Attempting to fishless cycle, am I doing this right?
I have a 20 gallon hexagonal tank and have been in the process of setting it up and aquiring pieces for it for about a month and have had water (treated to remove chlorine and chloromine), gravel, a few fake plants, filter and heater in it for about two weeks. I also bought something called Start Zyme by Jungle which said it was used to stablilize the benifical bacteria in a new tank. I also have the API freshwater master test kit. My readings are pH: 7.6, Nitrate 0, Nitrite 0, but my ammonia is 4.0 ppm! Could the Start Zyme be the cause of such a high ammonia level? I've been testing water for about a week and there has been no change and the above conditions have remained steady. I want to attempt to establish my tank without harming any innocent fish in the process. I'm not sure I'm doing this right though. What should my next course of action be?
Also, when I do pick fish to put in the tank what would some reccomendations be? I don't really want to mess around with the pH as I've heard so long as the pH is steady fish can adapt to a higher pH and attempting to mess with the chemistry can spell disaster for the fish.
I have never used Start Zyme but when i do fishless cycles. i usually feed my tank flakes or something. usually wait till the ammonia gets about 5ppm. and then watch it as it spikes in nitrites then spikes in nitrates. until then you just have to wait. as for your fish, it is easier to post a fish wish list. that way the members on the forums can help you pick. if you have high hard water then i suggest something more in that area. like-wise soft water. its just easier.
I had similar experience with using tetra safe start. My ammonia levels from my test kit were elevated for 2 weeks after adding the product. I believe that it was on the second or third day I started to get nitrate readings. 2 weeks later my nitrites spiked, ammonia was still reading same level ( which I think had been turned to ammonium since the live meter in the tank was not picking anything up but the liquid test did) and my nitrate levels had been elevated. After doing some water changes ammonia was 0 nitrite was 0 and nitrates at 20. As said above you should see ammonia spike followed by nitrite spike, and then nitrates. As long as there are no fish in the tank I would allow things to take its course and monitor your parameters allowing the tank to cycle. I am sure others will have more insight to give you:-)
We also need to consider the tap water. Have you tested it for ammonia? Also for nitrite and nitrate, just to know. And what is the pH and hardness of the tap water? The latter you can find out from the water supply people, they may have a website with water quality/data posted. Knowing this to help us determined what may occur biologically and then suitable fish possibilities are easier to determine. Many fish are somewhat adaptable, some are not. We can sort this out once we have the afore-mentioned info.
And, welcome to TFK forum. Nice to have you with us.:-)
I actually just tested my tap water and my ammonia levels are 2.0 ppm. So that is most definatly the problem. What are my options? or rather what is the cheapest but most effective way of eliminating ammonia in tap water? I get a flat reading of zero on Nitrates and Nitrites for my tap and my pH of 7.6 is also the same as in my tank.
First on the ammonia and cycling. You need a source of ammonia to start the cycle; many use some fish flake food, just a bit, added every day. The ammonia in the tap water may work here, I'm not sure as I have never had this and I always cycle with live plants.
The Jungle Start Zyme I am not familiar with; their website says it contains bacteria to jump-start the cycling, and they also say it breaks down sludge. The latter process will produce ammonia. I am not one who recommends messing with the natural bacteria in aquaria. Once the tank is established, the bacteria needed to break down organics will be there. I have no issue with pure bacterial supplements, though I cannot say if this one is true to its claim. I do know that Seachem's Stability and Tetra's Safe Start are both 100% live bacteria, and they do work to help start (not replace) the nitrifying cycle.
As for the ammonia in the tap water, with each water change you will need a conditioner that detoxifies ammonia. Some do, but not all; they will say this on the label. This will handle the initial influx of ammonia, and by the time the conditioner has exhaused itself (around 24 hours it will cease to be effective) the bacteria will have multiplied to handle things.
Your pH will work for many fish, but I still would like to know the hardness as this will tell us if the pH is likely to lower over time. The hardness is important for fish too, so we do need to find this out. Your water supply people will have this; no point wasting money on a hardness test that you will only use once.
Considering the information I've been given would it just be better to drain the tank and start again without the Start Zyme and add a few live plants? I did just test my water again and while my pH and Ammonia are still the same (7.6 and 4.0, respectively) I now have a Nitrite and Nitrate reading. My Nitrite is 2.0ppm and my Nitrate is 5.0 ppm. Shouldn't my Ammonia levels be dropping now that In have a No2 and No3 reading??
I also checked my city's website and it say our water here is "moderatly soft" at between 4-6 grains or 70-120 mg per liter.
You can add live plants at any time.
The hardness numbers do indeed indicate very soft to soft water. This means the pH once the tank is established should lower naturally. Soft water fish would be the best choice. You have plenty of options from among the characins, cyprinids, catfish; just keep the tank size in mind. Most of these are shoaling fish that require groups. There are many "dwarf" species which will allow more fish in your tank for a most active or interesting display.
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