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Old 06-23-2008, 10:56 PM   #1
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Causes for Cycle No-Start

Hey Guys,

I know I've been posting on this subject allot lately, but I'm curious, what can cause a cycle to not start. Ive had my 16 gallon tank going for few days under a month now and I still have no Nitrites, nitrates, or anything except the seed ammonia I put in a long time ago (non-surfactant ammonia ~4ppt). My water is ~82 Deg F and my PH is around 8 with very high hardness in my water (I have allot of bicarbonate buildup on my heater, we have allot of limestone here in central PA, USA). I figured this post could be useful for myself as well as anyone else who may have this problem. O ya, I also added a little fish food a while back for phosphate.

Again, sorry for the repeated posting on the subject, but I have read allot of places where people start to at least get nitrites by around 8 days and I would at least like to see SOME movement on my tank.

P.S. A friend actually uses only de-ionized water that I can get from my lab at work for his fish, but Id like to keep the local pH and stuff since the person I plan to buy fish for uses the local water. would a RO/DI unit be something I should look into?
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Old 06-23-2008, 11:01 PM   #2
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RE: RO/DI : If you're going to use it for FW then make sure you buy RO-rite or something similar to put the essential minerals back into the water. In SW the salt mix takes care of that.

If you don't you will experience a huge Kh crash and possibly (probably lose some fish). Also make sure you aerate it well also..

IMO RO/DI water is not needed for FW
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Old 06-23-2008, 11:41 PM   #3
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Did you remember to dechlorinate the water? Even though there aren't any fish there yet, the beneficial bacteria would be killed off by chlorine and chloramines.
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Old 06-24-2008, 12:16 AM   #4
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Have you verified your test kit is reading right? Try testing some water out of the tap to see what you get.

You might consider doing a PWC here. change 50% water, then test, and make sure you're ammonia reading is lower than it is now. then add more ammo.
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Old 06-24-2008, 12:18 AM   #5
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EDIT: Nelian beat me to a couple things, lol

Just to get it straight, is your current ammonia level still 4ppm? Have you done any waterchanges?

If you have not done any water changes, maybe a 20% water change would help kick start the cycle a little.

Also maybe try testing your water with someone else's test kit to make sure yours is working.

I cycled mine with fish(didn't know any better). My PH is also 8.0. I also had no heater so water temp was ~68deg F. Now it took exactly 1 month for nitrites to show up. I was doing PWC's daily to keep the ammonia down. Then I let it sit for 3-4 days with out a PWC and Nitrites showed up.

Then another month past and still no nitrates, again I was doing PWC's daily to keep everything in check. Then I let it sit w/o a PWC for 3-4 days and Nitrates showed up. so it was 2 months total for a cycle.

I was told many things in the 1 and only post I made on another forum as to why it would not cycle, from my crappy filter to not having a heater. But it still cycled.

I would think(assume) that with higher temps and no water changes it would cycle faster?
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Old 06-24-2008, 08:16 AM   #6
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On the RO/DI: I kinda figured it wasn't really needed so i'll go with your comment and forgo the RO/DI unit

On De-chlorinating: Ya I am using the tetra brand dechlorinated (Tho i just ran out and have seem on AA that Prime seems to be good so I am switching to that).

On The Test Kit: I will test some home water today but I can say for certain that ammonia drops when I do a PWC. I did a PWC a while ago due to some bad smell (I believe I had too much Ammonia). I will test my home water here in a few hours and see. If I know this, should I avoid the PWC?

On the Ammonia and PWC'S: I have run a pwc and my ammonia is CURRENTLY 4ppm, I have a dropper and try to keep ammonia at 4 ppm (It has only dropped when I have done a pwc in the past which I have done twice now)

On the heater: I do have a heater on my tank and have had the temp steady ~ 83 deg F. I have a crappy thermo-meter but actually have an Infra-red thermometer on the way and will verify the temp (Im a science geek, what can I say)

I should also mention I do have some transplant gravel from an old tank, though I wasnt able to get more than half a handful, its pretty pink in the middle of my blue gravel.
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Old 06-24-2008, 08:40 AM   #7
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If you could get that baby up to 86 it would be helpful.

What kind of filter are you running?
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Old 06-24-2008, 09:50 AM   #8
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- Temperature is on its way to 86 now
- Tap water has all zeros for Nitrite, trate, and ammonia. pH is ~ 8.
- Filter I am running is an in-tank power filter. It has the sponge filter it came with and I got some more filter sponges and cut them up so that I have 2 sponges in there (That way I can clean them at an offset).
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Old 06-24-2008, 09:59 AM   #9
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Check your test kits and/or take a sample to the lfs. You're out there in farm county, the odds of your tapwater being 0,0,0 is highly unlikely. Doesn't say much about the cycle progress but all zeroes is suspect.

But I agree, seems to be taking it's good ole time.


Will your Ro/DI buddy give you one of his filter pads that you can squeeze and throw in your tank to add some more seed material?
A six pack should cover it
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Old 06-24-2008, 10:33 AM   #10
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I gave a friend some sponge filter material and its been sitting in his tank for a few days, after a week or so im going to add it to my tank. Ill run some water to the Petco later today and see about the test kit. Im in farm country but the university here is a city unto itself so our water is more treated than your average rural fare.
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