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Old 02-26-2015, 11:29 PM   #1
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Cycling question for newbie

I have a 29 gallon saltwater tank that I am hoping to turn to a reef. I decided to do fish less cycling using a couple pieces of live rock (8 lbs) and the rest reef bones. I used live sand and also mud for my refugium. I used dr tims ammonium chloride which is supposed to be perfectly diluted to 1 drop per gallon to give 2 ppm ammonia. I initially followed the directions adding the amount for my water column. My api test kit did not register at all so I thought it was simply a faulty reading. A few days later I tested for nitrites....nothing at all using Api test. I let it go a week and decided to dose more ammonium chloride thinking I didn't have enough for the cycle to start. I then showed around 3 ppm ammonia. At this point I also added a bottle of dr tims one and only (thinking my live sand and mud bacteria had died due to the cold weather when shipped). Within a couple days my ammonia had dropped to zero. I then tested for nitrites using Api test. It showed zero. I then purchased a Hanna ulr nitrite tester which reads in ppb. The results were around 75 ppb. A day or two later nitrites dropped to 20 ppb. At this point I am still not seeing any nitrates at all. I decided to dose ammonia again to around 4 ppm. Ammonia dropped a few days later, Nitrites came up to around 80 ppb and is now falling. I am currently sitting at 0 ppm ammonia, 40 ppb nitrites, and 0 nitrates. Is it possible I am simply "mini cycling" and not being able to pick up the amounts of nitrates on a ppm level? Any insight anyone has is greatly appreciated.


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Old 02-26-2015, 11:32 PM   #2
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This wouldn't be a mini cycle, this would be the actual cycling of the tank. If a tank is cycled, then in 24 hours you wouldn't be able to detect any ammonia or nitrite levels. If the nitrites are dropping, then they are being turned into nitrates. I would check the test and make sure that it isn't a) expired or b) simply testing wrong. The API nitrate test kit can be tricky the first couple times around sometimes when it comes to the requirements of the two different bottles.
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Old 02-26-2015, 11:38 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply. I have read that a diatom bloom is a sign that I'm at the end of the cycle. I also have some hair algae going on also. Is it possible the algae is consuming the nitrates as fast as they are produced causing me to read zero? I feel pretty confident I am testing correctly and the test is not expired.


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Old 02-26-2015, 11:46 PM   #4
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Diatoms are a sign of the early life stages of a tank. They will vanish when the silicates are consumed from the sandbed and rock.
And you would be correct about the algae consuming the nitrates! This is a common question that people raise about their parameters being in check and having all this algae in their tank.
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Old 02-26-2015, 11:52 PM   #5
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Ok great! So it's pretty safe to say my cycle has completed and am now ready for a cleanup crew? I'd like to get this algae in check before taking over. I plan on building a small gfo reactor to lower my phosphates as well. They are currently sitting at .4 ppm using the Hanna phosphorus checker and converting to P04


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Old 02-27-2015, 02:51 PM   #6
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Shut your lights off. There is no reason to have lights on during a cycle and it only promotes algae growth.


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Old 02-27-2015, 10:47 PM   #7
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Since cycle is complete, I just
Purchased about 15 crabs, and 5 turbos to help. I am building a small gfo reactor tomorrow to assist with the phosphates. The crabs are going to town on it!! Fun to watch! Along with the snails and crabs I also purchased a small frag of star polyps. Since they are photosynthetic,
I figured this would be a good start.


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