Help!!! Ammonia stuck at same spot during cycle

drizzy_052248

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Hey guys, I'm quite new to owning fish but I have somewhat a little bit of knowledge, I've been fish less cycling my 10 g tank for 3 months yes ik long time, but I made the mistake to stop putting ammonia in. My source of ammonia is fish food as where I live I don't have access to actual ammonia. I've attached a photo of my latest test results, yesterday my nitrite was at 0 and now it looks like it climbed to 0.25. Before my nitire was 0 it was around 0.50. My ammonia on the other hand has been around this for quite some time now, around 0-0.50. Nitrate has been almost the same, around the middle of 0-5.0. I had done a 75% water change as I thought maybe i had stalled the tank because I stopped putting ammonia and i thought maybe it'll help get it running again, after the water change nitrite was 0.50 then 0, ammonia and nitrite still same like i previously said. Idk what to do pls help!! Thanks in advance
 

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magical trevor

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My guess would be the filters not cycled yet. If your doing a fishless cycle there's no harm done.

I would leave it for a few days to see if the ammonia starts creeping back up if you said it's stalled , then 50% water change if it does. Provided your using the test kit as instructed. It will give you accurate readings. I had a friend struggle to get correct results for to not using the kit as directed.
 
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drizzy_052248

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My guess would be the filters not cycled yet. If your doing a fishless cycle there's no harm done.

I would leave it for a few days to see if the ammonia starts creeping back up if you said it's stalled , then 50% water change if it does. Provided your using the test kit as instructed. It will give you accurate readings. I had a friend struggle to get correct results for to not using the kit as directed.
Thanks for responding, so should i still keep on adding fish food for ammonia or just completely leave it alone? and then what happens if nothing happens at all and just stays the same, what should i do? thanks.
 

magical trevor

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Thanks for responding, so should i still keep on adding fish food for ammonia or just completely leave it alone? and then what happens if nothing happens at all and just stays the same, what should i do? thanks.
I wouldn't add loads just a wee pinch to keep things turning and see what happens but if you do see a huge spike in ammonia do a large water change. I don't understand why such a small tank has taken 3 months to establish? Although using fish food break down to cause ammonia takes longer than using straight ammonia.
 
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drizzy_052248

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I wouldn't add loads just a wee pinch to keep things turning and see what happens but if you do see a huge spike in ammonia do a large water change. I don't understand why such a small tank has taken 3 months to establish? Although using fish food break down to cause ammonia takes longer than using straight ammonia.
yea thats the thing though, i have been putting ammonia for the past week and a half maybe but still same results :/, its probably taken a long time because i made the mistake of stopping of put ammonia which is why i think its stalled maybe, idk thats why i came here. So do u think i should jus leave it alone for the next 2 days or so regarding the fact that i have been putting little amounts of ammonia since a little over a week now? Thanks appreciate the help!
 

magical trevor

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Yes leave it for a couple of days and see if your results change. I don't understand why they wouldn't change. What filter are you using?
 
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drizzy_052248

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Yes leave it for a couple of days and see if your results change. I don't understand why they wouldn't change. What filter are you using?
I am using a filter that i got that came with the 10 g tank, its called the top fin silenstream 10 power filter
 
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drizzy_052248

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Yes leave it for a couple of days and see if your results change. I don't understand why they wouldn't change. What filter are you using?
and yes ok ill leave it, i wont do anything to it until Thursday morning, and ill update it here, thanks!!
 
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drizzy_052248

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Yes leave it for a couple of days and see if your results change. I don't understand why they wouldn't change. What filter are you using?
Hey sorry for another reply, but i was just reading something, is it possible for the cycle to be stuck if ammonia isn't higher than a certain amount or something? because i've seen where people have to keep 4 ppm of pure ammonia and keep it there at all times until nitrites show up and then nitrates or something along those lines. is this a possibility why the ammonia is stuck? because im not putting as much fish food thats worth about 4 ppm? edit: or, maybe it does get rid of the initial amount but when i add more ammonia its the same reading because its the same amount of ammonia maybe? idk its a possibility i guess maybe lol. i guess it makes sense now to wait on it for a couple of days.
 
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mcordelia

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don't go above 3ppm with ammonia, you will grow different bacteria than what you want. I think a cycle being stuck with not enough ammonia is a misnomer, I recently cycled the ammonia out of a tank on accident simply by using dechlorinator without knowing that my water had chloramine in it (ammonia source). It never went higher than .25 ppm (that I know of, I wasn't testing so it could have been higher, but there was no meaningful ammonia source so I doubt it).

more often, a cycle gets stuck due to too-high nitrite levels. nitrites above 2ppm (I am kind of making this number up) can potentially cause a cycle to take longer than it would otherwise. If you are seeing high nitrites (I know the purples all look the same, dilute your sample by 50% with tap water, and then another 50% [before adding the test solution] etc until you get a reading you can decide what the color is), and then do water change(s) until you bring down the nitrites to something like 1ppm and see if your cycle picks up.

I very much applaud you for your patience by the way. Three months is no joke. Do you have access to a bacterial starter like Tetra safe start plus or seachem stability? I know folks in canada may need to order some of these online, and the tetra safe start plus might not like the cold temperatures (from what I understand, stability is spores instead of live bacteria so it is more resistant to temperature fluctuations, but that is also why it works slower). That could help speed your cycle along.

Otherwise, you are doing everything correctly, keep adding fish food to keep a bioload ongoing (if you are past the first stage of the cycle and stuck at the nitrites, then you might not be able to measure the ammonia after a while, just keep adding small amounts of fish food 1-3x/week to keep the bacteria alive). If your nitrites get too high (personally, I'd say above 1ppm, but I don't think there's any good data on what level of nitrites stalls the cycle), then do water change(s) to get them lower, and keep waiting. Try to get your hands on a bacterial starter so you can get to the fish part of the fish hobby as well :)
 

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wait, I just re-read your first post. you said your nitrite looks like 0.5 and then changes to 0? Does that happen within the 5min waiting period? that means that the nitrites in the tank are too high for your test to read. Do a 75% water change, test again, and then do another 75% water change if it still flashes purple before going back to blue. You can do successive dilutions of a tank water sample to figure out what the actual level of nitrites are, or you can just do a 100% water change, add new water, and then test an hour later. doing a 100% water change won't kill the bacteria in the substrate or your filter or your decorations, but it will help get rid of super high nitrites if that's what's going on.
 
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drizzy_052248

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wait, I just re-read your first post. you said your nitrite looks like 0.5 and then changes to 0? Does that happen within the 5min waiting period? that means that the nitrites in the tank are too high for your test to read. Do a 75% water change, test again, and then do another 75% water change if it still flashes purple before going back to blue. You can do successive dilutions of a tank water sample to figure out what the actual level of nitrites are, or you can just do a 100% water change, add new water, and then test an hour later. doing a 100% water change won't kill the bacteria in the substrate or your filter or your decorations, but it will help get rid of super high nitrites if that's what's going on.
Thanks i really appreciate the reply, first, my tap water does have a source of chlorine and clhoramime and i have a dechlorinator to get rid of that, as of rn i am using Tetra aqua safe.Secondly I did have a bacteria starter kindve thing, its called Nutrafin Cycle as it was the most easiest way to access it for me, i used it like the instructions said but i dont think it ever worked and honestly i feel like it made things worse, but anyways. The tetra safe start or the seachem stability isnt really around where i live .:/. Third, my main problem is just that my ammonia is stuck at the same place for some time now and my nititres would be the exact same if i dont do water changes, nitrates also stay the same, like the picture i included if u can see it by any chance. Nitrates dont go up, ammonia stays exactly the same. I did a water change and nitrates and ammonia were the same, ammonia 0-0.50 and nitrate something in the middle of 0. 5.0 whilst nitrite maybe 20 mins later went down froom zero after being maybe a 1.0? i did a 75% water change as maybe something as just wrong with the water itself. Then the day after the water change, nititres up while ammonia the same. Sorry if that was confusing, but i tried to explain it best as i could lol. Its jus so confusing how nitrites go up and ammonia stays the same roughly. P.S. Thank you again for helping!!
 

mcordelia

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Depending on how much rotting fish food there is in the tank, it's not unheard of for the ammonia to stay constant if there is a continuous high supply of it.

Are you sure your test kit is working? Have you tested tap water and bottled water for all parameters? I have heard anecdotal mentions that the API ammonia reagent may always be a light green in some test kits, especially depending on how they may have been stored or shipped.

In my experience, the nitrite test does not change colors once it settles on a shade of purple, even after a couple of hours. Have you taken a sample of your water to your LFS and had them test it for you? It will be informative at this stage to find out if the get the same values as you are getting.
 
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drizzy_052248

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Depending on how much rotting fish food there is in the tank, it's not unheard of for the ammonia to stay constant if there is a continuous high supply of it.

Are you sure your test kit is working? Have you tested tap water and bottled water for all parameters? I have heard anecdotal mentions that the API ammonia reagent may always be a light green in some test kits, especially depending on how they may have been stored or shipped.

In my experience, the nitrite test does not change colors once it settles on a shade of purple, even after a couple of hours. Have you taken a sample of your water to your LFS and had them test it for you? It will be informative at this stage to find out if the get the same values as you are getting.
There may be alot of rotting food in the tank and it is continuous as when i stopped for a dumb reason i starting putting it everyday, u think this is the reason? if it is i was kinda on the right track on a few replies earlier from mine today. Im not too sure though. And i use tap water as my source for water so u think i should test it cuz i havent yet. If i were to test it should i put dechlorinator in it? Also no i havent taken it to my LFS yet as i dont really trust them i just feel like they would say its ready so i can buy fish and when they die buy more. Idk this is based on peoples experiences that ik. I might do it soon though
 
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mcordelia

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Ask the LFS for the numbers, or watch them do it. Go ahead an test your tap water, doesn't need to be dechlorinated, but it should read a little ammonia after you dechlorinate it if you have chloramine in your tap water. That's why I suggested also testing a sample of bottled water, if you happen to have any.

Do you have any plants in your tank? I am wondering whether adding some biological matter to your tank in the form of hardy plants would help your cycle along. You would want something like java fern or hornwort or water sprite since those plants are hardy and can tolerate ammonia and nitrites present in the tank. It would not change the cycle type, but I'm wondering whether the plants might come with some beneficial bacteria attached to help seed your tank.

How much visible rotting fish food do your have in your tank? If it it more than a 2cm x 2 cm area for every 10 gallons of tank volume, it might be a little much and you may be interested in doing a vacuuming of the gravel to clean it up a bit and see what that does to your numbers.

I just want to make sure I am understanding this correctly:
- your ammonia has been reading 0.25 for months
- your nitrites go down to 0 after a water change, and then go back up to 0.5 when you test the next day
- your nitrites are always zero when you test.

Is that right?
 

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