Stalled Fishless Cycle?

rsjordan7
Member
My water tests have looked like this for about two weeks. I did a 50% water change about a week ago and still looks like this. Any tips?

10 gallon tank
Penn-Plax Cascade 200 filter
 
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jdhef
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Member
I would do a large enough water change to get your ammonia level down to about 2ppm. The just bring it back up to 2ppm once it drops. Keep this up until cycled.
 
mattgirl
Member
I agree with jdhef about the water changes

What is the temp in this tank? Bacteria tends to grow faster at warmer temps. I would have it up to no less than 80.

What is your pH level? If it is below 7 the cycle will be slower. Down to 6 and the cycle almost stops.

Have you run all the tests on your tap water? You are seeing nitrates. We need to know if you have them in your tap water. If you don't then the cycle is producing them and it is just a matter of time until the cycle is complete.
 
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rsjordan7
Member
mattgirl said:
I agree with jdhef about the water changes

What is the temp in this tank? Bacteria tends to grow faster at warmer temps. I would have it up to no less than 80.

What is your pH level? If it is below 7 the cycle will be slower. Down to 6 and the cycle almost stops.

Have you run all the tests on your tap water? You are seeing nitrates. We need to know if you have them in your tap water. If you don't then the cycle is producing them and it is just a matter of time until the cycle is complete.
Tap water is showing zero nitrates and zero nitrites. I think the pH was too low, so it’s now up to around 7.6 or so. Will that work? Also, temp is around 82 most days.
 
mattgirl
Member
rsjordan7 said:
Tap water is showing zero nitrates and zero nitrites. I think the pH was too low, so it’s now up to around 7.6 or so. Will that work? Also, temp is around 82 most days.
That is good to know. We know your cycle is producing the nitrates since there's none in the tap water. This also tells us some ammonia is being processed into nitrites because nitrates are gong up. pH is fine at that level as is the temp. Since all is as it should be it is now just a matter of time before enough ammonia and nitrite eating bacteria has grown to take both down to zero. If the pH was below 7 for any length of time it may have slowed the cycling process down. Keep it up to this level and things should move forward quickly.
 
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rsjordan7
Member
Thanks, hopefully fixing the pH will do the trick. Thanks for your help!
 
mattgirl
Member
rsjordan7 said:
Thanks, hopefully fixing the pH will do the trick. Thanks for your help!
You are so very welcome. Please let me know how it is going. Just out of curiosity how low did the pH get and how did you raise it to this level?
 
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rsjordan7
Member
mattgirl said:
You are so very welcome. Please let me know how it is going. Just out of curiosity how low did the pH get and how did you raise it to this level?
I can’t remember exactly, but maybe around 6.4?
 
mattgirl
Member
rsjordan7 said:
I can’t remember exactly, but maybe around 6.4?
That would have caused the slow down. I really think things will move a lot faster now. Just keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't go that low again. :)
 
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rsjordan7
Member
mattgirl what do you use to dechlorinate your water that you add when you do a water change? Just curious what other use.
 
mattgirl
Member
rsjordan7 said:
mattgirl what do you use to dechlorinate your water that you add when you do a water change? Just curious what other use.
I use Seachem Prime.
 
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rsjordan7
Member
mattgirl said:
I use Seachem Prime.
Here’s where I’m at now with my fishless cycle. I get a zero for ammonia each morning, so after I test I add ammonia to get back up to 2 ppm. Then the next morning I’m back at zero, so that’s good. But my nitrite just stays at the dark purple. Nitrates are getting more red. Is it just a matter of time until the nitrites go back to zero? Anything else I should be doing or just wait? I haven’t done a water change recently.
 
mattgirl
Member
rsjordan7 said:
Here’s where I’m at now with my fishless cycle. I get a zero for ammonia each morning, so after I test I add ammonia to get back up to 2 ppm. Then the next morning I’m back at zero, so that’s good. But my nitrite just stays at the dark purple. Nitrates are getting more red. Is it just a matter of time until the nitrites go back to zero? Anything else I should be doing or just wait? I haven’t done a water change recently.
Those nitrite are tricky little guys. You think you are never going to see that beautiful sky blue and then one day like magic there it is. If your test tube looks to be the deepest purple you know they are at least 5ppm. You can get a better idea as to how high they actually are by doing a dilution test. Put half tank water and half tap water in the test tube and run the test on that mixture. If you are seeing a lighter color you will know the nitrites aren't sky high. if you are still seeing a deep purple it is time to do a water change to get both nitrites and nitrates down a bit.

Both being this high really isn't a problem since the ammonia you are adding is still going back to zero within 24 hours. Your cycle is still moving forward. It is just going to take longer to grow enough bacteria to clear out all the nitrites being produced. Change out half the water and you may find this cycle moving forward very quickly. Meaning done in just a day or so.
 
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rsjordan7
Member
Here’s the test with 50/50 tap/aquarium water. I’m guessing I should do a 50% water change based on how dark purple it is at 50/50?
 
mattgirl
Member
rsjordan7 said:
Here’s the test with 50/50 tap/aquarium water. I’m guessing I should do a 50% water change based on how dark purple it is at 50/50?
I agree. it is time to get them down with a water change.
 
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rsjordan7
Member
mattgirl said:
I agree. it is time to get them down with a water change.
I think I’m finally cycled or very close. I added ammonia yesterday to get to 1ppm and this is what I see today. Should I do one more dose of ammonia to make sure? I feel like I read somewhere to do a final dose of 2ppm and if that’s at zero the next day, you know you’re good. Any thoughts?

Also, do I need to keep dosing ammonia until I’m able to buy my fish? I’m assuming so. I’ll also need to do a water change to bring down the nitrates before adding any fish. Any advice would be great.
 
mattgirl
Member
rsjordan7 said:
I think I’m finally cycled or very close. I added ammonia yesterday to get to 1ppm and this is what I see today. Should I do one more dose of ammonia to make sure? I feel like I read somewhere to do a final dose of 2ppm and if that’s at zero the next day, you know you’re good. Any thoughts?

Also, do I need to keep dosing ammonia until I’m able to buy my fish? I’m assuming so. I’ll also need to do a water change to bring down the nitrates before adding any fish. Any advice would be great.
I do believe you are right. I think this cycle is now complete.

I've read that too but if this tank has only grown enough bacteria to process 1ppm ammonia adding 2ppm will take some time to process. You will probably see another nitrite spike too. What are your stocking plans for this tank? If it is just for a Betta or an equivalent bio-load you have grown enough bacteria for the bio-load so no need to grow any more.

I would not increase the amount of ammonia unless necessary. I try to match my recommendations to each individual tanks needs instead of recommending a one size fits all number. If you plan on heavily stocking this tank I will recommend you gradually start growing more bacteria.

You can do this by very gradually increasing the amount of ammonia you add each time. If you were adding 10 drops add 12. Let it and the nitrites zero out. Once done add 14 drops. Doing this is basically what one would be doing by adding a few fish at a time and giving the bacteria time to catch up with the higher bio-load. Instead of going straight from 1ppm to 2ppm, doing it this way will prevent nitrite spikes along the way.
 
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rsjordan7
Member
mattgirl said:
I do believe you are right. I think this cycle is now complete.

I've read that too but if this tank has only grown enough bacteria to process 1ppm ammonia adding 2ppm will take some time to process. You will probably see another nitrite spike too. What are your stocking plans for this tank? If it is just for a Betta or an equivalent bio-load you have grown enough bacteria for the bio-load so no need to grow any more.

I would not increase the amount of ammonia unless necessary. I try to match my recommendations to each individual tanks needs instead of recommending a one size fits all number. If you plan on heavily stocking this tank I will recommend you gradually start growing more bacteria.

You can do this by very gradually increasing the amount of ammonia you add each time. If you were adding 10 drops add 12. Let it and the nitrites zero out. Once done add 14 drops. Doing this is basically what one would be doing by adding a few fish at a time and giving the bacteria time to catch up with the higher bio-load. Instead of going straight from 1ppm to 2ppm, doing it this way will prevent nitrite spikes along the way.
Thanks! I’m thinking of adding one betta and a few corys and a snail. Think that would work?
 
mattgirl
Member
rsjordan7 said:
Thanks! I’m thinking of adding one betta and a few corys and a snail. Think that would work?
I do think that will work. Feed them very lightly to begin with. Make sure there is not a lot of food left over. Keep an eye on the ammonia level. I don't expect a spike but should it happen keep on top of the water changes. If you see no spikes just do your weekly water changes. As always i will recommend you change out no less than 50% of the water each week for the life of the tank. If it was just going to be a single Betta you could probably do smaller water changes each week but add in the corys and a snail and bigger water change need to be done.

Corys are grazers so normally don't eat as quickly as other fish so just use your best judgement on how to feed them. Any food i drop in for my corys is gone in a flash but then I have a lot of corys. I guesstimate more than 25 in my 55 gallon tank. BTW: most corys don't thrive on veggies so feed them a meatier diet such as shrimp pellets and one of my little guys favorites, Hikari sinking wafers for bottom feeders.

What kind of snail are you planning on getting?
 
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rsjordan7
Member
Thanks, this helps. I was looking at a nerite (sp?) snail. Do you have a recommendation for what kid to get and/or what to avoid?
 
mattgirl
Member
rsjordan7 said:
Thanks, this helps. I was looking at a nerite (sp?) snail. Do you have a recommendation for what kid to get and/or what to avoid?
A nerite is a good choice. Mysteries might get too big and if you happen to get a female you will have to stay on top of removing clutches of eggs to keep from getting overrun with them. If you get a female nerite you will eventually start seeing white eggs stuck to things in your tank but they won't hatch so no chance of getting overrun. There are some ramshorns with pretty colors but eventually you will have more than you want for this size tank.
 
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