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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This may be a bit long, but here goes.

I set up my 20g about 2 months ago (March 11th) and I used Tetra SafeStart to jumpstart the cycle. For about the first 6 weeks I only had 3 snails, a betta, and a bunch of live plants in there. Naturally I didn't expect to see nitrites or nitrates for a while because of the plants, but I kept seeing ammonia (about .25) reading on my API freshwater kit. And I mean it never changed from that reading, from right after a water change to right before a water change. My tap water ammonia is about 1ppm, so I know there are some BB in there, but I'm surprised the ammonia is still reading.

2 weeks ago I added 9 endlers, so that is an added load to the tank. There has to be BB since the ammonia hasn't gone up and nobody has suffered new tank syndrome. But the ammonia keeps reading .25ppm every time I check. I thought maybe I had a dud test kit, so I brought a water sample to the pet store. They used one of those sticks and lo and behold the ammonia read between 0 and .5ppm (they don't have .25 on the sticks).

I've kept adding 1 drop of prime per gallon every day since I'm still getting ammonia readings. I realize that when I am getting these readings the ammonia isn't toxic, but I'm concerned that there is ammonia registering at all. I don't have distilled water to test against.

What's going on? Am I fully cycled? Should I stop the prime? Shouldn't the ammonia be going down to 0?

I don't want to hurt my babies.
 

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Doesn't the bottle say to add the Tetra Safe Start with adding new fish, or a big water change? I don't think it would hurt, to add 2x amt for tank- a whole bottle for 40 gal, again. It's been 8 wks.? I think this is what I would do. Sorry I can't be more help, someone will chime in soon, hopefully! How much did you add the first time? I did whole bottle (2x amt it said), for a 20 gal, and have perfect readings- going on week 4... I have NO bioload- HA, just one Betta, though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It does say that, but I think that's more because they're trying to upsell. I used a bottle for bigger than the recommended amount. The BB should theoretically just grow back if there are any lost in a partial water change. I haven't done any water changes larger than 50%.
 

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But you did add more fish, right? I thought it said to add more, again, if you add fish. I'm not at home to read the bottle. I know it's not harmful to fish, I thought it might be worth a try?

So sorry for your pain, I do feel your pain, YIKES! Not sure what else could help, but hopefully someone will be on here soon! I'm interested to find out what helps! I think I just got lucky with mine!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Again with more fish, any established BB should just grow. The TSS isn't the only solution, so I'm not inclined to purchase more. It's a money thing and I know my fish aren't in dangerous water because of the prime. Even if I hadn't used TSS, the tank should have started growing it's own BB at this point. If I were in a more financially inclined situation I may share that attitude, but I am not q=
 

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I sure get that! Seems very frustrating, I know that I would be! Where are the helpful posters with this one... come on ... Everyone has been so helpful! I'd love to know... do you have live plants, I see that plants are very effective, unfortunately- I can't afford much in the way of plants. I have two moss balls, and hope to get a plant or two very soon. But, I'm pretty skeptical that I can manage to keep a plant alive, even one that says "easy". We shall see....
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
So many plants. Soooo many.
 

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wow, now I'm completely stumped. I missed the part about the plants, I see that in your post now. Wow oh wow. seems pretty crazy INDEED!
 

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I share your frustration. I have a 29 gallon that after 6 weeks is still showing 0's across the board. Do you have low PH? I've been told it can slow down growth of the bb if the PH is low. Maybe it is just barely slowing yours down so they keep up but aren't growing?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Nope. pH is on the high side, I keep it high for my snails.

How are you getting 0s? 0 Ammonia too?
 

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I am seeing this alot lately. I have a theory that I am looking into. If there is anything that comes of it, I will let you know.

In the mean time, there's no need for concern. There's nothing wrong in what you are doing at all. Something weird is going on, but not something that will endanger your fish I am sure. They are safe, so keep monitoring the aquarium, and don't forget to enjoy them :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I am seeing this alot lately. I have a theory that I am looking into. If there is anything that comes of it, I will let you know.

In the mean time, there's no need for concern. There's nothing wrong in what you are doing at all. Something weird is going on, but not something that will endanger your fish I am sure. They are safe, so keep monitoring the aquarium, and don't forget to enjoy them :)
Oh I do enjoy them [=

I was just hoping to stop dosing prime daily at one point as it will eventually become expensive. q=

I have a theory about Stress Coat being the culprit? I didn't have it at the beginning but I've been adding it recently and it has a green tint to it haha

Who knows?
 

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Oh I do enjoy them [=

I was just hoping to stop dosing prime daily at one point as it will eventually become expensive. q=

I have a theory about Stress Coat being the culprit? I didn't have it at the beginning but I've been adding it recently and it has a green tint to it haha

Who knows?
lol... I want to wait till I have some facts before I disclose what I am looking at.

In the mean time, we can look at some environmental things. Have a few questions.

What is your PH and Temp? Are you running any kind of aeration in your aquarium? What type of bio-media are you using in your filter (meaning ceramic beads or pads? Is there any brown patches or slime in your filter (either on the sides or on any of the stuff you have in it)? What sort of lighting are you running (any UV)? How much direct lighting does your filter get from the aquarium light source or from direct sunlight? Do you know the KH and GH of the water? Phosphates. Do you happen to know if you have any phosphates in the water? And finally, what types of plants do you have and how many?

Sorry for the 20 questions, but these things might provide a clue as to what's going on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
lol... I want to wait till I have some facts before I disclose what I am looking at.

In the mean time, we can look at some environmental things. Have a few questions.

What is your PH and Temp? temp 80F, I'm too lazy to do pH, but I think it's 7.4-7.6 rangeAre you running any kind of aeration in your aquarium? sponge filtersWhat type of bio-media are you using in your filter (meaning ceramic beads or pads? Is there any brown patches or slime in your filter (either on the sides or on any of the stuff you have in it)? sponge filters have reddish brown stuff coloring them and have had for pretty much the full 2 months (not slimy)What sort of lighting are you running (any UV)? fluorescent light, 4200K I think How much direct lighting does your filter get from the aquarium light source or from direct sunlight? direct, aside from whatever plants are blocking themDo you know the KH and GH of the water? dont have testing for that, but the alkalinity was in "good" range on one of those test sticksPhosphates. Do you happen to know if you have any phosphates in the water? not sureAnd finally, what types of plants do you have and how many? see my signature. I have one of each, except I have many anacharis and hornwort, plus a couple bulbs I'm waiting to hatch

Sorry for the 20 questions, but these things might provide a clue as to what's going on.
I bolded all of my responses above. I don't mind answering questions, as long as you can return the favor!
 

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I bolded all of my responses above. I don't mind answering questions, as long as you can return the favor!
lol... no worries. Ask away and I'll answer what I can.

I think we have at least a partial answer to what is going on. The Anacharis and Hornwort are two plants commonly used in a cycle referred to as a Silent Cycle. In this method, large numbers of fast growing plants are used to bear the majority of the bio-load of the tank rather than facilitating the growth of BB in our filtration systems. In that sense, it isn't a true cycle. It is more about establishing a more complete eco-system where plants and bacteria together provide a balanced filtration system throughout the aquarium.

As for the plants, both of these are fast growing and nutrient hogs (Hornwort in particular). For our cycling purposes, they absorb the ammonia from the water in vast quantities, and later nitrate. There is a give and take going on here that I don't understand that well. Suffice it to say, with your set up, I would not expect to see alot of filtration bacteria growth except slowly over time, and even then, in numbers far smaller than you would get in a cycle without the plants.

I'll have more when I understand this a little better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I do understand a bit about the silent cycle. I just figured there would still be 0 ammonia. Unless I have absolutely no BB and the plants are doing all that work. Still though ugh
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Update

Not sure why yesterday at the pet store the ammonia didn't read 0 because I tested with my API today and the results are great! pH is a bit lower than I thought but still good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Another photo shows ph better
 

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It's hard to see where the PH is from the two photos. Is it PH 6.8 - 7?

Second, well... I'd say your tank is cycled based on those readings. Did it show like this just today?

I am still looking into something. On their website, Seachem stated that an unexpected side effect that has been confirmed is that when you use Prime in higher doses or more frequently than directed, it will de-toxify both nitrite and nitrate in the water. I have a question in to them asking if that will show up as "0" on the tests for them. No answer yet, but will advise.

May be having an impact here, but I won't know for certain until they respond.
 
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