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Sookielee 02-19-2013 05:56 PM

Fishless Cycle - no change 14 days
We are doing a fishless cycle on our 75 gallon tank. We are on day 14 and nothing has changed regarding the numbers. We have been testing daily. Water is crystal clear. The Ammonia we are using is the Ace Hardware brand with no additives at all. Prime was used to treat the tap water.

PH: 8.0
Ammonia: 3-4 ppm
Nitrites: 0 ppm
Nitrates: 5-10 ppm (we had this reading straight from the tap before adding ammonia)
Water Temp: 81-82 Fahrenheit
KH: 13
GH: 20

Running 2 Filstar XPL (previously XP3)
Bio Media
  • 70 API Bio Stars (divided)
  • 2 Li Seachem Matrix (divided)
  • Appropriate Filter pads.
Does anyone have any suggestions as to what in the world is going on or better yet what isn't?

TitanTDH 02-19-2013 06:13 PM

Hey mate. I am no expert but these are my ideas and hopefully others will chime in with corrections.
1. Water volume may be a factor. My 10 g took a week to show ammonia levels using fish food. Based on your tank volume it may take longer to register nitrites.
2. Water temp could be an issue. Just a guess, maybe drop it to 78 and see if it makes a difference.
3. Is there any plants in the tank. They maybe taking up ammonia before the bacteria get a chance.
4. Are you still doing waterchanges? If so maybe stop and let it run. The prime maybe binding the ammonia into ammonium. Not sure if the bacteria can use ammonium.

Just my possible solutions. Hope it helps

Sookielee 02-19-2013 06:15 PM

We are not doing water changes. There are no Plants in the tank. Just about every site I looked at said 80 and above was a better temp for fishless cycling.

TitanTDH 02-19-2013 06:23 PM

That's killed three of my ideas. Sorry I couldn't be more help. By the sounds of it you are using pure ammonia. Have you seen ammonia drop at all?

Sookielee 02-19-2013 06:29 PM

no, it has stayed the same. no change at all. Considering it has been 14 days that is why we are a bit concerned.

Thanks for trying to help I really appreciate it.

AbbeysDad 02-20-2013 03:01 AM

Ammonia is toxic not only to fish but also to the nitrospira bacteria that oxidize it into nitrite (and likewise the nitrobacter that oxidizes nitrite into nitrate). You want levels <= .50ppm, rather than 3-4ppm.
You should do a water change to get the ammonia level down.
You would also benefit from a bacteria supplement product or a bio-seed from another healthy tank.
I would reduce the temperature to normal 76-78F as this is sufficient to culture the beneficial bacteria and cycle the tank.

Sookielee 02-20-2013 03:59 AM

Abbeys Dad, You are confusing me to a degree. Everything I have read about doing a fishless cycle says to raise the ammonia level to around 4 ppm. So you are saying that me having my ammonia at 3-4 ppm is what is causing the problem and toxic?

Hallyx 02-20-2013 06:16 AM

Your ammonia level is only a little high and temperature is optimum for a fishless cycle. I might suggest running your filter on high or running a sponge filter or airstone to aerate and provide oxygen for your bacteria. Keeping the tank dark helps a little.

When your nitrite peaks, you can reduce ammonia to 1.0ppm

Waiting for the bacteria to fall out of the sky into your tank is the hardest part of cycling. Two weeks is not a long time considering you're starting without live nitrifying bacteria or even bottled bacteria.

Dr Tim's One-and-Only, Tetra Safestart and ATM Colony are three brands that contain nitrosomonas and nitrospia, the bacteria that perform the nitrogen cycle.

If you choose to use one of these products, please advise me of the outcome. I'm tracking their usefulness.

Sookielee 02-20-2013 07:03 AM

We do have our water level dropped so the outtakes cause more bubbles and agitate the surface of the water more.

We do not know anyone that we can get bio-seed from and the lfs around here seem to have some really nasty tanks complete with numerous dead fish. We will either order online or drive 2 hours to get fish from Bluegrass Aquatics.

I am beginning to wonder if the Prime locked up the ammonia. If it did would that stop the cycle from starting? Also if 3-4 is a little high what should it be?

JDM 02-20-2013 08:06 AM

The temperature is fine.

I agree with AD in that high levels of ammonia will slow down the process. The idea is to provide a similar ammonia load that the fish might produce normally, so near 0.5ppm would be more ideal. The issue is that, as mentioned, the high levels will kill bacteria... I don't consider this a concern for the nitrosomona at the 3-4ppm level but the nitrospira are more sensitive to ammonia (they "eat" nitrites and produce nitrates) and they may not start reproducing until the first stage of the cycle (ammonia drops to zero) is complete thereby slowing down the completion of the entire cycle.

That idea goes against "common" knowledge so you will read more pushing the higher levels as it does work.

14 days is pretty early, from what I understand, to expect much action as anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks seems normal.


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