First Family Tank

SaltyPhone

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Hello from NC. My family is in the process of starting our first freshwater aquarium. Through a ton of google searches bringing me to these forums; we decided on a 20 gal marine land kit. Included with that was tank, penguin 150 hob filter, heater, hood and light. From my research I 1. Got tank setup and running. 2. Bought ace hardware ammonia 10% (just water and ammonia) 3. Added a cap full of Prime. 4. Added a capful of ammonia a day after. 5. An hour later tested with API freshwater kit (ammonia at4-8 not sure I could tell the difference). 6. Testing every other day. It’s been two weeks at this point with no noticeable drop in ammonia levels. So my question is: Is this normal? Most articles I have read on fish less cycling suggest that within 7-14 days the ammonia oxidizing bacteria should develop. Did I miss something? What are some troubleshooting steps I could take? Any advice would surely be appreciated.
 

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HI and welcome!

Can I ask what your pH and temp is? Those factors also affect how quickly bacteria can develop. Have you also tested your nitrite and nitrates yet? I would have probably started with a smaller dose of ammonia so that your bacteria has an easier time to develop and process the ammonia dosed. I would do a large enough water change to bring that ammonia down to 1ppm.

Using a bacteria supplement like Tetra SafeStart Plus would also help speed things up.
 

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Some studies have shown that a concentration above 1 ppm of ammonia and nitrites could suppress the growth of certain strands of ammonia-oxydizing bacteria (AOB) and nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB). Are you using any bacterial supplements?
 

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Welcome to fishlore! Nice to have a neighbor on here (I'm in NC too)

I would do a water change as suggested above... bring ammonia down to 1ppm (4 & above often stalls cycles). What's your PH? I have soft water, & couldn't cycle my Betta tanks years ago, because of low PH, until I corrected the issue.
 
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SaltyPhone

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Currently ph is on the upper scale of the test but on the bottom of high ph so 7.5 ish. Current tank temp is I dunno warm. I have trouble reading these stick on thermometers. Thanks for the advice I’ll proceed with a 50% water change and see where that gets us
 

el337

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Try to aI'm for a temp of around 84F as that gets the bacteria populating faster. A glass or digital thermometer would also be better and more accurate. Those stick-ons factor in the room temp so it's not very accurate.
 
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SaltyPhone

SaltyPhone

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SaltyPhone said:
Currently ph is on the upper scale of the test but on the bottom of high ph so 7.5 ish. Current tank temp is I dunno warm. I have trouble reading these stick on thermometers. Thanks for the advice I’ll proceed with a 50% water change and see where that gets us
Oh and

Sorry phone crashed. Got the water changed ammonia reading looks between 1-2ppm. Petsmart had no thermometers whatsoever besides the stick on. Any recommendations on an intank that’s easy to read?
 

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SaltyPhone said:
Sorry phone crashed. Got the water changed ammonia reading looks between 1-2ppm. Petsmart had no thermometers whatsoever besides the stick on. Any recommendations on an intank that’s easy to read?
The one I have is great. Has suction cup and seems accurate. Unfortunately I don't know what brand it was but it was under $3
 

thisindianguy

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SaltyPhone said:
Sorry phone crashed. Got the water changed ammonia reading looks between 1-2ppm. Petsmart had no thermometers whatsoever besides the stick on. Any recommendations on an intank that’s easy to read?
Walmart has glass thermometers for aquariums in the pet section which are like less and $4
 

el337

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SaltyPhone said:
Sorry phone crashed. Got the water changed ammonia reading looks between 1-2ppm. Petsmart had no thermometers whatsoever besides the stick on. Any recommendations on an intank that’s easy to read?
Re-test in 24 hours to see where you are and also test for nitrite/nitrates.

Personally, I like the digitals over the glass. Takes the guess work out of what the temp is, especially for bad eyes like mine. lol

I like these -
 
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SaltyPhone

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Will do El we certainly appericiate yours and everyone else’s advice. I’ll give it another weeks patience and update the results.
 
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SaltyPhone

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Update:
Almost at another week. Still no changes in water parameters so on the way home I stopped in and purchased a bottle of Tetra Safestart and dumped it in; fingers crossed. This really stinks but has given me ample time to develop a stocking plan. I’m thinking bout maybe a single Pearl GouramI as a centerpiece fish; thoughts?
 

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Ammonia still at 1-2ppm and no nitrite and nitrates? Good idea on the TSS+. That should help move things along. Test again tomorrow and see where you're at.

A pearl gouramI would get too large for a 20g. I'm guessing this is a 20 gallon tall? What about 2-3 honey gouramis?
 
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SaltyPhone

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Yea lol still same, same I’ll test again tomorrow. And research some other fish. My stepdaughter is so digging the neon tetras despite my attempts to steer her tword platies. I certainly welcome all input in that matter too. I will update tomorrow concerning water quality. Thanks again for all y’alls input every bit is appreciated.
 

el337

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Why not have both? If this is a tall, you could get 8-10 neons and 3-4 male platies.
 
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SaltyPhone

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Well bad news is no change in water parameters. Still looking at ~2ppm ammonia 0ppm nitrite and nitrates. I’ve switched to test strips till I start to see some changes. On the bright side while returning a faulty heater we came home with a new friend. Its a bright orange plant (fake as with all of them) named firelight lol. We have gotten so impatient stepdaughter is now naming fake plants. Anyways a week away from a week long vacation so all other attempts at cycling this thing are gonna have to wait. Thanks again for your insight El.
 

el337

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It's not going to be an overnight thing. TSS+ was only just added and it needs time for the bacteria to start adhering to your media and other hard surfaces.

Patience is definitely needed when cycling a tank. Give it a couple more days although if you're going to be going away for a week, might be a good idea to just start over but then you'd have wasted a bottle of TSS+. I would think you'd see some progress though before you go away.
 
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SaltyPhone

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Thanks so much El it’s a pleasure to have a sounding board and is much appreciated. This is the game plan for the moment 1. Test water a few times (since my wife is hounding me for testing every hour lol... I don’t really). throw some fish food in to keep a trace of ammonia in there before vacation. 2. Have a great vacation. 3. Come back to a fully cycled tank. 4. Be realistic do 100% wc and start over. This time I’ll trash the filter cartridge and try other media. Speaking of which I dunno if it was the TSS or what: but now the cartridge seems gunked up and water is flowing through the bypass. 5. Give Dr Tim’s One and Only a shot.
 

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Geez... I'm in NC, too bad we don't know each other well enough or lived close enough (I live btwn Charlotte & Greensboro) for me to come help cycle your tank while you're on vacation!!

You'll get it cycled though, don't stress! It's a huge pain to do the first time!!

If I had known you were gonna leave town & it was gonna take this long, I could've shared cycled filter media (promise it's healthy & disease free!) with you, & you could've had fish in your tank while you were on vacation, so your fish would've kept your BB alive!! ugh... sorry... not trying to sound creepy lol... yea, tell me when you're on vacation! Lol... wow! Hope you got a laugh out of that! (That's why I didn't edit it out! ) ...I just truly like to help ppl... and when you get back, please feel free to take me up on my offer!! It'll give you an instant cycle.

Edit: also, there's absolutely NO point in testing more than every 12 (really 24) hours

Also, I see you have a penguin 150... I got the same, & figured out a way to get around ONLY using the cartridge... I've got a bag of fluval biomedia that will fit your filter! Ready to go, actually. Because I always keep a spare now (because it's - as you know - a freaking headache to cycle fresh!)
 
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SaltyPhone

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Awsome Night that’s certainly appreciated. I grew up in Charlotte and we live in between there and Asheville now. Thanks to you all for the encouragement and will try to update after vacation.
 

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