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Old 03-17-2013, 06:37 PM   #1
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Cycle issue/oddity... can you help?

I've been cycling for about 4 weeks now and am using the API master test kit.

I have ammonia that keeps falling from 4ppm to 1ppm every 24hrs, and the nitrates are now building each day, but I have yet to actually see any nitrites, according to the test. it just stays the same light blue colour.

I have to assume the test is faulty, as the nitrates are obviously there and my tap water is nitrate free.

Should I buy another nitrite kit, or just assume all is well due to the presence of nitrates?

i was planning on dosing ammonia until my nitrates are off the charts, do a 50% water change, and then do a 24 hr ammo conversion test to ensure I can convert 4ppm to 0ppm in that time before doing one final WC and stocking the tank.

Any other suggestions for this situation?
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Old 03-17-2013, 07:11 PM   #2
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I had a similar thing, but eventually I figured out that my nitrite was so far off the charts that it looked blue. How often have you been testing, and have you ever forgot to test?
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Old 03-17-2013, 07:11 PM   #3
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Also what size tank?
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Old 03-17-2013, 07:27 PM   #4
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Also what size tank?
I have a 6G tank, and have tested every 2nd day at the minimum, and recently, everyday.
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Old 03-17-2013, 08:04 PM   #5
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Did you use any seeded media? Is your PH stable? When you put the drops into the tube for the nitrate test, do they change color at all? Does the tube change color at all during the 5 minute waiting period? How high are nitrates now?
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Old 03-17-2013, 09:19 PM   #6
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No seeded media. I started with a raw prawn, but when my ammo level went off the charts, I did a 50% WC to return the level to ~4ppm. Then gradually, the ammo started dropping, and still no nitrites for days. I had pulled the raw shrimp when I did the WC, so at this point, I added another small piece of shrimp when the ammo dropped to 0. Days later, the ammo still wasn't climbing again, so I added pure ammo to 4ppm. It dropped to 1ppm the next day, and still never showed any nitrite. But after a few days, I decided to check the nitrates... Lo and behold, I was sitting at 20ppm. The next day closer to 40ppm. Then I bought some plants so I filled my tank full as it was only at 3/4 for cycling. After that, the nitrates dropped to around 5-10ppm.

The nitrite doesn't change colour at all, just the 0ppm blue, for the entire 5 mins.

The pH has dropped from 7 to 6.4 now too.
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Old 03-17-2013, 09:28 PM   #7
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What are your plans for this tank? As the ph has dropped (and will continue to drop), I would suggest changing most of the water then only dosing to 2ppm. 4ppm is really overkill on a tank this size. Make sure you temperature match and properly condition all new water. Lets see how things look in 24hrs and go from there!
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Old 03-17-2013, 10:18 PM   #8
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Is the ammonia causing the drop in pH?

I'll dose to 2ppm on the next go.

My plans are a small 6-7 school of CPD's and a few shrimp and snails. I have 3 Anubias, a Java Fern, a Crypt, an Amazon sword and 2 small random plants.

As far as temperature matching, I just do it by hand and fill my bucket with a similar temp of water, then condition it. Is this bad practice, and if so, why? I like to learn from my mistakes.
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Old 03-17-2013, 10:49 PM   #9
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Well, it's the ammonia causing the drop but not directly. Your good bacteria need carbonates to process ammonia. As carbonate (kh) levels start to drop, your ph becomes unstable and starts to drop. Once your ph falls into the low 6's, your bacteria are affected and start to slow. Once it hits @6 or less, they can no longer process ammonia in the acidic environment. A water change will stabilize the ph and restore kh levels to keep your cycle happily cycling. Please ask if you have questions!
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Old 03-18-2013, 12:09 AM   #10
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Gotcha. I just ran another test, and sitting at
~2ppm ammo
0 NitrIte
0-5ppm NitrAte
6.4-6.6 pH

I'm wondering if my plants that I planted last night have taken up the nitrAte, as i went from 40ppm (before filling from 3/4 full just after planting), down to close to zero in 24hrs. I'm getting quite confused, but not frustrated yet. It's still quite interesting, but I would like to see something swing to my favour soon.

I'm going to do an 80% WC tomorrow than, but am ok employing the method I've been using of just matching the temp by hand from the tap, then dechlorinating?

Is there anything else that will bring the kH up other than PWC?

Also, when using the API kit, am I supposed to put the vial right up against the cardboard, (which yields a darker colour), or close, but not touching, (which yields a lighter colour)?

Edit: After doing some thinking, it's occurred to me that I might have been making a critical error when testing that might have contaminated my water. I fill the vials by getting water from the filter return. Sometimes, I put too much in the vial and I dump it back into the tank. I never thought much of it as i always rinse out the vials well after testing, but I'm wondering if any residual chemicals might have got back into the tank from this practice and might cause long term damage. thoughts? I typically dump the vials and rinse them and the lids for 10 seconds after each use.
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Old 03-19-2013, 09:35 PM   #11
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I did a 70% WC and got the pH stabilized around 7.0 again.

I'm dosing ammo to 2ppm now. Should I continue dosing to 2ppm until I can turnover the 2ppm into 0 within 24hrs? any remaining nitrates have been removed by the PWC, so I'm curious about how to best proceed.
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Old 03-19-2013, 11:12 PM   #12
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Good job with the water change! Let's see how things progress. If you notice your ph starting to drop again, you may need to add some crushed coral or aragonite in small mesh bag or piece of clean pantyhose to your filter housing to help buffer your water and keep things stable.

Using your hand to temp match is fine! As long as your rinsing the test tubes well after testing, no worries about chemical transfer into your tank. If your a bit worried, just use a 5ml syringe and dedicate it to testing purposes only for removing water from tank to fill the tubes. Makes it bit more precise, too, vs dumping and refilling.
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Old 03-19-2013, 11:28 PM   #13
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Good job with the water change! Let's see how things progress. If you notice your ph starting to drop again, you may need to add some crushed coral or aragonite in small mesh bag or piece of clean pantyhose to your filter housing to help buffer your water and keep things stable.

Using your hand to temp match is fine! As long as your rinsing the test tubes well after testing, no worries about chemical transfer into your tank. If your a bit worried, just use a 5ml syringe and dedicate it to testing purposes only for removing water from tank to fill the tubes. Makes it bit more precise, too, vs dumping and refilling.
Thanks for the response. Is the API pH UP additive recommended, or should I stick with the CC/aragonite method. my pH has dropped again from 7.0 to 6.5 in 24hrs. not happy about that after that big WC.

I work at a hospital and brought home some syringes yesterday for exactly what you mentioned. Much easier for sure.

any suggestions for how to proceed with the cycle?
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Old 03-25-2013, 11:26 AM   #14
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Have you added any cc or aragonite yet? The ph chemicals tend to have a very temporary (if any) effect and can result in drastic swings up and down. The cc/aragonite provides lasting stability is most cases though there are some exceptions.
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