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candymancan 10-28-2013 06:18 PM

Removed my UGF and all my rocks 4-5 weeks ago.... tank is still cycling... help
Hey guys.. My 27 gallon hexagon had a UGF and blue rocks with a single HOB filter since the day I got it 14 years ago... Obviously I change the HOB filter when it gets clogged and dirty and so forth..

Anyway I started live plants like 3-4 months ago and I just got sick of the nasty blue rocks I had in the tank, so I removed the UGF completely and I removed all the rocks and replaced the substrate with floramax substrate which is supposedly good for plants..

In doing so it started a cycle on my tank.. Now I have like 28 fish in this tank... Mostly small fish like neon tetra's and glow light tetras, and white clouds, but I also have a few medium sized fish like Celebes rainbows and neon dwarf rainbows neither are fully grown yet.. The only big fish I have are 3 adult sized gold barbs.. Now since changing the substrate.. In the last 4-5 weeks my plants are literally exploded in growth and color.. My Red Nesaea has literally doubled in height and bushy-ness.. It looks like a forest now.. The color was long changing from red to green on the new growth however now that the plants are growing roots and growing really bushy and tall they are changing more to a deep orange color is really beautiful.. My Telenthara cardinalis "red" has tripled in size from the little packet I got it from in petsmart and its extremely bushy and much taller, and its a nice ruby deep red color on all the leaves....

Oh and please I don't need posts saying I have too many fish in the tank, I don't care for those opinions.. Its my tank and I will do with as I please.. I haven't had any fish die in like 7 months and prior to doing this my ammonia was 0 and because my tank is extremely heavily planted the fish have planty of hiding places and room to swim around

The problem im having though isn't the plants.. The problem is I have had 4-8PPM of ammonia in the tank for 4 going on 5 weeks now.. I haven't had a single fish die, nor any fish gasping for air or struggling or red gills and the reason why is because I put a capful of prime in the tank every 24 hours... But its getting expensive... I have gone through an entire 500ml bottle.. and I cant afford this... But then I cant afford replacing my fish either..

Soo... how much longer is this cycle going to take ?? I even put a filter from another tank in mine and it still didn't do anything.. I put a bottle of API bacteria in the tank and it didn't do anything either... I raised my temps to 82f and it still isn't doing anything... Could my UGF have really had that huge of an impact on my cycle ? Or is 4-5 weeks just not long enough yet to get a big enough BB colony for the fish I have in the tank..

Agent13 10-28-2013 09:59 PM

Actually, you,re right. there might not be too many fish for the tank... I'm thinking about it and have concluded there is too little tank for the fish.
Best of luck! :-)

Boredomb 10-29-2013 06:07 AM

Well what plants do you have in there? Also what are your parameters reading? If you are adding that much prime everyday why not do water changes to bring down the ammonia instead of just binding it with the prime? If there is nothing in the tank to take it up then its just going to continue to go up.

Chesh 10-29-2013 07:55 AM

I agree with BDM, water changes are cheaper than Prime, for sure!

I know you asked not to hear that your tank is overstocked, but it is - and I suspect that's really the root of your problem. Even seeding that you did, the BB seems to be unable to catch up with the ammonia the fish are adding to the system.

I'm still a beginner, don't have 20 years experience, but I've read about situations in overstocked tanks in which the bioload of the inhabitants is actually too high for a sufficient colony of bacteria to form. I know things were going well before the substrate change, and I've never used this substrate. Is it possible that you've lessened the surface area for bacteria to colonize on by switching out from gravel? Something to look into, perhaps one of the others will have something more to offer here!

Adding a greedy floating plant like duckweed could help you out a bit by up-taking a decent amount of ammonia from the system (provided you have proper lighting, etc for it to thrive) A lot of people don't prefer duckweed, as it is difficult to remove, but in this situation, it may be the best option for you. . .

Another thing to possibly look into is the bottled bacteria that they sell in fish shops. Again, no personal experience with this, so I don't know which to recommend as best. Worth a try, I guess? Maybe one of our other members will know more about this. . .

Honestly, if this were my tank, I would divide the stock with another tank (even if I had to buy it new), toss some duckweed in, and slowly add the misplaced fish back in, little by little, after things settle down. (well, *if* it were my tank I would probably just leave both up and running, so as not to overstock. I'm much happier to run my tanks on the lighter side of stocking - but that's me!)

This is a difficult situation, for sure. I hope you get everyone through with no losses. . . Good luck.

Agent13 10-29-2013 09:17 AM

Owekaaay. Maybe I have some to add that might be helpful. Since I keep African cichlids overstocking is something I do as common practice when keeping those specific fish( but not as overstocked as your tank ). Well anyway the way to manage that is going well above the norm for filtration. My tank is 72g has 20( maybe more?) decent sized poop machines in it and I run 2 eheim 2217s on it. That's running the 528g per hour through my filters. And honestly in overstocking that's modest.. I need to be running 720g/h. But that alone only helps with the BB colony to deal with ammonia and nitrite. Then water changes deal with the nitrates. At 4-8 ppm ammonia your cycle is in stall mode. Chesh may be on to the way to *possibly* fix the stall in your cycle. But aside from that your filtration needs a. 10x turnover rate or more .. But somehow not creating a cyclone in you hex lol ( I have no clue how to do multiple filters on a small hex). Then I dunno.. Once and if you get this cycle sorted out then you'll have to stay on a good water change routine. At 4-8ppm ammonia I'd be doing water changes of 50% or more every 12 hrs.

Sent from App

Chesh 10-29-2013 09:31 AM

Thanks for your input!!! More filtration = more places for the bacteria to colonize, correct? And so *SHOULD* help in getting enough BB into the tank to handle the high bioload? I have no idea how this would be possible in a hex, either :/ And OP's fish are SMALL, maybe not able to handle that much turbulence. . .any way to skip extra filtration, and still add enough surface area for BB to colonize? Or did I miss the point. . .

. . .and I didn't even think of that, Agent! You're totally right - an ammonia level that high absolutely could cause the cycle to stall. CandyMan, do you happen to know the Kh/Gh/Ph on your tap water? Either way, more water changes ARE needed to refresh the system, and lower the ammonia level. What is your current waterchange routine on this tank?

Agent13 10-29-2013 11:12 AM

Pretty much .. Yes Chesh. Only thing I can think for not creating a cyclone is switching to a canister with at least a 270gph rating.. Then cut the spray bar to fit and if the current is too strong alter the angle to deflect against the glass first ? Or create an elbow DIY style spray bar one side horizontal holes against the glass mostly and other lateral at a slight upward angle just under the surface. A lot of toying would have to be done to avoid the fish ending up like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz lol.

Sent from App

Tolak 10-29-2013 01:01 PM

That high of ammonia with healthy fish id question the accuracy of the test
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ao 10-29-2013 02:04 PM

Perhaps the PH is too low for bacteria colonisation?

Sent from App

Chesh 10-29-2013 05:49 PM

Hmm, it seems as if the effects of Prime on the oxygen levels in a tank is debatable. I have moved related posts to their own thread in our Advanced Freshwater Discussions area, those interested in joining that discussion, please feel free to do so!

Back on topic, guys. Any further recommendations to help the OP out here? Looks like he's in a bit of trouble. . . Thank you!

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