updates - fish in cycling with danios

Discussion in 'Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle' started by neonblue1980, Jul 2, 2014.

  1. neonblue1980Valued MemberMember

    okay, folks, my mind = absolutely confused, haha.

    i set up my 23 gallon tank on june 6. it ran with filter and heater running and i added fish food flakes each day in attempt to cycle.

    the levels never budged, despite adding what i felt was a pretty decent amount of food. the ammonia reading started around 0.25, and stayed there.

    then i opted to switch to fish in cycling using 3 zebra danios. i added them on june 18. i added nutrafin cycle the same day i added the danios. this was a 3 day treatment.

    collectively, my tank has had some source of ammonia for roughly 4 weeks now (will be 4 weeks on friday).

    again, my levels barely budged. the highest my ammonia went was 0.5 for about a day or two. i have never had nitrites above zero. my nitrates hovered between 5-20.

    my current levels as of last night are:

    ammonia 0.25
    nitrites 0
    nitrates 5-10.

    i have read several times that fish in cycling takes a long time...but after four weeks of set up, shouldn't i see at least some increase in ammonia, even a small amount?

    now, regarding my danios behavior. while the nutrafin cycle ran its course for 3 days, my danios appeared frightened constantly...hiding behind things, not eating a bite, etc. i chaulked it up to either a) ammonia build up...but there hasn't been a significant increase), fear of new environment, disliking the food, or the filter being too strong/strange/scary/something that made them afraid. so, i went to the store and bought a new filter, hoping to rule that one out. sure enough, the fish did a complete 360. they have been extremely active all day and all night. they are feeding wonderfully. they are gentle with one another. they swim along in a group. they react to me when i feed them, and when i put the test tubes in for water testing, they bump up against my hand checking it out like crazy, lol. it's pretty cute. i am feeding them pellet food and a few bloodworms for treats here and there.
    anyway, my point is, my levels are not changing. the fish are eating well, they are pooping well, they are very lively, etc. so i have absolutely no idea what is going on.

    regarding water appearance...it's clear. it has never clouded up any significant amount...only after water changes temporarily, which i figured was a result of me overfeeding and stirring up debris. it would settle within an hour or two. it appears to be looking a tad murky today but just BARELY...if you squint you can maybe see a bit of cloud...nah..not even really...i'm just due for a water change today and there is a bit of food lurking at the bottom. the wall behind my tank is the most god awful shade of beige..lol...so that makes it hard to tell what the water REALLY looks like. i've put bright coloured papers behind the tank for comparison and it makes the water look very clear.

    does anyone have any idea as to what on earth could be going on?

    has the cycle just simply not even started yet? would there be any small, remote possibility that the tank IS cycled...and something else is causing ammonia...i have no idea...i'm taking shots in the dark now...my tap water is ammonia free. i test the water when it comes straight from the tap. i let my water sit for an hour or so before i add it to the tank. would that have anything to do with it? would ammonia...i don't know...build up while sitting in the bucket for an hour at room temperature? is there a chance that an aquarium cycles so darn fast that you don't realize when testing every second day? that isn't likely, given that my ammonia is not at 0.

    any advice would be appreciated. these fish are an absolute joy to watch. i look forward to getting a couple more to complete their school. would i be safe to toss two more fish in there? what do you think?
  2. BigjoeNobodyNew MemberMember

    I'm going to assume you treat your water for chlorine, if not the chlorine will kill all the bacteria. that being said if there was chlorine it should have killed your fish as well.. Either way test your post treated water and make sure your dechlorinator is not creating the ammonia
  3. OP

    neonblue1980Valued MemberMember

    hi there,

    i treat my water with prime.

    i'm going to tinker around with some water testing today and get back to this post later with results!

  4. poeticinjustices

    poeticinjusticesWell Known MemberMember

    I suppose that's possible that the dechlor is creating ammonia when breaking up chloramine however I would think you would need a fair amount of chloramine in tap to get a reading between .25 and .5ppm. But that's just a guess.

    Also, you have had steadily rising nitrates right? That are not present in your tap?

    Jeez, maybe the nutrafin worked for you. When was the last time you added it and did you ever add TSS?

    Sent from my SCH-I545 using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum mobile app

  5. Adam55

    Adam55Well Known MemberMember

    Prime will indeed create ammonia when it removes chlorine and chloramine, but not all tap water has chloramine (chlorine + ammonia) in it. Also, remember that Prime does not remove ammonia. It binds it into a temporarily non-toxic form that still shows up when you test the water.
  6. jdhef

    jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    Okay, here's what I think. When you use fish food as an ammonia source, you need to wait for the food to decompose at which time it will start releasing ammonia. I do not know that the food breaks down at a steady pace, so it could just be food is still decomposing. (unless you did a very thorough vacuuming.

    Nutrifin Cycle contains bacteria that will convert ammonia and nitrites, but sadly it is not a self sustaining form of the bacteria and will start dying off after a week or so.

    So between the ammonia the fish are creating, any ammonia being released by residual food decomposition and the Cycle bacteria slowly dying off, I think you are getting more ammonia than than can be processed by the dwindling Cycle bacteria.

    I expect that as time goes on, you will see your ammonia levels rise due to all the Cycle bacteria dying off. So I think you will end up either doing daily partial water changes with Prime until the tank cycles, or using Tetra SafeStart to get the tank cycled.
  7. ricmcc

    ricmccWell Known MemberMember

    One of the many reasons that I hate the idea of cycling a tank with fish food is simply that fish food, much like fish poop, differs greatly.
    I can give nothing other than general guidelines on the ammonia produced by a given amount of food.
    So, veg. based flakes will produce fewer proteins per unit, therefore less ammonia than will carnivore flakes.
    And vis versa.
    Hence the problem of using fish food in cycling; I think a better approach would be to use a known quantity, like lab grade ammonia, Dr. Tims, etc..
    At least then you have a better understanding of exactly what has been introduced, and how that specific unit is being processed. Best to you, rick
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2014
  8. millca

    millcaValued MemberMember

    The best advice I can give you is to go get yourself an appropriately sized bottle (read the back side, not the front sticker) of Tetra SafeStart and use that for 2 weeks to cycle your tank. Don't bother testing the water parameters during this period. This stuff really works. There's a great thread that you should read about it which I think others have already posted in a previous thread. TSS will help your tank.
  9. OP

    neonblue1980Valued MemberMember

    hi all! okay, here's a few responses in regards to your comments.

    before i added the fish and the nutrafin, i did a partial water change, about 50 percent, with a very thorough vacuum job to remove all of the old icky food residue from my attempts at flake cycling. i couldn't see a single piece when i was done.

    the nutrafin cycle course was quite a while ago. it started the day i bought the fish, which was the 18th, and there were three doses, so the last one was on june 20th. since the 20th, my levels have stayed more or less the same.

    i just did a 20 percent water change. figured out a clever way to get the vacuum down there without having to stick my rashed arms in the tank :)

    i swished the filter media in a bucket of tank water and didn't replace it. i also read that this is what you're supposed to do unless the media is extremely worn?

    my water, after today's water change, was a bit cloudy, likely a result of my overfeeding...because i still haven't quite caught on to how much these little buggers eat. i'm learning every day though. within about 20 minutes the water was clear again. the aquaclear 50 filter seems to do a great job.

    i vacuumed a portion of the gravel, but not all. i read that you shouldn't vacuum the entire substrate with each water change.

    i added tap water plus prime to the tank. it might be noteworthy to add that i'm on well water? i don't know if any levels vary from wells to city water?

    okay, now, for some photos.

    i did my water change 2 hours ago.

    here is a picture of the tank. i put those mini paintings behind the tank for a second so you all could see water clarity because the wall is a brown colour, lol. doesn't make for a very vibrant background.

    the flash is turned on the camera. that blind you see is actually a reflection of a window across the room, so ignore it.


    now, for the next photo. the flash is also turned on in this picture. this is my levels as of about ten minutes ago.


    wasn't easy to get a good shot, lol. the ammonia is matching the 0.25, nitrites 0, nitrates somewhere around 10. again, it's easier to tell by the naked eye rather than a photograph, but this is as good as i could get.

    now...here's where the plot thickens. i tested my tap water about a week ago out of curiosity. it looked yellowish to me, but i didn't put it next to anything to compare. when i placed it next to the tank's ammonia reading, this is what it looked like. the tank water has prime added, the tap water does not. the tap water is the first one in line.


    it looks a little similar to me. here's an outdoor photo of it in hopes that the natural light makes it a little better to see. neighbours would think i was nuts. outside photographing test tubes of suspicious green liquid..lol.


    so, opinions on what's happening here. anybody? meanwhile, the fish are freaking out in there, having a blast, swimming around so fast, you'd think their little bodies would tire, but they chase each other around for HOURS. gentle with each other so far though. no significant fin nipping.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2018
  10. OP

    neonblue1980Valued MemberMember

    oh, and ps, my money was refunded to me by the company because they ran out of tss, but it should come in the mail soon, whenever they get their supply.
  11. Adam55

    Adam55Well Known MemberMember

    They look fine to me. I'm tearing into every old forum, article, blog and review I can find on the API MK. I want to get some resolution on the .25 ammonia question, or I at least want to find a consensus of some sort. It's a great product, and I use it all the time, but I hate that ammonia kit.
  12. millca

    millcaValued MemberMember

    I would not rinse out the filter media every time you do a water change as that is where you bacteria mostly live. Maybe give a gentle rinse once a month.
  13. OP

    neonblue1980Valued MemberMember

    here's a shot of all three. first in line - tap water treated with prime, second - straight tap water (new vial, not the one from previous pictures), third - aquarium water.


    which part looks fine? the three test tubes of aquarium water? my tap water? etc. sorry, i just didn't understand what you meant, lol

    this was the first time i rinsed the media. i only rinsed one part that had been sticking out of the filter without me noticing and likely had cat hair/dust all over it. the lid to the filter wasn't on tight.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2018
  14. Adam55

    Adam55Well Known MemberMember

    I agree with millca. A rinse in tank water is fine, but it's really not necessary most of the time. I think you said you were rinsing in tank water. That's good. The only times you have to rinse are when the output from the filter is greatly reduced or when the bio media is completely filthy. And I will still just give the bio media a slight rinse.
  15. OP

    neonblue1980Valued MemberMember

    yes, i rinsed in tank water in hopes of getting rid of potential cat hair, see above :) rinsed it in the bucket of tank water that i was throwing away
  16. jdhef

    jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    While it is good to swish out the filter media, you really want to be careful about doing that while the tank is still cycling. New formed bacteria is very fragile. Once the tank is well established you can swish it out weekly, but during cycling I would not clean it at all unless it became clogged to the point that water cannot flow thru.

    But since you have an AquaClear filter, you really should not have to worry about that. Since the bacteria lives primarily in the ceramic media, you should be able to squeeze out the sponge without effecting the cycling process. But once again, if it were me I would try to avoid any filter maintance (except for carbon replacement) until cycled.
  17. OP

    neonblue1980Valued MemberMember

    what does everyone think of the pictures i posted? regarding the tap water vs. tank water?
  18. millca

    millcaValued MemberMember

    They are hard to really decipher. They need to be put against a white card and then displayed alongside the color chart for us to really tell. It does look like you have a slight, little bit of green showing up in the aquarium one, but honestly, once your TSS arrives and you dump it in (after waiting 24 hours past your last use of Prime), then I think you can sit back and relax. I don't think it is all that alarming. TSS should confirm and fully cycle your tank within 2 weeks and then you'll be good to go. You have nitrates, so that does mean your tank has partially started the cycle process. Anyway, wait for your TSS and in the meantime, read that thread about TSS where the developers answer some crucial questions.
  19. OP

    neonblue1980Valued MemberMember

    you guys are so freaking awesome! now if only i could buy the stupid tss around here and not have to wait a dog's age to get it.

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