As impatient as I'm getting about the cycling process, I will not subject any fish to the tank before it's ready. With that said, I'm getting nutty waiting for this. The filter is running. The water is heated to about the mid 80's. I'm adding pure ammonia until my ammonia alert indicates it's at toxic levels. My ammonia levels are dropping very very slowly. It's been about 2 weeks and I've only added more ammonia once and it was recent. I'm registering a little nitrite now from the test and no nitrate. My PH is really high. I don't know if that affects anything. I knew it would take a while. I don't think that's what's driving me nuts. What's making me crazy is feeling like I could be doing something to speed up the process.
I don't have access to an established aquarium. My LFS doesn't sell anything that looks particularlly helpful to the cycling process. One guy there told me I should cycle my tank with fish and he tried to sell me some kind of liquid stuff to control ammonia. I left. I only plan on keeping one betta and I won't subject my future fish to an unfinished cycle. What really helps? I am cycling a 10g tank. There is one more fish store I still need to give a shot, but other than that, any suggestions on not waiting several more weeks? Since I don't know anyone with an aquarium could I buy something from a tank in a store. Will they sell me anything from their aquariums? Has anyone done that? Would a moss ball or 2 carry any of the bacteria I'm trying to establish? Would a moss ball survive the process? The tank looks really nice. I wish I could put something in it.
I've cycled four tanks: three 10gals and one 25gal. All of them took 4 to 6 weeks. My pH is high as well, 8.0. My fishless cycled tanks took the longest, but that's because you need to have a very consistent level of ammonia so it won't crash. I'm not sure what type of test kit you're using, because I've never heard of an "ammonia alert". It's best to know the exact level of ammonia you're adding. A good Freshwater Test Kit is API's Master Kit and it's highly reccommended on this forum. If you're cycling a 10 gal for one betta, then you don't need to raise your ammonia over .50ppm. One betta will only require .50ppm for the cycle. Anything higher is for setting up a fully stocked tank with many more fish. If you set up your cycle with a large ammonia dose, then add one betta, the beneficial bacteria won't have enough to feed off of, so your cycle can crash after your little guys is added. Your LFS reccommended a fish-in cycle simply because it's the "easiest" way to insure a stable ammonia level. "Easiest" for us, but not for our fish. Stable ammonia = a consistent cycle. Personally I've tried all different sorts of "bacteria in a bottle" with no success. However, I can't comment on the products above because I've never tried them. If you can monitor your ammonia level more accurately, you'll have better success. Cycling is a patience game and you'll need a lot of it. If you're seeing nitrites then your cycle is progressing. You won't see nitrates until the nitrites begin to drop. A moss ball won't help. A tank fully stocked with live plants can help you avoid the cycle all together, but that method is for experienced, live plant aquarists of which I am not. I have lots of live plants, but not enough to avoid the cycles I endured. I read somewhere that "A watched tank never cycles". I agree. Just have patience and throw a party when the cycle completes - I did!
I seeded my 29g from an established tank and it still took 3 weeks for mine to cycle. I hope to never have to cycle a tank again, painful process but everyone goes through it at least once. Keeping fish is about patience, when you rush something it always goes bad lol Good luck. I have to second everything posted before me too.
i'd recommend getting 2 feeder fish (commet goldfish works best cus their bioload is high .. cost 10 cents each .. and after they cycle the tank .. u can return them to the store .. reputable LFS will always take in live fish when people can't care for them anymore) .. vs. using chemical ammonias ..
This site has a few tips listed that are supposed to help speed up the process a bit. Dunno if they work completely, as I'm a noob to cycling tanks (just started cycling myself ^.^;) but I don't see why it would hurt to try some of the tips, and if any of them are inaccurate, then hopefully someone on here will point it out for you, me, and anyone else >.>;;;;
But yeah, I hope that helps a bit...
The link provided by Draug has great information. Especially the use of pure ammonia. It's hard to find and he provides great insights as to what type of ammonia's to avoid. There are a few adjustments I'll add too - just based on my own personal experience: 5.0ppm is way too high for a cycle that will only house one betta. I already touched on this in my previous post so I won't repeat myself. The 1" of fish per gallon of tank is a poor guideline - every fish and bioload is varied and you'll surely overstock a tank based on that guideline. The most important is the "feeder fish" rule. Hatsune is correct, comets are hardy and cheap and can withstand almost anything. It's also common that your LFS will take them back because they're considered disposable, feeders. However, my first fish was a comet and I adored her. She had a personality like a betta and I miss her still today. Honestly, no fish is disposable. The poor comet endures pure torture based on their strong status. I watched my goldfish suffer through her cycle and it was the worst experience I've ever witnessed. My LFS advised me to allow her to endure the cycle because she could - she was hardy. I was uneducated and followed their advice. It was just awful. Hope all of this helps and we look forward to celebrating with you when the cycle completes!