Cycling My Tank - No Clue What to Do Now
I'm sure a lot of this has been covered in previous posts, but I also realize that each situation is different and I'm hoping somebody can help me (assuming I have a problem). I simply can't get the tank to cycle. Using the API Freshwater Master Test Kit, my ammonia readings are generally between 0.25 ppm and 0.50 ppm (maybe slightly higher before a water change). I never get readings for nitrites or nitrates and it's been about seven weeks now. Details to follow:
I just bought my very first tank (55 gallon) in December and set it up right after Christmas. It's a family tank and my son is in charge of the decorations. We added black gravel (with a little white mixed in), some fake plants, and a few store-bought items like a volcano and house with a wheel. We have two heaters and a Penguin 3000 filter (I think that's what it was - supposed to be suitable for up to 70 gallons).
The first thing I read about starting a tank was to cycle it with fish. So, that's what I did. I bought six platies. After a couple weeks, two of them died. The rest seem to still be doing fine even after seven weeks or so. I also ignorantly listened to a pet shop owner a couple weeks ago who told me it was OK to buy a koi angelfish. While I now regret the purchase, the angelfish seems to be doing fine and the five fish are living harmoniously in the aquarium.
I feed them flake food once per day - usually about 7 p.m. or so. I try not to overfeed them, but I think I may be doing so (slightly). When I feed them, they seem to eat a bit. Usually a couple flakes don't get eaten, but not many and I try to give them less so this doesn't happen.
Up until this week, I've been doing two water changes per week - typically about 20%. I tried to do them when the ammonia level hit 0.50 ppm. The first few weeks, the ammonia level would typically go down to 0.25 ppm after a water change. Now, it seems to stay right around 0.50 ppm.
The pH level usually went down after a water change after adding the salt conditioner stuff (fluctuating between 7.0 and 7.8); however, the last week or so, the pH has been 7.6 or higher. I just did a water change last night and the pH is still over 7.6. If it gets too much higher, that would be really bad for the fish, right???
The last detail I can think of is that I recently changed the filter pads in the filter. I read somwhere recently that I shouldn't have did that and I may have killed any beneficial bacteria in the tank. When I changed the filters, I did run water from the tank through them, but didn't save any of the old filter to put behind the new filters or anything like that.
So, after all that long-winded explanation (and thanks for reading that far and putting up with me if you've made it this far), am I just being impatient? Am I doing something wrong? What should I do? Do I need more fish? Less fish? Different fish? Do I need chemicals?
Any advice or help would be greatly appreciated. I look forward to having a nice, healthy tank for my son and family. If I ever get this right, I'd love to start a smaller tank, too.
Also, I forgot to mention that I had originally read not to leave the light on too much and not too use bubble features; however, I recently read that these things, along with warmer temperatures, help cycle the tank. I had been leaving the tank right around 77-78 degrees, but recently I slowly elevated the temperature to 79-80 degrees (which seems a bit high to me). I also leave the light on more and run the bubble feature. Is this good or bad? Should I change any of these practices?
is it a fish in tank cycle or fishless ? the temp is good at 80f also yes keep the air bubbles in the tank running how long has the tank been cycling so far also use prime as a water conditioner
you should never change the filter media while your cycling the tank leave it alone also if using fish to cycle i would use mollies or danios and try not to over feed the ammoia is normakl while the tank is in cycle mode do water changes everyday or as needed you should see nitrites soon treat nitrites like ammonis do 25 to 50% water changes then you will start to see nitates as the bb sets in the filter never let the nitates levels reach higher then 40ppm good luck( PRIME) is a great water conditioner
Where you went wrong is when you changed the media in your filter. When you did that you removed all of the good bacteria that had developed in your tank. Putting it back in now will do little good because once the bacteria is out of water and it is without a food source it dies. I hate to say this but you are going to have to start your cycle all over again. Refer to this guide for more efficient ways of cycling your tank. Goodluck!
Your welcome. O well yes then your cycle should have already started again. But keep us posted and don't be afraid to ask any questions you have. Goodluck!
Well every tank is different. Sometimes your tank might completely cycle in 3 weeks, other tanks can take up to 8 or 9. I am cycling my tank right now using pure ammonia. I am two weeks into it and I am starting to see nitrates so I am getting close. Each tank is different though. I would say no more than another week until you start getting readings for nitrites. But keep in mind that is just a guess and I could be completely wrong. But what is your ammonia level at?
I think it was about three weeks until I saw nitrites. As blabomb said, it varies. I've only one thing to add and that's to do more water changes when you have readings for ammonia, every day if necessary.
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