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Old 07-27-2011, 09:54 PM   #1
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Smile Starting fishless cycle for 20 gl - Having problems with 75 gl and 55 gl

Hello - I was on here last week and received assistance for my 75 gl and 55 gl tanks - cycle not finished. - problems with high ammonia and high nitrates. There are fish in the tanks.

I have tested the water in both every day and this is what is happening:

pH level on both tanks is always 7.8 to 8.2 - I am not going to tinker with it - fish will have to adjust and I will watch what I get in the future that they are compatible with higher pH levels.

Ammonia levels - will be .50 - I do PWC of 15 to 20% - with Prime - will go down to .25 - back up to .50 the very next day. I have been alternating every other night PWC and the nights inbetween - I add Prime. I am adding way more Prime that I should have to. I figure this gives me a 24 hr window to do the PWC the next night. This has been going on for a week now.

Nitrites are 0 - always! Yay! (I hope)

Nitrates - averaging 40 - 80 on the 55 gl --- 80 lowest - up to 160 on the 75 gl. I had it jump from 80 to 120 the next day.

75 gl is home to a 15 in clown knife fish - 15 in gold pleco - 8 in catfish - and now three 3 inch flower horn ciclids that my son got from a pet store that is clearing out its inventory - so they were cheap, cheap. The knife fish has been averaging getting fed about 1 every 3 days - live feeder fish - the others eat flake food, floating pellets, algae pellets - and try not to overfeed. There are never any feeder fish left in the tank usually. I added a seeded filter to it last week also to help with the bacteria.

55 gl I now realize is probably overstocked due to my and the kids wants - suffice it to say I added up the "inches" of fish and got to 67. However, once I get a 20 gl started (am starting the fishless cycle tonight) I am putting all the meanies in it as they ate all my neons and a few other little ones which upset me greatly. The culprits (I think anyway) are 2 pictus catfish about 5 inch long each, 1 black shark - 4 in. - 1 blue gourami 4 in. that chases all the others around so he is out of there - possibly 2 beunas aires - they chase also - and 1 6 in pleco so there is one in the 20 gl tank also. Oh, I also added a seeded filter to this tank about a week ago (like the 75 gl).

Okay, so that is what is going on - my question is - what to do about the constant ammonia reading levels at .25 and .50? At .50, I sense my fish are stressing and I think I have lost some due to the chronic ammonia.

I checked my tap water I am using - which goes through a water softener and then I always add at least 1 cap of Prime for approximately 14 gal. The ammonia level on my tap water (without Prime) is reading at between .50 and 1.0!! Any help will be greatly appreciated.

I know (now) that I rushed the cycle - I had tried to set up each tank using Turbo Start. Sure wish I would of come across this forum before I did anything - still on a huge guilt trip over the fish loss I created!

Anyway, I am starting a fishless cycle on the 20 gl tonight - using a seeded filter (thank God for my daughter's silly little 10 gl with her beloved goldfish in it!) It also has been a safe haven for my beautiful huge angel and blue ram until my ammonia problem get settled!

I know this is long but a couple of you helped me out tremendously last week!
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Old 07-27-2011, 10:14 PM   #2
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Do you have an air pump running into the tank that has too high of ammonia? If not I suggest running one in there for a few days and then testing again, see if the extra oxygen helps push the ammonia out.
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Old 07-27-2011, 10:45 PM   #3
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I think right know you are like in a horror movie that you dont know what is going to happend, for a clycle to star working you need at least 1 month depending on the size of the tank, the only way that you could speed the process to like a week is getting an old filter media, like a spung from a stablish tank and put it on the new tank,cause it will have already a colony of benefitial bacteria set in,in fact i did that with a friend of mine and like about 8 days the tank was ready to go.i cant belive that your tap water comes with amonia ,for that use madications to kill the clorine and amonia before you put it on the tank. Best of lucks ,any question you have let me know , a have discus and trust me i know how to keep waters on the right leves LoL.
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Old 07-27-2011, 11:01 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FishCrazyBenBOMB
Do you have an air pump running into the tank that has too high of ammonia? If not I suggest running one in there for a few days and then testing again, see if the extra oxygen helps push the ammonia out.
Do you have any literature on that? I've never heard anything similar...but I'd be interested to see some info.

-------------------------------------

.5-1ppm of ammonia is fairly common in tap water due to the chloramines the municipalities use. As long as you are using a quality water conditioner like Prime, it will temporarily neutralize the ammonia for 24-36 hours, making it safe for fish, but still available to the bacteria.

Temperature and pH also fit into the equation of how toxic ammonia is. This chart will give you some info...but don't use it as a substitute for fresh, dechlorinated water

http://www.aquariumadvice.com/forums...ty-159994.html
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Old 07-27-2011, 11:04 PM   #5
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Do you have any literature on that? I've never heard anything similar...but I'd be interested to see some info.

-------------------------------------

.5-1ppm of ammonia is fairly common in tap water due to the chloramines the municipalities use. As long as you are using a quality water conditioner like Prime, it will temporarily neutralize the ammonia for 24-36 hours, making it safe for fish, but still available to the bacteria.

Temperature and pH also fit into the equation of how toxic ammonia is. This chart will give you some info...but don't use it as a substitute for fresh, dechlorinated water

http://www.aquariumadvice.com/forums...ty-159994.html

More of personal experience, extra oxygen always seemed to help me out in a lot of problems over the 5 years I've been in the hobby. But just like any other hobby everyone uses their own techniques that work best for them from trial and error.
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Old 07-27-2011, 11:08 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by LeAnne View Post
Hello - I was on here last week and received assistance for my 75 gl and 55 gl tanks - cycle not finished. - problems with high ammonia and high nitrates. There are fish in the tanks.

I have tested the water in both every day and this is what is happening:

pH level on both tanks is always 7.8 to 8.2 - I am not going to tinker with it - fish will have to adjust and I will watch what I get in the future that they are compatible with higher pH levels.

Ammonia levels - will be .50 - I do PWC of 15 to 20% - with Prime - will go down to .25 - back up to .50 the very next day. I have been alternating every other night PWC and the nights inbetween - I add Prime. I am adding way more Prime that I should have to. I figure this gives me a 24 hr window to do the PWC the next night. This has been going on for a week now.

Nitrites are 0 - always! Yay! (I hope)

Nitrates - averaging 40 - 80 on the 55 gl --- 80 lowest - up to 160 on the 75 gl. I had it jump from 80 to 120 the next day.

Those nitrates are awfully high. Over 80 can kill your fish, over 20 can damage them. Try your best to be good on the water changes.

75 gl is home to a 15 in clown knife fish - 15 in gold pleco - 8 in catfish - and now three 3 inch flower horn ciclids that my son got from a pet store that is clearing out its inventory - so they were cheap, cheap. The knife fish has been averaging getting fed about 1 every 3 days - live feeder fish - the others eat flake food, floating pellets, algae pellets - and try not to overfeed. There are never any feeder fish left in the tank usually. I added a seeded filter to it last week also to help with the bacteria.

There are some really bad compatibility issues right there. Flowerhorns get about a foot long each and are also very aggressive-and having three in a tank is like WWII Allied v. Axis all over again. Keep one in there for now. Besides them trying to kill each other when they mature they'll also kill all those other fish.

55 gl I now realize is probably overstocked due to my and the kids wants - suffice it to say I added up the "inches" of fish and got to 67. However, once I get a 20 gl started (am starting the fishless cycle tonight) I am putting all the meanies in it as they ate all my neons and a few other little ones which upset me greatly. The culprits (I think anyway) are 2 pictus catfish about 5 inch long each, 1 black shark - 4 in. - 1 blue gourami 4 in. that chases all the others around so he is out of there - possibly 2 beunas aires - they chase also - and 1 6 in pleco so there is one in the 20 gl tank also. Oh, I also added a seeded filter to this tank about a week ago (like the 75 gl).

If it's a common pleco I'd be very worried. Your bala shark for future reference will need a huge 180 gallon tank if you plan on keeping him and I suggest return him while you can before it's too late. Pictus catfish and gouramis have no business in a twenty gallon. Your buenos aires are being chased because they don't have a proper shoal, get them a school of six.

Okay, so that is what is going on - my question is - what to do about the constant ammonia reading levels at .25 and .50? At .50, I sense my fish are stressing and I think I have lost some due to the chronic ammonia.

Yes .5 is where it gets toxic. If it's .25 that shows you need to do a water change ASAP.

I checked my tap water I am using - which goes through a water softener and then I always add at least 1 cap of Prime for approximately 14 gal. The ammonia level on my tap water (without Prime) is reading at between .50 and 1.0!! Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Add the Prime. Then let it sit for a while. It will take a bit for Prime to break the ammo down.

I know (now) that I rushed the cycle - I had tried to set up each tank using Turbo Start. Sure wish I would of come across this forum before I did anything - still on a huge guilt trip over the fish loss I created!



Anyway, I am starting a fishless cycle on the 20 gl tonight - using a seeded filter (thank God for my daughter's silly little 10 gl with her beloved goldfish in it!) It also has been a safe haven for my beautiful huge angel and blue ram until my ammonia problem get settled!

Goldfish need twenty gallons. Angels will be very cramped in a twenty gallon, try rehoming him.

I know this is long but a couple of you helped me out tremendously last week! Be patient! Do your best to do what you can. I know you can't do everything I suggested but try your best!

I wrote in the bold red. Hope I helped!
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Old 07-27-2011, 11:09 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FishCrazyBenBOMB

More of personal experience, extra oxygen always seemed to help me out in a lot of problems over the 5 years I've been in the hobby. But just like any other hobby everyone uses their own techniques that work best for them from trial and error.
I can't argue with personal experiences. I've just never heard it and personally wouldn't understand the science behind it. Like you said though...to each their own. . I think extra aeration could potentially help fish with respiration due to the effects of ammo and no2 poisoning...but that would be treating symptoms rather than the cause. Bubbles never hurt anybody though, lol.
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Old 07-27-2011, 11:35 PM   #8
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I can't argue with personal experiences. I've just never heard it and personally wouldn't understand the science behind it. Like you said though...to each their own. . I think extra aeration could potentially help fish with respiration due to the effects of ammo and no2 poisoning...but that would be treating symptoms rather than the cause. Bubbles never hurt anybody though, lol.

Exactly, you never know fresh air could be the cure to all problems ha ha.
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Old 07-27-2011, 11:38 PM   #9
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Thanks much!

So glad I found this forum - you all help to calm my nerves with this! I will keep doing the PWC and try to be patient (it isn't one of my virtues and I am the first to admit it)!

eco23 - your advice is greatly appreciated and I will be printing out the ammonia toxicity chart and check my temps also. I was surprised to find ammonia in my tap water - it is well water and having gone through a water softener. Makes me go hmmmmmm........

1997 person - yep, obviously between me and the kids (well, mostly the kids) we got our first fishes based on looks - I am anticipating setting up another 75 gal for my community fish in the future (within 6 months) and I think I will try to find a LFS that will give me credit for the meanies I seemed to have acquired. Will tell the son to decide on the ciclids - they are "hybrid" so maybe he can sell a couple on Craig's list (the LFS priced them at $80.00 each) but I think he got all 3 for $20.00 (the fish store is moving and had to liquidate their stock - hmmmmmm, maybe they will take them back!) as there seems to be a huge fan club out there for them (not me). I thank you for your replies in red and sectioning them off - that helps!

I have put air pumps/circulators in the tanks last week also - nice big ones plus an air stone which I was hoping I wouldn't have to use but hubby and son thought the knife fish was dying without it and the powerhead going (?) Sure hate listening to those air pumps - any thoughts on that? He (the fish) was just acting like he was gasping for breath when we started the power head - so they panicked and put the stone back in. The 20 gl will have one as soon as it comes. Do you have to have air stones/bubble makers in a tank even with a power head water circulator? The tanks both have big Fluval filters (Fx and 405) which blow out a lot of water also.

I will keep plogging along - I bought one of those lawn/garden wheeled basket things that are all one piece molded heavy plastic and can fit about 14 gal of water in it at a time - has been a tremendous help with the multiple water changes! Best $25.00 I spent throughout this whole ordeal!

Thanks and I will keep you posted on what happens this coming week.
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Old 07-27-2011, 11:41 PM   #10
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If you're on a well and have ammonia in the water...you may want to test for nitrItes and nitrAtes as well.
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Old 07-27-2011, 11:51 PM   #11
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You have to take one step at a time,two diffent kinds of bacteria will build up,one kind will convert amonia into nitrites and the other nitrite into nitrates,nitrates is way less toxic ,but you have to deal with it later on. Maybe this is a stupid question, did you put bacteria in your tank allready right?
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Old 07-27-2011, 11:54 PM   #12
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You have to take one step at a time,two diffent kinds of bacteria will build up,one kind will convert amonia into nitrites and the other nitrite into nitrates,nitrates is way less toxic ,but you have to deal with it later on. Maybe this is a stupid question, did you put bacteria in your tank allready right?
Are you talking about bottled cycling products or seeded media? I'd highly recommend against virtually every "instant cycling" product on the market...with the exception of one which is hit or miss. Without going into the science too deeply...most are useless, and others can potentially create dangerously unstable bio-filters. The only options in my personal opinion are to grow it naturally...or find established media from a friend with a healthy tank.
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Old 07-27-2011, 11:56 PM   #13
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yes, I have one in both tanks - sized 1050 - larger than needed but figured bigger is always better!

I was answering if I had any kind of aeration in the tanks - I have 1050 powerheads (?) pumps - those things that up in the corner propelling the water - fish seem to love playing in the currents!
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Old 07-28-2011, 12:01 AM   #14
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I originally used Turbo Start (about 3 weeks ago) and thought everything was okay but obviously not! I tooked a used filter from the 10 gl goldfish tank and put it in the filter of the 55 (with the Fluval 405 system) and another used filter and wrapped it around the water intake in the 75 gl (couldn't get into the FX5 Fluval system - didn't have a proper hose to drain the canister, but do now) - I did the "seeded" filters last week, hoping they will get the beneficial bacteria going or a boost. The only thing now I am adding is the Prime alternating with PWC with Prime.
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Old 07-28-2011, 12:01 AM   #15
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yes, I have one in both tanks - sized 1050 - larger than needed but figured bigger is always better!
Sorry, can you catch me up? What are we talking about?
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Old 07-28-2011, 12:05 AM   #16
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It sounds like you're doing everything right now. At this point it's just an issue of staying patient and committed.

How long did the tank seem to be stable for after adding the cycling product? You unfortunately may be another example of why many of those products are not only usually unhelpful...but sometimes quite dangerous as well.
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Old 07-28-2011, 12:05 AM   #17
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I hope this is good news - I just checked my tap water for nitrites and nitrates and they are zero! Just ammonia. I wonder if my Culligan man has something we could add to the softener - not sure I like ammonia in our drinking water!

I also had bought clear ammonia at Walgreen's thinking I found what I needed but did the shake test and it did foam - the active ingredients read:
ammonium hydroxide (CAS 1336-21-6) -- I am using it and the amm. levels are rising in the 20 gl (doing fishless cycle) but will try to find an Ace Hardware this weekend and get their stuff!
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Old 07-28-2011, 12:06 AM   #18
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Hey, just wanted to clarify some stuff
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Those nitrates are awfully high. Over 80 can kill your fish, over 20 can damage them. Try your best to be good on the water changes.
Nitrates over 20 do not damage fish. Toxicity varies from species to species, but it's not uncommon for a tank to have over 20 nitrates at any given time. Nitrates at 80 do not outright kill fish. (Some people have 20-40 nitrates straight out of the tap) It's not an ideal number by any means, but in most cases it's not a life threatening level either.

Having high levels of nitrates for long periods of time seems to correlate to certain diseases, but it takes ALOT of nitrates to outright damage/kill a fish.
Quote:
Yes .5 is where it gets toxic. If it's .25 that shows you need to do a water change ASAP.
As mentioned already, toxicity can vary, the .25 is just a baseline # for people to aim for. I agree to keep ammonia levels down, but not because there is some set amount that makes it toxic/nontoxic.

the other issue that needs to be addressed here is that the source water is already at .5-1.0 ppm, so doing big water changes would actually ADD ammonia to the tank, lol.

Quote:
Add the Prime. Then let it sit for a while. It will take a bit for Prime to break the ammo down.
Prime doesn't break ammonia down. And it works instantly. It just binds free ammonia. Our basic liquid test kits do not differentiate between bound ammonia and free ammonia, so testing before/after dosing with Prime will not show a difference.


Not trying to pick apart your response, just wanted to clarify some things.

RE: the extra oxygen thing. Yeah, adding oxygen seems to help. I've read before that aerating ammoniated water will let it dissipate into the atmosphere kind of like chlorine does, but honestly, it's not going to do it fast enough to make a huge impact. If it did, then everyone running bubble wands and all kinds of other bubbling doodads would not have ammonia issues in their new tank setups. I'm in the camp that believes that the extra oxygen in the water helps fish breathe easier, so fish suffering from ammonia burns are gasping less. Turning down the temperature in the water has a similar effect.


@the OP: With the amount of nitrates your tank is creating, it looks like there is a lot of nitrification going on. Having large fish in the tank contributes to the constant ammonia level, but it sounds like you are on top of things. I would do larger water changes to keep the nitrates down and just keep doing what you are doing. What kind of filtration is on the tank? If possible, stuff any extra biomedia into the filter, or even put a prefilter sponge over the intake of it to give the bacteria another large area to colonize.
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Old 07-28-2011, 12:07 AM   #19
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Oops, I was answering someone else about if I had aeration in my tanks!
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Old 07-28-2011, 12:14 AM   #20
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This is all great stuff - thanks for the help - beddybye time for me though!

I so appreciate you all and will keep on keeping on!
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