open to suggestions - mini cycle Help

Discussion in 'Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle' started by 2HeadedBoy, Dec 27, 2012.

  1. 2HeadedBoyValued MemberMember

    Hello All, hope the holidays treated you all well.

    So here's the deal. My 20G is going through a mini cycle. But I'm not sure how to fix it. I've got a Penguin 150 that was cycled and has been with the tank for 3 months. Also have an AC20 that I added to the tank 4 weeks ago.

    About 3 weeks ago I'm pretty sure I caused the mini cycle with a combo of adding fish, over cleaning my filter. Since then my ammonia gets to about .25 every two days. And it creeps up to almost .50 about every 5-6 days, I've been doing 50% wc's with prime and stress guard every other day. But it's been 3 weeks and I thought it would have sorted itself out by now.

    I've got an empty 10g. I'm thinking of taking the AC20 from my main tank, install it on the 10G, and dumping in some Tetra Safe Start and letting it run for 2 weeks. Then, move the cycled AC20 back to the main tank. My AC20 is fairly new and I'm thinking I wouldn't be creating any filtration issues on the main tank by removing it. Obviously, I'd be leaving the Penguin 150 on the main.

    Sooooo, that's where I'm at now. Feel free to poke holes in my plan, throw stones or call me a moron. I'm a big boy and I've been called a lot worse.

    Other than that, I'm open to suggestions.

  2. kb9plcWell Known MemberMember

    OMG no 'moron' calling around here. :)

    It can sometimes take quite a while for the Beneficial Bacteria to catch up. Depends on how many fish you added and how much BB you potentially killed off. (not sure what it was you did, or how you over cleaned.) I personally wouldn't panic or contemplate drastic measures until maybe.... 4 weeks? The first few cycle steps involving the ammonia dropping can often be the steps that take the longest in cycling.

    I have an odd ball question.... just to rule something out: ever test your tap water for ammonia?

    One other thing. TSS only works with an ammonia source. And it's designed to work when fish are added with it (within a few hours) and 'protect' them. So..... while you didn't mention it...... be sure to add a few fish to the 10g. Preferrably ones known for being harty. IF YOU GO THAT ROUTE. Chances are you know this (since you did mention 'letting it run for 2 weeks' which is the next TSS rule).... butttt I thought I'd toss it out there just in case!
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2012
  3. 2HeadedBoyValued MemberMember

    I added 5 panda cories, cleaned the intake and impeller and rotated the way my foam pad was seated.

    So is your suggestion to wait a little longer? I know what you mean by the first steps taking the longest. When I cycled the tank it was like nothing was happening for weeks and then all of a sudden, it was processing 4ppm of ammo every 2 days.

    My tap water has zero ammonia. I've tested it recently because I thought that might be the culprit.

    Thanks for the mention on the ammonia source with the TSS. I was planning to dose it lightly (1-2ppm) with pure amonia.
  4. jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    I had recently lost my cycle and after about 8 weeks of elevated ammonia after two doses of SafeStart and seeded media I finally tested my pH. Turned out my pH crashed (down to 6 or maybe below since the test only goes down to 6) and at a pH below 7 ammonia starts turning into ammonium, which is no where near as harmful as ammonia, but is also not a good food source for the bacteria.

    So I guess that was a lot of words to say...have you tested your pH recently?
  5. pirahnah3Fishlore VIPMember

    I was just going to refference your thread and comment on the pH. Easy place to start when all seems well but just isnt working right.
  6. 2HeadedBoyValued MemberMember

    Tested PH last week. It's 8.0, same as always.
  7. 2HeadedBoyValued MemberMember

    Is it possible that by keeping the ammonia around .25 with all the water changes that I am starving the BB and inhibiting its growth?
  8. pirahnah3Fishlore VIPMember

    not at all, the beneficial bacteria actually start by consuming the NH3. I dont wonder if your tap water didnt change and your actually having an accumulation of ammonia from water changes.

    I also wouldnt worry about doing the AC20 on another tank, I would do a water change and then add the prime, I do beleive that in the Q and A with them they said that it could handle up to .5 mg/l of NH3 in the tank.
  9. 2HeadedBoyValued MemberMember

    I tested my tap for NH3 has no ammonia.

    I'm a little confused about the second section of your post, pirahnah. You said " a water change and then add the prime..."

    Did you mean "do a water change and then add the TSS"? If so, I didn't really want to do it this way. I know your not supposed to do water changes for 2 weeks after the TSS and I was a little worried about my NH3 creeping up during this time.
  10. pirahnah3Fishlore VIPMember

    yeah I meant to say TSS not prime, thanks. I also meant do a WC and then add the TSS, you dont need to do WC's while its working.
  11. SiggiWell Known MemberMember

    I tend to agree with pirahnah3. Try to cycle the filter out of the main tank (weather fishless or fish-in...).
    If anything goes wrong during the cycling of the filter, you won't sacrifice the main stock of your fish!
  12. pirahnah3Fishlore VIPMember

    I was suggesting cycling IN the tank with the fish.
  13. kb9plcWell Known MemberMember

    Agreed on the above.

    Forgot about the ph thing. That happened to me once and it took quite some time to recover from it.

    I'd also test your tap for ph. Thou to do that properly you need to airate a bowl of water and let it sit for 24 hours first. That wil give you 'true' ph. Thou if you just want an idea.... you could test straight from the tap. Just keep in mind that whatever your result, it will naturally drop a bit after a day or so. Personally, I find that my tap water has severe ph fluctuations with the seasons in my area. So perhaps you are having some badly timed changes in your tap water in conjunction with your mini cycel. (kinda grasping here.... but it is possible!)

    I also would agree with the suggestion of cycling in the tank with the fish. Do a water change, wait 24 hours and then add TSS. (the 24 hour wait part is important due to prime having the ability to kill off TSS) Personally I feel that it's not like you are starting from scratch. I assume you have some form of nitrate going on in there since this is a mini-cycle. I think I personally would TSS the tank because...well... I've had great success with that stuff so long as you use it properly. And while the rule is to not change or add freshly-primed water to your tank water for 2 weeks while it does it's thang..... you may notice that the TSS accomplishes it's purpose much faster than that in your situation. Most people tell you to not test while using TSS. It's not that you can't..... it's that if you are using TSS from bare minimum brand new tank..... chances are the results are going to make you batty. In your case, I would test often because it is entirely possible for the TSS to do the job in a few days because of your personal scenario. I've personally had that happen. Like the tank just needed the bit of a boost to finsih mini-cycling. I know you are concerned about the ammonia rising during this process, but TSS is designed to protect your fish from cycling damage.
  14. 2HeadedBoyValued MemberMember

    I've thoroughly tested my tap and my tank water recently. They are both the same as they always are...except for the creeping ammo in the tank.

    Ya, the more I think of it I'm kinda leaning toward dumping the TSS in my main tank for a couple of reasons. 1-If it works then it strengthens both of my filters and not just the AC20. 2-If it works it would also drop some BB on my substrate and decor. Neither 1 nor 2 happens if I were to put the AC20 on a seperate tank to TSS.

    I tend to agree with you that I'm not starting from scratch and that it probably won't take the whole 2 weeks. I picked up a bottle of TSS (enough for 30g) to cycle a 5g hex I bought myself for xmas (amazon had it 40% off). I guess I'll dose the 20g when I dose the 5g and just watch the 20g closely and do small water changes if I have to.

    Just a quick question about the Aquaclear filters. Do you guys run the flow wide open or do you turn it down some? And, do you have a sponge pre-filter over your intake?
  15. kb9plcWell Known MemberMember

    I actually ahve an AC30 on a 8 gallon hex tank. Probably a bit of overkill but it's very tall and narrow...and the odd shape kinda had me worried about proper filtration (even thou the intake has an extender on it). I have it....maybe.... 75% of the way turned up? Mostly so I don't create a crazy water flow on the small surface of the hex. Also, if you are concerned with water flow but want the highest filtration..... turn it all the way up and baffle it with a water bottle. Cut out the center section of a water bottle. Then cut a slit down the section, long ways. You should be able to secure one end to the top of the filter, and fit the other end under the lip of the flow of the filter. Instant 50 cent baffle! (there is a thread on here somewhere that has pictures if you need a visual)

    Just a thought. If you can spare it.... pull some substrate out of the 20g..... just a bit. Put it in the 5 gallon with TSS. I did this with a 6.6 gallon bookshelf. The comobo literally cycled it overnight. :)

    I don't use pre filters. But depending on what you are planning to put in there, it might be a good idea. Some members use them if they have shrimp, fry, small snails, etc etc etc
  16. 2HeadedBoyValued MemberMember

    I wasn’t really concerned about the waterfall from the AC20. I was more concerned about contact time with the filter media and the overflow of the basket when the flow is turned all the way up. I’ve been leaving it turned down to the point that there is no overflow of the basket. Just was wondering what others did.

    Thanks for the tips. I was planning on pulling some sand from my current tank to use it in the new one for the exact reason you mentioned. Also, wanted to eventually get some dirt in the main tank to grow plants and that seemed like an easy way to get rid of some. Don’t worry, I won’t change the substrate in the middle of my mini cycle.

    I have pre-filters on both of my filters to help keep the sand out and to have additional mechanical filtration. Was thinking that since I do have a sponge on the AC20 intake that turning up the flow wouldn’t matter. Even if it overflows the basket, all of the water is going through the pre-filter sponge first.
  17. Mer-maxWell Known MemberMember

    Prime gives me a false positive on ammonia
  18. 2HeadedBoyValued MemberMember

    Mer-max, i've read that before. Something about creating ammonium. Don't remember the specifics but I do remember that the API test will read the ammonia AND the ammonium.

    I've been using prime for a couple of months and haven't seen any ammo. Just to be sure though, I used Tetra AquaSafe+ with my water change last night. I tested positive for ammo a few minutes ago.
  19. Mer-maxWell Known MemberMember

    I'm stumped. If there's no dead fish, detritus , primes not the suspect, I dunno. I have .25 in my tap, when I do my water changes I use prime and in a day ill have a zero reading.

    Sorry I'm not much help, just wanted to start simple.
  20. 2HeadedBoyValued MemberMember

    So I decided to put the TSS in the main tank (20G) with fish in and both filters attached. I'll post results for posterity's sake. I am cycling a 5G hex at the same time.

    5G Hex
    Dec 28: add water with Tetra aquasafe +, start heater (78degrees F) and filter.
    Dec 29: add ~ 3lbs of sand from 20G
    Dec 30 @ 2:30PM: add pure NH3 to get 1-2ppm in the tank, add (20ml) TSS which is enough for 6G

    20G @78degrees F
    Dec 29: 50% WC with Tetra aquasafe + and Seachem Stress Guard
    Dec 30 @ 2:30PM: .25-.50ppm NH3 measured, add (40ml) TSS which is enough for 12G