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Old 04-27-2011, 07:45 AM   #1
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HELP...My tank won't cycle!

Hi all, I need help! My 55 gal saltwater tank will not cycle after 8 weeks. What am I doing wrong? Here are the details;

55 gal
2/28/2011 set up
live sand
fake plants
Protein Skimmer
heater
bio wheel filter...if that make sense
2nd day of cycling I put in 6 damsels to help cycle - only 3 remain...the other three are reacting to the readings below.

Readings for the past 2 weeks...no change, measuring them daily
water temp 80
Ph 8.3
ammonia 0ppm
nitrites 10ppm
nitrates 160ppm

Please, please help me out...almost to the point of giving up!
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Old 04-27-2011, 09:20 AM   #2
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Did you do any research or get any directions before starting ?
I think you may need to add live rock\base rock in there as your main bio filter. Maybe the bio-wheel is enough, I'm not sure.
Certainly should not have added any fish though.

Try searching for cycling a salt water tank, there is lots of easy to find info online that explains the whole process.

Good Luck
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Old 04-27-2011, 12:51 PM   #3
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Welcome to AA! Im a freshwater keeper, sorry I cant help you!
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Old 04-27-2011, 04:23 PM   #4
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I would agree with the other guy, live rock would help massively although its not essential in a fish only aquarium. If you've got the money invest in live rock and a protein skimmer. If not then you're going to need some more filtration systems (bio balls aren't great). Try getting some second hand external filters maybe, a biological filter and a mechanical one is reasonably effective and quite cheap to do. Day 2 is too early to put fish in especially salt water unless you got the filtration to handle it. If you lose the damsels try using black mollies instead as they pretty hardy, do better in salt water if introduced properly and don't dent the wallet if they die during cycling periods. And test your water regularly! Hope this helps!
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Old 04-27-2011, 05:48 PM   #5
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Moving this to the SW getting started forum. Really not the most humane way to cycle your tank. Read our article on cycling in the SW articles section. You`ll find out why you only have three damsels left.
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Old 04-27-2011, 05:51 PM   #6
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Cycle your salt tank

Great article.
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Old 04-27-2011, 06:19 PM   #7
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I do thank y'all for the replies! I did do my research and yes I also talked with a local store for proper start up. I followed his directions along with all post directions. I have a fish only tank so i discussed the live rock with our local store he said the fish would work just fine and he assured me that they were "hardy" enough to handle the stress...my local store advised me since it was a fish only tank not to put the LR in, but use the fish. That is my bad for listening. Otherwise, I would have chose the LR. I will go a buy some LR soon.

I do understand why I have three fish, but hey with all the cycling processes, Internet or not, still states that some fish are one of the ways to cycle a tank.

I really only came on here asking why my tank was not cycle not to be judged for the method I used!

Thank y'all again!!!!!
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Old 04-27-2011, 06:46 PM   #8
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I wouldn't worry about using fish to cycle a tank, that's exactly how its done in the freshwater hobby it just costs more to do in the marine one! Make sure you buy cured living rock if you buy some, because if you buy uncured you'll have big ammonia spikes. I would buy fijian cured as I think its the best! Good luck with it all
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Old 04-27-2011, 06:56 PM   #9
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Thanks sasharples, I will go tomorrow and pick some up! Do I keep the current fish in the tank? Do you know, estimate is fine, how long this takes using the LR?
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Old 04-27-2011, 07:23 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by sasharples
I wouldn't worry about using fish to cycle a tank, that's exactly how its done in the freshwater hobby it just costs more to do in the marine one! Make sure you buy cured living rock if you buy some, because if you buy uncured you'll have big ammonia spikes. I would buy fijian cured as I think its the best! Good luck with it all
How many lbs of LR for 55 gallon?
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Old 04-27-2011, 07:25 PM   #11
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The fact that you're showing nitrites, but no ammonia means you're just about done with the cycle. Your tank *is* cycling... it's just not done yet.
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Old 04-27-2011, 07:26 PM   #12
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Don't feel bad! Every tank, no matter if you have the right equipment, is different! I cycled my tank without live rock, and I can just walk to the beach and get it myself. To this day my tank and the fish inhabiting it are all heathy, and it's been up for a year! Just be patient, do loads of research, and don't give up! You'll get it all working right!
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Old 04-27-2011, 07:29 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by sasharples View Post
I wouldn't worry about using fish to cycle a tank, that's exactly how its done in the freshwater hobby it just costs more to do in the marine one! Make sure you buy cured living rock if you buy some, because if you buy uncured you'll have big ammonia spikes. I would buy fijian cured as I think its the best! Good luck with it all
This is simply untrue. That's how it used to be done in the FW hobby, but now we know better.
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Old 04-27-2011, 07:31 PM   #14
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This is simply untrue. That's how it used to be done in the FW hobby, but now we know better.
True that. Fish should never be used to cycle, SW or FW.
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Old 04-27-2011, 07:34 PM   #15
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Agreed with the two above, cycling with fish is very inhumane
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Old 04-27-2011, 07:34 PM   #16
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Kurt_Nelson, thanks for the reply... You think? So based on my levels right now do you think we can determine an estimated time line for the cycle to complete?
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Old 04-27-2011, 10:57 PM   #17
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I think people misunderstand what I mean. Every time a fish is added to a tank there is a cycling process I.e. a rise in ammonia then nitrite but the extent of this is determined by how mature the tank is. I agree that the the cycling process is nearly done due to the fact the ammonia levels in the tank have reached zero but the addition of living rock into the tank (or some other filtration upgrade as mentioned earlier) would lessen/prevent ammonia spikes the next time fish are introduced into the tank. I am in no was endorsing the use of fish alone to cycle a tank merely trying to make this person not feel so guilty that they've lost a few fish due to early introduction of fish to a tank that needs some more filtration. The live rock will also help get rid of that nitrite that is probably affecting the fish currently housed as nitrite prevents haemoglobin in the fishes blood from carrying oxygen so keep an eye out for very rapid gill movement. In terms of the amount of live rock you want to put in the tank I would look around the web at a few different places as there are conflicting views on this.
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Old 04-27-2011, 11:50 PM   #18
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Sasharples I agree with you! This person obviously loves their tank enough to look for help else where.... So let's help them in the best way possible. Regardless of whatever cycling method is used.
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Old 04-27-2011, 11:55 PM   #19
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I think the misinterpretation of your post is warranted, as your sentence implied otherwise. Regardless, I did not post that with any hostility towards your post, was just stating that it was an incorrect statement.

@agarciajr, many of us try our best to move the new hobbyists towards fishless cycling. It is in my opinion, and many others, that cycling with fish should be washed out of the hobby. Part of looking for help is looking for the right way to do things. I believe "helping in the bast way possible" runs along the lines of treating fish in a humane manner, no? On my current tank, I continue to face a hugely unintended cycle with fish in a rather heavily planted tank. It's not fun having to do water changes constantly, when I know all too well the benefits of cycling without fish. Fish behave differently under toxic conditions, and it isn't pleasing to watch.

I'll leave the forum now, though, since SW is not my place. Best of luck to you all.
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Old 04-27-2011, 11:58 PM   #20
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Kurt_Nelson, thanks for the reply... You think? So based on my levels right now do you think we can determine an estimated time line for the cycle to complete?
Nope. It'll be done when it's done.

But I can say that when I've cycled tanks, the nitrite will just hang there at some number for what seems like forever, and then overnight it will be gone. Poof... just like that. I always expect it to gradually decline, like the ammonia does. But for me, it just goes to zero overnight. Not sure if that's normal, but that's what I've observed.

I agree with the previous posters about adding CURED live rock - it should help move the cycle along. HOWEVER, you can never really be too sure if what is being sold as "cured" is really cured and there will be no die off. If you end up adding rock that hasn't been cured, you're looking at some die off from the rock, which will prolong the cycle.

As far as how much rock, anywhere between 50-75 lbs is probably a good start.
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