29 gallon tank still not cycling after 5 days
Hey, I got a 29 gallon tank for Christmas and set it up the same day. I had heard about fishless cycling before, but I have never used it. I put fish food in to put in ammonia and turned up the heat to about 82 degrees F. I didn't leave the light on, but I turned it on today. Today I got back from a 4 day trip to my grandparents' house. I checked the nitrite and nitrate. Both were at 0. Then I checked the ammonia. It was also 0. There is decaying fish food at the bottom of my tank. When I put in some decorations I got for Christmas at my grandparents' house, all the decaying, fungus covered food got stirred up. So I scooped most of it out with my net and put in some new food. Should I just go to the store and buy some pure ammonia to put in my tank? I thought the bacteria in the tank would have converted some of the ammonia to nitrite by today, but there's not even any ammonia in my tank! What happened? I added some Stress-zyme (beneficial bacteria in a bottle) to my tank today, I hope that helps. My tank is cloudy, so shouldn't there be some ammonia or nitrite or nitrate?
Did you have the filter running on the tank while you were away? this is where the bacteria will begin to develop. With fish food method. you should add a small pinch of fish food each day or every other day just as though you were feeding a small group of fish. Perhaps a little less than a dime size amount of food. The fuzz you saw on the food was the food breaking down and bacteria beginning to to feed on it. The process of maturing or (cycling) takes time and raw ammonia method is no quicker or at least that's been my expierience. Will take however long it takes. Be sure not to replace or clean the filter material during the next three to four weeks. If filter material becomes clogged up, you are putting too much food in the tank. When and if filter material needs cleaned in ALL aquariums (cycled)or not,, it should be cleaned in old aquarium water you take out or dechlorinated water.
Do you have any friends with aquariums up and running? borrowing some of their filter material and putting it in your filter ,will speed the process along. be sure and keep the borrowed filter material wet in aquarium water during the transfer from friends tank to yours. If you don't have accesss to borrowed material... Then be patient and the process will proceed. I am not a fan of bacteria in a bottle products and don't use them so cannot comment on benefits of using them other than to say they may, or may not, provide any benefit.
I have another tank and used some of the substrate from that tank to seed my new tank. I thought the more ammonia, the more bacteria, so the more bio-load (fish) could be handled, so I put in more fish food. My filter has not been changed but is starting to get a little clogged. Should I get some of the filter material from my other tank and put it in the filter? The tanks are different sizes and so are the filters, so I could just put the filter material in alongside the other things. I use Aqueon things, so I have an Aqueon Power Filter 30 on my tank.
Just stop your filter on the other tank for a min, take the sponges out, squish them out real nice in the new tank to get all the 'muck' into the new tank and place the sponges back in your old tank.
That's the safest and best way to get bacteria into your new tank real quick. After that you will more likely then not not see any NO's peaks.
Give it a few days and start stocking the new tank slowly (keep eye on water parameters thou to be safe!)
I would test daily for ammonia and nitrites. when they both read zero for five or six days straight,THEN it will be safe to add a few fish slowly to the new tank.
Ok, I'm scared...
I went to the store and bought some pure ammonia today, and tried to get a good amount of it in the tank - about 10 teaspoons. The source online that I had said you couldn't be sure how much to put in because you didn't know the concentration of the ammonia. So I googled it again, and two sites I found said add 3-5 drops!!! I put in 10 teaspoons! The original site said to test the water after adding it until the reading was 5.0 ppm, but my reading is still 0. I think the testing kit I bought isn't working right. Now I only have one test left, and I'm probably going to get a live action tester to put in the tank. Should I do a water change to get some of the ammonia out, or wait for a while to let the bacteria grow on it?
And I'm thinking about trying to have a planted tank... Anything a pleco won't eat? Or do they only graze bulbs? I got some bulbs and tried to grow them but my pleco kept grazing down all the little sprouts. I would like plants that grow in gravel and plants that grow on driftwood.
I pers never went with this approach but 10 spoons on 29g just really sounds like a lot.
What are you testing with, strips or liquid kit?
Any chance you can take a sample water by your LFS and have them test Ammonia for ya?
Pleco will eat anything such as algae, cucumber, algae waffers...or like in your case bulbs :-)
As far as cleaning things off, it's often a good idea (especially at first) to leave things as is so you don't destroy what little bacteria may have formed on your decor, etc. Also, I always use treated water on whatever I'm washing off (I rarely need to wash anything off anyway) because I don't want trace amounts of chlorine or chloramine to get in the tank. For now, you may just not need to do any "cleaning". Let the bacteria do it for you.
As far as getting the ammonia levels up...that amount of ammonia seems really excessive. I am also doing a fishless cycle on a 10 gallon right now and i'm on about day 4. I know my tap has about .5 ppm of ammonia, but I added a good size pinch of food every morning and it already raised it to 1ppm. I also, like you, raised my temp. I used a lot of food to "jump start" the decaying process. And I'm leaving all of the decaying food at the bottom because that's the whole point...you want it to decay so it turns into ammonia, and you want to do this before adding fish so that your ammonia levels can peak withpout worrying about ammonia poisoning your fish. Then, once the ammonia and nitrites go down, I'll do a good gravel vaccuum and water change and if my levels are still at zero (amm and nitrite) then I'll add fish. If you decide to add fish before the cycle is complete, just remember to test your water every day, do water changes when ammonia is traceable, and I'd suggest using a live bacteria like Safe Start or Stability.
Sorry for all that! I know it can be frustrating waiting for the cycling. But if you decide to get plants, at least you'll have something beautiful to take care of while you wait for the other living inhabitants of your tank!
All substrate-rooted plants will grow fine in regular gravel, preferably the smallest grain size (1-2 mm) and this plain regular gravel is what I have used for more than 20 years. Make sure it is inert, not the special gravels made from calcareous rock that will add mineral to the water and raise hardness and pH; these gravels are for marine tanks and rift lake cichlids and possibly livebearers.
Anubias, Java Fern, Java Moss are plants that will attach to driftwood; they do not root in the substrate but once attached the roots from the rhizome (Anubias, JF) will grow on the wood or rock they are attached to. And no fish that I know of will eat these plants, they are too tough. Good substrate-rooted plants would be any of the swords (Echinodorus species) that are also quite strong.
If you are going with live plants, I would buy them and plant the tank and forget the ammonia and fishless cycling stuff. Plants growing in a tank will handle the ammonia produced by a few fish right from day one and there will be no "cycle" or new tank syndrome. I can explain further if you're interested. I have set up dozens of planted tanks over the years and added fish the first day and never had any of them "cycle."
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