Stuck Cycle, not sure where to go

TheAviator

New member
I recently started my tank all over due to the crazy Texas ice storms we had. Tore the tank down, cleaned, all new sand, bleached the dry rock and cured it. Started from scratch. I used dr Tims to do a fishes cycle. Everything was going great, by week 2 I was already seeing a drop in ammonia. Thats where the good stopped. I can't seem to get my Nitrates to go down. Its now been 3 months since I started using Dr Tims and I see no change in Nitrites. It seemed I was getting some Nitrates, so I thought I would give it time.

After 2 months, I did almost a 80% water change to lower the Nitrite levels to a readable level. That did work, Nitrites and Nitrates lowered as expected. However, no further movement. Just seems to be stuck. I stopped dosing ammonia because there was no point at this juncture. It just made my nitrates sky rocket again with no movement. PH is 8.2, temp is 82 degrees. Ammonia is zero, Nitrites are currently around 2ppm (Test kit is difficult to read). Nitrates are around 20ppm.

What should my next step be here? I currently have a fish that's been in a frag tank for 3 months that I want to get back in his tank. But I can't do it if I can't get the levels under control.

My thought is, I do another water change, get the Nitrates down to about 5-10ppm. Add the fish and dose more bacteria with him in the tank. But I'm really not sure what to do anymore. Ive had this tank almost 2 years now and I can't seem to get anything right. Definitely getting frustrated, if I can't get this thing going, maybe these tanks are just not for me!
 

kfisc

Well-known member
Perhaps the large water changes had an unfortunate consequence in effectively starting the cycle over again? I'm guessing you're using RODI (with filters relatively clean/usable), not "feeding" or putting in food to jump start the cycle and so on.

I'd hold-off on any additive and let the tank just ride it out for at least a good month.
 

Anemone

Cloning Around
Staff member
RC Mod
Premium Member
If you're seeing pass through from ammonia to nitrate (you said adding ammonia made you nitrate go up), I'd look at your nitrite test. I see no reason the bacteria would pass through "some" of the nitrite to nitrate, while leaving a high residual nitrite level that never resolves. See if a local fish store can double check your nitrite readings, or just buy a new test.

Kevin
 

TheAviator

New member
I thought maybe my test kid was bad as well. So I tested fresh RODI water and it was reading 0. But I could definitely bring some in tomorrow and have them test it.
 

TheAviator

New member
Perhaps the large water changes had an unfortunate consequence in effectively starting the cycle over again? I'm guessing you're using RODI (with filters relatively clean/usable), not "feeding" or putting in food to jump start the cycle and so on.

I'd hold-off on any additive and let the tank just ride it out for at least a good month.

I did the water change after about two months. In part because the PH dropped pretty low. I am using RODI and the filters are relatively new.
 

Sk8r

Staff member
RC Mod
The old way to cycle a tank is simply to drop a little flake into the tank daily. If you've done this about 2 weeks and get no ammonia, the tank is probably cycled already, and bacteria are handling it. At that point, add a cleanup crew and keep feeding the tank. After another week, you could try one hardy fish. If the fish waiting in qt is not a hardy species, give it another week, and it SHOULD be ok. [The oldfashioned way with a new tank is 4 weeks of ghost feeding to expect ammonia, and if you see ammonia and it goes away by the next day you're cycled, and can start with a cleanup crew. THe benny of adding inverts before the fish is that they will consume any edibles in the tank and their own poo will feed the bacteria, leading to healthy bacteria before the first fish gets there.]
 

Sk8r

Staff member
RC Mod
And ignore ph. In saltwater it bounces all over. Get a Salifert alkalinity test and track that instead. Target a dkh reading of 8.3.
 

TheAviator

New member
The old way to cycle a tank is simply to drop a little flake into the tank daily. If you've done this about 2 weeks and get no ammonia, the tank is probably cycled already, and bacteria are handling it. At that point, add a cleanup crew and keep feeding the tank. After another week, you could try one hardy fish. If the fish waiting in qt is not a hardy species, give it another week, and it SHOULD be ok. [The oldfashioned way with a new tank is 4 weeks of ghost feeding to expect ammonia, and if you see ammonia and it goes away by the next day you're cycled, and can start with a cleanup crew. THe benny of adding inverts before the fish is that they will consume any edibles in the tank and their own poo will feed the bacteria, leading to healthy bacteria before the first fish gets there.]

I can add about 2ppm of ammonia. Within a day or two it's been taken out. However, I'm just worried about nitrites. Doesn't seem to be moving at all. Should I not worry about this? The fish I have is a chromis. He is pretty hardy has survived a lot. You think it's time to put him and a clean up crew in?
 

Sk8r

Staff member
RC Mod
Nitrates are something to work on (a good skimmer helps!) but not worrisome at 20. You're almost in range for successful coral reef, and it's not going to hurt a chromis. If your tank is eating ammonia to zilch, you're cycled. I think you could just proceed and put your fish in, but I'd start today with a cleanup crew, and don't neglect to feed them a bit.
 

five.five-six

Premium Member
The tank is constantly “cycling” even years into it, the thing is the cycles become so small that the are not noticeable.

My entire tank was killed by COVID-19 beginning of January and it is just now settling down. First nem and clowns about 2 months ago, started adding fish and coral about a month ago. Just added a CUC Monday

I think about now, 6 months later, it’s “cycled” but even a mature tank cycles …little tiny cycles.
 

Haunt

New member
Time? Nature will take it's course.

Do you know what the difference is between your beautiful tank & my beautifultank is? Nothing.... It's beautiful. ;)
 

TheAviator

New member
Thanks for the tips! I will head to the LFS and grab a cleanup crew and get this thing started! Thanks again for everything.
 
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