Ready To Tear It Down - Endless Cycle

Chunkycat

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I'm losing patience and faith and hope and everything else for this tank of mine. I set up this Fluval spec v on March 8, added conditioned water, a bottle of TSS plus and ammonia up to 2 ppm. Testing next morning:
March 9 (Day 2)
pH ———————7.6
Ammonia ————1
Nitrite —————- 0
Nitrate ————— 40
Temp —————- 80 F

After that it was progressing nicely for 5 days, then I added another 4 drops of ammonia to bring it back up to 2 ppm and it got stuck. Ammonia stayed at 1 ppm for the next 5 days. No nitrite readings and nitrate stayed at around 40 ppm. I added another bottle of TSS, redosed ammonia to 2-3 ppm and waited. From day 11 to day 17 of the cycling process, it was moving along. I test every morning between 9 and 10 am and every time ammonia would drop slightly, when it was at 0.25-0.5, I would add 3-4 drops. Still no nitrite, but nitrate rose to 80-160 (bright red but not that dark on the API kit).
Then on day 18 it happened:
pH ————————7.6
Ammonia —————0.25
Nitrite ——————- 0.25
Nitrate —————— 80-160
Temp ——————- 82 F
Added 4 drops ammonia = 3 ppm

On day 23 ammonia was 0, nitrite was 0, and nitrate about 80. I added 5 drops ammonia and after 24 hours ammonia was 0.25. nitrite 0, nitrate 80-160. I thought it was done and did a water change to start getting rid of the nitrate. And that's when it all became weird. Ammonia spiked once and went back to 0 the following day, then nitrite spiked again, and again, and again... I add 3 drops of ammonia and 24 hours later it's at 0, but the nitrite is always at around 5 or more unless I do a quick water change. It's always off the chart, and nitrate is always between 80-160. And to make it even more confusing, the pH doesn't stay at 7.6 (my other tank is always at 7.6), it keeps going down to 7.2.

Today's readings:
April 11 (Day 34)
pH ——————— <7.6
Ammonia ———— 0
Nitrite —————- 2-5
Nitrate ————— 80
Temp —————- 82 F

I don't know what to do. Should I wait for it longer? Or should I just clean it and restart? My other tank (same fluval) cycled with TSS in 10 days. This one... I don't know what's wrong. I use Ace Hardware store ammonia to cycle, always conditioned water, I didn't touch the sponge in the filter when I did the water changes, which took me 5 minutes and the sponge remained wet at all times. The only difference between the two tanks is the first one had the plants in it from the beginning while this one only has two small pieces of driftwood.

Any advice? Please, help, I'm ready to give up.
 

el337

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I think your cycle was progressing just fine but the only thing I would have done differently was to dose just to .50-1ppm ammonia since you don't need much more than that in this tank size.

Not seeing nitrites and then seeing a spike in nitrates is not uncommon either with TSS+.

At this stage, it seems like you added more ammonia without waiting for both ammonia and nitrite to fall to 0-.25. Also, allowing the nitrites to spike as high as 5ppm could stall your cycle. What I would do is a 90% water change to bring your levels down close to 0 and then only dose to .50-1ppm ammonia. Re-test in 24 hours and post your results.
 

scarface

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I agree. 2ppm is really high. I did a fish in cycle in a 5.5 gal and my ammonia never went above .5ppm during the entire cycle.
 
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Chunkycat

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I agree. 2ppm is really high. I did a fish in cycle in a 5.5 gal and my ammonia never went above .5ppm during the entire cycle.
Oh but I'm doing fishless. I've been doing fishless cycling ever since I learned about it.
 

scarface

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Oh but I'm doing fishless. I've been doing fishless cycling ever since I learned about it.
I know. I'm just giving you perspective that you are adding too much ammonia, which el337 mentioned. Doesn't matter whether it is fish-in or fishless cycle, you shouldn't have more than 1ppm in a 5 gallon, unless you are planning on stocking pretty heavy.
 
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