Fishless Cycle Stalled? High Ammonia, No Nitrates Or Nitrites

Discussion in 'Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle' started by CamLo, Apr 16, 2018.

  1. CamLoNew MemberMember


    I've been cycling with fish food for more than two weeks now and I'm aware that it can take a loooooong time to establish a cycle (Ammonia had stable readings, Nitrites were going up and so were nitrates)

    Everything was going as it should, but I, unfortunately, had a family emergency and had to leave for a few days, leaving my tank unattended. I just came back, tested for nitrates, nitrites and ammonia with my API test kit and I think I'm stalled : ammonia levels read at around 4-6 ppm , no nitrites, no nitrates).

    Plus, my tank is cloudy, fish food is rotting and making the water smelly. I do have a water heater on (77F). PH is about 6,4.

    What should I do?
  2. LilynNNew MemberMember

    I would do a large water change and essentially start over.
    Hope you and your family are doing well.
  3. DarkOneFishlore VIPMember

    How big is the tank? Ammonia should be below 5ppm. Most recommend 2-4ppm. Temp is ok but would be a little better at 80°F. pH is kinda low but shouldn't hinder BB growth.

    I would suggest cleaning up the rotting food and do a 50% water change. Maybe get some Stability or TSS+ to speed up the cycle.
  4. TexasGuppyWell Known MemberMember

    pH of 7.8 or so will speed things up. 6.5 is low for growing bb and will almost stop around 6. Raise temp to 82.
    You can add some carbon to help with smell.
    How do you have zero nitrates now if you had some? they won't disappear without plants or massive water changes.
  5. CamLoNew MemberMember

    Thank you, my tank is 10 gal. I'll raise the temp up and vacuum the substrate.

    As for the disappearing Nitrates, I changed about 30% of the water last week when I couldn't handle the smell. All the water I added had been dechlorinated.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 16, 2018
  6. DoubleDutchFishlore LegendMember

    Quite unlogical the cycle stoppen though ammonia stayed "available".
  7. CamLoNew MemberMember

    So do you recommend I start over?
  8. DoubleDutchFishlore LegendMember

    If you do a small waterchange to lower the amount of ammonia a bit the cycle should start again.

    I can't wrap my mind around the fact it stopped still having an ammoniasource.
    I mean what stopped the ammonia and nitritemunchers though there was food available.
  9. CamLoNew MemberMember

    I actually don't know if it means that it has stalled. All I know is that the cycled took an unplanned turn.

    Also, I just ordered some Stability. Thanks for your advice!

    I didn't add fish food for about 4-5 days...
  10. DoubleDutchFishlore LegendMember

    I understood that.
    But the cycle starts with ammonia (from the decaying fishfood) which is processed into nitrites and those into nitrates.

    Though you didn't add fishfood there still appeared to be ammonia. That is what I don't get.
  11. CamLoNew MemberMember

    Oh. Maybe the small water change affected the cycle? I left about more than 2/3rds of the rotten food that was on the substrate, though..
  12. DoubleDutchFishlore LegendMember

    beats me.
  13. Jenoli42Well Known MemberMember

    if you had ammonia source,
    water changes rarely impact your cycle unless you're using TSS or the water you add is really low pH or untreated.

    there is no way your nitrates disappeared with a 30% water change. only 30% of your nitrates would have disappeared.

    if your using API nitrate test kit, did you make sure to shake test solution bottle #2 for 30-45 seconds like your life depended on it? seriously your arm should hurt if you do it properly. then you add the 10 drops of bottle #2 to your test tube, cap it, and proceed to shake the daylights out of the test tube for at least a full minute. then read results after 5 minutes.

    have you checked the ammonia level of your water straight out of your tap?
  14. CamLoNew MemberMember

    Pretty sure I did, but I'll retest. Especially since I'm pretty sure there are nitrates in my tap water. I'll post the results (I'm doing a water change right now).
  15. DarkOneFishlore VIPMember

    Since you ordered Stability, why not just get a few fish when you get it so you don't have rotting food in your tank?
  16. CamLoNew MemberMember

    Wouldn't that become a fish-in cycle? And stress out the fish?
  17. DarkOneFishlore VIPMember

    If you're using Stability, it will help convert ammonia and nitrites to nitrates so they won't be stressed. I've done fish-in cycle with 2 tanks and used Stability and TSS+ and ammonia and nitrites were never higher than .25 and that was only for a day.
  18. CamLoNew MemberMember

    Okay, I'll look into it.

    Alright, so after a 40% water change, adding some baking soda to raise up the pH and raising the temp (to 82) here are my results:
    pH : 7.2
    Ammonia : 2-3 ppm
    NitrItes : 0
    NitrAte (while shaking the living out of tube #2 AND test tube) : not 0, but not 5 ppm either.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 16, 2018
  19. DarkOneFishlore VIPMember

    I wouldn't recommend messing with pH after cycling. Fish don't do well with pH swings.
  20. TexasGuppyWell Known MemberMember

    Agreed on leaving pH once fish are in, but at this point we want fast bb growth. I would bump it more more and don't add fish till your cycled. Looks like you are progressing now, no need to start over.