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Tank Not Yet Cycled - What Am I Doing Wrong?


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  • Regular Member

Hi All,

Here is our cycling history.

We bought two small goldfish in a fish bowl on 9 July 2011. A week later we bought a 50 litre tank (Aquatopia Neptune with an internal sponge filter, flow: 200-400 litres per hour). Found out about cycling the tank. Bought a test kit. We started of with small water changes (approx 20%) every two days. A week later I started doing 50% water changes every two days. Then our little comet died probably from flukes. I continued treatment of the tank with Prazi and stepped up water changes to 50% every day.

On 14 August I discovered that the filter only had charcoal and no other filter media (duh). So basically had to start the cycling process all over. Then on 5 September I discovered the tank was leaking. I bought a smaller tank (38 litres - I needed a quarantine tank anyway) and returned the leaking tank on 10 September. The LFS has returned the tank to the manufacturer (I haven't heard back from them yet). The smaller tank has two filters, the old one and a new Aqua One Clearview hang on filter (200 litres per hour). So, Patches is now in a smaller tank and I'm doing daily 75% water changes to keep the ammonia down. I vacuum the gravel with each water change and I feed once a day. The old filter has a bubble wand which is above the water. The down pour creates quite a lot of bubbles, so the water is pretty well aerated.

The old filter has been cleaned once in old tank water - took the sponge out, scrubbed the cannister and cleaned the holes in the bubble wand (noodles loose in the water bucket). The I threw out the sponge and filled the cannister with the old bio noodles and with a layer of filter padding.

The new filter hasn't yet been cleaned. I've put filter padding in the back compartment and at the front I've put in new biomedia I was given by the LFS (not the bio noodles, these stones have a rougher surface).

I test every day and the Ph is around 7.6-7.8, I try to keep the ammonia levels as close to 0 as I can, so far the nitrites and nitrates are 0.

My question is, it's been almost 6 weeks (counting from 14 August) and no cycle. What am I doing wrong? Am I doing too many water changes (this is what the LFS tells me)? Are my filters not set up properly? Any advice would be much appreciated,

BTW, I'm looking for a much bigger tank upgrade (approx 150 litres) for Patches and one other goldfish. I'll only introduce his new tank mate after the tank is cycled. When I have this new tank I'll do a fish-less cycle. I can't wait, but have to save up a bit first.


Thanks for 'listening'


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Well the problem is on the 10th you basically started the cycle over again. :( then Im wondering why you through the sponge out? that had good BB's on it to... So basically Im trying to say is that the cycle has hit a bump.

I would maybe try stuff like "cycle" http://www.petsmart.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3433706 some times this can give the boost it needs :thumb:

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Thanks for your responses Koko and Shawnee.

The LFS said to keep the old filter and so I bought the current tank first, moved the filter and Patches and then returned the tank, but yeah, I was wondering whether I'd lost any build up of BB due to having to return the tank.The sponge I threw out because that was what the LFS guy told me to do (put in the noodles and filter padding instead) but maybe I misunderstood :-(

And I guess I've been paranoid about being squeaky clean because I dont want to lose Patches like we did Goldie. I read on the forum that any ammonia in the water is stressful to the fish and I hate for him to suffer through bad water because we didn't do our homework before we bought him.

I read here somewhere too that it is possible to establish a cycle with minimum amounts of ammonia?? I'll try to not overclean with the gravel vac from now on, but I've never let the ammonia go over 0.25. Should I keep doing that? I'm close to getting the new tank, so I'll let that go through a fish-less cycle. Also, I have a neighbour who has a community fresh water aquarium with a very well established cycle. But I know they've let their cleaning slip a bit (haven't changed water in months apparently). anyway, I'm a bit weary to introduce something from another aquarium because I'm paranoid about Patches catching something :-) Should I just get over myself and ask them for a bit of their used filter media?

I'll look into cycle as well. Can you use that with fish in the tank?

Many thanks for taking the time to respond!


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Yes, you should continue to be paranoid about ammonia! :) that is a good thing when there are fish involved. Because you have fish in the tank you should not let ammonia go over 0 really. This is why cycling with fish takes longer and is a bigger pain :) It sounds like maybe you are starting over with your cycle because of removing filter media. In the future only replace one piece of established media at a time (stagger them), it is good to rinse out your media occasionally in tank water (when you are changing the water), but it really does not need to be replaced until it is falling apart. I'd also be cautious with not doing a good job cleaning the gravel, although BB's do live in the gravel, so do harmful bacteria, so I personally wouldn't slack on the gravel cleaning ;)

I would be cautious of the filter media from your neighbor as well... only use it if you are confident that his tank is healthy.

You can use nutrafin cycle with fish in the tank, I would try it out if you have the extra money (it may work, it may not, but it's worth a try!)

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