Tropical Fish Keeping banner
1 - 9 of 9 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
30 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi guys,
I've been cycling my 56 gal freshwater tank and it seems to be stalled. Could you please look at these parameters and tell me what you think?


4/20: filled the tank with tap water, added Amquel to remove chlorine and chloramine. Added seeded media from established tank. Ph reads at 6.4 (tap water). Heavily planted tank with live plants, 85 F. Keep two bubble stones on at all times. Fluval Aquaclear 70 overhead filter with ammonia remover filter insert and zeo-carb filter insert.
4/24: added 12.5 ml ammonia hydroxide 10% (from ACE), ammonia reads at 5 ppm.
4/26: ammonia reads at 2 ppm.
4/29: ammonia 1 ppm.
5/1: ammonia 0 ppm, nitrite 2 ppm. Upped ammonia to 4 ppm.
5/2: ammonia 0.5 ppm, upped to 4 ppm.
5/3-5/4: ammonia 0.4 ppm, nitrite 2 ppm. Upped ammonia to 4 ppm.
5/5-5/7: ammonia 1, nitrite 0.5, nitrate between 0 and 5 ppm. Upped ammonia to 4 ppm.
5/8: ammonia 2.0, nitrite 0.5. Upped ammonia to 3.5 ppm.
5/9: ammonia 1, nitrite 0.5. Upped ammonia to 3.5 ppm.
5/10: ammonia 2.0, nitrite 0.5. Upped ammonia to 3 ppm.
5/11: ammonia 2.0 (slowed down), nitrite 2, nitrate 5.0, Ph 6 (???). Noticed some plants were not doing so well and decided to keep ammonia at 2ppm for the rest of the cycle.
I have two large pieces of driftwood (were soaked multiple times in boiling water until most all tannins leached out). I also add 5 ml of Flourish for the plants every other day (planning to change it to 2.5 ml every day). Could they alter Ph so much? My another established 10 G tank reads Ph at 7.4 although I used the same tap water with Ph 6.4. How can it be? I did use some calcium supplement in the 10 G tank.

Should I keep upping ammonia to 2 ppm every day?
Should I add some crushed coral to up the Ph level?
Should I do a huge water change to keep the cycle going? I have no idea where I am and if everything is going as it should.
Should I have removed the carbon and ammonia remover filter from the power filter? Do you think they are inhibiting the cycle keeping bacteria starved?
Another problem: I could not possibly distinguish the nitrite chart colors in the brightest light. I seem to be color blind for that particular chart :) So the nitrites I've been reading could be much higher than 0.5 the whole time. I just can't tell. It all looks the same. And I also have the Seachem Ammonia Alert sticker in the tank which shows harmful ammonia being converted to not harmful within a couple of hours now, however, the liquid API test still shown total ammonia as 1 ppm or more. What does it mean for the cycle?
Thank you for your patience. Any help is GREATLY appreciated.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
30 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I checked the water in my established tank out of curiosity. The hardness reads at 120, and the alkalinity at 80. I will see if I can get a liquid test for GH and KH in a fish store.
So, do I just make water changes every day until there is no ammonia and nitrites without adding any more ammonia, and then add a few fish? I plan on housing 1 betta, a school of neon tetras and silver hatchets, a few zebra nerite snails, ghost shrimp and a smallish pleco. Maybe a small school of cherry barbs.
I really wanted to try and cycle with ammonia. Maybe keeping ammonia levels at 1-2 ppm will let me soon finish the cycle? I am afraid to add fish even if I change a lot of water and my parameters are good because it won't be completely cycled. Right now I think I am sitting in the middle of a cycle and if I stop adding a little bit of ammonia every day, I am afraid all my bacteria will die and spikes of ammonia and nitrites will start all over again once I add the first fish. Should I just take the plants out and finish cycling with ammonia?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
30 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the replies! I think my mistake was to cycle with ammonia with plants already in the tank. Next time I cycle a tank I will do it with ammonia and add the plants after the cycle ends. For now, I decided to do massive water changes to bring and keep my nitrites (sky high) down to 0.5 or less and keep ammonia level at 1 ppm or less for a couple of weeks to see if the cycle completes. I don't think I have enough plant matter in the tank for a silent cycle yet and worry about hurting the fish more than hurting the plants, but the vigorous stem plants will probably take care of that small amount of ammonia in the water. I have a lot of plants in the tank now, but they are all tiny. I used to up ammonia to 4 ppm every day and I think doing it only up to 1 ppm will make a big difference in plants' health. If everything is stable with nitrites in a few weeks, I will add a few small fish and keep up with water changes as needed.
Regarding the betta and neons, I've kept them together in a smaller tank before and they were fine, so I thought I'd try it out in a big tank. I have a small back up tank for betta in case it doesn't work out.
Researching online I saw many people getting very frustrated with nitrites that won't go down, but I am not about to give up. I just need to find that balanced approach that will work for me in current situation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
30 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you so much for your support, guys! Just an update for someone who is going through the same experience: I did a 95% water change yesterday and upped ammonia to 1 ppm. Today's parameters are: ammonia: 0 (eaten in 10 hours), ph: 6.6 (same as tap), nitrate: 80 (thank goodness), nitrite: off the chart (eww...) I was praying for a miracle, but I guess not yet. Off to the store to buy a python. Took 3 hours last night to do the water change "bucket style". I will definitely post once the nitrites are gone so that people who go through the same thing can compare.
Re: betta: yes, it's the same betta that lived with neons, cherry barbs and long finned tetras in my 10 g tank which is now converted to RCS breedery. I love him very much, he is extremely sweet (except trying to snack on cherries) and did great with all other fish. I am pretty confident he will be okay in a new tank.
Re: plants: I have a bunch of fast growing stem plants for the time being and for the sake of the hatchets I plan to get, but once they are settled, I will try to rescape the scenery a bit with a better quality plants. I am pretty limited due to my med-low light but this is how I want to keep it so no algae.
Wishing luck and patience to everyone fighting the nitrite war. Happy Mother's Day, everyone!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
30 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Jeff, the nitrates were 40 ppm last night after 95% WC and 80 ppm this morning after 1 ppm of ammonia was converted, but the thing is, I am somewhat colorblind to the color card and cannot for the love of me differentiate the colors starting from 5 and up. Same with nitrites. So it can be as low as 20 or as high as 100, I don't know. It looked like 80 to me. Anyway, I am doing another great WC as soon as python is here and hopefully will lower both nitrites and nitrates to more acceptable levels. The tap water might have a negligible amount of nitrates, I think. I am not sure. But the tap nitrites are 0, I checked.
Heck, I had my 10 g cycled in TWO weeks with a no plants, no ammonia, one betta, few water changes and no problems ever since; I am looking at this 56 g monster that is nothing but trouble and want to "loan" it to someone until this cycle is over.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
30 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Shook the heck out of both bottle and tube. Used API liquid, and my other established tank tested 0 nitrates, so drops are working good, but it has only cherries which produce tiny waste. I will try the led light, great idea! Can I ask if I should be very concerned about nitrates during the cycle? What does it mean for the cycle? I had a lot of plant debris from melted plants (ammonia overdose), could that affect the nitrates? Oh, they were reading 5 ppm (as best as I could tell) BEFORE WC. I am more and more confused.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
30 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Update: today my nitrites went down to 0.25 without additional water changes, nitrates hover at 40. I am keeping my fingers crossed and dosing ammonia to 1 ppm daily. I hope it's about to be over.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
30 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Finally!

Today the ammonia and nitrite were zero, nitrate between 40 and 80. Normally I would wait another couple of days to stabilize the tank further, but because I have live plants which already suffered from ammonia and hate to keep dosing ammonia even in small quantities, I am going to slowly start introducing fish to the tank (about 1/4 of a planned population to start with). But first, a huge water change to bring the nitrates down.

So in my case, when the cycle stalled, a large water change and keeping ammonia at lower levels seem to have helped to get the cycle going again. I would think that after the nitrites start going up, the ammonia amount you put in should automatically be cut down to half the previous amount, maybe that will keep the cycle from stalling as the nitrifying bacteria is catching up, so as not to overwhelm the little guys with so much food:)

Please guys, if any beginner to planted tanks is going through the same thing, please DO NOT use ammonia in a tank with live plants, no matter how hardy they seem! I almost lost a hardy java fern to this stuff, you want to take the plants out of the water and reintroduce them only after the cycle is done! Plants and ammonia to not mix (why didn't I listen to Byron's wise words? silly me). What you can do is either very heavily plant the tank from the beginning with desired plants or plant however lightly you want, but use a lot of floaters and stem/bunch fast growing plants to absorb the ammonia and add just a few fish there every couple of weeks, no chemicals needed. Then you can slowly replace the bunches and floaters with your dream aquascape.
Good luck to everyone struggling with a cycle and enormous thank you for all your support and advice. I couldn't do it without your help.
 
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top