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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I am currently 4 weeks into trying to fish-in cycle my brackish Fluval Flex 15g and I still have NO NitrItes or NitrAtes! Tank conditions bellow:

pH: 8.0
SG: 1.010
Temp: 27c/80f
Ammonia 0.50 ppm
Nitrite: 0.00 ppm
Nitrate: 0 ppm

Heres the story. I went to my LFS and told them I was interested in setting up a tank for a GSP. I was informed that if I conducted a fish-in cycle, I would be GSP ready within 1 week (will never make that mistake again). I purchased the Fluval Flex 15g (I have plans to upgrade to a 40g once I get a handle on things - my GSP won't grow out of a 15g for another year or so), 1 Molly, coral substrate, Seachem Stability, Seachem Prime, food, etc, etc. When I got home I ordered my GSP (none were locally available so I ordered it from a shop a few towns over). After a few days, I went back to my LFS to get a water sample (my API test kit hadn't arrived in the mail yet). Everything was looking okay with Ammonia levels and no nitrite/nitrate but was to be expected as was only a few days in. Purchased another molly and a Nerite snail.

I continued to use stability every day as instructed, ensuring the lighting was off after I dosed the tank. At the end of the week, the tank was still not showing nitrites or nitrates. My GSP was already on its way, so there was nothing else I could do other than do my best to cycle the tank with my puffer in. I continued to dose stability, conduct regular water changes, dose prime to new water, and follow all instructions very carefully. I work from home, so I can closely monitor my tank and I can test the water for Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate at least two times a day. I still haven't seen any Nitrites or Nitrates!

A week ago I went back to my LFS, explained to them what was going on and begged them to help me with some BB from one of their tanks. The kind staff reached into an FW tank he was confident was disease-free and squeezed the filter into a bag. I also bought a few ramshorn snails for my puffer to snack on and a new biological supplement. I took the bag of dirty water home and poured it into my filter. A couple of days later I went back to my LFS to talk to the staff as well as to purchase a 2.5g snail breeder (ignore my early symptoms of MTS). I purchased extra filter media. Still no Nitrites or Nitrates!

Out of frustration and head-scratching, I probably spend about 4-5 hours a day researching, crawling through forums, and watching YT videos searching for help but with no avail. I've even called the guy who manages and serves an acquaintance of mines family FW tank. No one has been able to understand why I am still not seeing any Nitrites or Nitrates. From this research, I decided to reduce the number of water changes I conduct, rather than every other day, I am doing them every 3/4 days. I dose Prime every 48 hours or when I make a water change (ensure to line this up with the 48-hour schedule). I am dosing Prime on days there aren't water changes because it detoxifies ammonia, helping protect my fish. I am dosing the biological supplement before I go to bed on the days I am not dosing Prime.

I am now almost 4 weeks in and Ammonia is clearly present, but I am not getting any Nitrites or Nitrates. One of my mollies now has pink gills from Ammonia burn and I am terrified because one of my GSPs gills is starting to show some inflammation. All three fish swim around happy, they greet me when I walk passed and I often catch them staring at me while I work. Also, they all have a great appetite, they're always searching and begging for food (don't worry I feed them just enough to fill their cute tummies). My GSP has a nice white belly and is very observant of what's going on around him/her, always very curious. But I can't help but be scared that things may only get worse unless my tank starts to show signs that its beginning to cycle! I read all these articles about people cycling tanks and seeing Nitrites a few days in. I just don't understand what I'm doing wrong! The next action I am planning to take is to try and find someone with an established FW or preferably BW tank who might let me buy some of their filter media, however, I'm the only one of my friends and family who has an aquarium so I am going to have to keep looking.

If any of you have any suggestions, please feel free to let me know! I'm desperate to help out my little friends!!!!
 

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Hello there, sorry to hear of your situation. I think your issue was too many water changes starting out. You keep removing the "food" bacteria needs to build a colony.

I have a 5g brackish tank, but it's a different set up as it's for opae ula and not agressively filtered...but you are welcome to any mulm I can get from the filtration system. I can probably also spare some "seasoned" lava rock.

Now that you have the puffer in tank I would consider a separate tank if you are able to do it, with frequent water changes to keep him happy, and leave your main tank to cycle w maybe once a week water changes...

PM me and we can arrange for you to pick up. My BW tank is at 15ppt, FYI.
 

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hi . i agree with adding seeded media. you dont give your location but if you are too far from north shore, others will help. put a wanted seeded media post in the classifieds.
 

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It is weird that you haven't gotten nitrites yet. I find the nitrite stage lags a lot longer than waiting for the ammonia to convert.

I think what would have helped more is if the LFS gave you the filter media instead of squeezing it out. Once the colony is established, I'm not too sure how much beneficial bacteria you would receive from only a squeeze and some particulate matter. It's established on the media itself.
So I agree with what the previous posters have advised which is to try get some established filter media from another aquarist. Brackish would be ideal but even freshwater would have a positive result.
 

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I think you got a bad bottle of stability - I checked reviews and it seems to be 30% of reviews said they too had no seeded bacteria after a decent amount of time .

Go back to your lfs - buy another bottle of bacteria culture - if it’s a small bottle (rated for your tank size) - throw in a third - 2 days later the next third etc
Dose prime every other day to help your fish with the high Ammonia.
No more water changes .

Also send seachem an email - they may send you a coupon/refund
 

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I think you got a bad bottle of stability - I checked reviews and it seems to be 30% of reviews said they too had no seeded bacteria after a decent amount of time .

Go back to your lfs - buy another bottle of bacteria culture - if it's a small bottle (rated for your tank size) - throw in a third - 2 days later the next third etc
Dose prime every other day to help your fish with the high Ammonia.
No more water changes .

Also send seachem an email - they may send you a coupon/refund
great advice!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I think you got a bad bottle of stability - I checked reviews and it seems to be 30% of reviews said they too had no seeded bacteria after a decent amount of time .

Go back to your lfs - buy another bottle of bacteria culture - if it's a small bottle (rated for your tank size) - throw in a third - 2 days later the next third etc
Dose prime every other day to help your fish with the high Ammonia.
No more water changes .

Also send seachem an email - they may send you a coupon/refund
Thank you for the advice, I had read that as well and purchased "Seed" by aquavitro, apparently a subsidiary company of Seachem. When you mean throw in a third, do you actually mean put in a third of the bottle? Is there such a thing as an overdose of these products?

I will definitely be sending Seachem an email.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Update.

Met up with Kivyee on Friday, who kindly gave me some media from his established BW tank. The media has been in since Friday afternoon. I also went and purchased additional biomax to suppliment BB growth in my tank.

4 days in with established media and Ammonia remains at 1 ppm, Nitrites 0, Nitrates 0.

What else could it possibly be that would be affecting my cycle? Last night I moved my molly with the pink gills to my FW snail breeder, doing so I drip acclimated her. During that time I removed a few java ferns that had come loose and moved them to a vase that I filled with some water from my aquarium. I ended up having to replace about 1 gallon worth of water. Other than that I haven't done a single water change in over a week.
 

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Geez that's frustrating.

Could it be something wrong with your test kit at this point? If you check one of your other tanks does it also give you an ammonia reading?
The fact that ammonia is in the tank shows that you aren't starving the bacteria so this really does stump me. You're using aquarium safe salt and de-chlorinated water? I know these questions are redundant at this point but it's best to check all avenues. Only time will tell I guess, I'm rooting for you buddy!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hey Otocinclus!

The test works fine! I have a 2.5G FW snail breeder that I started a week and a half ago, that one is midway through its cycle at the moment (this is the one that I moved one of my mollies into). I also took a water sample to my LFS on Monday to double-check that my test results were accurate.

Using Aquavitro Salinity for salt and prime to de-chlorinate. No worries about asking redundant questions, all-in-all, I just appreciate the support.

I went and bought Aqueon PURE Live Beneficial Bacteria balls and Tetra SafeStart Plus yesterday. I put the balls in with my biomax. I plan on dumping a bunch of the Tetra SafeStart in today. Other than the BB balls, its been about 48 hours since I added anything to the tank, including prime. So I'm hoping, in fact Im down on my knees straight-up praying that SafeStart will be my salvation!!

Will keep you all updated with my progress.

Today's reading Ammonia 1ppm, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 0.
 
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