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Results 1 to 8 of 8
  1. #1

    Join Date
    Aug 2018
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    Default Cycle seems halted in my 1 month tank


    0 Not allowed!
    Hi,

    I am at a loss concerning my new tank I'm setting up. I hope to find some help on this forum (which I've been using for a while to gather information). I'm a bit of a science lover, so I measure stuff a lot and try to comprehend what is happening. However, I don't seem to understand at all what happened/is happening at the moment. I also care a lot for my fishes (or anything living in my care) and don't want to torture them with high NH3 or NO2. I hope some of you will stand through the long read of what has been done/happened thus far. Here it goes:

    The story:
    At 2nd of july I started setting up my tank of 53 gallons (200 liters). I put in some (dedicated aquarium) decorations from a renowned aquarium shop (resin), a bonsai tree with slow growing moss glued on it (used special aquascaping glue to tether it to the branches), 3 big plants (between 40 cm and 25cm) and 3 small plants (2-7 cm). I must admit I don't know the names of the plants, but they're all supposed to be slow growing according to the local fish store. I've put in a 2-3 cm bottom of substrate for the plants and covered that with 4-5 cm dark Crystal Quartz 1-2 mm and washed/rinced it twice before adding to the aquarium (both from Dennerle).

    The equipment I use is an external Eheim Experience 250 filter with the filter media it is delivered with, an external heater and 5 colors LED (driven by my own raspberry Pi) in a day/night pattern and an air pump with 2 bubble stones. I also use a SenEye home to measure my parameters and test strips from Sera. I used a primer to make my water aquarium-friendly (dropping CL2 and other toxic stuff) and added a Bacteria start culture to my filter.

    In the beginning (without fish) I had 2 spikes of NH3 (up to 0.056 ppm), which went down after a couple of days. I measured my parameters on the 19th of july and had 0 NO2, 10 NO3 (mg/l) and 0.018 NH3. My pH was quite high (8.24) at the time, as were both the GH (16)and KH (15-20). I went to my local fish store and showed the values. It appeared the nitrogen cycle had started, and we decided to put some fish in to make sure the bacteria could keep growing. We added 11 guppies and 2 cleaning fish (Ancistrus Gold of 2-3 cm each). After feeding the NH3 went up to 0.030, but it came down after less then 24 hours to 0.020 again. Thus far, everything seemed ok and the tank appeared cycled.

    A good week later (28th of july), it only took 10 hours to get the NH3 back down to 0.020 ppm after feeding, so it seemed time to increase the bioload again. I wanted to get Cardinal Neons, and I knew my pH needed to go down for them, so I did a 1/4 water change with distilled water from the supermarket (the same used for ironing and batteries). Later that day I went to the fish store. Since my pH was still 8,1 (changing the water only dropped it temporarily), I went for 1 african dwarf frog (Hymenochirus boettgeri), and 8 fishes that could handle high pH. They advised me to keep doing water changes each week with distilled water to get the pH down.

    This is when things started going wrong. For some reason, my NH3 didn't stop going up anymore. By the 31st of july my NH3 was at 0.056 and I decided to do an emergency water change (1/3) (again with distilled water, this time from the aquarium shop); the guppies' fins were getting damaged. I started adding bacteria to the tank again. My NO2 and NO3 were both not measurable (near or at 0). This dropped the pH temporarily to 7.8, but 12 hours later it was at 8.04 again. My NH3 went down as well, but however keeping the feeding to a minimum (although the frog requires frozen food every 3 days), it kept going up since then. On the 4th of august it was at 0.066 and I did a water change again (this time more then 1/3). This dropped pH to 7.5 (rising back to 7.88 in a couple of hours). NH3 was down to 0.028 again. Now, only a day later, the NH3 is already at 0.044 (and I only fed a little fish flakes yesterday evening) again. I bought some detailed test kits for NO2 and NO3, both reading 0. The values I get from the test strip are: CL2=0 , KH 6, GH >6. I don't know what happened, and why my NH3 isn't eaten by the bacteria anymore. It appears to me there are no more nitrifying bacteria, but I can't imagine what killed them off (except maybe for the distilled water from the supermarket, which I didn't check; could there have been CL2 in it?)?
    My heater is set to keep temperature around 26C (78F), but there is a heat wave in Belgium (where I live), so the temperature of the tank is floating between 27,5C (81.5F) and 28,5F (83.3F)) for the last 3 weeks.

    I don't know how to handle this. I can't keep doing water changes every 2 days, but I don't want my fish to hurt. Do any of you have an idea what might be happening? What should I do? If I understand correctly the nitrifiying bacteria should grow quite fast, but NH3 keeps going up. There are no rotting plants or leaves in the tank (I vacuumed thoroughly in the last 2 water changes), the bioload is not too high (19 small fish < 2cm and 1 frog) for 200 liters of water, ...? There aren't much algae, the plants are doing fine, the water is clear. I lost 1 guppy by now, but this one appeared a bit less active from the start, so it might've been weaker to start with. Guppies' tails are getting damaged more and more (I think from the water quality). Any explanation or advise would be more then welcome. Thanks for reading this far.
    20180711_172928.jpg

  2. #2

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    2 Not allowed!
    The distilled water is what screwed up your cycle and fish. Your cycle was optimally working at the higher PH. Also guppies need harder water, and having soft water stresses them out and leaves them susceptible to getting sick, hence ragged fins. You didnt need to do a water change as long as the ammonia and nitrite was no higher than 0.25ppm. Convert your ammonia NH3 to ammonium NH4 with a water conditioner that binds ammonia like Seachem Prime. Plants will consume ammonium before they consume nitrate, so your fish will be safe. Start doing water changes with your tap water and not distilled water. Dose the whole tank with Prime daily to protect fish from NH3, converting it to NH4. You are testin with a liquid test kit correct?

  3. #3

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    Default


    0 Not allowed!
    Hi, Thanks for your answer. I measure with the SenEye device (which only measures NH3, not NH4). For testing GH/KH/CL2 I use strips and for NO2 and NO3 I have liquid tests. Seneye labels/warns > 0.050 ppm NH3 as dangerously high. I ordered a liquid test kit for NH3/NH4 which will arrive in 2 days. I also ordered a bottle of Seachem Prime, to take the edge off.
    Concerning the distilled water; I was following advice from the LFS to lower the (extreme high) pH of my tap water in order to accommodate more types of fish (which I shouldn't have done, I understand now). If I start doing the water changes with tap water again, won't that shock the fish again (since it will be going up drastically again)?

  4. #4

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    0 Not allowed!
    Did you water change with straight distilled water upon recommendation from LFS?
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  5. #5

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    0 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by angelcraze2 View Post
    Did you water change with straight distilled water upon recommendation from LFS?
    Yes. I actually go to 2 different fish stores in the neighbourhood (1 has best fishez, the other has best plants/invertebrae). 1 advised me to change with distilled water purely (because my ph/GH/KH was so high). The other didn't advise against it (although he did say you should use a mix of tap water/distilled (or RO) water normally). I should have taken the time to get advise from the (internet) community before listening to my LFS, but I handled it as an emergency; my fish appeared to be suffering. I will do a water change tonight or tomorrow (my pH is 7,90 atm, with 0,050 ppm NH3), with half tap water (pH of 8,24 and above) and half distilled. I'll use seachem prime from then on to take the edge off and give the bacteria the time to eat the Ammonia.

  6. #6

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    1 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by Gert View Post
    Hi, Thanks for your answer. I measure with the SenEye device (which only measures NH3, not NH4). For testing GH/KH/CL2 I use strips and for NO2 and NO3 I have liquid tests. Seneye labels/warns > 0.050 ppm NH3 as dangerously high. I ordered a liquid test kit for NH3/NH4 which will arrive in 2 days. I also ordered a bottle of Seachem Prime, to take the edge off.
    Concerning the distilled water; I was following advice from the LFS to lower the (extreme high) pH of my tap water in order to accommodate more types of fish (which I shouldn't have done, I understand now). If I start doing the water changes with tap water again, won't that shock the fish again (since it will be going up drastically again)?
    Going from a low tds to a high tds is fine, and for guppies it's better to bring them back to the same state (when you first stated cycling without distilled water) quickly. A higher tds makes it harder for them to lose minerals.

  7. #7

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    0 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by Gert View Post
    Yes. I actually go to 2 different fish stores in the neighbourhood (1 has best fishez, the other has best plants/invertebrae). 1 advised me to change with distilled water purely (because my ph/GH/KH was so high). The other didn't advise against it (although he did say you should use a mix of tap water/distilled (or RO) water normally). I should have taken the time to get advise from the (internet) community before listening to my LFS, but I handled it as an emergency; my fish appeared to be suffering. I will do a water change tonight or tomorrow (my pH is 7,90 atm, with 0,050 ppm NH3), with half tap water (pH of 8,24 and above) and half distilled. I'll use seachem prime from then on to take the edge off and give the bacteria the time to eat the Ammonia.
    At the very least you would at least mix it, like you said. But guppies are perfectly fine in your tap hardness. It was very smart to keep fish that prefer it :) So pure tap water is fine, the guppies actually do better in hard water.
    GiVe Me sHrEd TiLL i'M dEaD
    -Kat

  8. #8

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    1 Not allowed!
    It appears you've gotten some solid advice on how to move forward up above. I just wanted to add that a pH of 8.2 isn't as bad as some make it sound. :) my tap is 8.2 in the house and 8.4-8.5 outside at the hose. I have quite a range of fish and inverts in my tap water. :)

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