Help Fish Aquarium Still Isn't Cycled? Bad smell?

Malachia328

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So around early March I setup my 30 gallon aquarium. I went to the pet store to buy guppies and the lady there said I had to cycle my tank first. I didn't know what cycling was so she said add 15 .10cent goldfish and in a month I can add guppies. I did as she said, until fish started dying. After much research online I realized I made a mistake. The pet store wouldn't take the goldfish back and I couldn't find a home for them. Long story short I have 6 goldfish left. No deaths in the past month. But I fear my tank still isn't cycled. It's been about 2 months and 3 weeks since I added the poor goldfish.

The tank readings are:
Ammonia 0.25 ppm
Ph 7.0
Nitrite 0 ppm
Nitrate 20 ppm

The readings have been this way for 2 weeks now. No changes. I heard once a tank is cycled you'll have 0ppm Ammonia, but I don't know. I've been doing 25% water changes every 3 days but annmomia won't go down. Thoughts? Thanks y'all. (Btw I'm using the API freshwater master test kit.)

Also, there is a very strange smell coming from the tank. Water changes hasn't fixed it.
 

JustinSain

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Malachia328 said:
So around early March I setup my 30 gallon aquarium. I went to the pet store to buy guppies and the lady there said I had to cycle my tank first. I didn't know what cycling was so she said add 15 .10cent goldfish and in a month I can add guppies. I did as she said, until fish started dying. After much research online I realized I made a mistake. The pet store wouldn't take the goldfish back and I couldn't find a home for them. Long story short I have 6 goldfish left. No deaths in the past month. But I fear my tank still isn't cycled. It's been about 2 months and 3 weeks since I added the poor goldfish.

The tank readings are:
Ammonia 0.25 ppm
Ph 7.0
Nitrite 0 ppm
Nitrate 20 ppm

The readings have been this way for 2 weeks now. No changes. I heard once a tank is cycled you'll have 0ppm Ammonia, but I don't know. I've been doing 25% water changes every 3 days but annmomia won't go down. Thoughts? Thanks y'all. (Btw I'm using the API freshwater master test kit.)

Also, there is a very strange smell coming from the tank. Water changes hasn't fixed it.
It sounds like you're doing everything right. I'm guessing your tank is actually overstocked, which is why you can't get rid of ammonia levels. You should get rid of 3 of your goldfish. Just give them back to your LFS for nothing, and see if your ammonia goes down.
 

Adam55

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Hello and welcome,
I'm sorry that it's a struggle now. New tanks are sometimes. Incidentally, what she told you is the single worst piece of advice (for soooo many reasons) I've ever heard about keeping fish. It almost made my head hurt. It makes it harder than it has to be when you get bad advice. It was not your mistake, it was their bad advice.
Moving on, how much and how often do you feed the fish? Goldies are little waste factories. If there's too much food on top of that then you'll have even more waste. That waste is ammonia.
 

ricmcc

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Have you tested your source water? It does seem odd that a large W/C has no effect on your ammonia, and that the level is so consistent.---------rick

Btw, about the odour you mention; is it a bit like sulphur (rotten eggs)?
If you, perhaps you could post some info about your substrate, particularly its depth.
 
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Malachia328

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I tested my water source and the readings come out to be .25ppm ammonia. Yikes.

And as far as the smell, it smells like mold is starting to develop? (Best way I can describe it). I've cleaned the lid thoroughly every time I do a water change. As far as substrate I'm using river rock, it's about 3 inches in depth.

I plan on doing so, once I find someone to take them. Like I said, the pet store won't take them back. The goldfish are only 1inch in length, a little bigger than guppies so are OK for now.

I'm pretty sure the tank isn't overstocked as the goldfish are all so tiny. About 1inch. Although I have heard goldfish produce a large amount of ammonia. I'm looking to find homes for all the goldfish but have been unlucky so far.

I'm now feeding them once a day, and only what they can consume in 2 minutes flat.
 

Sparty fish

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I also have .25 ppm ammonium in my tap water. My current tank readings are the same as yours but with no odor.

My tank seems to be established with no signs of stress.

My question to go along with yours is what do we do about out tap water source? I buy my fish from a local store that also uses the same water from my area. Maybe the fish are used to it?


Go green. Go white.
 

Sarcasm Included

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You might pull a cup of water out of the tank, and check it in a different room. It may very well be mold developing near the tank. Not sure where you live, but the humidity is horrible here, added to a tank room, I am always careful of mold. If you have an enclosed wood stand, you might check the underside.

Small ammonia amounts in the water can be taken care of by adding prime an hour before adding it to the tank. This will bind it in a safe form, till the BB has a chance to break it down. Do not test for 24 hours, after you add the water, as it will create false readings.

p.s. you nitrates are borderline high, you should consider a 50% water change to bring them down.
 

Mamajin

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Malachia328 said:
As far as substrate I'm using river rock, it's about 3 inches in depth.
Are you doing gravel vacs in that? (ie; are you cleaning out the detritus every week that gets stuck down inside of the substrate.)

Sarcasm Included said:
p.s. you nitrates are borderline high
A nitrate reading of 20 is normal. In an freshwater community tank, african cichlid tank, brackish tank, or pond nitrate levels are safe between 5 to to 50 ppm. Freshwater with plants and discus is safe between 5 to 30 ppm. As a generally rule most tanks fall anywhere between 5 to 20 ppm nitrate.
 
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Malachia328

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Yes, I'm vacuuming the rocks each time I do a water change. Which is about every 3 days.
 

Sarcasm Included

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30ppm with plants is normal? That is extremely high for a "planted" tank. I'm lucky if I see over 5ppm in any of my planted tanks. I guess I could wait a couple months to do a water change and maybe I will see it.
20ppm is a good place to do water change to maintain safe levels, 30ppm is pushing the envelope if your new to tanks.
 

jdhef

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Welcome to FishLore!

A cycled tank should easily be able to process the .25ppm ammonia that you believe your tap water contains. But after all this time, one would think that you have enough ammonia consuming bacteria that your ammonia level would be 0ppm. So...maybe you should test a bottle of bottled water and see if maybe your test kit is giving false readings. If the bottled water also reads ,25 ammonia, then you can assume either your test kit has gone bad or even possibly you are mistaking the 0ppm color for the .25 color. I know I have trouble telling what color the test tube turns...but then again I am colorblind.
 
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Malachia328

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Hello and thank you.


After doing as you instructed, multiple testings of bottled water, the readings came out to be .25 ppm ammonia each time with different brands of water. I even asked my friends to make sure it wasn't my eyes and they all agreed without a doubt it's .25 ppm. I suppose something is wrong with my test kit... Even though I bought it 2 months ago. Help...


I guess I have no other option than buy new test kit.
 

Rivieraneo

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No, this is good dirty earthy organic smell is good
 

Mamajin

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Sarcasm Included said:
30ppm with plants is normal? That is extremely high for a "planted" tank. I'm lucky if I see over 5ppm in any of my planted tanks. I guess I could wait a couple months to do a water change and maybe I will see it.
20ppm is a good place to do water change to maintain safe levels, 30ppm is pushing the envelope if your new to tanks.

I wouldn't recommend waiting a few months to do a water change. Weekly is the safest bet for the majority of your tank setups.

If you're wondering where I get my numbers... aquatic veterinarians Doctors Foster & Smith. .

LeoDiaz said:
Is this a bad thing? My filter media smell like wet dirt(smell nice lol). Not hijacking.
No, that's a good sign of a healthy tank.

Malachia328 said:
I suppose something is wrong with my test kit... Even though I bought it 2 months ago. Help...
I guess I have no other option than buy new test kit.
If you contact API they will send you a new ammonia kit.
 

DaniosRock

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Welcome. There is a thread about .25 ammonia readings running concurrently on the forum. API Ammonia Kits are notorious for a .25 reading when there is none. Your tank is cycled and there is nothing to worry about with that reading. With six Goldie's your probably going to always have ammonia in your tank as they are huge mess makers.

I'm so sorry you got bad advice and that so many fish died, that must have been awful. Why won't they let you return them? What they did was just wrong in so many ways.

Just keep reading and learning here on FL. It won't take long before you're well versed in Fish. Its a great group here and again, welcome.


 

Sarcasm Included

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Mamajin said:
I wouldn't recommend waiting a few months to do a water change. Weekly is the safest bet for the majority of your tank setups.

If you're wondering where I get my numbers... aquatic veterinarians Doctors Foster & Smith. .
Mamajin, most my tanks are Natural Planted Tanks and suggesting that it is recommended for weekly water changes shows your lack of knowledge in this area.

I am going to discontinue this discussion, because it is not helping the author and I think too much of you.
 

Mamajin

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Sarcasm Included said:
Mamajin, most my tanks are Natural Planted Tanks and suggesting that it is recommended for weekly water changes shows your lack of knowledge in this area.

I am going to discontinue this discussion, because it is not helping the author and I think too much of you.

I don't have planted tanks, so of course I didn't know you're not allowed to change the water out every week. This is a learning forum, so next time instead of being snarky you can KINDLY point out something new for me to learn. I drink up knowledge and welcome it at any time as long as it's friendly.
 

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