Hi everyone, I’m new on here & a newbie to fish keeping I’d like some advice on my fishless cycle please as I’m getting very confused! My aquarium is 5 gal, filtered, heated (to 29 degrees). I have gravel, an artificial plant & a Betta log in place. I have a bubble stone & Tetra air pump. I am cycling for a single Betta. Everything in the tank has been turned on since 9th June (except the light which I leave turned off). I had a bit of a slow start due to some poor advice from my LFS & after doing some research commenced a fishless cycle by using fish food as the ammonia source as I couldn’t get hold of any pure ammonia quickly. The tank was getting pretty messy so I started to use a nylon sock to hold the food. In the mean time I ordered some pure ammonia, TTS & an API testing kit. These are my readings since the first bit of ammonia showed in the water & I received my test kit. I was trying to cycle to 4ppm ammonia as I read this was a good amount on another forum.
Unfortunately there was a big delay the delivery of the pure ammonia (I’m in the uk & it’s very hard to get). Now I’m in a position where I haven’t added any ammonia source since 24th June when I removed the food yet the level is staying constant & even rising. I don’t understand this unless the TSS is creating a false high reading? Also I don’t understand how I can have a 5ppm+ Nitrate reading when I haven’t seen any Nitrites or drop in ammonia? Could I have missed the Nitrite spike? I’m concerned that if it is a false positive ammonia reading from the TSS I could be starving the good bacteria by not adding an ammonia source?
As you can see I’m in a bit of a mess now & don’t know what to do next. Any help would be much appreciated please. TIA
There will still have been dissolved food particles breaking down which is why ammonia continued rising. You haven't missed the nitrite spike; nitrite rises slowly over a long period to a very high level. You probably have 5ppm nitrate in your tap water; most of the UK has some (I have 40ppm in mine). You can get ammonia online easily - here's a link: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Kleen-Off-H ... 8bd48b:g:qGAAAOSwRbtaBqcV
When your ammonia arrives, do a large water change, measure remaining ammonia and then top up to 3ppm. Wait until it drops back to near 0 and top up to 3ppm again. Repeat this process until after the nitrite spike and when you can test and get 0 for both ammonia and nitrite 24 hours after dosing, the tank is cycled and you'll do a big water change to reduce nitrate before adding fish.
Thank you for your reply! That makes sense about the old food particles, I hadn’t thought of that. I’ve just tested my tap water for nitrates & it’s testing 0. Very confusing! Do you think TSS could cause a false positive reading for nitrates? I will take your advice about the large water change & dosing ammonia. How large do you think? 75%? Also if I change so much of the water will the TSS still be effective? Thanks
The jury is still out on whether products like TSS actually do anything as a tank will acquire the correct bacteria naturally and cycle without any additions other than ammonia. However, if you have it already you may as well use it so after the water change (as much as you can), redose it, check ammonia and top up to 3ppm.