Small tank cycling question - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 8 Old 06-28-2014, 04:59 PM Thread Starter
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Small tank cycling question

So I started a 5 gal two days ago, rinsed my substrate and added water and set up lighting/filter/heating and added decorations, I used stones and a few seashells, all of which I boiled for a while and scrubbed. On the water I used a conditioner and 'stability' which says it's just bacteria. Yesterday I added some fish food and took measurements a little while later and there was very little (.25 ppm) ammonia and no nitrates or nitrites. I tested the ammonia later that day and there was still very little. So my first questions - is that normal? How do I jump start the cycle or is that how it reads when it's just starting?

The other thing was the pH was really high when I tested it, between 7.8 and 8 and I couldn't figure out why because my tapwater is only 7.2, would the conditioner have one that?
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post #2 of 8 Old 06-28-2014, 10:36 PM Thread Starter
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can anybody help with the pH thing? I'm so confused...
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post #3 of 8 Old 06-29-2014, 02:56 PM
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It would have to be the conditioner if that's the only other variable, but I haven't heard of any doing that either. You can get pH tabs that will lower it. My tanks sit around 7.5 and the fish are fine, but 8 is definitely high, though there are fish that prefer a higher range.

Not going to lie, I did it the risky way and got a few hardy fish to jump start the cycle. (Actually, they weren't hardy fish, but I don't recommend using frail fish like I did at any rate). That got the cycle moving a bit faster. Not generally recommended though.

2 days isn't really enough time for things to get going. A fishless cycle can take up to 6 weeks for nitrates to be the most common. Keep adding the fish food on a regular basis, perhaps add a bit more to get things going a bit faster. How does the ammonia level in the tank compare to the ammonia level in your tap water? The food may also take a little bit to break down, especially in a new tank.

Just a small fish in the great big sea.
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post #4 of 8 Old 07-02-2014, 06:45 AM
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Seashells harden the water and generally raise the pH. Plants, IAL (Indian Almond Leaf) and peat moss lower pH if your buffer is not too strong. Test your KH (carbonate hardness),

Tank pH is sometimes higher than tapwater pH because any CO2 in the tapwater under pressure is released to atmosphere. CO2 lowers pH. Let a tub of tapwater sit for a day, then test.

Higher pH, in the >7.8pH range, is preferred by the cycling bacteria.
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post #5 of 8 Old 07-02-2014, 11:10 AM Thread Starter
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I've added peat moss and it's not doing too much but it's helping, the tank is a week old now so it's still cycling, should I just leave the pH until it's farther through the cycle? Should I wait to plant the tank then as well? I have a windelov java and anubias nana sitting in my fridge waiting but I don't want to plant them in water that will just kill them.

I took most of the seashells out because I assumed that might be the issue and it's still high. If my test kit didn't come with a KH test how could I do that? Is it a separate test?
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post #6 of 8 Old 07-03-2014, 06:39 AM
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Your LFS should be able to test your KH (Carbonate Hardness. See if they'll test your GH (General Hardness) too.

Your pH is fine for cycling and OK for your livestock.

Plant whenever you want. But Java fern and Anubias are not fast-growing enough to effect your cycle nor your pH. They are easy care and look great, and your fish will love them.
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post #7 of 8 Old 07-14-2014, 12:57 AM Thread Starter
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Ok the pH seems to fluctuate which seems weird to me but I'm betting is because of water changes, a few hours after my water change today it was wayyyy higher and I changes closer to 40% of my water because I'm having a tannin problem I'm trying to get rid of. Right now it's closer to 8 but last week it was 7.4, I have peat moss running in the filter and have for probably two weeks.

Right now I have ~.25 ppm ammonia, 5-10ppm nitrites, and 5ppm nitrates, I'm guessing that means I'm in the middle of the cycle? The tank's been up for three weeks now, does that sound right? What will the levels look like when it's finished?
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post #8 of 8 Old 07-14-2014, 06:10 AM
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That sounds like a tank that's actively cycling. Change water whenever nitrite gets >5.0ppm. Higher than that can slow or stall the cycle. Don't worry about nitrate.

Keep on with what you're doing. You're on the way to a cycled tank.

A cycled tank reads 0.0ppm ammonia, 0.0ppm nitrite and shows a slight increase in nitrate every week.
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5 gal , cycling , ph levels , question , small tank

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