New Problems- How to know I'm cycled - Algae - And More 20 Gallon Tank

Discussion in 'Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle' started by FLGirl, Apr 1, 2010.

  1. FLGirlWell Known MemberMember

    Since Iv last posted I still haven't gotten the Amquel+ but my plan is to get it so I can use it to treat my water. If I'm testing right my tap water has high nitrates so I need it..Should I just use the Amquel+ or use other conditioners together? Till then Iv been changing the water everyday with prime but have some questions.

    1) Iv noticed Algae or something. It is brown/orangish and Iv seen it spotting on my fake plants and growing on the deco and plastic cave. I took everything out and scrubbed but I see it coming right back...What is it? What does it mean?..I'm changing a ton of water everyday why is stuff growing?

    2) My tank has technically had enough time to cycle but I don't know if it really has yet. Especially since I already have nitrates in my water and have been having to change the water everyday and add prime. How am I going to ever figure out if my tank is truly cycled or not?

    3) I got a new filter and it has 3 replacement cartridges that you change one at a time (not all at once) Should I change them as directed or wait? I didn't know if it would mess any thing up if my tank isn't cycled right yet?
  2. MeenuFishlore VIPMember

    The algae is normal in new tanks. I have it all over mine. Diatoms. Blech.
  3. harpua2002Fishlore VIPMember

    Comments in bold. Hope this helps! :)
  4. FLGirlWell Known MemberMember

    Thank you! I have the API test kit But then because of the Nitrates I have to use Amquel+ so I have to do something different for the Ammonia test I think since it doesn't work with Amquel.

    I'm worried I will use the Amquel+ to get rid of nitrates but may get a nitrate reading from my tap water not from the cycle being finished because right now it tests 0,0, and higher Nitrates but a direct test of my tap water came out the same color of nitrate.

    It is a AquaClear. Where one has to be changed 1 time a month 1 has to be change every 2 and another has to be changed every 3 or something like that. It doesn't look quite brand new anymore but it's not disintegrating. (I had a little fish somehow get in my filter a lil while ago so I seen it, Another story but the fish is ok) How often should I change it them you think?
  5. jetajockeyFishlore VIPMember

    nitrates are the end result of the biological filter cycle, the short and simple way to get rid of them is through periodical water changes. someone correct me if im wrong, but I gather that the water conditioners like amquel+ and prime just detoxify the ammonia/nitrite/nitrate, so it's still in there, just in a non harmful state (temporarily).

    If you are concerned with getting skewed readings because of nitrates in the tap water, then try testing the tank water after you change it, then test it again periodically and see if the nitrate level rises, that should tell you.
  6. jetajockeyFishlore VIPMember

    If you have fish in there then they are producing ammonia, so you should be getting an ammonia reading over a period of time, if you have an ammonia source (like fish) in there and still aren't getting ammonia readings then it's either being converted or your tests are inaccurate. I'm not sure if you posted this already but are you using anything like ammo-chips to remove the ammonia?
  7. ButterflyModeratorModerator Member

    The brown looking algae is diatoms which are quite common in new tanks and will go away by it's self eventually. Beneficial bacteria grows on the decor as well as the plants, substrate and in the filter so when you scrub them you are losing beneficial bacteria unless your cleaning them in used tank water and may still lose a few.
  8. jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    The aquaclear has a sponge on the bottom, carbon in the middle and ceramic bio media on top.

    The sponge can be cleaned every week in used tank water, until it gets really bad. It should last a pretty long time before needing replacement.

    The carbon should be replaced every three to four weeks.

    The ceramic bio rings can be swished around in used tank water very week also to clean off any gunk. They should last a very long time before needing replacement.
  9. FLGirlWell Known MemberMember

    Thank you everyone! I really appreciate the help. I suppose I should just leave the algae alone for now.

    Thanks for the filter help jdhef. I need to change the carbon then cause it is way past due. =P

    Thanks Butterfly I didn't use dirty water...I haven't scrubbed it again because I started thinking it might be messing up more then doing good...esp since I don't know if my tank is cycled yet.

    jetajockey: Thanks, I'm not using chips or anything to remove ammonia. Just the Prime. (I have 4 Zebra Danios in there and Iv been changing the water everyday because I didn't want them to die or anything and that's what was recommend to me) I certainly don't claim to be the expert on amquel plus and prime but from the feedback Iv gotten and reading info Iv been directed too. Im thinking the Prime temp detoxifies and reg Amquel kinda did the same but the Amquel+ plus is different. My Nitrates where like in the 40 range so Iv been changing like 40% or more of my water once a day and using Prime to treat the water. From what Iv read about Amquel+ (and contacting the company) I will be able to use the Amquel+ to treat my water and make it safe unlike Prime which is more temporary 24 hours. Id have to go find all the info on the site again..... I purchased the Amquel plus today. My Amquel+ said I should use it with NovAqua Plus. I didn't get any of that. Could I just use my Stress Coat till I do?

    Ok, So now I have my Amquel Plus. I think I'm going to go ahead and get started with it but I will have to work on getting an ammonia test. I think my LFS has the kind of tests I need (cause API master test kit won't work) so will have to get that next.
  10. jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    I don't see any reason why you couldn't use the Stress Coat+ with the Amquel+. You would probably be fine just using the Amquel+ all by itself, but I personally use it along with the NovAqua.
  11. FLGirlWell Known MemberMember

    Last edited: Apr 3, 2010
  12. FLGirlWell Known MemberMember

    Hi I Used the Amquel+ yesterday and for the first time ever that I tested my water it did not turn bright orange! It was 'almost' 0 (in that it was yellow with a slight tinge...but no where near being orange or the next color at 5....So Im not sure what that means 1-2-or 3 I guess) My Ammonia read 0 but that was just out of curiosity since they say the test doesn't work, right? I'm just so happy to not see ORANGE! It feels like some sort of progress. I think I will not change the water now and just keep testing and see what happens. Will need to get another ammonia test too. :;hf
  13. jetajockeyFishlore VIPMember

    there are a few threads about water conditioners and water testing on this forum, from what I gather, even when using detoxifying conditioners you'll still get a reading for ammonia, because the conditioners detoxify the ammonia by turning it into ammonium (less harmful). Also on the amquel+ site they mention that the water conditioner is incompatible with certain types of test kits, giving false readings.

    Amquel + does make the claim that it permanently removes/detoxifies ammonia/nitrite/nitrate, but you still have to consider that the sources of the nitrates are constantly being reintroduced (from overfeeding/fish waste on the end of the nitrogen cycle or possibly from tap water), so if the nitrates are still out of control after several water changes, and the tests are accurate, then I'd start looking more at why/how it keeps getting so high in the first place.
  14. FLGirlWell Known MemberMember

    Yeah I know.... I already know the Nitrates are high because my tap water, we went thru it on another thread here ... and they helped me figure it out. After getting my test kit I tested everything and it was from my tap water because I was also vacuuming and changing allot of water everyday yet it was crazy high. It's also when I started learning about the Amquel+. I contacted the company about Amquel+ too and they said I could use it on my tap water to make it safe...

    I know the ammonia could be wrong (because the site and people have told me and everything says it doesn't work with API Ammonia Kit for unknown reasons) I just tested it out of curiosity to see what it would say my ammonia was. My ammonia has pretty much been 0 always anyways (since I got my API test kit and been testing and changing my water) So far with using the Amquel+ they are not out of control anymore but it hasn't been very long yet so I'm going to keep testing and keep any eye on it to see if my cycle is complete or what happens to the levels when I don't change the water in such large amounts and so frequently.

    I know I have to get an ammonia test that is compatible too since it is so important and will help allot but I thought the rest of the tests would be ok.... I read articles and whatnot and am going to go thru them again to make sure I get the right test esp since it seems like its going to be a little exspensive. I think I might be in blessing cause my LFS has lots of different types of tests and last time I was there I didn't know for sure what I was looking for but I think they have the ammonia test I need which would be great because I wouldn't have to order online.(get it quicker & prob cheaper once shipping is counted)

    I haven't had a problem with Nitrites either it's been 0 in my lasts tests. Like I said I didn't get my API test kit for awhile though and had 2 fish die in that time so with everything that's been happening I haven't been able to establish whether my tank went thru it's cycle yet. I'm still new to this but I think it's possible that it did but also very possible that it didn't.

    Iv been changing the water everyday with prime because the Nitrates in my tap water where so high already and I also couldn't tell if my tank was cycled. From what I understand the prime detoxified it for 24 hours but Amquel PLUS does more than that so we shall see I am hopeful that this will be a great product for me and my situation. I need to figure out now where my tank is as far as cycling goes...but I couldn't do that because my Tap water had I couldn't tell...

    It's been allot of processes and allot of mistakes but IDK I think I'm finally getting somewhere. As in moving forward not backwards.
  15. MindTravel3rValued MemberMember

    You won't be able to tell for certain that your tank is completely cycled without an accurate ammonia test, but zero nitrites is certainly a good sign. If the Amquel is dropping your Nitrates to zero before you add water then you should be able to get a sense of the completeness (not sure if that's a word) of your cycle by whether or not nitrates are rising in your tank. In a fully cycled tank, ammonia and nitrite will be at zero and nitrates will rise at a fairly regular rate.

    It is normal for a freshwater tank to have nitrates in the 20 to 40 ppm range. Nitrates at this level or even a little higher will not hurt your fish, although higher levels will encourage algae growth and some other imbalances, so you want to keep it under control (under 40 ppm).
  16. FLGirlWell Known MemberMember

    Help Help Help

    Thanks for everyones feedback!

    Ok, My tank is NOT cycled.

    Heres whats happening

    4/02 - Using Prime not Amquel+ but not having changed it for a little over 24 hours because I knew I was getting the Amquel+ to add.
    Ammonia - .5
    Nitrite - 0
    Nitrate - 40

    4/02 - BIG water change Add Amquel+ & Stress Coat @ 10:50 PM

    4/03 - 8:43 AM
    Ammonia (unreliable since its not compatible but tested anyway) - 0
    Nitrite - 0
    Nitrate - 1, 2 or 3 range but rounded to Zero if I have too. Not a 5 but not quite totally yellow.

    4/04 8:05 PM (have not changed water since 4/02 10:50 PM
    Ammonia (unreliable since its not compatible but tested anyway) - .25
    Nitrite - 5.0 PURPLE never had it look this way ever since I got the test, TESTED TWICE cause I was so surprised. The same both times
    Nitrate- back UP around 20-40 (it was hard to decide which one it matched better either is way higher.

    I'm going to go change the water right now. Feel free to advise.

    Also I'm trying to find a test I can use with Amquel+ in local stores so I can have an accurate reading for ammonia. Someone said if they waited 24 hours they got an accurate reading with API but I know its best to be 100% positive and just get another ammonia test. I should be able to get it tomorrow.

    *Edit* Have done a water change. The Diatoms came back, like in an hour. 2 of my fake plants have lots of spots of it on there and my cave is covered....MY other plant just has a little and the other deco is not so bad. bla

    *Also I think Iv been over feeding my fish a little because I find myself vacuuming up more fish food flakes than I think I should...but IDK.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2010
  17. FLGirlWell Known MemberMember

    Just tested again its 6:30 PM. About to do another water change...My readings are all weird can anyone help..? I haven't got a new ammonia test yet, i hope tonight...

    4/03 - 8:43 AM
    Ammonia (unreliable since its not compatible but tested anyway) - Between zero & .25 being way more on the yellow side.
    Nitrite - Between 2 and 5 very purple
    Nitrate - 20-40
    PH - 6.8 never read that low before thats a big change...
    HR PH - Just stayed yellow
  18. jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    During cycling your ph will fluxuate all over the place, so don't be too concerned about that. It looks like you are probably in the nitrite phase of the cycle, so you may have a couple of weeks to go still. Cycling seems to take forever, doesn't it? Hang in there.
  19. MindTravel3rValued MemberMember

    jdhef is right on. I recently cycled my tank and had nitrites present for six weeks. When my nitrites went off the scale, I did a 75% water change to bring them down to just over 1 ppm. In my case I changed filter strategies in week 5 (I pulled out my under-gravel and installed a sponge filter for biological filtration) which I estimate extended the process a week or two, but even without changing the filter mid-stream it still would have taken 6 weeks to complete.

    If your tank is consuming ammonia and nitrites are present, then it is doing what it is supposed to be doing. Hang in there.
  20. FLGirlWell Known MemberMember

    Hey, thanks guys. I can't wait till the cycle is over.....I know that doesn't mean no more maintenance or watching testing etc. but still I can't wait till it's complete.

    I have another question, about water changes. How much do you think I should be doing a day right now and every time should I add the Amquel+ Full dose? I have to add 3 times the standard dose to the water I change because my water had high nitrates (talked to the company about it) in the first place. But changing the water everyday I wonder if I should be putting that much in every time?