Newbie here with scary cycling issues - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-21-2006, 02:26 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Newbie here with scary cycling issues

It's been a few years since I've had an aquarium, and I always had very low-maintenance tanks in the past and never even knew about cycling. I've now jumped in head first with my new 20 gallon tank. Here's my timeline:

Day 1: Took all of the gravel from my month-old, assumedly fully cycled, 2g tank and added them to my new 20g, wrongly assuming that would get the bacteria bed completely set up almost instantly.
Day 3: Added 1 betta splendens, 1 java moss
Day 10: Added 3 African Dwarf Frogs, 4 hair grass
Day 14: Added 3 black neon tetras and 3 glolight tetras
Day 20: Added an additional 3 black neon tetras and 3 glolight tetras
Day 35: Finally found out I needed test kits
Test results:
Nitrite - Off the chart, slightly greater than 10ppm!
Nitrate - 30ppm
Hardness - 150gh
Alkalinity - 40
PH - 7
Ammonia - 0

Since seeing that my nitrite's are seriously endangering my fish I've consistently done 25-30% water changes daily with very little effect for about a week. I tested conditioned tap water and it was fine. Last night I added Phos-X to my filter after the suggestion from my LFS. This morning my test results were nearly identical, with nitrite's only dropping marginally, still off the charts. I've searched for Bio-Spira but can't find it anywhere and just don't have the money right now to order online and pay outrageous shipping.

Any suggestions would -really- be appreciated, I'm worried about my fish!
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-21-2006, 02:35 PM
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Welcome to planted tank, but i'm wondering if this is the right forum for you. We generally discuss topics related to freshwater aquariums with live plants.

That said, I'd say you are on the right track with the water changes, although you could change 50% daily. Make SURE you dechlorinate tapwater if you have chlorine/chloramine in it. If they are present in your aquarium, that could kill off the beneficial bacteria.

It sounds like your filter just needs time to mature. What kind of filter do you use?

Also, make sure you are feeding VERY minimally. Careful to not overfeed.

so the only gravel in the tank is what was from the 2gallon? that's not very much, you will probably want to add more later just to stabilize your water parameters.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-21-2006, 02:53 PM Thread Starter
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I'm confused.. Mine is a freshwater tank with live plants. Or do you just mean that topics like cycling issues aren't discussed? If so I'm sorry and I'll go elsewhere.

I do religiously dechlorinate tapwater, and also have added AmQuel and aquarium salt during major pwc's. And I did add 15lbs aquarium gravel during tank setup, just sprinkled the gravel from my old 2g on top of all of the new stuff to try helping the bacterial bed.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-21-2006, 03:03 PM
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What Ernie was getting to is that a newly set up aquarium needs to be very full of plants, fast growing cheap stem plants are fine, or even floating plants. That allows the plants to use up the nitrites and ammonia almost as fast as they can be generated, and the levels shouldn't ever go high. The substrate needs to be 2 inches to 4 inches deep to allow the plants to grow well, preferably 3 to 4 inches deep. And, without knowing how much light you are providing for the plants we can't say what fertilizing or CO2 system (if any) you need.

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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-21-2006, 03:19 PM Thread Starter
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Ahh, gotcha. I knew that plants would use up nitrates, but hadn't read anything anywhere about them actually removing nitrites as well. That's awesome.

My gravel's about an inch deep, so I'll add some immediately. Do you think that the benefits of that will outweigh the risks? Meaning that I'd thought that adding more gravel might cause the cycle to take even longer, putting my fish at further risk.

Unfortunately I'm still using the plain old flourescent bulb that came with my new tank, but I do have 2 full-spectrum flourescents being shipped. They should get here in the next few das. My plants look healthy, but definitely haven't had much in the way of new growth.

My filter's a Penguin Bio-Wheel, and I've changed the filter (not the wheel) twice already, just in case.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-21-2006, 03:20 PM
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Just some thoughts.

1. Chances are the 6g was not fully cycled within a month. Though it probably did have bacterial colonies, it can take a few months before the tank is fully cycled.
2. African Dwarf Frogs are a heavy bioload and probably 5-10 times that of a similarly sized fish.
3. You have added too many fish too soon. Especially for a 20g tank.Even though you “seeded” the tank with gravel from another system, it will still take some more time to support a fully stocked tank.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-21-2006, 03:28 PM Thread Starter
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It seems that I've made far too many assumptions

Do you think that throwing the dwarf frogs into my old 2g would significantly lower my nitrite levels enough to finish the cycle? And then maybe add them in 1 at a time over a few weeks after the cycle's complete? I'm guessing it's been too long to return them to the store, and besides that I've already gotten attached to them.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-21-2006, 03:41 PM
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Depends on how large the frogs are. I bought 3 of them that were about the size of a dime, but 8 years later they are not so “dwarf” anymore and larger than my hand.

It they are still coin size, they would probably love the 2g if the water is low enough so they can stand on their legs and poke their noses out of the water (or have something in it they can stand on). Another note, I am not positive about this, but I have reasons to suspect they will kill and eat fish if they can catch them. I know they will eat dead fish, just haven’t seen them actually kill one. You might decide to keep them in a separate tank anyway.

For the rest, you could either remove some of the fish or stay heavy on the water changes. You will have to decide what’s more realistic for you.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-21-2006, 11:16 PM
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you can use sechem's prime to detox the nitrite ...just read the label before dosing...and keep up with the waterchanges......

30 gallon pita...102watts..pressurized co2 ...jbj substrate...xp-2... inline c-02 reactor...turbo twist uv
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-22-2006, 12:04 AM
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I bought 3 of them that were about the size of a dime, but 8 years later they are not so “dwarf” anymore and larger than my hand.
You mean african clawed frogs, VIcousfishes has african dwarf frogs
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-22-2006, 12:32 AM
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Get a bottle of Seachem's Stability. It has really helped me out when I've had to push tanks in emergencies.
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-22-2006, 12:39 AM
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You also need more light to make the plants grow faster. The standard light on a 20 gallon is just not enough.

Take a few minutes and read my Guide.
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-22-2006, 01:45 AM
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Okay, first off, don't use AmQuel or lots of Prime to "detoxify" your tank because while it will destress the fishies, it will also starve your bacteria colonies by sequestering the chemicals they feed on, and you'll have to begin your cycle all over. Also, BioSpira doesn't do much to help with already high's best to begin a tank with it, not pour it in halfway through--it'll most likely be a waste of money. You need to stick with 30-50% daily water changes until the nitrites get under 1 ppm. Also, your tank is a bit overstocked right now, EDIT: if the tank was cycled and had all of these fish in it, it wouldn't be overstocked, but cycling a tank with this much livestock in it is very tough to do without losing some and taking much longer than normal. Cycling takes time, so be patient. The water changes will slow down the process some, but your livestock will be much happier for it. If the nitrite levels stay that high, they'll all die. The good news, however, is if your ammonia is at 0, it means your ammonia spike has already occurred so you're at least halfway through cycling. So in summary, daily water changes and reduce the bioload (I'd say get rid of the dwarf frogs first...)
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-22-2006, 03:26 AM
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Honestly, I dont think did enough research (reading) before you dove into this endeavor. A few things I would have done different are:

Putting at least 2 1/2 inches of substrate. You didnt mention the size of your gravel. Something in the smaller size just for the ease of planting would be a good start. Add fast growing plants, not just 1 java fern, an 4 hairgrass, but a load of fast growers. I dont think your hairgrass will make it anyway with the light you have at the moment. The plants will suck up all the toxins ie...amonia an nitrates, an help the tank cycle.

Once the tank has cycled, meaning you have no nitrites and amonia, you can add fish.

If you are gonna be trying to grow in low light, get low light plants. This means a lil research on your part.

I would really recommend goin to Rex Griggs site, he has gave you the link, and read, cause to be honest, it looks like you haven't done much of it.

I am not being demeaning, I just think that instead of throwing a thread up, you should be reading. There is an endless amount of info here. Ya just need to do a lil research.
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-22-2006, 03:29 AM
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sorry for the double post...
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