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Help with 20g cycling stall?
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Joined: 11 Apr 2012

PostPosted: 2012.05.03(Thu)0:47    Post subject: Help with 20g cycling stall? Reply with quote

So I am a brand newbie who started off a 20g with no clue, now trying to do the right thing. Tank has been up for 5-weeks or so. I've learned more and more as the days and weeks have gone by. Cycle had been progressing with two zebra danios, as per advice from shop "experts". I've added 3 brands of bacteria supplement. I've adden some live plants. I've gotten to the point that my NH3 tests 0ppm to trace; touch of green. Nitrates consistantly test 5-10. Nitrites however are stying high 3-5, deep purple might be off the chart.
I have been waiting for nitrates to clime and nintrites to come down, but it hasn't happened yet(about a week or so).
I added a new Aquaclear power filter and have them both running now. This filter is much better than the aqueon that came with the kit. Doesn't seem to have much area for biofiltration bacteria growth. Just a plastic cage that holds the carbon filter insert. The new Aquaclear has a media tray with sponge pad for coarse filtration, carbon layer, and ceramic disc layer for bacteria. Eventually, I will get rid of the cheap filter and just run this one.
I did a 30% w/c yest and today and the tests don't change amnia 0-trace nitrite way high purple, nitrate 5 ish light orange. Dosn't seem to change no matter what I do. pH is 7.5 added a little bicarb last week as the pH was below 7.
What else can I do. Is it just a matter of waiting at this point. How long should nitrites stay peaked before system catches up. I want these fish to do well, (they seem content right now) and would like to be able to add more some day.
Becoming frustrated.. any advice?
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Joined: 15 May 2006
Location: Okotoks, AB

PostPosted: 2012.05.03(Thu)13:04    Post subject: Reply with quote

It usually takes three weeks or so after the ammonia spike drops for nitrite processing bacteria to establish themselves. Unfortunately you were saddled with some bad advice, and a bad filter as well, otherwise you'd be through this portion of cycling and ready to move on!

The best possible advice I can give at this point is to find a someone who has a well established tank (possibly even your LFS) and convince them to give you some of their old filter media. It will be well colonized with the bacteria you need to finish the cycling process in your tank. A sponge from their filter would do the trick (make sure you keep it moist while transferring from their tank to yours, or the bacteria will die!).
In the meantime, keep up the water changes.

Also... what kind of lighting do you have over this tank, and what kinds of plants did you purchase? Plants can be a blessing in the right conditions, and a curse in the wrong ones (I'm not suggesting that they are responsible for the nitrites, just that plant additions need to be planned, much the same way new fish additions are; in the wrong lighting they may refuse to grow, etc).

Be careful about messing with the pH too much; a stable pH is more important than the "right" one, although in this case I think you're raising pH to reduce nitrite toxicity, which is an acceptable emergency measure. Just try to ensure that the pH stays stable if you're dosing the tank water with buffering agents.

Glad to hear your questions, and good luck with the cycling process!
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Joined: 19 May 2006
Location: Edmonton, AB, Canda

PostPosted: 2012.05.07(Mon)20:20    Post subject: Reply with quote

One thing I would suggest is get those nitrites down as fast as you can. Do a huge water change, like 90%. Those nitrites need to be brought down as fast as possible or its going to harm your fish.

Nitrite converting bacteria unfortunately take a much longer time than ammonia bacteria to build up. I'm currently doing a fishless cycle and at week 5 my nitrites are still sky high.

Just do daily- several times a week water changes (25-30 each time), and keep a sharp eye on the nitrites. Cycles unfortunately require a huge deal of patience, especially when done with fish.

Good luck and keep asking questions!
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