Cycling Stopped?
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Cycling Stopped?

This is a discussion on Cycling Stopped? within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> We have been trying to cycle a 20gal aquarium with fish for a month now and we believe it has stalled, but are unsure ...

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Old 11-17-2011, 09:41 PM   #1
 
Unhappy Cycling Stopped?

We have been trying to cycle a 20gal aquarium with fish for a month now and we believe it has stalled, but are unsure what needs to be done now. (Very regrettably, we did not know anything about fishless cycling when we started this adventure.) :(

We have overstocked the tank for cycling, but would do frequent PWCs to keep ammonia below 1.0ppm.

3 Balloon Mollies
5 Neon Tetras
1 Cory Cat

About a week an a half ago, we noticed that our ammonia and nitrites dropped to 0 and our nitrates were 20ppm. Soon after we bought an automatic feeder, preparing to go out of town for Thanksgiving. We didn't test the auto feeder well enough and it over fed our tank one day. The tank was a mess! We immediately did a 25% PWC because our ammonia was 2ppm. Now, the ammonia is at about 2ppm (before our daily 10% PWCs which brings ammonia down to about .75ppm), nitrite seems to be stuck at 0 and nitrate has been 20 for the last week and a half. Also, our tank went from being very cloudy to clear in about a week. We thought it was the water changes, but I am not so sure. I know cloudy water is just apart of the cycle.

We have been testing using the API Freshwater Test Kit.

The fish seem to be alright so far, except our pregnant silver balloon molly. Her coloring and eyes have gotten dark. I am afraid of what will happen when we have to leave for a week!

Thank you in advance!!
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Old 11-17-2011, 11:47 PM   #2
 
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My interpretation of what has happened is, your tank was almost finished cycling and then the accidental overfeeding caused an ammonia spike from all the excess uneaten food that got dumped in the tank. Water changes will help keep the ammonia levels down but until all that excess food finishes deteriorating and breaking down in consumable food for the bacteria, your ammonia levels (and then nitrite levels) are going to be elevated. A good gravel vacuuming would help get rid of all that biological stuff still laying around, if that's feasible. In time I'd say your tank should be fine once it has finished "re-cycling." Using a water treatment such as Prime will help a lot but it needs to be dosed every 24-48 hours.

You bigger issue is what are you going to do while you're away.... you can't just leave the tank to it's own and expect to have living fish when you come back after a week.

PS Out of curiosity, what automatic feeder were you using?
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Old 11-19-2011, 09:14 AM   #3
 
I agree with the above; gravel vacuum to get the excess food out of the water. You may also want to swish your filter media in old tank water during a water change to remove any excess food caught in there that could decay. You're going to need to do larger water changes though; with ammonia and nitrite over .25-.5, a 10-20% water change won't reduce the levels enough to be safe for the fish. I suggest a 50% water change with vacuum, wait 30 minutes and test again. If ammonia and/or nitrite are still over .25 (my recommended threshold, some others may say a higher value is acceptable but my feeling is keeping it as low as you can is best for fish) do another 50% water change. COntinue until ammonia and nitrite are .25 or under. Do this daily until the tank stabilizes.

Fish can go a while without eating, so that might be an option next time you go away. Or find someone you trust who can feed them (I'd recommend portioning out the feedings so they know how much to feed to avoid overfeeding issues). Good luck.
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Old 11-19-2011, 05:32 PM   #4
 
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On the feeding when away--don't. A few days, even a week, is not long. If the fish are healthy they will be fine without food for a week. Do a 50% water change the day before and feed them normally after the water change (never feed fish prior to the water change on that day).

If you do have someone with experience who can feed them, fine; alternate days would be enough, or just a couple times during the week. But this assumes a knowledgeable person, who can handle issues. Otherwise, it is best to leave the fish on their own. Non-aquarists frequently overfeed.

Those auto feeders often fail, according to what several members here have reported. Best not to have one.

Byron.
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AnnaB (11-26-2011)
Old 11-26-2011, 09:08 AM   #5
 
Whew!

Thanks for the advice. Just got back from the trip yesterday and all our fish survived. Our ammonia was about 3ppm so we did a 25% water change. This morning I tested and my ammonia is now .5ppm while nitrite and nitrate were 0, so I think our tank has completely crash. After posting I recalled that my husband decided to use Enzyme from API and I believed it starved the little bacteria we had causing a crash.

I will act like we are completely starting over using no additives. I should have known better than to let my impatient husband just start adding things. :)

The auto feeder we used is the Eheim. We put it on the lowest setting, which actually underfed the fish, but next time we will probably not even use it at all with our new knowledge.

If you have any other suggestions for our crashed tank, I would LOVE them. I have done lots of research on cycling, but acquired it a bit too late for properly starting our 20gal. Armed with my new knowledge, I am successfully fishless cycling a 10gal using a shrimp. I cheered when I came back from Thanksgiving to find 5ppm of nirate in the 10 gal. WOOT!

This forum has been great! Thanks guys!
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Old 11-26-2011, 10:36 AM   #6
 
Another Question

Just noticed that nitrite in my 10gal is 0... seems odd since I have some nitrate. I'm starting to wonder if my Nitrite test solution is bad. Anyway to check? I think I'll run out and grab a new bottle today. Hopefully that will shed some light. :D
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Old 11-26-2011, 11:52 AM   #7
 
Ok so If your 10 gal indicated 0 ammonia 0 nitrite and some nitrate it is because your aquarium is currently cycled for the amount of fish*or shrimps :P* you have put in!
since ammonia turns into nitrite then nitrate
I suggest shaking all solutions vigorously for about one minute and about 3 minuts for the nitrate 2 bottle :)
and live plants for ammonia/nitrate removers
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Old 11-26-2011, 12:35 PM   #8
 
No, I wish that was the case. Hehe. My ammonia was around 6ppm when I tested the 0 nitrite and 5 nitrate.

Thanks for the advice on the testing solutions!
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Old 11-27-2011, 02:13 PM   #9
 
with 6 ppm of ammonia I would do a water change and add Am Guard or prime(Am guard is better i think you need a lot less and is made for those kind of situations) both are none harmful to the cycle process. and for feeding when away my pet shop sells a kind of plant that you just put in your tank and my fish loves them I put one in my tank it lats about a week (26 g 6 black ruby barb 5 zebra danio 3 blue fin notho killifish) and I don't need to feed when the plant is in there! I will look for the exact name of it next time i get one.
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Old 11-27-2011, 03:40 PM   #10
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxillius View Post
with 6 ppm of ammonia I would do a water change and add Am Guard or prime(Am guard is better i think you need a lot less and is made for those kind of situations) both are none harmful to the cycle process. and for feeding when away my pet shop sells a kind of plant that you just put in your tank and my fish loves them I put one in my tank it lats about a week (26 g 6 black ruby barb 5 zebra danio 3 blue fin notho killifish) and I don't need to feed when the plant is in there! I will look for the exact name of it next time i get one.
I did a 50% water change after posting those stats. My ammonia is down now. Just waiting for that darn nitrite to start rising! :)

That plant sounds handy! Please let me know what it is next time you get one!

Thanks!
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