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Old 06-14-2004, 01:09 AM   #1
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Can't seem to get my tank to cycle!

Very new to fish-keeping, but I know I should expect my tank to cycle. I currently have two gouramis busy breathing, pooping, and peeing for several weeks now (3 to be exact) but I haven't seen even a "blip" in the Ammonia / Nitrite / Nitrate levels since I started. Do I need more fish (LFS suggested two would be plenty)? Do I need more patience? I've been testing every three days and I am beginning to feel more like a chemist than a fish-keeper. Any help is so very much appreciated!
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25 Gallon FW
1 Opaline Gourami (Opie)
1 Dwarf Gourami (Barney)
1 Common Pleco (Pete)
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2.5 Gallon FW
1 Male Betta (Shadow)
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Old 06-14-2004, 01:33 AM   #2
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[center:b38692557c] Welcome to AA, phishfarm! [/center:b38692557c]
How large is the tank? Are you using liquid tests or strips?
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Old 06-14-2004, 12:47 PM   #3
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Sorry. It's a 25 gallon tank (24X12X20).
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25 Gallon FW
1 Opaline Gourami (Opie)
1 Dwarf Gourami (Barney)
1 Common Pleco (Pete)
-------
2.5 Gallon FW
1 Male Betta (Shadow)
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Old 06-14-2004, 12:48 PM   #4
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And I am using a liquid test kit. I checked the Nitrate / Nitrite levels with strips to confirm, but I don't have ammonia strips.
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25 Gallon FW
1 Opaline Gourami (Opie)
1 Dwarf Gourami (Barney)
1 Common Pleco (Pete)
-------
2.5 Gallon FW
1 Male Betta (Shadow)
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Old 06-14-2004, 12:54 PM   #5
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It will take a lot of time for two fish to add much ammonia to the tank so you can detect it. With any luck and that light bio load, bacteria will start to colonize and convert what ammonia there is. Be patient and keep taking readings.
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Old 06-14-2004, 12:55 PM   #6
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Welcome to AA, fellow Virginian!

Unfortunately, the key to fishkeeping does involve a lot of water testing, so test tubes will become a major part of your life!

You do not need any more fish - it is a very hard process for them to go through, and some don't survive it. What exactly are your readings for ammonia? It might take as long as 6 weeks when you do it with fish, since you will have to do water changes to keep the toxic levels down, but I would expect to see nitrite showing up by now. The strips are not terribly reliable so see if you can get a liquid reagent test for nitrite and nitrate so you can be more confident about the results.

Also, is it a new ammonia test kit? If not, it may be faulty. If it is an AP kit, there will be a manufacture date printed on the front label, and if it was not longer than a year or so ago you are fine.
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Old 06-14-2004, 02:22 PM   #7
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Phishfarm,

Ahhh...I know your woes! I have a 16 gal and started with 4 leopard danio's. With very few fish it can take a while. While it has been said people can cycle their tank in a few weeks, mine didin't really start until week 4! And when it took off, it took off. I went from 0.25ppm ammonia to off the chart with a matter of days!!!

The issue is you just never know when it's gonna kick in. Once mine started I was doing 10-15% water changes twice a day almost every day for the next 2 weeks before the ammonia was measurable again. Towards the end of my ammonia, I noticed the Nitrites start to take off then, but not as bad as the ammonia. Not to be a bummer, but be prepared for a few weeks of patience. My tank finally completed it's cycle after 8 weeks and 2 days (it started at week 4) from inception!!

Oh, and don't use strips. Always try to use liquid tests.
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16 gal Bow Front

4 - Leopard Danio's
3 - Bleeding Heart Tetra's
1 - Serpae Tetra
1 - Red Wag Platy
2 - Fancy Male Guppies
1 - Ghost Shrimp
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Old 06-16-2004, 12:17 AM   #8
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And once again, I log in and find a good topic that teaches me something! Question for the more experienced folks...does that "Cycle" solution help kick-start a new tank? I had a dealer recommend it for my new 16 gallon.
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In order of setup:

FW1-16g, 5 Zebra danios, 4 Pristella Tetras, 4 Black Skirt Tetras, 2 Gold Barbs, 1 Brush-nose Pleco
FW2-5g, 1 Baby Gold Marble Angel (raised from fry), 6 Zebra Danios
SW1-75g, (80# LR), Scarlett hermits, Turbo snails, Percula Clownfish (Gizmo), Oscellaris Clownfish (Whizzer), Indian Yellowtail Angelfish (Mikado), Royal Gramma (Orpheus), Black Sailfin Blenny (Casper), Yellow Tang (Pele), Racoon Butterflyfish (Raptor), Lyretail Anthia (Juliette)
FW3-30g, 2 mated Gold Marble Angels (Oscar/Yenta)
SW2-20g, QT, currently empty
FW4-30g, currently empty
FW5-20g, 2 Gold Angels (non-paired)
SW3-35g (REFUGIUM for SW1) - EVIL ChocChipStar, Nassarius and Turbo snails
SW4-55g, 4 BlueGreen Chromis, King's Crown snail.
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Old 06-16-2004, 01:08 AM   #9
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Hey Jasono:

Notice you've got a 16 gal Bow front too. You answered another question for me, about starting off with 4 fish. I've got 2 platys in mine and was thinking about adding 2 more to kick-start the cycle, but see you've already done it. Mind if I ask how your fish liked it? My 2 seem sort of lost not being in a big community tank anymore.

--Aquabear
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In order of setup:

FW1-16g, 5 Zebra danios, 4 Pristella Tetras, 4 Black Skirt Tetras, 2 Gold Barbs, 1 Brush-nose Pleco
FW2-5g, 1 Baby Gold Marble Angel (raised from fry), 6 Zebra Danios
SW1-75g, (80# LR), Scarlett hermits, Turbo snails, Percula Clownfish (Gizmo), Oscellaris Clownfish (Whizzer), Indian Yellowtail Angelfish (Mikado), Royal Gramma (Orpheus), Black Sailfin Blenny (Casper), Yellow Tang (Pele), Racoon Butterflyfish (Raptor), Lyretail Anthia (Juliette)
FW3-30g, 2 mated Gold Marble Angels (Oscar/Yenta)
SW2-20g, QT, currently empty
FW4-30g, currently empty
FW5-20g, 2 Gold Angels (non-paired)
SW3-35g (REFUGIUM for SW1) - EVIL ChocChipStar, Nassarius and Turbo snails
SW4-55g, 4 BlueGreen Chromis, King's Crown snail.
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Old 06-16-2004, 09:57 AM   #10
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Quote:
does that "Cycle" solution help kick-start a new tank?
Nope. It doesn't contain the correct bacteria.

There are two ways that I know of to "kick start" a tank.

1. Bio-Spira
2. Media/Gravel from a healthy, established tank.

Bio-spira is pretty expensive and should be used when you first add fish (if you can find it). Media is usually free (if you have any friends with a tank). The bacteria colonize the media and by adding the media to your tank you are adding the bacteria as well.

I'm doing a fishless cycle on one of my tanks. I put the bio-wheel from the filter (for the 10) in my already established 55. I added pure ammonia to my 10; enough to get it up to 2 ppm. I put the bio-wheel back into the filter on the 10 gal and it completely cycled in 3 days.
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Old 06-16-2004, 01:08 PM   #11
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Well with a 16 gal tank, doing a fishy cycle with only two small fish, it may take a while for your cycle to actually start. Your two fish may not produce enough waste, so you may be waiting a while.

'Cycle' is more or less a waste of money as it doesn't have the correct 'live' bacteria. A sign of good bacteria is something that needs to be refrigerated like Bio-Spira, if you can get it. Seems to be in short supply.

If your lucky, you can get 'used' gravel from your lfs or a friend, or even filter squeezings to put in your tank. I didn't have any of those options, so mine took a while.

My danio's are pretty hardy fish by nature, so I really didn't notice that they were harmed or had odd behavior. You may want to pick up a few danio's if you have the option of selling back to the lfs if you don't want them. Not sure I advocate this, but I suppose it is an option (guys, don't flame me).

Feel free to PM me if you other questions.
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16 gal Bow Front

4 - Leopard Danio's
3 - Bleeding Heart Tetra's
1 - Serpae Tetra
1 - Red Wag Platy
2 - Fancy Male Guppies
1 - Ghost Shrimp
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Old 06-17-2004, 10:54 PM   #12
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By "pure ammonia", do you mean HOUSEHOLD ammonia? You can do that? Well, I guess if I'd have paid attention in chemistry, maybe I would know that. I would think that would be horribly bad for the fish. Of course, ammonia from their own waste is also bad for the fish, huh? I catch on quick for an older guy!

I guess I can't blame a shop person for selling something, but it would sure be nice if you could get what you pay for, you know? Oh well, thanks for the advice.

--AquaBear
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In order of setup:

FW1-16g, 5 Zebra danios, 4 Pristella Tetras, 4 Black Skirt Tetras, 2 Gold Barbs, 1 Brush-nose Pleco
FW2-5g, 1 Baby Gold Marble Angel (raised from fry), 6 Zebra Danios
SW1-75g, (80# LR), Scarlett hermits, Turbo snails, Percula Clownfish (Gizmo), Oscellaris Clownfish (Whizzer), Indian Yellowtail Angelfish (Mikado), Royal Gramma (Orpheus), Black Sailfin Blenny (Casper), Yellow Tang (Pele), Racoon Butterflyfish (Raptor), Lyretail Anthia (Juliette)
FW3-30g, 2 mated Gold Marble Angels (Oscar/Yenta)
SW2-20g, QT, currently empty
FW4-30g, currently empty
FW5-20g, 2 Gold Angels (non-paired)
SW3-35g (REFUGIUM for SW1) - EVIL ChocChipStar, Nassarius and Turbo snails
SW4-55g, 4 BlueGreen Chromis, King's Crown snail.
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Old 06-17-2004, 11:00 PM   #13
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yeah i payed like 8$ for a like 8 oz bottle of cycle. and it sucked.

if your using the "pure" ammonia you shouldnt have fish in there yet. thats the fishless cycle. the fish cycle is feed your fish some food and they'll produce the ammonia. but usually they'll die/get disease from the ammonia.

err i know i forgot something but someone else can finish this. i swam 19 laps in a pool without goggles and im like blind. its a lil blurry but a lil sleep'll do the job eh? oh and i had soccer practice afterwards and tennis b4
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Old 06-18-2004, 02:54 PM   #14
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Yes, ammonia is horribly bad for fish. It is used in an empty tank to simulate fish waste (which breaks down to ammonia) and grow bacteria that eats it. Prior to the bacteria getting established the fish have to suffer with the ammonia from their waste in the water, and it is stressful and will even kill many fish, so that is why a lot of hobbyists wait on the fish, and cycle the tank without them.

"Cycle" has been known to be helpful, but it is often not a bit helpful so I don't think it hurts anything to use it, but I have gotten along fine without it. There are plenty of folks who swear by it, and the shop's gotta sell it!
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