Cycling tank help please!

Fluffinmuffins

New Member
Member
Messages
29
Reaction score
31
I have recently acquired a juvenile axolotl and aside from having some fish when I was younger, I was not prepared for him. Currently he/she is in an uncycled tank that I am working on cycling now. Daily water changes to combat ammonia spikes have been constant, testing water parameters multiple times a day. I purchased a pre-seeded/cycled sponge filter from Angels Plus and placed it in his tank last night around 8pm. It arrived in a little under 2 days, sealed tightly with some nasty water. Emptied the nasty water in the tank as well. I do have a couple of questions regarding this filter and how to ensure I maintain the nitrifying bacteria and not kill my axolotl in the process. I am currently using the angels plus filter as my primary filter. So far no nitrites and no nitrates. Approximately how long before I start to see a change in ammonia readings? Today the ammonia was at 1ppm. I changed about 50-60% of the water and got it down to .5, dosing with Prime for all water changes, and to detoxify ammonia as well. Will the water changes effect how quickly the preseeded sponge will cycle my tank? Are his ammonia levels going to be enough to maintain the bacterial colony? His well-being is the most important factor, but I’d like to get his tank cycled as quickly as I can. Any help is appreciated!
 
Best Answer - View redmare's answer

redmare

Well Known
Member
Messages
516
Reaction score
566
Location
Alberta, Canada- On the way to Ontario
Experience
5 years
So it sounds like you're doing all the right things! Also, your bacteria will always settle at exactly enough for the bioload (if there is enough space for it to grow which is not hard usually). So his bioload will maintain exactly enough bacteria to take care of his bioload! I would also recommend using a double dose of prime with your water changes. In order to cycle you need some ammonia in the tank, under 1ppm is usually advised, I don't know if axolotls are more or less sensitive. Daily 50% water changes with double dose prime, keep ammonia levels around 0.5ppm so the bacteria can grow, and just be patient (the worst part about this hobby!!). Once you see nitrites, keep those below 1ppm as well. Your end goal of course is to have no ammonia, no nitrites, and no more than ~20ppm nitrate. Hope some of this helped!
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
OP
F

Fluffinmuffins

New Member
Member
Messages
29
Reaction score
31
He will always be the only one in his tank, aside from maybe a few shrimp here and there. I would have preferred to get this thing cycled before I got the little guy, but here I am lol. I will double dose prime to be safe! Axolotls are supposed to be pretty hardy creatures, that require low temperature water. I assume the temp of his tank being at a steady 64-65 degrees will cause things to be a little bit slower as well. Patience isn't something I have a whole lot of when it comes to these things, but I'm glad to know that I am on the right track here!
 

mattgirl

Fishlore Legend
Member
Messages
12,541
Reaction score
12,425
Location
Closer to Heaven every day but for now-Arkansas
Experience
More than 10 years
Good job getting the seeded sponge and following the instructions to add the water it came in. You really should start seeing the ammonia going down quickly. You really shouldn't see a nitrite spike. That is the beauty of getting one of these pre-seeded sponges. They should already have both ammonia and nitrite eating bacteria and should give you an almost instant cycle.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
OP
F

Fluffinmuffins

New Member
Member
Messages
29
Reaction score
31
I did purchase another sponge filter, with a quicker shipping method (overnight) to see if something happened in the process to the beneficial bacteria in the sponge. Today, ammonia levels were back up to 1ppm, so I did another 50% water change and got it down to .5ppm. No sign of nitrites or nitrates. With the second sponge filter coming, I will acclimate the sponge to the water temperature first and see if that makes any difference. My tank is around 64-68 degrees on a consistent basis and the sponge itself was hot to the touch considering it was shipped to Florida. If neither work after a couple of weeks, it looks like I'll be doing a fish-in cycle the extended way. I didn't want to go that route as it can be stressful on him, but if it keeps him healthy while the tank is cycling, then so be it :)
 

mattgirl

Fishlore Legend
Member
Messages
12,541
Reaction score
12,425
Location
Closer to Heaven every day but for now-Arkansas
Experience
More than 10 years
Let's hope you will have better success with the second seeded sponge. I guess it is possible the heat affected the bacteria but I wouldn't have expected it to do so. Most of the time bacteria likes warmer temps but I suppose there could be a limit as to how high.

Please keep us updated. I would like to be able to recommend these seeded sponges but if they don't work for you I will be more reluctant to do so. I do know they have worked for others so it would be nice to know whether or not high heat will damage them.

Have you been in contact with Angels Plus and let them know what is happening in your tank? They may have some pointers as to why the first one didn't work as well as it should have.
 

Mongo75

Well Known
Member
Messages
1,324
Reaction score
1,438
Location
Lancaster, CA
Even if the barest number of BB survived, in a couple weeks, you should see progress regardless. You didn't say what size air pump you're using for the filter, but if it's powerful enough, get a "T", and run both filters together. It's always going to be a matter of time, and hopefully, you'll see some improvement in a day or two, not weeks.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
OP
F

Fluffinmuffins

New Member
Member
Messages
29
Reaction score
31
I did email Steve from Angels Plus a couple of times and got a response back. He stated that it's possible something could be interfering with the ammonia and bacteria within the sponge, preventing the bacteria from consuming the ammonia. A couple of snails did survive on the sponge. I watched his instructional video on placing it in the tank, and because it's not a fish I didn't feel it was necessary to acclimate the sponge or anything to my tank. I've done some research on the topic as well and it doesn't seem that is necessary because BB is typically pretty hardy, unless a major mistake is made. If I had to guess that with the temperature of the bag it was in vs the temperature of my tank, the decrease in temperature was probably at least 30 degrees. All of the reviews on this preseeded sponge are really very good, so I'm extremely reluctant to chock it up to being the sponge itself, and perhaps something I did in the process. It was in transit for about 48 hours.

The air pump I have is made for a 40 gallon tank with a dual connection, so I can indeed run the two sponge filters at once within the tank. Second sponge should be here Tuesday sometime, so I will definitely update after it is set up and running! There is an ammonia reading to keep the nitrifying bacteria fed, so I'm not sure what could be causing the slow down, or reluctance to get the cycle started. It can take weeks (even months) unfortunately, but I'm hoping with the addition of a second sponge, I can get some sort of hint that things are moving in the right direction.
 

Mongo75

Well Known
Member
Messages
1,324
Reaction score
1,438
Location
Lancaster, CA
I don't know if it's relevant in this situation, maybe mattgirl can put in her $.02, but what is your pH? If it's less than 6.5, that may be an issue... mattgirl, what say you?
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
OP
F

Fluffinmuffins

New Member
Member
Messages
29
Reaction score
31
pH registered 7.6 on the regular test kit, so I tested with the high range pH to see if I was just off the charts on the other one. That one came back at 7.6 as well.
 

Mongo75

Well Known
Member
Messages
1,324
Reaction score
1,438
Location
Lancaster, CA
Then I would say you pH is good, and not part of the problem. Hopefully, everything will catch up soon and start working.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #12
OP
F

Fluffinmuffins

New Member
Member
Messages
29
Reaction score
31
Sponge filter is on the way and should be delivered by 3pm tomorrow. I'm going to float the bag for 15-20 minutes and "acclimate" the sponge to my water as I would a fish. Not sure if temperature will make any difference, but the shipping cost was $50 to test this out, so I may as well go all the way and do everything I can to see if this thing is going to work out for me :dead: Today, ammonia was 1ppm again, even with the large water change yesterday, and the addition of the current sponge I have. Seems I've essentially just got a somewhat dirty sponge in my tank. I did another water change today and got the ammonia down again to .5, conditioning with Seachem Prime, and dosing to detoxify ammonia. My axolotl is very happy, eating well, and seems totally unstressed by anything so i'm monitoring him very closely as well. I would like to post an update after this saying I'm getting some hint of a change in my tank, but only time will tell! I'm cool with one fluke, but if two and nothing changes, I have to be skeptical that these sponges are fully-cycled.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
OP
F

Fluffinmuffins

New Member
Member
Messages
29
Reaction score
31
Sponge filter arrived a little bit earlier than expected, which was very nice :) The sponge wasn't hot like it was last time. Cool to the touch. I floated it in my tank for about 20 minutes or so, followed all instructions again, and put it in place. I now have the two sponge filters running in my tank. Quite ugly with these giant clunky things but hey, I'm kinda desperate here. Water parameters this morning were as follows:
Ammonia-.5 ppm
Nitrite-0
Nitrate-0
pH-7.6

I didn't do a water change today, but dosed with Prime to detoxify instead. I didn't want to remove too much ammonia and starve the nitrifying bacteria I'm trying to seed the tank with. I will monitor those levels as the day goes on.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #14
OP
F

Fluffinmuffins

New Member
Member
Messages
29
Reaction score
31
Today’s water parameters:
Ammonia-2ppm!
Nitrite-0
Nitrate-0-2ppm? Not quite yellow not quite orange
pH-7.6
Some pretty yucky sediment at the bottom of the tank today. I keep a bare bottom for him, so I see every bit of funk. I’m reluctant to siphon it out just yet. I did do a water change of 50% and brought ammonia down to 1ppm, dosing with Prime as well. Will test again later on and monitor it as time goes on. I assume regardless my tank will go through a mini cycle to adjust to my bioload. Hoping this sponge will just push it along a bit. Waiting patiently :)
 

mattgirl

Fishlore Legend
Member
Messages
12,541
Reaction score
12,425
Location
Closer to Heaven every day but for now-Arkansas
Experience
More than 10 years
If the sponge does what it is supposed to do the ammonia should start going down and you shouldn't see a spike in the nitrites. Hopefully the nitrates will be steadily going up as the ammonia goes down.

I know when I use seeded sponges from my well stocked tank to cycle another tank I never see either ammonia or nitrites. I just add the sponge and the fish. Within a week or so the nitrates start going up. I really expected these angelsplus seeded sponges to work the same and just as quickly. Hopefully the new one will do what it is supposed to do.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #16
OP
F

Fluffinmuffins

New Member
Member
Messages
29
Reaction score
31
Considering the reviews on them, I really expected them to be instant-cycle as the video says. However, I know cycling is a process so I’m still somewhat hopeful that the combination of the two will do something for me. If not, I’m doing a regular old fish in cycle I suppose. I haven’t seen any nitrite spike whatsoever, and nitrates are iffy. I expected maybe a slight decrease of ammonia overnight, but got an increase instead. Immediately after adding the sponge the ammonia went up to 1ppm when it was .5. To keep the bacteria alive in transit I suppose it’s possible he provides an ammonia source in the bag so the bacteria doesn’t die off? I’m just trying to be optimistic here lol.
 

mattgirl

Fishlore Legend
Member
Messages
12,541
Reaction score
12,425
Location
Closer to Heaven every day but for now-Arkansas
Experience
More than 10 years
Fluffinmuffins said:
Considering the reviews on them, I really expected them to be instant-cycle as the video says. However, I know cycling is a process so I’m still somewhat hopeful that the combination of the two will do something for me. If not, I’m doing a regular old fish in cycle I suppose. I haven’t seen any nitrite spike whatsoever, and nitrates are iffy. I expected maybe a slight decrease of ammonia overnight, but got an increase instead. Immediately after adding the sponge the ammonia went up to 1ppm when it was .5. To keep the bacteria alive in transit I suppose it’s possible he provides an ammonia source in the bag so the bacteria doesn’t die off? I’m just trying to be optimistic here lol.
I am going to be optimistic right along with you :)
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #19
OP
F

Fluffinmuffins

New Member
Member
Messages
29
Reaction score
31
Tonight ammonia is at 1ppm still. I decided not to do another water change until the morning because I already did a 50-60% today to bring it down from 2ppm. I took the older of the two sponges I ordered and squeezed it a few times into the tank, definitely releasing some funk. The sponge is certainly dirty. At this point, I've kind of given up on the idea of an instant cycle, and simply hope for a somewhat quicker one. Just mostly going to focus on keeping the ammonia down (and nitrites if the time comes) and keeping the little guy healthy while my tank cycles. Definitely skeptical that these sponges are fully cycled, but it can't hurt for them to be in there, if even partially cycled. Was hoping to recommend these to others looking to cycle their tanks quickly, with little fuss, but unfortunately that may not be the case. Thank you for all the help! I appreciate it :)
 

mattgirl

Fishlore Legend
Member
Messages
12,541
Reaction score
12,425
Location
Closer to Heaven every day but for now-Arkansas
Experience
More than 10 years
Fluffinmuffins said:
Tonight ammonia is at 1ppm still. I decided not to do another water change until the morning because I already did a 50-60% today to bring it down from 2ppm. I took the older of the two sponges I ordered and squeezed it a few times into the tank, definitely releasing some funk. The sponge is certainly dirty. At this point, I've kind of given up on the idea of an instant cycle, and simply hope for a somewhat quicker one. Just mostly going to focus on keeping the ammonia down (and nitrites if the time comes) and keeping the little guy healthy while my tank cycles. Definitely skeptical that these sponges are fully cycled, but it can't hurt for them to be in there, if even partially cycled. Was hoping to recommend these to others looking to cycle their tanks quickly, with little fuss, but unfortunately that may not be the case. Thank you for all the help! I appreciate it :)
It does kinda sound like an instant cycle isn't in the cards. :( We can still hope that they will speed up the cycle though.

I have an idea as to why these seeded sponges may not work as well as a sponge we have seeded from our own tanks but I may be way off base. I have often said when upgrading ones tank they need to also move the water from the smaller tank to the bigger one because it is the water both fish and bacteria are used to. Even our plants need to be acclimated to the chemistry of our water. Quite often the plants will melt back while getting settled in. Is it possible that the bacteria on these angelsPlus sponges need to get used to the chemistry of our water and that is why they don't works as well as we hope they will?..... Maybe.

I do know for a fact that I can instantly cycle another tank by using a well seeded sponge from my main tank. I have done it successfully numerous times. I wonder though if these same sponges would instantly cycle someone else's tank.

I do hope they will at least speed up the process. After your experience with 2 of them I will be reluctant to recommend them. I do hope they are not selling so many of them they have begun to cut corners.

I was under the impression that these sponges are being seeded in an actual tank being fed by fish waste. If that isn't the case and they are actually being seeded in a tank fed by bottled ammonia I have to wonder if the bacteria isn't as strong as it should be. I have mentioned this before and was shot down. I was told ammonia is ammonia no matter the source but I'm not sure I agree with that. My line of thinking is there is more to the ammonia being produced by the fish than what's in a bottle thus a stronger more natural cycle. This may explain why some folks are having problems once they add fish after doing a fishless cycle.

Enough of my rambling. Please keep us updated on the progress of your little guys home. :)
 

New Threads

Similar Threads

Follow FishLore!

FishLore on Social Media

Online statistics

Members online
232
Guests online
3,419
Total visitors
3,651

Aquarium Photo Contests

Aquarium Calculator

Top Bottom