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Old 03-12-2020, 12:47 AM   #1
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cycling help!

hey! new here and to aquarium keeping. sorry for the excessive info that will follow but i wanna get to the bottom of this! and would like to know if i should change anything iíve been doing. i set up a 10 gallon planted tank 5 weeks ago. i used caribsea eco complete substrate, and have been using seachem prime, stability, and flourish as well as api liquid co2 per respective dosing guides. have a couple of api aquatic plant food tablets buried in the substrate. using tetra whisper 10i filter and an airstone. no critters other than a handful of lil snails that hitched a ride on the plants i purchased at my lfs. 25% water change every two weeks. havenít changed/cleaned filter cart. i have been testing parameters using the api freshwater master kit, and for the first 3 weeks tested no ammonia, no nitrite and 20ppm nitrate. last week ammonia was off the charts, then two days ago dropped to 0 again. sometime last week i received the 50w heater i ordered and added that to the tank (had been kept at room temp 70įF prior, heater now keeping tank at 79įF). have been adding various plants and today added malaysian driftwood that i only rinsed prior to adding, per lfs recommendation. tested water tonight and ammonia is at 4ppm, nitrite .25ppm, nitrate 80ppm. a couple days ago i thought i would be in the clear to add fish! is it normal for ammonia to jump around like that with no fish or feeding? am i doing anything wrong?
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Old 03-12-2020, 01:53 AM   #2
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What did you use as an ammonia source at first?
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Old 03-12-2020, 03:17 PM   #3
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none, i thought the seachem and caribsea would introduce bacteria and take care of cycling. sorry if i sound stupid this is my first tank!
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Old 03-12-2020, 03:56 PM   #4
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No, the caribsea substrate is loaded with nutrients for plants but not ammonia and the seachem prime removes harmful substances from tap water. So, it sounds like something in you tank has died (snails or plant leaves etc.) and that provided some ammonia to start the cycle. Hence why you now have ammonia showing and a little nitrite. I am a little confused how you had nitrate already appearing though....

And don't worry about 'sounding stupid' everyone had a first tank.
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Old 03-12-2020, 04:00 PM   #5
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Ah, you did say you added stability which does start the biofilter. Maybe the bacteria starved and has to rebuild
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Old 03-13-2020, 12:31 AM   #6
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is there anything i can do to ensure the process continues smoothly? thanks for your help btw!
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Old 03-13-2020, 12:34 AM   #7
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from the caribsea description on petco website “Contains essential live bacteria”, i’ve read people having a fully cycled tank after just a week or two from using this stuff. i wonder why it was so different for me!
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Old 03-13-2020, 12:38 AM   #8
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Well, if what I think happened is right then it seems like you just have to go through the process of letting the bacteria build up. To make sure it doesn't starve again you're going to want a source of ammonia by either adding pure ammonia or using a sprinkle of fish food every so often.

https://www.aquariumadvice.com/forum...ng-148283.html

There is a step by step for the process. You can speed things up by getting bacteria from an established tank, but I'm not sure how much that will help speed things up at this point.
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Old 03-14-2020, 10:17 PM   #9
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wow how i wish i had found that resource 5 weeks ago.... will stop at ace tomorrow for the ammonia. and i think i found someone locally who can give me some gravel from their tank so things should be looking better!! i think you’re definitely right about them starving, i’m now realizing how uneducated i was on the matter lol. thanks again!

edit: i forgot i had a concern from testing the water today. pH is now at 6.4, whereas yesterday it was at 7.6. i did a 50% water change but alas, still at 6.4. any thoughts?
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Old 03-15-2020, 08:41 AM   #10
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In my opinion, newcomers to the hobby get mislead by all the products like bacteria in a bottle, speedy cycle and such but I'll leave it at that.
To your aquarium... you need to introduce some type of ammonia to start the cycling process, whether it's a fish or two or the fishless cycle where you introduce ammonia into the tank. Both work well and the end result will be a stable filter that's able to support live stock at a healthy level. The downside to this and I understand why, you must be patient, takes around two months give or take a week or two. Now should you want to speed the process... if you can get a piece of filter media from an established filter and introduce it into yours, that will considerably cut the cycling time.
Cycling is not difficult, the wait is. Good luck and keep us posted.
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Old 03-19-2020, 12:30 AM   #11
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thanks for the help! i got some seeding material from an established tank and now i’m wondering how much fish food i should be adding for ammonia and how often?
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Old 03-20-2020, 11:25 PM   #12
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I usually just add approximately as much food as I will expect to feed the tanks inhabitants and check ammonia levels the next day, when it drops I add more. Itís not very scientific but Iíve never had more then a little blip of trace ammonia on day 1 after adding fish so I guess itís working for me.

I usually use algae pellets though because itís so much easier to clean up when youíre done then flake all over the place.
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Old 03-21-2020, 06:44 PM   #13
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thanks for the response. so 2 days after adding flakes, i tested 4ppm ammonia! woohoo. now today i tested .5ppm nitrIte! even more exciting! now hereís my problem - my nitrAtes are still WAY up there, at least 80ppm, where they've been for at least two weeks, and i find myself doing 25% water changes at least twice a week (in hopes to lower the nitrAtes), but to no avail. i tested my tap water hoping to find the culprit, but its below 5ppm. what the heck am i doing wrong? any solutions?
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Old 04-06-2020, 04:30 PM   #14
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i’m 1 week in with a male betta and blue cherry shrimp. everything was going great and i decided to test my water this morning. AMMONIA 8.0+ PPM?!?! nitrites off the chart too. pH dropped from 7.6 to 6.8-7.0.
i switched out my old internal hob for a penguin 100. i stuffed the new filter with sponges i had “growing” in the tank and in the canister in preparation, and a bag of ceramic balls that had come from a seasoned tank and had been in my tank for at least a couple of weeks. i took the carbon filter from the old filter and set it on the floor of the tank. i added a sponge filter too. the only things i removed from the tank were the old filter (canister only, no media) and a small airstone.

shouldn’t my betta and shrimp be dead? they aren’t acting any different. still eating and very active. same with the ramshorn. i did a ~40% water change, making sure to get all the waste, and reading looked a tad better. used prime and stability. planning on one more change today... any suggestions? insight?
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