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New Tank - Stumped

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I've run fish tanks for 30+ years but i'll admit i'm stumped on my latest.  It's a Fluval 9 gallon set up for my 6 year old.  We have it running, filter on, led lights, new gravel (washed), starter bacteria included, and i'm doing my standard 1 fish in the tank for a couple weeks to get things started.  This is the method i've successfully used for decades.

We are now 0 for 3 with our little starter fish (2 glowlight tetras, one serpae tetra).  Always only 1 but replace after the little guy dies.  Dont want to run the tank without a fish because I want the bacteria cycle to commence.  

Our water testing is saying the ammonia levels are spiking. We are limiting the feeding so it isn't from that.There are no heaters in this tank so it is room temperature.  Note, I have 2 other of the same tanks also at room temperature (one in the same house, one at the office) without problems.    Not sure what else it could be.  

Any suggestions or recommendations would be appreciated.  

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I can't solve your puzzle, but if ammonia is spiking then there is no need to add a starter fish because there is plenty of ammonia for the bacteria already. You can also add some floating plants to remove the ammonia if you don't want to wait too long before putting some fish in.

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I have some thoughts as well.

First: I would avoid using fish like Tetras in cycling because they have evolved in (roughly speaking) acidic water, and do not tolerate ammonia well (assuming you have water with a pH >7). Typically people use fish with a better osmoregulation mechanism for ammonia to like good old gold fish.

Second: The temperature of the water directly affects the speed of bacteria division. Thus cooler, room-temperature water will slow the cycle down, especially compared to something at 80F. I would trying bringing the temp up to 80 until your cycling, then gradually lower it.




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I might try bumping up the frequency of your water changes to try and keep the ammonia down to a manageable level. I've also cycled using a piece of raw shrimp as an ammonia source instead of live fish, but it can be a bit messy. 


I'd second the idea of a different fish type, maybe danios to cycle.


Good luck

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