Almost cycled, ammonia won’t go down

bbryant573

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we have 2 55 gallon tanks…

The one 55 gallon tank we started cycling since the end of June…it started out as fishless, on the 3rd of August we added 4 Mollies, 3 of them died….

We have sand substrate, lava rocks and live plants…. 2 of the plants we bought from Petco right from their tanks thinking that might help get this tank cycled…. I have a Tidal 75 hang on the back filter….

I have kept a journal of every water test I have done, I have logged everything I have done to this tank. I have used Stability and Prime…

Ammonia was at 4.0 on the 21st through the 27th of August…it dropped to 2.0 on the 28th…

On the 29th:
Ammonia 2.0
Nitrites 0
Nitrates 2.0

The numbers have not changed I have been dosing the tank with 2.5 capful of Stability and Prime…no change.

I am seriously thinking of draining the dang thing and giving up before I even start really having fish.

I will say this I have not tested the tank since the 5th…. I am discouraged and just don’t want to mess with it….

Do I do a water change, which gives me pause because I have heard water changes can stall the cycle but then again what the he** at this point, right lol!!!!

I will say this the pH is low… 6.0

Suggestions, please!?
 
What were you using as an ammonia source before adding the Mollies?

Is there a Molly in there now? Prime is to protect the fish, but it will stall a cycle as it neutralises the ammonia so the bacteria can't feed on it and establish the way they are meant to.

If there is still a fish in there, you need to be doing 75% water changes any time ammonia or nitrite is above 0, and keep using the prime - this might be daily. It will be a very slow way to cycle, but it will get there eventually and the fish will hopefully be OK.

If it's fishless again, then drain the whole thing and start again using the method as described in the cycle post at the top of this forum.
 
What were you using as an ammonia source before adding the Mollies?

Is there a Molly in there now? Prime is to protect the fish, but it will stall a cycle as it neutralises the ammonia so the bacteria can't feed on it and establish the way they are meant to.

If there is still a fish in there, you need to be doing 75% water changes any time ammonia or nitrite is above 0, and keep using the prime - this might be daily. It will be a very slow way to cycle, but it will get there eventually and the fish will hopefully be OK.

If it's fishless again, then drain the whole thing and start again using the method as described in the cycle post at the top of this forum.
I was using fish food for the ammonia source and using Stability….

And yes there is ONE mollie in there now. Can I change to a different live bacteria, like Fritz 7 or Dr. Tim’s…
I really don’t want to start over on this tank, I have been trying to get this dang thing cycled since the end of June.
 
Fish food is pretty unreliable as far as cycling goes unfortunately as it's so hard to get the ammonia levels to where you need them to be consistently. The best thing to use is pure ammonia and follow a good guide - like the one found on this forum. Fishless cycling takes 6-8 weeks, if done properly.

I don't know anything about those live bacteria options, but from what I've seen in here they are one of the best so it might help more than the stability.

Since there is a molly left, your main priority is looking after her and ensuring she is living in 0 ammonia and nitrite as much as possible - so, daily testing and water changes when needed using the prime until you stop getting ammonia or nitrite spikes. If you can get some more fast growing live plants like stems or floating that will really help the health of your fish too. The cycle will take as long as it takes, and because you're doing fish in then you'll have to go very slowly when it comes time to adding new fish in the coming months so the bacteria population can catch up each time.

As mentioned, the other option is to give the molly back and restart a fishless cycle using the guide, and in a few weeks your tank should be fully cycled to add all the fish.

As frustrating as it is, you'll just have to gain some patience unfortunately... It'll be worth it down the line when you have a healthy tank and fish.
 
I am serious thinking of just quitting, I have been trying to get this tank cycled since the end of June…. And I am just done with it. I am to the point of just letting it go and not doing anything with it…. I honestly don’t want Otto mess with it any more.
 
First, can you post a photo of the tank so we can see just what the plants are? This is probably the issue, I will explain when I see the photo.

You have another issue re the mollies...they need moderately hard or harder water and a basic (above 7)pH or they will not last. The pH being 6 would suggest soft water, but please confirm with the GH level. You should be able to get this off the website of your water authority if you do not already know.
 
First, can you post a photo of the tank so we can see just what the plants are? This is probably the issue, I will explain when I see the photo.

You have another issue re the mollies...they need moderately hard or harder water and a basic (above 7)pH or they will not last. The pH being 6 would suggest soft water, but please confirm with the GH level. You should be able to get this off the website of your water authority if you do not already know.
Believe it or not our one lone Mollie is doing great, but I will post pictures of the tank tonight…. I know we have Java ferns and we have 2 tree looking plants that we got from Petco….
 
Believe it or not our one lone Mollie is doing great, but I will post pictures of the tank tonight…. I know we have Java ferns and we have 2 tree looking plants that we got from Petco….

OK, I'll wait for the photos to explain what may be happening here. Can you also get the GH, this is crucial to the molly (and other fish down the road).
 
I was using fish food for the ammonia source and using Stability….

And yes there is ONE mollie in there now. Can I change to a different live bacteria, like Fritz 7 or Dr. Tim’s…
I really don’t want to start over on this tank, I have been trying to get this dang thing cycled since the end of June.
Don't bother with the live bacteria starters. They don't work. You'd be better off with some substrate or filter media from a tank you trust.
 
Almost everything posted in this thread is not correct.

I would suggest you take a look at the excellent cycling information on this site: https://www.fishforums.net/threads/cycle-your-tank-a-complete-guide-for-beginners.475055

1. Dechlors which neutralize ammonia basically convert it to the way less toxic ammonium form. The problem iis that the bacteria prefer ammonia NH3. However, thay can use the NH4 but leff efficiently. This makes the cycle take lomger but it does not stop it.
2. Prime does not destrpu the ammonia as notred. But most hobby test kits measure both NH3 and NH4 and produce a Tpotal Ammonia reading. AFyer about 24 hours prome stop working and the ammonia present as NH4 can revert to some level of NH3.
3. Live plant use ammonium NH4. they can use this faster than bacteria can use NH3. But live plants also host nitrifying bacteria in their stems leaves and even roots. So Adding or having live plants means you have less bacteria becase less are needed.
4. Fish food contains little organic material and will create very little ammonia. It is a very ineffective way to cycle but a great way to foul the water and create a bloom of other bacteria which turns the water cloudy. A piece of shrimp is a far better choice, but using actual ammonia is the besy choice. It ie easy, controlled and has been the pr3ferred methof for fishless cycling since about 1996.
5. How much of the total ammonia is in a tank depends upon two factors. The main one is the pH and then temperature also matter but much less. The lower the pH, the more of the ammonia is in the NH4 form. At 6.0 pH virtually all of the ammonia is ammonium. So ypur pH is slowing your cycling. Cyling should be done from 97.0 to aboive 8,0 for fastest results, it should also be done at warmer temps- think over 80F.
6. What hold pH is the KH. In tanks this is mostly carbonates and bicoarbonates. They also supply the inorganic carbon the bacteria must have to function. At 6.0 you likely have a low KH and that may be another issue for your cycling going off track.
7. Almost any bacterial starter you can buy does not contain the bacteria that wil;l ultimately co,onize your tank long term. Stabilty contains no bacteia at all, only spores. Nitrifyinh bacteria do not form spores. Fritz is no better. Use either Dr. Tim's one and Only of tetra's Safe Start (or Safe Start Plus). The nitrospira bacteria which convert nitrite to nitrate are patented along with the means to test for them and cannot be used bu anybody except the two products I mentioned.
8. There is never any need for more than 3 ppm of ammonia for a fishless cycle. The method here is foolproof when followed exactly. Most cycles are stalled by too much nitrite. This is caused by dosing to much amoonia and or dosing it too often.
9. The one good thing here is at 6.0 pH your ammonia is not harming your fish for the short term. At 6,0 pH you can have 2 ppm of ammonia for some time and it will not be harming your fish. But raise the pH to 7 or higher and that will change things and the fish will be in trouble.

The above is the short ans sweet versions of things. I could get you through cyling in a matter of weeks, but unfortuately I am quite busy at this time and getting onto the forums over then next few days will be difficult.
 
Almost everything posted in this thread is not correct.

I would suggest you take a look at the excellent cycling information on this site: https://www.fishforums.net/threads/cycle-your-tank-a-complete-guide-for-beginners.475055

1. Dechlors which neutralize ammonia basically convert it to the way less toxic ammonium form. The problem iis that the bacteria prefer ammonia NH3. However, thay can use the NH4 but leff efficiently. This makes the cycle take lomger but it does not stop it.
2. Prime does not destrpu the ammonia as notred. But most hobby test kits measure both NH3 and NH4 and produce a Tpotal Ammonia reading. AFyer about 24 hours prome stop working and the ammonia present as NH4 can revert to some level of NH3.
3. Live plant use ammonium NH4. they can use this faster than bacteria can use NH3. But live plants also host nitrifying bacteria in their stems leaves and even roots. So Adding or having live plants means you have less bacteria becase less are needed.
4. Fish food contains little organic material and will create very little ammonia. It is a very ineffective way to cycle but a great way to foul the water and create a bloom of other bacteria which turns the water cloudy. A piece of shrimp is a far better choice, but using actual ammonia is the besy choice. It ie easy, controlled and has been the pr3ferred methof for fishless cycling since about 1996.
5. How much of the total ammonia is in a tank depends upon two factors. The main one is the pH and then temperature also matter but much less. The lower the pH, the more of the ammonia is in the NH4 form. At 6.0 pH virtually all of the ammonia is ammonium. So ypur pH is slowing your cycling. Cyling should be done from 97.0 to aboive 8,0 for fastest results, it should also be done at warmer temps- think over 80F.
6. What hold pH is the KH. In tanks this is mostly carbonates and bicoarbonates. They also supply the inorganic carbon the bacteria must have to function. At 6.0 you likely have a low KH and that may be another issue for your cycling going off track.
7. Almost any bacterial starter you can buy does not contain the bacteria that wil;l ultimately co,onize your tank long term. Stabilty contains no bacteia at all, only spores. Nitrifyinh bacteria do not form spores. Fritz is no better. Use either Dr. Tim's one and Only of tetra's Safe Start (or Safe Start Plus). The nitrospira bacteria which convert nitrite to nitrate are patented along with the means to test for them and cannot be used bu anybody except the two products I mentioned.
8. There is never any need for more than 3 ppm of ammonia for a fishless cycle. The method here is foolproof when followed exactly. Most cycles are stalled by too much nitrite. This is caused by dosing to much amoonia and or dosing it too often.
9. The one good thing here is at 6.0 pH your ammonia is not harming your fish for the short term. At 6,0 pH you can have 2 ppm of ammonia for some time and it will not be harming your fish. But raise the pH to 7 or higher and that will change things and the fish will be in trouble.

The above is the short ans sweet versions of things. I could get you through cyling in a matter of weeks, but unfortuately I am quite busy at this time and getting onto the forums over then next few days will be difficult.
Everything that you have said is the total opposite of everything that I have learned about cycling a tank. From using fish food to using artificial bacteria... why is that?

Last night I set out a glass of our tap water to let it sit over night and this morning I tested it for the pH and it tested 7.6... will crushed coral help with the pH? Or is there a better product on the market you recommend?
 
First, can you post a photo of the tank so we can see just what the plants are? This is probably the issue, I will explain when I see the photo.

You have another issue re the mollies...they need moderately hard or harder water and a basic (above 7)pH or they will not last. The pH being 6 would suggest soft water, but please confirm with the GH level. You should be able to get this off the website of your water authority if you do not already know.
 

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Last night I set out a glass of our tap water to let it sit over night and this morning I tested it for the pH and it tested 7.6... will crushed coral help with the pH? Or is there a better product on the market you recommend?

The tap water is 7.6, so that is settled. But the GH is still crucial here, and I am suspecting it is low along with the KH which is why the pH in the tank lowers to 6. Please provide the numbers for GH (and KH or Alkalinity if you can), check your municipal water authority's website, it may be there. You cannot even consider adjusting the pH until you know the GH and KH, as these three are related/connected.

Another thing you should check, with your water authority site, concerns anything they may add to the water. Chlorine or chloramine is one (two) things, but they may add chemicals to increase the pH, this is common in soft water areas. You need to know, as this will impact chemistry in the aquarium.
 
The tap water is 7.6, so that is settled. But the GH is still crucial here, and I am suspecting it is low along with the KH which is why the pH in the tank lowers to 6. Please provide the numbers for GH (and KH or Alkalinity if you can), check your municipal water authority's website, it may be there. You cannot even consider adjusting the pH until you know the GH and KH, as these three are related/connected.

Another thing you should check, with your water authority site, concerns anything they may add to the water. Chlorine or chloramine is one (two) things, but they may add chemicals to increase the pH, this is common in soft water areas. You need to know, as this will impact chemistry in the aquarium

The only report that I found for the water was from 2018…. I will say that the water where we live comes from Bartlesville a town about 15 miles north of where I live. And they have a lot of trouble with their pipes, and after each repair the water is very cloudy.

But I can get a kH gH test kit…. Would that help?
 
The only report that I found for the water was from 2018…. I will say that the water where we live comes from Bartlesville a town about 15 miles north of where I live. And they have a lot of trouble with their pipes, and after each repair the water is very cloudy.

But I can get a kH gH test kit…. Would that help?

You may only need to test once, so don't waste money. Do you have a local fish store that is reliable; they will often do tests. Take them the tap water, not the tank water. And be sure they give you numbers for GH and KH, not meaningless subjective terms like "moderate" or "OK" which really tells us nothing. Numbers matter here.
 

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