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Old 08-11-2022, 05:54 AM   #1
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First time fishless cycle...nitrates not rising

Hi everyone! This is my first time posting here! I need help with my aquarium. I have a 29 gallon tank and I'm doing a fishless cycle. It's been exactly one month of me running the cycle. I have been sprinkling in fish food everyday. My ammonia already spiked and dropped to zero. My nitrites spiked way too high last week (I think I added too much fish food, now I'm only adding every other day), I did a 30% water change. My nitrites have now gone down to 0. I'm having trouble with my nitrates though. So far the past 2 weeks I haven't seen it rise above 5ppm, and now the past 2 days it looks like it's less than 5ppm now. I'm using the API test kit. My pH has always been around 8.2 and temp is at 83. Is this normal? Or should I be doing something differently? I thought once the nitrites dropped nitrates would go up...I also wonder if the nitrites being too high did something to my cycle. Let me know what you think!

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Old 08-11-2022, 07:47 AM   #2
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What did your ammonia get up to? You needed to get that up to 2ppm. With fish food, once you are at 2ppm, that should determine how much food you need to be feeding daily.

What did your nitrite get up to?

Really give bottle #2 on the nitrate test a good shake. Like bang it on the countertop.

If you are confident you where adding enough fish food to put in enough ammonia, that you continued to add that amount, that you are confident you did the tests correctly, the outcome of a nitrate test is irrelevant.
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Old 08-11-2022, 05:41 PM   #3
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What did your ammonia get up to? You needed to get that up to 2ppm. With fish food, once you are at 2ppm, that should determine how much food you need to be feeding daily.

What did your nitrite get up to?

Really give bottle #2 on the nitrate test a good shake. Like bang it on the countertop.

If you are confident you where adding enough fish food to put in enough ammonia, that you continued to add that amount, that you are confident you did the tests correctly, the outcome of a nitrate test is irrelevant.
Well my ammonia already was going up for several weeks and peaked at 4ppm for about a week and then went down as nitrites went up...my assumption is that the ammonia was supposed to do that and go back down to 0 like it has. My nitrites went past what the API test kit color code. It was over 5ppm. I have kept sprinkling in fish food and the nitrites have continued to go down to 0, along with ammonia, so I assume that's a good thing. I did read about having to shake the nitrate bottle aggressively, which I have tried to do. If the nitrate tests are irrelevant or I'm getting an inaccurate how will I know the cycle is complete?
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Old 08-11-2022, 05:49 PM   #4
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You are cycled when you can add 2ppm of ammonia and 24 hours later see zero ammonia and nitrite.

That's the problem with using fish food. You have no idea how much food is needed to add 2ppm of ammonia. And you need to be adding that much food everyday. Common practice is to daily add as much food as you feed to a tank full of fish. Someone experienced would be able to judge that, if you dont have that experience its difficult to know how much food fish will eat.
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Old 08-11-2022, 06:14 PM   #5
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You are cycled when you can add 2ppm of ammonia and 24 hours later see zero ammonia and nitrite.

That's the problem with using fish food. You have no idea how much food is needed to add 2ppm of ammonia. And you need to be adding that much food everyday. Common practice is to daily add as much food as you feed to a tank full of fish. Someone experienced would be able to judge that, if you dont have that experience its difficult to know how much food fish will eat.
Yea I thought fish food would be easier for my first time trying, but it is harder than I thought. However, I have been adding alot of fish food! Like I have pretty big piles of decaying fish food at the bottom of the tank from everything I've been adding haha. The past week and a half I've continued doing that, then I retest the next day and ammonia is still staying at zero.
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Old 08-11-2022, 06:26 PM   #6
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If you are confident your testing is correct, that you have been adding enough food, and you are seeing zero ammonia and nitrite, then there is nothing more to do. Ammonia going in should be coming out as nitrite or nitrate, but it isnt. The nitrate is either going somewhere, you arent adding in enough ammonia to produce enough nitrate to register or your tests are wrong. You could get a second opinion by taking a water sample to a fish store.

Personally, from what you have said, the most likely scenerio is you have nitrate, but there is something wrong with your test.

Zero nitrate isnt an issue if your water is free of ammonia and nitrite. If you have been adding ammonia in and not seeing any ammonia or nitrite in your tests, go get some fish. You havent said what your plans are. If its a community tank, then get 5 or 6 small fish, see how things go for a week. If its a goldfish, get a small fish and monitor things as it grows.
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Old 08-11-2022, 10:11 PM   #7
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If you are confident your testing is correct, that you have been adding enough food, and you are seeing zero ammonia and nitrite, then there is nothing more to do. Ammonia going in should be coming out as nitrite or nitrate, but it isnt. The nitrate is either going somewhere, you arent adding in enough ammonia to produce enough nitrate to register or your tests are wrong. You could get a second opinion by taking a water sample to a fish store.

Personally, from what you have said, the most likely scenerio is you have nitrate, but there is something wrong with your test.

Zero nitrate isnt an issue if your water is free of ammonia and nitrite. If you have been adding ammonia in and not seeing any ammonia or nitrite in your tests, go get some fish. You havent said what your plans are. If its a community tank, then get 5 or 6 small fish, see how things go for a week. If its a goldfish, get a small fish and monitor things as it grows.
That's a really good idea! I will definitely take a water sample in to my local fish shop to get a second opinion! I definitely feel like I've followed the steps correctly for testing, but I want to be sure before adding fish. I'm planning on doing a community tank. I want to start off with a group of Cory cats. Then later I was thinking of adding either gouramis or rams...not too sure yet. I'm still trying to research which fish work together with those two species other than the city cats. I also still need to get some live plants as well.
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Old 08-12-2022, 03:05 AM   #8
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A couple of thoughts, a bit off topic but related to your future plans.

If you choose rams for your tank, i would go with bolivian rams. German rams (and their colour varients) prefer hot water. Much warmer than typical community tanks. At cooler temperatures they will be more susceptible to picking up sicknesses etc. Bolivian rams are more tolerant of being at the kind of temperatures that most people keep community tanks.

Plants need nitrogen. This typically comes from nitrate, which doesnt seem to be present in your tank. If you genuinely do have a set up that is somehow consuming nitrate you should consider an all-in-one fertiliser that has a good amount of nitrogen in it. Most dont. NA Thrive is considered a good liquid fertiser that contains nitrogen if you live in a country where you can get hold of it.

Also, before you get fish make sure you syphon out all the decaying uneaten food.
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Old 08-12-2022, 03:12 PM   #9
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What I did in your situation, I added 4 hardy fish, I added zebra danios , added 4 checked water than added 2 more , after 2 weeks started slowly adding my community fish and never had a problem since
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