Two month old tank Never cycled?

JaimeQ

Hello, I am brand new here. Please tear me apart as gently as possible. My mother wanted to get my daughter fish for her birthday and I knew nothing about fish.

With money she gave my daughter (plus lots of my own), I purchased a 20 gallon high with HOB aqueon filter, fluval (I think?) Substrate, some rocks, a bunch of plants, and some driftwood. I had set all that up and it was running without fish for about a month as I realized I really had no idea what I was doing. The people at the fish store kept telling me to use fish to cycle and I kept refusing. I bought both tetra safe start plus and Seachem Stability and used both at different times, while adding fish food and nothing seemed to ever happen.

After that month, I went to Petco and they tested my water (strip test) and told me "your water is perfect, no ammonia no nitrite and a little nitrate, just get some fish!" So I got three little white clouds. I purchased my own water test strips and still nothing seemed to ever happen except adding too much fertilizer once. Two weeks later I got the last of the surviving white clouds (3) from Petco. Then I panicked thinking the water test things I got were no good so I finally purchased the API Freshwater test kit. Ammonia and Nitrites have always read 0 and Nitrates are always around 10ppm. I thought that was good...

So we got five guppies two weeks later and the man at the fish store told me the wrong ratio of male to female guppies, and the females were gasping for air and acting super stressed. They would not take the males back and I didn't know what to do so in haste I got more females to even the ratio. Now they are all acting fine... except they had fry.

So I got yet another tank and am trying to cycle that (this time only ten gallons, with Eco Complete Substrate and a sponge filter and some ceramic rings from the other tank). I got Dr. Tims and that's supposed to arrive tomorrow. I added guppy grass, java moss, some fish food and safe start in there. I tested the new tank and it also showed nitrates??!! How is that possible? So then I thought...maybe both tanks haven't even started to cycle yet?

Anyway, point of rant, through all this I am now severely panicked and wondering if the first tank just NEVER CYCLED. Is that possible? It's been running for over two months...idk. please advise.

Temp of 20 gallon: 72°
Using well water
Ammonia zero
Nitrite zero
Nitrate 10ppm
pH WAS 6.8 two days ago now it is 7.8!?

Temp of 10 gallon: 78°
Nitrite and ammonia zero, nitrate was 20ppm and pH was also HIGH (first time I've checked it) around 8. Well water pH is 6.8 btw.

I do water changes every Friday
** OH AND I FORGOT TO MENTION I CHANGED THE FILTER CARTRIDGE MORE THAN ONCE (AS PER INSTRUCTIONS THAT CAME WITH FILTER) BEFORE RRALIZING THIS WAS BAD. Now I just rinse in tank water when I do changes ...

Why couldn't she have given my daughter an easy pet like a puppy hahahahahaha jk
 

Flyfisha

Hi JaimeQ
I think the first thing to do is test your tap water for nitrates. If you well water has zero nitrates and the tank has some all is good.
 

JaimeQ

Hi JaimeQ
I think the first thing to do is test your tap water for nitrates. If you well water has zero nitrates and the tank has some all is good.
Kind of embarrassing I never thought to do that. I just tested water from the sink that I used to fill the tanks. Nitrate looks to be between 0 and 5 ppm, closer to zero
 

Azedenkae

If you've had fish for a while now, and still register zero ammonia and nitrite, and if you only do water changes every Friday (I presume not 100%), then chances are your tanks are cycled. With a combination of bottled bac, plus bacteria from other sources (at least the plants), you might have just ended up with enough nitrifiers and well, got lucky. With both tanks, that is.

Unless the test kits are giving false results, you would not get zero ammonia and nitrite if your tank is not cycled (for the current bioload). After all, if the tanks are not cycled, then nothing is consuming the ammonia produced by your fish, and well, that'd be bad.

This is especially likely given your nitrate is 5ppm or below, and you are getting nitrate readings higher than that (even despite the plants), indicating that nitrification is going on.
 

JaimeQ

Wow, REALLY lucky I guess. I just (again) tested both the tap water and the 20 gallon to be safe and the 20 gallon has ~10ppm nitrate while the tap water is between 0 & 5. (And I did a water change today on the 20 gallon because I was panicking) ammonia and nitrites still zero.

Do you think the new tank is safe for the fry? I don't want to overstock the tank, and we wanted to eventually get more white clouds because dang guppies are more high maintenance than advertised.

I have read they will eat them, And I'm sure they have eaten quite a few already. It has been a few days since I noticed them. But now the fry seem to be more active and not just hiding and both male and female guppies seem to just swim right past them.
If you've had fish for a while now, and still register zero ammonia and nitrite, and if you only do water changes every Friday (I presume not 100%), then chances are your tanks are cycled. With a combination of bottled bac, plus bacteria from other sources (at least the plants), you might have just ended up with enough nitrifiers and well, got lucky. With both tanks, that is.

Unless the test kits are giving false results, you would not get zero ammonia and nitrite if your tank is not cycled (for the current bioload). After all, if the tanks are not cycled, then nothing is consuming the ammonia produced by your fish, and well, that'd be bad.

This is especially likely given your nitrate is 5ppm or below, and you are getting nitrate readings higher than that (even despite the plants), indicating that nitrification is going on.
And no, water changes are 10-15%. Also all the plants have produced new growth.
 

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