Cycling Issues - Ammonia Stuck
I will make the story brief to catch you up:
Wife buys me a betta
I purchase 30 gallon aquarium, gravel, few fake plants, filter (100 gallon per hour flow), heater, structures
I add betta - betta looks ill for about 3 days, then bounces back and looks great
Bring water to pet store for testing after a week - 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 0 nitrate
I don't believe it, bring more in next night - 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 0 nitrate
I don't believe it, bring more to different store next night - 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 0 nitrate
I buy API Master test kit and test for myself - 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 0 nitrate
Conclude aquarium isn't cycled - decide to go fishless - remove betta from tank
Buy ammonia (straight ammonia - Roundy's brand from Rainbow Foods in MN - no suds when shaken)
Add in 1/4 cup
Use API test kit - way over 8 ppm
Change out water (75% and then 50%). Levels now at about 2 - 3 ppm
Add recommended amount of Prime to remove chlorine
Crank heater (82 degrees F), keep light minimal, keep filter on high flow
Get impatient, buy a shrimp (dead)
Put in, lasts 2 days before smell makes me take it out
Wait 10 days
Add a little more ammonia (now at 4 ppm) - get rocks from in-laws tank (20 years old - running entire time), put in bucket, sink bucket
Wait 5 days
Total Wait Time: 15 days (since starting with ammonia)
Ammonia levels remain at ~4ppm
Nitrites have never registered
Obviously Nitrates have never registered
I need some help as I have never cycled a tank before and don't know timelines besides what I've read in forums. Most say that I should at least see some movement by now on the Nitrites.
Last edited by seabiscuit68; 03-05-2013 at 11:32 PM.
Hi and first of all know you are frustrated but watch the tone a bit, okay?. this is a family site.
Here's your problem: 1/4 cup of ammonia
for a 30 gallon tank, at the most you should have used around 2 Tablespoons (you have to experiment a bit by adding a little ammonia, waiting 30 minutes, testing, then adding more if you need it). A tank that size should be dosed to around 2.ppm ammonia to start. So ... I'd do a huge water change and keep changing until you get the ammonia down to around 2. then wait. when you see nitrites and ammonia also drops to 0, then dose back to 1 (not 2) and dose to 1 each day that the ammonia drops to 0 and you also see nitrates. when both are 0 you should be cycled. do a large water change to get the nitrates down and your ready for fish.
Doesn't sound like the ammonia-oxidizing bacteria are A) doing their job or B) growing fast enough for your patience. I haven't done fishless cycling before, and I'm just learning about it. Are there factors in your current set-up that prevent them from either growing fast enough or oxidize ammonia efficiently?
1) Efficiency of oxidation: Since nitrification of ammonia requires oxygen, one thing you might want to know is whether your water has adequate dissolved oxygen. I suspect a high flow filter with adequate agitation of water surface should provide you that much, but who knows. What about adding air bubbles with an airstone? Another parameter to consider is pH, as bacterial metabolism can be pH responsive. The API master kit comes with a regular pH as well as high pH colorimeter.
2) bacteria not growing fast enough: If all else fails, why not try some of those commercially available bacterial stock (like Tetra Safestart or whatever) that contain nitrosomonas spp and nitrospira spp? After all, cycling just means developing a population of bacteria that are capable of nitrifying your ammonia to nitrates, however you get there is up to you and how you set up your micro-ecology. You certainly have enough nitrogen source for them with 4ppm of ammonia.
Just a couple quick thoughts.
I fishless cycled my 90 gal in 21 days with nothing but ammonia. BUT I started with 4 ppm ammonia and each tank is different. If you bring the ammonia down to 2 ppm with a W/C it might speed things up a bit or it might not, given the excess ammonia you started with and the fact that you fed more ammonia before it dropped to zero. In the meantime all you can do is wait for ammonia to drop to 0 then proceed as I stated above. It will happen.
How did you arrive at the conclusion that the commercially available stock are not "the right bacteria"? Is there a specific family and species you have in mind? I would be interested in knowing how you came to that conclusion. To my limited knowledge, both nitrosomonas spp as well as nitrospira spp are both great for nitrification in aquaria, and the fishless cycling method is attempting to build those bacteria up.
Per the Tetra website, their safestart product contains both. Have you evidence to the contrary - that these commerically available stock do not contain "the right bacteria"?
Last edited by myofibroblast; 03-06-2013 at 02:50 AM.
The problem is you keep messing with the tank. Ammonia at 4ppm is high for a 30 gallon but isn't going to hurt anything, it will just prolong the cycle a bit. If you want you can do a water change to bring the ammonia down to 2-3ppm, but it isn't necessary. If you choose to bring the ammonia down, after, stop messing with the tank! The cycle is a natural process, it will happen, but you have to leave it alone and let it happen. Stop putting things in, stop taking things out. The rocks might help a tiny bit, but if you can get some used filter media from your in-laws it would help much more. Do not add any more ammonia until it registers 0ppm.
When I go fishing I just place a sharp rock in the water and sit there waiting for all the dead fish to float to the top... Kingfisher
Brutal honesty will be shown on this screen.
I think my fish is adjusting well to the four gallon, He's laying on his side attempting to go to sleep on the bottom of the gravel.
Tolerance is a great thing to have, so is the ability to shut up.
I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you.
Can you provide us with references regarding the need for commercially available product to be refrigerated for it to be "correct".
I'm still uncertain what "correct" means. Please elaborate.
Thanks for your advice and the information you provided. I figured I would come and give an update since it has been about a week.
Last Wednesday, I went home, through in the testing chemicals for Nitrite expecting it to be the same light blue as always - instead, it turned purple!
I was excited (obviously) as my cycle had finally started. Now, a week later, my ammonia goes from the 1-2 ppm I dose after work to 0 ppm by the time I get home the next day and test it. My Nitrite is sky high (and I don't think will ever go down fully as I continue to does the ammonia), and my Nitrate is > 80 ppm.
I am pretty sure that means I am fully cycled. I plan to do a 75 - 90% water change tonight or tomorrow night to bring down the Nitrite and Nitrate, and then go shopping for some fish!
I am planning on putting in about 5 tetras (Cardinal I think), maybe 3 Platties, 1-2 Otto catfish, 5 rasboras and then the Male Betta that I started with...
If my Betta decides to eat the other fish, well then I guess he made his choice and he wants to live in a small bowl without a filter or heater - he just isn't a great decision maker haha!
Any other suggestions for fish? I haven't bought any yet. Will the Otto's eat poop as well as algae and leftover food?