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NVmySSmaro 11-29-2009 01:50 PM

cycling help
Ok, I'm sure I'm doing something wrong, cuz, well, I'm a fish rookie. I spent almost two months cycling my 20 gallon tank, the ammonia came and went, nitrites came and started to fall off, with nitrates showing steady shortly after the nitrites started. So no prob, ammonia was reading 0, nitrites 0, and nitrates were bout 5ppm. I put 3 glofish in the tank (1 died), had an initial ammonia spike, but the parameters settled to Ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate was less than 10ppm, it stayed settled for 3 days, on the afternoon of the 4th day, ammonia spiked heavy to almost 1ppm, I did several PWCs to knock it down, and now the tank's parameters are just all over the place. Oh and I took about a cup of rocks from my mother's established tank (it's been up and running for 5-6 years) to help mine along toward the end. I'm having to do daily water changes to fight off the ammonia, but am still showing nitrates. I'm confused. What am I doing wrong?

I also used another cup of rocks from my mother's tank to cycle my GFs 10 gallon tank, the tank has been up and running for about a month, but when I added the rocks, I added the speckled molly, which is now dead. but the tank did the same thing as my 20 Gallon, the parameters spiked at first, then settled for 3 good days, then ammonia spiked quickly.

Long and short, what the H*LL am I doing wrong? I'm careful to not clean the filter in anything but old tank water, I keep the temperature steady at 74 degrees, I'm just at a loss. It's been 2 months and it's just not acting like a cycled tank... The water is good that I put in it, I don't have any chlorine (I'm on well water) the natural PH is kinda high (bout 7.8) I'm just confused how a tank acts this way?

Byron 11-29-2009 06:09 PM

Have you tested the well water for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate? I have heard of all or some of these being present in well water. This info may help us sort out the problem.

You may be overfeeding, once a day is plenty, and make sure they eat it all within a few minutes. I can't imagine excess food causing huge ammonia spikes, but... it is another thing to watch.

I'll assume you do not use a water conditioner since you have well water without chlorine. Correct me if you do, and mention which one. Do you know if there are minerals in the well water, say iron or others?


NVmySSmaro 11-29-2009 06:47 PM

I did test the water fresh out of the faucet back when I first started with the tank to see where I stood, it didn't register anything. I might be over feeding, I do my best to only throw in what they eat quick like, for two Glofish it's basically couple crumbs of flakes. I do not use a water conditioner, I do use Aquarium salt measured for the amount of water I take out, and some times Stress Coat. I have not however tested the water for minerals, the house does have a brand new filter system, so I didn't think much of it, though now that I think of it, it's probably due for a new filter.

Byron 11-29-2009 07:51 PM

Two things occur to me. First, the filter connected to the well water may be the source of ammonia; ammonia in filtration units is common. I doubt it is the food, you are not overfeeding, just about right in my view.

Second thing, stop the salt. It is not needed in a freshwater aquarium and some fish have very low levels of salt tolerance. Here's a link to a good article on salt: Frequently asked questions on using salt | Practical Fishkeeping magazine
You will note that all the authorities cited therein say clearly do not use salt in a freshwater aquarium except as a specific medication for certain issues, and then only if the fish can tolerate it. I don't know, but the salt may well kill bacteria, that is it's purpose in medication after all. It does also affect nitrite which may be why that is not spiking unlike the ammonia. I would stop using salt, and do a 50% pwc to clear the water.


NVmySSmaro 11-29-2009 11:23 PM

Thanks Byron, I'll stop using salts, thanks for the link, and I'll check up on the filter tomorrow. The only thing that makes me think that it's not the filter is that I can do water changes and get the ammonia to show 0 or what appears to be 0. So hope it's the salt.

Other than the obvious of water, what, if anything, is best to do when changing water? such as Stress coat, ect.


Byron 11-30-2009 05:08 PM

Stress Coat is a water conditioner, made by API and they are reputable. I've never used it myself. I think it is advisable to use a good conditioner at water changes, even with well water. This one, like some other good conditioners, also detoxifies heavy metals (that was the reason for my earlier question about iron and conditioners) so it can't hurt. Other than a conditioner, I use nothing at partial water changes. I add the liquid plant fertilizer after.

The less chemicals in an aquarium the better for fish health.


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