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Old 03-20-2019, 02:33 PM   #1
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fishless cycle - nitrites 0, nitrates low


I was a cichlid keeper in the 90's, but have been out of fish for 20 years.

My son and I have set up a 10 gallon tank with a 2-3 gallon overhead sump (patio planter box). The planter is filled with lava rock and a sponge for biological and mechanical filtration. Flow is supplied by a marineland powerhead flowing at around 100 GPM. In the future, we plan to use live plants in the planter box to keep nitrate levels low.

We've been doing a fishless cycle for two months now. We have been testing progress as we have gone thru the cycle. In the past 2-3 weeks, we've needed to add ammonia daily, since the levels drop to zero 12-24 hours after being at 2-3ppm.

Nitrite started appearing a few weeks into the cycle, and now drops to 0 ppm within 24 hours after ammonia addition.

Nitrate is the one that puzzles me. The levels have been low every time they have been tested. Yesterday, nitrate was somewhere in the range of 0-5ppm on the API test kit. I expected higher - where did all of the nitrogen go? Algae doesn't appear to be present yet. Is it possible de-nitrifying bacteria are converting nitrate to N2?

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Old 03-21-2019, 07:45 PM   #2
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I read others claiming lava rocks helping with nitrate removal by providing an environment for anaerobic bacteria (denitrifying bacteria) to grow. Do you think that's what is at work here? Has anyone seen anything similar?
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