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Old 05-14-2011, 12:52 PM   #1
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Cycling Question

Hey guys, I had been doing a fishless cycle for a few weeks on my 55gallon with no seeded material. About a week ago one of my coworkers agreed to put one of my filter cartridges and one of my bio wheels on his tank to get some bacteria growth on it and yesterday I added that material to my filter. I quick added some ammonia (I didn't measure how much I just dumped some in I'm pretty sure it was way more than the recommended 2-4ppm but I was in a hurry and didn't want the bacteria to die without food). About 9 hours later I came home and tested the water, 0 ammonia and over 40ppm Nitrate. Previous to getting the seeded filters all I had was ammonia and 0 nitrite and nitrate. So after I tested and got 0 ammonia and high nitrate I didn't have time to do a water change so I just added some more ammonia and left. This morning I checked my water and I have very low ammonia, around .5ppm, off the charts nitrite, and very low nitrate. How did that happen? When the nitrate level was way up there I figured my tank was cycled I just needed to do a big water change and then add fish. Now the next day I see super high nitrite and almost no nitrate, even though I didn't change any water. Any thoughts? Do I just need to do a big water change and see where I'm at?
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Old 05-14-2011, 12:56 PM   #2
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Do u have any plants?
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Old 05-14-2011, 12:59 PM   #3
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no plants just sand and 2 small decorations
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Old 05-14-2011, 01:41 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by treym563
Hey guys, I had been doing a fishless cycle for a few weeks on my 55gallon with no seeded material. About a week ago one of my coworkers agreed to put one of my filter cartridges and one of my bio wheels on his tank to get some bacteria growth on it and yesterday I added that material to my filter. I quick added some ammonia (I didn't measure how much I just dumped some in I'm pretty sure it was way more than the recommended 2-4ppm but I was in a hurry and didn't want the bacteria to die without food). About 9 hours later I came home and tested the water, 0 ammonia and over 40ppm Nitrate. Previous to getting the seeded filters all I had was ammonia and 0 nitrite and nitrate. So after I tested and got 0 ammonia and high nitrate I didn't have time to do a water change so I just added some more ammonia and left. This morning I checked my water and I have very low ammonia, around .5ppm, off the charts nitrite, and very low nitrate. How did that happen? When the nitrate level was way up there I figured my tank was cycled I just needed to do a big water change and then add fish. Now the next day I see super high nitrite and almost no nitrate, even though I didn't change any water. Any thoughts? Do I just need to do a big water change and see where I'm at?
Ah, you have reached the infamous nitrite spike! Don't worry. It'll be high for about a week, then drop literally over night! Do a 50% water change if the nitrite is off the charts, as it can stall your cycle if it gets too high. This is the part most people that fish in cycle lose their fish, so kudos for fishless! That cycled media will definitely speed things up.
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Old 05-14-2011, 04:25 PM   #5
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I bought and use some of these cheapo sponge filters from ebay for some of my small tanks. I bought extra filters to have on hand. These sponges are rather small. I always keep 2 sponges laying in the bottom of my largest tank. For a quick cycle, I place one in a new tank. I add my plants, a gallon or so of tank water, the rest is treated tap, some crap from the bottom of a tank, fresh food and wait for 48 hrs (just to be safe.) Then I add some starter fish. No problems so far after 4 tank start ups.
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Old 05-14-2011, 07:17 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the input, I'm in the process now of switching stands (figured it was a good time while I had most of the water out). I have the filter media in a bucket of tank water so after I switch stands I'll fill the tank back up and hopefully everything works out.
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Old 05-15-2011, 03:02 AM   #7
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Out of curiosity, what are you using to test your ammonia / nitrIte / nitrAte levels?

If you use test strips, you need to change to a liquid test kit. Test strips are notoriously inaccurate.

If you're using the API Freshwater Master Test Kit, are you making sure you shake the second bottle of the nitrAte test for 30 seconds, then shaking the test tube for 1 minute after adding it? If you don't, you won't get an accurate reading on your nitrAte levels, which would account for the bizzare nitrAte readings you're getting.
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Old 05-15-2011, 12:17 PM   #8
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I'm using the recommended API test kit and I do make sure to follow the directions every time I test the water. I tested last night when I filled the tank back up with my rock and added ammonia. I got 2ppm ammonia 2-5ppm nitrite and about 5ppm nitrate. I tested this morning and have about .5ppm ammonia 5ppm nitrite and between 10-20ppm nitrate (hard to tell between 10 and 20). I'm sure I can't be cycled yet since my nitrites are always off the charts when I test. If I understand correctly I just wait till my tank can process 2ppm ammonia to 100% nitrate within a 24 hour period then I should be good to go. Anyone have a timeframe between when they saw high nitrites until their tank cycled?
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Old 05-15-2011, 01:07 PM   #9
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I recommend that you stop testing nitrAtes until your nitrItes drop. I believe that nitrItes can give a false positive to a nitrAte reading.
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Old 05-15-2011, 01:21 PM   #10
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I recommend that you stop testing nitrAtes until your nitrItes drop. I believe that nitrItes can give a false positive to a nitrAte reading.
Where did u get that statement from. I don't think it does. Nitrite and nitrate are different compounds.
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Old 05-15-2011, 01:22 PM   #11
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I recommend that you stop testing nitrAtes until your nitrItes drop. I believe that nitrItes can give a false positive to a nitrAte reading.
How?
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Old 05-15-2011, 02:13 PM   #12
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I've seen others mention that nitrItes can give a false reading to nitrAte tests. I think it's because nitrAte tests may first break it down into nitrItes as part of the test. Here's an article that discusses it.

Aquarium Plants - Info Pages

In my opinion, it's wasteful to test nitrAtes while mid-cycle anyway. I waited to test my nitrAte levels until after my nitrItes had dropped significantly to near zero.
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Old 05-16-2011, 09:26 AM   #13
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Just tested again this morning and I have 0 ammonia 5ppm nitrIte and 40-80ppm nitrAte. Thanks James for that article link that makes sense why sometimes my nitrAtes are reading really high and sometimes I hardly get any reading. I'll just keep dosing ammonia once it reaches .5ppm or so and wait for my nitrItes to drop.
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Old 05-16-2011, 11:34 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by treym563
Just tested again this morning and I have 0 ammonia 5ppm nitrIte and 40-80ppm nitrAte. Thanks James for that article link that makes sense why sometimes my nitrAtes are reading really high and sometimes I hardly get any reading. I'll just keep dosing ammonia once it reaches .5ppm or so and wait for my nitrItes to drop.
Keep dosing! U don't wanna starve ur ammonia bacterial.
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Old 05-16-2011, 12:51 PM   #15
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Keeping dosing ammonia to 4.0ppm. Once you can convert that into nitrites and then into nitrates and your ammonia is at 0, nitrites are at 0 and your nitrates are in the 20 and below range in 24 hours, your tank is fully cycled.
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Old 05-16-2011, 04:00 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by treym563
Just tested again this morning and I have 0 ammonia 5ppm nitrIte and 40-80ppm nitrAte. Thanks James for that article link that makes sense why sometimes my nitrAtes are reading really high and sometimes I hardly get any reading. I'll just keep dosing ammonia once it reaches .5ppm or so and wait for my nitrItes to drop.
treym,

I'd like to again recommend that you stop testing nitrAtes while you are still in your high nitrIte ranges. Not only is it not accurate (based on the article link above), but it doesn't matter what the nitrAte reading is while you have nitrItes anyway. You'll want to save those nitrAte tests for the end of your cycle and beyond because you'll be testing your aquarium weekly as long as it's running. No reason to waste it at this point.
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Old 05-18-2011, 09:52 PM   #17
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Man, my tank chews through ammonia like nobody's business but I still have nitrItes off the charts. I'm hoping it's over soon!
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Old 05-18-2011, 10:44 PM   #18
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Man, my tank chews through ammonia like nobody's business but I still have nitrItes off the charts. I'm hoping it's over soon!
Ya ur cycle is near the end. Do pwc changes if ur nitrite is off the chart. U dont wanna stall ur cycle.
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Old 05-19-2011, 01:03 AM   #19
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Ya ur cycle is near the end. Do pwc changes if ur nitrite is off the chart. U dont wanna stall ur cycle.
+1

When your nitrItes are too high, your cycle can be at risk of stalling, which may be why you're still seeing high nitrItes without any progress. Do at least a 50% water change to see if you can get them back down to manageable so they'll start converting to nitrAtes.
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Old 05-19-2011, 02:12 PM   #20
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Ok I'll do a 50% PWC tonight when I get home. About a week ago I drained almost all the water out and added my rockwork and by the next morning my nitrItes were off the chart again..should I do PWC more often now that my cycle is almost done? In most of the cycling threads I've read they just say do a huge water change, like 90%, at the end of your cycle.
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