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Cycling problems

Discussion in 'All Questions from Newbies' started by Rhian, Feb 4, 2018.

  1. Rhian

    Rhian Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2018
    Location:
    Canada
    Okay, so I set up a 20 gallon tank at the beginning of November. I intended on using it for quarantine and then use the cycled media to set up my 90. I had a few cycled tanks running before about a year ago, but had to move and start over. So I cleaned an old AquaClear 50 (soaked it in vinegar and water and rinsed well and dried it) and filled it full of those little biomax pellets and set it up in a totally empty tank. I added enough pure ammonia to get the count to 2ppm and left it alone. About a week later I checked the ammonia again, and it was a super dark rating, almost black. So I changed the water and cleaned the tank as best as I could and got the ammonia to about 1ppm then left it alone again and about 6-7 days after that checked again, and again super dark ammonia. Thinking my test was faulty I went out and bought a new one, tested the water again, and it had the same reading as my original.

    So basically I went in a loop, checked the water daily for ammonia and changed it when it got to about 4ppm which was probably every 5-6 days or so. No nitrites or nitrates showed up at all. I asked for help on another forum about two weeks ago and they didn’t have much to tell me for help besides to get one of those bacteria booster things and I hadn’t heard much good about them so I had never used one before but figured I had nothing to lose by trying so I got Seachem Stability and used it as directed for a week.

    As I used the Stability nitrites and nitrates started to show up. I wasn’t sure if my cycle was going anywhere or if it was just the stability. Ammonia was still going up, but now nitrites we’re going up super high too. A week after finishing adding stability my water is currently close to 4ppm ammonia, close to 2ppm nitrites and 10ppm nitrates. Nothing goes down, only up, it has slowed the ammonia growth but not by very much.

    I use prime as a water conditioner, and my tap water starts off with 0.5ppm ammonia, 0 nitrites and 0 nitrate, the ph is about 7.8-8.0. The only thing I can think of that’s adding any ammonia to the water is the cats drinking out of the tank, but my old tanks had cats drinking out of them without this problem and it’s driving me crazy now. I just want some fish! It’s been nearly 3 months.
     
  2. shakaho

    shakaho Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2010
    Location:
    Orlando FL
    So you you have nothing in the tank except water (containing 0.5 ppm ammonia) treated with Prime, ammonia initially at 2ppm, and Seachem Stability. Do you have substrate? plants? snails? anything organic at all in the tank?

    Unless your cats have become more creative and are using the tank as a potty as well as drinking water, the only protein source I can think of is the bacteria in the Stability. If you got a bad bottle with lots of dead bacteria, those could be the ammonia source.
     
  3. Rhian

    Rhian Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2018
    Location:
    Canada
    The tank has a heater in it, other than that nothing. No substrate, no plants, nothing. I very well could have gotten a bottle of Stability with dead bacteria in it, but that doesn’t explain where the ammonia was coming from before that. I’ve seen no evidence of the cats peeing in the tank (I would like to think I would notice, haha that is not a subtle smell!).
     
  4. Rhian

    Rhian Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2018
    Location:
    Canada
    Just thought I’d do an update, I added another filter, which seems overkill but oh well. It’s another one of my older filters, an AquaClear 70, added some more biomax pellets. I’m hoping that better aeration might help? I don’t know. Is there any downside to more filtration at this point?

    I changed the water and cleaned the AquaClear 50 again as well (just rinsing the media and the inside of the filter in tank water). I got the ammonia down to about 1ppm and the nitrite is down to 0.25ppm.
     
  5. shakaho

    shakaho Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2010
    Location:
    Orlando FL
    Extra filtration should present no problem.
     
  6. Rhian

    Rhian Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2018
    Location:
    Canada
    Okay, so I feel a little dumb now.

    My python is the same one I used a while back, before using it on the new tank I made sure to flush it with some vinegar water and ran hot water through it for several minutes. There was what looked like some dark staining in a small part of it, but I figured it was fine? For some reason?

    Anyway, I got fed up and decided to run some bleach water through the hose just in case. Completely drained the tank, washed the filters again in tank water.

    It’s been a couple of days now and I think I’m back on track. The ammonia isn’t rising anymore, it went down a tiny bit so now I’m back to adding a bit of ammonia myself and I think it should be done in a few weeks. Hopefully.
     

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