10 Gallon Tank Stubborn Nitrogen Cycle

nellsworth
Member
HELP!

I started my aquarium back in February with 5 zebra danios. It has been almost three complete months and I have not seen any Nitrite or Nitrate development. My amononia levels have been staying fairly high. I have had to perform several 25% water changes (about 2 gallons) each week to keep the amononia levels from getting too high.

In case you want some particuluars, my tank is a ten gallon tank at 79 degrees. I have been using the API master freshwater test kit to test my water levels. I use Tetra Aquasafe to declorinate the water. I have checked the amononia levels of my tap water and it has none in it. I have a power filter running and am also putting oxygen into the water. I do not have a UGF.

I would have thought that I would be seeing some nitrite or nitrates by now.

What am I doing wrong?

Thanks
 
Shawnie
Member
welcome to fishlore!!!

although you are doing things right, except id change water daily with any ammonia readings, have you really banged up that #2 bottle on a hard counter as the crystals are horid to mix..and you could be getting a false reading if its not mixed up correctly...when cycling with fish, it takes so much longer but 3 months for a 10 gal is a bit long ...
 
  • Thread Starter
nellsworth
Member
Which #2 bottle, the ammonia or the nitrate??? I know the nitrate bottle #2 has to be shaken vigorously for at least 30 seconds. I have been shaking it well as the instructions indicate and then shaking the test tube with both chemicals in it for at least 60 seconds as directed.

I have also tested with the quick strips which show the same results. I have heard the master tests are more accurate so I prefer them, but have used both just to compare results.
 
  • Moderator
Lucy
Moderator
Member
Welcome to Fish Lore

The #2 nitrate bottle is the one that needs to be banged against the table a few times.
 
  • Thread Starter
nellsworth
Member
I have used to different tests to check for nitrates. One was the master test kit and the second was a dip strip test. Both have reported the same thing.....no nitrates, so I believe I am testing correctly.

Now what? How long should it take for my tank to at least begin cycling? Any ideas of why it is not? I have read the article on this site about the nitrogen cycle several times which leads me to believe that I should have seen something begin to develop by now.
 
bettafish2816
Member
it's very strange that your tank isn't cycled by now after 3 months, or at least for you to be getting a nitrIte or nitrAte reading. what kind of filter do you have and what is the GPH? how much filter media do you have in there?

do you have recent readings for ammonia? what kind of levels are you getting?
 
  • Thread Starter
nellsworth
Member
I have an AquaTech 5-15 Power Filter from Walmart. Cheap, but seems to keep the water clear. I just use the filters it comes with. One is the replaceable filter that has the carbon in it and the other is a biofilter or something like that.

My lastest ammonia reading have been around 5 ppm after about 3 days. I am now beginning to do 25% changes daily to get the readings down without harming the fish with too much new water.

Thanks
 
  • Moderator
jdhef
Moderator
Member
Are you changing the biofilter? It sounds like you are not, but if you are, don't since that is where the benificial bacteria grows. Other than that, I'm out of ideas.
 
Sharkitty
Member
New water will not harm your fish as long as it has been treated with stress coat+ or prime. An ammonia level of 5 will *kill* your fish, and only doing a 25% water change will leave that level much too high. You need to do 50% per day.

Also, if you are changing the biofilter you are throwing away your bacteria, and that will totally prevent a cycle.
 
  • Thread Starter
nellsworth
Member
To answer the last two questions, I do not change my biofilter and all new water I add is treated for chlorine and has the stress coat included.
 
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Lucy
Moderator
Member
Wow, I'm stumped. When did you begin to do daily changes?
The only thing I can think is that you had a super high ammonia reading which would have hindered the cycle.

Are vacuuming the gravel to get out the left over food and fish waste?
 
  • Thread Starter
nellsworth
Member
I have only recently began the daily changes. Before I was changing the water every 4-5 days as needed. This too I believe is probably excessive, but my ammonia levels have dictated it.

I vacuum every time I change the water, although it is impossible to get all the gravel or even 25% done each time before too much water has been released. I have thought about just repeating the vacuum and refill cycle until I have completely vacuumed the gravel. I have also thought about removing the gravel a little at a time a cleaning it in clean, chlorine treated water.
 
kimb
Member
I don't think you want to remove your gravel as that is where some of your good bacteria is located, besides the left over food sits in it and is not really attached to it. Is your filter media really gunked up? You can take out the pad and swish it around in the tank water you are changing, it will remove build up without hurting the bacteria. I know water changes are frustrating, but about all you can do for the health of your fish. Hang in there
 
bettafish2816
Member
you definitely don't want to remove and rinse the gravel, that will kill whatever bacteria you may have had on there. i'm with lucy, I think that your ammonia levels are too high and aren't allowing the nitrIte bacteria to grow. i'd start doing 50% daily water changes to get the ammonia levels down and keep your fish safe.
 
  • Thread Starter
nellsworth
Member
I have heard two different ways to maintain ammonia during the cycle. One said that you should keep the ammonia a little higher 3-4 ppm range to allow the bacteria to grow and give it food once it develops. I have also heard the opposite of never allowing ammonia levels to get about 0.5 ppm.

Which one should I follow?

The comment about ammonia levels being to high to allow bacteria growth makes sense to me. I will try maintaining very low levels of ammonia for a few weeks and see if it makes a difference.

I want to thank everyone who has responded to these postings. Although, a definite answer was not found, you have all given me some new ideas to try. Thank you.
 
neupane00
Member
experts, correct me if I am wrong. well you can't have 3-4 ppm method with fish in that. that's just for fishless cycle. Also with that kinda ammonia reading nitrobacter ( that converts nitrIte to nitrAte can't survive). with cycling with fish I would def recommend lowwww ammonia that will not hurt the fish, help nitrosmonas bacteria and nitrabacter bacteria both... id go with agabr123 and do 50% changes to bring ammonia within 1.
 
Sharkitty
Member
As neupane00 said, 3-4ppm is only for a fishless cycle. If you have fish, you need to keep it under .5ppm. I don't think anyone here would suggest that 3-4 is acceptable with fish. 50% changes are the standard prescription round these here parts as well, until your levels are 0/0/5-20. Good luck!
 
  • Thread Starter
nellsworth
Member
Again thank you. I will begin 50% changes tonight until my ammonia levels are under 1ppm and then maintain.

Thanks to all.
 
bettafish2816
Member
good luck!
 
whtkia
Member
Hi, i've haven't really posted much on this forum yet but..I feel for you ..it took me 10 wks to cycle my one tank.I did up to 4 25% water changes a day to keep my amm and then nitrIte levels down and it didnt bother my fishes much..It was a PITA! but they got used to me doing that and after ward they knew they were getting fed and like to splash tru the water as I was pouring it back in..my levels never got above 1ppm..I was almost ready to give it up.I was so tired of all the water changes but I made it tru,,Never will I cycle a tank with fish again..Keep on going you'll get there (this was for you to read that you were not alone in this whole cycle thing!)There were others out here!!
 

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