10 Gallon Tank Why dosen't my tank cycle

cmull47

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I'm new to keeping fish. I got my son a 10 gal tank for Christmas. Of course I had know idea what I was doing, and found out about this site and the nitrogen cycle about a week after starting.

I started with 4 blood fin tetras, 4 cherry barbs, a betta, and was given 2 black skirt tetras, all in my 10 gal tank. Of course I had the fish before I knew this was the wrong thing to do.

I've been making 25% water changes every 2 or three days, and when the ammonia get up, I use ammonia clear (similar to ammo lock).

I have an API master test kit and test about every day or two. Thr ammonia varies from 0.25 to 1.0 all the time, but I've just started reading nitrite in the last week.

Tonight's readings are:
ammonia 1.0
nitrite 0.25
nitrate 20
ph 7.2

These were before a 25% water change.

It has been almost 3 month, and I'm still reading ammonia. Also, I'm just beginning to see nitrites.

Why is it taking so long for the tank to cycle?

Do frequent water changes slow the process?

If I forget to add conditioner to the new water, can the chlorine kill the bacteria?

Can I add to much conditioned?

Can the API test go bad?

Do I have too many fish for this tank? Can that make ammonia stay present?

My fish all appear to look healthy and happy. They just swim around and hang out. I don't see any signs of stress, no red gills, no sucking air.

I did have one bout with a white fungus on the side of one fish about two months ago, but I treated it and haven't had any probelms since.



Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Chris
 

xxSTEPHENSxx

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Welcome to fishlore! I can answer a few questions.

My 10 gal is still cycling after 1 1/2 months with fish in it. My 55gal just completed today(27 days) with no fish.

Do I have too many fish for this tank? Can that make ammonia stay present?
Rule of thumb is 1 inch of fish per gallon. Fish poo and food decay cause ammonia but nitrATes eat the ammonia and keep it under control.

Can I add to much conditioned? If you follow the instructions on the bottle I don't think you will have any problems. Usually 5 ml per 10gal I think.
 

Nutter

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Yes too many fish can make for a constant reading of ammonia & yes I would say you are overstocked. That may be part of the problem but you would also have to have insufficient filtration for the ammonia to be reading constantly, (not enough surface area for the amount of bacteria required). Chlorine will kill the bacteria & that is why filters should only ever be cleaned in declorinated water. Yes API test kits do have an expiry date. The kits I get have been coming with an expiry date printed on the bottles recently but if your does not have this you can look up the batch number.
I think you should stop using the ammonia treatment chemical as that may also be hindering the tank cycling properly. Best to stick to daily water changes with plain declorinated water. I would alos remove a few of the fish, probably the Cherry Barbs & definitley the Betta.
 

Nutter

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Can I add to much conditioned? If you follow the instructions on the bottle I don't think you will have any problems. Usually 5 ml per 10gal I think.
That depends entirely on what water conditioner is being used. 5ml of my API conditioner is enough to treat 375l (about 100gal). Small overdoses of conditioners usually arn't a problem.

Sorry about the double post.
 

LineRat

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Fish poo and food decay cause ammonia but nitrATes eat the ammonia and keep it under control.
Actually this whole process is about poo of some kind. Nitrates are the poo of the bacteria that eats the Nitrites which are poo'd from the bacteria that eats the ammonia which comes from..... fish poo... thats alot of poo lol.... anyhoo

I'm pretty new to this as well and am still struggling to get my 28g cycled so I am by no means an expert on anything.

That being said I would have to say that your 10g may be a bit over stocked and will mean alot more work to keep the water in shape.

The fact that you have 20 nitrates indicates that you have had nitrites in there for a bit but at such a low level that they were consumed by the Nitrate producing bacteria before they accumulated in any measurable amount.

Just hang in there.. you are moving in a positive direction, it will just take a bit more time to get to the finish line.
 

Nutter

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LineRat - Nitrates are the end product of the bacterial processes. The only bacteria that consume nitrates are anerobic bacteria that only form in extremely low oxygen levels within water. Anerobic bacteria have nothing to do with cycling a tank & are mostly undesireable in a tank. Fish produce ammonia, bacteria convert ammonia to nitrite then another form of bacteria convert nitrite into nitrate. The nitrates need to be removed by water changes or a special filter designed for housing anerobic bacteria.
 

Zia

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Not that you should alter your pH, but when I fishless cycled, things always seemed to slow down (nitrIte-wise) when the pH got close to 7 or my temp was <80. Abrupt pH changes can kill your fish, so I wouldn't advise changing anything. I think you're just going to have to do the most difficult thing: be patient. (Or try some Tetra SafeStart!)
 

lanlesnee

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My 55 gallon goldfish tank is still reading a high level of nitrites even after 2 months of having 6 gold fish in it.
I just do water changes about once or twice a week, depending of the levels of nitrite. The fish look great. I'm just now starting to get high nitrate readings and 0 ammonia. Shouldn't be much longer.
I started cycling my 40 at the same time with 3 large goldfish and it cycled in 3 weeks.

IMO some times it just takes awhile. I would stop using the ammonia clear though. Just do your water changes and be patient.
 

LyndaB

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I started with 4 blood fin tetras, 4 cherry barbs, a betta, and was given 2 black skirt tetras, all in my 10 gal tank.
Welcome to the forum!

I can help regarding some of your fish.

Black skirts are very territorial and aggressive. They need a much larger tank, prefer to be in groups of at least 6, and they will most likely kill some of your other fish.

The betta should actually have a 10 gallon to himself, again very territorial and they actually prefer to be alone. He may attack anything with flowing fins, like your black skirts.

Cherry barbs are another aggressive species. They prefer groups of 6 and, in order to not experience a lot of infighting between themselves, they would do best in a minimum of 30 gallons.

I believe your blood fin tetras are a true community fish but I do not have personal experience with that species.

Hey, at least you came to the right place to ask these questions. We'll help you stock this tank correctly and you and your fish will be very happy campers. arty0049:
 

Prince Powder

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I'm new to keeping fish. I got my son a 10 gal tank for Christmas. Of course I had know idea what I was doing, and found out about this site and the nitrogen cycle about a week after starting.

I started with 4 blood fin tetras, 4 cherry barbs, a betta, and was given 2 black skirt tetras, all in my 10 gal tank. Of course I had the fish before I knew this was the wrong thing to do.

I've been making 25% water changes every 2 or three days, and when the ammonia get up, I use ammonia clear (similar to ammo lock). I'm not familiar with this product, just make sure that it detoxifies the ammonia as well as nitrite, but still leaves it available for your bacteria to feed.

I have an API master test kit and test about every day or two. Thr ammonia varies from 0.25 to 1.0 all the time, but I've just started reading nitrite in the last week.

Tonight's readings are:
ammonia 1.0
nitrite 0.25
nitrate 20
ph 7.2

These were before a 25% water change.

It has been almost 3 month, and I'm still reading ammonia. Also, I'm just beginning to see nitrites.

Why is it taking so long for the tank to cycle? Cycling is not an exact science, the time will vary with each tank, but there are several factors which could stall a cycle. I believe Nutter covered most of this.

Do frequent water changes slow the process? Frequent water changes can slow the process, however when you are cycling with fish they are necessary to keep the fish alive and healthy. Wile your tank is cycling your bacteria will need ammonia and nitrite to feed on, but your fish will need the lowest levels possible to stay alive. Even though it can extend the process I would always recommend doing daily partial water changes with Prime or Amquel+ which detoxifies ammonia and nitrite to keep your fish safe, but also leave it available for your bacteria.

If I forget to add conditioner to the new water, can the chlorine kill the bacteria? Yes, chlorine can kill the bacteria as well as your fish. I'm sure everyone forgets now and then, but try to remember as much as possible.

Can I add to much conditioned? Yes I believe you can. I use Prime and it recommends two drops per gallon, but does advise that up to 5 times the normal dosage can be used in the case of very high nitrites. I would assume that since it says "up to" 5X would mean that too much could considered overdosing.

Can the API test go bad? Yes. API kits do go bad. The bottles are generally individually marked with a lot number. The last four digits of the lot number are the month and year the bottle was manufactured. API kits are supposed to be good for up to 3 years from that date, although many do not like to let the kit get that old before replacing it.

Do I have too many fish for this tank? Can that make ammonia stay present? Yes, overstocking can cause the ammonia levels to stay all the time. If your filtration does not provide sufficient surface area for a large enough colony of bacteria to grow in order to complete the cycle then you will always have ammonia and nitrite problems. I believe Nutter covered your stocking question as well.

My fish all appear to look healthy and happy. They just swim around and hang out. I don't see any signs of stress, no red gills, no sucking air.

I did have one bout with a white fungus on the side of one fish about two months ago, but I treated it and haven't had any probelms since.



Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Chris
Just remember, just because fish don't show external signs of damage or stress, it does not mean that they are not being affected by the ammonia and nitrite levels. Often times the main damage is internal and since fish, like all animals, will try to disguise a weakness for fear of becoming a target for predators, they often will not show signs of illness until it has done quite alot of damage.
 
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