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Old 08-17-2006, 11:53 PM   #1
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Cycle stalled?

Just when I thought I was doing a good job, I was proven wrong

I regularly do 50% PWC once a week. I do water tests almost daily with my Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Freshwater Master Test Kit. If I test my water right out of the tap I already start with ammonia. Almost 2ppm. About a week ago I've noticed that my tank will take care of that 2ppm in just under 24 hours.

I started to see elevated nitrates. It has been holding steady at 2ppm even after the PWC. Nitrates started to rise... Then they stopped.

I just did a test and the nitrites are still at 2ppm and the nitrates actually dropped from 10 to 5ppm. My pH has pretty much been high at 8.2 the entire time. I checked with the LFS where I got my few fish to start and their water is almost the same since we are on the same municipal supply.

I have been using Prime during every PWC. Am I missing something that would actually keep the nitrites steady and decrease the nitrates? The nitrates were steady and were actually starting to rise....

The only thing I can think that I've done "wrong" was to upgrade the filter in the cycle. I just wasn't happy with the cheap Top Fin (don't laugh) kit HOB filter I got, so I replaced it with an Eheim 2215. However, I took the filter floss from the HOB and added it to the Eheim before the switch.

Any suggestions?
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Old 08-18-2006, 12:40 AM   #2
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the nitrites are still at 2ppm
We both know thats too high...keep up the pwc's.

Chloramine will test as ammonia with some kits....Its used in the same way chlorine is and for the same reasons.
Also be sure there is no death in the tank.

0,0,some nitrate......... is the goal.

Just moving the floss may not have been enough...as it seems it wasn't.Stick with the PWCs and keep the feedings slim until you test for nothing but nitrate.

Edit...whats the population,size,age of the tank ect?
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Old 08-18-2006, 02:58 PM   #3
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30g, about a month old. It has 4 small clown loaches and a common pleco.
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Old 08-18-2006, 05:29 PM   #4
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Well I'm sure you understand by now that a common pleco will easily outgrow a 30gallon tank, but that's off topic...

And the AP nitrAte kit is notoriously inaccurate at the levels you are detecting (basically anything under 10ppm is impossible to differentiate between from test to test).

What your seeing is your nitrIte to nitrAte bacteria are actively consuming nitrIte, they just have not yet broken past the equal amount of ammonia consumption. What that means is that if you were to do a water change that does not contain chloramines (not recommending this mind you), you should not detect any ammonia or nitrIte. The problem is your tap water has chloramines that is supplying more nitrogen than your fish are producing so your nitrIte to nitrAte bacteria have to in effect be larger than would normally be required.

Fortunately at normal dosage Prime will eliminate 3ppm chloramine so as long as you are adding Prime you should not worry once your cycle is finished.
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Old 08-18-2006, 05:46 PM   #5
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Well I'm sure you understand by now that a common pleco will easily outgrow a 30gallon tank, but that's off topic...
Hate to bring more bad news to the table regarding your population..but the loaches get huge too....basically everything in there right now will get way to big for that size tank.

Of course they will be ok for a while...but I would plan on a larger tank in the future if you want those fish to be healthy and happy.
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Old 08-18-2006, 05:47 PM   #6
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Should I be using some other kind of test instead of the AP test kit?

A larger tank is already in the planning stages, since I know clowns and plecos will eventually be HUGE. Is there a smaller fish that does the same type of cleanup work that a pleco seems to be doing now?
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Old 08-19-2006, 09:53 AM   #7
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Not really (test kit question). For cycling your only concern is that no ammonia or nitrIte is present in the tank. You don't care about the nitrAte level (to a degree). As long as you do frequent water changes, unless you have a fish death or overdose food/etc. your levels should never get dangerous for the fish.

Yes, Otocinclus catfish (Oto's for short) are excellent and very fun algae eaters. They stay very small (1-1.5" or so) and are very slender so they do not add much bioload to the tank. They need to be kept in groups ideally so you should think of getting 5 or so for your tank. I say that many since they also have a high mortality rate from the LFS so expect to lose 1 or 2 regardless of how good you take care of them. After going through about 8 of these guys (I have 2 that have lived since the beginning, and some have been eaten/damaged by other fish), you want to make sure the shipment didn't just come in, and most importantly pick the BIGGEST of the group as they tend to be hardier than the smaller guys.

Also you can think of getting 2-3 cory catfish for substrate duty. These guys are awesome and very fun to watch and they will keep your substrate clean of all fish food (like all fish however they do not eat poop).

Please before buying any more fish, however, consult the other members here about compatibility issues with your existing fish as I do not know about pleco's and loach's with these guys.
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