Did I screw up my tanks Cycling after 7 weeks....
So i'm doing a fish-in cycle on my 20g tank, I bought half my stock for the tank before I knew about cycling.
I originally had 5 Harlequin Rasboros, 3 albino cory catfish, 20 ghost shrimp. During the cycling process i've lost all my shrimp, 1 harlequin and 1 catfish.
It took almost 4 weeks for nitrites to show up, 3 days later they spiked to 5ppm and pretty much stayed at that level even with daily water changes for two weeks. One day last week (starting week 6) I tested the water and it was 0ppm ammonia and 5ppm nitrite and 5ppm nitrate, did a 30% water change like normal and tested it again a few hours later and the ammonia was .25, nitrites .50, and nitrates still 5ppm
So I thought my tank was finishing the cycle and was super psyched, i've been testing my water everyday since then with no water changes and nitrates have been stuck at 5ppm still, nitrites slowly diminished to 0ppm, but now ammonia is rising again and it's now all the way up to 1ppm. WHAT GIVES!
Does this mean my tank is cycling over again? I'm almost ready to give up if so. I have an AquaClear 50 filter with a sponge, carbon, biomax bag. A little over a week ago I swapped out the Carbon with a secondary biomax bag to help with bacteria growth. Did this screw up my cycle?
On a cycled tank the numbers you should be seeing is ammonia 0 nitrites 0 and nitrates 20 or lesswith a reading of nitrates. Have you tested your water source for ammonia or nitrites? What water conditioner are you using? Also do you have any live plants in the tank? With ammonia and nitrites levels of .25 I would be doing water changes of at least 30-40%. Also have you done anything to the filter especially after the nitrates dropping? Changed the filter media or cleaned it?
Sounds like you are very enthusiastic. I don't think you've screwed up so much as set a precedent for learning. You've had a lot going on in there with the mass die off and water changes. I'd suggest you slow it down a little bit and test less often. Once a week at this point should be sufficient. Twice if you must. It is normal to have fluctuations like the ones you are seeing during a cycle process. And it's normal for tanks to have mini cycles periodically after any big changes. I would leave things as they are and relax. One lesson we have all learned is there is no substitute for good ol fashioned patience. The tank will do all the work now.
Hi BarbH is right.... have you tested your tap water, or whatever water you are using to refill your tank? Mine is .25 ammonia always right out of the tap so a water change for me puts ammonia in the tank. Just be aware of what the start point is for the new water.
And I agree. Only bad things happen fast in a tank. You must take your time, cycling takes 6 to 8 weeks assuming we don't disrupt the process by making changes in the 8 weeks. Pulling the carbon will not cause a mini cycle.... rinsing the remaining filter media in chlorinated tap water, thinking you are just rinsing the media, will cause a mini cycle. As long as you only added more media you should be fine. Be sure to always rinse the old media in de-chlor water or old tank water from your water change. Most of that stuff does not need to be replaced, just rinse and re-use.
Good luck... be patient.
all i can say is DO YOUR RESEARCH!!!!!!!!
PS. why did you buy so much shrimp
pps. what person working at the fish store is so stupid to let you make such a mistake??????????????
you sound like me when i got my first tank with all of the mass murders!!!!!!!!!!!!!!............
Shrimp were $.20 a piece and have a very small bio load and good at keeping the tank clean, I planned on getting rid of the ghost shrimp when the tank was cycled for some crystal red shrimp so it wasn't really a loss... i'm pretty happy only 2 of my fish died during the process.
So I just checked the ammonia/nitrites again and now both are at 0... haven't done a water change in 4 days.
Going to check it again tomorrow, looks like I stressed out too soon, I may indeed be at the end of my cycle.
What was the level on your nitrates? If everything is good tomorrow with ammonia at 0 nitrites at 0 and nitrates 20 or under Then I would say that it is cycled. You may want to continue to check the numbers for awhile before you do your weekly water changes just to make sure that eveything is good. Otherwise it sounds like you have made it through the cycling process. Are you planning on adding any more fish to this tank?
"Drop the test kit citizen and step away."
You seem to be obsessing over numbers that mean little or nothing. Other than an ammonia monitor, I don't have a test kit! I cycled my 60g without one, but I did bio-seed with gravel from my established 10g w/UGF.
As mentioned, if you must test, do so only weekly and record the results so you can see the trends. Otherwise, just do a weekly water change of 25-50%. Gravel siphoning is recommended if you do not have living plants. Your aquarium should be stable after 4-8 weeks and considered 'established' in 4-6 months.
During the early phases of N2 cycle, I used an Seachem ammonia monitor and at about the time there was a hint of a color change about 3 weeks in, I noticed signs of slight stress in my two Platys. I immediately did a 50% water change which removed the ammonia spike and since then, the tank stabilized.
I also suggest a good water conditioner. I now use Prime, even though I have non-chlorinated well water. I believe StressCoat is another good conditioner, but it adds aloe which may or may not be a slight detriment to some bio-ceramic media. Prime detoxifies Ammonia, Nitrite AND Nitrate making cycling almost a non-issue. Prime also neutralizes heavy metals.
You would also see advantage in living plants. As Byron is often quick to point out, given enough living plants, cycling does not occur and does not need to as the plants consume the ammonia.
Depending on the bio-load, this may require a LOT of plants to a very modest fish stock.
HOWEVER, lets not discount the fact that with a couple of bunches of floating plants, we can likely overcome the potential of an ammonia spike and aid the cycling process.
So there is an abbreviated recipe for cycle success. I hope some of these tips help... :-)
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