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Help with cycle

Discussion in 'Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle' started by Darell, Nov 27, 2012.

  1. Darell New Member Member

    I bought a 10 gallon tank about 4 months ago. I did this without knowing about the nitrogen cycle and stocked with about 8 fish. After a little research and finding this site I realized I had made a mistake. So now 7 fish have died and the last remaining fish which is a dwarf gourami seems to be doing ok. Before the other fish died we had what I believe was ick or fin rot or both. This was cured with tetra lifeguard. So now the gourami is using all his fins and is doing good. About the water...Through out all of this the ammonia has been between 2.0 and 4.0 ppm. Nitrites have been at 0 ppm and Nitrates have been between 20 and 40 ppm. I have used 2 bottles of tetra safestart which is supposed to be enough for 4 10 gallon tanks and nothing. I'v done water changes of different amounts from 2 to 4 gallons of water based on info from pet shop. I'v been using ammo lock between safestart applications. As per instructions didn't use ammo lock for 2 days before adding safestart, then not using again for about 5 days to give the bio a chance to work. I have cut back of feeding to a very small amount 1 time a day and alternate with flakes and brine shrimp. I use a gravel vacuum when changing water. We made the mistake of having to much gravel at first but now only have about 5 pounds. Started with 15 which I think was playing a role in high nitrates. Since cutting back on food and only 1 fish I though the nitrates would go down and allow the nitrites to kick in but has not happened. The water is so clear you can't even tell theres water in it. I have a Aqua tech hang on back filtration with 2 filters. I have changed the foam one once and never changed the fiber one. Just rinsed in tank water when changed water. The filtration is rated for 100 gph. I have 5 fake plants and 1 castle for fish to swim in. I never wash them to preserve the bio on them. I just put a bottle of safestart in the tank about 7 days ago and numbers today were close to 4.0 ppm. 0 nitrites and close to 40 ppm nitrates. Added the ammo lock again today because of high ammonia. Using API master test kit for testing. HELP. How can I get the nitrites to kick in. Thanks for any and all help.

  2. carolo43 Valued Member Member

    You can not allow the ammonia reading to get between 2-4. You have to do those water changes, make sure you always use dechlorinator, but you can't allow that ammonia to get over .25. If you have to change the water daily, then do so. Four months is a long time to cycle any tank. Are you cleaning out your filter? If so, stop. Your cycle is in the filter.

    If those filter cartridges get dirty, just swish them around in tank water you are going to throw out. Never put them under tap water because tap water contains chlorine that kills the bacteria.

  3. Akari_32 Fishlore Legend Member

    Welcome to Fishlore! I would suggest you stop the use of all chemicals (other than your water conditioner) and start up with large daily water changes, seeing as the chemicals don't seem to be working for you.

    Also, if you could add some paragraphs to that post, that would really help a lot! Its a bit hard to read :;th

  4. jdhef Moderator Moderator Member

    Welcome to FishLore!

    Sorry to hear you got off to a rough start!

    When using SafeStart you have to use it stictly in accordance with the directions. Sadly the directions do not appear to be on the bottle, so it hard to know how to properly use it.

    SafeStart is designed to be used in the following manner:
    1) Fill tank with dechlorinated water.
    2) Wait 24 hours minimum.
    3) Add a couple fish (1"to 2" of fish per 10 gallons of water)
    4) Immeadiatly add an entire well shaken, appropriatly sized bottle of SafeStart
    5) Do nothing other than feed your fish for the next 14 days.
    6) Test your water on days 14 and if all worked correctly...you're cycled.

    But in your case you already have fish in a tank, so the proceedure is a little different and may have a slightly higher rate of failure. But here's the proceedure you should follow in a case such as yours:
    1) Do several back to back water changes in order to get the ammonia level as close to 0ppm as possible.
    2) Wait 24 hours, then add a entire, well shaken, appropriate sized bottle of SafeStart
    3) Do nothing but feed the fish for 14 days.
    5) Test on day 14 and if all wnet well...you're cycled.

    Doing water changes or adding any water conditioners within the first 14 days will usually cause the SafeStart to fail. Being overstocked can also cause it to fail, since the ammonia being produced by the fish can overwhelm the SafeStart bacteria.

    Good luck!
  5. Darell New Member Member

    Thanks for the feedback. I haven't changed the fiber filter but did change the foam one with the charcoal when I treated for the ick and fin rot. Couldn't have the charcoal with the meds. What size water changes do you think I should do daily. 2 gallons a day or more? Also should I continue to use the ammo lock untill the water changes bring down the ammonia? Thanks
  6. Darell New Member Member

    Thanks for the reply. What size water changes should I do per day and should I continue to use the ammo lock until I get the ammonia down? Thanks again.
  7. Akari_32 Fishlore Legend Member

    Try 25% and test after you fill the tank back up and it's settled for a bit (unless you use something like Prine as your water conditioner, that reduces ammonia, etc, then wait 24 hours to test), and see how close to 0 ammonia that gets you. If that doesn't work, up it some.

    If you don't have it already, get some Prime. It detoxifies all the nasties, but doesn't remove them. It's like the SafeStart, but lasts 24 hours, and allows you to do water changes as needed.

    I personally would stop using the ammo-lock. But, I don't know anything about it, so I'll leave that to someone who knows about.
  8. jetajockey Fishlore VIP Member

    Ammolock works in the same way that Prime does.
  9. Akari_32 Fishlore Legend Member

    Then it probably wouldn't hurt anything.
  10. Darell New Member Member

    Thanks to everyone. Will follow advise and see what happens....
  11. jdhef Moderator Moderator Member

    AmmoLock used to remove ammonia which wasn't god because without ammonia the bacteria would have no food. But a few years ago they reformulated it so that like Prime, it detoxes ammonia (i.e putting the ammonia into a form that is not toxic to fish, but in a form that is still a food for the bacteria).

    But the one thing I do not know about Ammolock is if like Prime it has the ability to detox nitrites. If it doesn't, you'll need to switch to Prime if/when nitrites start appearing.
  12. jetajockey Fishlore VIP Member

    I have no idea if it detoxifies nitrite either, although a relatively small dose of NaCl does a great job all through the nitrite phase, costs next to nothing, and doesn't wear off like Prime does.
  13. jdhef Moderator Moderator Member

    Yes, nitrites apparently prevent a fish from getting the oxygen out of the water, but somehow salt is supposed to counter act that.
  14. Darell New Member Member

    Who makes Prime. I don't recall seeing it at the pet stores in my area. We have PetSmart, Petco, and PetSupermarket.
  15. Darell New Member Member

    Never mind last post. Found it. SeaChem. Will go tomorrow and get some. Thanks
  16. Darell New Member Member

    Hi again, Just want to ask a couple more questions. I have been doing 2 1/2 to 3 gallon water changes daily since posting this thread and I have been using the prime as suggested. First question is since I'm only doing 3 gallon water change, what amount of prime should I be adding daily. Enough for 3 gallons I am changing daily or enough for 10 gallons which is the size of the tank.
    Also I have been doing the water changes since 11/8/12 and the ammonia is still high at around 2 ppm. Still no nitrites. The nitrates have decreased to around 10 to 20. After 8 days of daily water changes should the ammonia be lower?
    Thanks to all.
  17. Terra Well Known Member Member

    I think you are misunderstanding the order of the cycle and what you want to see. Ammonia is used by one type of bacteria and their waste product is nitrites. Then the nitrites are used by another type of bacteria and their waste product is nitrates. Ammonia and nitrites are toxic to fish in small quantities, and should be 0ppm all the time. Nitrates, the end product, are only toxic in high quantities (under 40ppm is generally safe, but you should aim for under 20ppm). You can cycle a tank and never see nitrites, especially if you're using Safestart, since it provides both types of bacteria to get you from ammonia to the end product nitrates in the bottle.

    When I was cycling my 10 gallon, I did 50% water changes every single day for a month.. don't be afraid to change too much, the fish wants clean water. If ammonia really is 2ppm, I would do a 50% water change, let it rest a bit (to make sure the temperature doesn't fluctuate a lot), then do another 50%. I'd keep doing them till I had under 0.25-0.50 ppm ammonia. I generally dose the Prime for the entire volume of the tank (1mL for you) and pour the new water in after. Prime is safe to overdose a bit in the case of high ammonia/nitrites, so it won't hurt for these heavy water changes.

    The fact you have nitrates and keep getting nitrates leads me to believe you have at some point gotten both types of bacteria, and have a cycle going.. you just don't have *enough* of the 1st type of bacteria to handle your ammonia load. You said you're feeding lightly, and you're rinsing the filter in tank water, and you're vacuuming the gravel each water change... is it possible there is a dead fish or something somewhere hidden in there that's creating all that ammonia? I cannot imagine a single gourami in a 10 gallon tank is causing that, they're not THAT messy of a fish far as I've read.

    edit - also, since it's been 4 months, maybe it's time to buy a second ammonia test kit. Maybe yours is corrupted and you really are cycled with 0 ammonia/nitrites.
  18. Darell New Member Member

    Thanks Terra for your reply. I will check inside the castle in the tank for a dead fish. I'm pretty sure we took them out as they died but I'll check to be sure. I just did a 3 gallon water change after checking my ammonia levels which were still above 2 ppm. I will wait untill later in the day and do a 50% change and will continue with 50% for a while and see what happens. Thanks again.