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Can't Get Out Of A Mini-cycle For ~6 Weeks Question

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by cla001, Mar 17, 2019.

  1. cla001Valued MemberMember

    Hi all,

    Haven't been posting here for a while, but here's the thing I am almost giving up about now...

    I usually run API tests on my tanks at least once a few weeks or more often if I can suspect a problem. So starting probably end of January, two of my tanks started showing ammonia literally from nowhere (#2 and #5). I didn't bother much, because both of those are somewhat overstocked, but both have 2 filters each (HOB and sponge) and normally all it took was a few cleanings and a few doses of Stability to get things back to normal.

    Well, not this time!

    Basically, I've been fighting this since end of Jan and it doesn't look like I made any progress. This is a picture from today below.

    I've been trying to thoroughly clean a filter (of course, in a bucket of water from this tank, not with the tap water!), I've been dosing Stability almost daily, from time to time I was adding Prime directly to help fishies with elevated ammonia levels. Of course, I've been doing partial (25-40%) water changes every 2-3 days, but it looks like nothing at all helps.

    What makes it worse is that tank #3 started showing ammonia too!!! And #3 is probably the most under-stocked tank I have - 13gal with 2 female platies and a bunch of smaller guppies. It has 2 filters as well.

    At the same time my #1 (the biggest one) thankfully is okay and (the biggest surprise!!!) - my #4 (heavily overstocked 10gal) feels great too!!

    That said, I am completely lost. What the this can be? Can it be something in my water that changed drastically over the last 2 months that pushed 3 of my tanks into the mini-cycle spiral?

    I haven't used any antibiotics in any of these tanks, the only chemicals I've been using regularly are Seachem Prime, Seachem Stability and Seachem Replenish during water changes as my water has always been very soft. Also, I don't do any distinction between, let's say, #3 and #4 when changing water - all goes from the same bucket.

    Any thoughts on what can be happening and why I am having these issues in some of my tanks? I am honestly out of ideas...


  2. abarbWell Known MemberMember

    Is your test expired? Can you test tap water?

  3. LucyModeratorModerator Member

    Hi Cla001
    Why isn't the water up to the line?

  4. cla001Valued MemberMember

    Hi abarb, hi Lucy, thanks a lot for replies!

    1) My latest test has EXP 03/2023 on it
    2) Tap water test picture attached (for ammonia only; or do you think I should test everything (ammonia, nitrites, nitrates & ph)?

    3) I am normally using a "25% test method" - instead of 5ml + 8 drops + 8 drops I use ~1.25ml (measuring with a syringe) + 2 drops + 2 drops
    From what I've seen this usually does not affect the results dramatically, if I have doubts, I usually retest with full volume.
    I tested tap water with both "methods" on the pic - both have the same yellow color (so I guess no ammonia in my tap water)

    Thanks a lot!

    Attached Files:

  5. SkavatarWell Known MemberMember

    i do half tests on the ammonia (4 drops) and nitrate (5 drops) tests so that all three will be used up around the same time, since the nitrite test is 5 drops.

    what filter media are you using in the filters?

    what are the GH, KH, and pH? if they're too low, they could be affecting the bacteria colony.
  6. NoroomforshoeValued MemberMember

    !. Take full tests of ammonia, nitrite and nitrate in all your tanks and tap water.
    2. If your not using reverse osmosis water, stop using replenish.
    3. the replenish isnt working so stop using it!, the less junk you add the better!.
    4. Add stress coat and prime, but no more chemicals!
    5. Invest in some filter media, like bio rings, thet never get washed. Make sure to never wash everything at once, if you have to cartridges in a tank, only rinse on a month.
    6. try Sailifert test kits next time you need to buy test kits, there better!
    good luck!
  7. cla001Valued MemberMember

    Thanks everyone!

    I'll run the full battery of tests over the next few days and post the results here then. The last time I ran kh/gh/ph (and this was more than a few months ago), the results have shown very low gh/kh - that's why I started adding a little bit of Replenish every time I do water changes - to slowly elevate gh a little to make water presumably better for livebreeders. I think the last time pH was quite low as well - around 6.2 or so, but I need to re-test now to be sure.

    Most of the filters I use have Matrix in them, with some also having some other media (like Fluval rings, don't remember exactly) mixed with Matrix.
    There are also small sponge filters as a "backup" in almost all my tanks.

    The whole thing looks like something entirely destroyed my bb colonies in those specific tanks, though I can't figure out what could've happened! Just a wild guess as we often have water supply issues where I live (it's municipal water) - could it be that one day tap water might've had a very high level of chloramine (much higher than normal) and my usual 1ml or prime per 10 gallons of bucket water didn't do its job properly and left a lot of chloramine in the water that destroyed bb colonies?
  8. SkavatarWell Known MemberMember

  9. cla001Valued MemberMember

    Do you think I should try (at least in one of the tanks, as an experiment) to slowly add crushed corals or some kind of a buffer to slowly raise a pH? I have always been quite hesitant to do something like this thinking that fish should accommodate to almost any pH, but sudden changes may affect the balance in a bad way...

  10. SkavatarWell Known MemberMember

    give it a try. don't need to add too much, just a small bag at first. just try to get close to 7.
  11. cla001Valued MemberMember

    Just wanted to update everyone here - thanks a lot for pointing me out to a potential low pH issue - it indeed was in lower 6 range (I even had difficulties reading the color properly, but I expect it was around 6.4 or so).

    I couldn't find crushed corals immediately, so I started with one tank and added some Seachem Buffer (dissolved it in dechlorinated water first) in a very small dose (package recommended starting with 6g per 20gal to increase pH, I only put like 1.5-2 grams) to try it out. To my surprise, 1-2 days later that tank didn't read any ammonia, but started reading some nitrites, so it certainly looks like a small change in pH re-started the cycle.

    I gradually did the same in other tanks and they all followed the same pattern - I don't get ammonia readings in any of them now, but still see some nitrites and quickly rising nitrates that I am dealing with by partial WCs.

    I'll update this when hopefully the issue is over, but it looks like low pH was indeed a culprit in my case - thanks again!
  12. Momgoose56Well Known MemberMember

    Limestone works if you can't find crushed coral.