[Right: in a rare show of male-inclusiveness, Maia displays art by a man.]

My poor fish. Or rather – since my fish in fact seem perfectly fine and healthy – poor me. This cycling lark is stressful. Particularly when you thought you were all done and then – POW! – you are back to square one as I was about 10 days ago.

My ammonia levels are going up again now. Nitrite constant, nitrate rising. I think this means that:

  • The tank is certainly still producing nitrate.
  • This means I must still have nitrite-eating bacteria – a big enough colony to cope with the amount of nitrite being produced, albeit lacking the extra little oomph to take the levels down to zero.
  • Since I have nitrite-eating bacteria, who have clearly got something to eat, the tank must also still be producing nitrite.
  • This means I must also still have some ammonia-eating bacteria. They have *not* all died in some freak anti-ammonia-eater bacterial terrorist attack. Yay!

Given that my ammonia levels are rising only slowly, I must have a big enough colony that it can almost cope with the rate of ammonia production.

But is “almost” good enough?

The trouble is, I don’t know whether this is normal – I am told ammonia-eater colonies do grow very slowly. And I don’t know whether the reason they can’t keep up even though they apparently previously could is because I have stopped doing water changes or because there is an increased source of ammonia from somewhere (bogwood rotting? overfeeding?) or even because my ammonia-eating population is actually in decline from some unknown but horrifying reason. And I don’t know whether I should now re-start my water changes. The fish do seem perfectly fine, and if water changes do interfere with cycling (as some experts say, although others say they don’t) then I don’t want to be doing it unnecessarily. But what if my fish only seem fine but are actually receiving some hidden damage? Or am I now in sillymummy flap territory?

Deep breath.
Being a fishmummy is really hard.
It is not as hard as being a babymummy.
But it is still hard.

I think I’m just having a flap about nothing. I’ve read my nice, reassuring fish book again and feel like a silly flapper. (So, yes – this is just like being a babymummy!)