cycleing help

  • #1
Hello to this and I thought I did enough research to get my tank to cycle no problem but I was mistaken. Tank has been set up for about 12 days now. I threw 5 juvenile cichlids into my new 50 gallon on day 3 and used a friend's filter media from his established tank...PH is always at 8.2. I never saw an ammonia spike (just a very small reading in the beginning). Never had any nitrites and skipped right to nitrates under 40ppm. did a 30% water change to clear it out. everything zeroed out like I was told it would and I thought my tank was cycled. Under advisement from the LFS (I know I know...not the best idea), I added 9 more inch long cichlids (all mbunas by the way)and two plecos...I am now seeing an ammonia spike .50 ppm(, still no nitrite but my nitrate is climbing.(still under 40ppm). I added Prime and some safe start to get ammonia down and bacteria up 2 days ago and it won't drop. isn't climbing but won't go away. any idea why I would have ammonia, no nitrites but nitrates? any and all advice is appreciated.
Wendy Lubianetsky
  • #2
Welcome to Fishlore.

Your tank might have cycled originally, but when you added 11 fish all at once you added a huge bio-load that the bacteria in your tank had not grown enough to process. Adding 11 fish at one time in a little much for any tank. Cycling with cichlid is also not a great idea since they are fairly sensative to ammonia and nitrite.

Just keep doing huge water changes. Probably 50% a day until your tank is cycled. Make sure you test your water everyday, and do water changes accordingly. Make sure you keep treating the new water with Prime to detoxify the water for your fish. It is going to take a little while before you are cycled again.
  • #3
I agree the biomass just has not quite caught up to the new additions to the tank.
  • #4
Welcome to FishLore!!

Sounds like too many fish were added at once.

When you use TSS you're not supposed to use a water conditioner that detoxifies the ammonia.
It kills off the bacteria in TSS.
An interesting note is that Tetra advises not to use a conditioner that removes chloramines.
However my water companies use it and it can kill your fish.

You can either do water changes until you get the cycle back or try TSS again.
Just wait 24 hours to add it after you used a product that detoxifies.

In my experience, It's not unusual not see nitrites when seeding a tank with used filter media.
For some reason I believe the bacteria that process nirites transfwers over better than the bacteria that processes the ammonia.

Good luck!


Wow, I was slow! lol
  • #5
Welcome to the forum!

If you wouldn't mind, please provide complete Aquarium Profile Information. This information will help the members to gain an understanding of your tank. Just click the Forum Action link at the top of this page and select Edit Profile. Complete the information on your aquarium, including tank size, filtration, stocking, lighting, water parameters, etc. And save your changes. Then you won't be inundated with answering questions about your tank.

I agree that larger daily water changes are in order. Otherwise your nitrates will simply continue to climb. By changing 30% out when the tank held 40PPM nitrate, you lowered it to 28PPM. If your fish create enough ammonia to raise the nitrate 10PPM a day, in 2 days it will climb over 40 again.

Good luck cycling your new tank.
  • #6
Welcome to FishLore!

As mentioned above, it appears you went into a mini-cycle. Since ammonia and nitrites are the food that those bacteria lives off of, you only develope enough bacteria that there is food to support. So your tank cycled and had enough bacteria to process the ammonia being produced by the original 3 fish. Then you added 9 more fish (three times the amount of what you had enough bacteria to support). This created a situation where you had far more ammonia than you had bacteria to consume.

But over time the bacteria colony having abundant food will start to grow until it eventually has enough to consume all the ammonia being produced by all 12 fish. This should happen fairly quickly, since bacteria supposedly doubles every 24 hours. So hopefully doing some daily partial water changes with Prime for a week or so will get you cycled again.
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
Thank you guys. I realize I didn't do everything perfectly but that's why I got into this hobby. To learn and get better. I did a 50% water change last night and added the prime. I am a little ed at myself for adding the prime which killed my safe start(last week). I have lost 2 of my fish over the past few days but they did not look great from the start. One I found 4 days back under a rock. One was swimming funny for a few days and three days ago I saw that his whole back half on one side was white (was a blue fish). seemed like the others had eaten a part of him. any ideas on what that could have been? I will continue to do partial water changes for the next few days and I hope that everything catches up to the ammonia. Since I am doing water changes every day for now, should I be adding anything when I do change besides the Prime? Thanks again.
  • #8
No need to explain...almost all of us started off the wrong way. For whatever reason, the fish stores seem to almost always lead people astray.

All you need to add when doing the water changes is Prime. Oh, and one other thing, add enough Prime to treat all 50 gallons with each water change, not just the volume you are adding.

African Cichlids are pretty aggressive fish, and once they spot a weakened one, they are prone to attack, so that could explain the white area on that fish.

Good luck

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