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Old 03-30-2011, 12:38 PM   #1
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Fishless Cycle oddity

I've done a fishless cycle a couple of times before with some success, and I've been doing a fishless cycle on a 55G Freshwater tank for a few weeks now.

Here's my process, each day I perform whatever activity I do sometime in the evening:

DAY 1:
Add ammonia until 2 ppm. This was a little more than 5 mL.
Over the course of the next few nights I become sort of re-acquainted with my rough guideline for this bottle of ammonia that 1 mL of it will give 2 ppm to about 10G of water.

Each day after, measure the ammonia, and add ammonia (if needed) to bring the level back to about 2 ppm.

ABOUT 1-2 WEEKS IN:
Once I see my first zero ammonia reading, measure nitrites as well (it's a nonzero reading). Add 5 mL of ammonia to bring it back to 2 ppm.

NEXT DAY:
Measure ammonia and nitrites. Ammonia is zero, nitrites are growing.

At this point, my ammonia processing bacteria have been established.

NEXT DAY:
I don't measure ammonia every night anymore, I just measure nitrites and then add 5 mL of ammonia each night.

ABOUT 2-3 WEEKS LATER:
After seeing the nitrite readings to up for a while, and then decrease for about a week, I finally see my first zero nitrite reading. I check the ammonia level and it's also zero.

At this point, I'm thinking my cycle is done! Just to make sure, I add 5 mL of ammonia, and...

NEXT DAY:
Zero ammonia and nitrite readings, nitrates are maybe 5 ppm-ish, if that.

Awesome. I start making arrangements to pick up fish that weekend. Before adding them to the tank, I'll do a 100% water change. I have a few more days, so I figure I'll try and increase the bacteria population a little if I can. I've heard some people fishless cycle using up to 4 ppm of ammonia instead of 2.

THAT NIGHT:
I add 7 mL of ammonia to the tank instead of just 5 mL.

NEXT DAY:
The ammonia readings have barely dropped! Nitrites are zero, probably because whatever small of ammonia got converted to nitrite was taken care of. I don't add any ammonia.

THE NEXT FEW DAYS (about 4 I think):
I take ammonia and nitrite readings every night, without adding any ammonia. The nitrites stayed at zero, and the ammonia slowly drops a little each day until it gets down to zero. I add in 5 mL of ammonia that night, and I see the same deal over the next few days: nitrites are zero and ammonia drops very slowly down to zero over several days.

That's where I'm at right now. Did I do something that could have destroyed my ammonia-decomposing bacteria population? I'm not sure, I haven't touched the tank all that much since I started cycling it...

I think I know the correct course action: measure every night, then add enough ammonia to bring it up to 2 ppm, then wait until I see zero readings for both ammonia and nitrite.

I just want to know if I did anything wrong so I can prevent this from happening again.

Anything else relevant I can think of: I'm using an AC110 filter, a 75W heater, and my substrate is 40 lbs of Tahitian Moon Sand. The bags said it was live, but of course I know better than to believe that...

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Old 03-30-2011, 02:18 PM   #2
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Adam, what is your ph? A low ph can cause the ammonia to nitrite bacteria to not work. The nitrite to nitrate bacteria likes lower ph however. I had a stall and did a water change (80%) and my ph went from 6.2 to 7.5 and finally settled in to about 7, and is now back working. You did dechlorinate all ofyour water before adding it back, right? Silly question I know. Just trying to figure out what happened.

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Old 03-30-2011, 02:27 PM   #3
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I'll measure my pH when I get home, but you bring up a very good point. If I remember correctly, new driftwood can lower pH, and I have a few large pieces of driftwood that have been in the tank as it cycles.

I've been using Prime to dechlorinate the water, but that would certainly cause the problem if I wasn't...
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Old 03-30-2011, 02:31 PM   #4
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Had to throw that out there. I almost forgot to dechlorinate one of my buckets last nite. I caught myself and made a little mental note. Let us know about what you discover please.

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Old 03-30-2011, 02:38 PM   #5
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A low ph can also, I found out the hard way, cause a false zero reading in ammonia. When I got my ph back up, my ammoina read 2 ppm, before the PWC it read 0. I believe your ph is going to be real low and you'll find ammonia once your ph is up a little.

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Old 03-30-2011, 04:28 PM   #6
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pH is off-the-chart low, but the chart only goes down to 7.4... odd...

I'll do a large PWC, re-test the pH, and see if there's any improvement.
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Old 03-30-2011, 05:56 PM   #7
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Adam, you're checking the high range ph. Check the low range

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Old 03-30-2011, 05:59 PM   #8
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Don't add anymore ammonia after your PWC. Wait an hour to ensure ammonia wasn't hiding behind the low ph.

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Old 03-31-2011, 12:21 AM   #9
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Yeah the only pH test kit I have is the high range one, because I got it for my SW tank. Looks like I need to try and pick one up tomorrow. If I can't get one, I'll just assume that's what it is and do the water change tomorrow after work.
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Old 03-31-2011, 01:50 PM   #10
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Hey Adam how's it going?

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Old 03-31-2011, 02:42 PM   #11
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Wow! The same exact thing just happened to me! I finished my cycle yesterday and everything was perfect. I dosed it back up to 4ppm an when i just checked it a minute ago the Ammo had only gone down to 1.0 instead of zero and my PH was off the charts low! I had been monitoring the PH the whole time and it was staying at 7.4. I have no idea whats going on. I'm heading in there right now to do a big pwc and get my PH back up.

There's more than coincidence here. There must be some sort of relation to a cycle completing and a big PH crash. I'm gonna get it back up to specs and keep my eye on it. Let me know how it's going for you.
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Old 03-31-2011, 02:47 PM   #12
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I had a ph crash too. My ammonia was gone but the ph was 6.4. Did a 50% before work. Will see when I get home

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Old 03-31-2011, 03:32 PM   #13
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Hey Adam,
I started a new thread directly about the PH crash and cycling correlation. Here's the link if you want to check in on that one too.
http://www.aquariumadvice.com/forums...ml#post1277506
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Old 03-31-2011, 06:12 PM   #14
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Just got home and finished my large PWC. I'd say it was at least 80%. I'm going to measure pH and ammonia in a half hour or so.

Strange coincidence that this is happening to all of us at the same time. It's probably better to have just thread about it though, I'll just post in that one since there seem to be other people following it.
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Old 03-31-2011, 06:16 PM   #15
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Weird isn't it

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Old 03-31-2011, 06:19 PM   #16
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Did you get the correct PH test kit? I'd be very interested what your results are
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Old 03-31-2011, 06:25 PM   #17
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I couldn't get a low-range pH test kit today (I'll have to order one). Hopefully I'll be able to get an accurate reading this time with my high-range test kit.
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Old 03-31-2011, 11:16 PM   #18
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Hey Adam, I just posted this on the other thread but I thought I'd put it here too. I was getting a false positive on my ammonia level. I've got about 1ppm of ammo in my tap water and the Prime binds to it and neutralizes it, but doesn't remove it. When I've been testing recently I thought the bacteria stopped eating it, but it was because I've been testing too close to pwc's. We've still gotta deal with the PH issue, but we might be halfway home. Test your tap water for ammo and let me know what you find.
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Old 04-01-2011, 12:22 PM   #19
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I'm getting zero ammonia for my tap water... I also use Prime on my tap water.
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