Can't get my tank to cycle...it's been 8 weeks.
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Can't get my tank to cycle...it's been 8 weeks.

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Can't get my tank to cycle...it's been 8 weeks.
Old 03-14-2011, 09:45 AM   #1
 
Can't get my tank to cycle...it's been 8 weeks.

We got a new tank for our daughter for Christmas...a 20g with BioWheel filter. We had some issues in the beginning, but after breaking everything down and starting over, we haven't lost any fish.

We started about 8 weeks ago, with 3 Brilliant Raspboras. After about 4 weeks, we still hadn't seen any nitrites or nitrates. I just did some occassional water changes to keep ammonia at a manageable level. Fish seemed happy.

About 4 weeks ago, my father said a guy he worked with had a tank and was going to flush all of his fish because he didn't want the setup anymore. Understanding that it was risky, since my tank hadn't cycled, but also knowing that he was flushing them anyway, I took his fish. I took 6 neon tetras and 3 other tetras (not sure what they are) from him, along with a couple rocks and a small piece of driftwood, hoping it'd help seed my tank.

Those fish have all done fine, and my original raspboras are still fine, they all seem happy. As expected, the ammonia has been increasing quicker, and I've been doing a 25% change every other day to keep it safe. It's been 8 weeks now, and I still don't see any nitrites or nitrates...what gives? How high should I allow the ammonia to get?

Oh yeah, I also added some SafeStart about a week ago, hoping that might help...still nothing. I'd like to get this thing cycled, to cut back on the water changes, and so that it is healthier...but I don't know what the issue is. Any help is appreciated.

Andy
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Old 03-14-2011, 11:20 AM   #2
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asaj View Post
We got a new tank for our daughter for Christmas...a 20g with BioWheel filter. We had some issues in the beginning, but after breaking everything down and starting over, we haven't lost any fish.

We started about 8 weeks ago, with 3 Brilliant Raspboras. After about 4 weeks, we still hadn't seen any nitrites or nitrates. I just did some occassional water changes to keep ammonia at a manageable level. Fish seemed happy.

About 4 weeks ago, my father said a guy he worked with had a tank and was going to flush all of his fish because he didn't want the setup anymore. Understanding that it was risky, since my tank hadn't cycled, but also knowing that he was flushing them anyway, I took his fish. I took 6 neon tetras and 3 other tetras (not sure what they are) from him, along with a couple rocks and a small piece of driftwood, hoping it'd help seed my tank.

Those fish have all done fine, and my original raspboras are still fine, they all seem happy. As expected, the ammonia has been increasing quicker, and I've been doing a 25% change every other day to keep it safe. It's been 8 weeks now, and I still don't see any nitrites or nitrates...what gives? How high should I allow the ammonia to get?


Oh yeah, I also added some SafeStart about a week ago, hoping that might help...still nothing. I'd like to get this thing cycled, to cut back on the water changes, and so that it is healthier...but I don't know what the issue is. Any help is appreciated.

Andy

What are ammonia readings before you do water change? With twelve small fish in 20 gal tank and once a day feeding,ammonia levels should not climb too high unless..filter has been replaced recently or filter material has been cleaned in tapwater which often contains chlorine(kills bacteria).
Normally, no nitrAtes would be troublesome but with the frequent water changes you are performing,,nitrAtes could be quite low.
Would also wonder what water conditioner is being used,and whether you have tested the tapwater for ammonia.
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Old 03-14-2011, 04:31 PM   #3
 
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Hi Asaj. I believe that adding 9 fish even small ones is going to throw out of balance what you had accomplished so far. Creates a mini cycle before the original cycle has finished. You were building good bacteria with 3 fish and added 9 more. Consider too that this is a 20 Gal and not a 55 or 75gal where changes are felt faster or more extreem due to a smaller volume of water.
Remember to be patient and do things slowly with an aquarium... the only things done quickly in a tank are bad things. When adding fish do so in small quantites so that the bio load can grow to stay in balance and support the new fish. Mind you, you are probably stocked now but for future reference! Please someone correct me if I'm wrong. Good luck
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Old 03-14-2011, 04:52 PM   #4
 
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What are ammonia readings before you do water change? With twelve small fish in 20 gal tank and once a day feeding,ammonia levels should not climb too high unless..filter has been replaced recently or filter material has been cleaned in tapwater which often contains chlorine(kills bacteria).
Normally, no nitrAtes would be troublesome but with the frequent water changes you are performing,,nitrAtes could be quite low.
Would also wonder what water conditioner is being used,and whether you have tested the tapwater for ammonia.
My ammonia is getting to be around 1ppm before I do the change, I don't know if that's horribly high, or if I should let it go higher before changing. My tap water is ammonia free, and I am using the tetra conditioner, aquasafe plus, I think that's what its called.

I've never washes the biowheel, or rinses it with chlorinated water. It's just been spinning in the filter since I set things up.

I've never seen any nitrites or nitrates, they have always read 0.
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Old 03-14-2011, 05:18 PM   #5
 
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Originally Posted by Jakiebabie View Post
Hi Asaj. I believe that adding 9 fish even small ones is going to throw out of balance what you had accomplished so far. Creates a mini cycle before the original cycle has finished. You were building good bacteria with 3 fish and added 9 more. Consider too that this is a 20 Gal and not a 55 or 75gal where changes are felt faster or more extreem due to a smaller volume of water.
Remember to be patient and do things slowly with an aquarium... the only things done quickly in a tank are bad things. When adding fish do so in small quantites so that the bio load can grow to stay in balance and support the new fish. Mind you, you are probably stocked now but for future reference! Please someone correct me if I'm wrong. Good luck
I totally agree with you, and the only reason I took the fish was because he was going to flush them. Figured I'd at least give them a chance.

I dont think it upset what I had going though, only because I had never seen any signs of a cycle. I had never seen any nitrites or nitrates, even before adding the additional fish. Again though, I do totally agree with what you are saying.
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Old 03-14-2011, 07:21 PM   #6
 
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[quote=asaj;618112]My ammonia is getting to be around 1ppm before I do the change, I don't know if that's horribly high, or if I should let it go higher before changing. My tap water is ammonia free, and I am using the tetra conditioner, aquasafe plus, I think that's what its called.


Then you are definately not finished cycling. Keep testing, be patient, Yes 1 is too high for ammonia. Try to get it down to .25 with water changes. Your fish should have their fins clamped to their bodies when the ammonia gets too high. Your ammonia still needs to come down, your nitrites will still need to spike and come back down, and then your nitrAtes should sit about 20 when all this is done. 6-8 weeks without any other changes happening... you interupted the cycle I believe, so it's kind of like starting over. Don't give up!!
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Old 03-04-2012, 12:55 PM   #7
 
temp?pH?

What is your tank temperature and pH?
Optimum temp, IME, is 29C
Optimum pH, again IME, is between 7.4 and 8.4
Obviously this is not ideal for some species of fish.

(I prefer fishless cycling for the reason you can maintain the temp and ph without worrying about the fish. Just adjust it the day before you get your fist fish.)
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Old 03-05-2012, 12:55 PM   #8
 
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asaj, from what I can see online, Aquasafe Plus does not detoxify ammonia; it does handle chloramine though which is ammonia-related. Still, you don't want ammonia rising above zero and regular partial water changes are the safest way to keep ammonia down.

The bacterial supplement is helping, as is the bacteria-laden rock from the existing tank you mentioned. These should get the cycle established faster.

If you can, using a conditioner like Seachem's Prime or one called Ultimate (forgotten the manufacturer) is advisable during the initial cycling, as they will deal with ammonia and nitrite. With either of these, water changes on alternate days will work.

Do you have any live plants? Even some floating stem plants will also greatly improve things for the fish.

Byron.
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Old 03-05-2012, 01:56 PM   #9
 
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Originally Posted by asaj View Post
I've never washes the biowheel, or rinses it with chlorinated water. It's just been spinning in the filter since I set things up.
Just checking, but do yo have any media in the filter, or is it empty and just the wheel?

The media is usually a cartridge with a foam pad (possibly blue in color) and filled with carbon (looks like black rocks).
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