Having some cycling problems....please help! - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 10 Old 02-10-2007, 11:11 PM Thread Starter
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Having some cycling problems....please help!

Hi everyone! I haven't been having much luck cycling my 37 gallon aquarium and would really appreciate some advice. This may be a bit long (my apologies), so now may be a good time to grab a drink and a bag of chips if you're feeling peckish ;)


Tank: 37 Gallon Eclipse Tall tank
Temp: 78 degrees
pH: 7.2
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
Fish: 5 Diamond Tetras
Substrate: Black Gravel
Decorations: 1 Piece of Mopani Wood, 1 Piece of Bogwood, and many plastic plants

I've had the five diamond tetras in my tank for 4 weeks now. I feed them sparingly every other day. Initially, I was doing a 20% water change daily (because I thought I was supposed to do this during the cycling process). I did the 20% water changes daily for about the first 1.5 weeks. A few people suggested that I stop doing this so frequently (because it may not allow the ammonia levels to build up adequately). So now, I'm changing 20% of the water on a weekly basis.

PROBLEM: I have done Ammonia and Nitrite readings every other day, and I do Nitrate readings about once a week. Everytime I've done these readings, I receive a reading of zero on everything. Thinking my test kit may be old, I purchased a new one. Unfortunately, I got the same readings with the new test kit. So, I took a water sample to a local fish store, and they also got zero readings on everything.

My local fish store said with 5 Diamond Tetras in the tank for 4 weeks, "there is no way that you could have had zero ammonia in that tank the entire time." He insisted that my tank has to have cycled, and his explination is that nitrate only registers on the test once it is greater than a certain concentration (I can't remember the number he gave me). He said since I have such a small amount of fish & I've been feeding sparingly, I probably have a very small amount of nitrate that just isn't registering on the test, but it is in there. He went on to tell me that a lot of people expect an ammonia and nitrite spike, but this sometimes doesn't happen in tanks that are very lightly stocked. He said the nitrite level will raise slightly, but I wouldn't have seen a dramatic increase at any point.

So, I went on to ask him if he thinks it is safe for me to add new fish, and he said he would go ahead and add more fish, but slowly and carefully (i.e., continue daily monitoring of the water perameters). I want to add 3 Pearl Gourami (1 male and 2 females) and 5 cory cats. He suggested that I start off with 1 or 2 Gouramis. To be on the safe side, I asked if he had any mature filter media that I could purchase to place in my tank. (I am nervous about adding more fish when I haven't seen the spikes that I expected.) He said they operate on a sump system (I think this is what he said-I have no idea what this is), so they don't have filter floss or a ceramic cartridge or anything. Instead, he gave me some flourite substrate from one of their tanks & suggested that I place it in a stocking in my fish tank. He said this should provide some nitrifying bacteria that should be adequate to support the addition of one or two more fish. I went ahead and added the flourite stocking to my tank this evening.

So, do you agree with what the local fish store is telling me? Is it safe for me to add one or two Pearl Gourami at this point?

If not, what should I do to get my fish tank cycled?

Sorry again that this has been so long. I just wanted to make sure that I gave enough information.

And for anyone interested, I have really learned my lesson about cycling with fish.
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post #2 of 10 Old 02-10-2007, 11:16 PM
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I think the guy from the store gave you good advice. I had a ten gallon with just a small betta and checked the water every other day---nitrites never registered and neither did nitrates. I slowly added a couple more fish, and there were no problems. Just add one or two gouramis and I think you should be fine.
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post #3 of 10 Old 02-11-2007, 12:53 AM
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I think I want to know the name of that guy because that is the best advice I have seen ever given from a LFS employee! Follow his advice and keep your result sposted here. It is possible to have a cycle without a spike if you can believe it. It is very rare but it happens, just not to me, ;).
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post #4 of 10 Old 02-11-2007, 10:50 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you, scottysgirl & fish_4_all! Your advice has renewed my confidence in my lfs. :D I am going to go ahead and add a Pearl Gourami to my tank. yay! I wasn't sure if we were allowed to post the name of the fish store on here, but the fish store I went to is in Atlanta, GA. I would be happy to post the name of the store if it's ok? Thanks again!
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post #5 of 10 Old 02-11-2007, 10:56 AM
yeah i would add 1 inch of fish per week, thats the safest
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post #6 of 10 Old 02-11-2007, 03:10 PM
MB and F4A

I cycled my 110G tank with 12 guppies and 7 cories.

I also observed no detectable concentrations of ammonia or nitrites.

I believe the reason for the above was the "just right" quantity of feeding.

Several months ago I "strayed from the path" and began overfeeding.

During the course of this overfeeding episode I noted no ammonia concentration but on several occasions minor nitrite concentrations.

I modified my feeding protocol (by decreasing feeding quantity) and have not observed either ammonia or nitrite concentrations since.

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post #7 of 10 Old 02-11-2007, 05:01 PM
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Nice info Jones, makes it easier for those who cycle with fish to do it right and limit if not eliminate the ammonia problem and subsequent massive water changes.
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post #8 of 10 Old 02-11-2007, 09:16 PM
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I cycled my 55 with no ammonia also. Although i cheat and always keep extra floss and gravel in a cycled tank prior to starting a new one so i can kick start the new one with a moderate fish load.
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post #9 of 10 Old 02-12-2007, 10:03 AM
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I agree that it's cycled. While 2 of the 3 tanks I've cycled showed the classic ammonia and nitrite spike, the one tank (3 gallon with only a betta and a snail) never showed any ammonia or nitrite.

For the record, both my current tanks are Eclipse and have no detectable nitrates showing. I will see an ever-so-small amount of nitrates detected and that is right before it's time for the weekly gravel vacuuming.

I say keep up the good work and keep going to that LFS! :D


Pardon the pun, but I'm hooked!
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post #10 of 10 Old 02-12-2007, 11:35 AM
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Bacteria need food too. I was told when I started this Amazing "hobby" ( years ago ).....you are keeping Bacteria and water alive!!! Fish are extras,and the thing that kills fish the most is when people panic and fish are calm..

Good thing to keep in mind.

I'll never forget those words.

I have a Silver Arowana named Thor He lives in a 300 gallon tank and eats from my hand...spoiled...He Loves Me,and I Him...I've raised Discus,Africans, you name it...I've pretty well had it ...freshwater.
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