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Old 05-23-2010, 07:25 AM   #1
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Fishless Cycling Tank - Ammonia No Longer Being Processed

I have been fishless cycling a 55 gallon tank for the past 6 weeks.

As of early in week six, my tank showed the following:
Ammonia: processing 4 ppm of ammonia down to zero in 12 hours
Nitrite: holding at very high levels, not measurable by the API test kit
(The author of the cycling instructions that I am following notes that when the API Nitrite test is performed and the test water immediately turn purple when the Nitrite solution drops are added, that indicates the nitrites are "off the chart high" and the kit is unable to measure a level that high)
Nitrate: 20 ppm

Each time the ammonia was processed to zero, I would add approximately 21/4 teaspoons (11.16 ml) of pure ammonia with no soaps or perfumes

Now, at the end of week six I am getting:
Ammonia: holding at 4 ppm
Nitrite: very high "off the chart" levels
Nitrate 20 ppm


I've tested over the past 3 days and am now stalled with the readings shown immediately above. Ammonia is no longer being processed.

What could have happened that the bacteria that was processing the ammonia is no longer there, or is no longer processing the ammonia? What would be my next step?

Thanks in advance for any help on this.
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Old 05-23-2010, 10:40 AM   #2
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Do a water change and try to bring down your nitrites and see if that will help. Perhaps your bacteria are being hurt by the nitrites.
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Old 05-23-2010, 11:34 AM   #3
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+1 on the water changes. I can't really suggest anything else because I haven't heard of something like that happening before. Is it possible that you are misreading the test maybe? I know the colors can be pretty close on API.
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Old 05-23-2010, 03:01 PM   #4
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OK, I will do a water change. Since there are no fish in the tank I suppose I can change 80 - 90% off the water to get the levels down.

The instructions for fishless cycling that I was following said to keep adding ammonia to feed the bacteria, which would cause the nitrite to keep rising. The nitriites would rise until the nitrite consuming bacteria took hold then it would to down to zero in a 12 hour period. I wasn't planning on doing a water change until that happened, but it looks like I have nothing to lose with the ammonia consuming bacteria seemingly gone from the tank.

These are the directions I was following - I was following the "add and wait" opton Fishless Cycling - Tropical Fish Forums
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Old 05-23-2010, 08:47 PM   #5
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Fishless Cycling - Paw Talk - Pet Forums This is the article I read where I found out about fishless cycling, and there is also one on here. Not sure if you are still interested in those but I followed this one and it worked for me in about 4 weeks.
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Old 05-23-2010, 09:45 PM   #6
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Check your pH. If it crashed, it is possible that the bateria were affected.
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Old 05-24-2010, 12:53 AM   #7
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What does "ph crashed" mean? I tested and came up with a value of 6.4.

Actually, Tetra test strips read 6.4; the API kit has two tests: one for PH low and one for PH high. The PH low solution read 6.4, sames as the test strip. The PH high reading was 7.4. I am not sure how to interpret the PH low and PH high results.

I any event, does this mean the PH crashed? How was it caused and what do I do next?
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Old 05-24-2010, 01:00 AM   #8
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Logansmomma

I read the directions in the link you provided::

The directions you followed stated:
"After the ammonia reading drops to zero, start adding just a little bit more ammonia again every day, just a teaspoon or so...not enough to force the reading above zero again, but just enough to keep the newly grown "ammonia-eating" bacterial colony happy.".

The directions I followed stated:
"Every time the ammonia drops back to zero, raise it back up to 3 to 4 ppm and continue to check nitrites."

That contradicts the directions you followed. Maybe when the ammonia level kept going back to zero (happened at least 7 days) and I added more ammonia to get it back up to 4 ppm, I destroyed the bacterial colony by overfeeding it.
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Old 05-24-2010, 01:12 AM   #9
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Kc27,

I agree with the previous poster (Crepe) about the possibility of Nitrites hurting the bacteria. Even ammonia at too high of concentrations will stall the cycle, I have never heard of Nitrites doing the same but a PWC couldn't hurt.

A pH crash is when, rather suddenly, the pH drops a large amount (like 0.2-0.4, or more). A change of water conditions that rapid is sure to harm any living thing in your aquarium. Had you been checking the pH before?

The reason you got 7.4 on the high range pH kit, is because that is the lowest it can read. Your pH is actually 6.4, the high range kit just cannot display that value so it displays as close as possible.

Although you are correct to keep feeding ammonia to stimulate the ammonia-eating bacteria, the unfortunate side effect is more and more toxic nitrite. If you encounter this situation again with "off the charts" nitrites, do a PWC to get them to measurable levels, and then add ammonia so that the ammonia-eating bacteria continue to grow and reproduce. That should keep the nitrites in check, but plentiful for any opportunistic bacteria.

If possible, once the nitrites are measurable I would also seed the tank with established filter media, or gravel.

Hope this helps. This is just my best guess as I've never encountered this situation before, a more seasoned veteran may give you a for sure for sure answer soon.

Good luck!
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Old 05-24-2010, 02:37 AM   #10
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Just to add a little more confusion - your pH will be all over the place while you are cycling.
Also - pH tends to change when the lights are off and if you are using a lid/cover on the tank.
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Old 05-24-2010, 06:21 AM   #11
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OK, so it sounds like I am back to square one with cyclng this tank. I will be out of town for 5 days. Do I just wait on the water change until I return and can monitor the cycling process again (since it apears the ammonia eating bacteria are dead anyway) then start the process again, or perform the water change now?

And how much of a partial water change should I be doing? Is it possible to change the water too much?

As an FYI, I had taken a foam filter media from the new tank and placed it on the bottom of an established tank for a week. I then moved the foam filter back to the fitler box on the new tank. Would that be considered seeding, or do I need to do more than that?
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Old 05-24-2010, 06:58 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kc27 View Post
And how much of a partial water change should I be doing? Is it possible to change the water too much?

As an FYI, I had taken a foam filter media from the new tank and placed it on the bottom of an established tank for a week. I then moved the foam filter back to the fitler box on the new tank. Would that be considered seeding, or do I need to do more than that?
You can never change too much water - there is little or no bactieria in the water column.

The best way to seed is to get some gravel/crushed coral from an established tank - or get the filter media from the filter in an established tank. One week in the filter may not be enough.

NB - never wash your filter with tap water - the chlorine kills the bacteria.
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Old 05-24-2010, 08:43 AM   #13
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+1 Good info from SHARPiE.
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Old 05-24-2010, 09:48 AM   #14
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The tank is covered and does have lights. Do I leave the lights on or off, or on a certain number of hours per day.

Kenn
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Old 05-24-2010, 10:05 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kc27 View Post
OK, so it sounds like I am back to square one with cyclng this tank. I will be out of town for 5 days. Do I just wait on the water change until I return and can monitor the cycling process again (since it apears the ammonia eating bacteria are dead anyway) then start the process again, or perform the water change now?

And how much of a partial water change should I be doing? Is it possible to change the water too much?

As an FYI, I had taken a foam filter media from the new tank and placed it on the bottom of an established tank for a week. I then moved the foam filter back to the fitler box on the new tank. Would that be considered seeding, or do I need to do more than that?


I would do the water change before you leave, that way if it helps any it can get things moving again and you will be one step closer by the time you get back. When my nitrates were high I did about 30% or so water changes daily. I don't think you can ever do too many, just make sure if you have fish that they have something to swim in! lol
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Old 05-24-2010, 07:20 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by kc27 View Post
The tank is covered and does have lights. Do I leave the lights on or off, or on a certain number of hours per day.

Kenn
While you are cycling don't worry about lights - this can just cause nuisance algae.
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Old 05-24-2010, 08:00 PM   #17
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When your ammonia was processed in a twelve hour period, were you adding ammonia to bring it back to 4 ppm?

If this is the case. Once your Nitrite was processing the ammonia. Ammonia should have been brought back to only 2 ppm, i.e. you cut the ammonia by half once your nitrites are processing it. I believe adding ammonia to 4 ppm since you have the nitrites might have stalled your cycle.
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Old 05-25-2010, 01:34 PM   #18
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William - yes, when the ammonia was processed down to zero, I added more ammonia to get it back up to 4 ppm. Based on your comments, that was too much.

These are the directions I was following that recommended maintaining the ammonia at 4 ppm
http://www.fishforums.net/index.php?...hless-cycling/

I followed the "add and wait" method.

I changed 90% of the water in the tank this morning, replacing it with tap water dechlorinated with Prime. I am tempted to test the water to benchmark the water conditions, then add ammonia to see if any of the ammonia gets processed by tomorrow. However, after tomorrow I will be away and won't be available to add ammonia for 5 days.

I just would like to know if the tank has any capability of processing ammonia, or if I am starting from square one again.
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Old 05-25-2010, 04:25 PM   #19
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If you add ammonia and it's processed, great! Add again before your trip so your bacteria have a better chance of not starving.

If your ammonia won't process, at least the whole cycle is working while you're away.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old 05-25-2010, 08:27 PM   #20
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I tested the water after I drained the 55 gallon tank down to nearly nothing except for the 2 gallons of water that remained in the canister filter.

Ammonia 0 ppm
Nitrite 2 ppm
Nitrate 20 ppm
PH 7.6

After such a large water change, I am surprised nitrite and nitrate were not also at zero..
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