Aquarium Setup • Can't get tank to cycle

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Can't get tank to cycle

Postby Domi1113 » Thu Mar 05, 2020 10:59 am

Hello all,

thank you in advance for any help...

I'm at the point of frustration and almost ready to quit...

I've had my tank for 6 months now... about 3 months ago we were leaving for 14 days, so i bought an automatic fish feeder.... well, accidentally, that fell into the tank with all the food - i scooped as much out as possible.
ever since then, i can not get my tank to cycle... I've tried everything I've been told. i do not know what to do any longer... i use the vacuum every time i clean the tank... I've tried everything when it comes to cleaning and doing water changes, daily, every other day, waiting a couple of days... no matter what i do, when i change the water, 4 hours later my ammonia is through the roof, super dark green when tested... I've tested the water i use for the tank, comes back as no ammonia.

I've lost some fish... I'm using ammo lock to keep the current fish alive.
i tried to get a couple catfish, they lasted about 3 days...
I've used the bacteria start up, i went through 3 bottles of it, putting a cap full in each day, no luck

i've moved to feeding them every other day or every third day to make sure i'm not over feeding.

its a 54 gallon corner tank... has about 7 chichilds in it now... i have 2 Ehim cartridge filters

how can i get the tank to cycle and ammonia down?

I'm at a loss and ready to throw in the towel...
Domi1113
 
Joined: Thu Mar 05, 2020 10:50 am
Location: Michigan

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Re: Can't get tank to cycle

Postby Deeda » Thu Mar 05, 2020 1:20 pm

Welcome to C-F!! So sorry you are having problems since the fish food debacle.

How much water are you changing at one time? I would suggest a 50% water change since you say the ammonia is off the charts. Continue doing the water changes, daily if necessary until you see a lower or no ammonia level.

What are you using for substrate? If gravel or similar coarse substrate that is deeper than one inch, you may have food trapped in the substrate still which is contributing to the ammonia problem.

Which Eheim filter do you have that uses cartridges?

Which cichlids do you have and about how large are they?

Any chance you can post some pics of your tank?
Fishless Cycling
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Re: Can't get tank to cycle

Postby Domi1113 » Thu Mar 05, 2020 4:17 pm

I typically change 25 gallons at a time... i did last week change about 45 gallons to just try something different..
I've been doing 25 gallons daily for about 5 days now.

I'm using gravel... I get pretty deep in the rocks and even move them all around to stir more up when cleaning.


EHEIM Classic Canister Filter 2213, Classic 250 - i now have two of them in the tank

African Cichlids - about an inch or so each
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Domi1113
 
Joined: Thu Mar 05, 2020 10:50 am
Location: Michigan

Re: Can't get tank to cycle

Postby Deeda » Thu Mar 05, 2020 4:45 pm

Thanks for the info and the pic.

I count 10 cichlids and maybe a cory cat in the lower front bottom by the pot?

Is the pot you have in there made for aquarium use or is it something you bought elsewhere? The reason I ask is that sometimes off the shelf items can leach unknowns into the aquarium so if you aren't positive it is safe, remove it for the time being to at least eliminate it as source.

Usually a 50% water change will cut down ammonia by 50% assuming there is no excess food, dead fish or other problematic items in the tank. I understand you are frustrated with water changes but I suggest testing for ammonia now and if you see it above zero, do a 50% water change and then test again.

I've not used Ammolock so can't comment on the product. What water conditioner are you using when adding fresh water to the tank?
Fishless Cycling
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Dee
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Re: Can't get tank to cycle

Postby Domi1113 » Thu Mar 05, 2020 5:02 pm

That pic was for a week or so ago - i've lost a fish or two since then... no cory cat

yes, made for aquarium, well i assume as it was bought from my fish store i go to.

I'm not using a water conditioner, should i?

i'm using well water but have a softener
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Re: Can't get tank to cycle

Postby Deeda » Thu Mar 05, 2020 5:30 pm

I didn't know you had well water so as long as you aren't injecting chlorine or similar chemicals you won't need a water conditioner. However, Seachem Prime is commonly used to temporarily bind the harmful ammonia for a couple days to allow the ammonia using bacteria to utilize it.

I'm just trying to eliminate possible causes of the high ammonia level since you have been doing water changes to get the number down. If you continue to do large water changes over the next 2 days and you are not seeing the ammonia drop, I would consider removing all the decorations so you can be more thorough in the substrate vacuuming in case there is still food trapped or maybe a dead fish somewhere.

I also have well water so don't require a water conditioner but have kept Prime or similar product available in case of emergency.

Do you know what type of salt you are using in your softener? Any other type of equipment used to treat your well water?
Fishless Cycling
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Dee
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Re: Can't get tank to cycle

Postby Domi1113 » Thu Mar 05, 2020 6:29 pm

If I were to do say 4 changes a week, I remove the decorations probably twice to get a deep clean.

I use Dura-cube salt in my softener and that’s it

I’ve tested water out of the tap and there’s no ammonia in it.
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Location: Michigan

Re: Can't get tank to cycle

Postby cyclonecichlids » Fri Mar 06, 2020 3:10 am

Domi1113 wrote:If I were to do say 4 changes a week, I remove the decorations probably twice to get a deep clean.

I use Dura-cube salt in my softener and that’s it

I’ve tested water out of the tap and there’s no ammonia in it.


I would start doing 40% water changes 3 time daily for 3-4 days, then once a day for a week. I wouldn't use ammonia lock at all or anything other than a simple dechlorinator. You may be removing ammonia that nitrobacter need to grow, preventing the cycle.

I imagine your levels would return to normal after that regimen. I'd remove all the decorations for now.
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Re: Can't get tank to cycle

Postby Domi1113 » Sat Mar 07, 2020 10:46 am

I will try that, thank you!

When I do vacuum the rocks, I do get a lot of almost like dust coming up, nothing large, just like a white dust.
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Re: Can't get tank to cycle

Postby Deeda » Sat Mar 07, 2020 2:36 pm

I don't see any rocks or substrate in your gravel that could cause white dust so maybe it's just trapped debris or old fish food.

I agree with cyclonecichlids comment about at least temporarily removing decorations so you can be thorough in cleaning the substrate. See if you see more white dust come off of any individual hard decor to see it that is the source of the dust and if so, I wouldn't put those pieces back in the tank.

No problems with the salt brand you are using for the softener as far as I know. Once you get the ammonia under control, I'll ask additional questions about your options for bypassing the softener for your aquarium.

I forgot to ask which brand and type test kit are you using? BTW, what are your test results for nitrite, nitrate and pH?
Fishless Cycling
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Dee
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Re: Can't get tank to cycle

Postby Domi1113 » Sun Mar 08, 2020 11:59 am

After removing the decorations and doing 1 water change a day for last 2 days - ammonia is defintley dropping... seeing this has but me in best spirits with this tank in a long time haha

I'm using the API Freshwater test kit

the ammonia was above 8.0 for a long time... its now in the 1.0 to 2.0 range...

Nitrite was always 0 - i have not rechecked, i will do that this evening(i just did a water change and forgot to test nitrate)

still got a decent amount of the white dust to come up when vacuuming tho - its been coming up for a month or longer
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Re: Can't get tank to cycle

Postby DJRansome » Sun Mar 08, 2020 1:38 pm

It's weird that your nitrite is zero but your ammonia is 8.

Once I was using black foam at the top of my in-tank 3-D background to extend it higher at the waterline. I had an ammonia spike, and realized it was this foam.

Not suggesting you have foreign foam in your tank, but consider ANYTHING in your tank not meant to be in a aquarium.

There is even ammonia in those little paper drinking cups...found this out when I used them for testing ammonia and got a reading when I used the cups but not when I used a glass container to collect the sample.
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Re: Can't get tank to cycle

Postby Domi1113 » Mon Mar 09, 2020 8:52 am

After testing the nitrate and ammonia last night... after a water change in the AM... ammonia was still around 2.0 and nitrates were 0..
still no decorations
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Re: Can't get tank to cycle

Postby DJRansome » Mon Mar 09, 2020 11:04 am

It might not be a decoration. Substrate? Filter intake or output adaptions? Check everything that touches the water or that you put in the water, even occasionally. Net? Arm? Bucket? Siphon?

Do another 50% water change to get the ammonia under 1ppm.
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Re: Can't get tank to cycle

Postby Domi1113 » Mon Mar 09, 2020 11:08 am

it was over 8 when i had the decortations in - its down alot since i've removed all the decorations...

how would i check if my filter is causing ammonia?

I'm willing to try anything.
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