Cycling question

Discussion in 'Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle' started by Jayha68, Mar 12, 2012.

  1. Jayha68

    Jayha68Valued MemberMember

    Hi all,

    To start my tank info:

    48 gallon bow faced corner tank.
    Ehiem cannister filter (300gph)
    Tetra wall filter with bio wheel (90gph)
    Air stone
    Heater (temp at 78 Degrees)

    Water stats:

    Ammonia: 0ppm
    ph: 7.2
    No2 Nitrates 1-2ppm (HELP!)
    NO3 Nitrates 0ppm
    Waters crystal clear some minor brown mold growth.

    1 Angel fish (2inch)
    6 Glowfish (.5inch each)
    2albino cory cats (1.5 inch each)

    Onto my problems! Number 1 is the pressing issue but do have a few small others.

    1. I started the tank about 8-9 weeks ago, The ammonia spiked, went down and the nitrates have spiked and are now going down but, They are declining very very slowly, I added a filter of Tetra Nitra-Zorb to my canister filter to speed this up. Will that just mask the NO2 nitrate cycle or actually speed up the end of the cycle? How many more weeks before I see the NO2 drop to 0?

    2. My fish load from what I've read (1 inch of fish per gallon of water for more experienced so I'm sticking to .5 per gallon) is really light. Do I wait until the NO2 hits 0 before adding more? I'd like to add a second angel ( one died during the cycling) and a Pleco ( I plan on getting a larger tank in the future)or would I just be wasting money on them? Does the bow front make these numbers different?

    3.Does the air stone help or hinder my cycle? I can't find much information on it, whether I should run it all day/night, 8 hours etc any advice is welcome.

    4. Right now my maintenance consists of:
    a. weekly 10% water changes.
    b. weekly gravel vacuum.
    c. monthly (one week out of four) 25% water change out
    d. every 6 weeks filter media change.

    Anything critical I'm missing here? With the NO2 so high I've been doing a 10% water change every other day to prevent fish loss, is this to much?

    Feeding: once a day Tetra flakes (just enough that all is eaten in 2-3 minutes or I skim it out allowing a small amount to trickle down for the cat's) and twice a week 1 algae tab.

    Apologies for the wall of text and thank you in advance for any advice or information.

    Last edited: Mar 12, 2012
  2. Kent799New MemberMember

    I just want to get one thing clear. Is it your Nitrate (NO3) or Nitrite (NO2) that you're having a problem with? I want to say it's your Nitrite that you're having a problem with but I'm not sure.

    Every tank is different when it comes to cycling. What I've noticed with cycling my tanks is that when I added fish to the tank during the cycling it took a little longer because it has to catch up to the bioload of the fish you've added. That's good that your ammonia is down but you should be seeing your Nitrate (NO3) start rising. On an average it takes between 7-10 days for me to see my ammonia start rising, another 7-10 days to see my nitrite start rising and ammonia slowing going down.. After that you should see Nitrites slowing going down and your nitrate rising. Once that has happened your tank will be cycled and I'd recommend you add fish at that point. My averages are also based on no fish being in my tanks during the cycle. I'd also recommend that you stop vacuuming the gravel. With my tanks, I don't vacuum them until the tank is cycled so the bacteria needed can grow. I also wouldn't recommend water changes in a cycling tank that has fish in it unless your levels become dangerous to the fish.

    As of right now, that tank isn't over stocked.You might want to look into getting a bigger tank for your Angelfish when they are grown though. But I think with your tank in the process of cycling that's a lot of fish to have in it. Usually, when someone can't wait to add fish to their tank while it's cycles I suggest adding 1-2 hardy fish. The 1in. per gallon rule doesn't always work. Take your Angelfish, they grow to be about 6in. but they really need around 10-20 gallons to swim in. I hope that helped and that someone also can offer you maybe something else you can try. Best of luck!
  3. OP

    Jayha68Valued MemberMember

    Sorry about not being clear, the problem is in N02. It spiked then slowly started coming down but it seems to have stopped. the NO3 readings are low 0-5ppm. I learned an important lesson in cycling after the ammonia spike wracked my fish but I think I've got in under control and just trying to see if any way to hasten the NO2 drop.

  4. jdhef

    jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    Since any amount of ammonia or nitrite is dangerous to fish, you need to do water changes anytime these levels are above zero ppm.

    I would up those water changes to 30%-40% daily until the tank fully cycles.

    I suggest using Prime as your water conditioner when doing these water changes since it will detox ammonia/nitrites keeping your fish safe from toxin exposure for 24 hours (at which point you'll be doing another water change

  5. OP

    Jayha68Valued MemberMember

    Thanks Jd, I will do them daily now the local pet store I spoke with and online sources I could find recommended 10% every other day but I will up it to 20-30% daily. Is this typical of a fish in cycle to last 8weeks+?
  6. jdhef

    jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    Every cycle is different, but while 8 weeks is not unheard of, it is a bit on the longer side of average.

    Aside from being safer for the fish, a fishless cycle is also faster since you can allow the ammonia and nitrite levels to get higher which means more food for the bacteria.

    When cycling with fish you are trying to balance keeping the ammonia levels low enough to be detoxed with having enough food for the bacteria.
  7. Kent799New MemberMember

    The problem with that though is what will the bacteria use to get to the point of handling the bioload of his fish if he keeps the ammonia level at zero with water changes? If there is no ammonia in the tank the bacteria can't grow. You are right ammonia is bad and in a cycled tank it should stay at zero because the bacteria has reached the ability to convert it into nitrite and so on. The same goes for Nitrite since that's the high level. This is why it is hard to cycle a tank with fish in it. Not impossible just hard. I don't do my cycles with fish in the tanks but I thought I read some where that .5 is where ammonia will start killing the fish. Lower levels of ammonia in a tank over a time period can do damage as well. But as long as the ammonia is around .25 I'd say it's OK since in this situation there is no other choice. I don't know what level of nitrite will start killing the fish. Something to research.

    QQQUUUUAADDDWell Known MemberMember

    Kent - The Prime detoxifies the ammonia and nitrite. It does not make the ammonia and nitrite completely gone. It turns them into a non-toxic form of ammonia and nitrite. The bacteria can still feed off the non-toxic form.
  9. Jaysee

    JayseeFishlore LegendMember

    that is correct

    It's important to keep the ammonia concentration in the water lower than the ammonia concentration in the fish, or else the ammonia builds up in the fish, poisoning it. when the concentration of ammonia is 0 in the water, the fish can dump all of the ammonia. With the exception of goldfish, the ammonia concentration in the fish will never be lower than the water. When it's at 0.25 ppm, the fish will retain 0.25 ppm on ammonia in it's body. While that is not deadly, prolonged exposure takes a toll on the fish.
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2012
  10. OP

    Jayha68Valued MemberMember

    Thanks for all the great information but, my ammonia is almost zero (hard to tell if it's above by color, if not zero so close as to call it zero) and the Nitrites (no2) is where my problem lies. It just wont go down, the Nitrate (no3) is reading zero as well, how long will it take before the no2 gets converted to no3? The nitrites reading has been consistent at a 1-2ppm reading now for two weeks and it's not dropping even with daily water changes.Am I missing or thinking this is wrong from what I've read? the ammonia becomes nitrite(no2) which then becomes nitrate (no3) which is removed from te weekly water cycle? I'm just not seeing the no2 dissipate.
  11. Jaysee

    JayseeFishlore LegendMember

    The nitrite bacteria colony cannot exist without nitrites to consume. So, once the ammonia colony is up and running, doing it's job, then you have to wait for the nitrite colony to establish itself. If it's been 2 weeks it should be starting to go down any day now.
  12. OP

    Jayha68Valued MemberMember

    Thank you very much for this relief!! I've been in a blind panic since it hasn't been dropping much (water changes daily, testing daily) and my first tank. I just wish I'd found this site BEFORE I' started and learned about the cycling and not put the fish in for he cycle. I really appreciate all your help and advice!
    This being said should I continue with the 25% daily water changes since it never seems to affect the nitrite levels or will this do more harm then good?
  13. Jaysee

    JayseeFishlore LegendMember

    Yes, continue to do water changes as nitrites are toxic as well. I would be doing larger than 25%. Do 50 or more and you'll see a drop.
  14. OP

    Jayha68Valued MemberMember

    Do you recommend daily or every other? I really want this done to be able to add more fish, the tank looks spare with the ones I have in there now. I'm going to take it slow adding more since further reading here has shown that adding to large a bio-load of fish could cause a mini-cycle from the added fish. I would love to add 6 more of the Glofish and a Pleco (I plan if I can get this tank under control to going to a 200gal or so when I move in about three months) to accommodate the angel (would like a second, always feel that the one is lonely) and another big belly moly. for now after the cycle finishes I think I'll add the Pleco first, wait a week add 3 Glofish and then the final 3 Glofish.

    Added question o guru! If I get a 4" pleco, will it outgrow the tank I have in 3-4 months or should I wait until after the move and the larger tank set before adding one? I think they are amazing looking fish but don;t want him to outgrow my tank to fast.
  15. Jaysee

    JayseeFishlore LegendMember

    The tank ought to look bare when it's cycling ;)

    I would add the pleco after the danios - whether or not the pleco will outgrow the tank is entirely dependent on the species. You could get a 4 inch BN, which won't get much bigger.
  16. EchostaticWell Known MemberMember

    I seem to recall reading that the nitrite-eating bacteri grow much more slowly than the ammonia-eating bacteria as well. I'm sure it's just a matter of time.
  17. OP

    Jayha68Valued MemberMember

    Just completed the 50% water change and going to wait until th morning to test, wish me luck!
  18. OP

    Jayha68Valued MemberMember

    50% water change done yesterday, the test results as of this morning:
    Nitrite: still hovering at 2ppm
    Nitrate: 0ppm
    Ph: 7.4 area

    No change in the nitrites (no2) from the water change any advice or just be patient and keep doing daily water changes and wait for the nitrite eating bacteria to populate more?
  19. LupinusValued MemberMember

    Did you use prime or what water conditioner did you use? If it isn't something like prime that detoxs the ammonia and nitrite I'd imagine you'll see such a rise between changes.
  20. EchostaticWell Known MemberMember

    Test for nitrites immediately before a 50% water change, do the water change, then test for nitrites again immediately after. If you don't see any change in nitrites, then I would think either your nitrite test kit is bad, or your tap water contains roughly equal amounts of nitrites as your aquarium water. (Might as well test your tap water for nitrites too.)

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