20 Gallon Tank Cycling

Lae12

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I have had some problem with my tank. I’m cycling a 20 gallon tank and only cycles out 2 ppm of ammonia in 24 hours. I have been cycling for 50 days and I have already had a nitrite spike and it has went to zero but my ammonia won’t go down. I have nitrates as well. My tank is 64 degrees it’s for a cold water species and ph is at 8. I had to do a water change yesterday because my nitrates were at 160and now they are at 40. My tap water has no traces of ammonia nor nitrites or nitrates. I have ordered another filter.

I need some advice because I go back to college in 4 weeks and I have to take the tank with me.
 

JenC

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Welcome to Fishlore

You say it's clearing 2 ppm of ammonia in 24 hours. Depending upon your stocking plan that might be fine. What will go in the tank?

You should only add more ammonia when it nears 0, max once per day. Are you letting it fall to 0 in between doses?
 
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Lae12

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Yes, I’m going to keep an axolot and no I haven’t let it fall to zero
 

SaltyPhone

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I’d let it simmer until you move. Being sure to throw your media and whatever substrate you have in a bucket of the tank water. Set it back up throw a little ammonia in there and see where you’re at.

Welcome aboard btw!
 
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JenC

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Yes, I’m going to keep an axolot and no I haven’t let it fall to zero
That's the issue. You only want to redose ammonia after the last dose was converted, letting it fall to near 0 in between doses. You're probably cycled and don't know it.

Start with 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite for a clean test, then dose to your target ammonia level (typically 2-3 ppm). Check it 24 hours later. If both ammonia and nitrite are 0 then you're done. Keep dosing ammonia to 1 ppm daily to keep the cycle strong until you stock, doing a huge water change just before adding fish.
 
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Lae12

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That's the issue. You only want to redose ammonia after the last dose was converted, letting it fall to near 0 in between doses. You're probably cycled and don't know it.

Start with 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite for a clean test, then dose to your target ammonia level (typically 2-3 ppm). Check it 24 hours later. If both ammonia and nitrite are 0 then you're done. Keep dosing ammonia to 1 ppm daily to keep the cycle strong until you stock, doing a huge water change just before adding fish.
Okay should I wait till hits zero and then add 4 ppm of ammonia or should I do a large water change now and dose it
 

Momgoose56

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I have had some problem with my tank. I’m cycling a 20 gallon tank and only cycles out 2 ppm of ammonia in 24 hours. I have been cycling for 50 days and I have already had a nitrite spike and it has went to zero but my ammonia won’t go down. I have nitrates as well. My tank is 64 degrees it’s for a cold water species and ph is at 8. I had to do a water change yesterday because my nitrates were at 160and now they are at 40. My tap water has no traces of ammonia nor nitrites or nitrates. I have ordered another filter.

I need some advice because I go back to college in 4 weeks and I have to take the tank with me.
You could turn your tank temp up to 78 until it cycles. Then let it cool before adding fish. Bacteria will multiply faster in warm water.
 

JenC

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Bad news it didn’t cycle 2 ppm after water change? Any andvice ?
It sounds like it needs some more time.

Just to recap: ammonia and nitrite were 0, you dosed ammonia to 2 ppm how long ago, and how do things look now?

As suggested, temporarily raising the temp should help expedite things. 82°-84° F is what's typically recommended but anywhere above ~77° F should help.
 
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Lae12

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It sounds like it needs some more time.

Just to recap: ammonia and nitrite were 0, you dosed ammonia to 2 ppm how long ago, and how do things look now?

As suggested, temporarily raising the temp should help expedite things. 82°-84° F is what's typically recommended but anywhere above ~77° F should help.
Was dosing my tank up to 4ppm of ammonia and I had a nitrite spike and it went to 0. Yet my ammonia levels would not go down passed 2ppm and my nitrates were very high and I did two water changes to keep them down at 40. It’s been over 50+ days I didn’t think it would take this long. Then I did a huge water change and added 2 ppm and it only went down to 1 ppm. Also would the bacteria still keep processing if the temp was raised and then lowered for my animal.
 

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Was dosing my tank up to 4ppm of ammonia and I had a nitrite spike and it went to 0. Yet my ammonia levels would not go down passed 2ppm and my nitrates were very high and I did two water changes to keep them down at 40. It’s been over 50+ days I didn’t think it would take this long. Then I did a huge water change and added 2 ppm and it only went down to 1 ppm. Also would the bacteria still keep processing if the temp was raised and then lowered for my animal.
Was there 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite when you dosed the 2 ppm, and how long ago did you dose it?

Yes, you can turn the heat up now and then it back down later. That won't hurt anything. The low temp is likely slowing things down. It'll happen eventually but I understand your impatience after so long. I'd feel the same way.

If you want to try and cut right to the chase, you can always pour a bottle of Tetra Safe Start Plus into the filter. I was in a rush the last time I fishless cycled and it had my 29g converting 4 ppm in about three days. Some bottles are reportedly duds but sometimes they work great. (Note that water treatments like Prime shouldn't inhibit the bottled bacteria's growth but some other products might.)
 
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Lae12

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Was there 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite when you dosed the 2 ppm, and how long ago did you dose it?

Yes, you can turn the heat up now and then it back down later. That won't hurt anything. The low temp is likely slowing things down. It'll happen eventually but I understand your impatience after so long. I'd feel the same way.

If you want to try and cut right to the chase, you can always pour a bottle of Tetra Safe Start Plus into the filter. I was in a rush the last time I fishless cycled and it had my 29g converting 4 ppm in about three days. Some bottles are reportedly duds but sometimes they work great. (Note that water treatments like Prime shouldn't inhibit the bottled bacteria's growth but some other products might.)
I did it yesterday 24 hours ago and I have using stability
 

Momgoose56

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Was dosing my tank up to 4ppm of ammonia and I had a nitrite spike and it went to 0. Yet my ammonia levels would not go down passed 2ppm and my nitrates were very high and I did two water changes to keep them down at 40. It’s been over 50+ days I didn’t think it would take this long. Then I did a huge water change and added 2 ppm and it only went down to 1 ppm. Also would the bacteria still keep processing if the temp was raised and then lowered for my animal.
Yes, once the bacteria are there in abundance, they will process nitrogen waste. Bacteria replication is significantly slowed at 64° -but it will still replicate, just much slower than at 78+. You don't need a bacteria starter like TSS, you have all the types of bacteria you need in the tank, just not enough of it established- raising temp will encourage faster replication.
 

Momgoose56

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Okay I got heater how long do you think it will take to cycle now?
Well, it sounds like it's nearly cycled. There's really no way to tell. The ammonia oxidizing bacteria (AOB) replicates about twice as fast as the nitrate oxidizing bacteria (NOB).
WAIT-You don't NEED your tank to process more than 2 ppm ammonia in 24 hours for 1 axolotl! I suggest doing water changes to get your nitrates down to around 20-30, redose ammonia to 2 ppm and if your level drops to 0 ppm in 24 hors ands your nitrites stay at 0ppm, your tank is cycled. If not who knows, it may come around in a few days or two weeks. The pH of 8 and the heat will help speed it up though.
 
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