, and that gunk itself, is what's triggering the fluctuating ammonia levels. Did bugs fall into your aquarium and get sucked up into the filter? They would decompose and produce ammonia.

Unless you set your aquarium up inside of a gas chamber, there's no way ammonia can just be getting into the water on its own. You have something organic in your water. If nothing fell into the tank, and you haven't purposely put anything organic inside of it, then either you got your gravel second hand and it already had organic debris stuck in it, or your established filter media has something decomposing inside of it at a rate the bacteria in that 1 piece of filter alone can't handle. It takes a fair bit of liquid ammonia to raise the level 1ppm in a 10gal tank, so whatever you have going on with your tank, there's a lot of decomposition going on somewhere.

The other possibility is that you didn't set up your established gravel/filter fast enough and all the bacteria died, meaning you still have all the organic mulm from the last tank, but all the bacteria that was controlling it has died off and can no longer help you.

The only situation that can, in theory, produce a random increase of ammonia concentration without an organic or administered source would be if your water evaporated but your ammonia stayed in solution, meaning there was less water to dilute the ammonia that was already in there, meaning a higher concentration in the overall solution. I don't think this is a realistically achievable scenario though.

04-28-2009, 01:28 PM
Should have been more clear. The tank I got used with the gravel and filter. Forgot to clean the gravel when I put it in the first time. Cleaned it all yesterday but I couldn't get all of the ''gunk'' on the bottom. I couldn't get it all the gunk because there wasn't enough water to get it out with the vac or a bucket. So today to get all of it out, going to take the gravel out, wash it again as I'm washing it I'll let all the stuff settle again and then vac it out again. Hopefully then all the stuff is out. Probably over the whole 48'' theres maybe 1 inch of stuff on the bottom throughout the entire tank. I want to have the entire tank clean because tomorrow I am getting the used bio bag and filter sponge to throw in my filter. The tank it's coming from has a albino frog and a pleco in it and it's been developed for about 2+ years I'm guessing. Plenty of bacteria in there.

05-01-2009, 08:16 PM
Used media has been in there since wednesday...Added ammonia to about 1-2. Still at one ppm. I don't get it... GR

05-01-2009, 08:38 PM
do a 50% water change to bring the ammonia down to .5 and get some fish for a fish in cycle. some people will slam me for this. but rmember its your chioce not theirs. you will be happier if you have some fish to watch instead of an empty tank. just keep the ammonia below 1ppm so there is not to much stress on the fish and they will be fine!

05-01-2009, 11:07 PM
Did the water change and got two gouramis