10g tank; no nitrites/nitrates after 3 weeks

Discussion in 'Aquarium Water' started by Undefined, Dec 21, 2012.

  1. Undefined

    UndefinedNew MemberMember

    As the title states, I have a 10g tank that has been cycling with 3 zebra danios and I have yet to see any nitrites or nitrates. My ammonia levels have been between 0.5 and 1.0 ppm. I am using API freshwater master test kit to test water every 3 days or so and doing 20% water changes every 2-5 days to prevent ammonia from spiking too high. Also, since I'm getting close to having run this filter cartridge in my power filter for a month; should I change out the filter in a week or keep it in until my tank is cycled? If you need anymore info, just ask.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. WadeEH

    WadeEHValued MemberMember

    There are some more experienced people on here that will give you some more detailed advice, but I can tell you that you do not want to change your filter cartridge for sure. That is were most of your BB will probably be right now. Also you should be doing water chages more often when cycling with fish and using something like Prime to detoxify the ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. It will keep your fish much healthier.
  3. JessiNoel21

    JessiNoel21Well Known MemberMember

    You do not replace filter media you just rinse it in old tank water. That is where the good BB lives only time you ever replace it is when it is falling apart into pieces( which takes 6 to 72 months to do). What are you using as a water conditioner? What type of filter is it?
  4. catsma_97504

    catsma_97504Fishlore LegendMember

    Welcome to the forum.

    Definitely do not toss the filter media! At most, cut a slit and remove the carbon. It stops being effective in 3-4 weeks.

    What is the expiration date on the test kits? If expired you can get false negatives.

    I'd like to ask you to retest the nitrates. But this time beat the #2 bottle against a counter, table or other hard surface. This bottle contains crystals that must be in suspension for accurate results. Then, wait the full 5 minutes for the color to develop.

    If you still have no nitrates then it may be too soon.

    It usually takes close to 8 weeks to cycle with fish. Keep up on the water changes.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 22, 2012
  5. Mrs.Price

    Mrs.PriceValued MemberMember

    You cannot cycle your tank without a slimy filter, the whole point of cycling is to make your filter slimy, that's your Beneficial Bacteria colony that you've been working to build throughout the cycling process. NEVER throw away your filter until it is falling apart, which could take months and months, if you notice impeded filter performance, just lightly rinse your filter media in dirty tank water, but not too thoroughly or you will throw your tank into another cycle! Once your filter is falling apart, place a new one alongside your old one (or run a second filter) for a month before you remove the old filter media.

    (and for the carbon you don't even need to cut a slit, just toss the bag if it's disposable/replaceable)
  6. chevyguy8893

    chevyguy8893Well Known MemberMember

    Good advice already with not throwing out the filter media. I will add that getting the aquaclear 110 sponge filter media and cutting it to fit any open space in the filter will add more places for the bacteria to colonize, and that sponge media holds up pretty well over time. It is also easy to swish around in old tank water to get rid of buildup inside it.

    Also, when the filter media begins to fall apart start seeding a new filter in the housing for at least 4 weeks before tossing the old media.
    edit: last part was already covered :).
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2012
  7. JoannaB

    JoannaBWell Known MemberMember

    Have you measured the pH in your tank? If your pH is 6 or below that could stall your cycle. If the pH is the problem though, do not try to adjust it without finding out more first because pH adjusting can kill fish unless done very gradually.

    However, it could be that you just have a tank that takes longer to cycle. Different tanks cycle at different speeds, and while many tanks would have nitrites or nitrates within three weeks, there is no hard rule that it won't take longer even if nothing is wrong. Patience is the hardest part of cycling a new tank.

    In addition to reiterating what everyone else has been saying "do not change the filter", I have also heard that it is a bad idea to even swish the filter while the tank is cycling - since the filter is where most of the beneficial bacteria live, do not mess with the filter at all for now.

    Good luck! Joanna
  8. bankruptjojo

    bankruptjojoFishlore VIPMember

    Everything above is good advice. I just wanted to add that fish in cycling is the slowest. Get some prime water conditioner if your not already using it.
  9. OP

    UndefinedNew MemberMember

    Top Fin Water conditioner, Aqueon Medium filter for QuietFlow 10 power filter.

    I will cut and remove the old activated carbon tomorrow. I do have a bulk supply of activated carbon and zeolite crystals, the kind you buy to refill a canister filter. Can/should I put some of either of those in the filter after I empty the old stuff out?

    The expiration dates on the test kits are:
    pH, high-range pH, and ammonia: 09/2017
    Nitrite, Nitrate 08/2017

    So those should be good for some time.

    I will re-test nitrates tomorrow after banging the bottle on a table and post results. I do have a few 5-in-1 dip strip type tests left over from testing my tap water for GH/KH. I know those can be off by quite a bit, but can I use them to compare tests against my master test kit?

    As far as water changes, should I go for 10% daily or 20%-30% every 3 days?

    pH is currently at 8.2, tested yesterday. I agree patience is the hardest part, but loosing fish is a close second; already lost 2.

    I haven't done any more than take the top off the power filter to see if any color had developed of the filter.

    I am a little tight on money, seeing as how it is Christmas time and would like avoid buying anything unless it is critical. Is Prime water conditioner any better than what I am using? Are there any brands I should avoid?

    Just a note on my testing etiquette; I am using a sterile syringe minus the needle (my mother, father, and cousin are in the medical field so I have access to lots of medical supplies) to suck up water from the tank then inject it into the glass test tubes to make sure I get exactly 5mL and to avoid having to put my hand in the tank water. Does anyone see any problem with that?

    Thanks in advance.
  10. Aquarist

    AquaristFishlore LegendMember

    Good morning,

    I would suggest that you up the water changes to daily, 50%, and add Prime water conditioner to detox your Ammonia for 24 hours until it's time for the next water change. Keep up with the daily water changes until you have 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrites and under 20 Nitrates (under 40 not so bad). At this point your aquarium is cycled.

    The water changes will not prevent the tank from cycling but it may slow down the process. However, these steps will help to keep your fish safe and prevent Ammonia Poisoning.

    I'm not sure exactly what Top Fin water conditioner does. Below is a link to Prime, it's highly recommended and I use it myself. It's pretty much an all in 1 conditioner:

    The sterile syringes (with needle removed) should be fine. :)

    Best wishes for your tank and fish. Hang in there. It's going to take some effort on your part to keep these fish alive. Once the tank is cycled, life will be much easier on you and your fish.

  11. catsma_97504

    catsma_97504Fishlore LegendMember

    Prime is one of the best water conditioners on the market. It does everything your current product does...plus, it helps the slime coat and will detox nitrogen waste (ammonia, nitrite and nitrate) for about 24 hours.

    Honestly, cycling with fish is extremely hard on you as well as the fish. Most fish will not survive the ordeal...or...the fish die shortly afterwards.

    I would recommend one more purchase. Either a bottle of Prime (about $15 and will last months) or Tetra SafeStart (about $20).

    With Prime you should do daily water changes. And change enough that ammonia and nitrite never go over 1 ppm. This will give the fish a fighting chance at survival.


    Use the TSS. You would do a very large water change, use your current water conditioner and pour the bacteria into the tank. Then sit back for a couple of weeks.

    If you cannot swing one of these products simply continue with daily water changes until you have no measurable ammonia or nitrite; and some nitrate.
  12. bankruptjojo

    bankruptjojoFishlore VIPMember

    yes prime is very good stuff i would say its very high up on the lists of must have items. especially if your doing a fish in cycle. if you do a 50% water change every day using prime your fish well have a better chance of surviving.

    you can also try the tetra safe start. like said you put it in the tank after a huge water change, sit back for a week or two then test the tank to see if it cycled. there is a chance it wont cycle and you will have to start with the daily water changes again. it has worked for a lot of people i just wanted to let you know.

    if you can return the fish you can do a fishless cycle.... idk if this is possible or not.

    like said if you cant afford it then you cant afford it. just keep up on daily 50% water changes using what you have. my guess is youll run out eventually and you have to have some kind of water conditioner so at that time you can get prime. it cost around $12 online and will last longer then other water conditioners.
  13. shellieca

    shelliecaValued MemberMember

    Not going to repeat what the others have said. I just to say when I did my fish IN cycle on a 10g my nitrites didn't show up until week 6 & lasted for 2 wks. So the fact you haven't seen them yet in 4 wks isn't unheard of. My complete cycle took 8 wks.
  14. OP

    UndefinedNew MemberMember

    :( Well one more fish has bought it and I can't, with a good conscience, keep only two danios in a tank. , I already felt bad having 3 in a 10g tank. I guess I'll start a fish-less cycle as soon as I can get the supplies for it.

    R.I.P. little buddies.
  15. bankruptjojo

    bankruptjojoFishlore VIPMember

    If u need any help were here. Sorry u lost another, fishless is deff the way to go.

    Pure ammonia is the hardest thing to find for some people. I found mine at ace hardware if u have one close. But u can use fish food if u can't find ammonia.
  16. OP

    UndefinedNew MemberMember

  17. jetajockey

    jetajockeyFishlore VIPMember

    I'm an advocate for fish-in cycling generally because I know it can be done safely if done carefully, but I do know you can find ammonia at the dollar tree under the name 'Blue Ribbon'. You basically want to look in the cleaning section, find one that is not scented, colored, or lists any surfactants, and does not foam when shaken.
  18. OP

    UndefinedNew MemberMember

    Awesome, there is a dollar tree less than a mile from my house! Hopefully they will have it. Seeing as this thread is going quite off-topic, I'll start another thread when I get the ammonia. Thanks for all the help, you guys are an invaluable source of information.