Started cycling 20 gallon tank for Axolotl

zyborg
  • #1
Are you doing a fish in cycle, fishless cycle or was your tank cycled and you had a sudden ammonia or nitrite spike?:
Fishless cycle in new tank

Tank
What is the water volume of the tank?:
I calculated 16.06 gallons when I began 2 weeks ago. there is a bit less water now, but I haven’t calculated how much it has dropped.
What type of water are you using in your tank? (tap, well, RO/DI, other):
Tap water, and I have a whole house water softener (the beads kind which I think performs ionization to the water).
When did you start cycling the tank?:
Exactly two weeks ago.
What type of filtration are you running on this tank? (sponge, HOB, canister, other):
I have both a sponge and HOB filter (Fluval AquaClear 50).
If canister or HOB list all the media you are running in it. (manufactured cartridges, sponge, etc.):
The sponge, carbon and ceramic rings that cane with the filter.
Do you have good water agitation/surface movement?:
I have the filters set to the lowest setting.
What is the water temperature?:

~82F
If fish in cycling
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts): N/A
How often do you feed them and how much?:
Are they showing signs of distress? (fish hiding, staying at the top, looking pale, torn fins, etc): N/A
Do you have live plants in the tank?: No
If so are they healthy and actively growing?:


Products used while cycling
If this is a fishless cycle what ammonia source are you using? (fish food, Dr Tim’s ammonia, other):
Dr Tim’s
If adding liquid ammonia how often do you dose ammonia in your tank and in what quantity? (1ppm, 2ppm etc.):

I set it up and measured 2ppm. I have only dosed ammonia after I added API quick start (after the third day since ammonia measured 0ppm — there was no nitrites or nitrates present). My goal was to get the ammonia back to 2ppm, but when I measured it the next day it was 8ppm, so I added 15mL of API quickstart and saw the levels go back down to 4 ppm the next day, and the next days it was back at 2ppm. I have not added any more ammonia.
If using fish food as your ammonia source how much are you adding and how often?: N/A
Are you using a dechlorinater and if so, which one?:
Prime concentrated
Are you using bottled bacteria and if so, which one?:
I used API Quick Start
Did you add seeded media from a previously cycled tank?:
No
What other products/chemicals are you using? (list them all):
None


Testing and cycling process
What was your knowledge of the nitrogen cycle before beginning to cycle your tank? (none, beginner, intermediate (please explain), advanced):
None, but I referenced several recommended websites.
What do you use to test the water? (API liquid, test strips, other):
API Freshwater Master Test Kit (liquid)
Did you test your tap water for ammonia, nitrites, nitrates and pH, if so post the results below?:
Ammonia 0, pH 8
Have you done any water changes and if so, when?:
No water changes
How much water did you change?: N/A
Did you vacuum the substrate?:There is no substrate.
Did you clean your filter, filter media, decorations and/or glass?:
Everything is new, so No
If using disposable cartridges have you replaced one recently?:
No



*Parameters - Very Important
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.
Tank water:
Ammonia: 1ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrate: 0 ppm
pH: 8ppm

Tap water:
Ammonia: 0ppm
Nitrite:
Nitrate:
pH: 8ppm

Explain your cycling problem in detail. (Please give a clear explanation of what is going on, include details from the beginning of the problem leading up to now)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I began the cycle 2 weeks ago, I treated the water with prime and allowed the filters to run for a full day, and then I added ammonia getting the level to 2ppm. Then, I added 30mL API quickstart. 4 days later the measured ammonia went to 0 gradually (to 1ppm after 1st day, then 1 ppm, then .5ppm until it got to 0 on 4 th day). No nitrates/nitrites registered on my measurements).
At that time (One week ago), I added half the amount of ammonia I had added the first day, and the next day the level got to 8ppm. Instead of taking water out, I added 15mL API quick start and the ammonia levels went down per day as flows: 4, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1 (today).

No nitrates/nitrites are present, water is at a constant temp of 82C water pH is 8.0, and you can tell that the ammonia levels have been stuck at 1ppm for the last 4 days.

Should I :
1. add the entire bottle of quick start, and add some ammonia?
or
2. get Fritzzyme turbostart 700 dump it in and add some ammonia?
3. Empty the tank and start over?
4. Just add ammonia and wait?
5. Do nothing?

Could my soft water be slowing or killing the process?

In the meantime the Axolotl is in a tub !

Here are some photos:
 

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DaniosForever
  • #2
I would do nothing if the ammonia is at 0 then add a bit more and wait
 

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zyborg
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
I would do nothing if the ammonia is at 0 then add a bit more and wait
Ok…I won’t do anything and will keep checking ammonia levels—hopefully they drop from 1ppm soon!

Thanks
 
zyborg
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
I would do nothing if the ammonia is at 0 then add a bit more and wait
Hi,
So, I measured 1ppm ammonia for 5 days in a row and then 4 days in a row at .5ppm. Is it normal to stay stuck at these levels so long?
 
DaniosForever
  • #5
Not sure but Dunk2 could help
 
zyborg
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
Hi,
So, I measured 1ppm ammonia for 5 days in a row and then 4 days in a row at .5ppm. Is it normal to stay stuck at these levels so long?
Does anyone else have any suggestions?
 

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Dunk2
  • #7
Does anyone else have any suggestions?
If I’m reading your post correctly, tomorrow will be 3 weeks since you started running this tank.

Because you basically started this tank “from scratch” (i.e., you didn’t use any filter media from a cycled tank), the cycling process could take 4 - 6 weeks.

So my best suggestion. . . Patience. :)
 
zyborg
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
If I’m reading your post correctly, tomorrow will be 3 weeks since you started running this tank.

Because you basically started this tank “from scratch” (i.e., you didn’t use any filter media from a cycled tank), the cycling process could take 4 - 6 weeks.

So my best suggestion. . . Patience. :)

I guess patience it is then!
Is it ok to add water (with Prime of course) to top off what has evaporated?

Thanks
 
Dunk2
  • #9
I guess patience it is then!
Is it ok to add water (with Prime of course) to top off what has evaporated?

Thanks
Topping off your tank with Prime conditioned water is fine. Use that as practice to temperature match the water you’re adding with the tank water temperature.
 
zyborg
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
Topping off your tank with Prime conditioned water is fine. Use that as practice to temperature match the water you’re adding with the tank water temperature.
I will do that. Thanks again!
 

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zyborg
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
I will do that. Thanks again!
So, I’m at the 4th week. Not sure if I’m fully at 0ppm ammonia, but I’m getting concerned since I have a trip in three weeks and the axolotl is in a tub waiting for the tank to cycle—yes…my patience is being tested

I have 0 ammonia, 8.2 pH, and 0 nitrite
Should I add ammonia now? If so, should I aim for 1ppm or 2ppm to try to help speed it up?
 

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DaniosForever
  • #12
Maybe 1ppm just to be on the safe side
 
zyborg
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
Maybe 1ppm just to be on the safe side
I did as you suggested.
Then, when I added Tim’s ammonia to attempt to get it to 1ppm, it went to like 8ppm, so I did a water change and waited a day and measured .25ppm ammonia. Now, three days after I dis the water change, I think I’m measuring:
ph 8.2 (it has always stayed at this level)
ammonia .25ppm
nitrite .5ppm
nitrate 5ppm (I think)
So, I think my cycle has started.
Is it time for a water change to lower nitrates?
Do I add ammonia aiming to 2-3ppm now?

I’m attaching a pic below:

IMG_2894.jpeg
 
DaniosForever
  • #14
I would say do a water change and wait until the ammonia and nitrites hit zero and then add 2 ppm wait until ammonia hits zero and do it again for a few weeks ( maybe 4-5 weeks). Only add more ammonia when your tests say there is zero ammonia, no nitrite and low nitrates.
 

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zyborg
  • Thread Starter
  • #15
I would say do a water change and wait until the ammonia and nitrites hit zero and then add 2 ppm wait until ammonia hits zero and do it again for a few weeks ( maybe 4-5 weeks). Only add more ammonia when your tests say there is zero ammonia, no nitrite and low nitrates.
I’ll do the water change as you suggested.
Thanks
 
zyborg
  • Thread Starter
  • #16
Not much change in a week

Ammonia looks to be .25ppm, I think nitrite is between 2-5ppm, nitrates have stayed the same at 5ppm.

Is there anything else I should do?
IMG_2934.jpeg
 
DaniosForever
  • #17
Do not do anything and wait for the ammonia to go to zero
 
zyborg
  • Thread Starter
  • #18
Another week gone by…
2 days ago, ammonia was at zero and nitrites at 5ppm.
I added Dr Tim’s ammonium chloride and took ammonia to 1ppm.
two days later (today) ammonia is at 0, but nitrites are still at 5ppm.

Is my cycle stuck? Is there anything I should do?
 

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Dunk2
  • #19
Another week gone by…
2 days ago, ammonia was at zero and nitrites at 5ppm.
I added Dr Tim’s ammonium chloride and took ammonia to 1ppm.
two days later (today) ammonia is at 0, but nitrites are still at 5ppm.

Is my cycle stuck? Is there anything I should do?
The API Master Test kit legend maxes out at 5ppm. . . Because I suspect your nitrites are (much?) higher than even 5 ppm, I’d suggest at least a 50% water change to get them down. That level of nitrites will unnecessarily prolong the cycling process.
 
zyborg
  • Thread Starter
  • #20
The API Master Test kit legend maxes out at 5ppm. . . Because I suspect your nitrites are (much?) higher than even 5 ppm, I’d suggest at least a 50% water change to get them down. That level of nitrites will unnecessarily prolong the cycling process.
Thanks. I can certainly try that next.

On another note, I will not be able to do anything with the tank for 5 days starting Thursday (in just two days) since I will not be home. Will that force me to restart everything when I come back?
 
Dunk2
  • #21
Thanks. I can certainly try that next.

On another note, I will not be able to do anything with the tank for 5 days starting Thursday (in just two days) since I will not be home. Will that force me to restart everything when I come back?
Nope. Your tank will be fine during the time you’re away. I’d do the water change before you leave.
 
zyborg
  • Thread Starter
  • #22
Nope. Your tank will be fine during the time you’re away. I’d do the water change before you leave.
That’s really good to hear.
Since I have 0 ammonia, should I add ammonium chloride? and if so, should my goal still be 1 ppm?
Thanks again for your help!
 

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Dunk2
  • #23
That’s really good to hear.
Since I have 0 ammonia, should I add ammonium chloride? and if so, should my goal still be 1 ppm?
Thanks again for your help!
If this was my tank and given what I think are very high (> 5 ppm?) nitrite levels, I wouldn’t add any ammonium chloride after you do the water change. Let your tank do its thing and check your parameters when you return home.

I didn’t suggest this previously, but I’d check the nitrite level after you do at least a 50% water change. Post a picture of the test result here.
 
zyborg
  • Thread Starter
  • #24

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zyborg
  • Thread Starter
  • #27

IMG_3188.jpeg
It looks like my readings are:
pH 8.2
Ammonia 0
Nitrite .25ppm
Nitrate 5ppm

So, it looks like nitrites went down from 1ppm to .25ppm.

DaniosForever Dunk2 Anything else other than waiting I should do?

Thanks
 
DaniosForever
  • #28
Wait for the nitrites to hit zero and the nitrates to hit around 0.25 ppm also lower the ph 8.1 is too high for an axolotl maybe add some driftwood to lower the ph.
 
GouramiGirl100
  • #29
Just wait until the nitrites go down to 0, the nitrates are fine at 5. The pH is a bit high but likely fine especially if you bought your axolotl locally. The important thing is the temperature of the tank once it’s cycled
 
zyborg
  • Thread Starter
  • #30
Dunk2 DaniosForever GouramiGirl100
Thank all for your feedback.

So, it looks like my readings are:
8.2 pH (haven’t lowered as suggested yet)
0 Ammonia
0 Nitrite
~0 Nitrate

What should I take the ammonium level to verify if cycle is complete? Or is there more waiting without doing anything else?


IMG_3194.jpeg
 

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Dunk2
  • #31
Dunk2 DaniosForever GouramiGirl100
Thank all for your feedback.

So, it looks like my readings are:
8.2 pH (haven’t lowered as suggested yet)
0 Ammonia
0 Nitrite
~0 Nitrate

What should I take the ammonium level to verify if cycle is complete? Or is there more waiting without doing anything else?

View attachment 881946
I’d dose to 2 ppm. The 0 nitrate level puzzles me a bit. . . A cycled tank typically has some level of nitrates.
 
zyborg
  • Thread Starter
  • #32
So here is what I did the last two days:
1. I calculated tank volume and then used Dr Tim’s ammonium chloride to get to 2ppm ammonia. Earlier in the process I had used Dr Tim’s guide to get 2ppm, but ended up getting 8ppm (not sure if that was an outlier, but I ended up changing half of the water). Because of this, I only added a fraction of Dr Tim’s instructions which resulted in .5ppm ammonia for caution.
2. After 24 hours, I measured 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite and nitrates looked somewhere between 0 and 5 ppm.
3. Since I measured 0 levels for that .5ppm ammonia 24hr test, I decided to dose Dr Tim’s guide to get 2ppm.
4. After 24 hrs, I measured 8.2 pH, 1ppm ammonia, .25ppm nitrite, 0 ppm nitrate as shown on the picture below:



IMG_3211.jpeg
Dunk2 DaniosForever GouramiGirl100
Is there something wrong with my cycle process?
 
DaniosForever
  • #33
Too much ammonia could have messed with the cycle.
 
zyborg
  • Thread Starter
  • #34
This process is certainly testing my patience!
So, after 24 hrs, it looked like nitrites and nitrates increased slightly.
I got 1ppm ammonia, .5ppm nitrite, nitrates 5ppm.

IMG_3224.jpeg
 

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DaniosForever
  • #35
zyborg
  • Thread Starter
  • #36
Once the ammonia and nitrite hit 0 and nitrates are around 0.5 ppm then add 2 ppm of ammonia.
My ammonia and nitrites are 0, and Nitrates have been staying somewhere between 10-20ppm.
You are saying that I need to wait for nitrates to go to .5ppm, and it has been a few days at same 10-20ppm level. Wouldn’t the bacteria starve if I haven’t added ammonium chloride for a few days?

Am I cycled?
IMG_3255.jpeg
 
zyborg
  • Thread Starter
  • #38
Yes.

Now your goal is to add ammonia and see if ammonia and nitrites zero out within 12 hrs.
Thanks. It’s pretty interesting to see so many different instructions for this process. I’ve heard to dose ammonium chloride to get 2 ppm then wait 24 hrs and see if ammonia and nitrites are 0 — this absolutely tests ones patience !

It’s interesting that DaniosForever said to allow the nitrates to go really low (seems to be staying for days at 10-20ppm). I’m afraid to do something that will make this even slower. I began on April 6th!
 

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kuhlkid
  • #39
I think DaniosForever meant to write 5.0ppm rather than 0.5-- you're just waiting for any nitrate to read at all, rather than ammonia or nitrite. Nitrate won't go down on its own unless the tank is very heavily planted, only water changes will drop your nitrate reading.
 
zyborg
  • Thread Starter
  • #40
I think DaniosForever meant to write 5.0ppm rather than 0.5-- you're just waiting for any nitrate to read at all, rather than ammonia or nitrite. Nitrate won't go down on its own unless the tank is very heavily planted, only water changes will drop your nitrate reading.
Thanks for the clarification.

I’ve been careful how much Dr. Tim’s ammonium chloride to use to get to 2ppm since using their instructions gets me to around 4ppm instead.
I’ll add some ammonium Chloride and measure ammonia level in an hour just to make sure I’m not above 2ppm.
 

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