Cycle not finishing

Gscribble

Member
I have a 15 gal tank, a heater set to 79ish, a penguin 125 hob bio wheel filter (I lost one of the wheel bearings so it’s not really moving, a new one should get here Monday). I have a male betta. I have a light and a volcano bubbler. I have normal aquarium gravel in the bottom. I put a piece of fluval sponge in the intake of the filter after my betta got stuck to it shortly after adding him to the tank. This has been set up since very early January. I have well water and the only issue with it is low ph (it’s at 6)
The long part:
I set up the aquarium and ran it for 2 weeks before getting Slider (the betta). I didn’t know about the nitrogen cycle, I just knew you had to have water sit a while before introducing fish. I added aquarium salt and fluval cycle as directed. I had brought a water sample with me to the LFS and everything tested ok so they sold me the fish. My ph was pretty close to 7.
I kept bringing in water samples (didn’t have my api kit yet), and I kept having ammonia spikes, and then nitrigen spikes. I changed 25% of the water either every day or every other day. At some point a bought an Oto, because my water levels were fine, with the warning that they’re sensitive to changes in water. At one point someone there suggested I buy a live plant that I can’t remember the name of, he said it would help regulate my water. Slider loved it and a lot of needles fell off. The Oto died. Turns out I had an ammonia spike. Removed the pretty much bare plant and got out as many needles as I could, and kept up on water changes.
I finally bought my own api master test kit so I didn’t have to keep running to the LFS.
Last weekend I had a Nitrite spike. I have a hard time distinguishing the purples on the chart, but I knew it wasn’t good. I must’ve done 4 water changes over the weekend after moving slider to a small 2 gal with bottled r/o w minerals and a small air stone. He wasn’t looking good, pale, wasn’t moving much. I swore I was loosing him. Went back to the LFS to see what I could do. They suggested prime, and I started to use it religiously, and thanks to these forums, I knew not to overdo it. He survived last weekend. My levels are kind of borderline (ammonia .5, nitrites between .25 and .5, and nitrates at probably a 3, ph is around 7). I went to LFS and asked what I could do to finish the cycle. They asked if I was ok with some bacteria from one of their tanks. I was, so they squeezed out a sponge filter after deciding which tank would be healthiest for me. I put their slurry in a cup at my house in front of the heating vent. I added a splash of my aquarium water to it, and some ceramic disk things I bought. I let it all soak at least one night, maybe two, before dumping it all in my tank. I also started using half a cap of stability earlier this week. I haven’t changed the water for a couple days now, just adding the prime and stability.
What else can I do? I realize it takes time. Do I just need to keep up on water changes, prime, stability and be patient?
I should add that it’s been 6 weeks since I set up the tank. Sorry for jumping around in my post, please let me know what you need clarification on! Last night it was ph at 7, ammonia between .25 and .5, nitrites at .5 and no nitrates.
I should also add that he was in the seperate tank for only a day, he’s been back in his regular aquarium since. He has gained some of his color back too.
 

mattgirl

Member
Welcome to Fishlore

I just need some clarification. You say the tank has been running for about 6 weeks. How long have you had your fish in there? Were you adding any form of ammonia (fish food, liquid ammonia) before you put your little guy in there? If not then the cycle didn't start until your little guy started adding ammonia.
 
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Gscribble

Member
mattgirl said:
Welcome to Fishlore

I just need some clarification. You say the tank has been running for about 6 weeks. How long have you had your fish in there? Were you adding any form of ammonia (fish food, liquid ammonia) before you put your little guy in there? If not then the cycle didn't start until your little guy started adding ammonia.
I’ve had the fish in for a month or so. I was not adding anything prior to him being in there.
 

mattgirl

Member
Gscribble said:
I’ve had the fish in for a month or so. I was not adding anything prior to him being in there.
Alright then. Your cycle didn't actually start for a few days after he was put in there so we are looking at about 3 weeks. You are still very early in the cycle. With just one little guy in 15 gallons of water it really should be simple to keep both ammonia and nitrites down to negligible levels with water changes.

At one point you said your pH was down to 6. Bacteria struggles to grow when the pH is that low so nothing was happening in the tank during that time. At another point you said your pH is up to about 7. How did you raise the level? We need to stabilize it up to no less than 7 if we can.

Can you tell me all the products you have/are adding to this tank. Normally the only thing you need is your water conditioner but you say you are using well water. In that case there should be no chlorine/chloramines. I know some folks using well water don't use a water conditioner. When I first got into this hobby I too used well water. I still added my water conditioner simply because it also claims to remove heavy metals. I am not sure what that means but I knew I had excess iron in my well water.
 
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Gscribble

Member
mattgirl said:
Alright then. Your cycle didn't actually start for a few days after he was put in there so we are looking at about 3 weeks. You are still very early in the cycle. With just one little guy in 15 gallons of water it really should be simple to keep both ammonia and nitrites down to negligible levels with water changes.

At one point you said your pH was down to 6. Bacteria struggles to grow when the pH is that low so nothing was happening in the tank during that time. At another point you said your pH is up to about 7. How did you raise the level? We need to stabilize it up to no less than 7 if we can.

Can you tell me all the products you have/are adding to this tank. Normally the only thing you need is your water conditioner but you say you are using well water. In that case there should be no chlorine/chloramines. I know some folks using well water don't use a water conditioner. When I first got into this hobby I too used well water. I still added my water conditioner simply because it also claims to remove heavy metals. I am not sure what that means but I knew I had excess iron in my well water.
Ph from the well is 6, it was raised to 7 before I added the fish. I monitor it pretty frequently. I had some ph raising stuff that I can’t remember the name of, it’s a powder, I use a very tiny bit of it. So far, my ph has remained fairly stable thankfully. Although it’s the only stable thing about my tank. I have been using Prime since last weekend, along with half a cap of stability. I use aquarium salt with each water change, per the directions. I have occasionally added fluval cycle, but it’s been over a week since I’ve done that.
 

mattgirl

Member
Gscribble said:
Ph from the well is 6, it was raised to 7 before I added the fish. I monitor it pretty frequently. I had some ph raising stuff that I can’t remember the name of, it’s a powder, I use a very tiny bit of it. So far, my ph has remained fairly stable thankfully. Although it’s the only stable thing about my tank. I have been using Prime since last weekend, along with half a cap of stability. I use aquarium salt with each water change, per the directions. I have occasionally added fluval cycle, but it’s been over a week since I’ve done that.
It is good that the pH is holding steady at 7. Right now it is just a matter of giving the cycle time. Keep an eye on the ammonia/nitrite levels. I am not a fan of adding Prime between water changes when doing a fish in cycle. If there is a high enough reading to warrant adding Prime then it is time to get the numbers down by doing a water change and adding Prime.

If you change out 50% of the water go ahead and add enough Prime for the full 15 gallons not just the 7.5 gallons you are replacing. Once the cycle is complete you will just add enough for the amount of water you are changing. Once the tank is cycled we just need to dechlorinate the water. Actually once the cycle is done any water conditioner will work just as well. When we have ammonia in the tank we want to add enough Prime to detox all the ammonia in the tank.
 
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Gscribble

Member
Update...I’m pretty sure it’s done cycling!!!
 

mattgirl

Member
Gscribble said:
Update...I’m pretty sure it’s done cycling!!!
Congratulations. Keep in mind a new cycle is still fairly delicate so don't over clean anything in the tank for a while longer.
 
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Gscribble

Member
I haven’t changed the water since Monday. Am I ok to do it tonight? I use a gravel vac. I’m still getting needles occasionally from my failed attempt at keeping a plant. It was horn something.
 

mattgirl

Member
Gscribble said:
I haven’t changed the water since Monday. Am I ok to do it tonight? I use a gravel vac. I’m still getting needles occasionally from my failed attempt at keeping a plant. It was horn something.
If you are now seeing 0 ammonia and 0 nitrites you should be able to go to your weekly water changes now. Siphoning the gravel should be fine. You just don't want to over clean decor, glass or filter media.
 
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Gscribble

Member
I should also add that there is some whites clear mucus stuff attached to my air tube. Do I Caleb that off or leave it?
 

RayClem

Member
The clear mucus stuff on your tubing is biofilm. It is part of the bacteria that maintain your biofilter. Once your tank is fully cycled, there will be plenty of bacteria on all surfaces of the tank, but while the tank is still cycling, it is best not to remove it. Wait a few more weeks and then clean it off.
 

Guppy777

Member
I had some ph raising stuff that I can’t remember the name of, it’s a powder, I use a very tiny bit of it.

Might be why your plant died, if you were using api proper ph it says on the lable not for use in aquariums with live plants
 

RayClem

Member
Guppy777 said:
I had some ph raising stuff that I can’t remember the name of, it’s a powder, I use a very tiny bit of it.

Might be why your plant died, if you were using api proper ph it says on the lable not for use in aquariums with live plants
API makes several versions of Proper pH depending upon the target pH level. It is a phosphate based buffer, so some people with planted tanks avoid using it as phosphates can increase algae growth. However, it is not harmful to plants. I routinely use API Proper pH 7.5 in my tanks, all of which are planted.

However, using pH adjusters has to be done very carefully as an rapid change in pH can be harmful to plants and animals.
 
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Gscribble

Member
I use a pinch of alkaline buffer by seachem in the water I’m adding with my water changes.
 

mattgirl

Member
Gscribble said:
I should also add that there is some whites clear mucus stuff attached to my air tube. Do I Caleb that off or leave it?
I agree with RayClem Leave it alone for now. For the next couple of months just stick to water changes. Give the bacteria time to get firmly established.
 

Guppy777

Member
RayClem said:
API makes several versions of Proper pH depending upon the target pH level. It is a phosphate based buffer, so some people with planted tanks avoid using it as phosphates can increase algae growth. However, it is not harmful to plants. I routinely use API Proper pH 7.5 in my tanks, all of which are planted.

However, using pH adjusters has to be done very carefully as an rapid change in pH can be harmful to plants and animals.
I bought a bottle of API proper ph 7.5 but didnt use it because of the warning on the label . Why in the world would they print that on the label if its safe to use ? Would welcome some algae in my tank
 

RayClem

Member
Many people with planted aquariums do not like using phosphate based buffers. Phosphate is one of the primary nutrients needed by plants. However, an excess of phosphates can lead to algae blooms. That is why phosphates are no longer used in detergents; they were promoting algae blooms in natural waterways.

When using a carbonate based buffer, you are providing a source of CO2 for the tank (acid plus carbonate releases CO2). I use a combination of Proper pH 7.5 and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). I add Proper pH 7.5 when I do water changes and then add baking soda if the pH drops below my target level.

A product such as Seachem Alkaline Buffer is a combination of carbonates and bicarbonates, so it can be used to buffer the water to a pH of 7.8 and higher. It cannot buffer the pH to a lower level without using an acid based product such as Seachem Acid buffer in combination with the Alkaline Buffer. A buffer is a combination of a weak acid and a weak base that resists changes in pH due to the interaction between the acid and base. If you use only acid or only base, you do not have a buffer system.

If you are willing to monitor pH daily, you can control the pH to a constant level by adding Seachem Alkaline Buffer as needed. If you are going to do this, I suggest getting an electronic pH meter. The pH indicators are just not accurate enough for control purposes, especially if you are targeting a pH of 7.5 which is at the upper end of the bromthymol indicator test and the lower end of the meta-cresol purple indicator test. However, it is not necessary to target a specific pH level as long as the pH is stable.
 
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Gscribble

Member
RayClem said:
Many people with planted aquariums do not like using phosphate based buffers. Phosphate is one of the primary nutrients needed by plants. However, an excess of phosphates can lead to algae blooms. That is why phosphates are no longer used in detergents; they were promoting algae blooms in natural waterways.

When using a carbonate based buffer, you are providing a source of CO2 for the tank (acid plus carbonate releases CO2). I use a combination of Proper pH 7.5 and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). I add Proper pH 7.5 when I do water changes and then add baking soda if the pH drops below my target level.

A product such as Seachem Alkaline Buffer is a combination of carbonates and bicarbonates, so it can be used to buffer the water to a pH of 7.8 and higher. It cannot buffer the pH to a lower level without using an acid based product such as Seachem Acid buffer in combination with the Alkaline Buffer. A buffer is a combination of a weak acid and a weak base that resists changes in pH due to the interaction between the acid and base. If you use only acid or only base, you do not have a buffer system.

If you are willing to monitor pH daily, you can control the pH to a constant level by adding Seachem Alkaline Buffer as needed. If you are going to do this, I suggest getting an electronic pH meter. The pH indicators are just not accurate enough for control purposes, especially if you are targeting a pH of 7.5 which is at the upper end of the bromthymol indicator test and the lower end of the meta-cresol purple indicator test. However, it is not necessary to target a specific pH level as long as the pH is stable.
I have been monitoring ph daily. I have well water, and the ph is 6 from the tap. I do not have any live plants. We have an acid neutralizer because our water was actually more acidic than 6! I did buy a digital ph meter, but need to figure out how to calibrate it. I should probably research how to do that today.
 
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