Another Tank Cycle Question- High Ammonia, Not Cycling

12thFins

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I kept glofish tetras for over 2 years in a 15 gallon column tank. Long story short, had a disaster and all fish died. I am now trying to start over. I have been doing a fishless cycle, using fishfood only to build ammonia. It's been 7 weeks and I am still at the following: Ammonia 2-4, Nitrites 0 and Nitrates have been at 0 but finally rose to 5 just today. I've done a few 25-30% water exchanges and have added a small pinch of flakes a few times. I am NOT having trouble getting the ammonia- just can't get it to move on. I currently have a Aqueon Quiet 30 filter, heater is set at 76, also have an airstone. I kept and am still using the old seeded filter. Currently have a variety of live plants (5 total). I've spent the time researching forums on cycling a tank and have a fair understanding of how it should work but it seems something should have changed by now. In the past I did the cheats and added bottled bacteria- Quick Start, etc This time, I wanted to do it right and do an actual cycle but this is frustrating. Any help would be appreciated!
 

imba

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Just be patient, it takes months for a fishless cycles sometimes. I would recommend to go ahead using any bottled bacteria you can get your hands on. It really helps greatly getting the cycle going. I'm not sure why you consider that cheating? that is the right way to do it.
 

billyjwoods

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I am having this same issue. someone told me the plants can mess with cycling. not sure how accurate this is but may help
 

AquaticJ

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7 weeks in, I’d expect to be seeing nitrites. You never saw nitrites?

Answer some questions so we can crack down on this:
-Do you use water conditioner?
-Have you rinsed the filter media in tap water?
-Do you use water conditioner when topping off the water lost from evaporation and doing water changes?

Id stop the water changes unless something gets crazy high, or your PH drops below 6.4. Id also turn the temperature up to around 82.
 
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12thFins

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AquaticJ said:
7 weeks in, I’d expect to be seeing nitrites. You never saw nitrites?

Answer some questions so we can crack down on this:
-Do you use water conditioner?
-Have you rinsed the filter media in tap water?
-Do you use water conditioner when topping off the water lost from evaporation and doing water changes?

Id stop the water changes unless something gets crazy high, or your PH drops below 6.4. Id also turn the temperature up to around 82.
Nope, no nitrites unless they could come and go REALLY quickly. I haven't checked levels everyday but almost. I Use AquaSafe Plus when doing water changes. And use a small bottle of one of the live bacteria a few days ago- can't remember which one. After a 25% water change last night, Ammonia is down to 2, Nitrites 0, Nitrates 5. Another weird reading I'm getting is the PH. My tap water is usually a 8.2. The conditioned tank water has always been about 7.2. Now, If I use the high range PH tester I still get below a 7.4- the lowest for that tester. But if I use the regular PH tester which should read between 6 and 7.6, I get a 6- it's pale yellow not the blue/green of the 7.2 range. As to the filter. After the tank had it's melt down, I did a major- 75% water exchange but kept the old filter. Before I refilled the tank, I rinsed the filter in some of the old water- not tap water. I had hopes that the cycle would pick up from where it left off.

So should I do more water exchanges to get the ammonia down or buy more bacteria? Thanks for the help!
 
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12thFins

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So just about at 2 month mark. I always use AquaSafe Plus when changing water, etc. I did not rinse the old filter in anything other than old tank water before reinserting it. I also add a bag of charcoal with Zeolite behind the filter. This week I added half a bottle of Safe Start bacteria and now the Ammonia is down to .5, still no Nitrites (do they come and go so fast I might have missed them???), Nitrates are at 5. Weird thing Part II, is the PH. Tap water reads at 8.2. Tank water was always 7.2. Now, if I use the High Range PH tester I still get about 7.2- it is lighter than the first reading at 7.4. If I use the regular PH tester, I get 6 where I used to get 7.2. Out of curiosity , I got some API 5 in 1 test strips. PH is 6, Nitrites 0 and Nitrates barely above 0 so about 5. GH is 120 and KH is 0. I also started adding Flourish Excel because my Java fern developed black spots. Just added 1 dose so far.

My question now is if the ammonia goes down to 0, should I try adding fish since everything else checks out or should I still be concerned about the 0 Nitrites?
 

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