Stalled cycle? Or just over worried and impatient?

frost17

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So let me start by saying this is my first post here ever, that I've been reading on the forum for a few months, and I'm brand new to the hobby. Also, I'm sorry for the long winded post. A little unsure what to do here and wanting to get some other opinions than just my lfs.

I've had my tank set up for a little over 4 weeks. I used live sand (Caribsea), and Caribsea life rock. I poured in a bottle of Dr. Tim's and added the water. With all the water displacement from the rock and sand it's got about 60 gallons of water between the tank and the sump.

I let that go for a couple of days to let the water clear up and get to temperature. My husband and I did the live cycle method because we had read everywhere that it would be safe to use real fish with if we used a bacteria that said it could handle it. So we added 2 clowns, a few hermits and snails, and a skunk shrimp. Over the last 4 weeks we added a peppermint and a fire shrimp as well. One of the clowns didn't make it, would not eat no matter what we tried to feed her (We tried everything).

Over the last four weeks we we're a little worried about our tank not having enough bacteria and wacky parameters at one point, we read that the Dr. Tim's wasn't the best. So we added 2 16oz bottles of Fritzyme 9. As well as 2 4oz bottles of Turbostart 900.

I also started to feel like I was going crazy and couldn't trust my test kits, at one point I had 3 ammonia kits. (Salifert, Redsea, and API). (I don't trust API brand as much though but was using it for a 3rd result).

Right now I'm not sure if my cycle is stalled, or if it's looking good and I should just keep doing what I've been doing?

I'm about to setup the refugium because it's been 4 weeks I ordered thinking by now it would be safe. Plus I've read on the forums here that if you have fish in the tank it's a good idea to add it. I have read that you should be careful because if you add it before it's cycled and the fuge dies your tank may not be able to handle the load of ammonia in it.

I also want to mention we accidentally were overfeeding for a couple days, but the last 2 or 3 I've been feeding lighter in hopes it will right itself. So I'm also not sure if that's part of the problem and as long as I don't overfeed again... if I should be good?

My Parameters Are As Follows:
Ammonia: 0.2 (RedSea), <0.15 (Salifert)
Temp: It's been holding steady at 77.5 F
Salinity: 1.026
Nitrite: 0.1 ppm
Nitrate: (I don't have this reading, I've heard that when the tank is cycling the Nitrate readings can be off because it's reading the nitrite and the nitrate in one. But I can get this reading if you'd like.)
Ph: 8.2

I also have a couple coral, my lfs told me it would be okay to add some of the heartier corals. I have a pipe organ, toadstool, hairy mushroom, Kenya tree, and some xenia. Other than suspecting that my kenya tree may have a bacterial problem and may need an iodine bath, everything's doing great. I'm seeing growth on the corals. When the ammonia was up at 0.8 I had some xenia shrink and my pipe organ got mad and wouldn't open up. I did a 5 gallon water change at that point and moved the pipe organ up higher to an area with more light and flow (upon recommendation from my lfs). Since then it's been open almost all the time and the color is coming back steadily as well.

At this point I have the stuff for my fuge so I'm just going to set it up. I don't plan to add anything else to the tank for a bit, except for a second clown fish. Wanting to make sure it's finished cycling though. Unless you think it would be fine to add it at this point. It's been a while since I've seen ammonia above 0.2 and nitrite above 2. So I'm wondering if I would be okay to add the 2nd clown, or if I should just wait till it's completely finished cycling. I'm considering it at this point because the clown fish that was stressed out and didn't make it was my sons and he's heart broken over it. Plus, other than the shrimp, my little clown fish is the only fish in the tank.

Also, I've heard you shouldn't run carbon in the sump until after it's cycled. Should I wait to add this? The water isn't exactly as crystal clear as when I first put it it in the tank. But I've heard this is normal and part of that nasty new tank syndrome. So I'm not sure if I should run carbon in the sump at this point or just wait till I can confirm it's cycled.

So my questions are:
1. Is my cycle stalled, or am I just over worried and impatient?
2. If it is stalled, what do I do?
3. Is it safe at this point to add a second clown fish, (If my cycle isn't stalled)?
4. I know that when you set up your fuge, with the Alge barn starter kit, they have you add in a bottle of bacteria. Should I add one when I set this up? Or have I added so much already that I shouldn't add any more?
5. Should I run carbon in my sump at this point or wait until it's cycled?
 
REEFTIDE

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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You are well past cycling close date. Focus on fish disease preps and prevention

a breakdown of the concerning portion of the tests:

take your noted ammonia level and reduce it ten times, thats the form of ammonia reefing cares about. Not the total ammonia which is what you are seeing
For example .5 really equals .05 ppm for the version of ammonia we care about and your non digital kits can’t read much lower anyway. Your real nh3 is under .05 but without seneye we don’t know it’s real value. If your levels were above .05 your stuff would be dead and the water would be cloudy

nitrite
no longer factors in 2021 and beyond cycling science, dont own the test kit.


nitrate
ranges big time tank to tank and it’s very unlikely your test is accurate unless it’s an expensive digital kit. Fish disease got the clown

compare your reefs timeline to a cycle chart. All dates and drops are met even if kits seem to not agree, we expect you to have some low level ammonia present, all reefs do, none run at zero. stalled cycles don’t exist in the new updated rule set.

your animals couldnt live day to day if the tank wasn’t cycled itd all be dead by now.
 
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brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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What to do:

dont test for ammonia and nitrite anymore, cycled reefs self balance those and they never fail to comply. Only a fish disease wipeout can overcome natural ammonia control, and owning an ammonia test kit cant help you avoid that because disease loss happens before the ammonia spike, an ammonia or nitrite spike will never precede a fish wipe event. Testing for nitrite and ammonia cannot prevent a fish loss event to disease only fallow and quarantine will prevent that in these new tanks.

shift all concern to reading fish disease forum prevention protocols for disease

your cycle is complete because you added bac instantly able to carry life and now it’s been a month + many many feedings handled just fine, that means cycled. Delicate shrimp in tow, cycled.

post a full tank picture of your reef
 
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frost17

frost17

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post a full tank picture of your reef

Thanks for all of that. It makes me feel so much better! Here's a picture of my tank and my personal favorite coral at the moment, my pipe organ. For a few days he wouldn't open up (before I relocated him up higher). He even lost his bright green coloring, and it's been coming back. So I'm super excited to see him doing better.

If you look close you can see my one lone clown fish on the right near the top. (We had a water flow issue too, but the moment we fixed it he went crazy playing in the new currents all over the tank.)

It's been a learning process for sure.

my tank.jpg
pipe organ.jpg
 
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frost17

frost17

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You are well past cycling close date. Focus on fish disease preps and prevention

a breakdown of the concerning portion of the tests:

take your noted ammonia level and reduce it ten times, thats the form of ammonia reefing cares about. Not the total ammonia which is what you are seeing
For example .5 really equals .05 ppm for the version of ammonia we care about and your non digital kits can’t read much lower anyway. Your real nh3 is under .05 but without seneye we don’t know it’s real value. If your levels were above .05 your stuff would be dead and the water would be cloudy

nitrite
no longer factors in 2021 and beyond cycling science, dont own the test kit.


nitrate
ranges big time tank to tank and it’s very unlikely your test is accurate unless it’s an expensive digital kit. Fish disease got the clown

compare your reefs timeline to a cycle chart. All dates and drops are met even if kits seem to not agree, we expect you to have some low level ammonia present, all reefs do, none run at zero. stalled cycles don’t exist in the new updated rule set.

your animals couldnt live day to day if the tank wasn’t cycled itd all be dead by now.
Thank you so much! It's a relief to know that all tanks run with some low levels of ammonia. And thank you for explaining everything about the levels. I can't tell you how much better I feel.
 
REEFTIDE

MaxTremors

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Thanks for all of that. It makes me feel so much better! Here's a picture of my tank and my personal favorite coral at the moment, my pipe organ. For a few days he wouldn't open up (before I relocated him up higher). He even lost his bright green coloring, and it's been coming back. So I'm super excited to see him doing better.

If you look close you can see my one lone clown fish on the right near the top. (We had a water flow issue too, but the moment we fixed it he went crazy playing in the new currents all over the tank.)

It's been a learning process for sure.

my tank.jpg
pipe organ.jpg
Looks like you have a bacterial bloom (hence the cloudy water). This is really common in new tanks and isn’t too concerning, you just want to make sure you either have a skimmer or airstone going and/or plenty of water movement, the bacteria consumes lots of oxygen and can cause oxygen levels to get so low that fish and inverts can asphyxiate. You can run a UV sterilizer to make it go away faster, but it will go away on its own, usually within one to two weeks. You can also run carbon, it won’t help the bacteria, but I know it was a question you asked, it won’t hurt anything to run it at this point (really you could’ve been running it from day one).
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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Agreed.



thats no slouchy start coral either, those are pretty rare and wont live in my tank though many other types will, they are upper tier corals to keep open and happy in my opinion. The tubipora group won’t live much past a few months in my setup not sure why.
 

terraincognita

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+1 you're "nitrification cycle" was done when you saw any nitrites converted to nitrate.

Just take it slow and steady from here. Patience is key, Can take months for your tank to "settle" and nice clear water, dont worry as long as you're fish are alive and happy and your corals you have open their polyps you're heading down the right path.
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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Agreed. The hobby has taken a sharp turn and disease is wiping out bucket loads of marine fish we buy and trade and it wasn’t like this in 2006. It’s a change that’s occurred. Freshwater not so much but marine? 80% chance of more than one loss among purchases within 6 months in any system skipping disease preps listed there and some skipped systems will experience complete fish kills. The vast vast few will get away Scott free skipping preps. Anything by Humblefish or Jay will bring retention % up to 2021 possibility levels.

technically the bad news is this reef is cycled but now has to be re fallowed. Welcome to reefing :)
 
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frost17

frost17

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Looks like you have a bacterial bloom (hence the cloudy water). This is really common in new tanks and isn’t too concerning, you just want to make sure you either have a skimmer or airstone going and/or plenty of water movement, the bacteria consumes lots of oxygen and can cause oxygen levels to get so low that fish and inverts can asphyxiate. You can run a UV sterilizer to make it go away faster, but it will go away on its own, usually within one to two weeks. You can also run carbon, it won’t help the bacteria, but I know it was a question you asked, it won’t hurt anything to run it at this point (really you could’ve been running it from day one).
Thanks for the heads up about the oxygen. I know my waterflow is much better from when I started, and I've got plenty of surface agitation. I'll keep a very close eye on things. At the moment I don't have a skimmer. Everything I've been told up to this point about having one is a "only get it if you need it" type deal. At what point should I add one?

The tubipora group won’t live much past a few months in my setup not sure why.
Wow! I've been told every one has one coral they can't keep alive no matter how perfect the conditions are in the tank.
+1 you're "nitrification cycle" was done when you saw any nitrites converted to nitrate.

Just take it slow and steady from here. Patience is key, Can take months for your tank to "settle" and nice clear water, dont worry as long as you're fish are alive and happy and your corals you have open their polyps you're heading down the right path.
Thank you! I've heard the new tank stage can take months to get through. I've heard it gets ugly before it gets pretty! Hah. Everyones happy and alive and I'll be taking it very slow when adding fish and corals to the tank. My favorite fish I have to wait on, a mandarin dragonette.

I definitely will! I have a quarantine tank already and it's my next process to make sure it's cycled.

technically the bad news is this reef is cycled but now has to be re fallowed. Welcome to reefing
I definitely plan to read up on disease and prevention and quarantine. The term fallow is new to me. Can you tell me more about that?
Very nice and welcome to R2R
Thank you!
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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Here’s two ways of fallowing a tank

the point of fallow is running a fish tank without fish for X chosen time period to starve disease and parasites that need fish to complete life cycles. You can run everything but fish during a fallow period

fallow length 45 days vs 90 you choose based on directed study in the fish disease forum both have pros and cons

true fallow: stocking a reef completely without any fish. a complete reef is built then stop adding additions (which bring in fish disease from the pet store, anything wet) for the chosen length of fallow.

at this point only quarantined fish go in. All future additions that are wet must go through fallow in a separate tank before going into your display, this is what many zoos do.

dirty fallow:

does original tank fallow, adds qt fish strictly, does not pre fallow new frag additions and new snails and crabs, so each one is a micro 2% vector disease risk. Even this has stronger fish retention than no preps but it’s not as good as true fallowing

in the last two months there has easily been ten posts about snails from reef cleaners wiping out fish, no proof of cause but that’s the post details. Those snails should be getting fallowed before getting put in someone’s display.
 

Grumblez

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in the last two months there has easily been ten posts about snails from reef cleaners wiping out fish, no proof of cause but that’s the post details. Those snails should be getting fallowed before getting put in someone’s display.

Thats interesting, would think their snails would be low risk since they are wild caught and not really kept with fish afaik. I would be mostly worried about snails/frags coming from a local fish store having a cyst on them.
 

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