What Stage Is My Tank At In Its Cycle?

  1. Adam Leonard Initiate Member

    Hi everyone,

    I am still somewhat new to the aquarium hobby (only two months in), so I'm still learning about handling my tank's nitrogen cycle. I need some advice from all the expert hobbyists out there, please.

    My brand new 15g tank is only two months old, and is still cycling. I've got six platy fish living in it now, and all are doing well. I'm also in the middle of a full-on bacteria bloom. Here's what the water looks like:


    I've tested my water parameters, and here they are:

    High Range PH








    My questions are... How far along is my tank in its cycle, and any idea on when it will be fully established? I'm sooo confused right now because I'm getting high readings in ALL THREE toxins at the same time. How is that possible? I thought by the time you started testing positive for nitrate, you were supposed to read ZERO in ammonia and nitrite? But as you can see, the water is testing high in all three. Am I doing something wrong?
  2. Caitlin86 Well Known Member Member

    Have u checked ur tap water?...it may already contain ammonia.

  3. Floundering_Around Well Known Member Member

    Are you doing water changes? The levels are really high and could damage your fish.
    Do a large water change, 40-50%, and then smaller ones every day or so
  4. Adam Leonard Initiate Member

    I did. My tap water tested 0 for traces of ammonia. The water stayed completely yellow after five minutes...not even a hint of green.

    I still don't understand how I can test very high in all three toxins simultaneously...? Have you ever heard of this happening before? Is it common? If so, what does it mean?

    I tested the water again tonight, and it's the same as last week. All three toxins are reading high levels.

  5. Adam Leonard Initiate Member

    I did a large water change after I posted this last week. About 75%. Tonight, the water has gone very cloudy again and all three toxins are reading high levels simultaneously again. I'll keep up with more frequent water changes, but what does this mean? I thought by the time you read high in nitrate, ammonia and nitrite were supposed to be zero...? What is causing all three to happen at the same time? And, does this mean my tank is close to finishing cycling?
  6. Floundering_Around Well Known Member Member

    You're at the point where you have all three, or have just finished ammonia. Due to this, I would say that your tank is not quite finished and is maybe halfway done cycling
  7. Donnerjay Well Known Member Member

    There may be a few reasons for high test readings:

    * Filter media. When cleaning the filter, be sure to rinse the media in tank water only. Untreated tap water will kill the beneficial bacteria.

    * Plants. From the photos, it looks like you have ribbon plants. Those plants are NOT full aquatic plants. They will eventually rot if kept submerged.
    That decay will cause an increase in ammonia in the tank.

    * Test kit. It's important to follow directions precisely when adding the chemicals to the water samples. For example, the nitrate bottles must be vigorously shaken before dripping the solutions into the vial. And then the vial must be shaken for a full minute. Also check the expiration date.

    The good news is that the nitrites appear to be high (called a nitrite "spike"). At this point, I'd recommend doing a water change to get the nitrATes down, and then keep watching your numbers.

    Just a couple ideas; hopefully others will chime in! Keep us posted.

  8. Donnerjay Well Known Member Member

    Also, keep in mind that getting a small-volume tank to cycle is challenging. Avoid doing large-percentage water changes. No more than 40 percent.
  9. Adam Leonard Initiate Member

    Thanks so much! The illustration is very helpful, as well. It's nice to know things are progressing as expected.
  10. Floundering_Around Well Known Member Member

    Yup, no problem. Most of the time, I know what I'm talking about and trying to convey but I can't get it down in words so a picture helps

  11. Adam Leonard Initiate Member

    Okay, will do. Thanks so much, Donnerjay! I really appreciate the info. You are right -- I mistakenly bought white ribbons, not aware that they were non-aquatic plants. I will be buying some Amazon Sword and maybe some Java Fern, also, to replace. I'm thinking about doing a major remodel on the tank interior, anyway, as I'm not really happy with the way it's currently setup. A smaller rock centerpiece in the middle would allow the fish a bit more swimming room, too.
  12. Donnerjay Well Known Member Member

    You are most welcome!