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Old 08-22-2012, 02:59 PM   #1
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Aquarium Cycled?

Hey, I am new to AA and the saltwater hobby so I'm a slightly confused as to if my cycle has completed. I've done a lot of research so I know how a cycle works and such. So 2 months ago I had my tank running smoothly and added ammonia and Dr. Tim's One and Only Nitrifying Bacteria. I've heard that bacteria in a bottle doesn't work, but I just wanted to test it. A couple days later my pump was making loud sounds and pretty much stopped working, so I had to turn it off. The sump (50 gallons, 20 utilized) was getting no filtration and I only had one koralia pump on the main tank which is 70 gallons. Also the heater was off, but I'm sure the temperature was correct since it's summer, and there was so much water evaporated that the salinity was past readable. I just got the pump fixed and everything running again and this is what the readings are:

Salinity: 1.027 ppt
Temp: 82 F (high I know, I'll put a bag of ice in)
pH: 8.2

and yesterday ammonia, nitrite, and nitrAte were all 0 ppm, so I wasn't sure if the tank had cycled or it hadn't even started. So, I added 3-4 ppm of ammonia and today, knowing that if the tank is cycled the ammonia and nitrite should be 0 and nitrate=low within 24 hours. I tester about 12 hrs later after adding the ammonia and the readings have changed to:

Ammonia: 0.25 ppm
Nitrite: 0.25 ppm
NitrAte: 40 ppm

If the ammonia and nitrite are 0 ppm and the nitrate is < 10 later today and tomorrow, does that mean I'll be able to add my first fish? I wouldn't want to add a fish until I knew the water parameters were correct.

Sorry this is so long and thanks so much for taking your time to read this!
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Old 08-22-2012, 03:15 PM   #2
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If you dosed to 4ppm and 24 hours later you are at 0,0,?? then I would say you are cycled. I probably would do that for a couple days just to be sure.
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Old 08-22-2012, 03:16 PM   #3
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So you're saying I should add the same amount of ammonia every day to see if the results are the same? And thanks for the advice
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Old 08-22-2012, 03:55 PM   #4
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If you added ammonia and are at 0 in 24 hours or so, it sounds like your cycled to me. Like Spoon suggested I'd wait a couple days just to be sure, or maybe you should repeat the experiment to be sure.

When I started my tank, my ammonia level rose to 0.25 for two days, then nitrite went to 0.25 for two days, then all went back to 0. Nitrate has been steady at 3-5 for two weeks now, and two small clowns are doing fine.
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Old 08-22-2012, 04:20 PM   #5
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Personally I'd bring the salinity down to 1.025 before starting fish. I doubt the fish store has their tanks that high. Just my opinion...
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Old 08-22-2012, 05:25 PM   #6
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Once you hit 0,0 for ammonia,nitrite you should dose up to 4 ppm ammonia again and see how long it takes to be consumed by the bacteria you have been working on colonizing. As for your statement about nitrates, for the most part the only way to remove nitrates from your system is via your weekly water changes. There are other ways of removal, but we'll worry about fuges and waste removal for after you are cycled.

Oh, and even though your salinity is a tad on the high side at 1.027, you should be ok. Just don't go any higher than 1.028.
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Old 08-22-2012, 05:44 PM   #7
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Thank you everyone for the advice. I am trying to lower the salinity by replacing some of the water with fresh RO/DI water. Also, should I have a water change 24 hours after every time I add ammonia? So basically when should I do the water changes and how much would you recommend?
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Old 08-22-2012, 06:43 PM   #8
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I dont do any water changes until the cycle is over. After that, about 10% a week or more if your trates go too high. You will see what your sweet spot is when you have been up a little while. I do about 15% every two weeks.
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