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Old 11-29-2012, 08:08 AM   #1
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Ammonia testing during cycling

Hi all, I'm currently cycling a 55g saltwater tank which has been running for 1-2 weeks with natural sea water and about 66 lbs of live rock. No fish in there as yet. I also threw in a raw shrimp to get the ammonia up a little but removed it after 3 days as I was advised to be patient, let things happen more naturally and thy all the live rock I have in there would cause sufficient die off. Anyway, I first started testing ammonia a week ago every couple of days and it went from 0 to 0.10, then to 0.20 in 4 days, but today being the 7th day it has fallen back to around 0.05 to 0.10ppm! I thought it was supposed to spike up to around 4 or 5ppm before coming back down again! Can anyone explain why it has fallen much earlier than its suppose to during cycling of a sw tank, or should it gradually rise with more time?
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Old 11-29-2012, 06:55 PM   #2
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It was fine to put the shrimp in with the LR. When you took it out, you were taking out that additional ammonia source. The die off from the LR can be minimal which is why you would add more ammonia like the raw shrimp. I suggest putting a new raw shrimp in and wait until the ammonia rises to 4-5 ppm and then take it out. If you don't the cycle prob. won't be "strong" enough (not enough bacteria to handle waste). For example, if you put a CUC crew in, or a fish and the nitrate shot up, or any other level like the nitrite or ammonia didn't remain zero you would know the cycle wasn't strong enough.
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Old 12-01-2012, 03:16 AM   #3
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You may never see a huge spike in ammonia because you got so much LR. But I agree to put a shrimp back in and let it decay.
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Old 12-01-2012, 07:14 PM   #4
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You may never see a huge spike in ammonia because you got so much LR. But I agree to put a shrimp back in and let it decay.
Ok I just tested ammonia again and it's at 0.20ppm now so I've now added another shrimp in there and we'll see what happens. I know it varies with everyone's sw tank, but does anyone know what a normal usual "healthy" marine cycling period lasts for before the first fish can be added?
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Old 12-01-2012, 08:01 PM   #5
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If a decaying shrimp does not raise the ammonia significantly, you have a sufficient BB colony. With 66 lbs LR for a 55 gal tank you could see little ammonia. If amm drop to 0 with the shrimp still decaying your golden. Nitrite should stay at 0 as well.
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Old 12-01-2012, 08:58 PM   #6
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If a decaying shrimp does not raise the ammonia significantly, you have a sufficient BB colony. With 66 lbs LR for a 55 gal tank you could see little ammonia. If amm drop to 0 with the shrimp still decaying your golden. Nitrite should stay at 0 as well.
I've also been dosing some bio culture every week and also have about 2lb live rock rubble in my sump. So you think if my ammonia goes back down to zero without rising too much and my nitrite stays at zero with some nitrate I could have finished cycling sooner than anticipated and well on my way to soon adding fish?
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Old 12-01-2012, 09:32 PM   #7
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With that much LR, yes. But I'd stop with culture boost. See what the tank can do on its own.
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Old 12-04-2012, 08:03 AM   #8
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With that much LR, yes. But I'd stop with culture boost. See what the tank can do on its own.
Ok, I've stopped adding bio culture and I added another shrimp 2 days ago. It has both decayed and also been feasted on by my crab so only part of the head and shell remain. I just tested ammonia and it was 0.20ppm (refer pic) which is not much change if any since I last tested 2 days ago. In 3 weeks of cycling I have yet to see any ammonia spike and it has not even reached the first level at 0.25ppm. I also tested nitrite now and it is 0ppm. So what do you think all this means in terms of where I'm at with my cycling? Also, I'm getting a lot of fury-like algae on my glass. Apart from buying a magnetic algae glass cleaner, what sort of CUCs can I get to help keep my display tank clean? I'm only keeping the lights on 4 hours a day and I've had to turn my heaters off as the temp is now around 31C (88F). I don't have a chiller and we have just commenced our summer here so not sure if I could still start adding fish this summer if the temp remained around the same level. Anyone have any thoughts on all of this?
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Old 12-04-2012, 09:38 AM   #9
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If you can find it you can dose with PURE ammonia. You have to be sure it's pure though, no scents or other additives. You can usually find it in a hardware store and it's pretty cheap. You can dose to 4 ppm and see what happens. I cycled my 90 gallon tank with pure ammonia and a few fish flakes only, no shrimp or fish, and ended up using about a quart total. (not all at once, lol)
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Old 12-06-2012, 07:23 AM   #10
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Ok so I've tested my parameters again (almost 3 weeks since first adding LR) and below are my results:
Ammonia - 0.20ppm
Nitrite - 0ppm
Nitrate - 5.0ppm
PH - 8.2

Picture also below:

Would this indicate that I may have had enough BB to not cause an ammonia spike and am I close to being cycled or should I try adding another shrimp to get that ammonia past 0.20ppm for the very first time?
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