Cycle won't start!!

nitz
  • #1
I got a 29 gal tank from my friend a while ago and set it up a couple weeks ago. Put in 35 lbs. of gravel (thoroughly washed it first), 11 silk plants of varying sizes, and a big piece of driftwood. Using a Penguin 200 filter.

I have a 12 gal tank that's cycled with gouramis, tetras, and a cory cat in it. I put some ceramic rings to soak for a wekk in the filter of the 12 gal then transferred it to the penguin filter after adding the ammonia (goldex ammonia) and squeezed the sponge into the tank. Tried the "daily ammonia addition" method for a few days then stopped adding ammonia. Noticed that no nitrites were showing up (using API test kit) and ammonia was off the charts. Did a 50% water change because I was freaking out and ammonia went down to around 1ppm. A couple days later, tried to do the "daily ammonia addition" method again and it's been about 4 days since I started that again. Ammonia is off the charts again and nitrites aren't showing up.

Should I be freaking out or is the cycle going to start soon? I think I may have added too much of the water conditioner (using the Big Als water conditioner) when filling up the tank but can't be sure about that. It only removes chlorine and chloramine (according to the label) and not ammonia or nitrites.

Any ideas about what could be happening? I'm thinking about doing another big water change and then leaving the ammonia at about 5ppm until nitrites show up. Is this a good idea?

Sorry for all the questions but this is my first time doing the fishless cycle and it's frustrating.
 
lilsoccakid
  • #2
yu might not see nitrites for up to 2 weeks, just be patient. I would clip some of the filter from the other tank and put it in the new filter
 
nitz
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
should I keep up the daily ammonia doses or do the big water change to bring it down to 5ppm then wait?
 
Alessa
  • #4
I am doing a fishless cycle as well, what you should do is keep the ammonia at 5ppm as you said, because I have heard that when there is too much ammonia the bacteria might not be able to reproduce due to low oxygen levels (not enough oxygen for all the bacteria and cycle crashes).

trying again can't hurt. Like lilsoccakid said, clip a bit of the other filter. Also grab the filter and squeeze it to get a bit of filter mud, then pour the mud on your new filter, that will really speed up things. also in a tank like yours it might take a while since it is a bigger tank. (I started cycling my 5 gal this week with the same exact method and I saw nitrates just yesterday).

Dont get desperate, you're doing everything right. Nitrites should start showing up soon.
 
nitz
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
thanks lilsoccakid and alessa. i'm gonna do the water change to bring down the ammonia, squeeze out the sponge and put a clipping into the new filter, then just wait it out I guess.
 
Shawnie
  • #6
patience is the hardest thing when cycleing..with or without fish..as alessa said, DONT give up and don't freak out ....easier said then done I know

congrats on the fishless cycle tho!!!!!!!!!!!
 
nitz
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
thanks shawnie. after reading up on the fishless cycle, I couldn't subject any fish to the rigours of a fishy cycle. the waiting part is so hard but I know my fish it's all worth it in the end.

already so excited about the different fish i'm gonna stock it with
 
Shawnie
  • #8
I'm very proud of you!! its so hard seeing an empty tank sitting there....not that I know that feeling as I was a noob and cycled with fish...O lordy lemme tell ya, that stinks!!! what are you going to stock it with?
 
nitz
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
well i'm thinking 2 or 3 gouramis (1 male, 1 or 2 female), 2 or 3 blue rams (again 1 male, 1 or 2 female), a few cory cats, and maybe a few rosy barbs if there's room.
what do you think?
 
Alessa
  • #10
Gouramis are some of the most awesome fish out there, but I think that you should read this first:




congrats on the fishless cycle. Proud of you as well
 
nitz
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
oh my goodness that is so sad!!
I have 2 female gold gouramis in my 12 gal tank and they're doing just fine aside from the bigger one picking on the slightly smaller one. i'm definitely moving one of them into the new tank once it's cycled but those articles have made me think twice about buying any more for at least a while.

thanks so much alessa. oh...and I agree with you about gouramis being awesome. I can't get enough of mine!
 
Alessa
  • #12
I lost my two male gouramis to that horrible virus... my tank looks so empty without them... :'(

you do well in not getting them, enjoy the girls you already have
 
nitz
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
oh i'm sorry to hear that.

I was really looking forward to getting a couple males and maybe a couple more females. Was going to keep 1 male and possibly 2 females per tank but it's not looking like that will be happening anymore...
 
Shawnie
  • #14
I have 3 dwarfs..and they are amazing fish...maybe in time this will be settled..and who knows what gourami's have it and what dont..I was lucky all mine have been great..
 
Lucy
  • #15
HI Nitz, If I haven't said it before, welcome to the forum. Congrats on the fish less cycle, less stress for you and definitely less stress for your fish.

I think I see why seeding the tank didn't work for you. I'm pretty sure you would have had to leave the ceramic rings in your established filter for at least 2 weeks to establish a good bacteria colony.

I agree with lilsoccakid and borrow some used filter media from your 12g.

Good luck, I hope it goes fast for you.
 
nitz
  • Thread Starter
  • #16
thanks Lucy!! well I have another set of ceramic rings in my 12gal filter right now just waiting to transfer in. I thought i'd leave it until nitrites showed up to introduce the nitrite to nitrate bacteria. do you think I should move that in now?
 
Lucy
  • #17
If they've been in your established tank a good 2 weeks, I'd add them. The bacteria will feed off the ammonia.
Keep testing either way.
 
nitz
  • Thread Starter
  • #18
sounds good to me. I'll move them over when I get home from work tonight.
thanks Lucy
 
Lucy
  • #19
Your welcome, I hope it works for you.
Keep us informed!
 
nitz
  • Thread Starter
  • #20
ok so I did a 5 gallon water change to bring the ammonia concentration down (which is still over the test kit's highest level of 7ppm) and will move the ceramic rings that have been soaking in the 12 gal for over 2 weeks into the new filter tomorrow.

i've heard that you should swish around the media with the beneficial bacteria around in the tank before putting it into the filter to let the bacteria to get into the tank and settle on other surfaces. should I do this or just stick it straight into the filter?
 
Alessa
  • #21
just pour it into the filter. Not all the bacteria will remain there, some will be dregged by the filter current and will deposit in the other surfaces.
 
Lucy
  • #22
This might interest you and alessa:
 
nitz
  • Thread Starter
  • #23
Thanks Lucy
 
nitz
  • Thread Starter
  • #24
ok I transferred the ceramic rings into the 29 gal filter today. I'll test the ammonia level (it's at 7ppm or over right now) over the next few days and post the results.
 
Alessa
  • #25
another question?

does the tank have enough aeration? I would recommend leaving the lid open because bacteria need oxygen to reproduce.

also raise the temp to 84 ish. That should speed up the proccess.
 
nitz
  • Thread Starter
  • #26
well I have an airstone going in there and the temp is around 84. I have the lid closed but can obviously open it. reason I closed it was because the water was evaporating really fast. should I top up the tank or just let it evaporate? (the level was going below the suggested water level on my heater so that's why I was topping up)

also, I don't have the aeration on high because I thought that would raise my pH. should I just put it as high as it can go?
 
Alessa
  • #27
yes, increase aeration it will accelerate the proccess.
 
nitz
  • Thread Starter
  • #28
ok I put it up to the max!!
crossing my fingers that I'll see some nitrites soon
 
Alessa
  • #29
the other thing that I believe I already mentioned was the conditioner.

I would switch to aqua+ by hagen. I have no exp with the big al one... and maybe it is blocking the ammonia somehow?
 
nitz
  • Thread Starter
  • #30
ya i'm almost done the bottle and was thinking about switching to prime. I acatually started a thread about using prime during a fishless cycle.

which do you suggest between aqua+ and prime?
 
nitz
  • Thread Starter
  • #31
in an interesting turn of events...I just tested for nitrates and i'm getting a reading of between 10 and 20. could this mean anything?
 
Alessa
  • #32
well, I think that prime will be ok, as it leaves the ammonia "available for the tanks biofilter" meaning the bacteria....
Nevertheless, I would save the prime for when you have fish. I would get a tiny bottle of aqua+ to be on the safe side.
 
nitz
  • Thread Starter
  • #33
tested the water today...ammonia is between 3 and 4 ppm and nitrites are still 0
 
Alessa
  • #34
what about the nitrates? are you still getting a reading?
 
nitz
  • Thread Starter
  • #35
nitrates still at 10
this is getting frustrating but I know it'll be worth it in the end
 
Alessa
  • #36
like lucy pointed out, you the nitrite eating bacteria reproduces more rapidly... that is the reason.

Just give it a couple of days (has the ammonia dropped at all?) I'm also struggling with mI fishless cycle....
 
nitz
  • Thread Starter
  • #37
I think it's dropped a little but not anything significant. around 1-2ppm. I hope I see some sort of change in the next couple of days

have you seen any changes in your levels??
 
Alessa
  • #38
not really.... ammonia 0, nitrite (off chart) nitrate 5

The nitrites didnt want to go down so I did a 50% water change to bring them down to a readable level... they are now sitting at 2.0 and waiting until tomorrow to see any significant changes...

Thanks for asking
 
nitz
  • Thread Starter
  • #39
oh it sounds like you're almost there alessa!! i'm excited for you
how long have you been at it?
 
Alessa
  • #40
I bought the tank like 10 days ago. The ammonia-nitrite stage was fast, but now I'm stuck in the nitrite spike...
 

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