4 Months & Still Not Cycled 29 Gallon Tank

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by BirdMom, Jun 18, 2018.

  1. BirdMomNew MemberMember

    It's been a little over 4 months now & my aquarium still is not cycled...I've used an entire large bottle of seachem stability, I've also added in tetra safe start & have about 20 live plants & some pond snails...I still have no nitrate or nitrite readings at all/0ppm for both.

    My ammonia level was up to 8ppm for a while but I keep it around 2ppm now for the snails safety. 78°F & 7.0-7.5 pH (normally 7.2) hang on the back filter as well as sponge filter 3-4" of gravel, 33% water change weekly, alternate weeks between gravel vacuuming & filter cleaning not going both in the same week.

    My plants are doing awesome now (one of my banana plants has basically taken over the entire tank with its vines & lily pads) & I have a colony of hair algae that I keep under control every other day removing some but am absolutely not bothered by it whatsoever I actually think it's kind of pretty.

    What the heck am I doing wrong?

  2. mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    How often do you add ammonia? If daily does it go back to zero daily? By using the bottled bacteria it is possible that you will never see nitrites. I read a lot of the threads here on this forum and I often see folks stressing over not seeing the nitrite spike and the one thing they have in common is the fact that they used stability.

    It is very possible that your plants are using all the nitrates. I am wondering why you are cleaning the filter, changing the water and vacuuming the gravel. Normally it isn't necessary if there are no fish in the tank. I am assuming you are doing the filter cleaning, water changes and gravel vacuuming because of the snails?

    Hopefully when you clean the filter media you are cleaning it in the water you have removed from the tank after a water change.

  3. FishGirl38Valued MemberMember

    I would say you're stalling your cycle with the water changes. You want to keep ammonia lower for their safety but by now you should already have a colony to safely and naturally take care of ammonia- and it seems you're doing that manually.

    Did you have any cloudiness when you first set up the tank?

    Hair algae but no cycle....hmmmm...are you dosing any ferts? Algae occurs due to excess light and excess nutrients in the aquarium. typically phosphates and nitrates are the cause for this...

    And plants doing awesome with 0 nitrate???? you must be dosing ferts?

    I would say you're cleaning the tank too much, when cycling, one should refrain from doing water changes to let the bacteria naturally run its course. In a fish-in cycle, you should only do a water change if ammonia or nitrite spike...but snails are pretty hardy...
  4. DuaneVWell Known MemberMember

    Having a tank full of plants to start will definitely mess up your cycle.

    Plants feed on ammonia, nitrites and nitrates, so as long as you have a TON of plants in there, theyll be "stealing" ammonia and nitrites from your cycle and any nitrates as well, so you may never show nitrates, thinking you have no cycle.

    Its impossible to know if you ARE cycled and what you can toss in for fish OR if your plants are just helping filter the water.

    Id say if you have that many plants and theyre doing well, start stocking your tank SLOWLY. Keep an eye on the levels as you go and youll know if youre cycled or not when and if you have an ammonia spike.

    Good luck!
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2018
  5. BirdMomNew MemberMember

    When I first set up the tank I did get cloudiness when I added the stability it cleared up within a day or so every time I added the stability.

    I use only seachem products so Prime is my water conditioner and I do use fertilizers I use flourish root tabs I also have Wonder shell calcium supplement in there for the snails.

    Even though the plants in the snails are the only things in there for now and all my snails (their should be 6 in their & they are small, but I've gone weeks without seeing any) the filters and gravel still get very dirty. By the time I clean my Sponge Filter which I use a cup or two of the aquarium water it is covered in yuck.

    My original ammonia source was fish food which I only added three times towards the beginning which got the ammonia up to 4ppm and I just stopped adding it went down to 2ppm for a long time and then bounced up to 8ppm before I decided to lower it back down 2ppm

    I am so tempted to go ahead and throw a fish in there and see how it does but I really don't want to cause any thing to die unnecessarily.

    I'm pretty sure the algae came from the four algae Wafers that my two-year-old decided to throw in there because "the snails were hungry." Since we had no algae issues until after that. either way I actually enjoy the algae. It's easy enough to net out. My lighting is on for 12 hours of the day and off for 12 hours a day it's just an old fluorescent tube light nothing fancy.

    My ammonia level never drop down to zero at one point I did have extremely low readings of both nitrite and nitrate but then it just went down to zero and stay at there the highest I ever had was 0.50ppm & 0.25ppm & that only lasted a couple days. I've never had an ammonia level blow 2ppm even with water changes or using prime.

    So far this aquarium has made no sense to me based on how it's acting.

    The first month & a half was just water and the bacteria I didn't add the plants and until about 6 weeks and the snails came as "freebies" with the plants.

    At first I didn't think the plants were doing well but they perked up but now we're reproducing quite well.

    When the ammonia was up to 8 PPM I had to lower it because the snails shells were starting to look kind of rough.

    If I don't perform water changes the ammonia goes right back up to 8 ppm which is the highest my test kit will last for. I can temporarily bring it down using prime but that just locks up the ammonia doesn't remove it plus we get quite a lot of evaporation which doesn't help the situation.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 18, 2018
  6. SaltySeaLionValued MemberMember

    Do not clean your tank or rinse your filter. The beneficial bacteria need to collect in your filter material to maintain balance and cycle your tank.
  7. DuaneVWell Known MemberMember

    The "yuck" youre cleaning from the tank doesnt mean anything. Its waste, simple as that. It has no bearing on knowing if youre cycled or not. And if youre in the middle of cycling, cleaning the filter is cleaning out the BB thats trying to colonize to cycle your tank.

    12 hours a day is a TON of light, thats why you have algae. But algae isnt necessarily bad. Its a plant, it helps filter the water too and it will pearl easier than any other plants.

    If youre not getting ammonia below 2ppm, then you are not cycled and your plants are not sucking up enough of it. With all those plants in there you might be in for a long ride in the cycle game. Dont "clean" your filter, dont change it out. Just leave it. Keep your ammonia level at an exact level like 2ppm and once it starts going down on its own, then your cycle is starting. Youll see nitrites next and once the BB builds up and starts eating them and keeping them at 0, youre cycled.
  8. BirdMomNew MemberMember

    Question for you all I know that I shouldn't clean my filters as regularly as I do and there shouldn't be any reason they get as dirty as they are with what I have in the aquarium but if I go longer than two weeks without rinsing out one of the filters it gets covered in a reddish brown slime and hair algae for the Sponge Filter & the sponge pre-filter for the HOB & smells strongly of dead fish. So how can I clean the filters but not clean the filters at the same time as I said I do use aquarium water and never ever use tap water when I rinse out the filters.

    I mean you can actually see the filters covered in muck & when I say they're covered in at they really are covered in it it's not just a little dirty they're pretty much filthy by the time two weeks goes past so it's once a month that each filter gets cleaned

    Week 1 would be gravel vacuuming
    week 2 would be a filter wrench for one of the filters
    week 3 would be gravel vacuum again week 4 would be rinsing out the other filter... the water is still slightly Dirty by the time I put the filter back in I don't rinse it till it's clear just not slimy & smelling like it has some type of venereal disease.
  9. oldsalt777Well Known MemberMember

    Hello Mom...

    Bacteria boosters and other similar chemicals are risky. They'll cycle a tank in a day or a year. What you generally end with, is unstable tank water. This is typically due to inconsistent dosing. The nitrogen cycle is supposed to work in a bit over a month. A tank cycled carefully with some hardy fish will give you a steady source of ammonia. And, if you monitor the water carefully, by testing for ammonia and nitrite every day and removing and replacing the water when you're supposed to, the tank will cycle and you'll have a steady, safe water chemistry. The added benefit is, you have fish to enjoy from the beginning.

  10. mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    Are you saying that you don't add ammonia but it still stays at 2 and the only thing you have in there is hitchhiking snails and plants?

    The reason you get so much stuff off the filter is because the snails are very messy. If you have seen 6 there could very well be lots more and they will make a mess of the tank with so much poop. When I got infested with ramshorn snails the water I siphoned while doing a water change was literally black from snail poop and my filters were just as bad. I had no idea that I had so many of them because I had only seen a few of them.

    Even a lot of snails don't explain the ammonia but the snails do explain the slimy filter pads. If you aren't attached to these snail you may want to start removing as many as you can find. Put a piece of lettuce or a slice of zucchini in there one night and see how many snails are on it in the morning. It will give you a good idea as to how many are in there.
    I really wouldn't do this until you figure out where that ammonia is coming from.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2018
  11. snowballPLECOValued MemberMember

    I never clean my filters, absolutely no need to. let nature do its thing

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