Clouandchris Clouandchris
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  • Posted on: 13/5/2015 13:49
Fishless cycle nightmare #1
Hi all

I started my fishless cycle on 25th April and have had no drop in Ammonia except when I decided to do a PWC last weekend.

I have 110 litre tank, Eheim pickup 160 filter (sponge only) and an Eheim 100w heater. And two airstones on max. Heater set to 28 degrees

My water is off a private supply not the mains water. The water is very very peaty ( stained brown sometimes) and very soft. The ph is low but I have some crushed coral in the tank which is holding the PH between 7.6 and 7.8

I have only artificial plants and decorations.

Before I started the fishless cycle (when setting up the tank) I put in Fluval Cycle (it came with the tank) and I am wondering if this has caused me a problem.

I am using kleen off ammonia and I dosed to 4ppm on 25th and I got no drop kept testing...still no drop so last weekend (day 14 of my cycle) I did a PWC (20 litres) to drop the ammonia.

Next day I got a drop to 1ppm so dosed up to 4ppm again and here I am five days in and no drop.

I cannot seem to get the cycle started.

I am really fed up, I feel like emptying the tank and giving up...I will never fish in cycle...but if I can't get the cycle started = no fish

I have No access to any used filter media, I don't know any fishkeepers and I live remote in the Cairngorms , my nearest LFS is 1 1/2 hour drive away and they advised me to fish in cycle

Please help at wits end
maccy_g maccy_g
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  • Posted on: 13/5/2015 15:50
Re: Fishless cycle nightmare #2
Wow, that does seem a long time without seeing any drop in ammonia at all.

Having said that though I recently set up my new puffer tank and it took around 10 days before I saw a drop in ammonia and I used seeded filter media from my other tank to move things along so perhaps 14 days without any media is still considered early days.

I can?t see anything in your set-up or your technique to suggest you are doing anything wrong, my first thought was low PH but then you went on to say that you have raised the PH using coral so this is strange.

The only thing I do know is that starting a fishless cycle from nothing, i.e no seeded media can take a VERY long time to kick off, I?ve heard of some cycles taking 6 weeks or more (probably the first 3 weeks waiting for the ammonia to drop and nitrites to rise) which is why people always say grab filter media if you can as that can shave a good 3-4 weeks off - my cycle took 2 ? weeks from start to finish with seeded media.
Clouandchris Clouandchris
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  • Posted on: 13/5/2015 17:24
Re: Fishless cycle nightmare #3
I understand about it taking along time, I am just beginning to wonder if adding the Fulval cycle begore I started has messed things up?

Or perhaps I should have a filter with ceramic media? There was a filter included with the tank that had ceramic media, I couldn't seoerate the carbon from the floss plus the filter was for 90 litres and I have 110 so I bought the Eheim pickup but it only has a sponge in it

I also have white cobweb type algae as I didn't realise that I had to keep the lights off

I just wonder if I should empty the tank clean the algae off everything and start again ( maybe buy a different filter with ceramic media?)

I am a bit stressed

Thanks

Louise
james15 james15
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  • Posted on: 13/5/2015 17:53
Re: Fishless cycle nightmare #4
Fluval Cycle doesn't make a lot of difference either way, so that won't have messed things up. The sponge filter should be fine. However if your water is soft then your KH may be very low so I'd recommend testing that. The API GH&KH test kit can be bought quite cheaply (try Amazon or Ebay). KH is required for the cycle to work so if it's low then that could be your problem. I'm not sure whether crushed coral would affect KH.
Also - not related to the cycle - how's the temperature in the tank? Is it warm enough and stable? And is the heater staying on for long periods? At 100w I'd say it's probably a little on the small side for your tank so if it's struggling you might need a bigger one, like 150w.
Clouandchris Clouandchris
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  • Posted on: 13/5/2015 20:25
Re: Fishless cycle nightmare #5
Hi
Thanks for the reply

The heater is holding the water at a constant 28 degrees, it is supposed to be suitable to 150 litres but in saying that the light is on all the time. I have only had the heater around 10 days, prior to that I had the heater which came with the tank which was a 200w but was rubbish....constantly ran six degrees lower than it should, the light was offf but I then discovered it was infact not working at all ( thank goodness no fish were in!) so would not be that keen to change it at the moment as the temperature is steady.....will upgrade it at some point.

I have the API test kit which is excellent but I don't have one to check hard/softness...I will get one ordered...

Any other suggestions....I am trying really hard to do this right....just don't understand why I can't get the cycle up and running

What would raise the KH but not the PH or would I have to remove the crushed coral?

Goodness me....fish keeping is complex and I don't even have fish yet
Fishlady Fishlady
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  • Posted on: 14/5/2015 11:58
Re: Fishless cycle nightmare #6
As James said, if you have very soft water you probably have very low kH (carbonate hardness). Coral gravel alone is not sufficient to raise and maintain a healthy level of carbonates in the water, and when you eventually have fish and are doing regular water changes your pH will swing dramatically between water changes which is bad for fish as well as for the filter bacteria.

Get an API kH /gH combined test kit and test your tap water. Let us know the results. The remedy if simple - bicarbonate of soda is all you need if you only need to raise kH or an all in one product like TropicMarin Remineral Tropical if your gH also needs raising (this will depend on what fish you intend keeping as well as what the levels in your supply are.)

Regarding pH - carbonates are what raise pH, but the change is logarithmic, so essentially if your water is very acidic a small amount of carbonates may raise the pH quite a lot, but adding more beyond that will raise pH much less. For someone with harder and more alkaline water which already has a decent amount of carbonate, adding large amounts may not change pH at all. In the end, the most important thing for fish is the total amount of solids in the water so we can guide you on how to deal with all of that once we know what your supply is like and what fish you want to keep.
Clouandchris Clouandchris
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  • Posted on: 14/5/2015 14:21
Re: Fishless cycle nightmare #7
Thank you for the reply

I am hoping to receive the API gh/kh test kit tomorrow so can test my tap water.

I have decided to do a 50% water change today and remove the coral to let the ph settle down and reduce the ammonia levels.

Hopefully this will make things simpler when it comes to adding / calculating the bicarobanate of soda.

I have been completely open minded about fish , but now I am finding out about my water I will be wanting a community tank that is going to happy in soft lower ph acidic water.

thanks all for your help and I will be back with my test results hopefully tomorrow.

Thanks

Louise
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  • Posted on: 14/5/2015 16:35
Re: Fishless cycle nightmare #8
Luckily for you having soft acidic water gives you a much wider range of fish to choose from
Regarding the heater, if it's staying on all the time then it's struggling to maintain the temperature because it's undersized, so I'd recommend upgrading. 150w should be fine for your tank. Sounds like the 200w one you had before was just faulty. As a general rule you want a minimum of one watt per litre.
Don't give up hope, you'll get there
Clouandchris Clouandchris
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  • Posted on: 16/5/2015 13:23
Re: Fishless cycle nightmare #9
Hi

I have tested my tap water and my tank water. I have removed the coral and did the 50% water change. Ammonia dropped once I did the water change and no change since.

Tap water

KH 17.9 ( zero to one the test tube went straight to yellow no blue!)
Gh 17.9 (zero to one the test tube went straight to green no orange)
Ph 6.6 (tested yesterday and it was 6.0 ....the joys of a private
Supply)

Tank water

Kh 71.6 (4 drops)
Gh 35.8 (2 drops)
Ph 7.6 ( I believe this is still due to the removed coral but I expect it to drop)

Is this just too soft to make the aquarium viable?

what do I do next to get the bacteria started...just cannot get this cycle started!

Thanks All

Louise x