Am I Sabatoging Cycling??

TroyMadden

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Hi all, I am attempting to do a fish-less cycle using ammonium hydroxide aqueous solution. The ammonia level has been at 2-3ppm for about a month now, there has been very little reduction in ammonia, still no sign of nitrites, no increase in nitrates. It's a 55 gallon tank, I added Tetra Safe Start a couple weeks ago, did not seem to work. I'm wondering if having the LED light on (white during day, blue at night) is preventing it from cycling? Esp the blue light, I wonder if it has significant ultraviolet component that may be killing the beneficial bacteria before they can become established?
 
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TroyMadden

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Hi,

what is pH? and temp.

I find that raising temp to 86 while cycling has proved very benificial.
Hi, Temp is 78, PH is 7.6. I have green algae growing, and it smells like a healthy aquarium (LOL), I cant believe it's taking so long....I tore it down to clean everything after 10+ years, I guess I cleaned too well!
 

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Hi all, I am attempting to do a fish-less cycle using ammonium hydroxide aqueous solution. The ammonia level has been at 2-3ppm for about a month now, there has been very little reduction in ammonia, still no sign of nitrites, no increase in nitrates. It's a 55 gallon tank, I added Tetra Safe Start a couple weeks ago, did not seem to work. I'm wondering if having the LED light on (white during day, blue at night) is preventing it from cycling? Esp the blue light, I wonder if it has significant ultraviolet component that may be killing the beneficial bacteria before they can become established?
You say no increase in nitrates. Does that mean you are seeing some nitrates?

I will ask a few questions so we will be on the same page before I start suggesting what to do to get this cycle moving.

Is the ammonia reading you are getting right now from the original ammonia you added or has it been going down but then stopped processing it?
 

FinalFins

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Also, blue light at night isnt a good idea. Fish can see blue lights. If you want to view fish at night a red light is much better.
 
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TroyMadden

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I will take your advice and raise the temp. Thanks!
You say no increase in nitrates. Does that mean you are seeing some nitrates?

I will ask a few questions so we will be on the same page before I start suggesting what to do to get this cycle moving.

Is the ammonia reading you are getting right now from the original ammonia you added or has it been going down but then stopped processing it?
You say no increase in nitrates. Does that mean you are seeing some nitrates?

I will ask a few questions so we will be on the same page before I start suggesting what to do to get this cycle moving.

Is the ammonia reading you are getting right now from the original ammonia you added or has it been going down but then stopped processing it?
I have had about 2.5ppm nitrates since I set it up, I was thinking it was in the already used gravel, or in my tap water.
The ammonia reading is from what I added, it may have dropped slightly from 3ppm, to 2.5, but then I have changed some water to clean out the algae, so that would reduce it.
 

mattgirl

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Hi, Temp is 78, PH is 7.6. I have green algae growing, and it smells like a healthy aquarium (LOL), I cant believe it's taking so long....I tore it down to clean everything after 10+ years, I guess I cleaned too well!
If I am understanding this correctly. This tank was up and running for 10 years. I am assuming you totally broke it down. You would have had to basically sterilize everything to kill off all the bacteria if it isn't processing ammonia now. Is it possible that you used something to clean the tank that didn't get rinsed well enough and that something is still killing off or preventing new bacteria to grow and thrive now?

I have had about 2.5ppm nitrates since I set it up, I was thinking it was in the already used gravel, or in my tap water.
The ammonia reading is from what I added, it may have dropped slightly from 3ppm, to 2.5, but then I have changed some water to clean out the algae, so that would reduce it.
This is a strange one. You said you have changed a bit of the water. How much and how often are you doing this? The cycling process tends to use up the mineral present in our tap water and need to be replaced. A big water change (75% or even more) may get this cycle moving forward.

If you have been topping off evaporated water during all this time are you adding a water conditioner to the new water.

If you will, please run the tests on your source water so you can get a baseline on the water you will be using for water changes.

How are you running your tests? Strips or liquid testing solutions?
 
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TroyMadden

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If I am understanding this correctly. This tank was up and running for 10 years. I am assuming you totally broke it down. You would have had to basically sterilize everything to kill off all the bacteria if it isn't processing ammonia now. Is it possible that you used something to clean the tank that didn't get rinsed well enough and that something is still killing off or preventing new bacteria to grow and thrive now?


This is a strange one. You said you have changed a bit of the water. How much and how often are you doing this? The cycling process tends to use up the mineral present in our tap water and need to be replaced. A big water change (75% or even more) may get this cycle moving forward.

If you have been topping off evaporated water during all this time are you adding a water conditioner to the new water.

If you will, please run the tests on your source water so you can get a baseline on the water you will be using for water changes.

How are you running your tests? Strips or liquid testing solutions?
Yes I broke it all down, I had to replace the top frame on the tank so I tore it all down, cleaned everything. I used a citric acid cleaner to remove the scale and scum. Rinsed the gravel with tap water. Algae survived, and some tiny snails, so why not bacteria?
This is strange isn't it?? I have had salt tanks, discus tanks, and this is really starting to puzzle me. I did a couple 5 gallon changes so I could clean the algae out. Doing another now. I'm using API tap water conditioner, same as I have for years. I'm using API liquid tests. Even bought a new kit, I thought maybe the old one was no longer accurate. I put all new decorations, plastic plants, ceramic and resin decorations, I'm wondering if something toxic in them? I soaked them overnight and rinsed them before I put them in the tank.

Oh, I am aerating also.
 

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This is a strange one. When it comes to algae and snails I think they along with roaches could survive even if all other living things on earth were eradicated. :)

Did you also replace your filter or at least all the media in it? If that is the case you basically started from scratch but that still doesn't explain why the cycle doesn't seem to be even starting. Of course you already know that but this is the way I brainstorm while trying to get to the bottom of a problem.

I think if it were me I would change out most of the water. Once done I would dose the ammonia up to 2ppm and dump in an appropriate size very well shaken bottle of Tetra Safe Start plus. Test the ammonia level daily and try to keep it up to 2ppm for 2 weeks.

If the ammonia is going down during this time you will know that the TSS+ is working. If after a week the ammonia is still holding at the original 2ppm we will have to dig deeper into the problem.
 
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TroyMadden

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This is a strange one. When it comes to algae and snails I think they along with roaches could survive even if all other living things on earth were eradicated. :)

Did you also replace your filter or at least all the media in it? If that is the case you basically started from scratch but that still doesn't explain why the cycle doesn't seem to be even starting. Of course you already know that but this is the way I brainstorm while trying to get to the bottom of a problem.

I think if it were me I would change out most of the water. Once done I would dose the ammonia up to 2ppm and dump in an appropriate size very well shaken bottle of Tetra Safe Start plus. Test the ammonia level daily and try to keep it up to 2ppm for 2 weeks.

If the ammonia is going down during this time you will know that the TSS+ is working. If after a week the ammonia is still holding at the original 2ppm we will have to dig deeper into the problem.
My filter is a Magnum 350 canister, there are two sponges on the intake and gravel in the canister for media. So yes, I basically started from scratch, as I cleaned the sponges and the gravel. The tank was down for a few days so I didn't think the bacteria would survive anyway. If I had it all to do aver again I would do it differently and try to save the bacteria. If it doesn't cycle soon I will do a major water change and get some TSS.
 

mattgirl

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Is the gravel in your canister the only media in it? I don't know much about canister filters as I have always used HOB and sponge filters.

I suppose if this tank was up and running for 10 years and this is the filtration on it then it must work but I always thought there should be some type of sponge media in there. I would think there would need to be both mechanical and bio media in it for it to work at its full potential.
 
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TroyMadden

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Like mattgril said, did you keep the good bacteria [BBB] from your filter media alive or did you start a new filter media?
I cleaned the sponges pretty thoroughly and also the gravel in the canister so I guess I killed it. My bad...

Is the gravel in your canister the only media in it? I don't know much about canister filters as I have always used HOB and sponge filters.

I suppose if this tank was up and running for 10 years and this is the filtration on it then it must work but I always thought there should be some type of sponge media in there. I would think there would need to be both mechanical and bio media in it for it to work at its full potential.
I figured the sponges provide mechanical filtration + a good place for bacteria to call home, and the gravel inside the canister would be another good place for bacteria, much like gravel on the bottom of a tank, only with better circulation. It did work for many years, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, water crystal clear.
 
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I just tested my tap water, looks like there is some ammonia , about 1 ppm, 0 nitrite, about 3 ppm nitrate. Ph about 7.7, total hardness 120 (medium), Buffering capacity 240 (high)
 

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I just tested my tap water, looks like there is some ammonia , about 1 ppm, 0 nitrite, about 3 ppm nitrate. Ph about 7.7, total hardness 120 (medium), Buffering capacity 240 (high)
Not perfect but not too bad. The ammonia shouldn't cause a problem. After the cycle is complete even a 50% water change would only add .5 ammonia to the tank. Prime will detox that amount long enough for the bacteria to take care of it.

More and more folks are seeing an ammonia reading. I have to think it happens when water companies start adding chloramines instead of just chlorine to the water.

At least you should be able to keep a stable PH so all in all good readings.
 
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TroyMadden

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Not perfect but not too bad. The ammonia shouldn't cause a problem. After the cycle is complete even a 50% water change would only add .5 ammonia to the tank. Prime will detox that amount long enough for the bacteria to take care of it.

More and more folks are seeing an ammonia reading. I have to think it happens when water companies start adding chloramines instead of just chlorine to the water.

At least you should be able to keep a stable PH so all in all good readings.
Thanks mattgirl! I decided to increase the temp into the 80's and threw in a couple pinches of fish food to see if I can kick-start this thing
 
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After over 6 weeks of failing to cycle my tank without fish, I took a chance and ordered 2 large cycled sponges, and 8 African Cichlids to arrive simultaneously. While waiting for them to arrive I did a 90% water change to minimize the 3ppm ammonia in the tank. Put the fish and sponges in Thursday the 25th, they are Thriving so far, ammonia levels read about .25-.5 with my API test kit, but to be honest, as happy and hungry as the fish are, I wonder if I really have that much ammonia. Did a 40% water change yesterday, everything looking good so far. Except for the two huge sponges in my tank, as soon as the tank is stable I'm going to try and "transplant" the bacteria to smaller sponges and into some bio-media in my canister.
 
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