Is my tank cycled?

EmeraldGriffin

Hi everyone, I’m EmeraldGriffin and I am new to the fish world. I just recently purchased a 29 gallon tank. It is equipped with a Fluval AquaClear 20-50 gallon power filter, a very powerful 30 gallon air pump, river pebble substrate, live plants and a few aquarium safe resin decorations. In the tank I have 4 mystery snails, 4 trapdoor snails, 2 ramshorn snails and 1 bladder snail. I have added 30mL (15 when I put in the water and 15 again the next day of following the directions) of Seachems Stability bacterial starter and dechlorinater when I put the water in. I set it up and now 24 hours later I tested the water for pH, high range pH, ammonia, nitrites and nitrates with my API master kit. Then alkalinity and hardness with a dip test strip. My readings are as follows:
pH – 7.6
High pH – 8.2
Ammonia – 0
Nitrites – 0
Nitrates – 10
Alkalinity – 180
Hardness – 300

How can I have such a high nitrate level without any nitrites or ammonia? Has my tank already cycled?

Thank you for your time!
 

Nickguy5467

if you can turn 2ppm of ammonia into 0 ammonia 0 nitrites into nitrates within a 24 hour period. your tank is cycled. guessing with all those snails in there that you've done that assuming recently is still a while ago, and this tank has been running for a while. if it was empty of life i would say does ammonia and see if it goes away the next day. ive never done a fish in cycle. perhaps mattgirl or one of her super friends can better inform you?

Edit: like Donthemon said. nitrates can also show up from your supplied tap water as it could be giving it to you instead of your aquarium inhabitants
 
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Donthemon

10 isn’t high. Check your tap water readings.
 
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EmeraldGriffin

10 isn’t high. Check your tap water readings.
Ok, I just tested my tap water against my aquarium water and you were right. It’s in my tap water. Thank you!
if you can turn 2ppm of ammonia into 0 ammonia 0 nitrites into nitrates within a 24 hour period. your tank is cycled. guessing with all those snails in there that you've done that assuming recently is still a while ago, and this tank has been running for a while. if it was empty of life i would say does ammonia and see if it goes away the next day. ive never done a fish in cycle. perhaps mattgirl or one of her super friends can better inform you?

Edit: like Donthemon said. nitrates can also show up from your supplied tap water as it could be giving it to you instead of your aquarium inhabitants
After testing my tap water I know that the nitrates are coming from that. So my tank hasn’t cycled yet. I have that many snails in there because a friend of mine has set up tanks and had a bunch of snails they were just giving away. I love snails so I said I would take them. I thought they might help produce enough ammonia to get the ball rolling on the cycle. I don’t think they are. Do you happen to know what I can do to cycle my tank? My friend told me to put fish food in the tank and that would break down and help create ammonia. Is that true?

Sorry for all the questions
 
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Nickguy5467

Ok, I just tested my tap water against my aquarium water and you were right. It’s in my tap water. Thank you!

After testing my tap water I know that the nitrates are coming from that. So my tank hasn’t cycled yet. I have that many snails in there because a friend of mine has set up tanks and had a bunch of snails they were just giving away. I love snails so I said I would take them. I thought they might help produce enough ammonia to get the ball rolling on the cycle. I don’t think they are. Do you happen to know what I can do to cycle my tank? My friend told me to put fish food in the tank and that would break down and help create ammonia. Is that true?

Sorry for all the questions
well as i have never done a fish in(or snail in) cycle . i used dr. tim's pure ammonia to cycle my tank. but since (to my knowledge) that would be harmful to your snails. i would say feed them extra, as what they dont eat will just turn into ammonia to produce more ammonia as i dont know how they would react to an instant increase in ammonia solution. sorry if thats confusing. StarGirl I choose you!
 
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EmeraldGriffin

well as i have never done a fish in(or snail in) cycle . i used dr. tim's pure ammonia to cycle my tank. but since (to my knowledge) that would be harmful to your snails. i would say feed them extra, as what they dont eat will just turn into ammonia to produce more ammonia as i dont know how they would react to an instant increase in ammonia solution. sorry if thats confusing.
No, that makes sense. Sudden spikes are the most harmful to any animal. So dosing the tank with pure ammonia could possibly kill them.
 
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EmeraldGriffin

Are you doing a fish in cycle, fishless cycle or was your tank cycled and you had a sudden ammonia or nitrite spike?: I am doing a fish in cycle.

Tank
What is the water volume of the tank?: 29 gallon.

What type of water are you using in your tank? (tap, well, RO/DI, other): Tap.

When did you start cycling the tank?: Saturday, May 22nd, 2021.

What type of filtration are you running on this tank? (sponge, HOB, canister, other): HOB

If canister or HOB list all the media you are running in it. (manufactured cartridges, sponge, etc.): Sponge, carbon bag and bio pellets(?) (it all came with the filter. It’s a Fluval 20-50 power filter)

Do you have good water agitation/surface movement?: Yes, very good water agitation and surface movement.

What is the water temperature?: 72 degrees

If fish in cycling
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts): 4 mystery snails, 4 trapdoor snails, 2 ramshorns and 1 bladder snail. All of them are the size of a quarter or smaller.

How often do you feed them and how much?: i feed them 2 algae wafers a day. Only two of the mystery snails actually come and eat. I’ve never seen the others eat any of it.

Are they showing signs of distress? (fish hiding, staying at the top, looking pale, torn fins, etc): Not that I can see. They all are moving around and being snails.

Do you have live plants in the tank?: Yes. 3 Java ferns, 1 Anubias Batari, 6 baby pieces of hornwart, 1 water Lily and 2 Ludwigia Repens.

If so are they healthy and actively growing?: As far as I can tell they are brand new to the tank and very healthy looking after 48 hours.

Products used while cycling
If this is a fishless cycle what ammonia source are you using? (fish food, Dr Tim’s ammonia, other): F food.

If adding liquid ammonia how often do you dose ammonia in your tank and in what quantity? (1ppm, 2ppm etc.): N/A

If using fish food as your ammonia source how much are you adding and how often?: 1/2 tsp small pellet food once a day.

Are you using a dechlorinater and if so, which one?:
Yes, API brand.

Are you using bottled bacteria and if so, which one?: Seachems Stabilizer bacteria and Tetra SafeStart when I ran out of the Seachems.

Did you add seeded media from a previously cycled tank?: No.

What other products/chemicals are you using? (list them all): N/A

Testing and cycling process
What was your knowledge of the nitrogen cycle before beginning to cycle your tank? (none, beginner, intermediate (please explain), advanced): Beginner. I knew what it was and that it needed to happen for the fish to be happy and the tank to be healthy.

What do you use to test the water? (API liquid, test strips, other): API master test kit for the big 5 and Tetra 5 in 1 test strips for hardness and alkalinity.

Did you test your tap water for ammonia, nitrites, nitrates and pH, if so post the results below?: I only tested for nitrates just recently.

Have you done any water changes and if so, when?: No, I have not done any water changes.

How much water did you change?: N/A

Did you vacuum the substrate?: N/A

Did you clean your filter, filter media, decorations and/or glass?: N/A

If using disposable cartridges have you replaced one recently?:N/A


*Parameters - Very Important
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.
Tank water:
Ammonia:
0ppm
Nitrite: 0ppm
Nitrate: 10ppm
pH: 7.6 - 8.2 (high range)

Tap water:
Ammonia:
Nitrite:
Nitrate:
10ppm
pH:

Explain your cycling problem in detail. (Please give a clear explanation of what is going on, include details from the beginning of the problem leading up to now)
I am trying to cycle my tank. I was given the snails mentioned above by a friend. I thought they wouldn’t hurt (since I know they can put out a lot of waste) in helping start the cycle. But my ammonia is still at zero. I posted a question earlier asking how could I have nitrates and zero nitrites or ammonia after 24 hours of being up and running. That’s when I found out the nitrates are in the tap water. I want to cycle my tank properly for the fish I am supposed to be getting from my friend. It’s a black moor goldfish and a red Mickey platy. I don’t want to kill the snails. But I also don’t have months to cycle my tank. My friend is moving in three weeks and needs me to take the fish. Should I take them now and do a full blown fish in cycle? Or should I use liquid ammonia, though it might hurt the snails? Just to get a jump start on the cycle. Thank you!
I’m attaching some photos of the tank. (One of the snails is on his back. He’s kind of a weird Mystery snail. He did that at my friends house too. He rights himself just fine. But he loves to lounge around on his back.)
EmeraldGriffin

If you could copy/paste and then fill in this please, it would be really helpful to mattgirl in order for her to advise you further

Nitrogen Cycle Template | Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle Forum | 494741

Thank you :)
I copy, pasted, wrote down my answers and posted the thread. Thank you for giving me this. I hope I gave enough information. I attached some pictures of the tank set up. ☺️
 

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mattgirl

Thank you for filling out the template. We may not be able to completely get this tank fully cycled in 3 weeks but we can get it well on its way. The main thing we have to have to cycle a tank is ammonia. Just a wafer occasionally isn't going to produce enough ammonia to get this cycle done in time.

You need to be feeding these snails really well. Mystery snails have a big appetite so feed them much more than you are right now. By doing so they will be producing more ammonia. I am also going to recommend you get a media bag with a really fine mesh and some flake fish food. Start out by putting a tablespoon of the fish food in the media bag. Situate it so water is running over it and it is easy to get to because you will be adding more fish food every third day. It is going to decompose and form ammonia. You could just drop the fish food in the tank but by doing it this way it won't cause such a mess in the tank.

Once you get an ammonia reading in the tank add an appropriate size bottle of Tetra Safe Start Plus. Shake it really well before pouring most in the tank and the rest in the HOB filter. Once done do nothing to the tank for 2 solid weeks other than adding more fish food to the media bag every third day and feeding your snails well. At the end of 2 weeks if the TSS+ has done its job you should see no ammonia and the nitrates should be higher than what you already have in your tap water.

Keep an eye on the pH level. The cycling process has been known to cause the pH to go much lower than it started out at. You don't want to let it get much below 7. Much lower and the cycling process can stall. If you see it dropping get some crushed coral. Put a handful/about a cup of it in a media bag and run it in your filter. If there isn't room for it remove the carbon pouch to make room for it. It isn't needed anyway.

I hope this helps you get this tank cycled. If there is anything you don't understand I will try to clarify for you.
 
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EmeraldGriffin

Thank you for filling out the template. We may not be able to completely get this tank fully cycled in 3 weeks but we can get it well on its way. The main thing we have to have to cycle a tank is ammonia. Just a wafer occasionally isn't going to produce enough ammonia to get this cycle done in time.

You need to be feeding these snails really well. Mystery snails have a big appetite so feed them much more than you are right now. By doing so they will be producing more ammonia. I am also going to recommend you get a media bag with a really fine mesh and some flake fish food. Start out by putting a tablespoon of the fish food in the media bag. Situate it so water is running over it and it is easy to get to because you will be adding more fish food every third day. It is going to decompose and form ammonia. You could just drop the fish food in the tank but by doing it this way it won't cause such a mess in the tank.

Once you get an ammonia reading in the tank add an appropriate size bottle of Tetra Safe Start Plus. Shake it really well before pouring most in the tank and the rest in the HOB filter. Once done do nothing to the tank for 2 solid weeks other than adding more fish food to the media bag every third day and feeding your snails well. At the end of 2 weeks if the TSS+ has done its job you should see no ammonia and the nitrates should be higher than what you already have in your tap water.

Keep an eye on the pH level. The cycling process has been known to cause the pH to go much lower than it started out at. You don't want to let it get much below 7. Much lower and the cycling process can stall. If you see it dropping get some crushed coral. Put a handful/about a cup of it in a media bag and run it in your filter. If there isn't room for it remove the carbon pouch to make room for it. It isn't needed anyway.

I hope this helps you get this tank cycled. If there is anything you don't understand I will try to clarify for you.
Awesome! I’ll start on that right now! Thank you!
 
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EmeraldGriffin

Ok, Mattgirl, I have a small fishnet with fish flake food in it near the filter. I went and bought some spinach, romaine, red grapes, unsalted canned green beans and zucchini. I blanched the greens and the zucchini. Cut them all up and put them in the tank for the snails. I tested my water again right before I put everything in and it looked like I had a bit of ammonia. Like .25 on the reading. Do I wait till it’s a bit higher to add the TSS+ or add it now?
Thanks!
 

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mattgirl

Ok, Mattgirl, I have a small fishnet with fish flake food in it near the filter. I went and bought some spinach, romaine, red grapes, unsalted canned green beans and zucchini. I blanched the greens and the zucchini. Cut them all up and put them in the tank for the snails. I tested my water again right before I put everything in and it looked like I had a bit of ammonia. Like .25 on the reading. Do I wait till it’s a bit higher to add the TSS+ or add it now?
Thanks!
With all of that in there the ammonia should start climbing. fairly soon. I would go ahead and add the TSS+ now.
 
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EmeraldGriffin

With all of that in there the ammonia should start climbing. fairly soon. I would go ahead and add the TSS+ now.
Ok, I added the whole bottle. 2/3 in the tank and 1/3 in the filter. I shook it good before I put it in too. I used the big bottle for up to 50 gallons. I figured it was better to use more then less.
 
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mattgirl

Ok, I added the whole bottle. 2/3 in the tank and 1/3 in the filter. I shook it good before I put it in too. I used the big bottle for up to 50 gallons. I figured it was better to use more then less.
I am just basically guessing since I've not actually tested it out but I am guessing it takes about 48 hours for the fish food to decompose enough to form as much ammonia as it is going to. This is the reason I recommend adding more every other day. By doing so you will be keeping a constant supply of ammonia in the tank to keep the bacteria well fed.
 
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EmeraldGriffin

Update! So I did the food method for a few days and that wasn’t doing a whole lot. So my friend gave me some aquarium ammonia and told me to do a half dose. I did and of course my ammonia spiked to 4.

All of my snails survived and were still doing their snail thing. Heck, they were breeding and laying eggs like crazy actually.

I have been testing it every day. And two days ago I finally started seeing Nitrites. Today 6/4/21 I now have these chem stats:

pH: 7.6 (hasn’t budged since day 1)
Ammonia: .25 (as soon as the nitrites started going, the ammonia started to really drop)
Nitrite: .5 - 1.0 (it’s definitely closer to the 1)
Nitrate: 40 - 80 (kinda smack dab in the middle)

Is it weird that I kinda feel elated and proud of the tank cycling? lol

Anyway, once the nitrites spike and go back down, what do I do to make sure the tank is fully cycled? Also, can you have too many Nitrates in the water? What is the “normal” level for that?
 
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mattgirl

Update! So I did the food method for a few days and that wasn’t doing a whole lot. So my friend gave me some aquarium ammonia and told me to do a half dose. I did and of course my ammonia spiked to 4.

All of my snails survived and were still doing their snail thing. Heck, they were breeding and laying eggs like crazy actually.

I have been testing it every day. And two days ago I finally started seeing Nitrites. Today 6/4/21 I now have these chem stats:

pH: 7.6 (hasn’t budged since day 1)
Ammonia: .25 (as soon as the nitrites started going, the ammonia started to really drop)
Nitrite: .5 - 1.0 (it’s definitely closer to the 1)
Nitrate: 40 - 80 (kinda smack dab in the middle)
Great news. Your cycle is now moving forward.

Add ammonia again each time it drops done to or close to zero. Yours is .25 now. Time to add it again. Continue adding ammonia each time it reaches this level but no more often than every 24 hours. How high is the half dose of ammonia getting it in the tank? With a 29/30 gallon tank I would like to see it processing no less than 2ppm ammonia every 24 hours.

Your nitrites may or may not go higher before dropping to zero. Just let them do their thing. Should they get high enough to peg out the chart i will suggest a water change to get them down a bit. This water change will also lower the nitrates.
Is it weird that I kinda feel elated and proud of the tank cycling? lol
Not at all weird. I am waiting to do the happy dance with you the day you see that beautiful sky blue in your test tube. It is a cause for celebration because it means the cycle is complete.
Anyway, once the nitrites spike and go back down, what do I do to make sure the tank is fully cycled? Also, can you have too many Nitrates in the water? What is the “normal” level for that?
You will know the cycle is complete when the ammonia you add goes down to zero within 24 hours, your nitrites are zero and you have some nitrates.

Once fish are in the tank yes, I think you can have too many nitrates but from all I've read they have to be really high before they start causing issues. As long as you do your weekly water changes once fully cycled and have fish in the tank the nitrate shouldn't rise high enough to pose a problem. I like to keep them below 40. If I see red in the test tube I do an extra water change. I like to keep my tanks in the orange range.
 
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EmeraldGriffin

Great news. Your cycle is now moving forward.

Add ammonia again each time it drops done to or close to zero. Yours is .25 now. Time to add it again. Continue adding ammonia each time it reaches this level but no more often than every 24 hours. How high is the half dose of ammonia getting it in the tank? With a 29/30 gallon tank I would like to see it processing no less than 2ppm ammonia every 24 hours.

Your nitrites may or may not go higher before dropping to zero. Just let them do their thing. Should they get high enough to peg out the chart i will suggest a water change to get them down a bit. This water change will also lower the nitrates.

Not at all weird. I am waiting to do the happy dance with you the day you see that beautiful sky blue in your test tube. It is a cause for celebration because it means the cycle is complete.

You will know the cycle is complete when the ammonia you add goes down to zero within 24 hours, your nitrites are zero and you have some nitrates.

Once fish are in the tank yes, I think you can have too many nitrates but from all I've read they have to be really high before they start causing issues. As long as you do your weekly water changes once fully cycled and have fish in the tank the nitrate shouldn't rise high enough to pose a problem. I like to keep them below 40. If I see red in the test tube I do an extra water change. I like to keep my tanks in the orange range.
A half dose got me to 4ppm. So maybe a quarter dose?

Okie dokie! I will let you know when it happens!
 
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mattgirl

A half dose got me to 4ppm. So maybe a quarter dose?

Okie dokie! I will let you know when it happens!
Half or even 3/4 dose should be plenty. If you don't plan on over stocking this tank 2ppm ammonia should grow enough bacteria to handle the bio-load. If the plan is to heavily stock 3ppm may be better.

Please do share it with me. :)
 
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EmeraldGriffin

Ok, so I tested again today and am at
0 ammonia
0 nitrites
7.6 pH
40 nitrates

I wasn’t able to add the ammonia yesterday because I was out of town. So I’m going to add some now and see if it’s back to 0 tomorrow. Almost there!!!
Ok, so I tested again today and am at
0 ammonia
0 nitrites
7.6 pH
40 nitrates

I wasn’t able to add the ammonia yesterday because I was out of town. So I’m going to add some now and see if it’s back to 0 tomorrow. Almost there!!!
 

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EmeraldGriffin

Ok, I tested a few times yesterday after I added the ammonia. I got up to between 1-2ppm on the ammonia level (that was right after I added it) and had the faint hint of nitrites. I tested again last night before bed and we at .5 on ammonia and between .5-1ppm on the nitrites. Now this morning almost 24 hours later, I am at 0-.25 on ammonia and .25 on the nitrites. What do you think?
 
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mattgirl

Ok, I tested a few times yesterday after I added the ammonia. I got up to between 1-2ppm on the ammonia level (that was right after I added it) and had the faint hint of nitrites. I tested again last night before bed and we at .5 on ammonia and between .5-1ppm on the nitrites. Now this morning almost 24 hours later, I am at 0-.25 on ammonia and .25 on the nitrites. What do you think?
you can save yourself some stress by just running the test a full 24 hours after adding the correct amount of ammonia. If after 24 hours you are seeing 0 for both ammonia and nitrites the cycle is done. If you are not seeing 0 you are not quite there. You are probably close enough to add fish since they are not going to add a full days dose of ammonia all at the same time. It is up to you whether you want to wait a bit longer or go ahead and stock the tank.
 
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EmeraldGriffin

you can save yourself some stress by just running the test a full 24 hours after adding the correct amount of ammonia. If after 24 hours you are seeing 0 for both ammonia and nitrites the cycle is done. If you are not seeing 0 you are not quite there. You are probably close enough to add fish since they are not going to add a full days dose of ammonia all at the same time. It is up to you whether you want to wait a bit longer or go ahead and stock the tank.
Okie dokie! Can I clean it now? The snails are not keeping up on the algae and there is a big thick patch of green algae on the front of the tank. lol

I’ll let my friend know to bring them over. She’s actually giving me three fish now. The platy, the black moor and a gold oranda. The platy will be in her own tank though. She is very old and doesn’t like to play with or be around the other fish. She also keeps getting Ich. Which my friend apologizes for. She puts all her fish in a med tank and runs a battery of treatments on them before she puts them in her big tank. But she can’t permanently get rid of the Ich with the platy. It comes back every few weeks. We think it’s because she is dying and doesn’t have the immune system to fight it off anymore. So the slightest stress and she develops it again.
 
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mattgirl

Scrape the algae off the front of the tank but don't get to aggressive with cleaning. We don't want to disturb the bacteria any more than necessary until the tank is more established.
 
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EmeraldGriffin

Scrape the algae off the front of the tank but don't get to aggressive with cleaning. We don't want to disturb the bacteria any more than necessary until the tank is more established.
Okie dokie! I will just scrub the algae! Thank you!
 
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