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Loooong Cycle


Guest 5ivedrops

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Guest 5ivedrops

Ok so I have been cycling my 10 gallon with three 2" goldies. (I know that is risky but I only added a third fish because I thought I was near the end of the cycle 2 weeks ago) Anyway, what I have been reading seems contrary to my situation and everywhere I research the nitrogen cycle the details seem to vary. So the truth is I have had readings of 5 ppm for Nitrite for the past 34 days. Supposedly this should have killed my fish. I do water changes twice a week of 25%-40% and have done one 100% change last week. My ammonia has been reading 0 since Nitrite spiked. My PH sits around 7 and it seems like during the cycle it wants to fall so I am adding baking powder weekly. I started the cycle in August when it was warm but I use air conditioning, still the inside temp was 77-78. Now as it cools, I don't have the heat on yet and it gets down to 67 at night. I do not have a Nitrate test yet since my Nitrite has been high. I figured, I would purchase the test when I saw Nitrite begin to fall. I also don't have a KH or GH test yet either. I am running a penguin 100 bio filter, have an airstone, and keep a couple of bowls of gravel in there feed 2-3 meals daily of pellets, bloodworms, and peas. I have 55 gallon for these guys but I wanted to wait until I move next month to set that up. This 10 gallon will then be my QT.

So does this seem like a long cycle to anyone?

Aug 24 start - Sept 1 NH spike

Sept 1 - Sept 17 NO2 spike

Sept 17 - today Oct 20 (still no Nitrate)

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  • Regular Member

It does seem like a long cycle to me, but I have had incredibly fast cycles. People say it can take several weeks for the nitrates to develop. I think there is also a relationship between GH&KH and the growth of the cycling bacteria, so if your pH is slipping (suggesting low KH) then that may be part of the problem.

You really should get the nitrate test to be sure you know what is going on... and a Nitrite reading of 5ppm is not a good sign. What kind of test are you using? Nitrite impairs gill function; if your nitrite is anywhere near that high your fish are at risk for all sorts of problems (ammonia poisoning among them: gills are fishs' kidneys).

Have you tested your tap water? It is good to know if your fresh tap water has any ammonia/nitrites/nitrates in it.

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Guest 5ivedrops

The test kits I am using are API drop tests. I think they are functioning because I plotted the Nitrite as it went up a few weeks ago and just now I tested the water from the tap and got a zero Nitrite reading. My ammonia is reading zero from the tank and tap. Today I did a 40% water change and already my Nitrites are reading at 5 again.

So the first thing I should do is get a Nitrate test? And then test my KH. I have been battling falling PH lately by adding baking powder and I have been trying to find crushed seashells to put in the filter but no luck. Someone at my LFS said that crushed coral would also work?

One more thing I forgot to mention earlier: at the beginning of my cycle I was adding 1 TBS of salt per gallon because I read that it was a good treatment for new fish, so my cycling tank was also performing as a quarantine. A few weeks ago I stopped adding salt each water change because I thought maybe the salt was holding up the nitrobacter. Since then I have done a 100% change and have added no salt.

Any other ideas?

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I had an awfully long cycling time for my first aquarium, which I did fishless, and it was because I added too much ammonia. But after a buttload of water changes to get out a lot of the ammonia, I gave it a good shot of Bio-Spira and it really kicked it into gear and I got nitrites in about 5 days. After about a month with nitrites, my cycle seemed to stall again, so I gave it another shot of Bio-Spira and I got nitratesin about a week. Some people don't have luck with the bacterial supplements, but I had great success.

But, also, you know you're way overstocked, and adding the third fish has probably stressed your load to the point where it's having a difficult time cycling. Two fish would stress that load. It may not properly cycle at all. If that's the case, very large to complete water changes may be the only option until you can get them into the 55 gallon.

Regardless of whether you've stalled or what the situation is, because of your overstocking, I would suggest increasing your water changes to 70%-90% at least twice a week, and even more often if you can't get those nitrites down. The high nitrites are the first priority, even if it does take your cycle longer. You could also try some bacteria supplement and see if that gets things going.

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And yes, get a nitrate test kit and yes, crushed coral would work. Any mineral-based substance would work to harden your water. For crushed coral, the amount I found recommended was "about 1 kg of crushed coral per 40 liters of water to buffer the water to hold a pH around 7.6", so you'll need to do some adjusting if you want it closer to 7.0. Since you're already at 7.0, although wobbly, you may not need much crushed coral to keep it steady, so keep the amount you add low until you can see how your ph reacts. Also, the high nitrites might be affecting the ph stability.

You might also want to reduce the amount you're feeding. 2-3 times a day, especially 3, can be a lot, especially if the water temperature itself is dropping down to 67; cooler water can affect a fish's appetite, and so it may be adding to the the waste load the water is trying to cycle. I'd drop down to 1-2 times a day.

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Guest 5ivedrops

Thank you so much, this really helps. I didn't realize that too many fish could slow a cycle, I assumed adding 1 more fishie would only speed things up. After reading the string on the growth inhibitor hormone and your reply, I want to change the water everyday until I can move them into the big tank. I am also considering moving them now since I have an empty 55 gallon sitting here. Although I may not have all the filtration I need just yet, it might be safer for them to just live in more water for now. I bet it would be easier to keep the nitrites down in 5 times the amount of water.

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It would definitely be much better for the fish and easier to control the water parameters in a larger tank and I would suggest doing this, but one concern with this change would be the increased amount of water without an increase in filtration. Filtration is not only about removing waste from the water, it's also about adding oxygen into the water. Goldfish require a huge amount of oxygen, so, if you move them to the 55 gallon, you would need to do something about increasing the oxygen in there. Since you're going to need a larger filter (600 gph) for the 55 gallon and it's only one month until you were going to get them into the 55 gallon anyway, could you just not get the larger filter now?

Oh, and one other thing. You're going to want as much of your cycle as you can get after your move, so when you move, you'll want to put some tank water into large buckets and store your filter, gravel, decorations, etc., in that water to preserve the beneficial bacteria that has started to grow. As long as you don't allow these things to dry out, your BBs will stay alive. Oh, you may have a bit of a bump, but at least you'll preserve most of your BBs.

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Guest 5ivedrops

Yes, I am starting to think that I need to move them ASAP. I will need to get 2 more filters to get the 600 gph but I think I will only be able to get about 450 gph right now with a limit on my goldfish budget :P But part of that investment would include a powerhead to get more oxygen in.

Thanks alot Lynda! This is helping me greatly

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I love using powerheads! They really pump that oxygen in there! 450 gph is definitely better than 100 gph and if that's all you can do, that's still a good increase. And mixing filters is good too because that way you can get filters that specialize in the different needs, i.e., bacterial, chemical and mechanical. You can deal with any filtration/ammonia/cycling issues with extra and/or large water changes, if needed, although I think with 3 goldies in a 55 gallon, you shouldn't have any, so as long as you are getting the oxygen, this will work fine for a month or so. Just remember, we're pushing the rules here, so I'm not saying this is acceptable standard practices. lol! We're just working with what we have temporarily! :)

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I agree with everything Lynda said.

Also, going from the maximum of 0.3% salt to no salt while cycling may have set you back a bit; the bacteria adapt to whatever environmental factors are present (including temperature and pH), and sudden changes in these factors has the potential to slow down the BBs' progress. In a healthy tank with extra filter capacity this would not be such a problem.

Good luck with the move!

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Guest 5ivedrops

How can this be? I began changing 35% everyday until on the third day I started doing 35-40% water changes twice daily. Still, I kept getting readings of 5ppm for Nitrite. Even immediately after the wc???

Is this possible, 4 days straight of 2 water changes per day having no effect on the NO2 reading?

I am still planning to move my fish to the 55 gallon this weekend and hopefully kick the cycle into gear without burning my poor little babies in the process

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That certainly is very odd that your nitrite is not going down with water changes. If the tap is at zero and the tank is at 5, and you change out a significant portion of the water, there WILL be a noticeable immediate difference. It would be nice to know if there's any nitrate, but that would probably not explain the apparent 5 ppm nitrite. Is it possible there is something you're adding/have added to the tank that is causing the test results?

Just to double-check the test kit's readings, could you take a sample of water to the LFS for testing? I really have no idea what else might be going on.

Edited by A Penguin
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Guest 5ivedrops

DSCN0577.jpg

Ahhhhhh, that's better. My goldies in their new 55 gallon tank. NO2 is rising very slowly at a manageable 1 ppm. I'm adding small bits of coral to the filter tanks and under the gravel to try taming the PH/KH.

DSCN0590.jpg

Here's my pearlscale. Someone said that her fins are burned but I don't think so. She's had these markings since I brought her home.

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Problem solved! So the constant high nitrite was just an over-stocking issue... hopefully the nitrate kicks in soon, and your cycling worries will be over.

They look so small in their new home, but they'll grow into it soon enough. :)

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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest 5ivedrops

Still cycling at 84 days. So like I said, I was getting readings of 5 ppm Nitrite for 38 days straight. I was changing the water several times a week but could not get the Nitrite to stay down. During this time I was getting zero Ammonia and did not have a Nitrate test or KH but I was trying to keep the PH above 7. A few weeks ago I asked if this seemed like a long cycle and got some help from two members.

I moved my three goldfish from the 10 gallon to a 55 gallon and started having an easier time controlling the NO2 but it still would climb to 5 ppm after a few days so I was changing 50% water every couple of days, suddenly a huge amount of work with a 55 gallon!

So here we are at day 84. I recently purchased a Nitrate test kit and a KH test. So here's what I got:

In the past two days, my Nitrate level has climbed slowly from 10 ppm to 20 ppm. Nitrites are holding steady at 1 ppm. My aquarium water is showing 7.5 PH (with the help of buffer) and the KH is 125.

The mystery is, how long has there been Nitrates in there since the Nitrites have been so concentrated for the past few MONTHS?

How ironic would it be if the Nitrates are appearing at the same time I finally got a kit to test them? Should I assume and hope that now that Nitrates are present, it's only a matter of days before the Nitrites are gobbled up forever?

P.S. good riddance Nitrites, you have been a plague on my existence since September

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Isn't a stall just the most annoying thing? My tank took about 14 weeks. But, eventually, it WILL move on, and yours did, so great! Don't let your nitrates get higher than 20. That's kind of the limit, although I, myself, prefer to limit myself to no more than 10. Yes, the assumption would exist that since you are now showing nitrates, your nitrites should disappear almost immediately. Daily testing is the only way to know for sure though! And your ph and kh are looking good too!

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That IS crazy... and a suspicious coincidence.

Hopefully the nitrite is on the way out for good! :) If they don't disappear soon, please let us know.

Edited by A Penguin
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