Trouble with Cycle - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-17-2020, 10:24 PM Thread Starter
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Trouble with Cycle

Hey folks. I have spent quite a bit of time reading threads on this site, and now that I have a tank, I think (hope) I'm ready to be active on the forum. I'm brand new to planted tanks, but I think I've got a pretty good start.


My main issue right now is finishing(?) the cycle in my tank. I have a 5.5 gal that has been fully planted for approximately 10 weeks. I have been dosing ammonium to reach 2ppm for about 7 weeks to get the cycle moving.


Currently, my tank can process 2ppm ammonium within 48 hours, but from what I have read, it should be able to process 2ppm ammonium so there is 0 ammonium and 0 nitrites within 24 hours. It has been "stalled" like this for about 4 weeks.


Tank details:
5.5 gal tank, approximately 4 gal of actual water volume.
Planted with sifted organic soil capped with BDBS. Few pieces of lava rock and some driftwood.
Light is currently a Nicrew ClassicLED Plus at 50% for 6 hours. Previously (for 9/10 weeks) was Josh's Frogs Green Gro 13W LED. Just a light I had from other projects.
Plants: Monte Carlo, DHG, Lobelia cardinalis, Rotala indica, Cryptocoryne retrospiralis, Cryptocoryne undulata, Ludwigia repens 'Broadleaf', Subwassertang, Proserpinaca palustris, Cabomba palaeformis, Christmas moss, Java fern, Sagittaria platyphylla 'Chilensis', Frogbit, RRF, and S. minima as floaters.
Plan to house RCS and eventually Tangerine Tiger Shrimp (if all goes well).
Recently added a small sponge filter (approximately one week ago) with hopes it would help increase surface area for BB.


Current parameters (24 hours after dosing 2ppm ammonium):
Ammonium: 0.25ppm
Nitrites: 0.50ppm
Nitrates: 20.0ppm
pH: 7.4
KH: 2
GH:6
Temp: fluctuates between 18-20 C
TDS: 179ppm*
EC: 372 microsiemens


I have dealt with all of the normal "first tank" issues so far. The tank has become fairly stable and is full of microorganisms (and bladder snails!). I have the algae pretty well under control compared to the outbreaks I had. I'm mainly looking for help getting my cycle to work faster so I feel comfortable adding some neos. Thanks for your help in advance!


Link to picture: https://imgur.com/1gsdt5a
Couldn't figure out how to make the picture smaller in the post so figured I would just post a link to it.



*Question about TDS: I have the HM Digital COM-80 EC/TDS/Temp Hydrotester. It has two settings for TDS that are the 0.5 scale and 0.7 scale. Can someone explain the difference to me? The value I listed above is on the 0.5 scale, but I have been recording the 0.7 scale value in case it is also valuable.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-19-2020, 11:34 PM
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I'm a rookie myself but from my understanding the 0ppm of ammonia within 24 hours might be expected from a fish less cycle and not from a tank that's been stocked as all the critters are releasing ammonia as well. If you're seeing .25ppm after 24 hours with nitrites at only .5ppm I think you're good to stop dosing ammonia but get a second opinion lol
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-20-2020, 05:52 PM
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I wonder if a heater would help, I don’t know enough about shrimp to give you any good advice.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-20-2020, 07:26 PM
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Turn up the heat to 82 deg F or so. Do a 50% water change. Dose Ammonia to 2ppm, and do the water tests, but only add more ammonia if it reaches 0, and if it does reach 0, check the Nitrites if it's 0 as well. If Nitrites aren't 0 you need to keep adding Ammonia in this fashion to get the Nitrite eating bacteria up.

One day it'll all be 0, 0 reading. It takes some time for sure.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-21-2020, 02:14 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all of your replies! I added some heat this morning and will monitor to see any changes.

Bump: Thanks for all of your replies! I added some heat this morning and will monitor to see any changes.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-21-2020, 07:57 PM
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Don't try to rush things. Especially with shrimp in mind. No good will come from that.

Even if your tank is 'cycled' once it can process a particular amount of ammonia, it's still not ideal for shrimp. Your best bet would be to continue feeding the tank an ammonia source for a few more weeks. That allows time for plenty of goodies to develop in surface film and allows for microfauna to proliferate.

Using a heater can speed things up but you're still going to have slight bacterial die-offs when the heat is removed. It'd be better to let bacteria develop at the temperate you'll keep your tank when it's populated with shrimp. The heater thing wouldn't be much of an issue if you were planning on housing fish but I've seen it cause eventual, albeit small, issues with some new shrimp tanks.

Some real talk: You could do a 100% water change and your tank would probably be fine for Neos and Tigers as it currently stands. But I think you should err on the side of caution and let things go on for a while longer.

One of my more recent shrimp tanks took just over two months to be fully 'cycled' and having patience paid off. Since you've already put in so much time with this particular tank, it just makes sense to let things play out.

Note: PM me if you want me to move this to the Shrimp section where more shrimp nerds like me will see it.


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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-24-2020, 04:53 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your response somewhatshocked! I was hoping you or some of the other shrimp gurus I've noticed might chime in. I've definitely been reading lots from you and others and trying to take my time. As I don't want to keep the tank heated all the time, I will take your advice and remove the heater--make sense to me.

I am definitely waiting until I am very confident the tank is mature to add any shrimp. Thanks for your input.

Also, I thought about posting this in the shrimp section, but since the post focused on cycling, I wasn't sure if it was appropriate. If you think this post makes more sense there, feel free to move it.

Bump: Any chance someone can enlighten me on the TDS meter question from above?

*Question about TDS: I have the HM Digital COM-80 EC/TDS/Temp Hydrotester. It has two settings for TDS that are the 0.5 scale and 0.7 scale. Can someone explain the difference to me? The value I listed above is on the 0.5 scale, but I have been recording the 0.7 scale value in case it is also valuable.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-24-2020, 06:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgebby View Post
Thanks for all of your replies! I added some heat this morning and will monitor to see any changes.

Bump: Thanks for all of your replies! I added some heat this morning and will monitor to see any changes.
Since you really don't have much to lose, just more waiting time for the natural cycle by the sounds of it.
Try adding in some Seachem Stability dosed to the directions. I used the tetra version of this type of product and my ammonia to nitrite part of the cycle was done within a day or so, by the looks of your tests it seems like all it needs is a kick in the butt to finish up which the stability might provide. Just make sure to use the product as the label says, it doesn't work at all if too much is added.
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