Aquarium won't cycle

hatred27

I've had my 75g set up for over 3 months. I have an fx6. (yes I know its overkill) I borrowed one of my friends big sponge filters when I first got my filter set up and squeezed it into the aquarium. I'm doing a fish in cycle with 3 goldfish. My bacterial bloom happened just a little bit after I added the BB from the sponge filter and the goldfish. But I am still having ammonia readings and I've not yet had any nitrite/nitrate readings. And I'm honestly just frustrated and at a loss of words. I feed the goldfish roughly once a day. It's a barebottom tank, so theres really nothing causing the ammonia. I've been adding either stability or quick start since its been set up. I tested my tap water to make sure theres no ammonia, and theres not. So I really don't know what to do. I do atleast 1 weekly water change.
 

Dunk2

I've had my 75g set up for over 3 months. I have an fx6. (yes I know its overkill) I borrowed one of my friends big sponge filters when I first got my filter set up and squeezed it into the aquarium. I'm doing a fish in cycle with 3 goldfish. My bacterial bloom happened just a little bit after I added the BB from the sponge filter and the goldfish. But I am still having ammonia readings and I've not yet had any nitrite/nitrate readings. And I'm honestly just frustrated and at a loss of words. I feed the goldfish roughly once a day. It's a barebottom tank, so theres really nothing causing the ammonia. I've been adding either stability or quick start since its been set up. I tested my tap water to make sure theres no ammonia, and theres not. So I really don't know what to do. I do atleast 1 weekly water change.

What is your ammonia and pH level?
 
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jdhef

The first thing I want to mention is that squeezing a sponge from a cycled tank into your uncycled tank, really will not be of much help. The bacteria clings to the surfaces and isn't likely to squeeze off in sufficient quantity to be of any help. Putting a "seeded" sponge directly into your filter and leaving it there will help cycle a tank.

I guess my big question to you, is what is the pH level of the tank. At a pH of 7.0 and above ammonia in the tank stays as ammonia. But as your pH drops below 7.0, ammonia starts converting into ammonium, and by the time your pH gets to 6.0 all ammonia has converted to amonium.

The good thing about ammonium is that it is far less toxic than ammonia (some claim it is non-toxic). The bad thing is that it is a terrible food source for the ammonia converting bacteria and if you pH is too far below 7.0 the tank may never cycle.
 
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hatred27

The first thing I want to mention is that squeezing a sponge from a cycled tank into your uncycled tank, really will not be of much help. The bacteria clings to the surfaces and isn't likely to squeeze off in sufficient quantity to be of any help. Putting a "seeded" sponge directly into your filter and leaving it there will help cycle a tank.

I guess my big question to you, is what is the pH level of the tank. At a pH of 7.0 and above ammonia in the tank stays as ammonia. But as your pH drops below 7.0, ammonia starts converting into ammonium, and by the time your pH gets to 6.0 all ammonia has converted to amonium.

The good thing about ammonium is that it is far less toxic than ammonia (some claim it is non-toxic). The bad thing is that it is a terrible food source for the ammonia converting bacteria and if you pH is too far below 7.0 the tank may never cycle.
Ammonia 4.0 and PH is 6.0
What is your ammonia and pH level?
Ammonia 4.0 and PH is 6.0
 
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mattgirl

Ammonia 4.0 and PH is 6.0

Ammonia 4.0 and PH is 6.0
As jdhef said and Dunk2 was alluding to your low pH is the main reason this tank isn't cycling. Your goldfish aren't being harmed because the ammonia is actually ammonium. What is the pH of your tap water? You can find your true pH by testing water from the tap after it has set out for 24 hours.

We need to get you pH up but we need to do it slowly as to not affect your fish. This can be done by adding crushed coral. It will very slowly dissolve and as it does it will raise your pH. If the pH of your tap water after it has gassed off for 24 hours is higher than what you are seeing in the tank the crushed coral should raise it up to that level in the tank.

BTW: Your filter isn't overkill. We can never have too much filtration. A bare bottom tank will have less surface area for bacteria to grow on so the more filter media you have the better it will be.
 
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Donthemon

also curious of you water change schedule and amount.
 
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jdhef

Ya know...I have a theory, and this is just my theory but...

If you have a pH that low, all highly toxic ammonia is instead much loss toxic (maybe even non-toxic) ammonium. In a case like that, does a tank even need to be cycled. Possibly just doing th estandard weekly partial water change would be good enough to keep the ammonium levels low and since no ammonia is being converted into nitrites, there are never any nitrites in your tank.

The caveat is that in that as the pH starts getting above 6.0 you will have both ammonium and ammonium at the same time. I don't know at which point that becomes because water temperature also plays a part in when ammonia turns into ammonium. But a believe SeaChem makes a thing you put in your tank that will give you a reading for ammonia (most test kits do not differentiate between ammonia and ammonium as you witnessed yourself.

So I'm not suggesting you do this, since it is only MY theory, but if you are feeling brave...
 
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mattgirl

Ya know...I have a theory, and this is just my theory but...

If you have a pH that low, all highly toxic ammonia is instead much loss toxic (maybe even non-toxic) ammonium. In a case like that, does a tank even need to be cycled. Possibly just doing th estandard weekly partial water change would be good enough to keep the ammonium levels low and since no ammonia is being converted into nitrites, there are never any nitrites in your tank.

The caveat is that in that as the pH starts getting above 6.0 you will have both ammonium and ammonium at the same time. I don't know at which point that becomes because water temperature also plays a part in when ammonia turns into ammonium. But a believe SeaChem makes a thing you put in your tank that will give you a reading for ammonia (most test kits do not differentiate between ammonia and ammonium as you witnessed yourself.

So I'm not suggesting you do this, since it is only MY theory, but if you are feeling brave...
This is an interesting theory and I do think it has merit. I have to think as long as the pH remains at this level no harm will come from the ammonia. As you said, the main concern is what if the pH changes and for some odd reason it goes up to 7 or more. At that point it could become a problem.

At least hatred27 now knows why what is happening is happening. The water changes should keep the ammonia level down some. Since there is no bacteria the ammonium will just continue to rise.
 
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hatred27

As jdhef said and Dunk2 was alluding to your low pH is the main reason this tank isn't cycling. Your goldfish aren't being harmed because the ammonia is actually ammonium. What is the pH of your tap water? You can find your true pH by testing water from the tap after it has set out for 24 hours.

We need to get you pH up but we need to do it slowly as to not affect your fish. This can be done by adding crushed coral. It will very slowly dissolve and as it does it will raise your pH. If the pH of your tap water after it has gassed off for 24 hours is higher than what you are seeing in the tank the crushed coral should raise it up to that level in the tank.

BTW: Your filter isn't overkill. We can never have too much filtration. A bare bottom tank will have less surface area for bacteria to grow on so the more filter media you have the better it will be.


I've never messed with crushed coral. Is it best to put it in the filter?
 
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jdhef

mattgirl, I think even if the pH went up to 6.5 enough ammonium would turn back into ammonia to become an issue. It's kinda weird how there is a point where you can have ammonium and ammonia at the same time, and I don't understand the science behind that phenomonon.
 
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hatred27

Ya know...I have a theory, and this is just my theory but...

If you have a pH that low, all highly toxic ammonia is instead much loss toxic (maybe even non-toxic) ammonium. In a case like that, does a tank even need to be cycled. Possibly just doing th estandard weekly partial water change would be good enough to keep the ammonium levels low and since no ammonia is being converted into nitrites, there are never any nitrites in your tank.

The caveat is that in that as the pH starts getting above 6.0 you will have both ammonium and ammonium at the same time. I don't know at which point that becomes because water temperature also plays a part in when ammonia turns into ammonium. But a believe SeaChem makes a thing you put in your tank that will give you a reading for ammonia (most test kits do not differentiate between ammonia and ammonium as you witnessed yourself.

So I'm not suggesting you do this, since it is only MY theory, but if you are feeling brave...

What do you suggest? A guy earlier in the comments mentioned crushed coral. I'm pretty paranoid about leaving it as is considering I'm wanting to do discus.
 
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jdhef

I think it is best to keep it in the filter if it will fit. But if it won't fit, you gotta do what you gotta do such as just putting a media bag of it directly into the tank or even adding it to the substrate
 
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mattgirl

If you add the crushed coral you are going to have to keep on top of the water changes as the pH goes up and the ammonia gets more toxic or you may need to remove the fish until you get both ammonia and pH under control. Once you do you will need to slowly acclimate the fish to the new parameters.
 
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hatred27

If you add the crushed coral you are going to have to keep on top of the water changes as the pH goes up and the ammonia gets more toxic or you may need to remove the fish until you get both ammonia and pH under control. Once you do you will need to slowly acclimate the fish to the new parameters.

So an update, I ordered a 10lb bag of crushed coral and little baggies to put it in. Although, I'm probably going to put it in my tank and kind of hide it, because I don't have room in my filters. I don't know how much I need to put in there. Would it be worth adding something like baking soda or PH Up if I'm going to remove my fish to help speed up the process?
 
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mattgirl

So an update, I ordered a 10lb bag of crushed coral and little baggies to put it in. Although, I'm probably going to put it in my tank and kind of hide it, because I don't have room in my filters. I don't know how much I need to put in there. Would it be worth adding something like baking soda or PH Up if I'm going to remove my fish to help speed up the process?
I do know some folks use baking soda or pH up but since I never have I can't give advice on their uses. I suspect what you are getting is aragonite. Please correct me if I'm wrong. The best thing about it is it is normally one and done. You put it in once and it continues to work. If it is the aragonite start out with 2 bags with 1/2 cup in each. Situate them in your tank where the most water flow is. Keep an eye on your pH level for a few days. If it raised your pH up to 7 or above you have added enough.

I have both. The finely ground aragonite and the chunks of coral. I prefer the chunks but either will work. The one thing I have noticed about the aragonite is it can temporarily cloud the water if it is disturbed once it is added to the tank. I've not tested to see if it shoots the pH up quickly since I've just experienced it my rinse bucket where it doesn't matter if it does. Since 10 lbs of aragonite is enough to last a life time I just replace it anytime I clean my filters and have to disturb it. I do rinse the coral dust off the fresh before putting it in the filter. Otherwise, since I have fish in my tanks, I fear it would quickly but temporarily spike the pH higher than it should be.

Once the cycle is complete you may or may not have to continue using the CC. Time will answer that question.
 
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hatred27

I do know some folks use baking soda or pH up but since I never have I can't give advice on their uses. I suspect what you are getting is aragonite. Please correct me if I'm wrong. The best thing about it is it is normally one and done. You put it in once and it continues to work. If it is the aragonite start out with 2 bags with 1/2 cup in each. Situate them in your tank where the most water flow is. Keep an eye on your pH level for a few days. If it raised your pH up to 7 or above you have added enough.

I have both. The finely ground aragonite and the chunks of coral. I prefer the chunks but either will work. The one thing I have noticed about the aragonite is it can temporarily cloud the water if it is disturbed once it is added to the tank. I've not tested to see if it shoots the pH up quickly since I've just experienced it my rinse bucket where it doesn't matter if it does. Since 10 lbs of aragonite is enough to last a life time I just replace it anytime I clean my filters and have to disturb it. I do rinse the coral dust off the fresh before putting it in the filter. Otherwise, since I have fish in my tanks, I fear it would quickly but temporarily spike the pH higher than it should be.

Once the cycle is complete you may or may not have to continue using the CC. Time will answer that question.
That's what I got. I appreciate all your help.
 

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mattgirl

That is the same one I have so start out with 1/2 cup in each of 2 bags.
 
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