Aquarium is not cycling

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ariaspabloj

Registered Member
Sep 24, 2020
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Hi all. I have 40 gallon (151Liters) breeder tank that i am trying to cycle. I set it up on 8/22/20. I have Sunsun 404b with sponges and lava rock for filtration. I waited about a month before adding fish. I started with 12 minnows to test for survival (cruel at its finest, I know) Only one has survive. I have been testing the water once a week with API master kit. the ammonia has not increase nor nitrates. I no plants in the tank. Suggestion are welcome.

9.4.JPG9.12.JPG9.19.JPG
 
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dougall

...
Mar 29, 2005
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If the minnows were sold as feeders, they are not necessarily the hardiest fish, and often are not expected to live full or happy lives.

I assume you aren't adding anything to the tank orcas chemical filtration... You should say so if you are.

I would maybe get a second opinion on your test results, say from the pet store, just to validate their accuracy.
 
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Apr 2, 2002
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First, to determine the color match on test the vial must be held against the card over the white space between the bars. The way you display in your pictures does not give an accurate reading. It is also important to rinse the vials with tank water first. Next, always cap them when you shake them, do not use your finger for this. For the actual test, collect the tank water sample from near the middle level of the tank and not from the surface. Often there is stuff floating on the surface that could affect the accuracy of a test.

It is important to understand that the bacteria will only reproduce when there is excess ammonia or nitrite (i.e. more than they can use). From what I can tell (without the vials against the card) your ammonia was rising. Your ammonia source was the fish and, when most of them died, so did the production of ammonia. Fish exhale ammonia.

Next, your pH test is blue, the highest level on that test. You need to do the high range pH test since your actual pH could be higher than 7.6. Ammonia becomes more toxic the higher the pH and, to a lesser extent, the water temperature.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

If the tank is not producing ammonia and if you are not adding it, there is no cycle happening. In one sense you are lucky you killed most of the fish early. It will allow you now to switch to doing a fishless cycle.

I am happy to get you through a fishless cycle about as rapidly as would be possible given your water parameters etc. If budget is a concern then this will take about 5-6 weeks and you can fully stock the tank when done. If you have some money to spend, we can get your tank fully cycled in about a week, give or take a day or two. I do have one pretty firm rule when I work with folks on cycling. I have developed a pretty much fail-safe method as long as it is followed to the letter. Therefore, when I help folks it is basically "my way or the highway." This is not just because the method works, but also because it is almost impossible to succeed if one listens to multiple voices that do not agree. All this does is to confuse people and to make it harder to succeed.

If you prefer not to try what I would suggest, then select another single individual to help you. But follow the same rule, only listen to one voice at a time. Either you will succeed with cycling or you won't by doing this. If the advice you follow fails, it will at least teach you what not to do. If you want my help I am happy to work with you. If you prefer to work with somebody else, that too is fine by me.

It should help you a bunch if you do a bit of reading before you proceed. Go here http://fins.actwin.com/aquariafaq.html then click on "Your First Aquarium." Most of the info is good. The part you need to read is the entire section on Setting Up Your Tank...

The test kits you must have are ammonia, nitrite and pH. You should also know the hardness- GH and the buffering capacity- KH, but you can avoid having to buy these tests. If you bring a tap water sample to your local store they will test GH and KH for you. As for nitrate it is convenient to have this kit, but they tend to be inaccurate if not used properly. Also, the nitrate kits is not real accurate between 0 and 20 ppm. That said, having a complete set of tests means you can always get any needed results right away. But not everybody can afford to buy them all.

Step one is to collect the parameters of your tap water. To get an accurate measure of the pH you should outgas the water first. Fill a small clean container with tap water. Then put in an airstone and let it bubble for 30 minutes or so and then test for pH. If you do not have an air pump, you can let the water sit out over night (at least 12 hours and a bit more is OK) instead. if you get the same 7.6 reading, repeat the test using the High Range pH test kit.

Once you have all the parameters, it will indicate how best to proceed.

If you are determined to cycle with fish, find somebody else to help you day-by-day. However, 2 of the 3 articles I wrote for another site are:
Rescuing A Fish In Cycle Gone Wild - Part I and Rescuing A Fish In Cycle Gone Wild - Part II. I will link you to them if you want (shoot me a PM if you do). However, you will quickly discover that you will need a lot more knowledge and need to understand how to do lot more stuff than you need to for a fishless cycle.
 
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ariaspabloj

Registered Member
Sep 24, 2020
3
2
3
42
First, to determine the color match on test the vial must be held against the card over the white space between the bars. The way you display in your pictures does not give an accurate reading. It is also important to rinse the vials with tank water first. Next, always cap them when you shake them, do not use your finger for this. For the actual test, collect the tank water sample from near the middle level of the tank and not from the surface. Often there is stuff floating on the surface that could affect the accuracy of a test.

It is important to understand that the bacteria will only reproduce when there is excess ammonia or nitrite (i.e. more than they can use). From what I can tell (without the vials against the card) your ammonia was rising. Your ammonia source was the fish and, when most of them died, so did the production of ammonia. Fish exhale ammonia.

Next, your pH test is blue, the highest level on that test. You need to do the high range pH test since your actual pH could be higher than 7.6. Ammonia becomes more toxic the higher the pH and, to a lesser extent, the water temperature.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

If the tank is not producing ammonia and if you are not adding it, there is no cycle happening. In one sense you are lucky you killed most of the fish early. It will allow you now to switch to doing a fishless cycle.

I am happy to get you through a fishless cycle about as rapidly as would be possible given your water parameters etc. If budget is a concern then this will take about 5-6 weeks and you can fully stock the tank when done. If you have some money to spend, we can get your tank fully cycled in about a week, give or take a day or two. I do have one pretty firm rule when I work with folks on cycling. I have developed a pretty much fail-safe method as long as it is followed to the letter. Therefore, when I help folks it is basically "my way or the highway." This is not just because the method works, but also because it is almost impossible to succeed if one listens to multiple voices that do not agree. All this does is to confuse people and to make it harder to succeed.

If you prefer not to try what I would suggest, then select another single individual to help you. But follow the same rule, only listen to one voice at a time. Either you will succeed with cycling or you won't by doing this. If the advice you follow fails, it will at least teach you what not to do. If you want my help I am happy to work with you. If you prefer to work with somebody else, that too is fine by me.

It should help you a bunch if you do a bit of reading before you proceed. Go here http://fins.actwin.com/aquariafaq.html then click on "Your First Aquarium." Most of the info is good. The part you need to read is the entire section on Setting Up Your Tank...

The test kits you must have are ammonia, nitrite and pH. You should also know the hardness- GH and the buffering capacity- KH, but you can avoid having to buy these tests. If you bring a tap water sample to your local store they will test GH and KH for you. As for nitrate it is convenient to have this kit, but they tend to be inaccurate if not used properly. Also, the nitrate kits is not real accurate between 0 and 20 ppm. That said, having a complete set of tests means you can always get any needed results right away. But not everybody can afford to buy them all.

Step one is to collect the parameters of your tap water. To get an accurate measure of the pH you should outgas the water first. Fill a small clean container with tap water. Then put in an airstone and let it bubble for 30 minutes or so and then test for pH. If you do not have an air pump, you can let the water sit out over night (at least 12 hours and a bit more is OK) instead. if you get the same 7.6 reading, repeat the test using the High Range pH test kit.

Once you have all the parameters, it will indicate how best to proceed.

If you are determined to cycle with fish, find somebody else to help you day-by-day. However, 2 of the 3 articles I wrote for another site are:
Rescuing A Fish In Cycle Gone Wild - Part I and Rescuing A Fish In Cycle Gone Wild - Part II. I will link you to them if you want (shoot me a PM if you do). However, you will quickly discover that you will need a lot more knowledge and need to understand how to do lot more stuff than you need to for a fishless cycle.
Thanks for your help and suggestions. I will redo my testing. My local LFS stated my tank is fine. However I am not convinced.
 

tarheel96

AC Members
Sep 9, 2017
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3
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Real Name
Mike
Hi all. I have 40 gallon (151Liters) breeder tank that i am trying to cycle. I set it up on 8/22/20. I have Sunsun 404b with sponges and lava rock for filtration. I waited about a month before adding fish. I started with 12 minnows to test for survival (cruel at its finest, I know) Only one has survive. I have been testing the water once a week with API master kit. the ammonia has not increase nor nitrates. I no plants in the tank. Suggestion are welcome.
You waited 1 month before adding fish. Without fish, there is no ammonia for the nitrifying bacteria to live off of, and so your tank/biofiltration did not 'cycle' (grow adequate numbers of nitrifying bacteria to convert all the ammonia into nitrite and then nitrate.)

You need to keep a constant source of ammonia in the water in order for the nitrifying bacteria to grow. In order to accomplish this, you can use either 1) ammonia from a bottle or 2) fish which are hardy enough to withstand the high levels of ammonia and nitrite.

I would also suggest using Tetra SafeStart or Dr Tim's 1 and only for Freshwater Starter bacteria. After that, a source of ammonia must be maintained in the water in order for the bacteria to colonize in the biomedia.

Good Job with the pictures of the test results. That is the way to ask a question and get people here to help you. The API Master Test Kit is a good kit and something you need in fishkeeping. Also, your biofiltration sounds adequate for a 40B.

Feel free to ask questions.
 

ariaspabloj

Registered Member
Sep 24, 2020
3
2
3
42
You waited 1 month before adding fish. Without fish, there is no ammonia for the nitrifying bacteria to live off of, and so your tank/biofiltration did not 'cycle' (grow adequate numbers of nitrifying bacteria to convert all the ammonia into nitrite and then nitrate.)

You need to keep a constant source of ammonia in the water in order for the nitrifying bacteria to grow. In order to accomplish this, you can use either 1) ammonia from a bottle or 2) fish which are hardy enough to withstand the high levels of ammonia and nitrite.

I would also suggest using Tetra SafeStart or Dr Tim's 1 and only for Freshwater Starter bacteria. After that, a source of ammonia must be maintained in the water in order for the bacteria to colonize in the biomedia.

Good Job with the pictures of the test results. That is the way to ask a question and get people here to help you. The API Master Test Kit is a good kit and something you need in fishkeeping. Also, your biofiltration sounds adequate for a 40B.

Feel free to ask questions.
Thank you for your help. I bought 2 bottles of Terra safe start. Am sure it will help
 
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Apr 2, 2002
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One quick comment. When using either of the above recommended bacterial starters it is important to follow the directions for using it. I believe Tetra has rebranded the product as SafeStart™ Plus.
http://www.tetra-fish.com/products/water-care/safestart-plus.aspx

You will see this on their site re the product:
NGREDIENTS: Purified water, Proprietary strains of: Nitrosomonas, Nitrosospira and Nitrospira.
 
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