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Old 06-25-2004, 12:33 PM   #1
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5 weeks, no cycle????

Ok, i need help. Its been 5 weeks going on six and i still have no cycle in my tank. I have a 20gal FW with nine fish in it. Fish are well and healthy and active, nothing wrong with them. I always have ammonia readings, even after doing a water change. Last week i did a water change, scraped the algae off the sides of the tank, and replaced the filter cartridge. I know your supposed to keep the original one in from when you started but it just was not cleaning the water anymore. Well now its doing the same thing again and the new cartridge is only about a week old. the water looked so good when i got done last week, but now this week its cloudy again. it doesn't stink just cloudy. I guess when i do a water change i'll have to rinse the cartridge in some old water. I have carbon in too. Can i replace that or do i have to keep that in the cartridge since i want to keep the bacteria till i get a cycle. I don't think i have any bacteria!!! I don't even see any poop on the gravel after 6 weeks, no need to even vac!! I've been feeding very sparingly, i try to feed only once a day till i get this all straightened out. I've found too that using an air pump helps control my protein deposits on the top of the water. either that or it just breaks it down more. any info would be great, thanks.
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Old 06-25-2004, 12:40 PM   #2
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I would say replacing the filter set you back a week or two. I would leave the filter alone for the entire cycle - it should not get completely clogged and obstructed in that time, but if it does you need to cut back on feeding (sounds like you are not overfeeding, tho). I would not touch a thing in the filter until all this is done. Do very small water changes and don't worry about vacuuming up anything at this point. I am glad the fish are healthy - sometimes this can get hard on them so you are obviously keeping the levels down, but it takes longer with fish in there since you have to protect them.

Also, the cloudiness could be a bacterial bloom also, and not related to filter performance, and it should resolve over time. If it is not, it is related to being mid-cycle and we will just have to wait it out. BTW, what kind of filter is on the 20?
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Old 06-27-2004, 10:01 PM   #3
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its a topfin 20, came with the starter. its rated for 100 gph. yes, i think for a little while there i was overfeeding and i will probly only feed sparingly once a day till i cycle. im seriously thinking about just unplugging the filter or pulling the cartridge out while feeding so i don't suck up all that food. it has a flow control dial on it but i still suck up food. im considering a biowheel but don't know if i should put one in until i am cycled. and if i do put one in, is this the only thing i use for filtration or do i use it in addition to the power filter? I've been doing 25% changes about every two weeks and last night i vacuumed cause i scraped some algae off the sides of my tank and noticed that it stirred up a lot of poop on the bottom. I probly screwed up again cause i rinsed the filter out last night but i did it in the old fish water, washed out the food and crap out of the cartridge. Ammonia is usuallly right around 1.0 and doesn't seem to get any higher and is the same after a water change as well. Nitrates and nitrites are always in the safe zone and never go higher than that. When my tank does cycle and things are normal, how often do i change my water? I know i will see a spike in the trates and trites and i'm assuming that they will return to normal and then i'll be cycled and while all this is going on i'll have to change water more often that i did for ammonia. thanks for the input
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Old 06-27-2004, 11:41 PM   #4
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Do not unplug the filter, because the bacteria you are trying to grow needs oxygen, which is provided by the tank water flowing over it and getting oxygenated in the process. Don't worry about a biowheel, or any other shortcuts at this point - we just want to get this tank cycled, which can be done with what you have. If there is a lot of debris on the bottom then cutting back on feeding is exactly right - overfeeding is likely the #1 cause of problems in aquariums, and is an easy thing to correct. Rinsing the filter out in old tank water is also exactly right.

You are going to look for a spike in nitrite and a subsequent spike in nitrate, and once you are reading zero ammonia and zero nitrite you should be seeing a major spike in nitrate, and that signals the end of the cycle. Then you need to do regular partial water changes, possibly weekly, to keep your nitrates 40 or below. They can go higher, and you have a whole lot more flexibility with nitrate - there is debate on how toxic this is to the fish, but most people shoot for 40ppm or below, otherwise you might see an algae bloom. Once you are cycled then we can look into upgrading to a biowheel, etc., but right now just keep on like you've been and be patient, and we will get there.
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