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Old 05-01-2006, 10:59 PM   #1
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Help! Fishless cycling.

Hi,

I bought a 33 gallon tank. I'm trying to do a fishless cycle. I read as much as I could on the web and a bit in the forums here. Sorry if this has been asked a hundred times before, but.. I'm stuck in my cycle!

5-Apr:
PH 7.7
ammonia 0 ppm
nitrite 0 ppm
nitrate 0 ppm
I don't have shrimp so I put a piece of raw fish.
10-Apr:
ammonia 0.5
11-Apr
ammonia 1
14-Apr
ammonia 2
At this point I realise I made a stupid mistake: I left the coal activated filter and it must be slowing the cycle down. I remove it, but leave the bio filter in place.
17-Apr
ammonia 2
21-Apr
ammonia 4
I remove the piece of smelly, disgusting, rotting fish.
24-Apr
ammonia 4
nitrite 0
Here I decide to turn on the heater, hoping to promote bacteria growth. Water was at 68F/20C.
30-Apr
ammonia 4
nitrite 0
Water temp is 75F/24C.

Substrate is about 2.5 inches of gravel. Oxygen is coming from the water falling from the filter into the tank and I see bubbles in the water.

I don't have access to a source of bacteria (another tank). I don't want to use anything from the lfs..

Why am I stuck at 4 ppm of ammonia and 0 ppm of nitrite? I would think that by now the bacteria would've started growing and converting the ammonia to nitrite. Should I do a water change? Add more ammonia using a chemical?

Thanks!
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Old 05-02-2006, 12:51 AM   #2
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my understanding is that 4ppm of ammonia is a good spot to level out until your 1st bacteria start to form. i used pure ammonia and never dosed to more than 4 with great success. i've heard a number of places that raising your temp to the low-mid 80's can speed up bacteria production as well. i cycled at 82-83 degrees and then lowered it before stocking.
way to read up on it beforehand! it seems overwhelming right now, but before you know it you'll have a tank full of fish. good work, keep with it.

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Old 05-02-2006, 07:45 AM   #3
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I wish I had a magic answer for you . I find fishless cycling extremely frustrating - the only reason I haven't dumped the whole tank and started off from scratch is that I don't want to burn any poor little fish and subject them to less than optimal conditions - so I completely comisserate with the way you feel. I've been stuck in the nitrite cycle for what feels like FOREVER.
Try raisng the temp a couple of degrees more, and if you don't have an airstone running put one in.
I think the only thing that works is PATIENCE (of which I have NONE ! LOL)

GOOD LUCK !!!
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Old 05-02-2006, 01:32 PM   #4
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Quote:
24-Apr
ammonia 4
nitrite 0
Here I decide to turn on the heater, hoping to promote bacteria growth. Water was at 68F/20C.
I think this is potentially the problem. Bacteria growth slows down dramatically at low temperature. As suggested earlier, low to mid 80's is about optimal. Unfortunately, without another tank accessible, the only thing I could suggest is a scoop of gravel from the LFS. Given that you will have elevated temperatures and no fish to host, any potential parasites would likely have died off by the time you add fish. Just a thought.
Chris

EDIT: Otherwise, try and be patient and think about how much frustration you are saving yourself from not buying new fish every couple of weeks (the way I set up my first tank).
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Old 05-03-2006, 10:38 PM   #5
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Hi!

Thank you for your answers! I put the heater at the maximum level. I'm starting to wonder if I was sold a defective heater or one not powerfull enough for the size of my tank, because the water temperature is at 75F/24C and won't buldge. Another step I've taken is to shut off the neon light permanently until the cycle is complete and I buy fish.. I've heard the little ammonia-eating critters prefer darkness.

joannde: I'm afraid to ask, but how long is forever?

cplawrence: I'm a little paranoiac about introducing parasites if I use anything from the LFS. I know it's kind of illogical, because if I buy fish they could very well be carrying the parasites themselves.

I think I'll wait another 1-2 weeks and if the ammonia plateau doesn't change, use a scoop of gravel from the LFS. I'm running out of patience with the cycle..
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Old 05-03-2006, 10:49 PM   #6
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Sounds like the heater is a bit small for the tank size. Should be about 5W per gallon. For your tank I'd recommend either a 200W or a 250W heater. I usually opt for the larger one, as it will tend to have to work less, and hole a more constant temp.
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Old 05-03-2006, 10:50 PM   #7
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