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Discussion Starter #1
I've been cycling a 20g tall hospital tank for about a month now - it does have one juvie angel fish in it but it was seeded with bacteria and plants from 2 of my established tanks when it was set up and I also added an entire large bottle of Safestart.

I've been using the Seachem Multi test kits - the ones specifically made to use with products like Prime.

The tests consistantly show zero free ammonia, but the total ammonia reading is still showing some ammonia in the tank. A drop test kit also shows about .25 ammonia. Nitrites are zero and nitrates are reading at 1 (using the Seachem tests) after a water change yesterday. I do 25% water changes every other day. There are no meds in the tank, it is bare bottom (altho I may add gravel today), and has an airstone along with an appropriate sized filter, and temp is set for 78 degrees.

So I'm assuming the tank still isn't fully cycled, right? At some point the bacteria should take care of ALL the ammonia and the total ammonia should read zero, right? I do have chloramines in my water - not sure if that contributing to the problem - and I use Prime.

I'm not concerned about the fish in there since the free ammonia is zero and he is healing nicely and doing very well. I'm just wondering why, when the tank was so heavily seeded, I'm still seeing any ammonia at all after a month. I've decided to keep this tank as the angels permanent home, at least for a while) and want to add a few corys in there but I just can't seem to get the total ammonia down to zero.
 

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Tank is cycled for the waste load of the one fish.

Your test is showing you the locked up ammonia from the constant water changes.

When you want to add more fish you will have to add more Safe Start.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
So you feel it's safe to add, say one cory and some Safe Start now, and then maybe another in a week, etc?

Also, why wouldn't the tank cycle for the bioload of the one fish AND the bioload from the ammonia released from the water changes? Prime does say that it makes the ammonia available for the biofilter, and the frequent water changes have been going on since the tank was set up because of the fish being ill. So I would think the bacteria would have built up by now to accomodate the extra ammonia from the frequent water changes. Note that one the days I've added either filter squeezings or Safe Start I have waited 4 days to do any water change.
 

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I would sure think it would grow to handle the ammonia as well as the fish waste. It probably does. Perhaps you are testing too soon after a water change, before the bacteria has processed the ammonia? Or maybe the ammonia lingers in the locked up condition, the bacteria might be slower to get going on it, so it is still there when you test.

Yes, it is safe to add more fish. If you add just a couple of small ones, then just a small amount of Tetra Safe Start. If you add larger fish or more of them, then add a larger dose of Safe Start.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you Diana - things drive me nuts when they don't behave the way I expect. I did the last water change about 24 hours prior to testing, so perhaps you are right about it being too soon.

In any event, I want to add some gravel to the tank beforehand and take my time moving any fish over.
 
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