It's been a month, and no cycle! Plus ph won't drop

5150
Member
When I first got my son his 10 gallon fish tank I got him a couple of guppies thinking they would be hearty enough to handle the first cycle. I had the fish for a month and I was religiously testing my water with an API test kit weekly and doing 25% water changes weekly. Every week my readings show 0 for ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites. Every week, it's the same thing and it's racking my brain! So here are my questions:

Why haven't I gotten any readings on the ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates? I've been very careful and read the directions over and over again. The only time I didn't test the tank was the first week I owned it. The only thing I put in the tank to start was a Chlorine remover (stress something-or-other).

I have been really trying to lower my ph to 7.0. After reading a bit of the forums, it sounds like I shouldn't worry about it. But I have been dumping about 20 drops of a ph lowerer into the tank everyday for two weeks and it finally started to drop a bit. Is that possibly the reason why one of the guppies died after about a month? The other guppy still looks good.

This week I bought three serpae tetras to replace the guppy, hoping that the cycle will start, or maybe someone can think of what the heck I'm doing wrong.

Thanks!
 
  • Thread Starter
5150
Member
A quick note. Here is an update that shows my history...

Date pH High pH Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate
6-09-07 Purchased 10 gallon tank with Tetra 5-15 Power Filter
6-10-07 Purchased two guppies
6-24-07 7.6 8.0 0 0 0
6-26-07 7.6 8.2 0 0 0
7-01-07 7.6 8.2 0 0 0
7-06-07 One guppy died
7-07-07 7.6 8.0 0 0 0
7-07-07 Purchased three serpae tetras & replaced filter
7-11-07 7.2 7.8 .25 0 0

I have been doing weekly 25% water changes with a gravel siphon. Of course, tonight when I do a check, it seems like my ammonia is up a tad.

edit: made graph easier to read
 
Jay
Member
looks like the cycle is starting now. I guess 2 guppies didn't get the cycle started quick enough. I would keep checking daily and make sure the ammonia levels don't get too high. At some point you should see some nitrite levels but I've only ever done a fishless cycle so I don't have any idea how long. fishless cycle took 4-7 days of so to show. whole process took 3 weeks but its is longer with a fish cycle or so everyone tells me.

good luck and keep testing
 
cichlid seeker
Member
everything is fine you want nitrites nitrates to be 0. I have kept a variety of fish in a tank with a high PH.
 
sgould
Member
Also, stop vac'ing the gravel until the cycle is done.
 
vin
Member
Part of your issue is the pH chemical. I wouldd stop adding it and just treat the water using AmQuel+ or Prime. Your fish will adjust to the pH levels in the water....When you add fish after the cycle, make sure you properly mix in some of your tank water with the fish in the bag or container from the fish store. Let the fish swim in this water longer than you normally would. This will help them to adjust to your pH level in your tank. Chances are the fish store may have the same pH issue. Next time you are there, ask them what the pH level in their tanks is. Also, you shouldn't vacuum the gravel during the cycle and never change the filter until after the tank has cycled. Even then all you may want to change is the mechanical filter media which would be the activated carbon bag if so equipped. These are where the bacteria you are trying to establish grow.
 
  • Thread Starter
5150
Member
Ok, I've decided to just leave the pH alone. My tap water (when I tested it last night was about 7.6, so as I do water changes, that's just the way it's going to be I guess. When I added my tetras I slowly added water to the bag. I guess I didn't know about the gravel vacuuming so I'll just do 25% water changes without touching the gravel. I changed the filter because I read someplace to change it every month. I'll leave it alone until my "hopeful" cycle finishes.

Thanks for all your info. I'll report back and leave updates.
 
vin
Member
You're welcome. After the tank is cycled you should add fish a few at a time over a period of a few weeks. This is so that you don't put the tank into shock with the added bio load and cause a minI cycle....When you start to perform your regular maintenance vacuum only 1/3 of the gravel at a time for the same reason. Change the filter cartridge only once a month. Do not change the filter media itself. You can swish it around in used tank water if your water flow should slow down.
 
  • Thread Starter
5150
Member
vin said:
Change the filter cartridge only once a month. Do not change the filter media itself.
Sorry, can you define that a bit more for me. I guess I'm not sure what the difference is. Is the media the foam portion in front of the cartridge? I have a white pouch filled with charcoal and a foam, spongy type of filter after that.
 
sgould
Member
I have a white pouch filled with charcoal and a foam, spongy type of filter after that.
Sounds like a whisper filter, or something very similar. Don't ever change the sponge as it houses the majority of your good bacteria. The manufacturer recommends you change the bag with the charcoal once per month, but to be honest you do not need to do it that often. Just rinse it off in tank water every couple of weeks or so and only change it out completely when a) it starts to fall apart, or b) you just want to.
 
susitna-flower
Member
I have a similar filter, and because I don't use charcoal, unless I want to clean medications out, I just got the replacement filter bags, and don't fill them with charcoal. I do the washing out of filter and sponge once a week, but always use discarded tank water as it won't shock the bacteria, and you will just keep right on with a cycled tank. You are seeing the ammonia now because there are enough fish in the tank to produce some waste.

This is a great thing, to have a tank with your son. My granddaughter loves to come to my house and see my "sish". She is 18 months and I can tell she is a fish lover already!

Good Luck.

Fish in the Frozen North
 
vin
Member
5150 said:
vin said:
Change the filter cartridge only once a month. Do not change the filter media itself.
Sorry, can you define that a bit more for me. I guess I'm not sure what the difference is. Is the media the foam portion in front of the cartridge? I have a white pouch filled with charcoal and a foam, spongy type of filter after that.
The pouch is the mechanical part of the filter. That is the only portion of the filter you'd want to change. Some people don't use activated carbon (charcoal) and just use the white bag. Others like myself use it all of the time. If you choose to use the carbon, change the bag and carbon once a month. Every other week won't hurt, but could be overkill. Activated carbon should last 4-6 weeks. Otherwise you can change the white bag weekly, monthy or when clogged with debris. I would recommend at least monthly. As far as the sponge goes, that is the biological part of the filter. This is what houses the beneficial bacteria for the tank. You never want to change that. What you can do is rinse it when water flow slows down. to rinse it, swish it around in used tank water, but never wring it out. Then just put it back into the slot in the filter.
 
  • Thread Starter
5150
Member
Fish Tank Records
Date pH H pH Amm Nitrite Nitrate Notes
6/9/2007 Setup fish tank with two guppies
6/24/2007 7.6 8 0 0 0
7/1/2007 7.6 8.2 0 0 0 One guppy died, replaced with three serpae tetras
7/7/2007 7.2 8.2 0 0 0 Changed white filter and charcoal
7/11/2007 7.2 8 0 0 0
7/12/2007 7.2 7.8 0.25 0 0
7/16/2007 7.2 7.4 0.25 0 0
7/18/2007 7.2 7.8 0.25 0 0
7/29/2007 7.2 7.4 0.25 0 0 No water change
8/4/2007 7.2 7.4 0.25 0 0 No water change

Dang! I still can't get a cycle to start. Over the past two weeks, I have done nothing to the water but add a bit due to evaporation. My tank is at 78 degrees, my fish seem healthy and active, but I can't get over this cycle. Any other advice out there?
 
armadillo
Member
No advice, aside from patience. It's a pain, isnt' it? It can take up to 6 weeks, and for one of our members (silent kat), she just gave up on one of her tanks after weeks and weeks. I'd never heard of a tank never cycling, though, so it's really rare what's happened to her I think.
 
sirdarksol
Member
My two cents on the carbon pouch, I use the carbon, but not for its ability to "clean" the water. Rather, I put it in there because it's porous. It grows more of the good bacteria.

I'm stumped by the ammonia levels not rising. I'm more stumped by the nitrifying bacteria not kicking in. Do you know anyone who has an aquarium that you might be able to steal a little swatch of used (still wet, fresh from the filter, carry it home in a plastic baggy filled with aquarium water) filter media from? Or maybe a handful of gravel or a small aquarium plant (plastic or real, doesn't matter)?

The good news is, if you look at your pH, it looks like it's stabilizing.
 
  • Thread Starter
5150
Member
It's been ten weeks and still nothing new. Should I completely change the water and try to start over or just ignore it and leave it alone for good. Everytime I look at the tank it just drives me nuts because I know that it just isn't "right."
 
sgould
Member
Kind of mysterious. I may have missed this being asked earlier...any live plants in the tank?
 
sirdarksol
Member
Good question, sgould. Live plants eat nitrates/nitrites.

I have another question that I think has been answered, but I want to verify: You are using some sort of water conditioner (removes chlorine/chloramine) on your water, right?
 
  • Thread Starter
5150
Member
I have no live plants and used water conditioner when I started the tank and every time I add water.
 

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