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Old 06-03-2010, 01:54 PM   #1 
danatron
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Angry Cycling isn't happening, what am I doing wrong?

Alright I know how to use google and I've read every article I can find on cycling but my tank isn't doing its thing. I've had my Eclipse Hexagon 5 for 4 weeks now with my betta only in it. I've had bettas in the past but I've never known about the nitrogen cycle, I'm older now and I don't want my new friend to suffer. I started the tank out with distilled water, aquarium salt and API stress zyme and stress coat. I added a few live plants as well. I didn't read about cycling the tank until about two weeks after I set up my tank and put him in, by then I had already changed out the carbon filter (the hex 5 has a bio wheel which I left in) once.

So I bought APIs master test kit and when I tested my water after two weeks of being set up the ammonia levels were at 2ppm and I had zero nitrate and zero nitrite. I've since been doing 20% water changes every three days to keep the ammonia levels between .75ppm and 1.0ppm. I removed the plants in week three because I was afraid they might be dying and that was the cause of my tanks refusal to cycle. My tank has been at 80-82F the entire time and I'm now in week four with zero nitrates and zero nitrites. For the last week I've switched to tap water (conditioned to remove chlorine, of course) but I still have no evidence of the nitrates or nitrites.... What gives?

How long did it take your tanks to cycle? am I just being impatient or am I doing something wrong?
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Old 06-03-2010, 04:39 PM   #2 
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Ok, well there's different schools of thought for the WAY you'll cycle, you seem to be doing a Fish-In cycle. i'd recommend Fishless. A few things I'm seeing here.

The Ammonia needs to spike. There needs to be a lot of it, which becomes "food" for the bacteria which will grow and reproduce. If you're not allowing it to go real high, there's not a lot of nutrition for the bacteria to build up in. This is why a fishless cycle is recommended, and why a lot of fish don't survive this process or become mangled.

Secondly, i'm not 100% sure cause I've never used it myself for aquariums, but I would think Distilled water would have nothing in it to "start" the bacteria bloom in the first place. Using tap water with conditioner should be fine. I'm not a chemist or anything, but I do know what the "impurities" in the water is sometimes needed. like (dumb analogy coming) when you make coffee, it doesn't taste the same with distilled water because the coffee has less particles to grab on to.
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Old 06-03-2010, 06:46 PM   #3 
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I'm no chemist but I've trudged my way through a few college chemistry classes. I've read that ammonium is safe but ammonia is whats toxic and the test kits don't distinguish between the two. At a pH of 7.6 and a temperature of 77F I should not exceed 1.2ppm which is the level I'm trying to maintain so I don't have too much ammonia.

I read elsewhere that distilled water is bad because it is too soft so I stopped using it. I assumed as well that tap water was good because there may be little guys living in there and hopefully that will do the trick. It's only been a week since the switch and I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I wish I had known about the fish-less cycle but I bought my betta and his tank on an impulse. I had owned many bettas when I was younger and they all lived long and healthy lives without me ever knowing about cycling tanks. I'm 22 now and my inner chemist is really enjoying learning about everything but it seams like 4 weeks is a long time to go without seeing ANY nitrates, you know?
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Old 06-03-2010, 07:47 PM   #4 
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IMO/E you can safely cycle with fish as long as you are dedicated and make the needed water changes for the safety/health of the fish.

Cycling can take about 4-8 weeks and since you changed out the filter media and changed from distilled to dechlorinated tap water that will be your start date.

Check your tap water for ammonia to rule out your high ammonia reading
IMO/E ammonia 0.25ppm and greater can adversely affect the fish both short term and long term, make water changes until you have ammonia 0.25ppm or less.

Nitrifying bacteria needed to cycle are sticky and adhere to everything in the tank-like the walls, decorations, plants both real and fake, in the top layer of substrate and in the filter media, very little is in the water column so water changes will not hurt the cycling process. Over cleaning the filter media and over vacuuming can. You want the filter media to look dirty and should be swished/rinsed in old tank water with a water change when the water flow has slowed and/or 1-2 times a month. Vacuum the substrate in areas that can be reached without moving anything or disruption of plant roots about every 7 days.

IMO- 5g with filtration need twice weekly 50% water changes with one of the water changes substrate vacuuming.
This is if uneaten food is removed after feeding and the fish is not being overfed.
and stocking is 1 Betta.

*Also, the API nitrate reagents tend to settle, give the bottles a good hard shaking and a bang on the table a couple of times and re-test.
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Old 06-04-2010, 07:57 AM   #5 
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"Ammonia is introduced into the aquarium via tropical fish waste and uneaten food. The tropical fish waste and excess food will break down into either ionized ammonium (NH4) or un-ionized ammonia (NH3). Ammonium is not harmful to tropical fish but ammonia is. Whether the material turns into ammonium or ammonia depends on the ph level of the water. If the ph is under 7, you will have ammonium. If the ph is 7 or higher you will have ammonia."

From http://www.fishlore.com/NitrogenCycle.htm
Since your PH is above 7, should assume that you have ammonia, not ammonium.
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Old 06-04-2010, 08:27 AM   #6 
danatron
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McAttack View Post
From http://www.fishlore.com/NitrogenCycle.htm
Since your PH is above 7, should assume that you have ammonia, not ammonium.
That is partially true but not completely, a good example as to why everything you read on the internet isn't always true. The relationship between ammonia and ammonium is that they are in an equilibrium, you will always have both present. Ammonium is constantly turning into ammonia and ammonia is constantly turning back into ammonium. Their equilibrium is as follows:

NH4+ + H2O <--> NH3 + H3O+

Since pH is a measure of the hydronium ion (H3O+) concentration you can use Le Chatleliers principle and some math/chemistry to tell where the equilibrium lies and determine if you have more NH4+ or more NH3 (and specifically tell how much ammonium and how much ammonia you have).

Everyones replies have been so helpful, thank you guys!
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