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Old 05-18-2015, 09:39 PM   #1
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Fish-less cycle PH Question Help!

I have been following eco23's fishl-ess cycle plan and my tank is moving rapidly though the cycle most likely due to the fact I had two guppies in the tank who unfortunately died. Not sure if they were sick when I bought them or if the tank wasn't cycled, or a combo of both. Anyway I had readings of ammonia, nitrites and nitrates prior to starting the cycling plan. I have come to the point where my High Range PH is dropping from 8( tested 5/10) to 7.4. My question is should I do my 50% water change now or wait until the PH gets lower? If I do a water change won't it remove the ammonia I am putting in the tank to try to keep it at 4ppm? Do I just do the water change and then re-add my ammonia to 4ppm? On 5/17 I dosed my tank with Ammonia to 4ppm, Nitrites were 2-5 and Nitrates were 20. Today I tested my tank and the Ammonia was at .25, Nitrites 5 and Nitrates 10. I also tested the HR PH and it was at 7.4. I re-dosed Ammonia back up to 4ppm and haven't done anything else.

My tanks is a freshwater, 13 gallon wide screen, newly planted with dwarf sag., water sprite and some guppy grass, half sand and half gravel substrate. Lights are on 8hrs a day and temp is set at 82.

I would appreciate any help you could give me! Thanks!
~Julie
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Old 05-19-2015, 07:32 PM   #2
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Hi Julie.
Don't worry about Ph unless it drops to 6.5 where it will stop your beneficial bacteria growth.
Keep your temp up to 80-82f, cycling is quicker at this warmer temp.
Don't do a water change unless Ph drops too far or nitrites and/or nitrates readings are off the colour chart. If you water change then simply add enough ammonia to raise it to 4ppm.
I'm sure you've read this before, but when 4ppm ammonia is reduced to zero, and nitrites are zero after 24 hours, then you are cycled. Huge water change with conditioned water to reduce nitrates to under 20ppm and add some fish. The theory is that you can fully stock at this stage but I prefer to add about one third of final stocking, let them bed in and then slowly increase your stock.
Plants help both the cycling stage and overall tank stability in the long term (my opinion but I'm heavily biased in favour of planted tanks).


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Old 05-19-2015, 10:41 PM   #3
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Thanks again Scot for your help. One more quick question. Should I use Flourish for my plants during the cycling?
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Old 05-20-2015, 06:09 PM   #4
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Hi Julie. Flourish won't do any harm to the cycle but the plants will absorb the unnaturally high ammonia and nitrate levels so they don't really need feeding.


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Old 05-20-2015, 08:13 PM   #5
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Beneficial bacteria grow most quickly between pH 7.5 and 8.5. You'll be fine at your current pH 7.4, but if you want to bump it up to speed the process, you can add a little bit of baking soda (make it's pure sodium bicarbonate, with no additives). Add 1/4 of a teaspoon to a cup of tank water, stir, dump the water back into the tank, wait 15 minutes, and measure the pH.
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Old 05-21-2015, 06:01 PM   #6
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I've been using bicarbonate of soda to raise my Kh and stabilise my Ph for years. Very handy if your water is very soft. Fish and shrimp are breeding and plants growing like mad, so it's very safe to use. As a guide, 2.5 ml (half a teaspoon) of bicarbonate will raise 10l (about 2 gallon) of water by 6 Kh. That level stabilises Ph without raising it too high for the fish. Handy when cycling and also when stocking fish.


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Old 05-28-2015, 05:30 PM   #7
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Hello guys!
It's been a few days and my cycle seems to be going backwards. I had another quick drop in PH past the point of my chart which only goes to 7.4. It's a High Range PH test. I think the bacteria died because my ammonia has been getting higher with each test in the last four days. It even stayed the same from yesterday witch was 4ppm. I just added some baking soda to raise the PH but was wondering if there is anything else I need to do? Should I keep dosing the tank to 4ppm if it starts dropping again? Also my nitrites have been decreasing and are now at 0 but my nitrates have been increasing and are at 160ppm. All of the readings are not constant. Once again any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 05-28-2015, 06:16 PM   #8
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Hi Julie.
It looks like you're doing well. At this stage I would do a water change with conditioned water to reduce nitrates to mid reading on the colour chart. Dose the tank to 4ppm ammonia and wait 24 hrs. If your ammonia and nitrites are zero then you are fully cycled. If you still have either ammonia or nitrites then you're not quite there yet. Don't worry unduly about high nitrates, but I prefer to keep them to about 80-100ppm.
If you do find the ammonia and nitrites are zero (your tank being fully cycled) then prior to adding fish do a huge water change to bring nitrates below 20ppm. If you're not ready for fish then you can dose the tank with ammonia daily to about 2ppm, this will keep the filter bacteria ticking over, then do a huge water change before adding fish.
The theory is that the filter can cope with total stocking levels but I err on the safe side and only stock to about one third of final stocking. Let the fish settle in and ensure you have no health problems before adding additional stock. I stick to only increasing the stock by about 10-20% at a time to allow the filter to catch up with the additional stock.
Let us know how it's progressing as your thread will be encouraging others to be patient. I just wish I had known about cycling when I started fish keeping many many years ago.



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Old 05-28-2015, 10:42 PM   #9
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Ok. It's just weird that for two days I had no ammonia and no nitrates, tons of nitrites and then the next day the PH dropped and I had an increase in ammonia and nitrates. How many days should one have 0 ammonia and 0 nitrites to fully know the tank is cycled? I was thinking a week of still dosing the tank to 4ppm of ammonia so maybe that's where I screwed up. Ill keep plugging away at it and do a 50% wc tomorrow. Thanks!
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Old 05-29-2015, 09:18 PM   #10
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So I did a 50% water change this evening and tested my water before and after the water change. Before the water change I had 7.4 HRPH, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and 80-160 nitrates.I used Prime in the water. Then I tested the water 30 minutes after the water change. I had same PH, .25 ammonia, .50 nitrites and 80-160 nitrates. What is going on here?!!! I am wondering if there is something wrong with my tap water. Help!
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Old 05-29-2015, 09:32 PM   #11
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Have you tested your tap?
Test it for ammonia,nitrIte,and nitrate.
Test for PH right away and set a sample to set for 24 hours.
The addition of air from a pump or surface agitation from a poerhead will help but is not necessary.
See what your ph is after 24 hours of "off gassing".
The nitrite reading is curious,the ammonia goes under false positive IMO.
80-160 is a little late to change water also?
Test tank for nitrates tomorrow and change 50% again if they are even close to 80!
Some actually calibrate their test kits to know true zero!
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Old 05-29-2015, 09:43 PM   #12
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Thanks! I'll test my tap pronto.
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Old 05-29-2015, 09:54 PM   #13
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This article may help: The (almost) Complete Guide and FAQ to Fishless Cycling - Aquarium Advice
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Old 05-29-2015, 10:08 PM   #14
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Just tested my tap and HRPH is 8, Ammonia -1 ,Nitrites- 0, Nitrates 0-5.0.Hmm could the earlier reading of .50 Nitrite be the result of the bacteria eating the ammonia for 30 mins after the water change? I left a tap water vile open and will test it for PH tomorrow as well as test for nitrates. I'm not going to dose the tank with ammonia today. I hope that's ok.
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Old 05-29-2015, 10:20 PM   #15
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Thanks Jaeroo! That is the guide I have been using.
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Old 05-30-2015, 10:28 PM   #16
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I tested my tank again this evening and had 7.4 HRPH, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and 80 nitrates. I did a 50% water change and tested again. I have close to the same readings as last night. HRPH is 8, Ammonia .25, Nitrite .50, and I got the Nitrates down to 40. It seems I have ammonia in my tap water. Won't this be dangerous to fish? How am I supposed to do a water change? Should I used spring water or some other kind of water instead? Clearly the ammonia in the tap causes nitrites to appear as well. Should I keep dosing my tank with ammonia and if so how much? Thanks!
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