Too Many Changes, Tank "uncycled"

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by A. Rozhin, Jun 23, 2018.

  1. A. RozhinValued MemberMember

    I've got a problem that I think I know how to fix, but I wanted to get some input in case there's something else and/or better I could do.

    I'm experienced with cycling tanks, most specifically really little ones (I have several) These are 5g and 10g, and I cycle fishless.

    I did something that I should have known better about for these current changes. But now I've got the problem that's going to be a challenge. One tank has ammonia, no nitrites, no nitrates.

    I'll give you the steps for what I'm doing so you can hopefully help better (those who are kind enough to take pity on my fish, if not for me), and also for beginners who might be making big changes like this and want to see a way it works well, and a way that make me sub-beginner.

    I recently decided I wanted sponge filters (as my only filters) and also black sand in two of my tanks (already changing two major things at once, stupidly, but I thought I had it covered). For the ten gallon (very stable, great water quality), I had good sense: I bought a new 10 gallon, put the sand in, added the water, moved my rocks and plants over, piece by piece from the old tank, installed the new sponge filger, then moved the filter (Aquaclear 20) unchanged (nasty-looking but washed-in-tankwater floss, bioballs, a sponge), and the heater. I put my boys and girls in last, and will run the old filter along with the sponge for three or four weeks before removing the old filter. It went great. The Cory Cats are now in sand-heaven. They got together and spelled out "THANK YOU, WE LOVE IT!" in the sand.

    So. The 5 gallon:

    I did not have a new tank for this like I did for the 10g. In it lives the most fun betta (he has nothing but arrogant contempt for the world. I don't think he's a Siamese Fighting Fish, actually, I think he's a Siamese CAT, and his attitude is more French than Siamese). Also a dwarf pea puffer who torments the betta with his cheerfulness and cuteness. Here's how I did this move and put these adored animals in peril.

    This 5g is one of the little all-in-one PetSmart nano setups. It actually was the thing that prodded me to do this project in the first place, the pump is dying on me ("the pump is broken, might as well change everything while I'm at it..."). For those who don't know this tank, there is a compartment on the side that has a grill in the panel, and water flows into the compartment by way of a submersible pump like the ones on pet fountains, drawing it through a filter cartridge. There's a long filter (I converted to pinky filter floss I cut to fit the cartridge frame last year) and the pump pulls the water through that. The outflow is another hole in the panel. You can stick a heater back there (I have just a plain vanilla 50W, the one thing I DIDN'T change).

    The filter floss I was using has been rinsed in tank water several times over the last few months, but is nicely aged and working well. This tank was stable with great water quality before I made the change.

    No new tank to switch over to like I did with the 10g, so most everything went into bowls (even the snails had a bowl) The bowls were full of Prime-treated water. I cleaned the tank, put the sand in, added Prime-treated water, installed the new sponge filter, replaced everything else, then removed the ailing pump. I left the filter floss in the back, vaguely thinking "bacteria, will seed the sponge, blah blah blah, what could go wrong?"

    Here's the idiocy. The pump was very weak and cut in and out sometimes (hence the change)but was still working well enough for the fish. But I wanted the pump out, and thought of the floss pad as the main thing. But I didn't consider until too late that the problem would be that with no more water flowing directly over the floss, the bacteria was not supported. And on top of that, removing the gravel took another source away. Oh, and I decided to get rid of a few of the plants. And though the snails got a bowl, the rocks didn't, I set them on my kitchen counter throughout this, and they were bone dry when I put them back in.

    So you know what happened.

    I've got a clean, beautiful tank with an awesome new sponge filter bubbling away, and two fish I dearly love who I need to pull through this thing I've done to them.

    Here's what I'm doing:

    --I left the floss in there (lol, hope springs eternal)
    --I don't have anything else to seed this tank with, it's a sponge, and I don't have a sponge from a cycled tank to "borrow" -- this project is about me switching to sponges, so they are all new. The only other cycled filter, the HOB, has to stay on the 10 g, it's the only BB support until it has seeded the sponge filter there, and that will be a month)
    --I'm doing fifty percent water changes twice a day. This is keeping the ammonia at 0.5. It never went higher 1.0 (yet; here's hoping)
    --Feeding EXTREMELY lightly (one more thing for the Betta to be bitter about).
    --I put more plants back in, so it's pretty heavily planted. I know people have definitions for this; my heavily planted means big plants everywhere (bundles of anacharis and two big sword plants), and little plants in the between spots).
    --It hasn't gotten to the point where I want to Prime-dose is heavily, and I do not want to use ANY kind of Safe-Zyme-Ultra-Cycle-Helper thing, so I don't want that as an option.
    --Bumped up the heat a bit, 80F; both fish are probably digging this, at least I can give them a spa experience; my MANY pink snail are signing a petition for AC, though)
    --Waiting, worrying, and....

    Anything else? Thank you, those who have read this long tale. I was hoping by going into detail I'd think of something in the process, but it just made me feel more sure that I suck.

    I appreciate any advice.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2018
  2. MikeRad89Well Known MemberMember

    Can you condense that into what your issues are and your issues only? You’re not going to get a lot of quality answers if it means we have to read a short story.

  3. A. RozhinValued MemberMember

    I did that to make a boring problem more entertaining. If it doesn't entertain you, don't read it. Usually fish people like going into details about fish problems. Just click next. Thanks.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2018
  4. MikeRad89Well Known MemberMember

    Less is more. I’ve been doing this for 15 years. If you have an issue I’ll be glad to help you out, but I don’t need to read a book.
  5. A. RozhinValued MemberMember

    I did the same thing to two tanks. One messed up, one didn't. I think the one that didn't is fine, but in reading the details, it may become obvious to someone who knows more than I do that I have trouble coming from that one, also.

    And I really need to tell you, pinning down a solution to a problem caused by multiple mistakes is NOT a "less is more" issue

    But my issue is a tank that was cycled, and now it's not, and I don't have a lot of options. MANY things in the tank were changed, so it's not a case of "it mini-cycled, and I'll just do some extra water changes."

    Those details are germane. I have a potential 2nd problem, also, but since it's one I might not be seeing coming, I gotta give all the details.

    I'm glad you're glad to help. I'd love you to, I've presented things how I wanted to.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2018
  6. LagerthaValued MemberMember

    Ok OP, so basically you’re going through a fish in cycle.

    I’m not an expert (I don’t have 15 years of experience ), but, personally I think I’d add a bottle of TSS to the filter (or just pour it into the water) to kick start that cycle. OR, hop along to your LFS and ask them for some seeded media. OR take a little sand from your 10g to add to your 5g.

    None of these are prefect but it’s a good start right?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2018
  7. MikeRad89Well Known MemberMember

    Sand holds almost 0 bacteria in a filtered tank.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2018
  8. A. RozhinValued MemberMember

    So with 0.5 ammonia and frequent water changes, you're saying there is no hope for living fish because I have sand? Substrate would not be where I'd be aiming to grow my BB at the moment.

    I see you DID read my post, though. Thanks for that.

    This has me thinking -- it is right that sand doesn't hold BB. But I DO have a packet of bioballs in my cycled HOB I have on the 10 gallon. That filter has a lot of stacked media, it will be fine without them. I wonder if tying the mesh bag of bio-balls on the sponge filter, at the top where there will be suction might help...

    Thanks! Didn't think the the cross-seeding strategy! The kind of idea I was hoping for. And, couldn't hurt. :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2018
  9. A. RozhinValued MemberMember

    I have the little packet on top of the sponge now. It fit, I did not even need to tie it.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2018
  10. LagerthaValued MemberMember

    Admittedly he is (though some would definitely argue with his claim)

    It’s definitely worth a try! I seeded my nano tank from my established Bettas tank and the cycle went so much faster. Plus I added a bottle of TSS too which couldn’t hurt.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2018
  11. MikeRad89Well Known MemberMember

    I like simplicity. What’s the problem and I’ll fix it kinda deal. I don’t need to know what your kids look like to get your tank in order. Didn’t mean to be rude but hit me with the facts not the fillers!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2018
  12. A. RozhinValued MemberMember

    I've never used TSS, I always was really pompous about it and did it the hard way. But now I'm reformed also and not pompous because it's my babies at stake. Do you think I'd need just one dosing?
  13. A. RozhinValued MemberMember

    I don't have kids, and you're right, I'd make a mess of that job. It's cool if you like simplicity, but facts and fillers are matters of perspective, not the gold standard you've created. Some people would rather work on the details than a wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am kind of deal. Since you're up and posting to a fish forum at 2 am I guess we know your preference. ;)
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2018
  14. LagerthaValued MemberMember

    I have and I’ll admit I was skeptical BUT I did exactly what I was told on how to use it and my tank cycled in about twelve days and that was months ago now, I’ve got no issues with the cycle at all so I’d definitely recommend giving it a go.

    I have a 2.5 gallon I used it on and I dropped the entire contents on a 50ml bottle in there, did nothing for those twelve days other than keep an eye on water conditions and boom, cycled tank.
  15. Hunter1Well Known MemberMember

    You did!
  16. Hunter1Well Known MemberMember

    I would take a bottle of TetraSafeStart,shake it real good, submerge it and spray it directly into the sponge filter.

    I had a dirty tank where the potting soil was leeching nitrogen into the tank to a 8ppm level. 8 days after adding the TetraSafeStart, I was cycled.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2018
  17. CoradeeModeratorModerator Member

    Several posts have been removed or edited.
    I would remind you all of Fishlore rule 1 “Discussion and debating is encouraged but rudeness, insulting posts, inflammatory posts or personal attacks will not be tolerated. Above all, be respectful of your fellow members”
    If you have nothing constructive to add to the thread then move on to another.
  18. LagerthaValued MemberMember

    Anyway, let us know how you get on OP.
  19. A. RozhinValued MemberMember

    It is still holding at .5 ammonia from last night, so at least has not risen; I did a water change 50%) before I went to bed. Right now, it's .5 ammonia and zero nitrites and nitrates, though, so the holding-its-own ammonia level doesn't indicated any cycling going on. Doing another 50 % water change now. Will buy TSS tomorrow. Thanks for asking!
  20. mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    I appreciated all the information provided in the original post. We all make mistakes and this is one that can be fixed without great harm to either your Betta or the Puffer.

    If you don't have it yet get a bottle of Prime. It is the one thing that is going to protect them from the spikes of ammonia and/or nitrites. Prime is first and foremost a water conditioner designed to remove chlorine and heavy metals but then it was found that it does even more than that.

    If the combination of ammonia and nitrites is less than one add a dose of Prime. Add enough for the full volume of the tank (enough in this case for 5 gallons of water). If the numbers go above one do a water change to get them back under one and add a dose of Prime.

    Your bacteria needs some ammonia to grow so with the use of prime to protect your fish you can allow it to be there in small amounts.

    If you find that this tank still isn't cycled after a month you may be able to take some of the media out of your 10 gallon to help this one out.

    If the original media is still in the failing filter housing there may still be some bacteria living on it. If it is can you somehow run an airstone in with the media to get some water movement going through it?

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice