Cycling: Is This Normal?

jscott

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I've been cycling my tank for about a month. Started out using fish food, but the ammonia and nitrite wouldn't get above 0.25, and I didn't want to put in huge amounts of fish food that I would have to clean out later, so I switched to dosing pure ammonia, and using Stability every day.

Ammonia went up to between 1-2ppm, and it took 5+ days to get down to 0.5ppm. Nitrite stayed at 0.2 and nitrate at 5 consistently.

Last week I added more ammonia and the level has remained at 1-2ppm. So I contacted Seachem and said Stability didn't seem to be working. He couldn't figure it out, except to say I shouldn't have been using Excel because it has antibacterial properties?!? I stopped using Excel, and the ammonia still isn't really dropping, but the nitrite increased to 1.0 and nitrate increased to 10-20ppm, which gives me some hope. I feel like after a month (especially after using Stability for 10+ days) my tank should be pretty close to cycled, but it still can't process 1ppm of ammonia in a week.

Sorry for the long post... What should I do? Do a water change? Be patient? Stop using Stability and ask for my money back?

Thanks!
 

AllieSten

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Hi there. I can help you out. I don't know anything about excel so let me have @ashenwelt help you figure out a fertilizer that you can use while you are cycling your tank. I've never heard of it having antibacterial properties, so that is new..

First thing I would do is turn your tank temp up to 84. This will speed up your cycle. The bacteria like the warmer temps.

What is your pH? If your pH is too low, your bacteria will lie dormant and not be able to cycle your tank.

Can you also give me a full set of your tap water parameters and tank water parameters as of today?

I would pick up a secondary bottled bacteria. Something like API QuickStart or Dr Tim's One and only. Both are good quality products.

I have had really good luck with Stability. Let's talk this through some, and see if we can get it sorted. Before you decide to take it back.

Are you using the ammonia calculator to dose your Ammonia? How big is your tank? What sort of filter do you have?
 
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jscott

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AllieSten said:
Hi there. I can help you out. I don't know anything about excel so let me have @ashenwelt help you figure out a fertilizer that you can use while you are cycling your tank. I've never heard of it having antibacterial properties, so that is new..

First thing I would do is turn your tank temp up to 84. This will speed up your cycle. The bacteria like the warmer temps.

What is your pH? If your pH is too low, your bacteria will lie dormant and not be able to cycle your tank.

Can you also give me a full set of your tap water parameters and tank water parameters as of today?

I would pick up a secondary bottled bacteria. Something like API QuickStart or Dr Tim's One and only. Both are good quality products.

I have had really good luck with Stability. Let's talk this through some, and see if we can get it sorted. Before you decide to take it back.

Are you using the ammonia calculator to dose your Ammonia? How big is your tank? What sort of filter do you have?
Thanks so much!!
-Turning the heat up right now!
-pH is not an issue - 7.2
-I don't know much about my tap water, except it's relatively soft and the pH is 7.6 untreated.
-20 gallon tall tank, and I read some previous posts to figure out how much ammonia to add in order to get it up to 1-2ppm.
-I have a Marina HOB filter, with 4 filter cartridges, which I havent touched since putting them in over a month ago.
-Currently 1.0 ammonia (should I add more?), 1.0 Nitrites, 10-20 nitrates.
 

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So yep, excel kills lots of things. I have never cycled using it. However, if you already are building nitrates I wouldn't worry. Just bump the temp as @AllieSten said and let it roll for a week. I would however do some water changes. Small ones with aged water are best. So that's when you treat the water in a bucket and let it sit for 24 hours. Now I wouldn't normally do that. However you either have too much ammonia in there that is still producing (fish food can produce ammonia for weeks and weeks) or something is simply fragile. But you have a lot of nitrates for still holding ammonia...

I would keep dosing though. I will say I always use two different brands for bacteria.

jscott said:
Thanks so much!!
-Turning the heat up right now!
-pH is not an issue - 7.2
-I don't know much about my tap water, except it's relatively soft and the pH is 7.6 untreated.
-20 gallon tall tank, and I read some previous posts to figure out how much ammonia to add in order to get it up to 1-2ppm.
-I have a Marina HOB filter, with 4 filter cartridges, which I havent touched since putting them in over a month ago.
-Currently 1.0 ammonia (should I add more?), 1.0 Nitrites, 10-20 nitrates.
I wouldn't add more till it drops to zero or darn close. Hmm marina filter? You didn't change cartridges did you? Changing carts is a bad move with most filters...
 
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jscott

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ashenwelt said:
So yep, excel kills lots of things. I have never cycled using it. However, if you already are building nitrates I wouldn't worry. Just bump the temp as @AllieSten said and let it roll for a week. I would however do some water changes. Small ones with aged water are best. So that's when you treat the water in a bucket and let it sit for 24 hours. Now I wouldn't normally do that. However you either have too much ammonia in there that is still producing (fish food can produce ammonia for weeks and weeks) or something is simply fragile. But you have a lot of nitrates for still holding ammonia...

I would keep dosing though. I will say I always use two different brands for bacteria.
Yeah the guy at the LFS suggested Excel for the plants in my cycling tank. Maybe he didn't know the effects. I was wondering if the rotting fish food was still producing ammonia...when I do the water change, should I vacuum the gravel? I don't want rotting food but I'm scared of removing bacteria!
 
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jscott

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ashenwelt said:
I wouldn't add more till it drops to zero or darn close. Hmm marina filter? You didn't change cartridges did you? Changing carts is a bad move with most filters...
Nope, haven't done anything with the cartridges.
 
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jscott

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ashenwelt said:
What ever you do don't...
I'm just going to do a few water changes, to clean up the old food gunk, and I guess keep using Stability?
 

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jscott said:
I'm just going to do a few water changes, to clean up the old food gunk, and I guess keep using Stability?
Yep. Use Prime for your water changes and Stability daily for your bottled bacteria. You will need to use Stability daily until you are cycled. I know the bottle says to only use for 7 days, but it is almost always longer than that.

I agree with @ashenwelt , do small water changes to get the food out for now. Then when your ammonia drops to 0, do a large water change and a good vacuum. Then redose your Ammonia. It is ok to do a 50-75% water change during cycling, just has to be done strategically.

Your pH is a little concerning since it drops from 7.6 to 7.2 from tap to tank. Can you set out some of your tap water for 24 hours and retest your pH? This will give the true pH. You have to let some of the gasses in your tap dissipate to get the true reading.

If you have soft water, you may end up with a pH crash a few months down the line. Just want to be sure that after all this hard work, you are able to be successful and keep your cycle going.

I would use this as your Ammonia calculator.

Ammonia Cycling Calculator

Just plug in your info and it will tell you how much to add in. That way you are sure you have the right dose

Also, while you are cycling, you should add a couple of sponge filters. That way you have extra seeded media in your tank. Sponge filters will bump up your biological filtration, and can be used to set up that emergency betta tank you just had to buy when you see it on sale next week lol
 

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AllieSten said:
Yep. Use Prime for your water changes and Stability daily for your bottled bacteria. You will need to use Stability daily until you are cycled. I know the bottle says to only use for 7 days, but it is almost always longer than that.

I agree with @ashenwelt , do small water changes to get the food out for now. Then when your ammonia drops to 0, do a large water change and a good vacuum. Then redose your Ammonia. It is ok to do a 50-75% water change during cycling, just has to be done strategically.

Your pH is a little concerning since it drops from 7.6 to 7.2 from tap to tank. Can you set out some of your tap water for 24 hours and retest your pH? This will give the true pH. You have to let some of the gasses in your tap dissipate to get the true reading.

If you have soft water, you may end up with a pH crash a few months down the line. Just want to be sure that after all this hard work, you are able to be successful and keep your cycle going.

I would use this as your Ammonia calculator.

Ammonia Cycling Calculator

Just plug in your info and it will tell you how much to add in. That way you are sure you have the right dose

Also, while you are cycling, you should add a couple of sponge filters. That way you have extra seeded media in your tank. Sponge filters will bump up your biological filtration, and can be used to set up that emergency betta tank you just had to buy when you see it on sale next week lol
It could be substrate based for the pH drop. Use ADA Amazonia or Fluval Stratum or Miracal Grow and your pH will drop. All of my tanks run below 7 pH.
 
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jscott

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ashenwelt said:
It could be substrate based for the pH drop. Use ADA Amazonia or Fluval Stratum or Miracal Grow and your pH will drop. All of my tanks run below 7 pH.
It may be my issue reading the test tubes. I can't tell the difference between a couple of the colors. If my pH were below 7, (I know that's not the case) wouldn't that be bad when doing water changes with a higher pH??
 

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jscott said:
It may be my issue reading the test tubes. I can't tell the difference between a couple of the colors. If my pH were below 7, (I know that's not the case) wouldn't that be bad when doing water changes with a higher pH??
Not really if substrate based... but your not that low. So that was more informational.
 
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jscott

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AllieSten said:
Yep. Use Prime for your water changes and Stability daily for your bottled bacteria. You will need to use Stability daily until you are cycled. I know the bottle says to only use for 7 days, but it is almost always longer than that.

I agree with @ashenwelt , do small water changes to get the food out for now. Then when your ammonia drops to 0, do a large water change and a good vacuum. Then redose your Ammonia. It is ok to do a 50-75% water change during cycling, just has to be done strategically.

Your pH is a little concerning since it drops from 7.6 to 7.2 from tap to tank. Can you set out some of your tap water for 24 hours and retest your pH? This will give the true pH. You have to let some of the gasses in your tap dissipate to get the true reading.

If you have soft water, you may end up with a pH crash a few months down the line. Just want to be sure that after all this hard work, you are able to be successful and keep your cycle going.

I would use this as your Ammonia calculator.

Ammonia Cycling Calculator

Just plug in your info and it will tell you how much to add in. That way you are sure you have the right dose

Also, while you are cycling, you should add a couple of sponge filters. That way you have extra seeded media in your tank. Sponge filters will bump up your biological filtration, and can be used to set up that emergency betta tank you just had to buy when you see it on sale next week lol
AllieSten said:
Yep. Use Prime for your water changes and Stability daily for your bottled bacteria. You will need to use Stability daily until you are cycled. I know the bottle says to only use for 7 days, but it is almost always longer than that.

I agree with @ashenwelt , do small water changes to get the food out for now. Then when your ammonia drops to 0, do a large water change and a good vacuum. Then redose your Ammonia. It is ok to do a 50-75% water change during cycling, just has to be done strategically.

Your pH is a little concerning since it drops from 7.6 to 7.2 from tap to tank. Can you set out some of your tap water for 24 hours and retest your pH? This will give the true pH. You have to let some of the gasses in your tap dissipate to get the true reading.

If you have soft water, you may end up with a pH crash a few months down the line. Just want to be sure that after all this hard work, you are able to be successful and keep your cycle going.

I would use this as your Ammonia calculator.

Ammonia Cycling Calculator

Just plug in your info and it will tell you how much to add in. That way you are sure you have the right dose

Also, while you are cycling, you should add a couple of sponge filters. That way you have extra seeded media in your tank. Sponge filters will bump up your biological filtration, and can be used to set up that emergency betta tank you just had to buy when you see it on sale next week lol
I did wait 24-48 hours before testing my tap pH but I'll do it one more time to be sure. I'll look into the sponge thing, although my filter is pretty slim so I doubt I can fit much more in there :-/
Thank you!
 

AllieSten

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Sponge filters are a filter that hooks up to an airline. It is outside of your filter. They will sit in the corner, and act as an airstone and a filter all at the same time.
 
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jscott

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AllieSten said:
Sponge filters are a filter that hooks up to an airline. It is outside of your filter. They will sit in the corner, and act as an airstone and a filter all at the same time.
Ohhh ok. I still have a lot to learn. I just have a 20gallon, so I don't have any extra airlines...
 

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You can get a gang valve that splits the connection and run 2 airlines at the same time. I have all 3 tanks with a valve. Then you can also control how fast the air comes out.

How is the cycling coming along?
 

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Just keep at it, it took me 10 weeks to cycle my tank and that was using Dr Tims Ammonia, Seachem Stability and Seachem Prime. Sometimes it just takes a little longer like I showed nitrates quite early one but converting ammonia and nitrite to 0 in 24 hours yep 10 weeks
 
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jscott

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EmmaBudgie said:
Just keep at it, it took me 10 weeks to cycle my tank and that was using Dr Tims Ammonia, Seachem Stability and Seachem Prime. Sometimes it just takes a little longer like I showed nitrates quite early one but converting ammonia and nitrite to 0 in 24 hours yep 10 weeks
Thanks, that makes me feel better!
 
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