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Tank still cycling??

487 Views 7 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  dragnz2159
I decided to cycle my tank before getting another betta because with a filter, I realized it was going to cycle anyway. I set up my 2.5 gallon tank on Thursday (05-15-14) and added 3 drops of Prime plus about 10 or so pellets. I also cut out a square of Marineland Rite-Size Bonded Filter Pad and placed it under the filter cartridge. 26 hours later (Friday 05-16-14), I added a bottle of Tetra Safe Start. On Sunday (05-18-14), I added about 10 more pellets and tested the water. I was getting the following readings: <.25 for ammonia, 0 for nitrates, and between 40 and 80 for nitrates. Today when I tested the water, I got the same readings. (My tap water has .25 ammonia and 20 nitrates straight out of the faucet.) The bottle said do not change the water for 2 weeks. I'm wondering how high the nitrates will be in 2 weeks. How high should I let the nitrates get before doing a water change? Is my tank still trying to cycle?
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Even with Tetra Safe Start your tank will still take several weeks to cycle completely. The product says you can add fish immediately which is true, but it doesn't mean the tank will cycle that fast. If you go to the "Betta Fish Bowls, Habitats, and Accessories" section of this forum you'll see several sticky threads that explain the nitrogen cycle, I'll link them here.

Step by Step Nitrogen Cycle

Nitrogen Cycle - Betta Specific

Beginner's Guide to Freshwater Aquarium Cycle
Thank you very much. I thought I understood the nitrogen cycle. I also think I am doing what I can to start it. I do have one question though. I know I am not the only person that has ammonia and nitrates already in their tap water. Will the ammonia read 0 once the cycle has completed, even though the water going into the tank has ammonia in it? While there are no fish in the tank, does it matter how high the nitrates get?
I would contact Tetra. They are very good about answering questions and getting back to your rather quickly.
I will, but I decided to spend the money and upgrade to a 5 gallon. I am planning on doing the fishless cycle using pure ammonia. I know that this will take at least a month, but my fish (once I get him) will have more room to swim in and the tank hopefully will be able to maintain a stable cycle once the cycle is established. I found Janitorial grade ammonia (10%) in my area and will be using that instead of the apparently obscene amounts of fish food I will need to use to maintain 5 ppm ammonia.
You might want to add some of the gravel and filter media from your 2.5 to the new 5 gallon. That way, you don't have to start from scratch - you'll be transferring over most of the bacteria you've been growing. :)

I don't think the ammonia in your tap water will make much difference once the tank is cycled. It should go down to 0 fairly quickly, unless you're doing lots of water changes. As for the nitrates, 40 to 80 is quite high for fish...not sure what could be done about the nitrates in your tap water. Do you have any live plants?
Goodness. Nitrate that high is already getting to be toxic for your fish. Plants will help as long as there is no ammonia in the tank, but not quickly enough to make a difference.

Have you considered switching to Reverse Osmosis (RO) water? It is dirt cheap where I am (30 cents per gallon refills at my local grocery store) and unless I am missing something, I don't see an effective way to get around your source water nitrate issue.

If you choose to go this route, reconstituting the water is relatively inexpensive and easy to do. It might seem intimidating but it is really quite simple with the right tools.
The nitrates in my water are 20 ppm. There were no fish in the tank. I was trying to cycle using fish pellets and Safe Start. I wasn't sure how high the nitrates should get while cycling the tank. I was waiting for the ammonia to zero out. I found out I probably wasn't using enough food because I have never seen nitrites, but the nitrates continued to rise.
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