10 Gallon Tank Still Cycling (week 3) Fishless using food and cloudy water.

  • #1
Well I'm almost at the end of week 3 with my fishless cycle. I'm using food for the fuel and I know it's not the best method but it's what I had available to me at the time I started. My ammonia has been on the rise since July 4th and has been fairly steady around 3-4 ppm. I have yet to see any nitrites or nitrates.

PH: 8.2
GH: 5.6
KH: 16.5

Check out my ongoing log here at

For the last few days the tank has been quite cloudy. When my 10 watt cfl's are on is't a white hazy cloud. When the lights are off it looks more yellowish. I'm using a whisper 20I HOB power filter with the standard bio-bag from tetra. I also have one of the tetra bio sponge things in there. I added extra carbon media to the bag to try to give my special little bacteria dudes places to call home. All my substrate was rinsed before adding to the tank. I have one Dwarf Lilly (scientific name?) That is growing like crazy. I just trimmed two surface leaves as well as another that was only a few inches from breaching the surface. I thought that those leaves might inhibit my tanks natural ability for oxygen exchange. I just added an air stone yesterday in the dead corner of the tank to help with the water flow. It seems like this particular part of the cycle is stalled but I don't know for sure. I just thought that by now I'd at least see some nitrites. I've been adding a pinch of flakes twice daily trying to keep those ammonia readings around 3-4 ppm. I'm seriously thinking about getting a couple fish and going with TSS.

Some other info. My water is well water and does have a very high hardness out of the tap. over 300 ppm which is the max my kit will test for. I've been using the softened water which has a hardness of 75-100 and running that through my RO filter for topping off my tank. I have done no water changes and I have rinsed my filter a few times because i'm using food and of course it's making a mess in there. I'm seriously starting to obsess over this 10 gallon tank cycle! I do have a couple pics up at the link above as well as my water testing results. Here are a couple pic's too...one from yesterday and one from about 5 min ago.

2012-07-19 09.02.27.jpg

I'm trying not to be too impatient or worried about what's going on but it's hard! Up until I came to this site I thought cycling meant letting your tank run for a week with no fish. I'm open to pretty much any and all suggestions or at least some encouragement that I'm heading in the right direction! Thanks in advance.

P.S. I think i'm falling in love with you guys!
  • #2
It is cloudy during cycling to experience a bacteria bloom which will result in cloudy water. Also, overfeeding can result in cloudy water also, and since you are adding food to your tank which isn't being eaten, that is pretty much like overfeeding.

I'm a little concerned about you adding additional carbon as a place for additional bacteria to grow. Since carbon needs to be replaced every 3-4 weeks, any bacteria that grows there will end up being removed, which could result in a minI cycle.

Since it takes a while for the fish food to decompose and start producing ammonia, your cycling didn't start until ammonia showed up in the water. So I would expect it to take about three weeks from the time ammonia showed up in a high enough level to start the cycle and the time it takes for enough bacteria to form to start converting the ammonia to nitrite.

Back when I cycled my first tank, my ammonia did not slowly drop. It seemed one day I had ammonia, the next day it was zero. The same thing happened with my nitrites. I don't want to give you false hope, but just before my ammonia (and three weeks later my nitrites) dropped to zero, my tank got all cloudy.

Your results may be different, since I cycled pre-Fishlore and took the PetSmart advice and just dumped 4 danios in the tank and did nothing but feed them until the tank cycled (i.e.not water changes...nothing)
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  • #3
Thanks for sharing your experience with me. It does make me feel better. I suppose the first one is always the hardest right? lol....at least I hope that's how it is.

As far as my filter is concerned, Part of the reason I did add the extra AC was so that when I do replace the filter I can take one fresh package and also add half the old one in there to help propagate the bactera. It does have a bio-sponge in there to but it looks kinda wispy to me. I do plan on upgrading to a Penn Plax Cascade 500 canister filter when money allows.
  • #4
I noticed you live in the US. What part? Do you have an ACE hardware or other hardware store you can get to? Pure ammonia is pretty easy and FAST, less messy if you can do that.
I JUST finished a fishless/ammonia cycled YESTERDAY. 3 1/2 weeks.
I started seeing a rise in my nitrites around the 2nd week and it got super high and off the charts a week after that. Then I backed off the ammonia and waited where it stayed steady ( high nitrites, low ammonia ) and then finally all of the nitrites got consumed. I only have a 6 gallon tank but it was very hard being patient.

Good luck~! I think the pure ammonia will give you a kick start without all of the mess of fish food.

  • Thread Starter
  • #5
I'm from Michigan. We have a couple little hardware stores I could look into. I think that would be a much better option that the food. It's just what I had when I got started!
  • #6
I would definitely go that route then. Its much cleaner and you will probably be done in a couple of weeks or less.

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