beginner question on Nitrogen cycle - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
 
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post #1 of 8 Old 02-11-2012, 08:43 AM Thread Starter
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beginner question on Nitrogen cycle

Hi,

I have a ten gallon and a 40 gallon fresh water aquarium. The 10 gallon tank seems to have completed the nitrogen cycle, and all levels are good, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Having problems with the 40 gallon tank though.
I've had 11 Zebra danios in it for a month now. ( I know I should have done the fishless cycle, but I'm a newbie and the pet store guy said this was the best approach, so now I'm stuck)
I'm testing with the API liquid kit, and my Ammonia levels are still high after 1 month (1- 1.5 PPM) . Shouldn't the bacteria have started converting the ammonia by now? I had no problems like this with my 10 gallon tank. 2 weeks and the nitrogen cycle was complete.
Do I not have any bacteria in the tank? I've tried adding the enzymes and stuff to accelerate the bacteria growth, I've been doing weekly 10-20% water changes, but the bacteria don't seem to be doing their work.
Am I just not being patient enough and need to let the ammonia keep rising?
Water temp is set at 76F.
I have an Aqueon carbon filter which I haven't changed since I started the tank about a month ago

Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks
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post #2 of 8 Old 02-11-2012, 11:19 AM
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Welcome to the forum.

What are your tests showing for Nitrite, Nitrate and also what is your kH and pH levels?

It might be that you are slightly over feeding which leads to a build up of organics quickly. There is no set time it takes for a tank to cycle, if you could provide the readings mentioned above then it wold help to see the general picture.

Lower the temperature say about 2-4 degrees slowly, this will slow the metabolism of the fish down and not make them as hungry, which in turns leads to slightly less waste.

When you do water changes are you adding any dechlorinator?

10g Fry / Hospital / QT tank (as needed)

75g Saltwater Reef, Ocellaris Clownfish, Lyretail Antias (baby), Lemon damsel, Longtail Fairy Wrasse, purple dottyback, snails, crabs and a few LPS corals.

220g Still sitting empty (come on Lottery I need the numbers to come up!)

Last edited by Tazman; 02-11-2012 at 11:21 AM.
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post #3 of 8 Old 02-11-2012, 12:10 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tazman View Post
Welcome to the forum.

What are your tests showing for Nitrite, Nitrate and also what is your kH and pH levels?

It might be that you are slightly over feeding which leads to a build up of organics quickly. There is no set time it takes for a tank to cycle, if you could provide the readings mentioned above then it wold help to see the general picture.

Lower the temperature say about 2-4 degrees slowly, this will slow the metabolism of the fish down and not make them as hungry, which in turns leads to slightly less waste.

When you do water changes are you adding any dechlorinator?
Thanks for replying Tazman,
I just ran the tests, and Ntrite is 0ppm, Nitrate 0ppm and PH is 7.6 (what is kH?)
I always use dechlorinator when adding new water. I tested the new tap water after adding the dechlorinator and it comes up 0ppm for Ammonia, so it's not in the new water
I just got a new vacuum pump and vaccumed the pebbles at the bottom thoroughly to get rid of any excrement and extra food, and did a 20% water change, but all the water change has done in the past is lower the ammonia temporarily, then it keeps creeping up again.
I started limiting feeding to once and day and I make sure nothing gets to the bottom of the tank.
Anything else you can think of?

The pet store says to empty the tank completely and start over :(
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post #4 of 8 Old 02-11-2012, 12:13 PM
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Since you have fish already in the 40g, its important to try to protect them against the damage of toxins (Ammonia, Nitrite, too high Nitrate). You should be doing 50% water changes with a good water conditioner anytime the Ammonia or Nitrite is over 0ppm, or the Nitrate is over 20ppm, or weekly, which ever comes first. This may mean that you're doing 50% water changes every day during the cycle.

What water conditioner do you use? Prime temporarily detoxifies Ammonia, etc, and would be good to use in your case.

What bacterial supplement are you using? Most of them don't work.

What are your readings on the 10g? It would be very unusual for a tank to cycle in two weeks without some sort of help. It usually takes 6 to 8 weeks. See below.

To help the cycle speed up, there are two things that you can do. One is to get a large amount of floating, fast growing plants that will suck up the ammonia/nitrates before it can harm the fish. Water Sprite, when floating, does a great job. Depending on your lighting, we can recommend some plants to you.

The other thing is "seeding". This is where you take some media on which there is beneficial bacteria from a HEALTHY established tank, and (while keeping it wet) put it in your tank to kickstart the bacterial growth. Examples of media that would work: substrate, filter cartridge, decor, plants. You must be sure that you're taking your seed from a healthy tank, because you won't be able to disinfect the "seed" or even expose it to tap water. It just stays wet with tank water, and then goes directly into your tank.

"My dither fish need dither fish!"
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post #5 of 8 Old 02-11-2012, 12:18 PM
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P.S. As an aside- which pH test are you using to get a reading of 7.6? Whenever I get this reading of 7.6, (which is the high end reading on the regular pH test, and the low end reading on the High Range pH test) I always run a test on the other bottle to confirm my reading. For example... if I test my water on the regular pH test and get 7.6, all this tells me is that my actual pH is greater than or equal to 7.6. But if I run it on the High Range pH test, it may tell me that my pH is actual 8.6! This is quite a difference, you can see!
So which test gave you the reading of 7.6? If you run the pH on the other test, what is your reading?

"My dither fish need dither fish!"
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post #6 of 8 Old 02-11-2012, 12:32 PM Thread Starter
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Mina,
I'm using the Nutrafin Cycle to try and accelerate things.
I may have been exagerating a little on the cycle time for the 10G, since I don't remember exactly. All levels in the 10G are normal.
high PH test comes back at between 7.8 and 7.9. Is that a conncern? Not sure how to lower that.
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post #7 of 8 Old 02-11-2012, 05:37 PM
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Lowering pH can be anywhere between expensive and difficult to downright dangerous. Def don't using any chemicals designed to lower pH, those can inadvertently cause pH swings which are more harmful than the original high pH.
Down the road, you can look into lowering pH with RO water, distilled or boiled water... but those can be expensive and a PIA. So for right now, stick with what you've got, and choose your fish around that.

Can anyone chime in on how well Cycle works?

In the mean time, make sure you're keeping up on large water changes, and look into plants and/or seeding.

"My dither fish need dither fish!"
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post #8 of 8 Old 02-11-2012, 07:31 PM
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Cycle will help quicken the cycling process, even though it contains the "wrong" bacteria. But it can't hurt if used as directed on the label. The bacteria in it do seem to impact the true nitrosomonas and nitrospira bacteria and can shorten the cycling period by up to a week.

For the record, Seachem's Stability and Tetra's SafeStart are both good products that contain the necessary live bacteria. I believe there are a couple others, but the name eludes me at present.

These products work by seeding the tank, the cycle must still establish itself and develop, and that takes time.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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