Tank still not cycled after 4 months. What to do?
I set up my tank on the 19th October 2012 and the first inhabitants were added 5 days later, Tarquin and Tulula, 2 Glowlight tetras:grin:. So there started the fish in cycle. The highest my ammonia ever got was 0.5 on the 16th December since then it has just sat at 0.25 or what looks like between 0 and 0.25 on the test kit. So come the 13 January this year it was still the same Ammonia 0.25, Nitrite 0 and Nitrate gradually increasing and controlled with water changes, so the woman at the fish shop said take a leap of faith and get some more fish in attempt just to kickstart it. So I got 2 penguin tetras - yet to be named - and a Zebra Nerite Snai - Zedl (to combat the algae problem I was having)....and 6-7 weeks later its still the same. Ammonia always 0.25 (sometimes a bit lower but never 0), Nitrite always 0 and Nitrate climbing - usually kept between 10 and 30.
So any suggestions? I have no idea what to try.:???: I feed the 4 fish 3 small flakes nighty (bloodworm instead once a week) and its gone in 20 seconds if that so I don't think I'm over feeding them, under feeding them if anything. I avoid touching the filter media unless I have to and even then I only roughly swill half if it through...its still dirty when it goes back, just not as, so the biofilter should be top notch. Always use stress coat on every water change, and always generous with it. StressZyme goes in every week and every other day it gets a dose of filter start.
So confused! Could there be something wrong with my test kit?
I'm not so worried as it is because its low and the fish I have are supposed to be hardy, I spend far too much time watching them and I can't see any problem with them, they're all active, fins and gills fine, no sign of disease. However I would like a few more fish, as they must be lonely just the 4 of them, but I don't really want to be getting more until I know my tank's stable and ammonia free.
Thanks in advance!!
That is a long time :( What are you using for a water test kit? Have you brought your water to the fish store to have them test it to see if they get the same readings?
Also, have you tested your tap water for ammonia (doubtful but not unheard of).
What size tank and what type of filter media are you using?
Oh and welcome to the forum :wave:
Welcome to the forum!
The whole purpose of the nitrogen cycle in the tank is to turn ammonia into nitrites and nitrites into nitrates. Nitrates, although still not good for the fish they are far less toxic. The best levels to maintain are below 10ppm through water changes.
Just the fact that you have nitrates building up indicates that your cycle is fine, they wouldn't be there otherwise. No leap of faith required.
With a small fish load, two fish initially, the ammonia levels aren't high enough to inhibit the nitrite eating bacteria growth and activity so they start producing very low levels of nitrates right away. no nitrite spike.
Stress coat, stress zyme and filter start... You are adding a lot of chemicals which I doubt are necessary.
At this point I would suggest adding fish, top off the tetra groups to their suggested minimum numbers (probably six or more... Check the profiles up top) one group at a time checking water between with a few weeks between
Welcome to TFK!
+1 - it's odd that you continue to see ammonia levels, but the fact that nitrates build up suggests that the cycle is working. As another member suggested, you may want to check your source water. I also agree that you might back off on the additives some as you prolly don't need them.
Thank you for your replies and warm welcome!
Romad - I have the pets at home 24 litre starter tank and the filter supplied with that, its not bad and i believe its got carbon sponge inside. I tested my tap water a few months back and there was no ammonia in it then. I'm taking my water in tomo when I'm in town and see what they say but I'm using the same test kit (API Master Freshwater) that the shop does, so I cant's see it coming up any different.:|
JDM - Thanks for the advice on Nitrate levels, I will make sure I do more water changes as I was told to keep them below 40ppm. I'll definitely stop adding the filter start if you think that my tank is definitely cycled as it is pointless, I will probably cut back on the Stress Zyme too if you think thats not worth it (I'm all for saving money!) but the Stress Coat is what I use as my water conditioner so I'll stick with that. With the tests showing there is still ammonia present, shall I keep on adding my fish 2 at a time like I have been doing, or can I take the groups to full minimum straight away like you suggested? Also Mum wants to have some Male Fantail Guppies but apparently they're pretty sensitive to ammonia, shall I just say we can't have them or will they cope with the small amount?
2 more quick questions:
a) Back in December when I was still taking my water to the shop to be tested they said my pH was high (8-8.2) and that I needed to treat it with this pH down stuff, so I bought some and dosed as instructed but then read somewhere (I can't remember where) that fish weren't too bothered about pH and that using the pH down stuff could actually harm the fish more than help them...so I stopped using it. I have the full bottle still if need be so could someone give me a second opinion on this please?
b) On the cardboard base of the packaging my tank came in it gave me stocking suggestions of what I could put in my tank. The one closest to how I've started off says I could have (stocked to the fullest) :
6 Male Guppies
4 Assorted Danio
4 Glowlight Tetras
2 Corydoras Catfish
1 Apple Snail
I am aware that shops like you to overstock your tank can someone give me an idea if this sort of stocking level is ok, I think its a bit too much but I'm not sure:-?. I do have my air stone on for 12 hours a day (I'd leave it on all the time but I cant sleep with it) so the water has plenty of oxygen in it.
Thank you so so much for your help and I'm sorry for the essays I seem to type!
As for stocking if your tank is 24 liters than that would only be a little over 6 gallons, which is actually to small for the fish that you have. You can read the profiles on these fish, if you look at the top of the page second tab from the left the link will take you over to the profiles page. A great resource that will tell you about the needs as the fish such as recommended size tank, any particular water conditions that they may need, temperaments and etc. The stocking suggestion that is on the cardboard from the aquarium in my opinion is not realistic, Danios are a very active fish that need room for swimming for example, in the profiles it is suggested that they are in at least a 24 inch long tank. Unfortunately not all the advice given by lfs is always correct. I learnt that myself when I first started out, which is one of the reasons that I believe that it is important to do your research first (this forum being one of the first places that I come to when researching fish or who I am going to set up a tank). Hope this helps :-)
As far as the fish are concerned, Tetras and Cory's are shoaling and need a minimum of six of each species... Better to go for a few more than minimum if you can. In a 24 gallon you could do 6 of each. Beyond that, someone with some non-planted tank experience could comment.
There are over 20 species of Cory's just on this website (profiles above) and another dozen catfish. You will need to know which you are looking at to add to determine if they will match your water parameters.
Wow, lots to think about!
Will definitely stay away from that pH down stuff.
I never knew about the fish profiles on here (noob much) so thanks for pointing that out BarbH!
Will have a look and see what happens with the guppies, I looked at their profile and they seem ideally suited to all my water stuff, better than the fish I already have. Fab. But I will still have to think on whether to put them in or not, so much information seems to be contradictory in this hobby, I have a book all about freshwater fish that says I could have up to 24cm of fish, whats on the bottom of the cardboard of my tank and what people say such as BarbH. If the worst comes to the worst if they're not happy, my next door neighbour has a HUGE tank and says he's quite happy to take any fish off my hands if Im struggling. (He offered me a few of his platy's to cycle my tank with but I was too scared of killing them!)
I'm not bothered on sticking my tank on how the cardboard says, I much prefer my Zebra Snail than those horrible looking apple snails!! lol!
I'll start a new thread on my air stone I guess see what everyone thinks.....
Thanks again everyone!
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