Mini Cycle not so mini! - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 11 Old 12-26-2009, 10:29 PM Thread Starter
Thumbs down Mini Cycle not so mini!

Man, I just don't get it. I had fish in my tank for 2 months before adding more fish and I thought it was ready. I did put about 30 fish in at one time but I didn't expect for it to cause the ammonia to go up so high and for so long. It is my 150 gal. I used filter media from my wifes healthy tank to "seed" it so I never did see a spike in ammonia, I thought it was OK that I didn't see it because I had seeded it. But Now I'm thinking that It really didn't cycle at all in the 2 months. Crazy! I have had a reading of ammonia for over a week and today and yesterday it is around 8ppm! have been adding ammolock, so, That is the only thing that's keeping my fish alive for now. So frustrating! Could it really be that the tank didn't cycle in 2 months?
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post #2 of 11 Old 12-26-2009, 10:57 PM
Angel079's Avatar
If that tank was properly seeded as you said it did, specially after this 8 weeks, you shouldn't see these kinda problems.
Something went wrong somewhere - Adding fancy chems or too many fish all at once, but something went wrong there.
I seeded all my tanks (except the 1st obviously) and added 10 fish at one time, few days later more and so on...I never had such issues, so something went wrong.

Keep on doing large w/c quit the chem stuff and do not add any more fish for the time being and then do it slow (like 10-15 at one time).

Is your tank panted or not?

~ Life Is Too Short, Break The Rules, Forgive Quickly, Kiss Slowly, Love Truly, Laugh Uncontrollably And Never Regret Anything that Made You Smile.
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post #3 of 11 Old 12-26-2009, 11:16 PM
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Maybe this is just my rookie mentality, but 30 fish at once sounds like a big change in the bio load, even for 150 gallons. How many fish did you have in there for the first two months? Perhaps the initial load was so small that the bacteria never even expanded, or efficiently colonized? Or even died off ?
But 8ppm sounds kind of high, my 5 platys and 4 angels never brought the ammonia over 2 in my 29g, of course the angels didn't last as long as it took for my tank to cycle, which was probably a week or two (that was a fresh cycle too). Are you doing water changes or just dumping the chemical? Think I saw somewhere that some chems actually have a negative effect on bacteria, which in this case would negate what you're trying to accomplish.
Anyone with more knowledge please correct me if I gave any misleading information!
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post #4 of 11 Old 12-26-2009, 11:16 PM
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I'm going to say it's flat out due to the 30 fish at once. Your tank may have cycled. And it's running biologically on the load that you had prior to getting 30 more fish. Putting that much of a load on what's there was overkill. You simply over loaded your biological system the tank was running at. Your tank size doesn't so much matter in that it could be 500 gallons. If you have 20 fish in 500 gallons your biological system in the tank is running its cycle from the 20 fish. If you drop 50 more in !!BAM!! you just loaded the current biological system with more than it can handle. It has to build up to the increase of fish slowly.

+1 for what Angel said. Change water, get that ammonia down. Only add water conditioner for the chlorine removal. and mrdemin. he posted same time I did. He's right. Ditto

“He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors”
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Last edited by Mean Harri; 12-26-2009 at 11:18 PM.
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post #5 of 11 Old 12-26-2009, 11:31 PM
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post #6 of 11 Old 12-27-2009, 10:06 AM
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If you really do have (pure) ammonia at 8 you will not have any live fish. The ammolock is keeping the fish alive by changing the ammonia to ammonium whichis basically harmless, and most test kits read ammonia/ammonium as ammonia and nitrosomonas bacteria use either form. If your tank water is acidic the same thing occurs naturally, ammonia becomes ammonium in acidic water. If your tap water is basic (alkaline), make sure you use a good conditioner that removes ammonia with each partial water change; Prime and similar conditioners also detoxify ammonia by changing it to ammonium.

If you have plants they will use the ammonium/ammonia. This will also help.

I won't speculate on what caused this sudden increase in ammonia; in a 150g aquarium I have trouble believing it was due to the addition of 30 new fish unless of course they are large fish. The larger the fish the more ammonia is produces with each "breath". I would also test the tap water for ammonia just in case.


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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post #7 of 11 Old 12-27-2009, 08:06 PM Thread Starter
Yea, crazy huh All the fish were small, the SD's were about 4" everything else much smaller. My water is a little acidic and I have been putting in ammolock to change any ammonia to ammonium. It is still 8ppm today. I have a little Nitrite showing up as well. I was expecting a small increase with the addition of the 30 smaller fish, but nothing this high. I was doing a WC everyday but with the addition of the ammolock as well as some live BB I was waiting to do a WC until the BB was able to get established to avoid wasting my money on BB that would just get sucked up and down the drain.
I do have a couple live plants but nothing that would make a big difference.
Something definitely went wrong. For sure. Not sure what it was though. I'm on a fish ban for a while until all of this goes away. I really don't like killing fish.
Thanks guys.
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post #8 of 11 Old 12-27-2009, 08:39 PM
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Test you tap water for ammonia, see if that's where its coming from!

~ Life Is Too Short, Break The Rules, Forgive Quickly, Kiss Slowly, Love Truly, Laugh Uncontrollably And Never Regret Anything that Made You Smile.
Life May Not Be The Party We Hoped For, But While We're Here, We Should Dance. ~
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post #9 of 11 Old 12-28-2009, 07:09 AM
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I had the same issue with my 32g. I started by adding 5 very small danios (2 died within days) and ran the tank for 6 weeks with no activity on the ammonia - nitrite - nitrate situation. Thinking the tank cycled, I then added 8 more fish that were slightly bigger and then taddam!... there came the ammonia spike, followed by the rest of the cycle. In my case it was a rookie mistake since I had no experience with the nitrogen cycle but I now firmly believe that the initial bio load on my tank (the 3 small fish) was not enough to get things started properly.
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post #10 of 11 Old 12-28-2009, 08:30 AM
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one thing that may help is get some Bio-Max (BB in a can) ans put 3x the recommended amount directly in your filter for a few days.. it will get caught up in the media and start to thrive on the ammonia right away.. (i put it in the filter to keep the fish from eating it and so that it does not get taken out in the w/c)

Back in the Game!!! Live Bearers in a 40 Breeder
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