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Cycling Advice?

This is a discussion on Cycling Advice? within the Axolotl tank set-ups, filters, substrate forums, part of the Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) category; I've been trying to cycle a tank now for about 3 weeks. For most of that time absolutely nothing happened. ...

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Old 29th April 2014   #1 (permalink)
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Default Cycling Advice?

I've been trying to cycle a tank now for about 3 weeks. For most of that time absolutely nothing happened. Recently, I changed the water (about a 40% change) and then added six feeder goldfish and a few free-floating plants. I've added chlorine/heavy metal conditioner to the water previously (and then let it sit before adding it to the tank for changes), and I tried using Nutrafin Cycle live bacteria solution, but the numbers are still not changing. My readings have been constant with the pH remaining around 6.8-7 and Nitrites and Nitrates at 0ppm. The only thing that has changed is that the ammonia went from about .5ppm to 1-2ppm.



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Old 29th April 2014   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cycling Advice?

Ammonia is the first stage in the cycle, so it is cycling, but slowly.
Give it a chance.

I would suggest doing daily water changes so that the ammonia doesn't affect the fish too much



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Old 29th April 2014   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cycling Advice?

In that 3 weeks, if there wasn't an ammonia source I.e poop, food, waste or straight ammonia then it wasn't cycling at all and pretty much just sitting water.

There needs to be an ammonia to feed your beneficial bacteria. The ammonia will spike and converts to nitrites and nitrites will spike and convert into nitrates.

If your tank is quite large and the fish are quite small it may not be a large enough ammonia source. A fully cycled tank can take many, many weeks. Once it is finished you will have readings of 0 ammonia and nitrite and some reading of nitrates but under 40 ppm.



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Old 29th April 2014   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cycling Advice?

With fish in, it should start to cycle. Hate to tell you, but mine took 2 months to finally cycle with a fish-in cycle.



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Old 30th April 2014   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cycling Advice?

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Originally Posted by hayleykahnita View Post
In that 3 weeks, if there wasn't an ammonia source I.e poop, food, waste or straight ammonia then it wasn't cycling at all and pretty much just sitting water.

There needs to be an ammonia to feed your beneficial bacteria. The ammonia will spike and converts to nitrites and nitrites will spike and convert into nitrates.

If your tank is quite large and the fish are quite small it may not be a large enough ammonia source. A fully cycled tank can take many, many weeks. Once it is finished you will have readings of 0 ammonia and nitrite and some reading of nitrates but under 40 ppm.
I was attempting to do a lifeless cycle, as I really didn't have the money to spend on fish, so I had straight ammonia I was adding to it, and live bacteria, but still nothing happened. However, now that the fish are in there the ammonia has spiked to about 80ppm. I have to do a water change, as I didn't have time to when I took the measurements this morning, but I'm assuming this is a good thing?



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Old 30th April 2014   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cycling Advice?

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Originally Posted by snuggly time View Post
With fish in, it should start to cycle. Hate to tell you, but mine took 2 months to finally cycle with a fish-in cycle.
Thanks, I'm not quite worried about how long the tank will take to cycle, I'm just worried about how long the pet store near us will hold on to my axolotl. I already paid for the axolotl when I started this cycle, and they were nice enough to hold him for this long, but I'm not sure how long they'll keep holding on to him.



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Old 30th April 2014   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cycling Advice?

Were you adding the straight ammonia every day? If you don't feed them, the bacteria will die just like anything else, or so I've been told. I have been basically adding ~2-4ppm ammonia every day and I'm rounding out the final (nitrite to nitrate) part of my cycle, but I have live plants and used old filter material.

I've heard adding the 'starter bacteria' products can actually screw up the cycle, but I'm not 100% sure on that one.

Also, I am guessing you mean 8ppm and not 80 ppm for ammonia? That's still SUPER high!

Are the fish doing any of these things?

Fish gasp for breath at the water surface
Purple or red gills
Fish is lethargic
Loss of appetite
Fish lays at the bottom of the tank
Red streaking on the fins or body

If they are they have ammonia poisoning. You'll want to get the ammonia down ASAP, but they might already have permanent damage.

Also, is the fish store gonna take the fish back when you're done? I've heard fish are notorious for nipping the gills of axolotls. The LFS here said they had a guy whose axie was killed by fish, after they told him several times not to put fish in the tank with it.



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Old 30th April 2014   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cycling Advice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kochebi View Post
Thanks, I'm not quite worried about how long the tank will take to cycle, I'm just worried about how long the pet store near us will hold on to my axolotl. I already paid for the axolotl when I started this cycle, and they were nice enough to hold him for this long, but I'm not sure how long they'll keep holding on to him.
If you think you'll lose the axolotl then you might want to set up a small container with 100% water changes daily while the tank establishes itself.

For fishless cycles you want to keep the ammonia source constant and since there are no fish you can go to 4-5ppm, anything more might actually start killing the bacteria off. So if you add 4-5ppm ammonia on day 1 you should not need to add ammonia until you test and see that ammonia has gone down/nitrites go up. Then you should be adding ammonia to keep feeding the cycle at that point (the same amount you added initially). You shouldn't see the ammonia when you test at high levels because its now been converted to nitrite. Then another few week nitrite will go down and then nitrate will appear. Eventually ammonia and nitrite will hit 0ppm and that means the cycle is complete. A water change (dechlorinated) before adding your pet to remove the nitrates and you should be good to go. still test the water daily for a few weeks after to just make sure nothing goes wrong.

The bottle bacteria help only if you are in a pinch and need to add it right away. They are not the same bacteria that would colonize in your filter but they work until those get started. The problem with this is that sometimes they won't allow the bacteria you want to have enough to be able to support the tank so that down the road ammonia spikes because the colony wasn't large enough when the bottled stuff died. Also many aquarist are skeptical of the bottled quick start method for a long term cycled tank and many bottled bacteria have short shelf lives so are often ineffective by the time they are bought (some do last though). In my opinion just cycle the tank normally.



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Old 30th April 2014   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cycling Advice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pennyroyals View Post
Were you adding the straight ammonia every day? If you don't feed them, the bacteria will die just like anything else, or so I've been told. I have been basically adding ~2-4ppm ammonia every day and I'm rounding out the final (nitrite to nitrate) part of my cycle, but I have live plants and used old filter material.

I've heard adding the 'starter bacteria' products can actually screw up the cycle, but I'm not 100% sure on that one.

Also, I am guessing you mean 8ppm and not 80 ppm for ammonia? That's still SUPER high!

Are the fish doing any of these things?

Fish gasp for breath at the water surface
Purple or red gills
Fish is lethargic
Loss of appetite
Fish lays at the bottom of the tank
Red streaking on the fins or body

If they are they have ammonia poisoning. You'll want to get the ammonia down ASAP, but they might already have permanent damage.

Also, is the fish store gonna take the fish back when you're done? I've heard fish are notorious for nipping the gills of axolotls. The LFS here said they had a guy whose axie was killed by fish, after they told him several times not to put fish in the tank with it.
OH GOSH! I didn't even notice that I wrote 80 instead of 8!!

I didn't have time to change water today, but I haven't noticed anything wrong with the fish. They are hardy little goldfish, so I'm assuming they should be okay until I get home after class. I hate to sound like I don't care for the little guys, but I don't think the pet store would care if the fish lived or died during my cycling, they are feeders after all.
I intend on changing out a good portion of the water later today, like I said, I just haven't had the time yet. I've also heard of using ammo lock to keep the ammonia from getting too high.

And thanks for the advice, as well. I hope to have them out of the tank by the time the cycle is complete, not sure what I'll do with them though. The axolotl I got is still small, only about 3-3.5 inches... He's just a baby and I wouldn't want him to have to deal with fishy bullies.



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Old 30th April 2014   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cycling Advice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kochebi View Post
OH GOSH! I didn't even notice that I wrote 80 instead of 8!!

I didn't have time to change water today, but I haven't noticed anything wrong with the fish. They are hardy little goldfish, so I'm assuming they should be okay until I get home after class. I hate to sound like I don't care for the little guys, but I don't think the pet store would care if the fish lived or died during my cycling, they are feeders after all.
I intend on changing out a good portion of the water later today, like I said, I just haven't had the time yet. I've also heard of using ammo lock to keep the ammonia from getting too high.

And thanks for the advice, as well. I hope to have them out of the tank by the time the cycle is complete, not sure what I'll do with them though. The axolotl I got is still small, only about 3-3.5 inches... He's just a baby and I wouldn't want him to have to deal with fishy bullies.
DON'T USE AMMOLOCK! all that does is bind and inactivate the ammonia which means the bacteria can't use it and die! The goldfish are hardy and won't show much signs of distress like an axolotl would but exposure to ammonia and nitrite can permanently scar their gills and they can't grow them back like axolotls. Keep the fish in the tank and do water changes as needed until its cycled. When you know there is NO ammonia or nitrite left, then remove the fish and add the axolotl. The only chemicals you need for an axolotl is a good dechlorinater. Everything else is either unnecessary or harmful to your tank. If you maintain water changes as needed then you will have a healthy tank.
I say as needed because it all depends on how much nitrate is produced each week. Or if any ammonia or nitrite appear. Good luck!



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