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Old 04-28-2013, 10:13 PM   #1 
10asartin
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Problem with cycling

I've had a 20 gallon NPT set up for over a month and I have just started recording my water parameters using the API liquid test master kit. This week I have performed 20% water changes every other day. Everything and everyone in the tank is doing well, but my water parameter don't seem to be where they should be considering I have been running the tank for over a month and haven't done anything that may have disrupted the cycling process.
Anyway, here are the water parameters I got today:
Ammonia: 2ppm
Nitrite: 0ppm
Nitrate: 5ppm
If anyone has any suggestions as to what could be going on because I would love to get the cycling done so I can add my betta.
Currently the tank contains 2 1inch cories, 6 ghost shrimp, and several trumpet snails
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Old 04-29-2013, 01:24 AM   #2 
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What type of filter do you have? At this point, you should have biological agents in the sponge. I also found, if you don't want to do a planted tank, moss balls help immensely with the ammonia and nitrate levels. Also, do you have substrate of any kind? I have one with coral and another with Fluval Substrate in it. Also, I have purchased live bacteria agents, called "quick start" when I first began to cycle. It seemed to help start the colony faster and, after adding the moss balls, everything started falling into place.
I'm not an expert but, I know what worked for me with my 29 gallon.
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Old 04-29-2013, 07:55 AM   #3 
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I believe the filter is an Aqueon filter and I have been using it since I first set up the tank, no changing filters or anything. Brown patches of bacteria are definitely visible on the filter media. It is an NPT so yes there is substrate, one inch of standard organic potting soil.
I do like the moss ball tip though, I will probably pick up a couple today, thanks!
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Old 04-29-2013, 08:11 AM   #4 
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I thought NPTs don't have filters.

How soon after the water change did you test the water, or did you test it before the change?

Do you have any plant matter decaying?
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Old 04-29-2013, 08:49 AM   #5 
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Ammonia at that level seems odd to me. Have you tested your tap water? Are you sure you don't have a lot of dead snails in there causing the ammonia? Are you doing the ammonia test correctly & are you using the liquid test kit instead of strips? Are you doing water changes every other day just because or based on water test results? Do you test daily? Have you ever seen nitrites?
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Old 04-29-2013, 01:43 PM   #6 
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Tap water tests at 0ppm
My original post states that I am using the liquid master kit and yes I am performing the test correctly.
I am performing the water changes at the every other day frequency due to the test results.
I test the water on the day in between water changes
I saw 0.25ppm nitrites last week for 2 of my tests, then 0ppm from then on

Very minimal decaying plant matter in the tank, meaning only tiny pieces of root or leaf.
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Old 04-29-2013, 03:28 PM   #7 
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My original post states that I am using the liquid master kit - Sorry missed that in the OP and yes I am performing the test correctly - Just checking; I know I've done it incorrectly when not paying close attention & I've heard others say they have as well.
I am performing the water changes at the every other day frequency due to the test results. - This is why it seems odd you would have such high ammo, the frequent water changes should be keeping it pretty low. Have you had the water tested at an LFS out of curiousity to see if they get the same result? What is your Ph? A too low Ph can stall a cycle.
I test the water on the day in between water changes
I saw 0.25ppm nitrites last week for 2 of my tests, then 0ppm from then on

Very minimal decaying plant matter in the tank, meaning only tiny pieces of root or leaf.

Sorry I know I'm reaching, trying to help figure out why your cycle seems to have gone backwards. I've had cycles do something similar, just not that high of ammonia. I just kept testing & doing my water changes until its finally cycled. When I've started from scratch the fish IN cycles have take 6-8 wks to complete.
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Old 04-29-2013, 03:51 PM   #8 
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Haven't tried taking a sample to my LFS, but my pH stays right at 7.5
I tested my water today after posting and have an increase in Nitrites to 0.5ppm with ammonia and nitrates being the same 2ppm and 5ppm respectively
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Old 04-29-2013, 04:23 PM   #9 
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depending on the type of soil you are using it is causing the high ammonia as it hasn't "matured" yet. I would recommend more plants and especially some floaters your going to see spikes for the first few months with a soil sub until the bacteria mature and colonize throughout it.

only way around it is more plants especially faster growing ones or take the soil out. still curious to what kind of potting soil you used as some aren't as good for this type of thing vs others because of your problem. P.S you don't need that filter in a NPT soil based tank once it matures or at all, just water circulation and some surface agitation.
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Old 04-29-2013, 04:29 PM   #10 
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Yes, I plan to remove the filter once the tank has fully matured. Of course, I will have to be careful about not removing all of the BB living in the filter media, not sure how I'll pull that one off.

Good news on plants though, I have 6 dwarf water lettuce on the way they should be here by Thursday!
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