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Old 06-14-2004, 03:23 PM   #1
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Still no Cycle?

Hello all,

I have had my tank up and running almost for two weeks now, but I don't seem to get the nitrogen cycle 'going'.

My stats:

20 G
5 corydoras
a few small live plants
TopFin Undergravel Filter 20
Whisper Power Filter 20
About 2 inches of gravel
Temperature of the water kept at 78F

I have been checking for Amonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate levels regularly. I have done three water changes so far: two times 20%..and once 50%, over the course of 10 days or so.

My Amonia level has been going up but I don't see any changes in the Nitrite or Nitrate levels.

Yesterday, my Amonia level was at 4, so I did a 50% water change. I saw one of my corys acting funny.

The water has a strong smell, which I think is caused by bacteria? But I don't seem to get any levels of Nitrite or Nitrate. They are still 0 ppm.

I am using a liquid test kit with color charts.

Thanks in advance for any feedback.
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Old 06-14-2004, 03:37 PM   #2
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I wouldn't worry just yet. It can take as long as 6 weeks, even longer in some cases. The nitrites will spike next, and for a few days both will be high. Then ammonia will start dropping and the nitrites will remain spiked. Eventually it'll bottom out and both will be 0, and your nitrates will just constantly raise. Live plants and water changes will keep the nitrates down.

Do water changes more frequently, but smaller. Like, 10% every day is better than 50% every five days, etc.
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Old 06-14-2004, 03:49 PM   #3
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Big ditto to ferret about the smaller water changes. Large changes may actually slow the cycle down.

The length of time that it can take to cycle is dependent upon a few factors such as tank size, bioload and temperature (the lower the temp the longer it will take). It can take up to two weeks or longer, depending on the above factors, for enough nitrites to accumulate and for the ammonia to fall 0.

The nitrite phase of the cycle is the longest part and can last up to six weeks or more, the bacteria that converts the nitrite to nitrate is slow growing. During this phase nitrites can climb irritatingly high. Water changes and gravel vacs will bring the nitrites down but you could find yourself doing a water change every couple of days or even daily if necessary. The addition of 1 teaspoon of aquarium salt per 20 gallons will help to counteract nitrite toxicity.

It's going to be a while before you see nitrate. The 'average' length of time that it takes for a tank to complete cycling is six weeks but that's not set in stone. Just hang in there. I know it can be frustrating but patience is the key.

Bryan
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Old 06-14-2004, 05:11 PM   #4
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What was the ammonia level after the water change? That was a real high level, so as above, try to do more frequent, smaller changes and keep it from getting to 4. Plants in general will use ammonia, too, but you might not have enough fast-growing plants to impact things.

My recent fishless cycle went noticeably faster by raising the tank temp to 86, like Essayons89 mentioned (which you can't do - plants and cory cats won't appreciate it), and I was completely cycled in three days when I added a couple of mini biowheels that I had floating behind the plants my 55. It took a total of 3 weeks that way, with fishless and bacterial seeding from the biowheels.
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Old 06-14-2004, 05:47 PM   #5
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Thanks for all the feedback.

I checked just now and the Amonia levels are at 2 ppm. Still no sign of Nitrite, so I will be patient and wait.

I will probably do a 20% waterchange on a daily basis, or once in the two days.
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Old 06-14-2004, 05:49 PM   #6
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Good call - I suggest 10% daily or 20% every other day, like you mention. Let us know - everyone has such different experiences with cycling it is good to learn about what other people go through.
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Old 06-19-2004, 07:24 PM   #7
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I checked the water yesterday again:

2 ppm amonia
0 ppm nitrite
0 ppm nitrate

I have had my tank for over two weeks now. Still no sign of nitrite.
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Old 06-19-2004, 11:01 PM   #8
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i am in the same situation with my tank. exact same size but a topfin 20 power filter instead of the undergravel. I've got nine fish in there, all fake plants, same with gravel. I started my tank on May 22nd and still have no nitrite or nitrate readings. Ammonia is always up, never been higher than 1. I do a 25% water change every other week but may do it every week now. I just thought that you were supposed to leave the water in for as long a possible cause you want that original bacteria and water changes would take that away. Apparently no so. I used my filter cartridge for about 3 weeks and it was done, just could not clear up the water. I've got some carbon in the filter to help with ammonia, i don't thing it really works!! I just did a water change yesterday and came home after work and checked the ammonia and it was right back up where it was before i changed it. i have not done any vacs yet to the gravel, did not want to disturb that just yet and its not that dirty. So then i guess the next spike will be nitrite, or nitrate whichever comes first. When the cycle is done im guessing these will zero out too and then just remain as slight readings. You guys are claiming you have to change the water everyday to get rid of nitrites and trates even after being cycled? Man, i did not think a tank would be this much work! What can i put in my tank to eat poop? I don't want a pleco either. Corydoras, let us know when you get some other readings. will putting a biowheel in stop the cycle and would anyone recommend putting one in. they are not that expensive for a 20gal. and are the test strips really that accurate, cause that is what i use. thanks
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Old 06-19-2004, 11:39 PM   #9
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No UGF and no bio-wheel. Is that right? Bacteria was growing on the filter cartridge. Replacing the cartridge you threw away a good part of the bacteria. Your tank had to basicly start the cycling all over again. Try to rinse the cartridge in a bucket of water from doing a water change.
Here is a web page that helped me understand filtering better.
http://www.2cah.com/netmax/basics/filters/filters.shtml
http://www.2cah.com/netmax/basics/water/water.shtml

Good Luck
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Old 06-19-2004, 11:56 PM   #10
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yeah that sounds right. one day i replaced all the sand in my 10 gallon with some gravel. my ammonia spiked a couple hours after i put it outside. i scooped it into a container and put it back in. (forgot about the bacteria) and at least some of the bacteria didnt die. did you put any err wuts the word. cycled filtercartrages, decs, etc? that might be why...

patience is the name of the game gl and hf
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Old 06-20-2004, 12:34 AM   #11
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Hey kmlong,

you kinda took over my thread, haha, so nobody is responding to my problem anymore.

I will repost my latest numbers:

2 ppm amonia
0 ppm nitrite
0 ppm nitrate

I have had my tank for over two weeks now. Still no sign of nitrite. The few plants that I have in there are doing very well though.
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Old 06-20-2004, 12:48 AM   #12
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Sorry Corydoras4ever
It has been 10 days since I put fish in my 37gal. Just today I saw the nitrite start to go up. The time it takes varries from tank to tank. Water temp, PH are just 2 things that can make the bacteria grow faster or slower. The links I posted earlier will help you as well.
Hang in there.
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Old 06-26-2004, 04:11 AM   #13
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Update:

6-21-'04 : ammonia: 4.0 ppm, nitrite: 0.25 ppm, nitrate: 0.00 ppm
6-22-'04 : ammonia: 2.0 ppm, nitrite: 0.25 ppm, nitrate: 2.50 ppm
6-25-'04 : ammonia: 1.0 ppm, nitrite: 2.00 ppm, nitrate: 20.00 ppm

Seems as if the cycle has finally started. I have the impression though that I have to cut back on feeding, eventhough I don't see any food remains on the bottom.
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Old 06-28-2004, 10:21 AM   #14
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Looks like you're almost there.

I wouldn't worry about cutting back on the feeding just yet. All you have in your tank are bottom dwellers. Just keep in mind though that a hungry fish is a healthy fish.
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