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Old 11-14-2004, 07:30 PM   #1
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Major algae during fishless cycle

It's the hairy green stuff, and it's coating the glass, ornaments, and gravel. I have a few live plants in there, too, which have algae on them. (I was originally under the impression that live plants were fine during a fishless cycle ).
Should I leave it alone? Remove it? I don't want to disturb the gravel during the cycle.
My nitrites right now are around 2ppm, nitrates 110+, ammonia 0, PH 6.8, temp 80F, lights on 12 hrs a day.
Thanks for any advice.
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Old 11-14-2004, 08:16 PM   #2
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Well, I'd say those nitrates are responsible, and that is some whopping nitrates at that. Could it be that you are overdosing ammonia?

There may not be enough light for the plants to uptake the nitrate that is available to them, or there may be too much light so that they can't access the nutrients in the water column without CO2 injection. In a perfect world the plants would be growing very well, and using up that nitrate, and the algae would not be able to get a chance. Right now the algae has a much easier time of getting those nutrients than the plants.

What is your wattage and bulb type?
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Old 11-14-2004, 08:55 PM   #3
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When I do my daily dose of ammonia, it brings the ammonia back up to about 3ppm, then it's gone the next day.

The plants are low light, and the (33gal) tank has a 20watt Hagen Aqua-Glo in it. I know it's not much, but I have the black plastic hood that only accomodates one strip.
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Old 11-14-2004, 10:34 PM   #4
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Out of curiousity, I just retested my tank. After 8 hrs, the ammonia I added is gone, the nitrites and nitrates still through the roof. Hopefully that means I'm not overdosing with ammonia, but I still wonder what to do with this tank
Take the plants out, water change, clean the algae, or start over? I don't know.

See, last week, during my 3rd week of cycling, my nitrites had a little spike, then went down to 0 (day 19). The next day, nitrites started again, went up each day to now. Nitrates have been high for the last week also. It's like the cycle was done, then went nuts. Today is day 25.
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Old 11-15-2004, 02:18 AM   #5
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Since I can't find anything about what to do, I did about a 40% water change, not disturbing the gravel, and the nitrites/nitrates were still high. Tomorrow I will do the same, until I get the levels back down to more readable levels. Worse case, I slow my cycle down a little. I also cleaned the algae off the glass and knocked some off my plants. I left it on the gravel and rocks, though.

I may get someone telling me I should not do water changes during a fishless cycle, but one thing I did read over and over is that if nitrites or nitrates get too high to read, water changes can be made to bring the levels down some, just don't disturb the gravel or media.

I'll see how it goes. I'm just thankful there's no fish in there.
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Old 11-15-2004, 04:52 AM   #6
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IF you do a 50% water change the nitrates will drop from 110 ppm to 55ppm(still high). Do a 90% water change then do a dose of ammonia. Test it after 4 or so hours......then see what it is like. It looks like the bacteria are established, just getting the nitrates down so it isn't too high when fish are added.
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Old 11-15-2004, 10:47 AM   #7
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It is hard for the plants, even low light ones, to grow properly with under 1wpg, unfortunately. Even so, it is a remarkable amount of nitrate, and I have not had that happen before. It does not sound like you are dosing too much ammonia - are you using the same quantity of ammonia that you started off using, or have you been increasing it?
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Old 11-15-2004, 02:29 PM   #8
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I started out on the first day with '2 capfuls' of ammonia, which brought it to about 5ppm. Once the nitrite started showing (day 7), I cut the ammonia (which I was only adding when needed to keep ammonia to about 5ppm) down to half dosage (1cap) daily.
On day 18, ammonia went down to 0. The next day, nitrite was down to 0.
Then the day after that, nitrites went back up and kept going up.
Meanwhile, nitrates showed up on day 15 and have always been high.

I don't mind doing big water changes to get the nitrates down before adding fish, but being the nitrites are still high, that tells me the cycle is wonky or not done, even though I've had them down to 0 for one day.

This is confusing!

This hagen aqua glo light has 18,000 on it. I'm having a brain fart and can't remember the letter that goes after it. But apparently it's supposed to be adequate, even though it's low wattage. It says it can grow any plants, but I'm sticking to low light and so far they're doing well, lots of new growth on one. Not that that means they'll stay that way, could start dying anytime. Time will tell.
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Old 11-15-2004, 07:32 PM   #9
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OK, so I took mattrox's advice and did a 90% water change. Afterwards I tested and the results were: nitrite 0.3, nitrate 8. So I dosed with a capful of ammonia, which brought it to 2.5ppm. PH went up to 7.4

Four hours later: ammonia 2, nitrite 1.6, nitrate 110, PH 7.

I just know by tomorrow, ammonia will be 0, the rest still high.
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Old 11-15-2004, 07:38 PM   #10
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It definitely sounds like your finishing up on your cycle and your bacteria colony is present, but I have never seen nitrates that high before.

What sort of ammonia are you using?
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Old 11-16-2004, 01:49 AM   #11
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I'm using Safeway brand pure ammonia. Ingredients are water and ammonium hydroxide.

I just did another test (I'm getting test crazy, maybe that's part of the problem! ), which puts me 12 hours after my 90% water change.
ammonia .25
nitrite 1.6
nitrate way up there.

Should I miss the ammonia dose tomorrow?
My nitrates, nitrites, and ammonia are 0 out of the tap. Both my other tanks have very low nitrates, so this problem is isolated to this tank.
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Old 11-16-2004, 02:40 AM   #12
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The numbers after the water change and dosing sound very good......

It almost sounds like your ammonia is very concentrated. BUT I can't seem to get a handle on why the nitrate jumped from 8 to 110?? 8O

These are the only two things I can think of:
The only long shot I can think of is that something that came in with your plants has died and is rotting.... adding ammonia to the cycle... Were there snails on the plants?

or ... and I don't think this is the case either, that you are doing the nitrate test with double the reagents/or half the water...


Either way it sounds like you are close to completing the cycle. Nitrites down to 0 tomorrow...finners crossed!
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Old 11-16-2004, 02:45 AM   #13
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Tomorrow, I would do a 50% water change...gotta get rid of nitrates .... test.. then dose the ammonia... then test again much later 8- 12 hours.

It sounds like there was a hiccup in the cycle for some reason, but you seem to be almost there now!
Too many tests are never enough...atleast you know what is happening!
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Old 11-16-2004, 05:24 AM   #14
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OK, mattrox, and thanks a million!
I was starting to doubt my test kits, so I did test my other two tanks. They tested perfectly, ammonia/nitrite 0 and very low nitrates.

Should I cut down on my ammonia dose? I'm scared to put any in, because the levels were great after the water change. Then I re-dosed and nitrites/trates both went back up. My dose puts the ammonia up to about 2ppm, and it's gone within 24 hours.

I don't think my LFS even sells snails. Though they could have come in with the plants wherever they came from. But I didn't see anything on the leaves.

I'll do the water change tomorrow, then test and re-dose. But I'm really wondering if I should cut the dose down at all. I'll check here before I re-dose....

And thanks again, everyone. Until tomorrow.....
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Old 11-17-2004, 01:54 AM   #15
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OK, I did the 50% water change, tests were: ammonia 0, nitrite 0.5, nitrate 8. I added 3/4 capful this time (instead of 1cap). Brought ammonia to 2ppm.

8 hours later,ammonia was 0, nitrite was almost 2, nitrate almost 110. I was so frustrated I did another 50% water change (since ammonia was gone anyway) and seeded again from my 20 gal un-planted, disease free, low nitrate community tank.
Meaning I did a deep gravel vac, squeezed the foam, and dumped all the crud into the cycling tank.

Now, over 11 hours after the first waterchange, ammonia 0, nitrite about 0.5, nitrate under 50. I have a really hard time matching colors! They don't look the same at all, more pink, yet the chart is more burgandy tones. They don't make it easy.

But the numbers are down a bit. Of course the ammonia is gone and a water change has been done since. Nitrites/trates seem to both skyrocket after the ammonia's been added, even though ammonia's 0 within about 6 hours.

Could I be adding too much ammonia? The dose brings it to 2ppm, could that be too high this late in the cycle? Maybe the nitrites can't handle that much and it's stalling things. I'm grasping at straws, but it's got to be something.

I sure appreciate all the help I've been getting (especially from you, mattrox )
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Old 11-17-2004, 02:17 AM   #16
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bad test kit?
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Old 11-17-2004, 05:14 AM   #17
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You need to keep feeding the ammonia to keep the ammonia eating bacteria alive.

Nitrite bacteria will catch up ...keep going.....

As far as I know 1 NH3 => 1 NO2- => 1 NO3- .... all I can think is some thing is adding extra waste along the way...... It could be dying algae you know..... Can you scrub the tank clean, 90% water change vaccuming everything out... then dose with ammonia again?

You have to find out what is causing the High nitrates coz otherwise you will have a cycled tank that fish don't like because of the nitrates........
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Old 11-17-2004, 11:42 AM   #18
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Ok, I'm gonna take one more guess. What sort of dechlorinator are you using?

You need a dechlorinator that only removes/neutralizes chlorine and chloramines. Anything else could give you a false positive reading.
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Old 11-17-2004, 07:16 PM   #19
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I tested my other two tanks with the test kits, and they're bang on. I was wondering myself at one point.

I use AquaPlus water conditioner.

I did a test this morning, results were ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 5, PH 7.
I added the regular amount of dosing, bringing ammonia to 2 ppm.
Retested 1 1/2 hrs later: nitrites 0.3, nitrates less than 10! Usually by then it's all sky high. I'll take that as a good sign. :P

When I did the water change last night, I cleaned the glass, knocked some algae off the plants, and did a light skim on the gravel so as not to disturb the bacteria.

I'll retest again tonight, 12 hours after the dosing of ammonia, and see if it goes up like usual. Let's hope not!
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Old 11-18-2004, 01:31 AM   #20
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11 hours after the initial test and re-dosing, and the numbers are right back up there. PH has gone down, too, for some reason.

As the ammonia goes down from it's 2ppm (takes about 10 hours, which seems a little long to me), the nitrates and nitrites gradually go up. Once the ammonia is totally gone, the other two are peaking.

I was wondering if it could be one of the decorations in my tank (fake driftwood, granite rocks, live plants, natural colored small gravel, some plastic plants), but the numbers were great all night, after that water change. They didn't start to go up until after I added the ammonia this morning.
If it was something in my tank, wouldn't the numbers have gone up overnight last night?

One thing I'm curious on is, how long should it take for the ammonia to disappear after dosing? Is 10 hours too long?

This is getting very frustrating, and if it wasn't for the help and support I'm recieving here, I may well have packed it in. Thanks guys. I really want to beat this.
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