How long should a non-aided cycle take? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 33 (permalink) Old 02-26-2012, 06:53 PM Thread Starter
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How long should a non-aided cycle take?

I've got a few fish and a good amount of plants in a 50/55 gallon tank, and have been cycling now for a week (it started cycling on Feb 19). Ammonia levels are too high to measure, even after 50 to 75 percent water changes.

About how much longer can I expect the cycle to last?
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post #2 of 33 (permalink) Old 02-26-2012, 07:04 PM
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Your unreadable ammonia levels are probably seepage from your potting soil.
I might be wrong.
I was always able to read my ammonia levels during a cycle though.
My cycles unaided lasted 4-5 weeks biweekly wc of 80-90%.


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post #3 of 33 (permalink) Old 02-26-2012, 07:11 PM
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I'd say 4-6 weeks should be good for an un-aided cycle.

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post #4 of 33 (permalink) Old 02-26-2012, 07:11 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you--I was afraid it would be something like that.....

I have a greyish-white cloud settling on everything, too, and making a mess everywhere. It has even clogged up the filters already, and I've had to clean out everything (not the bio-surfaces--I leave those alone).

Is there anything I can do about the seepage?
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post #5 of 33 (permalink) Old 02-26-2012, 07:59 PM
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If I remember correctly you used pebbles to cap your soil?
How about sand. That way it'll seal your cap better. It will fill in between your pebbles and you will keep your pebble look.
There is a fraternity of dirt on here post their they will be able to help you a lot more.


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post #6 of 33 (permalink) Old 02-26-2012, 08:11 PM Thread Starter
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If I remember correctly you used pebbles to cap your soil?
How about sand. That way it'll seal your cap better. It will fill in between your pebbles and you will keep your pebble look.
There is a fraternity of dirt on here post their they will be able to help you a lot more.

It is pebbles. Funny thing--in Diana Walstad's book, she recommends much larger pebbles than what I have, so the mulm and uneaten food can get through to the soil beneath and prevent ammonia problems. Seems like I can't win.
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post #7 of 33 (permalink) Old 02-26-2012, 08:51 PM
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It took over 30 days for my MGO with pool sand top to cycle. Just plants and no critters...

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post #8 of 33 (permalink) Old 02-26-2012, 10:24 PM Thread Starter
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It took over 30 days for my MGO with pool sand top to cycle. Just plants and no critters...
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post #9 of 33 (permalink) Old 02-26-2012, 10:28 PM Thread Starter
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Today I managed to get about 3/4 of the rock wool out (I didn't know you weren't supposed to plant that with the plant--why do they use that stuff, anyway??). I still have three plants with it that I need to clean up and get out. I also got a carton of ammo lock granules and stuffed my auxiliary filter with it. Ammonia levels are going down. Still in the realm of toxic, but lower than this morning.

Hopefully this evening I can get the rest of the rock wool out (awful stuff--whose idea was that??).
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post #10 of 33 (permalink) Old 02-27-2012, 01:42 PM Thread Starter
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I think I got the rest of the rock wool out this morning. From the dwarf hairgrass.

I am never, ever, EVER buying anything potted in rock wool again. EVER. Ever.
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post #11 of 33 (permalink) Old 02-27-2012, 01:59 PM
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If ammonia is too high to measure... how are the fish doing?

What are you using to measure ammonia? Liquid or strips? Liquid will give you a better indication than strips.

And i agree with adding the sand but if you do that now, you'd have to remove everything from the tank, find temporary housing for the fish and plants (buckets will do the trick) and be ready to spend a few hours rinsing sand and adding it to you tank.

What kind of filter do you have on there?

What kind of light bulbs are in your three clamp lights?

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post #12 of 33 (permalink) Old 02-27-2012, 02:12 PM Thread Starter
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If ammonia is too high to measure... how are the fish doing?

What are you using to measure ammonia? Liquid or strips? Liquid will give you a better indication than strips.

And i agree with adding the sand but if you do that now, you'd have to remove everything from the tank, find temporary housing for the fish and plants (buckets will do the trick) and be ready to spend a few hours rinsing sand and adding it to you tank.

What kind of filter do you have on there?

What kind of light bulbs are in your three clamp lights?
Surprisingly the fish are showing minimal signs of distress. It probably helps that I've been doing multiple water changes per day.

I have 2 filters, both hobs: a Fluval C3 and a no-name walmart purchase for backup. One has activated carbon, the other has ammo chips. I also have knee high stockings with activated carbon and ammo chips loose in the tank.

My lights are CFLs, 40 watt equivelent, 5000 kelvin. The plants are doing great, putting out new growth/runners, except what the mollies are destroying.
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post #13 of 33 (permalink) Old 02-27-2012, 02:17 PM Thread Starter
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Woops--missed one!

I'm using drops to test, and have a stick-on monitor in the tank. I also have used ammo lock in an attempt to reduce the ammonia, but it doesn't seem to make a difference. I've read that it may work without showing any change in the test results.
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post #14 of 33 (permalink) Old 02-27-2012, 03:34 PM
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I can't think of anything wrong with your setup then... I wish I knew what that white mess is... can you post pics?

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post #15 of 33 (permalink) Old 02-27-2012, 04:43 PM
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I think you should forget about putting fish in the tank till it's cycled....
Just lots of plants with sand cap and lights on about 8 hrs per day... Let it do it's thing and don't mess with trying to drop the levels.. few water changes a week, maybe 20% and let it go for a while (30 days min.).......... That's how I would do it. Can't you put your fish in your small tank and go from there?

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