Water Change Disaster

DrogJustDrog

My cycling tank cannot keep it's ammonia down. I think that's stalling the cycle. That's why I did my first two changes. This is my third. On the second one two of my decorations were covered in this gross, cloudy gunk which I already have another thread on so I won't talk about it too much here. Though it was the reason for this one.

I attempt to get the siphon going, and it's not working. I did manage to do it without having to suck on the tube last time. Every time I tapped it on something, water would fall out. If it wasn't straight enough, it wouldn't collect enough water. If I held the bell instead of the hose, I couldn't shake it vigorously enough.

So I sucked on the tube using a piece of craft fabric laying around to protect me from droplets. Later I would learn this isn't completely failsafe.

That got the siphon going and I got collecting what I could. Now all the cloudy gunk was displaced due to my desperate shaking. Eventually, the siphon would get clogged by gravel before the 25% mark and at that point the water was too low to start shaking. I tried sucking again and got a whole splash into my mouth! At that point I figured I was done and refilled the tank.

I'm just starting to feel discouraged. This tank isn't going anywhere beyond 4.00 ppm ammonia it seems. I think I might've added more unwanted stuff in there since hair and threads from the craft fabric kept falling into the tank.

TL;DR, I struggle to do a water change to remove potentially dangerous stuff. Fail and introduce more potentially dangerous stuff. How do I prevent the siphon from getting clogged by gravel at least? I'm sorry about sounding more emotional in this post.
 

Ghelfaire

The siphon doesn't need to be in the gravel. By putting the siphon too deep in the gravel you may be releasing some ammonia bubbles or other stuff into the tank. Just lightly vaccum just above the gravel. You can probably get rid of the white gunk with a pair of tweezers.
Also try testing your tap water to make sure there isn't trace amounts of ammonia in there.
 
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DrogJustDrog

The siphon doesn't need to be in the gravel. By putting the siphon too deep in the gravel you may be releasing some ammonia bubbles or other stuff into the tank. Just lightly vaccum just above the gravel. You can probably get rid of the white gunk with a pair of tweezers.
Also try testing your tap water to make sure there isn't trace amounts of ammonia in there.
Alright. I have tested my tap and if any ammonia is in there, if there is it wasn't enough to make the test react.
 
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mattgirl

Since you are fishless cycling this tank there shouldn't be a lot of build up in your gravel so no need to gravel vac. Make it easy on your self and just dip the water out instead of siphoning it out. When I change the water in my pleco grow out tank I just use a 1 quart plastic container to dip the water out to prevent siphoning baby fish out. Dipping is much quicker than siphoning. You could use a smaller dipping container since this is a much smaller tank.

Did your ammonia go down to a more reasonable level after you did the water change?
 
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DrogJustDrog

Since you are fishless cycling this tank there shouldn't be a lot of build up in your gravel so no need to gravel vac. Make it easy on your self and just dip the water out instead of siphoning it out. When I change the water in my pleco grow out tank I just use a 1 quart plastic container to dip the water out to prevent siphoning baby fish out. Dipping is much quicker than siphoning. You could use a smaller dipping container since this is a much smaller tank.

Did your ammonia go down to a more reasonable level after you did the water change?
Thanks, I will try that next time. I haven't tested my water yet but last time I tested after a water change it went down to 2.00 ppm, it went back up to 4.00 ppm though.
 
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mattgirl

Thanks, I will try that next time. I haven't tested my water yet but last time I tested after a water change it went down to 2.00 ppm, it went back up to 4.00 ppm though.
Do you have dying plants in there or snails or anything that could be producing ammonia? Normally when fishless cycling the ammonia doesn't go up unless it is in our source water or if we add it. Since you have none in your tap water it has to be coming from somewhere.

what are you using for your ammonia source? Liquid ammonia? fish food?
 
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DrogJustDrog

Do you have dying plants in there or snails or anything that could be producing ammonia? Normally when fishless cycling the ammonia doesn't go up unless it is in our source water or if we add it. Since you have none in your tap water it has to be coming from somewhere.

what are you using for your ammonia source? Liquid ammonia? fish food?

I'm using fish food, I did have an accident where I decided to pour instead of pinch at some point (lesson learned) and I ended up with a whole bunch in the tank. During todays' water change I saw some clear, small flakes I think were the decaying fish food just left over. I think that's what might've caused it.
 
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mattgirl

I'm using fish food, I did have an accident where I decided to pour instead of pinch at some point (lesson learned) and I ended up with a whole bunch in the tank. During todays' water change I saw some clear, small flakes I think were the decaying fish food just left over. I think that's what might've caused it.
That could very well be what's happening. I know 4ppm ammonia is a bit too much for this size tank but it just means you will grow much more bacteria than you actually need and may take longer to cycle the tank than if it was lower but the tank will cycle. Having the ammonia as high as it is isn't going to prevent the tank from cycling.

You may want to go ahead and do a water change to get it down to 2ppm or so. Keep an eye on it and if it climbs back up to 4ppm again just do another water change. As long as you dechlorinate and temp match the fresh water, water changes aren't going to affect the cycling process. If you dip the water to do your water changes stir the substrate while doing it. It is going to make the tank look bad until it settles but should help you get the excess food out of there and should ease up on the growing slime..

The slime you are seeing could simply be decomposing food. I wouldn't be overly concerned about it at this point. The cycling process will eventually work through it.

what kind of filter are you running on this tank? The stronger the filter you have the more of the excess food it will pull out of there. I actually run a HOB filter designed for a 15/20 gallon tank on my 5.5 gallon tank. You can never have too much filtration. too much water movement, yes, but never too much filtration. I run one designed for a 55 gallon tank in my 10 gallon pleco grow out tank.
 
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