Fishless Cycling in 10 gallon tank not speeding up...

Vis

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Hi everyon, hope you are having a great day! I have finally joined the Fishlore community after visiting this site countless times.

A few years ago, my young naive self experienced new tank syndrome and lost quite a few fish, I was discouraged. Two years later, I have done my research and am ready to give this another go! Due to my past I have opted to fishless cycle as I do not want to lose another fish. I waited over 1 month and my tank did not process any ammonia, so I purchased some TSS+ and dumped it in my tank and put some right onto my black filter sponge (in my HOB filter). My ammonia has been processing. I first dosed 2 ppm ammonia and have subsequently dosing 1 ppm. Every time I dose it to 1 ppm it takes 1 week to process the ammonia and it has not sped up. My question is, shouldn't the process be speeding up by now?

Some other things about my tank:
-the black sponge in my HOB filter has white media at the top of it (I believe its from the TSS+, but it hasn't multiplied down the sponge like bacteria)
-I added an airstone to increase surface agitation and overall oxygen
-Today marks 1 month since I added TSS+
-I'm hesitant to add plants because a)the tank is in the middle of cycling b) I don't want to leave too much maintenance for my parents when I go to live on campus again

One last question...Do you think after this is complete I can safely add 5 harlequin rasporas or should I dose my tank to 3ppm then 1.5 ppm of ammonia until it can handle that load?

Thank you so much :)
 

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What test kit are you using? Sometimes it's hard to tell precise ammonia levels below 1 ppm. Try dosing up to 3 or 4 ppm and see how quickly that comes down. Be sure you're also testing nitrite/ate levels as well to see how fast those are produced/processed.
 
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I am using the liquid API master test kit, it allows me to see 8, 4, 2, 1, 0.5, 0.25 and 0 ppm of ammonia. I never actually saw nitrite, it just goes straight to nitrate, which was at 30 ppm this morning. I was told that I should wait for my tank to be able to handle 1-2 ppm of ammonia before dosing higher and that if not it would kill my bacteria? (not sure if that is true)

Thanks again!
 

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Have you changed any water since you started this cycling process? If not then I recommend you change at least 50% of it now. If this tank has the original water in it then the water in it now is what I consider dead water. All of the minerals it started out with are now gone and need to be replenished with fresh water. Be sure you both temp match and dechlorinate the new water before pouring it in there.

Once you do the water change go ahead and add enough ammonia to get the level up to about 2ppm. No need to add anymore than that.

What is the temp of the water? Warmer temps helps bacteria grow quicker. What is the pH? It needs to be at least 7 Lower than 6.5 or so can cause the cycle to stall.

BTW: Dosing ammonia higher than 2ppm isn't going to kill your bacteria.
 
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mattgirl said:
Have you changed any water since you started this cycling process? If not then I recommend you change at least 50% of it now. If this tank has the original water in it then the water in it now is what I consider dead water. All of the minerals it started out with are now gone and need to be replenished with fresh water. Be sure you both temp match and dechlorinate the new water before pouring it in there.

Once you do the water change go ahead and add enough ammonia to get the level up to about 2ppm. No need to add anymore than that.

What is the temp of the water? Warmer temps helps bacteria grow quicker. What is the pH? It needs to be at least 7 Lower than 6.5 or so can cause the cycle to stall.

BTW: Dosing ammonia higher than 2ppm isn't going to kill your bacteria.

My first day on here and I already learned something new: dead water! Thanks for the reply

So I did a 70% water change 1 month ago before adding TSS+ and then every 2 weeks I have just topped it off with about 0.75 gallons of water...not sure if that's enough to replenish the minerals though. Do you think I should still do a 50% change? Also, how often should I be changing my water in my fishless cycle? (other than when I am reducing nitrate levels)

My pH has been constantly sitting at 8.0, I test it 1-2 times a week. About two weeks ago I turned up the temp to 29 C (about 84 F I believe) in an attempt to promote the growth of bacteria.

I also have suspicions about this HOB filter, I'll be converting my air stone into a sponge filter tomorrow.
 

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Vis said:
My first day on here and I already learned something new: dead water! Thanks for the reply

So I did a 70% water change 1 month ago before adding TSS+ and then every 2 weeks I have just topped it off with about 0.75 gallons of water...not sure if that's enough to replenish the minerals though. Do you think I should still do a 50% change? Also, how often should I be changing my water in my fishless cycle? (other than when I am reducing nitrate levels)

My pH has been constantly sitting at 8.0, I test it 1-2 times a week. About two weeks ago I turned up the temp to 29 C (about 84 F I believe) in an attempt to promote the growth of bacteria.

I also have suspicions about this HOB filter, I'll be converting my air stone into a sponge filter tomorrow.
Since this cycle does seem to be stalled I would go ahead and do the 50% water change. Once done you really shouldn't have to do another one if things start moving forward until the cycle is done and then you will do the one to get nitrates down before adding fish.

Temp and pH seem fine. What are your concerns about your HOB? As long as you have filter media in it and it has water running through it I can't imagine it being a problem during the cycling process.

Edited to add: I re-read what I wrote earlier and realized it could be kinda confusing. When I said "No need to add anymore than that" earlier I didn't mean you won't be adding any more ammonia. You want to add more each time that 2ppm goes down close to zero.
 
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mattgirl said:
Since this cycle does seem to be stalled I would go ahead and do the 50% water change. Once done you really shouldn't have to do another one if things start moving forward until the cycle is done and then you will do the one to get nitrates down before adding fish.

Temp and pH seem fine. What are your concerns about your HOB? As long as you have filter media in it and it has water running through it I can't imagine it being a problem during the cycling process.

Edited to add: I re-read what I wrote earlier and realized it could be kinda confusing. When I said "No need to add anymore than that" earlier I didn't mean you won't be adding any more ammonia. You want to add more each time that 2ppm goes down close to zero.

Thank you. I'll go ahead and do that water change then, fingers crossed it helps this stalled cycle.

The HOB filter was unused for over 1 year, so although the impeller seems to be working fine, perhaps it's filtering ability has decreased, I'm not entirely sure but it's older. Since I already have an airstone, I just need to purchase the sponge filter attachment, I'm hoping this can also help as it gives more surface area for beneficial bacteria (as you already know of course haha :))

And no worries! I totally understood that you meant being able to handle a load of 2ppm should be enough before I add fish.

Thanks again!!
 

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Vis said:
Thank you. I'll go ahead and do that water change then, fingers crossed it helps this stalled cycle.

The HOB filter was unused for over 1 year, so although the impeller seems to be working fine, perhaps it's filtering ability has decreased, I'm not entirely sure but it's older. Since I already have an airstone, I just need to purchase the sponge filter attachment, I'm hoping this can also help as it gives more surface area for beneficial bacteria (as you already know of course haha :))

And no worries! I totally understood that you meant being able to handle a load of 2ppm should be enough before I add fish.

Thanks again!!
The great thing about HOB filters, as long as the impeller is turning and is pulling water up into the filter there is nothing much else that can go wrong with them. I was out of the hobby for about 6 years so of course my HOB filters sat idle during all that time. Once set back up they still worked perfectly so hopefully yours is too. Sponge filters work great too so no problem switching to one or running both.
 
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mattgirl said:
The great thing about HOB filters, as long as the impeller is turning and is pulling water up into the filter there is nothing much else that can go wrong with them. I was out of the hobby for about 6 years so of course my HOB filters sat idle during all that time. Once set back up they still worked perfectly so hopefully yours is too. Sponge filters work great too so no problem switching to one or running both.
It's been nearly 2 days since I did a 50% water change and my ammonia is still sitting at 2ppm (usually it processes about 0.5ppm of ammonia every 2 days), so do you think the water is still dead and that I should do another water change after all this ammonia is processed, or am I getting ahead of myself here. BTW love the post you made on stalled cycles :)
 

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Vis said:
It's been nearly 2 days since I did a 50% water change and my ammonia is still sitting at 2ppm (usually it processes about 0.5ppm of ammonia every 2 days), so do you think the water is still dead and that I should do another water change after all this ammonia is processed, or am I getting ahead of myself here. BTW love the post you made on stalled cycles :)
The water change you did should have freshened up the water so another one shouldn't need to be done. I am quite stumped as to why this cycle isn't moving forward. Everything seems to be as it should be for a cycle to grow. Since you have seen nitrates we have to think you have nitrite eating bacteria and to have nitrites you have to have ammonia eating bacteria so I don't understand why it isn't going down. I realize you aren't seeing nitrites but you aren't the first not to see them after adding TSS. I have had to accept sometimes the nitrite spike happens so fast folks can miss it when using bottled bacteria. Without bottled bacteria a cycle will pretty well follow a set path. With it things don't always work the same.

I am very tempted to suggest you try another bottle of TSS+ to see if you can get this cycle moving forward. As I am sure you already know, you should be farther along after more than a month.
 
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mattgirl said:
The water change you did should have freshened up the water so another one shouldn't need to be done. I am quite stumped as to why this cycle isn't moving forward. Everything seems to be as it should be for a cycle to grow. Since you have seen nitrates we have to think you have nitrite eating bacteria and to have nitrites you have to have ammonia eating bacteria so I don't understand why it isn't going down. I realize you aren't seeing nitrites but you aren't the first not to see them after adding TSS. I have had to accept sometimes the nitrite spike happens so fast folks can miss it when using bottled bacteria. Without bottled bacteria a cycle will pretty well follow a set path. With it things don't always work the same.

I am very tempted to suggest you try another bottle of TSS+ to see if you can get this cycle moving forward. As I am sure you already know, you should be farther along after more than a month.
I completely agree! I tested my GH and KH today and they were at
GH: 140ppm or 8.4 dgh
KH: 60 ppm or 3.4 dkh
My test kit says my KH is way too low but im
entirely sure about interpreting it so I did post in the test kit forum.
 

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Vis said:
I completely agree! I tested my GH and KH today and they were at
GH: 140ppm or 8.4 dgh
KH: 60 ppm or 3.4 dkh
My test kit says my KH is way too low but im
entirely sure about interpreting it so I did post in the test kit forum.
At this point I wouldn't be concerned about the GH/KH. The cycling process can cause them to go down but the water change should have stabilized them to close to the same as your source water. As long as your pH in the tank is staying close to the same as your source water there is no need to be worried about the numbers you are seeing.
 
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mattgirl said:
At this point I wouldn't be concerned about the GH/KH. The cycling process can cause them to go down but the water change should have stabilized them to close to the same as your source water. As long as your pH in the tank is staying close to the same as your source water there is no need to be worried about the numbers you are seeing.
Hey there! Honestly am not getting a clear answer from others so I wanted to reach out to you again, so sorry for being a bother!

Two 50% water changes later... I have been dosing ammonia to 2ppm, which was being converted directly to nitrates (no nitrites) which I read was not abnormal with TSS+ The ammonia is taking 4 days to get down to 0.25 and did not speed up after each dose.

NOW, out of the blue I have around 4/5ppm of nitrite (hard to read with the API test kit. I diluted it about 50% down and got around 2 ppm. My ammonia is at 1.5 ppm, I last dosed it 2 days ago. Nitrates are at 30 ppm, pH 7.4, temp 29 C

I feel as though I should wait and see if the nitrites will drop on their own, but I have also heard that leaving high nitrites can stall a cycle (which I don't need after 3 months of waiting already :))


mattgirl

So just wondering whether I should do a water change to get the levels down, or should I wait? Also, when can I dose ammonia again (I am in no rush, just wondering)
 

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Congratulations on seeing the nitrites. That tells us that your cycle is moving forward. I have no explanation as to why it has taken so long for them to show up. I know you are bound to be getting pretty short on patience but finally seeing nitrites should mean that things could very well start moving forward a bit quicker now.

You can hold off on doing a water change for a few days. If both nitrite and nitrates get so high they peg out the chart and the ammonia isn't going down at all, a water change may be in order though. Doing the dilution test on the nitrites was a very good idea. That tells us that your nitrites are high but not overly high so I would just give it more time.

I would wait for the ammonia to get down to .25 or so before adding more.
 

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