Help, stalled cycle

kateJD

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I know there’s a thousand similar posts, so forgive me if I think my problem is a little different. I’m new at this and I appreciate all advice. I think I have a stalled cycle and I’m feeling a little stuck about next steps. Here is a timeline:
8/3: set up tank (Red Sea max E260 all in one); live sand, manufactured/dry rock cycled in LFS tank; started Red Sea reef mature mostly fishless cycle system (followed directions exactly)

on day 10, I was supposed to have 0 ammonia and 0 nitrites and was directed to add CUC. I had 0.2ppm ammonia and 0.5 ppm nitrites (and like 20 ppm nitrates) so I waited

day 14 ammonia and nitrites down to zero; but not much algae growth, directed to add algae eating fish (3) by instructions, instead I added 2 clownfish because I had no algae growing in tank

day 20 (8/23) added a small CUC (cleaner shrimp and a few (10) mixed snails);

day 30 (9/2) ammonia “spiked” to 0.4 ppm (total, Red Sea test kit) nitrite up to 4ppm (also Red Sea) so I started monitoring ammonia daily. I added some marine pure gems and Fritz turbo start to re-invigorate my bacteria and all that seemed to do was make the tank smell like farts for a couple of hours ()

since 9/2 nitrite has come down to 1.0 ppm and ammonia is hovering between 0.1-0.2 ppm. Only other livestock I’ve added is pulsing Xenia and gsp.

Now I have this horrible brown (I think) diatom stuff that gets better when I turn down the lights but the water gets cloudy and gross when I turn off the lights for a couple of days and the ammonia actually creeps up a bit (I’m guessing from die off of the diatoms?).

While my ammonia and nitrite are better some days than others they’ve never got back down to zero. I’m not 100% sure if one of the snails died in the rockwork somewhere or if something else happened?

it seems like at 6 weeks my micro biome which has been seeded twice should be a little more resilient than “a 70 gallon tank that can barely handle 2 clownfish”, and I worry because it feels like if anything happens the fish could be at risk (although everybody’s been tolerating my suboptimal water quality fine so far).

If the answer is “continue to wait” I can do that but I have the almost overwhelming urge to do something.


current parameters:
Temp 79.5
Salimity
PH 8.3
Alk 10 dKh
Ammonia 0.1
Nitrite 1.0
Nitrate > 50

open to any advice.

thank you,
Katy
 
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mehaffydr

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Your cycle is complete. Don't drive yourself crazy testing ammonia every day. The brown stuff will go away with time as long as you keep your Nitrate and Phosphate in check. Not Zero but at proper levels.
Patience is the key you really don't need to do anything but enjoy your tank.
 
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Tamberav

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Cycle sounds done. Diatoms are normal. You do not turn off the lights to control it... you need it to burn itself out and use up the silicates. The CUC should eat some of it. It just takes time for the tank to go through the stages... some are not very pretty. Dry rock can take awhile to not look like crap... it is simply so sterile that uglies can grow on it pretty easy.

These test kits are hobby grade. 0.2 could be 0.
 

Daniel92481

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if you have nitrates, your tank is cycled. The ammonia creep could be from the unknown soldier (your dead snail) somewhere in the tank. Die off will cause a spike if early in the cycle process. I would continue to monitor ammonia until it is definitely zero. Also, make sure you are performing the test accurately. Nitrites are not an issue for saltwater fish. IMO, adding two clowns at once could cause a spike, but everyday that passes is a plus for you, and them. Just concentrate on keeping things stable, without doing too much at once. If you haven’t performed an initial, post cycle water change, I would definitely do one. Monitor for two weeks without adding anything and reevaluate.
 
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