cycle stuck mid way through? What to do - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-05-2015, 02:39 PM Thread Starter
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cycle stuck mid way through? What to do

I started cycling my 20g long back on May 19th. All of my previous tanks have cycled within 14 days.

Monday, everything was going great. Ammonia was holding at 4ppm for several days. Nitrite showed up and the ammonia levels dropped. Last week I had nitrate show up, around 10ppm. I've been testing and doing daily water changes this entire week and my nitrite levels still show 1ppm. Wed I added 2ml of ammonia to the tank. It registered on the test and within a few hours the ammonia had dropped to 0. I feel this process has gone on long enough. Why am I still showing nitrites after almost 3 weeks of cycling. All of my other tanks once the nitrate showed up, the nitrite went away. I've checked the test on my other tanks, they show 0 nitrite. So I know it's not the test kit showing off results.


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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-05-2015, 02:45 PM
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Cycles sometimes stall for no apparent reason. If you have other established tanks you could always swap some media over to this new tank and I'd feel comfortable adding fish as soon as you add in some extra cycled filter media.

Otherwise, I might try doing a 100% water change and then dose ammonia to about 1ppm (assuming you have tested your source water to make sure there is not something strange going on there!)

Otherwise, I'd wait to see what Diana has to say as she seems to know quite a bit about a fishless cycle.

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-05-2015, 03:09 PM Thread Starter
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I use the same water source for all of my tanks, nothing funky going on there. My other 2 tanks tested fine along with the source water.


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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-05-2015, 04:01 PM
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I dosed to 4 ppm ammonia and never did water changes in my tank while cycle. I did one at the end to drop the nitrates down, but that was all. I've heard mixed suggestions. Try adding some fish food.


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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-05-2015, 09:41 PM
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I notice when not fed the nitrospira bacteria (consumed nitrties and makes nitrates) is the first to die off... and when cycling it take the longest to colonize and as it starts working through the backlog of nitrites already produced, the nitrosomonas continues to produce more nitrites as it consumes ammonia. I find doing water changes to help remove the "back log" of nitrites allows your to build the needed level of nitrospira bacteria without having to go overkill on it to get through several weeks of build up... but it take take a few weeks just to finish the more minimal 2nd part of the cycle..
I like to think of the nitrosomonas bacteria as a real [censor] boss that dumps a huge amount of paper work (nitrites) on nitrospira (lowly cubical worker).. who has to work through all that paper work and bring on more nitrospira (consume and multiply). Mean while the boss (nitrosomonas) continues to dump more and more nitrite paper work on the lil cube farm worker(s)... If you come in all super hero and half the amount of paper work periodically, the nitrospira can get through its back log and start keeping up with the work flow untill there are finally enough workers (nitrospira) to keep up with the paper work (nitrites).
ps: i mean no insult to any cubical farm employee-just using this as an example so don't get offended k ^^

Due to photobuckets new bs cost for use of images on forums I have deleted all photobucket accounts. I apologize if you enjoyed or found my photos helpful.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-05-2015, 10:58 PM Thread Starter
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That makes perfect sense. I'm just got my co2 hooked up. I'm going to test here in a minute.

Its sitting at .25ppm it's a light purple compared to this last night


Doing a large water change right now. At what point is it safe to enter the water? I have fish on hold ready to go. No rush on pick up. I don't want to put them at risk. f2 apistogramma macmasteri that are a young adult pair.


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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-06-2015, 12:06 AM
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Here is the fishless cycle. Read through it and see if your water has the right parameters. These bacteria can be slow to grow in softer, acidic water.
Change the water composition to best suit the bacteria while you are trying to get them to grow and reproduce the fastest. When the cycle is done you can change the water to suit whatever livestock you want to keep.
These bacteria also do not like high levels of ammonia or nitrite. If either of these are approaching 5 ppm do a water change, then dose perhaps half as much ammonia- just enough to keep the first group fed while the nitrospira catch up.

Cycle: To grow the beneficial bacteria that remove ammonia and nitrite from the aquarium.

Fish-In Cycle: To expose fish to toxins while using them as the source of ammonia to grow nitrogen cycle bacteria. Exposure to ammonia burns the gills and other soft tissue, stresses the fish and lowers their immunity. Exposure to nitrite makes the blood unable to carry oxygen. Research methemglobinemia for details.

Fishless Cycle: The safe way to grow more bacteria, faster, in an aquarium, pond or riparium.

The method I give here was developed by 2 scientists who wanted to quickly grow enough bacteria to fully stock a tank all at one time, with no plants helping, and overstock it as is common with Rift Lake Cichlid tanks.

1a) Set up the tank and all the equipment. You can plant if you want. Include the proper dose of dechlorinator with the water.
Optimum water chemistry:
GH and KH above 3 German degrees of hardness. A lot harder is just fine.
pH above 7, and into the mid 8s is just fine.
Temperature in the upper 70s F (mid 20s C) is good. Higher is OK if the water is well aerated.
A trace of other minerals may help. Usually this comes in with the water, but if you have a pinch of KH2PO4, that may be helpful.
High oxygen level. Make sure the filter and power heads are running well. Plenty of water circulation.
No toxins in the tank. If you washed the tank, or any part of the system with any sort of cleanser, soap, detergent, bleach or anything else make sure it is well rinsed. Do not put your hands in the tank when you are wearing any sort of cosmetics, perfume or hand lotion. No fish medicines of any sort.
A trace of salt (sodium chloride) is OK, but not required.
This method of growing bacteria will work in a marine system, too. The species of bacteria are different.

1b) Optional: Add any source of the bacteria that you are growing to seed the tank. Cycled media from a healthy tank is good. Decor or some gravel from a cycled tank is OK. Live plants or plastic are OK. I have even heard of the right bacteria growing in the bio film found on driftwood. (So if you have been soaking some driftwood in preparation to adding it to the tank, go ahead and put it into the tank) Bottled bacteria is great, but only if it contains Nitrospira species of bacteria. Read the label and do not waste your money on anything else.
At the time this was written the right species could be found in:
Dr. Tims One and Only
Tetra Safe Start
Microbe Lift Nite Out II
...and perhaps others.
You do not have to jump start the cycle. The right species of bacteria are all around, and will find the tank pretty fast.

2) Add ammonia until the test reads 5 ppm. This ammonia is the cheapest you can find. No surfactants, no perfumes. Read the fine print. This is often found at discount stores like Dollar Tree, or hardware stores like Ace. You could also use a dead shrimp form the grocery store, or fish food. Protein breaks down to become ammonia. You do not have good control over the ammonia level, though.
Some substrates release ammonia when they are submerged for the first time. Monitor the level and do enough water changes to keep the ammonia at the levels detailed below.

3) Test daily. For the first few days not much will happen, but the bacteria that remove ammonia are getting started. Finally the ammonia starts to drop. Add a little more, once a day, to test 5 ppm.

4) Test for nitrite. A day or so after the ammonia starts to drop the nitrite will show up. When it does allow the ammonia to drop to 3 ppm.

5) Test daily. Add ammonia to 3 ppm once a day. If the nitrite or ammonia go to 5 ppm do a water change to get these lower. The ammonia removing species and the nitrite removing species (Nitrospira) do not do well when the ammonia or nitrite are over 5 ppm.

6) When the ammonia and nitrite both hit zero 24 hours after you have added the ammonia the cycle is done. You can challenge the bacteria by adding a bit more than 3 ppm ammonia, and it should be able to handle that, too, within 24 hours.

7) Now test the nitrate. Probably sky high!
Do as big a water change as needed to lower the nitrate until it is safe for fish. Certainly well under 20, and a lot lower is better. This may call for more than one water change, and up to 100% water change is not a problem. Remember the dechlor!
If you will be stocking right away (within 24 hours) no need to add more ammonia. If stocking will be delayed keep feeding the bacteria by adding ammonia to 3 ppm once a day. You will need to do another water change right before adding the fish.
__________________________

Helpful hints:

A) You can run a fishless cycle in a bucket to grow bacteria on almost any filter media like bio balls, sponges, ceramic bio noodles, lava rock or Matala mats. Simply set up any sort of water circulation such as a fountain pump or air bubbler and add the media to the bucket. Follow the directions for the fishless cycle. When the cycle is done add the media to the filter. I have run a canister filter in a bucket and done the fishless cycle.

B) The nitrogen cycle bacteria will live under a wide range of conditions and bounce back from minor set backs. By following the set up suggestions in part 1a) you are setting up optimum conditions for fastest reproduction and growth.
GH and KH can be as low as 1 degree, but watch it! These bacteria use the carbon in carbonates, and if it is all used up (KH = 0) the bacteria may die off.
pH as low as 6.5 is OK, but by 6.0 the bacteria are not going to be doing very well. They are still there, and will recover pretty well when conditions get better.
Temperature almost to freezing is OK, but they must not freeze, and they are not very active at all. They do survive in a pond, but they are slow to warm up and get going in the spring. This is where you might need to grow some in a bucket in a warm place and supplement the pond population. Too warm is not good, either. Tropical or room temperature tank temperatures are best. (68 to 85*F or 20 to 28*C)
Moderate oxygen can be tolerated for a while. However, to remove lots of ammonia and nitrite these bacteria must have oxygen. They turn one into the other by adding oxygen. If you must stop running the filter for an hour or so, no problem. If longer, remove the media and keep it where it will get more oxygen.
Once the bacteria are established they can tolerate some fish medicines. This is because they live in a complex film called Bio film on all the surfaces in the filter and the tank. Medicines do not enter the bio film well.
These bacteria do not need to live under water. They do just fine in a humid location. They live in healthy garden soil, as well as wet locations.

C) Planted tanks may not tolerate 3 ppm or 5 ppm ammonia. It is possible to cycle the tank at lower levels of ammonia so the plants do not get ammonia burn. Add ammonia to only 1 ppm, but test twice a day, and add ammonia as needed to keep it at 1 ppm. The plants are also part of the bio filter, and you may be able to add the fish sooner, if the plants are thriving.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-06-2015, 12:09 AM Thread Starter
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I followed those instructions. The filter came off a 10g running. Quick swap over. It was cycled and there is a good amount of bio rings in the filter. Would adding a little kno3 help as well? Nitrates are just above 10ppm.


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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-06-2015, 12:16 AM
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Forgive me if I misread this, but I do sometimes read between the lines even when
there's nothing there...
For the cycles to work it needs a supply of ammonia.
It's not clear how often you added ammonia, but you said you added it Wed. then said this has gone on for long enough. Overall it gave me the impression that you have dosed the ammonia twice. Once at the start and then again Wed. ?

The shortest distance between any two points is a straight line...in the opposite direction...
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-06-2015, 12:24 AM
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If you followed all the instructions in the Fishless Cycle, then there is no reason for a cycle to stall.
With no starter colony the fishless cycle above will grow enough bacteria to fully stock the tank in 3 weeks.
With a starter colony to jump start the population it will go faster.

If you followed the instructions, then something else is happening that is stalling the cycle. Is there some source of cleaning products, or ANYTHING else in the tank, or in the room that will slow or stop the growth of bacteria?

Please post ALL water parameters, even if you have to take samples somewhere:
GH
KH
pH
NH3/NH4
NO2
NO3
Test daily, AM and PM for 3 days, and tell us what you are doing to the tank: Adding ammonia? Water change? Adding plant fertilizer? Adding anything else?
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-07-2015, 02:02 PM Thread Starter
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Raymond, excellent point. The first week and a half ish I was dosing ammonia at 4ml, to keep the levels at 4ppm. Once the nitrites showed up, I stopped dosing it daily. Just maintained the 4ppm. When I dosed on wed it was to see how quickly the ammonia was breaking down. Maybe I should have continued to dose daily. I thought as long as I kept the ammonia at 4ppm I was good. Once nitrate showed up I stopped dosing ammonia all together, which was this past monday.

Gh 6
Kh 3
Ph 7ish
Nno3 20ppm

As of this morning I show trace amounts of nitrite. I added some kh2p04 and kno3 to the tank on Thursday after a water change. One more water change, add my plants, wait a few days, I should be good to go to pick up my fish. Yay or nay?


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