I don’t think my 55 gallon tank has ever cycled in 1 year?

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kevin lee

Aquarium Advice Regular
Joined
Mar 25, 2024
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55
Location
Kentucky
I’ve had my 55 gallon tank running for 1 Year, but I have changed many things in my two Tidal 110 Filters over this time, adding more sponges recently adding new bio ceramic to completely fill it up, I have Australian Rainbows
14 of them in my heavily
planet Tank With black diamond shot blasting sand for substrate. My tank has never stayed completely clear, I recently noticed my ph was 0 Now I added baking soda and it is at 7.6 and my nitrites was at 0 My ammonia is around .50ppm and my nitrates have went to around .30ppm I just started adding stability yesterday as recommended on the bottle for a 55 gallon 5 fulls for first day and now 3 cap fulls every day for 7 days.

I’ve lost 3 fish that I added a few days before all these parameters was like this just because they finally came available for me from my breeder 😢 this was all my fault.. so now I hope you can understand about where I’m at with the parameters and mild cloudiness. I really need some advice going forward please ?
 
pH of zero is virtually impossible. pH is normally a scale from 0 to 14, with lower numbers being acidic and higher being basic. While its possible for pH to be zero or even go into negative numbers, anything that acidic would kill everything, and probably disolve the sealant holding your aquarium together. Most glass will slowly disolve at pH below 2. To give you an example of what low pH actually is, stomach acid has a pH of 1. Zero pH would be battery acid. Imagine the Xenomorph spit in the Alien movies.

You say nitrate is 0.3ppm. The lowest reading you can get with a home test kit is 5ppm so im not sure how you can get nitrate at 0.3ppm. Outside of a laboratory the test just isnt that accurate.

What you might be confusing is pH with kH or gH. If your carbonate hardness (kH) was zero before you added your baking soda, then yes your cycle wont establish as those microbes responsible for your cycle need kH or they cant function.

Thats not always a problem though. Because ammonia toxicity is dependant on pH, a low pH makes ammonia non toxic. While i dont believe your pH was zero, i can accept it might be low. So with zero kH, your cycle cant function, but the ammonia isnt toxic anyway. Now youve added baking soda however, the pH is basic and ammonia is now toxic. But your cycle could take months to establish, during which your fish are now living in toxic water.

First up, take a careful look at what parameters you are testing for and what the actual results are because the numbers you are reporting are impossible in an aquarium using any of the test kits readily available for home use.
 
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I’m sorry, I was trying to say my ph was at 6.0 and nitrite was at 0 and my nitrates was at 5.0

Just now tested and ph holding at 7.6 & ammonia .50 & my nitrite is at 0ppm.. and I just ran out of my nitrate solution 😢 and was not able to test it. Just ordered some!

I did not do any water change today but as I mentioned in my post I doesd 2nd day of stability, fish are active look normal only keeping lights on for 5 hours for now and did not feed today?
 
Low pH, low carbonate hardness (KH), and low general hardness (GH) tend to go together. So a pH of 6, along with presumably a low KH would stop the nitrogen cycle happening. But, as said, thats not really a problem if your fish suit soft, acidic water.

Rainbowfish do suit harder, more basic water, and will presumably do better in your adjusted water parameters. Baking soda will raise both pH and KH, but do nothing for GH though. So if you are trying to match your water to the requirements of your rainbowfish i would look at your GH, and baking soda may not be the best way to adjust things.

Going back to ammonia toxicity. At a pH of 6, ammonia is going to be non toxic ammonium. Now you have raised it to 7.6 more of the ammonia is going to be toxic free ammonia. At pH of 7.6 and a typical aquarium temperature, ammonia is going to start being toxic and causing long term harm at around 1ppm. So you need to a regular check on the ammonia level, and keep up with your water changes to ensure ammonia doesn't get any higher than it already is.

Dont worry about running out of nitrate test for now. Its pointless testing for nitrate until you are cycled. Nitrite causes a false positive in the nitrate test, so you just cant trust the nitrate test until you are cycled. Your cycle hasnt started yet as you arent seeing any nitrite on your testing.

Save some money and dont buy any more stability. Most of bottled bacteria products dont do anything useful, and stability is probably the worst on the market. Dr Tims One and Only has a good reputation, and Fritz products come highly recommended by one of our members. But nothing is guaranteed to work, and it often comes down to if the product has been stored and transported in temperature controlled conditions, which you have no control over.

I would also be interested to know how your fish coped with the change in water parameters. 6 to 7.6 is a big shift in pH and presumably a similar shift in KH and sodium. Fish often struggle to cope with big changes like that. How did yours do?
 
Actually, my rainbows are looking great showing lots of color as usual in the mornings and swimming around right now as nothing is wrong, I only bought the stability because my local fish store Petco is all we have in my small town, but I got Fritz 7 and Fritz 700 turbo orders now.

So at this time I can only check my ph, and maybe one more test of ammonia, and nitrite until I get my order from Amazon… I never new that these two bottles was this empty until today witch is all my fault not noticing they was getting empty. 😬

Also i bought some crushed coral from co-op first to raise my ph and it done nothing, had a bag in 1 filter and one big bag lying on my substrate next to one of my sponge filters. And started off using I can’t remember the name but it’s a well known buffer to use and it would bring my ph up for only 1 day then back down it went.. then I got ph neutral and it just did the same thing up then back down next day.. then I was told to use baking soda and it has kept my pH up sence I dosed it 4 days ago with only 4 tsps not having to add any more and I even done a 20% water change yesterday and just added prime. 0 water change today!


So what do I do from here please ?
 
So what do I do from here please ?
If your goal is cycle the tank and you arent able to test your water i would change 50% of the water every day until you can, then change water to prevent ammonia and nitrite going over 0.5ppm until the tank cycles.

If your fish are healthy, nothing else needs doing. Your tank will cycle. It typically takes a couple of months. The fritz products might speed things up.

If we knew why you wanted to raise pH in the first place. Was you having problems? My usual advice would be to not go chasing water parameters, just let the water be what it wants to be. And matching fish to the water is better than trying to adjust water to the fish. But if you are happy with adding baking soda, and the fish are ok with it, no harm is being done.
 
I can do a 50 % water change every day , no problem, but, Rainbows need 7.0 - 8.0 ph is the rule of thumb so I achieve that, I wasn’t having problems with my fish at the 6.0 ph probably should have left it alone, but I still had not clear water.. and I thought the ph might have been causing this I didn’t know .. and parameters would not stay stable, so I was lost and people said your ph is to low raise it.. so I did…

And also I added alot of new Fluval big bio ceramic with some old in both tidal 110’s because my filters was not full of bio ceramic is why I did that, I don’t know if that had something to do with the mild cloudiness or not, but it’s been in there now for over 1 month now and I’m not touching my filters again because I was always trying to do what they do on videos DIY ( pimp your filter lol )

Like I said I tested nitrite today and they was at 0 yesterday they was around .40 I though that was good after my ph went up so the ammonia I had @ .4 and the stability I added that it would start eating the ammonia etc.

Shweee this has drove me crazy!!

Now your saying to do 50% water changes every day until I get my ammonia and nitrates Solutions probly in the next 4-5 days.. so I’m thinking lol doing that much water changes I definitely want have any nitrite.. but will keep ammonia at bay.. and nirtrats… meaning I’ll not be in the process of cycling the tank at this time. ?
 
If you dont know what your ammonia is, priority should be the health of your fish, so do a water change as a precaution. Once you are able to test you can change water as needed.
 
I can do a 50 % water change every day , no problem, but, Rainbows need 7.0 - 8.0 ph is the rule of thumb so I achieve that, I wasn’t having problems with my fish at the 6.0 ph probably should have left it alone, but I still had not clear water.. and I thought the ph might have been causing this I didn’t know .. and parameters would not stay stable, so I was lost and people said your ph is to low raise it.. so I did…

And also I added alot of new Fluval big bio ceramic with some old in both tidal 110’s because my filters was not full of bio ceramic is why I did that, I don’t know if that had something to do with the mild cloudiness or not, but it’s been in there now for over 1 month now and I’m not touching my filters again because I was always trying to do what they do on videos DIY ( pimp your filter lol )

Like I said I tested nitrite today and they was at 0 yesterday they was around .40 I though that was good after my ph went up so the ammonia I had @ .4 and the stability I added that it would start eating the ammonia etc.

Shweee this has drove me crazy!!

Now your saying to do 50% water changes every day until I get my ammonia and nitrates Solutions probly in the next 4-5 days.. so I’m thinking lol doing that much water changes I definitely want have any nitrite.. but will keep ammonia at bay.. and nirtrats… meaning I’ll not be in the process of cycling the tank at this time. ?
Aiken pretty much told you what to do so I'll just add this: Certain fish can live in a Ph that is very acidic ( 4.0) so a low Ph is not the primary problem. Ammonia is converted naturally to ammonium when the Ph falls below 6.8 and ammonium is not toxic to the fish. Unfortunately, test kits like the API kit do not differentiate between toxic ammonia and non toxic ammonium in their test results :( so if you don't know your Ph, the ammonia test results can be a shocking, OMG I need to do something RIGHT NOW!!!!! issue that in reality is no issue at all if your Ph is under 6.8. Lack of Alkalinity ( KH) allows the Ph to fall and not stay stable. High nitrates ( an acid) will lower your Ph if there is too low KH in your water. So you need to know your KH as well as your GH ( General hardness.) to know if that too needs to be addressed.

There are many varieties of rainbowfish and SOME come from waters with a Ph of 5.0-5.5 so when you say " Rainbowfish" to people, you need to be specific to the types of Rainbowfish you have since the more common ones people keep prefer a Ph of neutral ( 7.0) to alkaline ( up to 8.5) but that's not for all Rainbowfish species.

Ph values have no effect on the clarity of water. Minute particles make your water less clear and it could be from excess food, chemical consolidation of minerals in your water, phosphates, dust settling in your tank from the air, tiny bubbles from your filter, degrading filter pads, filtering pads that do not " polish" the water and is letting smaller particles through ( to name a few things. ;) ) . I suggest you take a glass of water out of the tank and let it sit for 24 hours and see if it clears up on it's own or if you see a layer of particles at the bottom of the glass.

Lastly, if you are keeping fish that like a Ph of under 6.5, your tank will never " cycle" because nitrification stops at roughly 6.5 but definitely at 6.0. That's not a bad thing or a good thing. That just means you need to do your tank maintenance a little bit differently than someone whose water is higher in Ph so that you don't raise the PH too high and convert the ammonium present into ammonia. Cycling a tank is only "mandatory" if you are keeping fish in water that is higher in Ph than 6.5.

Hope this helps. (y)
 
Thank you guys very much, I really appreciate your time and knowledge, I’ll do what you guys have explained to me starting NOW 😉 and keep my parameters at a safe place until I’m able to test with all solutions properly, this running out of solutions to check everything will never happen again.

I’m so glad I found this forum.. you guys rock ❤️❤️

PS: I’ll update you guys when everything is running smoothly. ❤️
 
this running out of solutions to check everything will never happen again.
When everything is cycled and you are comfortable with your water chemistry, you will likely stop frequently testing the water. Its then far more likely your test kit expires than runs out. I dont remember the last time i did a water test. Certainly not in 2024.

Your fishes behaviour and overall health is a far better indicator of whats going on with your water chemistry. As Andy says, most ammonia tests arent even tests for ammonia. They test for Total Ammonia Nitrogen (TAN), which is free ammonia + ammonium combined and its only the free ammonia you need to be worried about. You can do an ammonia test, see high levels which sets you off worrying about things, but if your water is acidic, all the TAN will be non toxic ammonium, and you start fixing a problem that doesnt really exist. Observing your fish will tell you if there is a problem and thats the point to get out the test kit to diagnose the problem.
 
I kinda understand, I’m doing what you said to do until my api test Solutions arrive that I ran out of .. ammonia - Nitrates 50% water change every day.

Tank is still cloudy but fish seem to be active and will eat like crazy, but I’m only feeding every other day in small amounts I hope that ok ..

I’m still on the curb about what you mentioned about the live bacteria that I’m ordering. In your opinion only should I get the Dr. Tim’s or the Fritz turbo 700 and can I use them like I do my prime witch is the only thing I’ve used in 30 years ?
 
Prime is a water conditioner. Dr Tims One and Only and the Fritz products contain microbes that help establish your cycle.

They do different things.

Use a water conditioner every time you add tap water to the tank to remove chlorine/ chloramine and some heavy metals. Prime has an added benefit in that it claims to detoxify ammonia, nitrite and nitrate for a short period of time. It does not remove any of these things, it does not help with your cycle in any way. If it actually does what it says, it will help your fish cope with the effects of the ammonia and nitrite you find while cycling a tank.

The bacterial products like Stability, One and Only and Fritz 7 contain the denitrifying bacteria that consume ammonia and nitrite turning it into nitrate. If they work as they claim they will establish in your aquarium and speed up the cycling process. These products are hit and miss, mostly miss. Ive used One and Only with some effect, the Fritz products come recommended by Andy, although ive never used them (ive never actually seen them available here in the UK, although i can get them online). Stability is a common product, but ive never come across anybody with a positive experience of the product, although that's not to say it never works for some people. If you read the product info for stabilty, it goes into detail about bacterial spores, which is nonsense as the denitrifying microbes arent spores. Seachem has a well established reputation for making claims about their products they cant back up with evidence, although Prime is a good, cost effective, water conditioner.
 
With that said I’m going to use the Fritz turbo 700 and hope I get some good results.
 
With that said I’m going to use the Fritz turbo 700 and hope I get some good results.
Just make sure it comes to you cold or if you are buying it in a store, that it's being kept in a refrigerator. If it isn't, it's most likely dead. Based on what Fritz Aquatics says, the good part of Fritzyme #7 is that since it is not overpacked with microbes so it doesn't need to be refrigerated. I haven't needed to " Instacycle" a tank in a long time so I've only used Fritzmye #7 since the Turbo products didn't exist when I used #7. You also want to read through the parameters for the microbes at Fritzaquatics.com so that you are giving them their best chance of success. (y)
 
There is a product called Acurel F that helps coagulate tiny particles into larger particles that the filter can filter out. Did you do the 24 hour water test in a clear glass? If so, was the water clear after 24 hours?
 
There is a product called Acurel F that helps coagulate tiny particles into larger particles that the filter can filter out. Did you do the 24 hour water test in a clear glass? If so, was the water clear after 24 hours?
No I didn’t have a clear glass, I only have plastic, but I will find one and do that in a few minutes.

Is this the right stuff you are talking about to clear the water ?
 
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