H0pefulDad

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Hi, I've got a 10 gallon tank set up for a betta fish, and of course I've been trying to cycle it before I get my fish. I used API quick start after adding about 4 ppm of pure ammonia, thinking that would get the cycle happening quickly. But it's been about two weeks now, and it seems like my cycle is stuck on these readings: 2 ppm ammonia, 0.25 ppm nitrites, and 0 nitrates. After testing today I think the ammonia might have gone down a tiny bit, and maybe the nitrites, but there's definitely no nitrates.

Is there any reason this is taking so slow? My aquarium is heated to 78 degrees Fahrenheit and the filter has been running the whole time, but I've never had to add more ammonia, and the nitrite levels have never gone above 0.25 ppm. I added more bacteria from the API quick start a few times, should I try that again or would it be a bad idea at this point? I just want to get one of those adorable bettas at the nearest fish store out of the tiny bowls they're kept in and into a beautiful new home, but I can't do that until I'm sure that it's safe for them.
 

seangee

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Patience is what's needed I'm afraid ;)
Typical cycle can take 6-8 weeks but can be even longer than that. Most likely suspect is the bacteria in the bottle is dead or nearly dead. It needs to be correctly stored and is sensitive to temperature, age etc etc. Its not a complete disaster if this is the case because the cycle will happen anyway without a kick start. FWIW there are more effective products available but others will need to advise on this.
 
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H0pefulDad

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Patience is what's needed I'm afraid ;)
Typical cycle can take 6-8 weeks but can be even longer than that. Most likely suspect is the bacteria in the bottle is dead or nearly dead. It needs to be correctly stored and is sensitive to temperature, age etc etc. Its not a complete disaster if this is the case because the cycle will happen anyway without a kick start. FWIW there are more effective products available but others will need to advise on this.

Hhh, the whole reason I've been using the quick start was so it *wouldn't* take 6 to 8 weeks to cycle. I looked it up and it seems like just keeping the bottled bacteria at room temperature is good, so I don't know how they could be dead already.

I do have another brand of the instant bacteria, and just added it in, so maybe that will work better?
 

Essjay

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The one that gets the most positive reviews is Tetra Safe Start.

With all these bottled bacteria products, if they've got too hot or too cold at any time between the factory and your tank, the bacteria will be dead. And if it's been on the shelf for months, it won't be in the best condition either.


If the tank is to hold just one betta, you only need to use 1 ppm ammonia to cycle with.
The other alternative is to put a lot of live plants in the tank and once they are growing well, get the betta.
 
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H0pefulDad

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The one that gets the most positive reviews is Tetra Safe Start.

With all these bottled bacteria products, if they've got too hot or too cold at any time between the factory and your tank, the bacteria will be dead. And if it's been on the shelf for months, it won't be in the best condition either.


If the tank is to hold just one betta, you only need to use 1 ppm ammonia to cycle with.
The other alternative is to put a lot of live plants in the tank and once they are growing well, get the betta.

I haven't done anything with the bottle myself, but I did order it online, so it's possible that it could've been in bad conditions before arriving. Of course it was from Chewy, and I've heard that they're generally pretty good about transporting that sort of thing correctly.

I think the ammonia's almost down to about 1 ppm, so maybe I'll get the Tetra Safe Start and add it and see what happens. I was going to wait until the cycle was complete before getting any live plants, since the ammonia and nitrites could hurt them too, and I've heard that they can interfere with establishing the cycle.
 

Essjay

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With live plants you don't need to use ammonia to cycle the tank. Plants take up ammonia faster than the filter bacteria and they don't turn it into nitrite. But there needs to be more than just the odd plant or two and they muct be actively growing before getting fish - you don't want to add fish then have the plants die. Floating plants are very good at taking up ammonia and bettas appreciate them too :)
 

Retired Viking

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I agree with @essjay and @seangee , I do a planted cycle on all my tanks. Good floating plants are hornwort, moneywort, water sprite and anacharis. These you can plant or let float. Others that just float are frog bite, salvinia and water lettuce. They all absorb ammonia at a high rate and help improve your water quality
 
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H0pefulDad

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So the general consensus here seems to be that I should forgo the nitrogen cycle entirely in favor of putting live plants in the tank now, since they'll also absorb the ammonia and nitrites? Would the test I was planning to do once my tank was cycled, where I add some ammonia and wait 24 hours to see if there's none of it or any nitrites present, still work in this case to see if my tank is ready for a fish?
 

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The best way to cycle is to periodically change about 50 percent of the water to lower the ammonia ppm to 0.Once the ammonia levels drop you may see nitrite levels increase.Keep changing water until both nitrite and ammonia is 0 ppm. I wouldn’t add any more bacteria or you risk a bacterial bloom which will set you back completely.
 

Essjay

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That sounds more like a fish-in cycle rather than fishless - with fishless you wait until the bacteria have multiplied enough so they take the ammonia to zero. Doing water changes to remove ammonia during fishless cycling is pointless as you want to have ammonia in the water.


If this were my tank, I would do a water change to get rid of the ammonia as plants do not like high ammonia levels, then plant the tank. Wait till they are growing well, then get a betta.
A single betta in 10 gallons won't make very much ammonia; I cycled a 6 gallon tank with 1 ppm ammonia and after I got the betta I never saw any ammonia or nitrite.


Fish make tiny amounts of ammonia every minute of the day. Plants take it up every minute of every day, so the level never gets above zero. If we add ammonia to a (fishless) tank with plants in, there is an appreciable amount of ammonia in the water until the plants have time to remove it all. Plants do not like high levels of ammonia in the water. This is why it is not a good idea to add ammonia as in fishless cycling when there are plants in a tank.
 

RowdyBub50

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Big question is do you want plants? Some people make beautiful scapes with great success, its just another thing for me to kill after it deposits god awful amounts of snails and algae to my tank LOL.

I'm doing fish in but I've got a 75G with 3 Danios. I'm sure I've got SOME ammonia in there but API master kit picks up nothing (no nitrite or rate either) but its only been about 2 weeks too.
I used API Quick start and small water changes. I'm in no rush though, fish look great and I plan on getting 1 oscar one day after several months of happy Danios (they'll get a new home).

The directions on this site are pretty good I think to do a fishless with ammonia (get Dr Tims). If you had 4pp ammonia and now its 2 and stalled you may want to add more ammonia to bring back to 4pp.

Look at the bacteria as 2 fish species that can't survive without the other. If you starve one (not enough ammonia) it dies. Then the second nitrate dies without the first. If its stalled you may not have enough of the 1st.
 

Essjay

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If the cycle is stalled, adding more ammonia is the last thing to do. The more ammonia that's added, the more nitrite that is made and we know that nitrite stalls a cycle at around 15 to 16 ppm. With fishless cycling, sometimes a water change, redosing enough ammonia to get a reading of 3ppm works. 4 ppm is a bit on the high side.
And as this tank will contain just 1 betta, 1 ppm is more than enough ammonia.


H0pefulDad does want plants - he said
I was going to wait until the cycle was complete before getting any live plants



@H0pefulDad if you would rather finish the fishless cycle and you still have a reading of 2 ppm ammonia, you could try doing a 50% water change to get it down to 1ppm and see if that 'unstalls' things.

A further though occurs to me - have you tested the pH? In very soft water with low KH, that small KH can be used up and the pH can crash. Below 6.5, the bacteria stop multiplying. If the pH is above 6.5, that's fine but if it's below 6.5, this might be the cause.
 

RowdyBub50

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If the cycle is stalled, adding more ammonia is the last thing to do. The more ammonia that's added, the more nitrite that is made and we know that nitrite stalls a cycle at around 15 to 16 ppm. With fishless cycling, sometimes a water change, redosing enough ammonia to get a reading of 3ppm works. 4 ppm is a bit on the high side.
And as this tank will contain just 1 betta, 1 ppm is more than enough ammonia.


H0pefulDad does want plants - he said




@H0pefulDad if you would rather finish the fishless cycle and you still have a reading of 2 ppm ammonia, you could try doing a 50% water change to get it down to 1ppm and see if that 'unstalls' things.

A further though occurs to me - have you tested the pH? In very soft water with low KH, that small KH can be used up and the pH can crash. Below 6.5, the bacteria stop multiplying. If the pH is above 6.5, that's fine but if it's below 6.5, this might be the cause.

I thought you'd want to keep the ammonia below 4 but as close to 4 as possible until it was being converted to Nitrate readily. Do you get it to 4pp then just wait until its zero again before adding more?
 

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