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Hi all,

Ok I'm going to try and be as specific and thorough with info as possible because I'm stuck and am not sure where to go from here.

First off this is my first ever tank/potential pet fish. I'm drawing a lot of info from my older brother who is more experienced, has multiple tanks and successfully is raising a range of different types of fish.

I am also drawing a lot of info from the web. I'm the sort of person who will research heavilly any potential hobbies.

My brother uses a fish in cycle, so he hasn't been able to help explain the strange goings on with my fishless cycle.

Details are as follows:

Second hand tank from said brother. 4' X 12"w X 24"h

Substrate: mixed aquarium pebbles. My research says they're PH neutral

Hardscape: Foam fake rock wall on back glass, 1 approx 16cm Texas holy rock, a bunch of Pisces Pagoda rock ( Rough ) and a piece of driftwood approx 12cm

No plants yet.

Filter: 1250lt/h generic cannister with 2 trays of ceramic noodles and 1 tray with course filter pad. I have carbon impregnated fine pad but won't add until cycle complete and even then only to polish water and will eventually be switch for fine/non carbon pad. My reasoning is I need bacteria load in filter, not clear water atm.

Other stuff: 300 watt heater set to 30c ( not that it reaches or maintains that heat, being cheap brand. Will switch later to either Jager or Shogun ) Q2 air pump set to highest flow rate with a airstone.

No light on tank while cycling.

Tools used for cycle: API master test kit. Prime water conditioner. Coles Branded Cloudy ammonia.

Ok my cycle started on 3/10. I wanted my cycle to be set at ammonia rate of 4ppm since I plan on having a fair few fish at start/heavy bio load.

3/10 Water conditioned with prime, left to cycle for 30 mins and at 5:23pm I used the calculator online to find out ammonia needed for volume of water and added 8ml. My initial read after ammonia ran in was bang on 4.00ppm


1am ammonia reading was surprisingly 2.00ppm so after consulting cycling wiki it reckoned once you have a ammonia level drop, add ammonia back to whatever level you're wanting. So I added another 4ml. Checked once mixed and was back at 4.00ppm

1:55pm 2.00ppm

7:34pm 1.50ppm

10:05pm 1.50ppm no change so added 7ml ammonia to top back up to 4ppm. At this point I did a nitrite test because I was surprised my ammonia was dropping this early. It was 0ppm


11:11am 2.00ppm

3:00pm 1.50ppm

9:19pm 1.50ppm at this point I said I wouldn't add ammonia till 0.25-0.50ppm.


10:39am 1.00ppm

3:34pm 1.00ppm Nitrite test done again: 0ppm

6:50pm 1.00ppm ( tired of stall added 5ml ammonia ) back to 4.00ppm


10:32am 3.00ppm

7:40ppm 1.50ppm 4.5ml added and back at 4.00ppm

Did a nitrite test and it came up 0ppm again. So rung brother and got him around for advice.

He decided to do a nitrate test and low and behold 20ppm.

So my question is this, I studied enough to know once the ammonia drops its converted to nitrite. And nitrite eventually becomes nitrate.

Cycles I've read about follow the same pattern. Ammonia drops, nitrite climbs, eventually nitrite drops and then when ammonia and nitrite read 0ppm after a 12hr period of ammonia top up, you have a nitrate reading. And cycle complete. PWC then add fish.

I also read it takes at least a week to see progress. My numbers and readings make no sense.

Can someone explain how this is even possible? And where I should go? I'm hoping at 7:30pm it's 0ppm

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You could add 4ppm ammonia (or whatever level you wish ) daily for a week to see if the filter/tank really is cycled.

Why do you want to add lots of fish quickly?

Since your brother is keeping fish, why don't you seed your filter (and even substrate) in one of his tanks for a few weeks ?

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[MENTION=1338]The Tech Den[/MENTION] nope no hardscape, substrate or media donations from brother. I liked the idea of "growing my own" and thought it would better help me get a grasp of the fundamentals of tank management.

[MENTION=470]aquaholic99[/MENTION] I'm wanting to top the ammonia to 4ppm daily but I'm worried about it as my tank cycle always seems to stall at 1.00ppm ammonia.

No matter how long I wait between adding more. I was hoping to have it dropping to .25/.50 but it's just not happening.

Also new journal entries as follows:


7:40pm 4.5ml ammonia was added to once again bring me to 4.00ppm


3:43pm Ammonia: 2.00ppm

Nitrite: .25ppm

Nitrate: 5.00ppm


5:30pm Ammonia 1.00ppm

Nitrite: .25ppm Nitrate: 20.00ppm

So even with readings at almost 24 and then almost 48hrs with no ammonia added it still isn't dropping below 1.00ppm

Also I notice a spike in nitrate but not much happening with nitrite.

This is seriously confusing me.

I'm thinking since I obviously at least have some activity just doing the top ups daily to 4ppm and seeing what happens. It's just frustrating it stalls at 1ppm

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Ok so last night due to weird figures and my search online for a solution I found similar cases where a water change was helpful. So at 10pm I did a 75%wc.

After water had circulated through system for 30mins I did a full test.

Ammonia: 0.25ppm

Nitrite: .50ppm

Nitrate: 5.00ppm

So I topped ammonia to only 2ppm and went to bed.

Then at 9:30am I ran same tests. And now I am hopeful.

I'll let the pics speak for me:


Sorry about picture quality, but using my son's cheap phone as my Xperia Z3 is needing screen fixed.

This is definitely better right?

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Great to see someone starting out who is taking there time and doing proper research... Well done!

Patience is key at this point, while i cant explain how your nitrate appeared so quickly, the bottom line is it has and ammonia os being converted successfully. Try getting your ammonia reading to 3ppm and leaving it to see if it converts to 0ppm. You may find your bio media isnt capable of converting 4ppm in a short time.

Wait till 3ppm is converted to 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite with only nitrate left over... Then do a huge water change to get your nitrate within a reasonable level and add fish.

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[MENTION=12090]Tristan[/MENTION] yeah, I really do spend a lot of time researching. I've always used it as a safeguard for when things go pear shaped. And aquariums have a TON of things to research...rocks alone I've spent 2 weeks pouring over multiple websites/forums. And I still have questions regarding them lol.

And in regards to the media I feel you may be right. I did want to look at upgrading the filter as my next step but maybe I should go back to my original plan and fill current one with Seachem Matrix which seems a safe and reliable media. But for a 4foot tank I didn't think ceramic noodles would be an issue.

I'm also wondering since its early days if I should just slowly increase the ammonia instead of going all out at 4ppm and also thinking that since I'm getting readings which are abnormal and unexpected this early into the cycle if my Nitrite/Nitrate readings are purely because my bacteria hasn't fully seeded on all media/canister/pebbles etc

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Ok so things have been looking good last couple days.

Ive been flat out with work but results are as follows.

11/10 18:00

Ammonia: .25ppm

Nitrite: .25ppm

Nitrate: 10ppm

10ml ammonia added bringing final ammonia reading after cycled mix: 2ppm

12/10 19:35

Ammonia: .25ppm

Nitrite: .25ppm

Nitrate: 10ppm

Increased ammonia addition to 15ml and final read before bed is approx 3ppm.

Im hopeful and looking forward to tomorrow's results.

A couple of pointers though. Firstly, im begining to suspect a faulty test kit. And will hopefully get a hold of my brothers to rltest theory. It just seems strange I stall with readings at .25ppm for both ammonia and nitrite.

Also, when adjusting stuff the other day I had my first spill/accident.

Panic and alot of unsavory language ensued. But I learnt a valuable lesson. "Almost" isnt quite enough...

Oh and I have slimy transparent stuff growing on the suction caps of my outlet pipe. Quick search told me it was a buildup of excess nutrients. Just thought id ask if this sounds correct?

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Ok quick update for all following. After last post I made a huge error with Bill payments and lost power for 3 days :/

During no power period, I decided on day 2 to do a water change and used primer intermittently to cycle water through filter ( approx every hour while awake )

I wasn't expecting anything I just didn't want my bacteria dying.

So once power was on again I checked levels, let it run for 2 hours and added a small amount of ammonia ( 2ppm )

Next day it was .5ppm and nitrates were climbing again.

So I stayed the course and kept adding 2ppm ammonia every 24hrs.

3 days it took, then I was getting 0ppm readings on ammonia and nitrites. So I decided to go all in and added 15ml ammonia bringing my reading to somewhere over 4ppm.


Zeroed out again, so continued 15ml every 24 hrs for a week. And finally did last water change, let it run overnight and went to lfs and am the proud new owner of:

2 X Jags, 1 X Jack Dempsey, 2 X Firemouths, 1 X Tiger Oscar and 1 X Gold spot Pleco.

Had them almost a week now, everyone's happy and really starting to settle in. I've managed my first 25% fish in water change with no issues. And do to my monster bacteria load my levels have stayed at 0 even with my messy jags and Oscar.

So thanks all for ideas and posts. I'm looking forward to doing it all over again just after Xmas with my 6' tank I'm planning on ordering through Maryannes cause I want a Dennison display tank :)

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