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Susan21 03-04-2011 09:13 PM

Please Help With Cycling New Tank
 
I got a new 20 gal tank (bio-wheel and carbon filter) for Christmas. I set up the tank and put fish in, because I didnít know any better. A few days later I read about the nitrogen cycle. Regrettably, that was too late. I started to test water daily using API liquid test kit.

For the first 5 weeks, everything (ammonia, nitrite) was zero every day. PH was constant at 7.4, and still is. I was doing 15% water changes once a week, adding de-chlorinator to the tap water. After 5 weeks, ammonia rose from 0 to 0.5, then 1.0, then 2.0, in the space of days. I started doing more frequent water changes. That was five weeks ago. In the past 5 weeks, ammonia has remained at or above 1.0 every day (most of the time itís at or above 2.0). Strangely enough, the fish are fine. I have 5 platys and 2 guppies. Nobodyís dying and thereís no signs of stress. Nitrites and nitrates are 0 (always have been), but ammonia readings are very high. I tested my tap waterÖit contains no ammonia.

I keep reading conflicting information. Some say when ammonia is this high, you should do large water changesÖothers say small water changes. Some say add chemicalsÖothers say stay away from chemicals. Everything Iíve read says you should start seeing nitrites after a few days of the ammonia spike, but not so in my case. Itís been 5 weeks with high ammonia and still no nitrites. For the past few weeks, Iíve been doing 10%-15% water changes every other day (sometimes daily) and Iím only using de-chlorinator (no other chemicals).

Should I keep doing what Iím doing and just wait? Any other suggestions? If you need any other info, Iím happy to provide. Thanks in advance.

gingerael 03-04-2011 11:05 PM

My recommendation is that you do your water changes less frequently, like once per week. If you are changing your water too frequently your tank will not settle. One of the other things I have noticed in aquarium keeping is that having live plants helps to keep your tank pretty self-sustaining and you can limit water changes to once a month or even more.

guppylover88 03-04-2011 11:06 PM

Actually ammonia can come from a variety of causes. One may be because you overfeed. I personally think the only cause is you overfeeding. You can try feeding just enough so that there will be no leftovers.

Susan21 03-04-2011 11:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by guppylover88 (Post 609310)
Actually ammonia can come from a variety of causes. One may be because you overfeed. I personally think the only cause is you overfeeding. You can try feeding just enough so that there will be no leftovers.

I was worried that perhaps I was underfeeding. I keep reading that all of the food should be eaten in 5 minutes. Since I'm cycling, I'm trying to feed them less than normal, so I give them a tiny "pinch" of flakes once a day...all of the flakes are eaten in less than 1 minute (roughly). I'm the only person living here, so it's not possible that anyone else is feeding them.

1077 03-05-2011 04:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Susan21 (Post 609321)
I was worried that perhaps I was underfeeding. I keep reading that all of the food should be eaten in 5 minutes. Since I'm cycling, I'm trying to feed them less than normal, so I give them a tiny "pinch" of flakes once a day...all of the flakes are eaten in less than 1 minute (roughly). I'm the only person living here, so it's not possible that anyone else is feeding them.

Were it me,, I would feed as you have been,change water once a week using a dechlorinator such as Prime or Amquel + and put ammonia test away.
Would also be sure that I left the filter alone for the next three weeks. If you aren't overfeeding,then the filter should remain relatively clean. Should the filter material need cleaning however,,ALWAYS clean it in old aquarium water you take out during water changes NOT tapwater.
If this tank has been set up since Christmas, and fishes are still alive,,All is well.

Susan21 03-05-2011 07:51 AM

OK...Well that's two people (gingerael and 1077) who have suggested weekly water changes, so that's what I'll do. I've only cleaned the filter twice in the 10 weeks I've had the tank and both times I did so in the water I took out of the aquarium. But I'll leave the filter alone for the next 3 weeks...it's not dirty anyway. I've never cleaned the bio-wheel, and I'll leave it alone too.

One question, up until now, I've been changing the water daily or every other day, but vacuuming the gravel about once a week...the other times I just syphon the water without vacuuming. So, when I do the weekly water changes, should I also be vacuuming the gravel, or just syphoning the water out?

gingerael 03-05-2011 10:26 PM

you should probably cut the gravel vacuuming down to once a month

LasColinasCichlids 03-05-2011 11:14 PM

How long after you had the tank set up did you start doing water parameter tests? If your tank was set up for 3 or more weeks, it could be possible that the cycle took place and there is some alterior reason for the ammonia spikes.

As for the biowheel...you dont have to clean it, if you do it will remove the biologicals on it.

1077 03-06-2011 12:20 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Susan21 (Post 609504)
OK...Well that's two people (gingerael and 1077) who have suggested weekly water changes, so that's what I'll do. I've only cleaned the filter twice in the 10 weeks I've had the tank and both times I did so in the water I took out of the aquarium. But I'll leave the filter alone for the next 3 weeks...it's not dirty anyway. I've never cleaned the bio-wheel, and I'll leave it alone too.

One question, up until now, I've been changing the water daily or every other day, but vacuuming the gravel about once a week...the other times I just syphon the water without vacuuming. So, when I do the weekly water changes, should I also be vacuuming the gravel, or just syphoning the water out?

If not overfeeding,or overstocked, substrate won't get too dirty. Vaccuming one third of the tank during water changes, and a different one third each week ,would be what I would do.;-)

Susan21 03-06-2011 08:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LasColinasCichlids (Post 610266)
How long after you had the tank set up did you start doing water parameter tests? If your tank was set up for 3 or more weeks, it could be possible that the cycle took place and there is some alterior reason for the ammonia spikes.

As for the biowheel...you dont have to clean it, if you do it will remove the biologicals on it.

I started testing about a week after I had the tank set up, although I was initially using the strips (the sticks that you dip in the water). For the first five weeks, everything read 0. After about 5 weeks, the strips started showing ever-increasing ammonia, so I bought the API liquid test kit to make sure the strips were right...but the liquid test only confirmed the strip readings. I also test weekly for nitrates (shake, shake, shake!) and they still read 0. So, as much as I'd love to think I've already cycled, I don't think that's the case...since presumably I would have at least some nitrates if I had cycled.

Thanks for the tip on the biowheel!


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