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Old 06-07-2010, 07:14 PM   #1
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I need cycling advice please!

Sorry this is long, but Iím really needing some advise from the cycling experts out there.

Background: 29 gal tank from my sister-in-law. Her 10+ year old goldies finally gave up. The tank has been completely cleaned, and yes, rinsed, rinsed, rinsedÖ new decorations and substrate, both cleaned properly. However, I am reusing the Aqua-Tech HOB that she had with it. The filters are new, but the Bio-Fiber is the same. Not sure if this is causing some issues, see further down. By the way the tank sat empty for several months, before I cleaned it.

I started fishless cycling the tank back on 3/22 and it has yet to be cycled to this day. I believe the process stalled. I started the ammonia level slightly above 4ppm but definitely less than 8ppm using the API master kit. Original water parameters were temp 84-86, pH 8.2, ammonia 0ppm, nitrites 0ppm, nitrates 5ppm. The tank was not seeded and I use NovAqua+ water conditioner that sis-in-law gave with tank. Over the next three days the ammonia levels originally started to slowly drop, until I added more to bring it back up to slightly above 4ppm. At 7 days I tested again: ammonia 4ppm, nitrites 0ppm, nitrates 10-20ppm (colors are too close to tell any difference on the card). Day 29, ammonia never dropped again, and 0 nitrites had formed. Nitrates were definitely at 20ppm (nitrates must have been eating all nitrites up?) At this point I was giving up and was going to start over once I got back from our vacation, now 6 weeks and 0 nitrites and no more movement in ammonia. Came back on 5/10 and the process started: ammonia <1ppm, nitrites <.25ppm (not light blue anymore), nitrates 20-40ppm! The temp had also risen to 90, a/c in house was off while we were gone. I read the nitrogen process doesnít do well past 86?

Now I have been keeping the ammonia no greater than 4ppm to make sure I wasnít the cause of the stall. Parameters as of yesterday 6/6: temp 86, ammonia ~4ppm, nitrites off the scale, nitrates ~80ppm. At this point the ammonia takes several days to go down to 2ppm, where I dose it up again. Things seem to not be improving anymore. It has been 11 weeks since the start! I need advice for where to go now.

Should I just continue from where Iím at? This is beyond slow compared to what others have stated for the length of even a slow process. Should I do a full water change to get rid of the nitrates and bump back up to 4ppm ammonia? I feel that the nitrates have been overpowering the nitrites from the beginning, being they are already present from the tap. The other question is, does the bio-fiber look normal in the pictures? I even saw the same white-ish fuzz in the top of the tank corners above the water line This fuzz has been present in the bio-fiber since about 3 weeks or so (obviously in smaller amounts). Are issues maybe being caused by the previously used HOB and media? Please help!
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Old 06-07-2010, 08:44 PM   #2
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so much went on, it's hard to tell what the cause of the stall was. (sounds like it was definitely stalled by something). i would personally do a 90-100% water change, test it, make sure to get all your levels to 0, then dose it back up to 4ppm ammonia, then see what it does from there. wait 24 hrs, then test it again to see if the ammonia is being processed at all. it's hard to tell where your cycle is actually at with those readings. usually nitrate doesn't start showing up until you have nitrites. it makes sense if there were already some there, but it seems like the levels got higher.
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Old 06-07-2010, 09:05 PM   #3
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I have nitrates in the tap naturally, about 5ppm. I live in an area where there is a large agricultural presence. So they will always be there. The nitrates most likely grew in numbers because their food source (nitrites) were growing and hence their growth as well. The nitrites just haven't grown fast enough to overtake the nitrate population and work on the ammonia. Which is why I am contemplating a water change to remove the nitrates. I'm just leery of having to reset the whole cycle.
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Old 06-07-2010, 09:07 PM   #4
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how does the bio-fiber look to you?
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Old 06-07-2010, 09:08 PM   #5
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changing the water will not reset the cycle. all of your BB (beneficial bacteria) is in the filter, in the gravel, on the decorations, on the sides of the tank. there is hardly BB if any at all in the water column. if you do a 100% water change, then dose the ammonia back up to 4ppm (assuming all other levels are 0 except the 5ppm of nitrate from the tap) then you will see how fast the ammonia is being processed, if at all. if 4ppm of ammonia is processed to 0ppm within 24hrs, your tank is cycled.
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Old 06-07-2010, 11:49 PM   #6
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i like the sound of a water change.

i think 4ppm ammonia is a good starting point until it begins dropping.. i've been letting my ammonia go down to juuuust under 1ppm, then dosing it back up to 2-3ppm. after it drops, try dosing back to a slightly smaller amount than you started with. this allows time for some of those nitrites to get converted before more ammonia gets added, changes over to nitrite, and stacks up on top of the old stuff.. you're ammonia eating bacteria started getting their food before the nitrite eating bacteria, so these nitrite eating bacteria will need that extra time to reproduce and start converting those nitrite levels that have been stacking up..
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Old 06-08-2010, 03:41 AM   #7
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Ammonia or nitrites in high concentrations can stall the cycle. I would do a large PWC to get your nitrites down to ~10ppm. That will be plenty for bacteria to snack on. Continue feeding ammonia, and do PWCs to keep your nitrite levels under control.

As for the bio-fiber, that looks WEIRD. Do you have extremely hard (calciferous) water? The white, tough look makes me think mineral deposits, but at the same time, it also looks stringy and... alive?
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Old 06-08-2010, 01:47 PM   #8
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thanks for the replies everybody. I sure that I will be doing the water change just to help level things off to a better point.

taylorodw- My other concern is the bio-fiber. The white stuff is fuzzy, like what mold can look like, and not like hard water spots. Some of the fuzz in the above picture has dried out a bit, making it look crispier. I have even found it in the tank in the corners under the hood, where water just splashes (not under water). What do other bio-medias look like? Can people attach some photos, so I can compare? Since this was a previously owned tank and HOB, I don't really want to bring any bad stuff from old issues that my in-law may have been having.
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Old 06-09-2010, 01:46 PM   #9
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Red face Cycle reboot

Water change done.
Results: NH3 -0ppm
NO2 -between 2 and 5ppm
N03 -between 10 and 20ppm
I then dosed back to about 4ppm NH3. Only time will tell now
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Old 06-10-2010, 03:10 PM   #10
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nice! hope it works out for you. just keep checking those levels, it sounds to me like you are super close to the end of the cycle.
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Old 06-10-2010, 03:52 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Scroggins.. View Post
i like the sound of a water change.

i think 4ppm ammonia is a good starting point until it begins dropping.. i've been letting my ammonia go down to juuuust under 1ppm, then dosing it back up to 2-3ppm. after it drops, try dosing back to a slightly smaller amount than you started with. this allows time for some of those nitrites to get converted before more ammonia gets added, changes over to nitrite, and stacks up on top of the old stuff.. you're ammonia eating bacteria started getting their food before the nitrite eating bacteria, so these nitrite eating bacteria will need that extra time to reproduce and start converting those nitrite levels that have been stacking up..

+1
Quote:
Originally Posted by taylorodw View Post
Ammonia or nitrites in high concentrations can stall the cycle. I would do a large PWC to get your nitrites down to ~10ppm. That will be plenty for bacteria to snack on. Continue feeding ammonia, and do PWCs to keep your nitrite levels under control.

As for the bio-fiber, that looks WEIRD. Do you have extremely hard (calciferous) water? The white, tough look makes me think mineral deposits, but at the same time, it also looks stringy and... alive?
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Originally Posted by mommytron View Post
nice! hope it works out for you. just keep checking those levels, it sounds to me like you are super close to the end of the cycle.
+1

lol
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Old 06-10-2010, 05:18 PM   #12
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It has now been about 36 hours since the pwc.
NH3 -almost 0ppm (slight green tint, but less than .25ppm)
NO2 -off scale again
NO3 -odd, (@24hrs) about 10-20ppm and now (@36hrs) about 5ppm ?
Yesterday I also added a pinch of food flakes to help with the phosphates as suggested in other threads. Can't hurt right? Now to bump up NH3 a bit and continue the wait. Unfortunately I think I'm a bit further than I was hoping.
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Old 06-10-2010, 09:57 PM   #13
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Wow, question here....

Quote:
Originally Posted by mommytron View Post
changing the water will not reset the cycle. all of your BB (beneficial bacteria) is in the filter, in the gravel, on the decorations, on the sides of the tank. there is hardly BB if any at all in the water column. if you do a 100% water change, then dose the ammonia back up to 4ppm (assuming all other levels are 0 except the 5ppm of nitrate from the tap) then you will see how fast the ammonia is being processed, if at all. if 4ppm of ammonia is processed to 0ppm within 24hrs, your tank is cycled.
I am new, so forgive my ignorance, but are you saying that due to the nitrate level in his water, the cycle can completely bypass the nitrIte stage? I have not checked my tap water for any thing. I assume this means I should, correct?

I too am cycling, but just started and doing 2 - 3 50% water changes per day to keep the NO3 down... (fish in there)... I would have preferred a fishless cycle but already had the fish when I started learning. (It is my 9 yr old daughter's betta.... she LOVES it and I have no one who can care for it meantime)...

Anyway thanks for the posts, and really cool nick.....
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Old 06-10-2010, 10:04 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Michael Governale View Post
I am new, so forgive my ignorance, but are you saying that due to the nitrate level in his water, the cycle can completely bypass the nitrIte stage? I have not checked my tap water for any thing. I assume this means I should, correct?

Anyway thanks for the posts, and really cool nick.....
no, i don't believe it will bypass the nitrite stage. i was simply suggesting to get all of his levels back to zero so he can really see where the cycle is at. the only thing is he couldn't possibly get the nitrate back to zero because he started out with his tap water that already had 5ppm nitrate in it. his readings seemed to be all over the place so the best thing to do is start from a "clean slate" so to speak, to see where the cycle is really at. if the ammonia is at 0ppm and you dose it up to 4ppm or so, and then it returns to 0ppm under 24 hrs, chances are the tank has already been through a nitrite spike and is complete. hope that helped to clear up what i meant! and you're welcome, and thanks!
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Old 06-10-2010, 10:17 PM   #15
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that white stuff definately looks moldy to me.....i cant quite put my finger on the familiarity tho.....but...when it was used before was it used in a f/w or s/w tank?
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Old 06-10-2010, 10:47 PM   #16
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this was from a freshwater tank. I know she had issues many years ago with some stuff that nearly killed one of her goldies. The tank sat dry for many months before I cleaned everything. Do you think it's possible something lived on? I don't want to be growing something that's going to be harmful to the future inhabitants.
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