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Old 04-16-2022, 08:45 PM   #1
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55 Gal Fish less Ammonia cycling - Starting to see changes

Hi!

I am currently in the process of cycling a new 55 gallon tank. I currently have plant substrate, sand, rocks, driftwood, and a variety of plants in the tank as it cycles (which are thriving).

For reference: Today is day 5 of the process.

Day 1: 4PPM Ammonia
Day 2: 4PPM Ammonia
Day 3: 4PPM Ammonia
Day 4: 4PPM Ammonia
Day 5: 2PPM Ammonia, so I tested for nitrites and they were at 0.25PPM Nitrites

On day 4 (yesterday) I added some new plants, as well as a filter sponge from an established, plant-rich aquarium that housed a sorority of Bettas.

This is much sooner than the guide that I am following said this would likely be happening, and so I guess I'm concerned as to whether I did something wrong or whether this is just a normal progression.

This is the guide I'm using: fishlab(.com): how-to-cycle-aquarium

It seems like my next step is to add ammonia, but at this point I'm feeling unsure because of how quickly the nitrites showed up. I understand they need to feed on the ammonia, but I'm unsure at what level I should be keeping the ammonia (thinking around 2PPM but not 100% confident?).

I appreciate any experiences/insight.

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Old 04-17-2022, 12:40 AM   #2
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Old 04-17-2022, 05:58 AM   #3
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Ive posted my fishless cycle process here. Post #6.

https://www.aquariumadvice.com/forum...ng-379443.html

There is no timeline for cycling a tank, every cycle will go at its own pace.

Do a test for nitrate too. The ammonia should have gone somewhere and its not in your nitrite test, so maybe it went to nitrate. The other option is your plants took it up.

Essentially, if your ammonia drops below 1ppm redose it back to 2ppm.
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Old 04-18-2022, 01:53 PM   #4
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Ive posted my fishless cycle process here. Post #6.

https://www.aquariumadvice.com/forum...ng-379443.html

There is no timeline for cycling a tank, every cycle will go at its own pace.

Do a test for nitrate too. The ammonia should have gone somewhere and its not in your nitrite test, so maybe it went to nitrate. The other option is your plants took it up.

Essentially, if your ammonia drops below 1ppm redose it back to 2ppm.
Okay - if my plants are taking up the ammonia, which would make sense given their growth rate, does that indicate anything about my cycling? I guess I'm unsure about whether plants eating the ammonia impacts "proper" cycling (ammonia -> nitrite -> nitrate).
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Old 04-18-2022, 02:11 PM   #5
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If your tank is consuming ammonia it doesnt really matter whether its being taken up by plants or consumed by bacteria. If you are seeing zero ammonia and nitrite you are cycled. Plant growth is part of the nitrogen cycle. You are right, this will reduce the amount of denitrifying bacteria your tank can support, but also your tank wont need as much bacteria.

Unless you are heavily planted, and/or have very fast growing non-aquatic plants the amount of ammonia consumed by your plants wont be all that great though. It will contribute, but wont explain a drop of 2ppm ammonia . The established filter sponge is more likely responsible.
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Old 04-18-2022, 02:14 PM   #6
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If your tank is consuming ammonia it doesnt really matter whether its being taken up by plants or consumed by bacteria. If you are seeing zero ammonia and nitrite you are cycled. Plant growth is part of the nitrogen cycle. You are right, this will reduce the amount of denitrifying bacteria your tank can support, but also your tank wont need as much bacteria.

Unless you are heavily planted, and/or have very fast growing non-aquatic plants the amount of ammonia consumed by your plants wont be all that great though. It will contribute, but wont explain a drop of 2ppm ammonia . The established filter sponge is more likely responsible.
My understanding, then, is as long as there are no ammonia or nitrites I am considered cycled and can introduce creatures. Nitrates are okay, and what I am aiming to see.
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Old 04-18-2022, 02:34 PM   #7
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If you are able to add 2ppm ammonia and 24 hours later see no ammonia or nitrite in your test you are cycled and can add livestock. It might be prudent to see you can do this consecutively over a few days, but that depends on how risk averse you are.

Under normal circumstances, you would see nitrate in a cycled tank. As plants take up ammonia and nitrate, its possible to see no nitrate. Unless you have fast growing non-aquatic plants plants (eg pothos) and low amounts of fish, its unlikely though. In your case of dosing 2ppm ammonia i would expect to see nitrate when you are cycled.
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Old 04-18-2022, 02:57 PM   #8
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If you are able to add 2ppm ammonia and 24 hours later see no ammonia or nitrite in your test you are cycled and can add livestock. It might be prudent to see you can do this consecutively over a few days, but that depends on how risk averse you are.

Under normal circumstances, you would see nitrate in a cycled tank. As plants take up ammonia and nitrate, its possible to see no nitrate. Unless you have fast growing non-aquatic plants plants (eg pothos) and low amounts of fish, its unlikely though. In your case of dosing 2ppm ammonia i would expect to see nitrate when you are cycled.
I wouldn't think I'm heavily planted, but I'll add a picture for context. I did see higher amounts of nitrites yesterday, so I anticipate it is doing what it is intended to do.



https://ibb.co/BG8pYLG
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Old 04-18-2022, 05:32 PM   #9
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Those plants will fill in nicely. You might have those swords in the middle a little too close together, they will really grow.

When everything is filled out, i would consider it moderately planted.

Get a bag of sand to weigh that driftwood down. Leaving it floating like that could take months before it saturates and sinks on its own.

Might be a bit late now, but an aquascaping tip. Black background will really make everything in the tank pop out and make a much more appealing tank. It will also hide equipment, pipework, cabling etc. If you find an opportunity to get at the back of the tank to apply a background i would consider it.
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Old 04-18-2022, 05:48 PM   #10
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Those plants will fill in nicely. You might have those swords in the middle a little too close together, they will really grow.

When everything is filled out, i would consider it moderately planted.

Get a bag of sand to weigh that driftwood down. Leaving it floating like that could take months before it saturates and sinks on its own.

Might be a bit late now, but an aquascaping tip. Black background will really make everything in the tank pop out and make a much more appealing tank. It will also hide equipment, pipework, cabling etc. If you find an opportunity to get at the back of the tank to apply a background i would consider it.
Thanks for the tips and feedback! I was planning to add backing but was waiting until I figured out what I wanted. I can slip behind it and get it flat.

The driftwood has been like that since Friday. My last one sunk in less than three hours, granted it was smaller and a different type. I've been thinking about getting another rock to weigh it down since it doesn't seem to be close to sinking yet. I still feel a lot of resistance when I push it down.

Definitely excited to get this tank up and running with creatures!
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