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NUTNDUN 07-14-2010 09:49 PM

Need help, our 29 gal tank refuses to cycle.
We have had our 29 gallon tank now for about 3 weeks. We made the newbie mistake of getting a tank and fish all at once instead of cycling first. We had a different filter/pump on it originally but the filter needed changed and that is when I did some reading and found that the Aqua Clear 50 would be better then the pump we had. I took the filter bag from the old pump and put it on the back side of the AC hoping it would help with the bacteria.

For some reason though the amonia is staying at 4.0 ppm and still no nitrites for the last two weeks. Shouldn't this thing cycle by now or at least show some signs of nitrites? I have been doing a partial water change every 5 days. We have three decorations in the tank and gravel, no live plants. The ph is 7.6, high range ph is 7.6 and amonia is 4.0. We have one of the ACT master test kits.

Any help would be appreciated, thanks.

Byron 07-14-2010 11:37 PM

Hi, and welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.

First I am going to suggest you read the "sticky" on cycling; stickies are important or very useful articles on this and that which appear at the head of the relevant section of the forum. This one is at the head of this section, Freshwater Aquarium, but here is the direct link:

Cycling can take from 2 to 8 weeks normally, under adequate conditions. I take it there are fish in this tank. If the ammonia is really at 4 I am amazed they are still alive; are they showing signs of stress (rapid respiration, red gills, hanging sort of gasping at the surface for air? Most of us recommend partial water changes daily to keep ammonia below .25, same for nitrite when it appears. The internal damage that can usually occur with ammonia poisoning may not kill certain fish immediately, but can cause other health issues and premature death later on.

What water conditioner are you using? Some detoxify ammonia, one (Seachem's Prime) also detoxifies nitrite. This would help during cycling. By ACT test kit do you maybe mean API? If yes, it is a reliable kit (the liquid one).

As there are fish in the tank, and no live plants (these aid in cycling) I would strongly recommend a bacterial supplement to aid in establishing the bacteria. It is what we call "seeding", when live bacteria is added to jump-start the bacteria colony in the new tank; bacteria from existing established tanks is often used, by using "dirty" filter media, wood and decor moved over, gravel; but in the absence of an established tank for bacteria a supplement will do the same. Seachem make one called Stability, I have used it and I know it works, it is 100% live bacteria. Tetra also make one called SafeStart, it is also 100% bacteria. There are a couple others that may be OK, but these two I recommend. A small bottle will suffice, you only add it daily for a week or so.

I or others may have more comments when we know the above info.


bgkfish lady30 07-15-2010 12:47 AM

good luck to ya

iamntbatman 07-15-2010 04:04 AM

Agreed with what's been said, but I want to stress that with ammonia that high I would start doing 50% water changes until the ammonia goes down to unreadable or barely readable levels (i.e. 0.25 ppm or less).

What sort of fish do you have in the tank, and how many of each type?

NUTNDUN 07-15-2010 05:03 AM

I don't know the specific names of the fish but I will do my best. One is a cory cat, one is a bleeding heart tetra, there are two neon orange tetras, a little red tailed shark, a mollie, and one sucker, her is black with white spots and two fancy tail guppies.

The one neon orange tetra is showing some signs of stress with red gills. The other ones all seem to be doing fine. We have been using Aqueon water conditioner, says on the bottle that it also detoxifies amonia and other heavy metals. Maybe this is why they are still alive?

We did get a product called TLC Smart Start from the local pet store. It didn't seem to make a difference. Yes it is the API liquid test kit.

We are probably actually going on 4 weeks now, I just thought nitrites would have started showing by now. I will start doing partial water changes daily and get the ammonia levels down.

Byron 07-15-2010 04:30 PM

I checked the SmartStart online (don't know it personally), their claim it cycles a tank immediately is next to impossible impossible unless you have one small fish in the 29g. Bacterial supplements add live bacteria (this one claims to be that, the two I mentioned certainly are) to jump-start the growth of the bacteria, but they do not cycle the tank instantly. Plants can do that.

Yes, the red gills is ammonia poisoning. And yes, the conditioner probably has helped. Conditioners that detoxify ammonia tend to do so for about 24 hours, maybe 48, then they wear out. So a daily water change of 50% of the tank until the ammonia is below .25 is advisable, using your conditioner. Same if nitrite appears. The biological supplement should get this going faster than otherwise, but I can't say more on this product.

You have some issues with your fish selection but I'll leave that until we have the tank cycled. Some will likely die along the way. Don't mean to be brutal, but if red gills are showing the ammonia is obviously taking its toll and some fish esp characins (tetra) that are highly sensitive to such things will not usually last long. Ammonia affects the gills and the fish basically suffocate.


NUTNDUN 07-15-2010 08:05 PM

I appreciate the help. I did a partial water change last night before making my first post and then this morning I did a 50% water change. I will do a daily 50% water change as suggested to get the ammonia down. I will see if the pet stores around here have the bio starters that you suggest.

Romad 07-15-2010 09:19 PM

Do you have a reliable LFS nearby? After 6 weeks of trying to cycle my 45 gallon (fishless), my LFS gave me a blob of some of their filter medium from one of their established HEALTHY tanks and I threw it in my filter. My tank was cycled within 2 days after that.

Good luck.

Tyyrlym 07-16-2010 02:29 PM

I recommend against any of the snake oil you buy that's supposed to cycle your tank for you. Yes, I've tried some and no, it made no difference. The conditions to keep bacteria alive from the bottling plant to your tank are stringent and with no regulation in place to ensure them they're unlikely to be met. Also, depending on the supplement you buy they might not even be seeding the correct type of bacteria.

I'm a big fan of seeding filter media from established thanks. I've done that with two fish tanks so far and seen rapid cycling, a week each for a quarantine tank and an office tank. It's a method that will get the right kind of bacteria in your tank immediately. If you've got any fish keeping friends ask them for a bit of filter media or even talk to the shop about it (though I'd be wary about anything moving their water to your tank.)

NUTNDUN 07-17-2010 06:15 AM

I need to see what else I can find for a LFS. Maybe see if they can do anything as far as giving me a little of their seeded filter media or something.

We lost the cory cat this morning. I didn't get a chance to do the 50% water exchange yesterday after work but just did it this morning. That is when I noticed Louie the cory cat floating upside down. I noticed someone mentioned we had a poor choice of fish to have together, can someone elaborate on that? I want more cory cats as I love the little things and I know they should be grouped together in 6 or more. I am not adding fish till this tank is finally cycled. I am going to try and see what live plants I can find to add to the tank also. Anyone have suggestions?

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