29 Gallon Aquarium, Has not cycled in almost 4 months..So.. - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 25 Old 10-26-2012, 06:23 PM Thread Starter
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29 Gallon Aquarium, Has not cycled in almost 4 months..So..

Hello everyone,

I just recently finished cycling my 20 gallon and got some shrimp, and are picking up fish this weekend.

However, I live in florida and my 29 gallon at my girlfriends place in NC has been up and running for nearly 4 months now, and we still have not cycled it.

The 29 gallon does not have live plants, she has the opposite of a green thumb!
It's running a fluval C3 and an aqueon 30 gallon filter, sand substrate.

We recovered from a carper cleaner man incident about a month and a half ago when we think somehow chemicals reached the water when the man cleaned the carpet, because we lost all but 3 of our 16 fish.

It currently houses an angel, 3 cories, a dwarf gourami, 5 five banded barbs, and two electric blue rams.

All the fish seem happy.. and every fish we've had in it since day one has shown no signs of stress after the first 24hrs of being introduced.. and everyone is always super active.

We bought two fish to start after running the aquarium, we used dr tims and waited a few days then bought fish as i trusted all the science in the chemicals.

We use prime as condtioner.

We got an ammonia in readings such as .25-.75 at some points, and i even remember us getting a nitrite reading at some point, unless it was a faulty test.

Our aquarium never showed nitrate. So i've had her doing small water changes every single day now that she has a python to keep the levels down. It's been forever now, and our fish show no signs of being sick... nor have any of the fish ever.. However i was reading an article on here about bacteria in the freshwater aquarium, and read that in water below 7.0 PH ammonia actually ionizes and turns into ammonium which is practically harmless... We've tested our PH and it's definitely very very low, it's always been either the lowest or 2nd lowest on the API master test kit for PH, which i think is 6.6 or 6.8.

Could this be why our aquarium wont cycle? I know she does a lot of water changes, but its only 3-4 gallons a day to keep the ammonia readings down, and she's conditioning the water ofcourse when she changes it, so prime would be keeping the ammonia bound until the next day anyhow.

I'm just stunned, i even tried a second bottle of dr. tim's with no result.

She test for nitrates and nitrites and always gets 0. Everyday i ask and it's .25 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 0 nitrate.

I'm really looking for a solution to this issue, or an explanation, as i've cycled aquariums before and had friends do cycles with fish and even with 5 gallon water changes a day for 2 months they still come out with the result of completing the cycle.

I believe it was Byron the expert who wrote the article, so maybe he can clear up the ammonia - ammonium exert in case i took it the wrong way


and to add to this, the angel was the FIRST fish we bought, and he is still kicking, and one of the most active fish we have, with the biggest appetite.

Last edited by Rdb2013; 10-26-2012 at 06:26 PM.
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post #2 of 25 Old 10-26-2012, 06:56 PM
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Other reason you might be getting ammonia readings is because your tank is overstocked severely.

The angelfish will become the size of a small plate which is too large and the cichlids if I remember correctly get six inches.
Can you specify what kind of banded barbs because some time lFS mislabel them, at least around me.

Another chance is that you might have ammonia and nitrate coming our pf the tap
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post #3 of 25 Old 10-26-2012, 08:01 PM Thread Starter
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The angelfish was my girlfriends decision, however i'll have to disagree with it being too small for him, although i could be crazy, many people get small groups in tanks only 48 inches long, however mine is only 30, but at any rate, she's way to attached to part with him, as we already relocated a few fish she had gotten that would've grown to big.

I picked up the electric blue rams, they grow to a maximum of 3 inches. They are cichlids, but dwarf cichlids. I've seen a lot more than 2 housed in a 20 gallon with no problems.

Five banded barb - Puntius pentazona These are the barbs, Five Banded Barbs, they were labeled as tiger barbs at the store, but i researched these and knew i wanted five banded barbs, so when we went, i knew what they were.

I dont believe i am currently over stocked, as i have posted on here before, when we had more fish, prior to our carpet cleaning incident, and was still within stocking levels after re locating a loach and an albino rainbow shark due to them needing to grow and be in a larger tank.

I have also tested water at the tap at her apartment, and there is no trace of ammonia or nitrite, and i have spoke with our county water plant, and they sent me a print out of the test results and it read the same.

I'm still open to suggestions and discussion, I am not trying to argue and say i know this or know that, but speaking with people, even people on this forum i think i am far from over stocked at this point, the only fish that MAY need a bigger aquarium is the angel, but he is lone, bestfriends with the barbs, and swims all over the place, and he's been with us 4 months.
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post #4 of 25 Old 10-26-2012, 08:25 PM
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Sorry, I took it as electric jack dempsey not a ram. My bad.

Are all of your fish still alive? Because dead fishy equals ammonia. Same goes for dying plants, snails, shrimp rtc.
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post #5 of 25 Old 10-26-2012, 08:40 PM Thread Starter
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from day one we have not lost a single fish, except one fish, but when we got it i could tell something was wrong, we tried a hole in the wall LFS and i didnt want to get a fish from there, but she insisted, it died within 24 hours.

other than that we have no lost a single fish, we had 16 or 17 fish at one point, no problems at all, then the carpet cleaner came, my girlfriend came home from class, and boom, 13 of our fish were bottoms up. so we analyzed the situation the next day when i came home, and she had tested the night prior, with no explanation we read articles on carpet cleaning, and posted on here and determined that's what it must have been.

We then gave it a week and half to make sure everything was stable and our other fish were behaving normally and looked healthy, after i cleaned a lot of stuff in the tank just to be sure.

We then purchased more fish, and got to our current stock where everyone is alive and healthy. I have had ammonia read up to .75 ppm on this tank, and of course did water changes to get it down and added some prime..

But none of our fish look unhealthy, they are all happy, the aquarium is in great shape, and everyone seems to enjoy life very much, especially at feeding times and when their day begins at lights on.

That's what i dont understand, i was hoping for some more explanation of ammonia in water below 7.0 PH. If it turns to ammonium and is harmless, does it read as ammonia on the test? if it's ammonium, can it even be turned into nitrite? If it can't, that would mean i can't cycle my aquarium, and it would mean the ammonia readings i get are ammonium. It's just becoming a hassle for her changing water EVERY day for 4 months, and to continue changing it everyday until a solution is found, so i'm trying to get some information on whats going on
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post #6 of 25 Old 10-26-2012, 08:59 PM
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It is still used even if its detoxified in the nitrogen cycle and yes it will show on the test
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post #7 of 25 Old 10-27-2012, 08:45 AM Thread Starter
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so ammonia -> ammonium in 7.0 or less PH, which is not harmful to fish...

then ammonium reads on an ammonia test..

then ammonium -> nitrite -> nitrate...

so then i still dont see HOW i have 0 nitrite after nearing 4 months...
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post #8 of 25 Old 10-27-2012, 09:05 AM
Originally Posted by Rdb2013 View Post
so ammonia -> ammonium in 7.0 or less PH, which is not harmful to fish...

then ammonium reads on an ammonia test..

then ammonium -> nitrite -> nitrate...

so then i still dont see HOW i have 0 nitrite after nearing 4 months...
I think you meant NITRATE rather than NITRITE.

Neither do I. I suspect your nitrate test may be inaccurate. Regent #2 of the API nitrate test has an element that tends to separate and yields inaccurate results.
It needs to be shaken really well and rapped on a hard surface if stored for a long time. If you have done several tests w/o ensuring proper mixing, the entire bottle may now be compromised.

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post #9 of 25 Old 10-29-2012, 04:59 PM Thread Starter
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Well i meant nitrite and nitrate.. because i should have gotten some nitrite at some point... but it's always 0...just like nitrate....

my girlfriend came to visit me this weekend, and i stocked my 20 gallon here at my apt, so i had her test the water, so i could see if she does it right.. she shakes the heck out of the nitrate solution.

like i said we've used test strips as a fail safe... and they read the same as our master test kit.

The last water change she did was on thursday, she came down to visit friday, sat, and flew back sunday, she got home last night at 10pm and tested the water... and the ammonia looked emerald green... i'd never seen it so ridiculous... i don't understand what's going on...why we've made no progress on good bacteria... anything.
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post #10 of 25 Old 10-30-2012, 03:20 PM
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This may be a silly question... but did you replace the filter medium after the carpet cleaning incident? Perhaps there are traces in there killing your bacteria?

15 gallon planted: 7 silvertip tetra, 5 false juliis and 1 bolivian ram
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