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Old 02-16-2023, 09:45 PM   #1
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Smile Fish-in cycling advice needed

About 5 weeks ago I set up a new 15-gallon tank. I treated the water for chlorine and added API Quick Start at that time. I have an Aqueon Quiet Flow 30 filter. Tank has gravel, artificial plants and and a bubble wall for aeration. The water hardness was too high so I used the API water softener pillow to correct it. I let the tank run for about 2 weeks and then added 3 zebra danios to the tank for a fish-in cycle. I am testing my water every other day with the API master test kit. My pH is about 7.2. The fish have been in the tank for about 3 weeks and I have been feeding them once daily. I still have had no ammonia, nitrites or nitrates. I thought I would be seeing something by now. Fish are very active and happy. I have done no water changes as there has been no ammonia or nitrates, just have added a bit of water due to evaporation.

Where do you think I am in the cycling process? I am assuming it isnít cycled because I have no nitrates. How should I proceed? I have heard different suggestionsóto do nothing yet, to add a couple more fish, to add an algae wafer. I have had tanks in the past and never had this issue so I am not sure where to go from here. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

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Old 02-16-2023, 11:29 PM   #2
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Hi and welcome to the forum

You should be doing a partial water change (around 50%) and gravel clean the substrate once a week under normal conditions. Get yourself a basic model gravel cleaner from a pet shop and use it to syphon some water out of the tank and clean the gravel at the same time. The shop should be able to demonstrate it or check YouTube for gravel cleaning an aquarium.
Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it's added to the tank.

Turn heater, light and filter off before doing the water change.

The following link has a picture of a basic model gravel cleaner.


You could try feeding the fish 2 times a day and see if you get an ammonia, nitrite or nitrate reading. If not, then you might have finished cycling the filter.

Do you have any live plants in the tank?
These can take up some ammonia and stop the filter bacteria developing.


Water softeners usually replace the calcium with sodium. Sodium is bad for most freshwater fish.

What is the GH (general hardness), KH (carbonate hardness) and pH of your water supply?
This information can usually be obtained from your water supply company's website or by telephoning them. If they can't help you, take a glass full of tap water to the local pet shop and get them to test it for you. Write the results down (in numbers) when they do the tests. And ask them what the results are in (eg: ppm, dGH, or something else).
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Old 02-17-2023, 02:06 AM   #3
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Your filter comes with like a slot for "specialty media" and the media for this slot that comes with the filter is an ammonia remover.

Ammonia removing media will absorb ammonia and prevent your tank from cycling. If you set up your filter using this ammonia remover it would explain why you are seeing nothing in your water tests. Fine in the short term, but as soon as that media expires (gets filled up) and stops working you will suddenly start seeing ammonia and wonder where it came from and what happened to your cycle.
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