Going On 2 Months And My Tank Won't Cycle

  1. cosentik

    cosentik Valued Member Member

    Hey all. I am sure this is 100% due to something I'm doing, but since I am so new to all of this I'm looking for help.

    I set up my first tank on June 11th, a 5g. A week later realized I wanted bigger and got a 10g. Stocked it with some different fish, trial and error but most consistently have kept 3 platys (one died, now have 2), and 2 guppies. Added 3 oto cats about a week ago (they're doing great so far) and an Amano shrimp.

    I thought my tank was doing ok, but started noticing that I never saw nitrates, only some ammonia once in a while. Then last week I had a huge ammonia spike, up to 4.0 ppm. Like an idiot, I panicked and put in ammo lock, only finding out later that I probably killed any cycle by starving whatever bacteria I had by doing that.

    Yesterday I set up a 20g. The only thing different is the actual aquarium itself and about 75% of the water is new. I kept 25% of the old water, same pump and filters, same substrate.

    Today I'm reading 0.25/0/0 and pH of 7.2

    Am I just being too impatient for the cycle? I feel like it should have happened by now. The only thing I've gotten is a severe ammonia spike and some ammonia burns on my fish.

    Edit: forgot to mention that when the ammonia spike happened I started doing ~50% water changes every other day for a week
     
  2. a

    ahmad.echols Valued Member Member

  3. OP
    OP
    cosentik

    cosentik Valued Member Member


  4. a

    ahmad.echols Valued Member Member

    Do you have plants
     
  5. OP
    OP
    cosentik

    cosentik Valued Member Member

    Yes 2 java ferns, 2 Amazon swords
     
  6. a

    ahmad.echols Valued Member Member

    Maybe it already cycled I usually don't do massive water changes I do at most thirty percent once weekly. If it's been running for two months it has to be cycled by now.
     


  7. BottomDweller

    BottomDweller Fishlore VIP Member

    If there is ammonia in the tank it is not cycled.

    Was there ever a period where ammonia was 0?
     
  8. OP
    OP
    cosentik

    cosentik Valued Member Member

    Yeah the ammonia reading have just been showing up within the past couple of weeks. I was seeing around 0.25ish and didn't think much of it, was thinking it was getting ready to cycle, but went on vacation, had a big algae bloom and then an ammonia spike up to 4.0
     
  9. BottomDweller

    BottomDweller Fishlore VIP Member

  10. OP
    OP
    cosentik

    cosentik Valued Member Member

    No I've never seen either of those. And yes definitely use a dechlorinator

    That's what I keep thinking, but I must be doing something to interrupt the cycle without realizing it
     
  11. BottomDweller

    BottomDweller Fishlore VIP Member

    Hmmm.... kind of a mystery why your tank isn't cycling. I can't see anything obvious.
    What temperature is the tank?
     
  12. DeerPark

    DeerPark New Member Member

    You have to allow the ammonia to cycle over to nitrite. This takes about a week. If you remove all the ammonia from your tank, your stopping the cycle.
    Keep your ammonia levels low, and you'll notice in a week nitrites will appear and your ammonia will naturally disappear
     
  13. OP
    OP
    cosentik

    cosentik Valued Member Member

    Ok, so I probably messed up by doing water changes and using ammo lock at the first signs of ammonia then. Although I did have it get up to 4.0, and my fish were showing signs of ammonia burns/stress.
     
  14. BottomDweller

    BottomDweller Fishlore VIP Member

    In a fish in cycle you should be doing water changes to keep ammonia below 1ppm. With sensitive animals like otos and shrimp you should keep ammonia as low as possible.
     
  15. Celestialgirl

    Celestialgirl Well Known Member Member

    T
    This is really when your cycle is getting going, which was just a couple of weeks ago. Were you doing too many water changes in the beginning so that your ammonia couldn't build?

    Obviously large changes are required now, but sometimes too much at the start can slow things down.
     
  16. OP
    OP
    cosentik

    cosentik Valued Member Member

    I never did more than a 15% water change weekly before that

    Ok, yeah I haven't had the otos very long, but I got the ammonia down with the new tank setup. Hopefully I will get an appropriate cycle this time
     
  17. DeerPark

    DeerPark New Member Member

    As BottomDweller mentioned, keep ammonia as low as possible, but it still must be there. Water changes work wonders, but only perform them when the ammonia gets too high. Test the ammonia after a 25% water change and treatment (I use continuum fraction) and if ammonia is still too high, you know to change more water.
    Providing you have good filtration and oxygen, nature will take it's coarse and you will see nitrites appear. If you want the process sped up, add good bacteria to your tank (I use stability), this will help establish your biological filter, and you'll have more helpers converting ammonia to nitrite, and then nitrite to nitrate
    Nitrite can only be kept low with water changes. You'll find your performing the most water changes when your at the nitrite stage
     
  18. jdhef

    jdhef Moderator Moderator Member

    Actually, you did the correct thing. AmmoLock puts ammonia into a state that is non-toxic to fish, but still in a form that will feed the bacteria colony your trying to establish.

    The first question I have for you is what test kit are you using? The next question is what is your pH level? Have you ever changed your filter media? Those answers will help us to give more specific help but in general...

    You want to have elevated ammonia levels since ammonia is the food the bacteria you are growing lives off of. But since ammonia is highly toxic, you want to keep the ammonia levels low. I'm not sure how much ammonia AmmoLock can detox, but SeaChem's Prime will detox up to 1ppm of ammonia (and later nitrite) for 24 hours. So if you use Prime, so long as your daily water changes are large enough to keep ammonia (and later nitrite) under 1ppm, all ammonia will be detoxed and your fish will not be exposed to toxins.

    It usually takes about 3 weeks of having elevated ammonia level in the tank before the bacteria colony develops and drops your ammonia level to 0ppm. But then all that ammonia is being converted by the bacteria into nitrites. So it usually takes about 3 weeks of having elevated nitrite levels before the bacteria colony that converts nitrites into nitrates gets large enough to get your nitrites to 0ppm, Then at that point you are cycled.