Help Cycle patience

newclassic1

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Hey guys,

I've been posting recently on the nitrogen cycle and getting great advice (thank you everyone)

However, I'm currently on Day 29 of a seemingly endless cycle and beginning to lose patience and/or my mind in the process.
Basically, i have the following set up:

3.5G nano tank with incl. Filter system 50G/hr non adjustable flow rate and LED lighting
25w marina heater (temp 28°C)
1.5kg Marina Gravel
1x 25cm plastic soft plant (inexperienced for real plants at moment)
1x small chunk of mangrove wood
API Freshwater Master Test Kit
Seachem Stability
Seachem Prime
Dr Tim's Ammonia (unused)
API Quick Start
Fluval Water Conditioner

At the start of June I began the task of cycling and learning more and more from this forum as I went along. I started with fish flakes as my ammonia source and dosing stability every day. Got ammonia levels to 2ppm but the tank got pretty gunked up before long. Something was eating the 2ppm ammonia as it dropped over a few days to 0.5ppm and i also got a slight reading of 0.25 nitrites early on. I thought i was on the right track. i redosed using a stocking with fish flakes in it to save the hygiene of my tank.

This seemed to work better. I read some forums on substrate and people suggested gravel instead of the pebbles i had in the tank at that time. So thinking ahead (stupidly) to when I'd need to clean the tank I took a risk and scooped out all the pebbles and added 1.5kg of some bright blue marina aquarium gravel which was aesthetically much better and tidier looking.

This upheaval of substrate did cause cloudiness for several days. I tested ammonia and I remember it had dropped down to roughly 1ppm ( assuming beneficial bacteria lost with substrate?)

However, i renewed the ammonia source stocking and left it be. Checked levels and up came the ammonia at 4ppm!!! Bit excessive for a 3.5g tank and i only want to stock a betta. I then received the liquid ammonia from Amazon but I haven't even got around to using the dr tims ammonia as the tank hasn't even reduced the remnants of the fish flake ammonia

I posted about this recently and was advised to do a 50% water change to half the ammonia level. I made sure to condition and temp match my water.

Ammonia dropped to 2ppm. This was last week. I have not put anymore ammonia in the tank since and it's still at

Ammonia: 1.5/2ppm
Nitrites: 0ppm
Nitrates: 10ppm (tap water source has 10ppm nitrates)
Temp: 28°c
pH: 7.5 (never moved throughout)

Very very slow and painful process waiting for whatever is eating or NOT eating the ammonia!!! I even rinsed my filter cartridges in a bucket of tank water yesterday to see if that might speed things up and remove any excess fish flakes that might be reducing filter performance. It's so slow i feel im wasting my time and using up my api testing solution chancing a test every other day.

My question is, after reading extensively about fish in cycles, would I be best to do a big water change to get rid of the 2ppm ammonia, take the plunge, buy the betta and commence a fish in cycle? I know some are totally against fish in cycling and others highly recommend it. I'm eager to get moving. It wont be a massive bioload just one male betta by himself. I can manage daily water changes, strict testing to try keep the ammonia at a minimum and i have purchased prime and stability in the event of any major spikes in ammonia. It might make the whole cycling process a bit more enjoyable and have a purpose.

EDIT: I used the API quick start at the beginning but due to poor reviews i purchased stability and began using that instead.

Any advice appreciated. Thank you
 

mattgirl

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There are those that will disagree with me and that is of course perfectly fine :) It is difficult to cycle a tank this small. It can be done but often folks find themselves right where you are right now.

I actually think one gets a stronger more natural cycle when doing a fish in cycle. You will get no grief from me should you choose to go ahead and get your fish. Whether you choose to move to a fish in cycle or continue fishless you will want to change out as much of the water as you can in this tank first. It may be best to take everything including the gravel out of the tank and rinse it well in the water you have pulled from the tank. By doing this you will be preserving the bacteria that has grown on it. Make sure you rinse your media too. You want to be sure you have gotten all of the fish food you've added out of there.

Once done refill the tank with temp matched and dechlorinated water. At this point you can put you fish in there or if you aren't totally comfortable doing that use your Dr. Tim's ammonia. Only add enough to get the ammonia level up to 1ppm. Don't add anything other than the ammonia. If during this almost a month you have grown some bacteria that ammonia should drop some within 24 hours. If it does then you will know you have gotten your cycle back on track. If it doesn't you will know for some reason you've not grown any bacteria during all this time.

By using the liquid ammonia instead of fish food you can better control the amount of ammonia in there and can make sure it doesn't go too high and overwhelm this tiny tank.
 
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newclassic1

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mattgirl said:
There are those that will disagree with me and that is of course perfectly fine :) It is difficult to cycle a tank this small. It can be done but often folks find themselves right where you are right now.

I actually think one gets a stronger more natural cycle when doing a fish in cycle. You will get no grief from me should you choose to go ahead and get your fish. Whether you choose to move to a fish in cycle or continue fishless you will want to change out as much of the water as you can in this tank first. It may be best to take everything including the gravel out of the tank and rinse it well in the water you have pulled from the tank. By doing this you will be preserving the bacteria that has grown on it. Make sure you rinse your media too. You want to be sure you have gotten all of the fish food you've added out of there.

Once done refill the tank with temp matched and dechlorinated water. At this point you can put you fish in there or if you aren't totally comfortable doing that use your Dr. Tim's ammonia. Only add enough to get the ammonia level up to 1ppm. Don't add anything other than the ammonia. If during this almost a month you have grown some bacteria that ammonia should drop some within 24 hours. If it does then you will know you have gotten your cycle back on track. If it doesn't you will know for some reason you've not grown any bacteria during all this time.

By using the liquid ammonia instead of fish food you can better control the amount of ammonia in there and can make sure it doesn't go too high and overwhelm this tiny tank.
Hi Mattgirl,

Thank you for that information and helpful advice. I think I'll go and follow what you said. Remove the water from the tank and clean anything within the tank in the removed tank water and start from scratch really. There are bits of fish food in the gravel and in little nooks and crannys.

I have all the tools to monitor the levels and deal with any spikes once i have the betta in there. Plus it'll be more rewarding than staring into an empty tank as I've been doing the past month!

Do you think I'd be water changing initially for a long time to keep things in check or would the cycle eventually begin to sort itself out with the betta being the ammonia source? As in showing more progress than what I'm experiencing right now?

Thanks again for responding. I've seen you give great advice on other threads and I'm very grateful to get some directly from you for my exact situation.
 

mattgirl

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newclassic1 said:
Hi Mattgirl,

Thank you for that information and helpful advice. I think I'll go and follow what you said. Remove the water from the tank and clean anything within the tank in the removed tank water and start from scratch really. There are bits of fish food in the gravel and in little nooks and crannys.

I have all the tools to monitor the levels and deal with any spikes once i have the betta in there. Plus it'll be more rewarding than staring into an empty tank as I've been doing the past month!

Do you think I'd be water changing initially for a long time to keep things in check or would the cycle eventually begin to sort itself out with the betta being the ammonia source? As in showing more progress than what I'm experiencing right now?

Thanks again for responding. I've seen you give great advice on other threads and I'm very grateful to get some directly from you for my exact situation.
You are so very welcome.

It is very difficult for me to say how long you will be doing water changes. It is good that you have Prime. As long as the ammonia stays below .5 or so Prime is going to protect your little guy from its damaging affects. It is very possible you will see neither ammonia or nitrites if you have grown some bacteria during all this time but it is best to be prepared for water changes should they spike.

Once you get the tank ready for the little guy and then get him in there we will have a better idea as to what needs to be done and can go from there. :)
 
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newclassic1

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mattgirl said:
You are so very welcome.

It is very difficult for me to say how long you will be doing water changes. It is good that you have Prime. As long as the ammonia stays below .5 or so Prime is going to protect your little guy from its damaging affects. It is very possible you will see neither ammonia or nitrites if you have grown some bacteria during all this time but it is best to be prepared for water changes should they spike.

Once you get the tank ready for the little guy and then get him in there we will have a better idea as to what needs to be done and can go from there. :)
No problem. I have the API master kit anyway and I'm quite proficient with it so far. Will update once I have everything setup again and have the betta introduced to the tank.

Thanks again for all your help!
 
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newclassic1

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mattgirl said:
You are so very welcome.

It is very difficult for me to say how long you will be doing water changes. It is good that you have Prime. As long as the ammonia stays below .5 or so Prime is going to protect your little guy from its damaging affects. It is very possible you will see neither ammonia or nitrites if you have grown some bacteria during all this time but it is best to be prepared for water changes should they spike.

Once you get the tank ready for the little guy and then get him in there we will have a better idea as to what needs to be done and can go from there. :)
Well I completed the steps you outlined above and got the tank back to scratch while rinsing all my gravel and decorations in bucket of removed tank water. A lot of fish food debris ended up being removed. Then I temp matched to 26°c and treated new water with prime.

pH seems stable to start off at 7.4 and my ammonia is now down to 0ppm. I may be collecting a black Male Betta tomorrow to move in to his new home if they still have him in stock. Wish me luck! will report back once i have him settled or if I have any questions. I have a fair idea of what needs to be done to keep things under control.

Thanks mattgirl for your help!
 

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mattgirl said:
You are so very welcome.

It is very difficult for me to say how long you will be doing water changes. It is good that you have Prime. As long as the ammonia stays below .5 or so Prime is going to protect your little guy from its damaging affects. It is very possible you will see neither ammonia or nitrites if you have grown some bacteria during all this time but it is best to be prepared for water changes should they spike.

Once you get the tank ready for the little guy and then get him in there we will have a better idea as to what needs to be done and can go from there. :)
Hi mattgirl. I picked up a Black Orchid Crowntail Betta on the 3rd July. I had about 0.50ppm of ammonia within 24hrs of the fish being put in the tank so I done a 75% water change and dosed prime to be safe and also dosed some stability. Levels returned to 0/0.25ppm. I checked again yesterday 5th july and the ammonia levels had increased again to around 0.50ppm. I just dosed prime and stability but no water change just to see how things would pan out.

Today:

Ammonia : 0.50ppm
Nitrite: 0.00
Nitrate: 0.00
Temp: 26.5°
pH: 7.5

The fish seems content no signs of stress or erratic behaviour so I'm hoping the tank will cycle normally while maintaining low levels of ammonia. I'm assuming 0.25ppm ammonia isn't overly hazardous to the fish? I am using prime so i guess this overrides any ammonia presence for 24hrs at a time. I'm also being careful with feeding him. Only giving small amounts once a day.
 

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I have to think as long as you don't let the ammonia go up over .5 your little guy will stay safe. Once nitrites show up you want to keep the total amount of ammonia plus nitrites below one.

I know some folks swear by bottled bacteria but from all I've read I don't think Stability is one of the better ones. I am thinking it doesn't contain the exact type of bacteria we are trying to grow in our tank. Personally I wouldn't use it. I think it adds a false sense of security and may even give us false readings while going through the cycling process. It leaves me wondering if the ammonia we are seeing is actually coming from the the fish or from the bottle.

Needless to say but i will anyway, i spend a LOT of time reading this forum. From all I've read I have come to the conclusion if one is going to use a bottled bacteria Tetra Safe Start Plus is a better one to use. It is said that it contains the same bacteria we are growing in our tanks thus more likely to actually help cycle our tanks. Personally I've never used any of them so have no first hand experience.
 
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newclassic1

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mattgirl said:
I have to think as long as you don't let the ammonia go up over .5 your little guy will stay safe. Once nitrites show up you want to keep the total amount of ammonia plus nitrites below one.

I know some folks swear by bottled bacteria but from all I've read I don't think Stability is one of the better ones. I am thinking it doesn't contain the exact type of bacteria we are trying to grow in our tank. Personally I wouldn't use it. I think it adds a false sense of security and may even give us false readings while going through the cycling process. It leaves me wondering if the ammonia we are seeing is actually coming from the the fish or from the bottle.

Needless to say but i will anyway, i spend a LOT of time reading this forum. From all I've read I have come to the conclusion if one is going to use a bottled bacteria Tetra Safe Start Plus is a better one to use. It is said that it contains the same bacteria we are growing in our tanks thus more likely to actually help cycle our tanks. Personally I've never used any of them so have no first hand experience.
Good point on the Stability. It really hasn't done anything for my cycle over the past month. In my case, i think it was like a placebo. Throwing in a dose per day and assuming the results (if any) are showing because of this treatment.

I think I'll back off on the dosing of stability altogether. I'm nearly finished the bottle now anyway so might aswell proceed with the natural ammonia from the fish waste and treat with prime/water changes as I go. I'm due to receive a Juwel aquarium stand for my 2nd tank - a 54L Juwel Korall. Once i get this I will be starting a new cycling process with dr tims ammonia and might skip using bacteria in a bottle. If anything the nano tank has proved good training ground so far to be able to make wiser decisions with the 54L. Of course the helpful advice from yourself and the other kind folk on fishlore doesn't go underappreciated

Thanks very much for your advice!
 

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