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Old 01-28-2013, 11:39 AM   #1
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cycling help

Hi guys, ive had a 70 litre tropical aquarium for about 4 years, and unfortunately, a few weeks ago ALL my fish died from an unknown cause. They had no typical signs of disease, i.e, their bodies were in normal condition. Wondering if something chemical had got into the tank, and wanting to start the tank up again, i removed everything, cleaned everything, and did a 100% water change and started cycling again.
In didnt add any filter start or any treatments to the tank other than tapsafe (chlorine remover). And a week later i did a water test. The results were:

ph.......................8.2
Ammonia..........0.15ppm
Nitrite................0.00ppm
Nitrate...............160ppm

now if i am right, these results are good, they mean the filter is turning ammonia into nitrite into nitrate. Right?
So what i then did was a 30% water change to get the nitrate down. And the next day i did ANOTHER water test, and the results were exactly the same. So now i am very confused.
Am i being stupid, or is my tank being stupid.
I think im about to learn the answer.

Thanks for your time.
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Old 01-28-2013, 11:55 AM   #2
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Your ammonia level should be around 0ppm and your nitrates are sky high. If you can test you tap water and see what levels they produce. Also how are you testing your water parameters?
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Old 01-28-2013, 12:00 PM   #3
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Ive got an API freshwater master test kit. ill test my tap water and see what comes up. When i did water changes before, the nitrates always went down so i trly am confused.
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Old 01-28-2013, 12:27 PM   #4
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Make sure you are shaking the Nitrate 2 bottle really well, if not it will give false readings.
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Old 01-28-2013, 12:41 PM   #5
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Yeah i followed the instructions carefully and shook it for a minute i think it said, cant do a water test right now as i am out but as soon as i get in i will post them here
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Old 01-28-2013, 05:18 PM   #6
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How are you cycling your tank? Pure ammonia? You said you had a complete die off & cleaned everything out, so unless I am misunderstanding you are doing a fishLESS cycle? How long have you been cycling the tank, approx. 2 wks? Sorry, for the questions I didn't see this info. in your post.
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Old 01-28-2013, 07:28 PM   #7
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+1 to the above. If you let the tank just run empty without adding ammonia any bacteria that may have been in the filter from when you had fish are likely dying off due to lack of food. I'd start adding some pure ammonia if you want to keep the tank cycled. Also the nitrates are very high after having done a full water change (if the nitrates were that high when you had fish that could have been the cause of the deaths as well). I'd start by testing your tap water for nitrate and see what it reads.
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Old 01-29-2013, 02:38 PM   #8
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Thanks for the responses guys. So this is weird, i tested my tap water and its come out 60 ppm. Does this mean i cant use tap water for water changes and if so what can i use? Also when the tank was new i didnt put any ammonia in for the cycle and it worked then. Do i have to put a fish in to cycle it or can i use some filter start? (Note: the filter start came free with the tank when i bought it four years ago, i dunno if these things can go out of date but... Yeah)

Thanks guys
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Old 01-29-2013, 07:39 PM   #9
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Those nitrates are pretty high for drinking water.....where are you located? Can you get a water report to confirm that nitrates should be that high?

You can do a few things to cut the nitrates:
--add a lot of fast-growing stem plants like hornwort to suck up the extra nitrates
--some use Purigen in their filters when they have this issue
--cut the tap water with half of RO water or spring water (can get costly though unless you get your own RO unit)

As for cycling, you'll need to add an ammonia source for the bacteria, so either add pure ammonia or yes you can add fish again but there's no telling how much bacteria if any will be left by then so you could be doing a full fish-in cycle. The filter starters are hit-and-miss at best and even so, it would need an ammonia source if it were to work.
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