Three weeks into fishless cycle, no nitrites
I have a 5 gallon hex (filtered and heated) that has been up and running for almost three weeks now. I used Prime conditioner and added ammonia at the start to get 3-5ppm and it has been like that ever since. Everyday I test for nitrites (using the API Freshwater Master Test Kit) but it is 0 every time. I know this whole process can take up to two months but really, three weeks and not even a tiny amount of nitrites? How do I know it's working?
I did not seed the tank with anything as I don't have access to an established tank and I didn't want to ask at the pet store.
For the first couple of weeks the water was maintaining a temperature of about 80-82 and at the beginning of the third week I increased it to 84-86.
I am looking at getting a Betta once the tank has cycled but now I'm at a point where I want to dump all my water out and start over, this time with my fish in the tank.
Someone recommended Nutrafin Cycle. I heard this has both good and bad reviews, but if my tank is showing no progress, what have I got to lose?
Any input would be appreciated. I don't know what to do!
Ammonia in fishless cycle must be added daily to maintain the 3 to 5 ppm did you do this? What are readings for ammonia and nitrAtes?
Without daily source of ammonia,the cycle will stall.
I have in the past used a pinch of fish food daily to supply ammonia for bacteria to feed on and it works well.
Are you certain that you did not miss the nitrite spike? this can happen if water is not closely monitored. Would also take care not to wash the filter material in anything but dechlorinated water or old water that you take out during water changes. Replacing the filter material or cleaning it in tapwater containing chlorine,can remove or deplete the needed bacteria that you are trying to establish.
I haven't needed to add ammonia daily because the level is always at 3-5ppm. I added this much at the start and it has stayed at 3-5ppm for the entire cycle. If it went down, I would have added more to maintain 3-5 but it has not fluctuated. I tested for ammonia and nitrite everyday and ammonia has always been 3-5 and nitrite has always been 0. You mentioned nitrates, which I have not tested for because I haven't seen a nitrite spike yet. I have no idea how I could have missed this (I have been checking everyday, sometimes even two times a day).
Wow... my mind is blown... I just tested for nitrates. 10-20ppm. Ammonia still has not changed, and is currently 3-5. Nitrites are still 0 (has not changed since the beginning of the cycle). How is this possible?!
In my view the fact that you have nitrAtes means that ammonia is being processed but without steady source in the form of fish food ,or waste from fishes there would be no source of food for the bacteria to process and it would die off unless you have maybe been performing water changes with tapwater containing ammonia.
If tapwater does not contain ammonia and no water changes are taking place,then I too am confused as to where the ammonia you are measuring is coming from unless as stated, it is false reading.
Although it's a different situation entirely, when I was mistaken enough to end up in the middle of a fish in cycle, with my three goldfish in a ten gallon tank, I had plenty of ammonia(although it was being replenished, and not a steady number) and I did not see a single nitrite or nitrate for over a month and a half, then all of a sudden I had a little bit of both.
I know you're in a fishless cycle so it's a tad different, but just thought I would share what little experience I had.
I tested my tank water on all three levels again:
I also tested a sample of tap water + Prime:
So I guess I found the source of the nitrates? I've never even heard of nitrate in tap water... :-?
Now I'm back at square one. Are these nitrates affecting my cycle? If everything goes to plan, I should just have an extremely high amount of nitrates at the end, right? Or are they affecting the ammonia-eating bacteria from converting ammonia to nitrite?
Yea dude, i never got a nitrite spike cuz I used a bacteria in a bottle from Tetra, can't remember what it was called, but the cycle takes some time, it's annoying I know, my first tank JUST finally cycled completely and I started it in January! My second tanks is about done and that STILL took 2 months!
My apologies if you think I am doubting your abilities to perform tests correctly, this was not my intent.
Some bacterial supplements can go bad sitting on store shelves and then they become little more than ammonia producing organics. If one of these products is being used ,it could be source of ammonia readings if indeed it has went bad.
If tank held fish before and or snails are present ,then this too might be source of ammonia readings.
Dead or decaying plants might also affect ammonia readings.
For now ,I might assume the ammonia readings are accurate and if all is working as it should,then at some point, the bacteria will consume the ammonia present and you will need to add more in the way of raw, liquid,or as mentioned,fish food .
Could also toss a few trumpet snails in the tank and feed them a pinch of food every other day . This would provide a source of ammonia (fish food) and snails would also provide ammonia through waste (poop).
Do be sure and not let ammonia test set too long before taking a reading,I believe it is five minutes.
do also keep in mind that the filter and material in the filter,,, are where the majority of the good bacteria will develop. Is important that the filter is running continuously and that the material inside is protected by not replacing it too soon or by cleaning it with tapwater which may contain chlorine and or chloramines which will have neagative effect on the growth of needed bacteria.
Your tank may be just very slow maturing.
Hope some of this helps.
Though, I'm not quite sure why you are recommending I use fish food or snails to produce the ammonia. I have ammonia in there, pure ammonia. I put it in my tank. Is it different from what fish food and snail waste would break down into?
My pH is actually a whopping 8.2!
I don't think my ammonia readings are being affected by anything. My tank is brand new, I only use silk plants, etc.
Don't worry, I won't be doing anything to my filter any time soon. Even though the package says to replace every 2-4 weeks, I read on here that it's completely unnecessary to do it that often.
Do you think because my tank is brand new and the fact that I don't have live plants or anything to seed the tank with, that it is cycling slower than normal? I see from posts above that it took some people 2+ months. I've heard many people doing it in just a few weeks though!
I'm going to wait another week and then try Nutrafin Cycle for a couple of weeks. If that doesn't work, then I'm going to start over doing a fish-in cycle.
The recommendation of fish food,and or snails fed every couple days, are just ways to introduce ammonia for the bacteria to feed on without placing fish in the tank. The ammonia is just from different source than using raw liquid.
In my expierience, nitrites usually show up around the two week mark and it could be that your 5 gal tank is just maturing more slowly which has also been my expierience with smaller than ten gal tanks.
Have also heard of those who use the liquid ammonia method mistakenly using ammonia that contains surfactants (detergents), and it is unclear to me what effect this would have on cycling but in any event,,it is not good for fishes.
Assuming you are only placing one Betta in the Aquarium should you decide to start over with fish in method, and the filter is left alone for three to four weeks ,and perhaps DAILY water changes are performed ,along with not overfeeding the one betta, then eventually, the tanks filter would build up the needed bacteria to process the waste created by the fish. Is important if you go this way, to monitor the ammonia levels daily and feed the fish sparingly so that ammonia created by fish foods offered along with waste created by the fish ,don't reach dangerous levels. Anything above .25 is harmful and by changing the water using a good dechlorinator such as PRIME that will detoxify the ammonia,chlorine,and chloramines any time the ammonia and or nitrites reach level above .25 ,,the fish will be more comfortable. The problem lies in small bodies of water that do not have dilution capabilities of waste created by the fish that larger tanks do. If you were to take a drop of food coloring and place a drop in a glass of water, and then place a drop in a bucket of water you would see that the glass of water turns much darker than the larger bucket of water. Same principal applies with fish waste (poop) which registers as ammonia. Add to this the food that is added each day and ammonia levels in smaller tanks become much more toxic more quickly than they do in larger aquariums. Also add to the equation the many folks who keep too many fish in these smaller tanks, and some who keep fish such as bettas without filters that develop the bacteria,,, and many fish become sick and die from the effects of swimming daily in their own waste(ammonia)
Am pleased that you have a filter and heater for your tank. You demonstrate to me,, the caring for the fishes welfare that some don't.
I am not a fan of most cycle in a bottle products but to each their own. If I were to decide to place the fish in the tank, I would do 100 perecent water change before placing the fish in the tank with fresh water using a dechlorinator mentioned for the new water added. I would feed the one betta a small amount of food perhaps every other day while monitoring the ammonia and nitrites. If either of these rose to level abve.25 I would perform a water change of perhaps a gallon, to two gallons to lower them .
Feeding the fish sparingly will keep the levels from getting out of hand too quickly which as mentioned ,happens more quickly in smaller tanks.
My signature indicates clean water as best medicine. By clean water,,I mean water clean from all toxins such as ammonia,nitrites,and or unneeded chemicals. Water can appear very clean and still hold toxins that harm the fish. You can never go wrong performing water changes to remove waste so long as water is close to same temp of the tank, close to same pH,and a proper water conditioner such as the one mentioned is used for the new water that you add.
Once your tank has matured or (cycled) then once weekly water change will be all that is needed assuming that the tank does not become crowded with too many fish.
Hang in there, could be as mentioned that your tank is developing much slower and should you decide to begin again with fish in method,,then the above may prove useful.
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