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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there,

I am new to this forum and a fairly new aquarium hobbyist. I recently started a 20g freshwater aquarium (An Aqeuon Kit I got for Christmas 2009). I was never told much about the nitrogen cycle process and how the best way to do it is without fish. Since I did not know that, I got 4 Diamond Tetras 2 days after I set up the tank (Late December). A few weeks later I got 4 Neon Tetras and 2 Angelfish. Unfortunately, I now only have one Angel and the original 4 Diamonds. To make a long story short, I just learned about the nitrogen cycle a few weeks ago. I started reading numerous posts and articles all around the internet about it. So I brought my water to my local fish store to have it tested like twice a week. After about 10 trips to the fish store, I just bought the API liquid test kit. My tank has read at a VERY HIGH 8 ppm for ammonia, 0 nitrite and 0 nitrate for nearly the last month. I am very frustrated because I have tried numerous techniques to try and cycle the tank over the past 2.5 months. I have used Ammo-Lock, Stress-Zyme, and Stress-Coat. I have tried doing daily water changes and weekly water changes. I have tried feeding my fish once every other day. Nothing has worked so far and from everything I have read, my tank should have cycled after about a month. Every local fish store I talk to gives me different answers. Can I please get some professional guidance?!

Thanks very much.

Andrew
 

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Welcome to the site! All the techniques u mentioned about speeding up the cycle actually make it longer!
 

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From what I understand, when one is doing a cycle with fish, partial water changes are the only thing that will get ammonia under control.

I assume you don't have another tank you can put your fish into (I sure don't!), so keeping up with frequent water changes is the only way to keep the water quality under control until the beneficial bacteria establish themselves.
 

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a good thing to get a bacteria boost is to use some filter media from an established tank. so if you have a buddy in the hobby see if he can cut you a piece of his filter floss or give you one of the replaced filter pads... these are filled to the brim of all the bacteria you need to give the cycle a nice kick in the rear.

WARNING: Make sure the person you get the filter from knows what they are doing and that their water parameters are pristine.
 

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If you can, get the fish out of your tank and proceed with the cycling process. If not, the only thing you can do is water changes until the nitrifying bacteria establish themselves in your tank.
 

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Here is what I would do if I were you.
Some agree some don't.
If you don't want to get rid of the fish that you have go on line and order a bottle of Tetra Safe Start (TSS). I have cycled tanks with this and it does work. Most lfs don't carry it. If you ask for it and they offer you something else don't accept it. Cycle and other bacteria boosters don't have aquatic bacteria in them so the bacteria will die in a week or so and you have to keep adding it for the life of the tank. Tetra Safe Start has the correct bacteria in it.

Anyway you can't add it if your ammonia is at 8ppm because that will likely kill the bacteria in the TSS. Once you order the stuff do daily water changes to get your ammonia down until it arrives. If you are using Prime or any other water conditioners don't add it (conditioner) within 24 hours of the TSS. With the fish in the tank add the ENTIRE bottle of TSS and then do nothing to the tank for 7 days. After 7 days test the water and see where it is at. If it is still not fully cycled wait three more days and test again.
The reason for waiting 7 days is during that time the TSS will cause you to get some crazy test readings. Some people see the crazy test readings and freak out and do a water change or start adding chemicals which will kill the TSS. If you follow the directions for TSS it has a high percentage rate of success but if you don't follow the directions you will be throwing away your money.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I appreciate the informative replies. I actually have a cousin with an established 20g tank. I think I will give him my fish for a while until my tank is done cycling and maybe borrow some of his substrate. Then I can can turn up the temperature on my aquarium and not have to worry about water changes or ammonia levels. I will also consider adding some TSS.
 

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One think to think about is that if you add TSS or substrate from an established tank you need to have an ammonia source (fish, or something else). If you take out the fish and then add substrate from another tank the bacteria will die off.
 

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One think to think about is that if you add TSS or substrate from an established tank you need to have an ammonia source (fish, or something else). If you take out the fish and then add substrate from another tank the bacteria will die off.
in that scenario u could use raw fish from the supermarket, pure ammonia, or fish food(i dont recomend fish food because it could also lead to high amounts of phosphate) to provide ammonia for the tank without hurting the fish even more.
 

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a raw shrimp from the deli did the trick for me... place this raw shrimp in a piece of nylon stocking or something as not to rot it all over your substrate.

side note-
the shrimp technique is good if you dont have an established tank already... thats how i started the cycle in my 55g... unfortunately when i first started i didnt have the luxury of a buddy with a tank. now i do as the guy i got the 75g tank from actually farms frags in south sioux city, nebraska for his small fish club.
 

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Does anyone have any legitimate advice or suggestions?
Sorry if I appeared flippant. I was just surprised you had not already found the fish a new home based on the posts above. I wish you luck. I think it will work itself out quickly once you're not fighting the effects of having all of those fish in there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Sorry if I appeared flippant. I was just surprised you had not already found the fish a new home based on the posts above. I wish you luck. I think it will work itself out quickly once you're not fighting the effects of having all of those fish in there.
That's alright. Everyone know that anything written online can be taken many different ways since there is no voice or tone behind it. I appreciate all the continued replies. I have yet to take the fish out, I will sometime this week, and bring them to my cousins tank. Does anyone have any other suggestions on what to do after that? Besides having an ammonia source like the shrimp, should I keep the light on? Should I turn up the temperature? Should I do water changes? Any good tips that I should know? Thanks a lot in advance...
 

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If you are not going to have any fish in the tank you don't need to do water changes and you can turn up the temps as this will help cycle faster. Just make sure once it is cycled you do water change to get the nitrates back down to an acceptable level and then the fish can go back in. I am not sure if the light on or off will help anything or not.
 

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If you are not going to have any fish in the tank you don't need to do water changes and you can turn up the temps as this will help cycle faster. Just make sure once it is cycled you do water change to get the nitrates back down to an acceptable level and then the fish can go back in. I am not sure if the light on or off will help anything or not.
As for the lights it could assist in the temperature aspect but be aware of algae as it can explode quickly in a tank with no water changes.
 

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At this stage in the game...don't even worry about removing the fish. You mentioned your cousin has an established tank? Check with him to see if he will be changing his filter media anytime soon. If so, see if you can aquire it.

Also, check your LFS. Some stores will give you some media if you ask.

Other than that, your goal right now is to get the NH3 down. Continue with partial water changes at 25%/day.

I don't use the "jump start" kits myself so can't comment on their use. Fishy cycles can be done when done so properly. The key is the water change. Maintain adequate diet for the fish (no over feeding as some would think to increase the waste).
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
At this stage in the game...don't even worry about removing the fish. You mentioned your cousin has an established tank? Check with him to see if he will be changing his filter media anytime soon. If so, see if you can aquire it.

Also, check your LFS. Some stores will give you some media if you ask.

Other than that, your goal right now is to get the NH3 down. Continue with partial water changes at 25%/day.

I don't use the "jump start" kits myself so can't comment on their use. Fishy cycles can be done when done so properly. The key is the water change. Maintain adequate diet for the fish (no over feeding as some would think to increase the waste).
I actually just acquired my cousin's filter media today because his needed to be changed. It is not the exact same filter that I had in mine, but it fit okay. I took mine out and put his in. One thing I noticed directly after was a large amount of floating debris inside the tank. I mean A LOT! Is this good or bad? What should I do next? Any suggestions?
 

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Dont worry about the debri for now you can polish that out a bit later... You need this bacteria to balance out your nitrogen cycle. If the debris are large enough to damage equipment use your net to skim that junk out but if its just tiny particles we can worry about that later. we just need to seed your aquarium with the beneficial bacteria. Also get a new filter pad and put it somewhere in the tank as to farm your own bacteria otherwise you will be right back in the same boat when you take the used media out. what you can do is use two filter pads and when changing pads do so 1 pad at a time and only take the really dirty pad this will prevent you from going through mini cycles. so either double up on the filter pad or cut the pad itself in half and remove half at a time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Dont worry about the debri for now you can polish that out a bit later... You need this bacteria to balance out your nitrogen cycle. If the debris are large enough to damage equipment use your net to skim that junk out but if its just tiny particles we can worry about that later. we just need to seed your aquarium with the beneficial bacteria. Also get a new filter pad and put it somewhere in the tank as to farm your own bacteria otherwise you will be right back in the same boat when you take the used media out. what you can do is use two filter pads and when changing pads do so 1 pad at a time and only take the really dirty pad this will prevent you from going through mini cycles. so either double up on the filter pad or cut the pad itself in half and remove half at a time.
I'm having a hard time understanding exactly what you mean about the filter pads. Can I just put my other one inside the tank so it grows the bacteria that it needs, then just put in the actual filter when the tank is done cycling?
 
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