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Old 06-24-2009, 04:37 PM   #1
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Nitrites Not changing?

Hello all,
I decided to make a new thread since this particular issue is by itself.

I have been cycling my tank for a week or so now and using live rock and SeaChem Stability. This is a fishless (replaced by 10% ammonia) cycle.

So far, my ammonia can go from off the charts to zero with 24 hours. My nitrites do not go up or down. (well, I really cant tell a difference in the colors much with the API test).

Nitrates are very high. (Either 80ppm or off the charts, colors hard to distinguish).

Shouldnt my nitrites be doing something if the ammonia (added each day) is dropping to zero and I have a ton of nitrates?

Seems no matter what I do, the nitrites will not move up or down. (Or maybe they are already off the charts and I just cant distinguish the colors).

Could I be adding too much ammonia,(Around 8ppm each day), even though the tank seems to knock it out after 24 hours?

Is it normal for nitrites to just sit like this?

Could someone recommend a better test kit? The ammonia and pH seem to be just fine. Nitrates and Nitrites are a real pain to read. I just know that purple is bad (nitrites) and blue is good. For nitrates, red-orange is bad, and yellow is good.

BTW-The Stability seems to work at lowering ammonia very fast! I started yesterday with ammonia off the chart, and 8 hours after adding Stability it was down to around 2-4ppm! Nitrites were unchanged.

Thanks!
Matt
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Old 06-24-2009, 05:13 PM   #2
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There's no reason to keep dosing ammonia. If you keep dosing ammonia on a daily basis - and at a very high rate, it appears - you'll be hard pressed to get rid of the nitrites. Most likely, you're just building up a huge population of bacteria - one that is far more than you'll need with for a normal fish bioload. When you eventually put fish in, and stop dosing ammonia, that extra bacteria population may then die off, creating yet another ammonia spike. Personally, I think you're setting yourself up for a crash down the road.

In my opinion, you're not being patient enough. I've followed your other thread and commented a few times, and it just doesn't appear that you want to wait out the cycle. Nitrites not moving for a few days isn't a big thing. They eventually will decrease. But by dumping pure ammonia in on a daily basis, and then dumping in bacteria in a bottle... who really knows where you're at in the cycle.

My advice? Just stop, and sit on your hands. Let your tank cycle on it's own. Other than the initial ammonia source, it doesn't need help.
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Old 06-24-2009, 06:08 PM   #3
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Hello,
I was dosing with ammonia because I had been reading that ammonia is needed to keep the nitrifying bacteria alive while I wait for the cycle to complete.

Will the bacteria stay alive without an ammonia source? Its not that I am impatient, but I do believe in taking short cuts if they have some truth to them.

After reading such great things about bio spira, I figured it would be worth a try at bacteria in a bottle additives. I cant get bio spira ANYWHERE in town, but read Stability to be a great second choice.

I truly believe that everything has room for improvement. I am a science major (electrical engineering) and it is my nature to take chances on improved methods. If the Stability doesnt work, oh well. It wont damage anything. (Nothing is going into the tank until the tank can take 4ppm of ammonia down to zero in 24 hours and settle with zero nitrites as well). If someone can give a solid truth to why bio additives are destructive to the tank, thats great! If not, I beleive that it is unfair to call someone impatient rather than innovative.

Thanks for all the great help though! I would be sitting with a 5 gallon tank full of tap water treated with some cheap dechlorinator and extremely stressed Damsels if it wasnt for all the wealth of information here!

So it IS perfectly fine for nitrites to test the same for days then? I guess the high nitirates are proof that something is going on with the nitrites. Maybe a bad API test?

Matt
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Old 06-24-2009, 06:12 PM   #4
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How much ammonia are you adding?
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Old 06-24-2009, 06:16 PM   #5
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I don't see the need to dose anything while cycling, the LR will take care of itself if you just wait it out.
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Old 06-24-2009, 06:40 PM   #6
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But no ammonia source means a cycle will die? But too much can make it erratic. Ideally you need to be adding the ammount of ammonia that you first lot of livestock will produce, so your bacterial load will be ideal for your predicted bioload.
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Old 06-24-2009, 06:44 PM   #7
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My suggestion would be that your test strips are bad. Maybe take them to the LFS and have him double check your results. I`m also concerned that you are adding too much ammonia. I would stop adding ammonia and let your cycle complete. There is plenty in there to feed the nitrifying bacteria. To be honest with you I thought Kurt gave you some pretty good advice.
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Old 06-24-2009, 06:56 PM   #8
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I may be way off base here, but are you adding ammonia then stability right after? Nitrates may be high because you are processing so much ammonia. If you have bacteria growing now, shouldnt he be able to add ammonia then the bacteria that is already growing take care off it? Then you should be able to stop adding ammonia. He may be just prolonging the cycle by continuing to add stuff to the water. I also think you should sit on your hands for a few days just taking water readings and see what it does without intervention. I used biospira and only added it once to get the bacteria started. In my freshy it was like an instant cycle. It took about a week and I was able to add fish. It was like starting a tank with established filter media.
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Old 06-24-2009, 07:02 PM   #9
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Hello,
The amount of ammonia I add is around 4ppm. (It kinda looks like the 8ppm, but just not nearly as dark). I am using the liquid tests from API for saltwater. I first started the cycle with 8ppm and zero nitrites, and zero nitrates. After a day or two, the ammonia went down some and the nitrite was purple. (I cant really tell a difference at all with these purples). Eventually, the ammonia was zero and the nitrite was still this same purple. Nitrates were now also present.

I let a few days go by (about 2) with the ammonia still at zero and the nitrite at "purple". Nitrates were slowly climbing. (About 10ppm each day). I began reading that ammonia is needed during the cycle since there werent any fish. I added some more ammonia (1ppm) and let it go to zero each day. Yesterday, I got some SeaCheam Stabilty after calling all the fish stores in my town looking for Bio Spira. They all told me that Stability is what they use since Bio Spira is so $$$ and now harder to find. (And not very popular either with people in town).

I looked it up on the web and found alot of rave reviews for it. I added it yesterday as well as more ammonia. (Close to 8ppm) and it took it to zero this afternoon. Nitrites the same still, but Nitrates look to be lower. (Less redish and more orange now).

I will stop adding ammonia as suggested and wait now for the nitrites to change. I guess if a week goes by and the nitrites are still stagnant, I will get another nitrite test. (The local stores around here seem not too helpful).

BTW- I noticed some stuff now growing. Some greenish stuff on the live rocks near the purple coraline algae that was on it when I bought it. There is also some brown "rust" that appeared all over the sand bed today, but not on the tank sides or live rock. I assume the green is coraline algae and the brown to be diatoms?

EDIT: Was the Bio Spira you used the new, non-refridgerated kind?
Also, as to the expected bioload, I have no idea! HAHA! I dont know how much fish produce. I plan for maybe two clownfish and a goby or something small along with some hermits and other crabs.
Thanks,
Matt
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Old 06-24-2009, 07:33 PM   #10
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I started my tank back when they had the refrigerated stuff about a year ago. Havent used the non-refrigerated. Put in ammonia to 6 PPM, it went to 0PPM, Nitrates to 8PPM. Waited 1 week, added fish (about 8 danios, I think) and still have those same 8 danios and about 20 other fish in an 84G long tank. For me that stuff worked great.
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Old 06-24-2009, 09:53 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrg02d View Post
Hello,
I was dosing with ammonia because I had been reading that ammonia is needed to keep the nitrifying bacteria alive while I wait for the cycle to complete.
The bacteria will survive the few weeks that it takes to finish the cycle without additional ammonia. Granted, for folks that use the cocktail shrimp method and leave the shrimp in there, it's supply additional ammonia. But the amount you're adding by bumping up the ammonia to 2ppm is probably far more than a rotting shrimp gives off.

Quote:
...but I do believe in taking short cuts if they have some truth to them.
By constantly adding the ammonia, in actuality, you're probably prolonging things - not taking short cuts.

Quote:
If the Stability doesnt work, oh well. It wont damage anything.
You're probably right there. Only thing it'll damage is your wallet.

Quote:
(Nothing is going into the tank until the tank can take 4ppm of ammonia down to zero in 24 hours and settle with zero nitrites as well).
I don't understand this arbitrary requirement you've put on the tank. Why 4ppm? Why 24 hrs? As I mentioned before, you may end up building up a bacterial population that is far too big to process whatever bioload you end up with in your tank. When you finally put fish in, and establish a constant bioload, the excess bacteria will die off. This in turn will most likely cause a cycle. I believe it's Fenner that wrote that the bioload in a tank just from the bacteria is often bigger than the bioload from the fish. A massive dieoff of bacteria can cause a crash.

Quote:
If not, I beleive that it is unfair to call someone impatient rather than innovative.
I'm sorry... it may be unfair for me to call you impatient. But in my defense, I've been following along on your other thread. You'd only been cycling a week before deciding to add more ammonia because things were "stuck". And the whole sand washing thing and not being willing to wait a couple days for sand to settle... well... guess I just painted you with the "impatient" brush.

Quote:
So it IS perfectly fine for nitrites to test the same for days then? I guess the high nitirates are proof that something is going on with the nitrites.
I believe your nitrites are staying level because you're constantly resupplying the tank with ammonia. The nitrites are definitely being processed because the levels are staying the same, and the nitrates are increasing. But with the constant addition of ammonia, you just can't get enough bacteria in there to process everything to zero.

I just looked back on my logs from when I last cycled a tank. Using a cocktail shrimp, it took 2 weeks for the ammonia to peak and start dropping. It wasn't until 4 weeks in that nitrites began to show. The nitrites then dropped steadily for another week, then hung steady for 4 days. At that point, they were at 3.0ppm. And then overnight, they went to 0.5, then to 0 the next day. Your mileage may vary.



Matt[/quote]
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Old 06-25-2009, 02:47 AM   #12
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Hello,
I think the problem here is confusion. All my numbers for ammonia and ammonia reduction time frame came from various forums and websites. Honestly I dont have a clue what kind of bio load I will be putting on my tank with a couple fish and some invertabrates.

I guess I am used to testing out systems of sorts wit electronics in mind.
Ammonia is the input, and nitrates are the output. Each time the ammonia is down to zero, I put more in and watch the system react to the input. (I like to test stuff).

The sand still causes quite a storm when disturbed, hopefully a major disturbance and then a 80% water change (done when nitrites go to zero) will solve that. Everything in the tank is covered in a white powdery coating. Filthy stuff!

Your explanation of the nitrites makes a lot of sense to me, and I will do as you say. I just found it odd that the color didnt change at all regardless of the amount of ammonia in the tank. ( I expected it to rise or fall rather than stay still).

Glad to have some things cleared up!

Matt
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Old 06-25-2009, 05:12 AM   #13
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That is the reason I like to go with the cocktail shrimp. It's not rocket science and you can't overdose. Simple is best. innovation is good but, as in electronics it cost money.
Either way,
Happy Reefing...
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Old 06-26-2009, 08:07 PM   #14
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Hello all,
Thanks for the comments!

I was reading that the bacteria also need phosphorus to do their thing (converting nitrites to nitrates). I am using DI water, so there arent any phosphates for the bacteria.

Would this make any sense? I guess I am acting impatient, as it seems strange that ammonia can go from high to zero so rapidly, but nitrites do nothing.Nitrates are all over the place it seems. (The stabilty product claims to get rid of nitrates as well) It took maybe a day for my ammonia bacteria to start doing stuff (once I added the pure ammonia) and now its been over a week and the nitrites just appear to be off the charts. I just did a 50% water change and the nitrites are STILL off the charts! It seems that the Stability only affects the ammonia and nitrate levels. (Nitrates have been dropping).

I added a tiny bit of some old beta food I had as an attempt to get some phosphorus in the tank. I also turned off the lights around the tank.

I stopped adding ammonia altogether. Should I keep adding a spec of fish food each day now (for phosphorus)?

Matt
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Old 06-26-2009, 08:20 PM   #15
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I used the Dr Tim quick start and it seemed to help my cycle.
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Old 06-26-2009, 09:02 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by mrg02d View Post
Hello all,
Thanks for the comments!

I was reading that the bacteria also need phosphorus to do their thing (converting nitrites to nitrates). I am using DI water, so there arent any phosphates for the bacteria.
You have phosphorus in your salt mix. If you didn't, none of us would have any bacteria in our tanks.

Quote:
I guess I am acting impatient...


Quote:
...and now its been over a week and the nitrites just appear to be off the charts. I just did a 50% water change and the nitrites are STILL off the charts! It seems that the Stability only affects the ammonia and nitrate levels. (Nitrates have been dropping).
The nitrites are off the chart because you kept adding ammonia. Nitrites are the product of the ammonia reducing bacteria doing their job. The ammonia converting bacteria and the nitrite converting bacteria are two different bacteria strains. It appears you have plenty of the ammonia converting, but not enough of the nitrite converting. Once you get enough of both, you'll see no ammonia and no nitrites. Nitrates - unless you have a mature dsb (deep sand bed) - will not go away by themselves. And yours is definitely not "mature."

Quote:
I added a tiny bit of some old beta food I had as an attempt to get some phosphorus in the tank. I also turned off the lights around the tank.

I stopped adding ammonia altogether. Should I keep adding a spec of fish food each day now (for phosphorus)?
So much for sitting on your hands, huh?!
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Old 06-27-2009, 05:18 AM   #17
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hello
My salt bucket says its phosphate free...

I guess I just expected the other bacteria to have acted as quickly as the ammonia to nitrite ones. Now I see they are just slower.

So, should I get different salt since mine is phosphate free?
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Old 06-27-2009, 09:05 AM   #18
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You dont want phosphates in your tank. They will cause problems like nuisance algeas in your tank. Any good salt mix is phosphate free.
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Old 06-27-2009, 03:21 PM   #19
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Just one pinch of fish food will give you all the PO4 that you will need. High PO4 is bad for your tank as stated above.
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Old 06-27-2009, 03:41 PM   #20
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Hello,
Thanks for the replies! I need to go get some fish food. ( I will need some anyways for when this thing turns into what it is planned to become!)

Whats a good all purpose food for marine animals? I see so many different kinds at the pet stores. Anything in particular? Or is this about the same as the "which salt to buy" type topic?

Im guessing getting the cheapest isnt a good idea, nor is getting the most expensive.

Good thing I caught this. I was reading that the ammonia to nitrite bacteria dont need phosphorus as much as the nitrite to nitrate seem to need it.

I find it strange that I could have so much nitrates AND so much nitrites. (Even after 60% water change, still off the scale with a dark purple color)

It does seem that something was working rapidly in the tank and then stopped. Nitrates must come from nitrites, right? I had some 80ppm or so (looks almost like the 160ppm). I maybe gave the tank a total of 40ppm of ammonia over the week...Doesnt that then become 40ppm of nitrite and then 40ppm of nitrate? My water is pure. My salt claims no nitrates. I dont see how my live rock or sand could have any nitrates in them....

Oh well, back to sitting on my hands. (But with a pinch of fish flake here and there)
Matt:p
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