Filter sludge to speed up my tank cycle?

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Jendayi

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I have a 5 gallon tank that has been running for a few weeks now - a Hex 5 by Marineland. This tank has the bio-wheel in conjunction with it's filter. I had my betta fish in there for the first two weeks, until I removed him to a hospital tank to treat fin rot. When I took my fish out, the ammonia reading was at 1.0 and I kept adding fish flakes to keep the ammonia up.

Last Tuesday I had my first nitrite reading at .25 with the ammonia around 2.0. So I took some water in to my LFS for the manager to test, and he gave me some filter sludge from one of his cycled tanks (yum lol). I added the sludge directly to my tank as he told me to do, then stirred up my gravel every few hours until the filter had taken care of most of the gunk.

Since then, my water values for ammonia and nitrite have remained about the same as listed above, but the nitrAtes have gone thru the roof at a value of 40.

So that is my background. My questions:

- Do my water value readings sound appropriate for where my tank is in it's cycle?
- Is the nitrAte explosion normal?
- What sort of timeframe am I looking at for my nitrIte spike? For the tank to be cycled completely?
- Do I keep feeding the tank the flake food until my fish goes back in?

Thank you for your help and information!
 

sgould

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Not sure about the filter sludge thing...sounds odd to me, but maybe someone else can comment. As far as your readings, it sounds like you are on track. The fact that you are beginning to get nitrite readings means that the 1st stage bacteria are beginning to process your ammonia. I would guess within the next few days to a week you will see the ammonia coming down quite a bit, with the nitrite continuing up. It could be a little while yet for the 2nd stage bacteria to kick in and deal with the nitrite that is just beginning to build, but that is normal. That's the long winded version of "Yes, your readings are appropriate" You definately need to keep putting the flakes in to keep feeding the bacteria. If you quit now the bacteria will die out and you will have to start over.
 
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Jendayi

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sgould said:
Not sure about the filter sludge thing...sounds odd to me, but maybe someone else can comment.
What the guy did was take a filter out of one of his tanks and then squeeze it into a bag, so I came home with his tank water with a bunch of gunk in it. I assume this is the same thing as seeding your tank with gravel or filter media from another cycled tank.

I guess the part that I am most curious about is the high nitrate readings. Will this effect the cycling process? Before I added the gunk from the LFS my nitrates were zero.
 

sgould

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No, nitrates will not affect your cycle. Normally you don't have nitrate until your bacteria have developed, but in your case, it came with your filter sludge/water from the lfs. A reading of 40 would be too high if you had fish in the tank. Since you do not have fish in there right now, I would leave it alone until your cycle is complete with ammonia and nitrite at 0. Before you put fish back in the tank though, you will want to do some water changes to bring the nitrate down a ways. I would aim to get it down to at least 10. Thereafter, monitor your water and do a water change whenever the nitrate builds back up to 20.
 

Luniyn

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It sounds like all he gave you was a bunch if nitrates. I'm not even sure it's possible to transfer the good bacteria by squeezing a filter out. He would have been better cutting a piece of the material off and giving that to you as that is what has the good stuff on it. In any event, you will need to do a lot of water changes now in order to get rid of those nitrates, but as suggested just wait until you have ammonia and nitrite readings of 0. And next time just pass on the sludge .
 
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Jendayi

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I have been testing my values in the tank daily, because I am just so anxious for it to cycle, darn it! lol Today I lost my nitrites The ammonia is still at 2.0 and the nitrates have come down to between 10 and 20. What the heck??

I have noticed that the water in that tank is clearer than I have seen it since I added it new weeks ago. But I have done NO water changes since my fish has been in his hospital tank, so 8 days. All I have done is add some flake food every day and stir the gravel up a bit to let the filter do it's work.

I'm so confused lol...
 

Luniyn

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Patience is the hardest part of this hobby (I sure don't have any ;D), but the take will cycle with time. Just keep up with the flakes (best if 2 times a day, once when you wake up and once before bed... i.e. every 12 hours) and you will start to see nitrites after a while. Without fish in the tank just leave the water be and let the ammonia spike as high as it wants to. Good Luck!
 
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Jendayi

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I think my tank cycled while I wasn't paying attention to it lol... I hadn't checked the values in 3 or 4 days, and today I had 0 ammonia and 0 nitrites, and a nitrate reading around 20. I have been feeding the flakes every day.

Maybe it's like a watched pot never boils??

Anyway, I'm going to take some water into the LFS this weekend to get a second opinion. If they say yes then I'm getting a snail for it, while my betta is still in his hospital tank.
 
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