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Cycling is taking forever

Hokieokieamy

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Hey guys,

I have been following the tank cycling guide posted here in this forum and I am on the very last step but it is taking forever! I am on the step where it says to continue to test every 24 hrs, if the ammonia and nitrite are not 0, then add another ammonia dose. Continue this pattern until the ammonia & nitrite are zero after 24 hrs of adding a full dose of ammonia. I have done this step maybe 4-5 times?? It said I should only have to do it around 2-3 times. When I test in 24 hrs, the ammonia and nitrite levels are both higher than 0, but not crazy high...around 2 or so?

Am I doing something wrong or do I just need to be more patient? Should I add more bacteria to the tank?

Thanks!!
 

Retired Viking

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Just a suggestion but you could start over and buy Tetra SafeStart Plus. I usually do what is called a silent cycle but I tried SafeStart when I set up my bother-in-laws 20 gallon tank and it worked. ;)
 

JuiceBox52

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If you have another established tank you could move the filter media into the new one for an instant cycle, although if this is your first tank this will not work. Good luck!
 
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Hokieokieamy

Hokieokieamy

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If you have another established tank you could move the filter media into the new one for an instant cycle, although if this is your first tank this will not work. Good luck!
I just might do that! So if I put the filter media into my new tank (which is much larger), it shouldn't take too much longer you think?
 

Barry Tetra

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Just a suggestion but you could start over and buy Tetra SafeStart Plus. I usually do what is called a silent cycle but I tried SafeStart when I set up my bother-in-laws 20 gallon tank and it worked. ;)
Try tetra safestart plus like @Retired Viking said it only took me 11 days to cycle 15 gal tanks.
 

essjay

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What readings are you getting 24 hours after adding 3 ppm ammonia?



If you are shutting down the smaller tank you can move the filter or the media into the new filter and move the fish over at the same time - but do a big water change to get rid of the last bit of ammonia and nitrite first. The old media can deal with the ammonia made by the current fish whatever tank they are in.
If you intend running both, you can use a third of the media from the old tank.

However you are near the end of the cycle. Growing the nitrite eaters always takes longer than growing the ammonia eaters. Depending on what your readings are after 24 hours, you could be virtually there.
 
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Hokieokieamy

Hokieokieamy

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What readings are you getting 24 hours after adding 3 ppm ammonia?



If you are shutting down the smaller tank you can move the filter or the media into the new filter and move the fish over at the same time - but do a big water change to get rid of the last bit of ammonia and nitrite first. The old media can deal with the ammonia made by the current fish whatever tank they are in.
If you intend running both, you can use a third of the media from the old tank.

However you are near the end of the cycle. Growing the nitrite eaters always takes longer than growing the ammonia eaters. Depending on what your readings are after 24 hours, you could be virtually there.
When I tested it yesterday after 24 hours, it was around 2 ppm for both ammonia & nitrite.
 
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Hokieokieamy

Hokieokieamy

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If I wait until my results are under 0.25 for ammonia and below 1 for nitrite, and add about 16 gallons worth of water to my tank (that's how much has been depleted since cycling), do you think it would be safe to go ahead and add my fish? Of course, I will not add in any ammonia after that. Or should I wait until I get 0 for both? I would like to be able to add more fish into my tank as well, but I am afraid they will die if they are not hardier fish :(
 

Deanasue

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Your nitrates should start showing up soon. Transfer your other filter media over as others suggested if it is not dried out. You should then have a cycled tank in a few days. Good luck and please keep us posted. :)
 
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Hokieokieamy

Hokieokieamy

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Your nitrates should start showing up soon. Transfer your other filter media over as others suggested if it is not dried out. You should then have a cycled tank in a few days. Good luck and please keep us posted. :)
I was not able to completely transfer over the filter media because I don't have an extra filter media to replace it with at the moment. However, I did let it sit in my new tank for a bit and rinsed it off before putting it back into my tank with the fish in it. If I do this maybe once a day, do you think that will help? Also, should I be checking my nitrates at this point? I have only been checking ammonia & nitrites.
 

Deanasue

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I was not able to completely transfer over the filter media because I don't have an extra filter media to replace it with at the moment. However, I did let it sit in my new tank for a bit and rinsed it off before putting it back into my tank with the fish in it. If I do this maybe once a day, do you think that will help? Also, should I be checking my nitrates at this point? I have only been checking ammonia & nitrites.
Yes! If you have nitrates then your almost there. The ammonia and nitrites will continue drop as your nitrates rise. Once you have 0 ammonia, & nitrites, and you have nitrates then just do a water change to lower your nitrates belie 10ppm. You are then ready for a few fish. You can also place some gravel if you have it from your old tank in a panty hose and drop that in your new tank. It has beneficial bacteria in it too to speed things up. When you wash your filter, wash it in tank water, never chlorine water or it will destroy some if your beneficial bacteria. :)
 
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Hokieokieamy

Hokieokieamy

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Yes! If you have nitrates then your almost there. The ammonia and nitrites will continue drop as your nitrates rise. Once you have 0 ammonia, & nitrites, and you have nitrates then just do a water change to lower your nitrates belie 10ppm. You are then ready for a few fish. You can also place some gravel if you have it from your old tank in a panty hose and drop that in your new tank. It has beneficial bacteria in it too to speed things up. When you wash your filter, wash it in tank water, never chlorine water or it will destroy some if your beneficial bacteria. :)
Great, I will check my nitrates. I do not have gravel in my other tank but I do have sand, which I am suspecting would work the same way? Thanks a lot.
 

essjay

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When I tested it yesterday after 24 hours, it was around 2 ppm for both ammonia & nitrite.
If ammonia and nitrite are that high after 24 hours you still have a way to go yet.

How often have you been adding ammonia? You should only add it when you reach a day where ammonia is less than 0.25 and nitrite is less than 1.0.

If I wait until my results are under 0.25 for ammonia and below 1 for nitrite, and add about 16 gallons worth of water to my tank (that's how much has been depleted since cycling), do you think it would be safe to go ahead and add my fish? Of course, I will not add in any ammonia after that. Or should I wait until I get 0 for both? I would like to be able to add more fish into my tank as well, but I am afraid they will die if they are not hardier fish :(
But you say you've lost 16 gallons of water - is that due to evaporation? The way ppm work is 1 ppm is 1 g substance in 1 million ml water (or 1000 litres). If you reduce the volume of water to 500 litres for example, that is 1 g substance in 500 litres, and the ppm of that water is actually 2 ppm. So your lost 16 gallons will make the ammonia and nitrite concentrations higher than if the tank were full.
Can I suggest you top up the lost 16 gallons now and after half an hour test ammonia and nitrite again. Keep the water topped up till the cycle finishes.


Once the cycle has finished you'll need to empty virtually all the water. Not only does the cycle make a lot of nitrate, but if you are losing water to evaporation, everything in the water will become more concentrated as the stuff dissolved in it does not evaporate. This includes hardness minerals, so the water in the tank will be becoming harder.



If the tank suffers a lot of evaporation between weekly water changes, don't use tap water to top it up; use pure water - RO or distilled or even rain water if it doesn't get contaminated where you live.
 
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Hokieokieamy

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If ammonia and nitrite are that high after 24 hours you still have a way to go yet.

How often have you been adding ammonia? You should only add it when you reach a day where ammonia is less than 0.25 and nitrite is less than 1.0.



But you say you've lost 16 gallons of water - is that due to evaporation? The way ppm work is 1 ppm is 1 g substance in 1 million ml water (or 1000 litres). If you reduce the volume of water to 500 litres for example, that is 1 g substance in 500 litres, and the ppm of that water is actually 2 ppm. So your lost 16 gallons will make the ammonia and nitrite concentrations higher than if the tank were full.
Can I suggest you top up the lost 16 gallons now and after half an hour test ammonia and nitrite again. Keep the water topped up till the cycle finishes.


Once the cycle has finished you'll need to empty virtually all the water. Not only does the cycle make a lot of nitrate, but if you are losing water to evaporation, everything in the water will become more concentrated as the stuff dissolved in it does not evaporate. This includes hardness minerals, so the water in the tank will be becoming harder.



If the tank suffers a lot of evaporation between weekly water changes, don't use tap water to top it up; use pure water - RO or distilled or even rain water if it doesn't get contaminated where you live.
Yes, the loss of water is due to evaporation. However, when I add in ammonia, I find the volume of my tank to determine how much ammonia to add. So right now, with the subtraction of water, I have around 20 gallons in my tank so I have been adding around 1/5 of a tsp to my tank. Is this okay to do, since I am not adding the full ammonia amount?
 
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