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Old 01-21-2007, 10:22 PM   #1
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Fishless Cycle Nitrite Levels

I started a fishless cycle last Sunday and I have been dosing with ammonia. I cheated a bit and added a package of bio-spira on Sunday as well. I started seeing nitrites and nitrates after 2 days. My problem is my nitrite levels are off the scale for my API master test kit. I have performed 4 PWC's over the past 2 days and i am still at the maximum nitrite i can test for.

What do you guys think i should do? The first 2 changes were about 50 percent and the two i did today were 70 percent. I even tested my tap water just to make sure their wasn't nitrite in it for some reason and it came out at 0 ppm.

Any advice is appreciated!
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Old 01-21-2007, 11:03 PM   #2
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Here's one thing I had for my off the scale NitrIte colors... a dilution test of NINE parts of tap water (untreated), to ONE part of tank water... will give you a 1/10th number. Mine used to be a peppermint green, way off the scale. When I did this test, it would give me a 2.0 to 2.5 ppm reading. (Fushia or some purple.) Multiply that by TEN, I got 20-25 ppm. Yeah that's high.

So if I wanted it actually at 2.0 or something like that, I had to do something like a 90% water change. *lol* (Which worked... the second time I did it on Day 34, on Day 36 I was cycled. Go figure.)

The question is... what number do you WANT it to be... I know some say keep it below 40ppm because that can begin to harm the colonies, but everything else may be pure science.

Or you can wait and see what happens. I know it seems like it'll never happen, but it does. One day it'll just be gone...
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Old 01-21-2007, 11:09 PM   #3
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How much ammonia did you add? I would keep doing pwcs until you get a reading within normal range. It will take forever to get enough bacteria grown to remove that much nitrite and it would be pointless as well. No stocking will ever create that much of a bioload.
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Old 01-21-2007, 11:11 PM   #4
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Just curious as to how nitrite levels reach that high?
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Old 01-21-2007, 11:26 PM   #5
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That's true, but I know I didn't overdose ammonia. At some points, I ceased adding any for days, and it never changed. For the last 2-3 weeks I dripped just itsy amounts in the tank. The only time it ever went down, was when I did those big water changes. Oh, and of course, when it finally cycled.

I wonder if it had somthing to do with ALL the substrate/media I had in my tank. In addition to the Bio wheel, I had the large filter cartridge... plus all my substrate... plus a clay pot/rainbow rock/driftwood... but I also had a large spread of plastic floating plants along the top of the tank. I think, well, maybe I just had a ton of homes for that certain type of bacteria to grab on to and stick around.

Of course, who really knows. All I do know, is since I indicated the peppermint green color, I've seen at least 5 other different forum threads asking "what does green mean?!" So whatever's going on, is happening to a fair number of fishless cyclers who are going method by method and Enigma7's bullet point by bullet point. And getting these results...

Oh, one other edit... the tank's temp was at 90 degrees for some time. It's possible that really got it going... the temp was 80 when it finished. (That's the lowest it'll go for me.)
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Old 01-21-2007, 11:38 PM   #6
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It's not unusual that your NO2 built up and stuck for a while, that's common. The fact that it got that high is scary though.

I'd do a huge 90% water change, twice if needed. The bacteria you're growing are surface adherers, so changing out the water shouldn't affect your cycle. I'd get it back down at least into the readable scale so that you can keep tabs on what's going on.
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Old 01-22-2007, 01:54 PM   #7
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For those following the article I wrote it is definitely possible to get pretty rediculous nitrIte levels, especially when starting with little/no seed material. During that beginning portion you have no nitrite present, so the ammonia to nitrIte bacteria have a head start. Then compound that with the fact that they have a faster reproduction rate than the nitrIte to nitrAte and you can easily see where problems arise.

How much ammonia are you converting in 12-24hours?

If the answer is greater than 1-2ppm I would do a huge PWC and see where you are at (nitrIte-wise). If your still under 1-2ppm in that time period I wouldn't bother with the water change yet, because you are definately not done the cycle since your ammonia to nitrIte bacteria aren't at an optimal level (IMO).

I haven't seen anything conclusive to show that high levels of nitrIte slow down the cycle or cause harm to the other form of bacteria.
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Old 01-22-2007, 02:02 PM   #8
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I agree, and am one of those following your article, but my NO2 hasn't exceeded 5. I just feel that in this case, with the NO2 being off the scale, he has no way of seeing if his cycle is progressing in terms of converting NO2-> NO3. With the fact that my cycle stalled here, I think it's important the he be able to monitor things.
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Old 01-26-2007, 12:55 PM   #9
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Well the reason I am concerned is i am converting 2 ppm of ammonia to nitrite within 24 hours. I am also seeing nitrates so at least some of it has been converted from nitrite. I just cant get the nitrite down. I just did about a 90% PWC and my nitrite is still reading at the top of the scale. I just dont see how the levels could have gotten that high? Oh well guess i will do another big PWC later this afternoon.
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