It appears that I am unable to cycle my tank.

Get help on those urgent fishkeeping problems!

It appears that I am unable to cycle my tank.

Postby MarkP » Sun Jan 13, 2013 9:21 am

On around 15th December I got my new fish tank (64 litre fish box 60). I immediately added a substrate recommended for a planted aquarium and then planted it out with a variety of plants a couple of days later. I just let it stand there for a couple of weeks at around 26 deg C with the lighting and pump going until I was ready to add my fish. I never took any water readings over this time except for the temperature.

On 2nd January I checked the water hardness & ph (soft and neutral) and added 6 platys. Since that time I have done daily checks on the water using a King British 6 in one test set (this is the type with pads stuck on a plastic strip which you have to dip in the water for a few seconds, wait for a minute and read off your results). I have done daily water changes of around 10% ever since (some people seem to oppose water changes during cycling but others recommend it). I am adding a filter start chemical every other day as recommended by Pets at Home where I bought the tank.

It is now 13th January and I have had consistent readings of zero for ammonia, nitrite & nitrate. I understand that I will not get readings for nitrite or nitrate until after I have seen a rise and fall of the ammonia but certainly expect to see ammonia readings. Whilst I understand that zero ammonia is good for the fish I am not convinced that the readings are true. Is it even possible to have zero ammonia after 10 days with 6 fish in a new tank?

I have checked the sell by date of the water test kit and this does not expire until October 2013.

The next fish I want to add are a little less hardy so I want to know that my tank is fully cycled before I add them but if I never see the rise and fall of ammonia how will I know when this is complete?

And to top it all one of my platys has given birth (only 2 as far as I can see but I do have quite a lot of plants for them to hide in). Actually 2 seems a very small number but perhaps this is normal for a first batch as the mother hardly looks fully grown herself. Perhaps the others have been eaten overnight?

Planned next fish in order:
6 pentazona barbs
2 rams
4 Either shrimps or otocinclus

Thank you for any ideas.
MarkP
Member
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2013 4:45 pm

Re: It appears that I am unable to cycle my tank.

Postby Carylnz » Sun Jan 13, 2013 9:48 am

Before I forget - your tank is not big enough for a pair of rams and they prefer an acidic pH.
I am not sure how accurate those test strips are. Most recommend the liquid test kits.
6 small fish is a good start to cycle a tank of this size. I find this a helpful site to show what happens during a cycle.
I suspect the water changes have been masking any cycling going on, plus the strips are not accurate enough to show any small, gentle, rises. There is no need to do a water change on a cycling tank unless the ammonia level starts to rise to unacceptable levels.
It seems odd that you have 0 for all 3 readings. Most tap water has some nitrates in it so you ought to get some sort of reading there at least.
The number of fry the fish produces depends on the age and size of the mum and whether it is her first spawn. Since the adult fish all eat the fry as fast as possible, including their own mum, 2 is probably normal for a small fish. There may be more you have not seen if you have a lot of plants.
My home forum is The NZ Fishroom http://www.fnzas.org.nz
User avatar
Carylnz
Moderator
 
Posts: 7483
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2007 7:37 pm
Location: Blenheim, NZ

Re: It appears that I am unable to cycle my tank.

Postby MarkP » Sun Jan 13, 2013 10:45 am

Thanks for your input Carylnz. I had already purchased a liquid ph tester because I couldn't get any sensible results from the test strips. I will on your recommendation order some test liquid for the ammonia, nitrite & nitrate.
I will be very dissapointed if I can't get the rams as they are such lovely looking fish. I had read from another site that ph 5-7.5 was okay (I have 7.2) for them and 60cm (which is what I have) was quoted as the minimum tank size. Not sure what I will gor for after the pentazona but I'm sure I'll find something.
Thanks again.
MarkP
Member
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2013 4:45 pm

Re: It appears that I am unable to cycle my tank.

Postby Carylnz » Sun Jan 13, 2013 9:39 pm

It appears a lot depends on where the fish came from. Some are more tolerant of differing pH than others, depending on country of breeding origin.
They are a very fussy fish when it comes to water quality and since they will be sharing the tank with other species, I think something a bit bigger would be preferable. I have never kept them personally, just going by what others have experienced.
My home forum is The NZ Fishroom http://www.fnzas.org.nz
User avatar
Carylnz
Moderator
 
Posts: 7483
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2007 7:37 pm
Location: Blenheim, NZ

Re: It appears that I am unable to cycle my tank.

Postby ady » Sun Jan 20, 2013 7:45 pm

If you getting liquid test kit,i recommend the api freshwater
master kit.very accurate and contains...ammonia,nitrite,nitrate,low
and high range ph.

Have you tested the tap water supply?,
Helpful to know ya base levels.
humans are the only race,with the intelligence to save the earth...shame we have the ignorance to ignore the salvation!!!!!
ady
Member
 
Posts: 843
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:53 am
Location: suffolk

Re: It appears that I am unable to cycle my tank.

Postby MarkP » Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:53 am

Thanks for your inputs Ady & Calolynz.

I have been monitoring the water levels with the new API liquid test kit for about 5 days now. I am getting some readings for ammonia and nitrate which I wasn't getting before.
Ammonia 0.25ppm
Nitrite 0
Nitrate around 5ppm or just a little less.
Ph seems to have settled at around 6.6 for the last 5 days. It started at about 7.6 before the fish went in and dropped steadily for the first 7 to 10 days.

I am at day 20 of my cycling now but because I didn't record any "convincing" readings with the test strips I am not sure where I am in the cycle as I didn't see any rise and fall.
I am surprised to be reading anything on the nitrates as I thought that was the last one of the 3 to register. I expected to see nitrite before I saw any nitrates? Surely I can't have gone right through the nitrite peak & fall before my liquid test kit arrived can I. It didn't arrive until about day 15.

I have been continuing with daily water changes which Carolynz suggests might be masking the rise and fall somewhat. The reason for this is that I have some young fry in the tank and they are probably having a difficult enough time of things being born in an uncycled tank. What do you think? There were only two born but they have both grown significantly in their first week. I had expected them to have been either been eaten or to have died off due to poisonous water levels.

As Ady suggests I will measure my tap water supply.
MarkP
Member
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2013 4:45 pm

Re: It appears that I am unable to cycle my tank.

Postby MarkP » Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:31 am

I have done as Ady suggested and measured my water supply. It has a nitrate reading of just under 5ppm so that explains why I am seeing nitrates while my nitrite is still registering 0.
Thank you
MarkP
Member
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2013 4:45 pm

Re: It appears that I am unable to cycle my tank.

Postby ady » Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:05 pm

at least thats cleared that reading up for ya.....my tap water has ( last time i checked it) 40ppm nitrates,but the tank water is down to virtually nothing now as the plants i have are using this up nicely...

:)
humans are the only race,with the intelligence to save the earth...shame we have the ignorance to ignore the salvation!!!!!
ady
Member
 
Posts: 843
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:53 am
Location: suffolk

Re: It appears that I am unable to cycle my tank.

Postby MarkP » Thu Feb 28, 2013 2:36 pm

Hello Again.

I am now on day 57 of my "Fish in" cycle and still have not seen any nitrites. My readings do not seem to vary much.

Typical readings from my api test kit are:
Ammonia 0.25
Nitrites 0
Nitrates 5 (same as my supply water)

I have been doing 10% water changes every other day and the results have not altered from the above. As an exception to that I have just gone about 1 week without water changes in an attempt to get things moving. This raised the ammonia by two stops on the colour chart to 1ppm. In my desperation to see something happen this seemed like a good idea but after seeing 1ppm the thought of my fish suffering made me take action and I have done a couple of 20% water changes and things are now headed back to where they were. So far the ammonia is back down to 0.5ppm and I predict by tomorrow it will be where it has been for the last month at 0.25ppm.

Does this seem exceptionally slow to you?
Is there something I am doing wrong?
I have heard that increasing the temperature can speed things up but I am at around 25 to 26 degree C which I think is near the top end of what the platies are comfortable at.
I am using a PF2 filter which has the usual mechanical, chemical and biological components. I have dismantled it simply to check there is no excess of debris in there but it looks fine and I have not replaced anything.
Perhaps I am doing things correctly and I just need to be more patient. If so please let me know.

I would really like to hear from anybody who has had cycles of this duration or longer.

Thank you for any advice.
MarkP
Member
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2013 4:45 pm

Re: It appears that I am unable to cycle my tank.

Postby Carylnz » Thu Feb 28, 2013 8:42 pm

I am wondering if it is your eyes at fault :wink:
I suspect the 0.25 reading is actually closer to 0 and insignificant considering you have had the same 6 fish (plus 2 fry) in there from the start and the reading has not altered, even with water changes.
Have you checked the tap levels? I wonder if they, too, will give you the same 0.25.
When you cycle correctly, and slowly, with fish you may not register a rise in nitrite readings as the bacteria have no trouble growing and keeping up with the fish waste. It is possible there was a slight rise, but in between your tests, as it could be that quick.
If the fish appear happy, and all is well, I would not stress about it but I am concerned it only took a week of no water changes to raise the ammonia to 1ppm. Is the filter running correctly?
My home forum is The NZ Fishroom http://www.fnzas.org.nz
User avatar
Carylnz
Moderator
 
Posts: 7483
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2007 7:37 pm
Location: Blenheim, NZ

Re: It appears that I am unable to cycle my tank.

Postby MarkP » Fri Mar 01, 2013 10:12 am

Hello Carolynz. Thanks for your reply.

I guess I can't rule out my eyes. I'll try to get some pictures of the results over the weekend if its possible to attach photos to these replies.

I checked the tap levels but that was over a month ago. My expectation was that they would not really change much. I am on the main city supply. The readings were zero for ammonia and nitrite and around 5 or just under for the nitrates.
I usually check my levels at every water change. That means I have typically checked them every two days. The exceptions being days 25 to 33 when I was away and days 50 to 56 when I decided not to do any water changes. I guess it is possible that I could have missed a spike over that period.

I think you are saying that my cycle could be complete? If that is so I would expect to be seeing some rise in nitrates wouldn't I. I am only seeing around 5ppm which is the same as the supply. I do have a fairly high number of plants which I know use up nitrates but it still seems too much of a coincidence for it to be exactly the same number as the supply doesn't it?

I think the filter is running correctly though I do not have any previous experience to draw on. The filter appears to be clear of debris and when I remove water from the tank exposing the top of the filter I see water being forced out of the top. I would say there is no filter problem.

P.S. I saw somewhere that it was recommended that you do not clean the gravel when doing water changes during cycling. Do you have an opinion on this? I have been using my gravel cleaner to suck up all the visible fish waste every time I change the water. Could this be slowing the process for me?

Do you think I am in a position to add more fish yet?

Thank you
MarkP
Member
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2013 4:45 pm

Re: It appears that I am unable to cycle my tank.

Postby Carylnz » Sat Mar 02, 2013 9:16 am

It just occurred to me - you haven't been cleaning out the filter have you?
My home forum is The NZ Fishroom http://www.fnzas.org.nz
User avatar
Carylnz
Moderator
 
Posts: 7483
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2007 7:37 pm
Location: Blenheim, NZ

Re: It appears that I am unable to cycle my tank.

Postby MarkP » Sat Mar 02, 2013 10:01 am

Hi Carolynz.
In my ignorance I did clean it once after about 2 weeks. This was a simple rinse in dirty tank water.
About 4 days ago i took the filter apart to satisfy myself it was working okay and not blocked. At that time I removed some debris by hand and then immediately re-assembled the unit and that is all I have done.
MarkP
Member
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2013 4:45 pm

Re: It appears that I am unable to cycle my tank.

Postby Carylnz » Sat Mar 02, 2013 9:19 pm

It should have debris stuck to it and the pads should be getting murky looking by now if it is working properly. If it still looks clean it may not be.
My home forum is The NZ Fishroom http://www.fnzas.org.nz
User avatar
Carylnz
Moderator
 
Posts: 7483
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2007 7:37 pm
Location: Blenheim, NZ

Re: It appears that I am unable to cycle my tank.

Postby MarkP » Mon Mar 04, 2013 2:43 pm

I stripped the pump/filter assembly completely down over the weekend and then removed and cleaned the impellor (didn;t tamper with any of the media though). Something changed because I am getting far more circulation in the tank now although I didn't come across any large debris that might have been causing a problem.

I have been doing larger and more frequent water changes since Friday (around 30% per day) because I am struggling more than expected to get the ammonia levels down. It is currently between 0.5ppm and 1ppm. I have confirmed that the supply water is zero. I have tried unsuccessfully to post the test result images as promised but have not been able to (I have requested some guidance on this in the "Forum and website feedback" page).

I am wondering if I am somehow right back at the start of the cycle at the point where the ammonia first starts to rise. I can't see how this should be but why else would I see this increase in ammonia?
I have checked for dead fish but there are none that I can see. I'm pretty sure I have not been overfeeding them as they seem to clear up all that I have put in. I have decided to stop feeding them for a day or two just in case.
Still no sign of nitrite and nitrate is still around 5ppm which is the value of the supply water.

The tank looks great with lovely clear looking water. The plants appear to be thriving and the fish are showing no signs of distress.

Can I re-iterate my question from earlier as I didn't get an answer and it just might be important. Should I be removing the fish waste from my tank when I do the water changes?
I had been doing so but thought that this might have been just removing the source of food for the ammonia converting bacteria. I have now stopped removing the fish waste and am just removing water from the middle of the tank so the substrate does not get disturbed.

Thank you
MarkP
Member
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2013 4:45 pm

Next

Return to Help!

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 13 guests

cron