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Discussion Starter #1
I'm on my 11th week of my fishless cycle. It's been a looong process, but as long as I saw progress in the time it took my tank to process ammonia, I stayed patient.

But now I think it may have stalled!!! It currently takes about 5 days for my tank to process about 2+ppm of ammonia. It was the same two weeks ago. It hasn't been speeding up like it used to.

I never saw NitrItes, but I think I missed the spike. I added Tetra SafeStart at the beginning...didn't help, but it may have done something so I didn't see any NitrItes.

My NitrAtes are through the roof...over 80ppm.

What should I do? Would a pwc do any good, or would it harm my cycle?

Any advice would be much appreciated!

Cate
 

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Tetra SafeStart and all those ´´accelerators`` dont work. They are completely different kinds of bacteries which will always die in some time if you dont keep adding more and more of it. By the way, I think you should drop some fish flakes in the water because the bacteries needs other things, not only ammonia (which the flakes have in its composition).
 

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How much ammonia were you putting in originally?
It's been three weeks and my nitrites are up.. OD'ing the ammonia can stall a cycle. What temp is your water also?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I started with 4ppm of ammonia, and now when it's down to 0ppm I redose to about 2ppm. My tank is @ 82F.

Thanks for the advice Fields. I'll add some fish flakes!
 

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Do you have any nitrItes at all? If you have no nitrites or ammonia, but a high concentration of nitrates, you are cycled. Just do a large water change (75%, further changes if necessary) to bring the nitrates down. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
No NitrItes. Never saw any. Ammonia is currently @ 0.25ppm down from the 2ppm I dosed on Monday. NitrAtes are over 80ppm.

By the way, it's a 20 gallon tank.
 

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Maybe the cycle restarted for some reason and the ammonia eaters died?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I hope the ammonia eaters didn't die off!!! It took me so long to get this far!

I just got thinking...I topped up the water when it had evapourated enough that the filter was making a lot of noise. Could this have done something to the water hardness or something to stall my cycle????

Does anyone have any advice on whether I should try a pwc???

Thanks,
Cate
 

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Tetra SafeStart and all those ´´accelerators`` dont work. They are completely different kinds of bacteries which will always die in some time if you dont keep adding more and more of it. By the way, I think you should drop some fish flakes in the water because the bacteries needs other things, not only ammonia (which the flakes have in its composition).
Not true. The bacteria feeds off ammonia, hence why using pure ammonia works. They don't feed off the flakes themselves. Once the food begins to decompose and release ammonia, that is what the bacteria consumes.

It sounds cycled, but it also sounds like the bacteria needs to colonize a little more before it can consume the amount of ammonia you are adding within 24 hours.

What kind of filter are you using? I'm wondering if the bacteria doesn't have enough space.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I'm using a Penguin BioWheel 150. I've also got small gravel as a substrate, a bunch of silk plants, the BioWheel and filter cartridge for the bacteria to grow on.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
I wanted to add that I am going by the instructions that my cycle isn't complete until my tank will process a certain amount of ammonia within a 24 hour period. Right now it appears that my tank is processing somewhere around 0.25ppm or so in a 24 hour period. I'm under the impression that it should be able to process more...like about 2ppm. Am I correct in my line of thinking?

If I'm only going to be adding 1 Betta to start with, how much should my tank (20 gallons) be able to process in a 24 hour period?

Thanks again for everyone's help!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Okay, here's where I'm at now:

Tested ammonia last night and it was pretty much down to 0ppm so I redosed with ammonia back up to about 2ppm.

NitrItes = 0ppm
NitrAtes = over 80ppm. It's such a dark red...can't tell exactly but definitely well over 80ppm!

The last time I dosed with ammonia up to about 2ppm it took 6 days to go back down to 0ppm.

What should I be doing? I'm really wondering if I should do a partial water change to get the NitrAtes down. They seem pretty high, though I'm a beginner so this whole thing makes me anxious!!! :-?

I'm going to check my pH level tonight. When I started cycling it was around 8+pH. Not sure if I've changed that by topping off with tap water (conditioned of course) after so much evaporation. Could this mess with my cycle?

Thanks again. I don't know how I would do this without this forum!!!
 

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It's my understanding that your tank is actually cycled when you have 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrite, and high Nitrate. However, some people prefer to wait to add fish until the bacteria is able to consume 1 - 2 ppm of Ammonia within 24 hours. That way you know you have enough bacteria to handle a decent sized bio-load.

With that in mind, you are technically cycled. I actually think you could safely add a Betta now because their bio-load is relatively small. First you will need to remove the ammonia and lower the Nitrate level. Here is what I think you should do:

aquahobby.com -Shawna McGregor-King said:
When your nitrites drop to zero AND your ammonia is zero, then your tank is cycled! Do a large water change, around 50% to 80%. Do not change any filter media, and do not vacuum the gravel during this water change. Refill with fresh, conditioned water, and lower your heater to 25°C, or whatever temperature is best for the fish you intend to keep. Let everything chug for several hours or overnight. Test the water for both ammonia and nitrites again. If everything is still zero, the tank is cycled and you are ready to add fish!
 

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I'm of the same mind as LionCalie - I'd call you cycled. The ability to process certain amounts of ammonia in a certain time will come as the tank becomes more established. :) Just add new fish slowly so you don't overload the biolfilter. :)

Do you have any live plants? They will help during this stage (a kind of secondary filtration).
 

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I think you need to do a WC before adding fish if your nitrates are at 80ppm :)

I don't think it needs to be 2ppm in 24 hours persay, just with a low amount of ammonia used, you can put in a smaller bioload at first.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Hi everyone!

I wanted to update you, but I just noticed that my last post isn't here . I posted from my cell phone, and I guess it didn't work. :(

Anyway, my last post was just thanking everyone for their help. Since I'm only adding my one Betta for my cycling 20gallon right now, I'm gonna go with what you're saying and consider it cycled. Wahoo! (of course I'll still be keeping a close eye on the ammonia level once I put him in there!)

Now for the update...I have been busy the last couple of days, but tonight I finally had time to do a large water change in my tank. I took out 50-60% of the water, and then refilled with treated same-temp water. I am going to wait a bit and then check the NitrAte levels to see how much they've gone down.

I added a little ammonia to feed the bacteria, since I'm not adding my fish yet. Don't want the bacteria to die now!!!

I'm hoping that the NitrAtes will be down to 40-50ppm...we'll see. I'll keep doing water changes until NitrAtes are low enough for my little guy. I can't wait to see him in the big tank! :)

I want to say thank you to everyone who's helped me. It's been a long 3 months cycling this tank. I'm a beginner to cycling, and to caring for a fish. I've had a lot of questions along the way, and have found so much help here. I honestly would have lost my mind if I didn't have anywhere to turn for help. I'm so glad I found this wonderful forum!
 
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