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Old 01-18-2014, 07:54 PM   #1
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Unhappy Problems with fishless cycle, pH and Ammonia spikes after water change.

Hi everybody. I'm a bit frustrated and little bit scared. I'm new to aquariums and have been trying to fishless cycle my new 36 gallon tank. Everything was going great until today when I tested my water after a big 50% wc yesterday.

Backstory to how my fishless cycle has been going:
So my cycle actually seemed to be going pretty fast. I began putting 4.0 ppm of ammonia on the 31st of last month, and by the 6th of this month my ammonia had dropped to 1.0 after having been consistently at 4.0 for the few days prior. That day when my ammonia did drop to 1.0 I tested nitrItes which showed 5ppm and then nitrAtes which showed 5 ppm as well.

After that I continued to add 4ppm of Ammonia daily and within 24 hours my ammonia would drop to 0ppm. My nirtrItes stayed high (unreadable?). On the 8th however, I experienced something odd. Without having done any water change my nitrAtes dropped from 10ppm to 5ppm. I did research and looked on a bunch of forums for anybody having this problem. Many people were having the exact same problems reporting their test tube turning brown color after having added the test fluid from the first bottle. All of the people having this problem seemed to have been using the API test kit. Eventually I found a couple sources say that the API test kit often doesn't read high concentrations of nitrAtes well, so I began to try dilutions to which I seemed to have found a solution to my problem.

So this past week I had been really preoccupied with exams. Though I was able to add the 4ppm of ammonia I needed daily, I wasn't able to check my water all but on Tuesday the 14th. Yesterday I did a much needed 50% water change, my first of the whole cycle, and added the 4ppm of ammonia after I added the conditioner and fresh water. I think a mistake I made was not testing the water. Today, however, I tested my water and saw the ammonia levels hadn't dropped to 0 like they had been and today they were at 4. My Nitrites were still high (5ppm). I tested my pH which is normally pretty high at 8.0, but today it was at 8.8. I then checked some forums to figure out why my ammonia hadn't dropped and to see if pH could be an issue. Some source said something about overfeeding the cycle.

I'm just really confused about what's going on. Did I "overfeed" the cycle? Is it the high pH that's the problem? I fear that I've killed my bacteria colony. I'm also concerned about the way that I test my water. I usually just rinse the tubes and syringe thoroughly with really hot water.

Any and all recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 01-19-2014, 02:13 PM   #2
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So. From my understanding:

Constant dosing of 4.0ppm of ammonia
Nitrites consistently high ^5.0ppm
Normal pH of 8.0 but after water change it is up to 8.8

Did you dechlorinate the water from the water change?
Could you have added too much ammonia when you redosed?
Have you tested the source water?

My best guess is that the nitrites are too high and could have stalled the cycle. I seriously doubt that you killed your bacteria.
"The simplest explanation for some phenomenon is more likely to be accurate than more complicated explanations." -Occam's razor
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ammonia, ammonia spike, ate, change, cycle, fish, fishless, fishless cycle, problem, spike, water, water change

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