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Old 11-27-2020, 01:25 PM   #1
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Question Newbie: Can you use too much API quickstart?

Hi everyone,

I am completely new to this hobby and am really excited about getting up and running. I am a little lost with fishless cycling though. I am not sure if I have messed up or I am being too impatient.

I have an 85 litre tank (18 gallons I believe) and I have set it up ready to cycle on 16.11.2020. It has an artificial plant in it with some moss balls and two ornamental decorative items in it (ship and barrel - unimaginative I know!).

I added de-chlorinator as required initially and saw an early bacterial bloom. I didn't have a test kit at that point but bought a liquid API master kit and began testing after the bloom cleared. Ammonia, nitrite and nitrate were all at zero.

To date I have not seen any nitrates appear - only nitrite up to 0.25ppm then disappear very quickly after around half a day.

I thought that my tank had perhaps not cycled properly due to no nitrates ever appearing so I started again without a water change. I added ammonia and API quick start 3 days ago. I added a bit more API quick start than recommended however.

My ammonia has risen to 4ppm and is holding - yesterday I saw nitrite go up to 0.25 but now that has gone back to 0. No Nitrates either at any point to date and ammonia isn't dropping at all yet.

PH is constantly around 7.4-7.6 and water temperature is 26 degrees celsius.

I am worried I added too much API quick start when I initially used it. Is this possible? Is there any harm from using too much of it?

I am also worried I will need to completely start again/I have totally messed up - or am I being too impatient and do I need to hold my nerve?

I have attached a copy of my testing log since 16.11.2020 in the hope this may help make some sense of it all.

Thanks for your help!
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Old 11-27-2020, 01:50 PM   #2
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Im sorry, i cant read your chart. Not a high enough res, or more possibly im opening it wrong. Ill go and try from the website rather than the phone app.

From your text i dont see any issues. I dont think you can overdose on bottled bacteria. I should point out that bottled bacteria isnt a magic bullet to cycle your tank. At best it will speed things up, at worst it wont do anything. A better option is putting filter media from an established a filter in your filter. Perhaps you have a friend who keeps fish that can let you have some?

You say you started over 3 days ago. Fishless cycle is normally a 4 to 6 week process, so seeing no progress after 3 days isnt unusual.

If you havent already seen this, link below to fishless cycle guide.

https://www.aquariumadvice.com/tips-...ishless-cycle/
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Old 11-27-2020, 02:01 PM   #3
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Hi Aiken,

Thank you for responding and for your advice. Very much appreciated.

I started on 16.11.2020 adding nothing but the de-chlorinator and soon had a bacterial bloom after a few days, but then I couldn't be sure if that mean't it had cycled or not as I took test readings and all was at zero after one small bump of ammonia levels to 0.25ppm which went back to zero again.

I then decided to start again by adding the API quick start and ammonia which leaves me where I am now with readings of 4ppm for ammonia and 0 for nitrites and nitrates (though yesterday I had a small bump to 0.25 nitrites which has gone to zero again - not sure why/what this means?).

I don't have anyone I know that I can take filter media from unfortunately so it sounds like I need to do nothing but keep testing and being patient (not my strong point!).

I will take a look at that guide - thank you. Very helpful. At least I now have a rough time frame to go by and know its not that anything is necessarily wrong, but it has just not had enough time yet.

Thank you

Matt
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Old 11-27-2020, 05:54 PM   #4
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Your first attempt at fishless cycle wasn't really going to work. There needs to be an ammonia source to fuel the cycle. Just setting up the tank, adding dechlorinator and letting it run wont cycle.

The bacterial bloom is normally a sign that nutrients are getting out of balance and that your cycle is started. I also understand it can be triggered by dechlorinator in the water neutralising the chlorine that would normally be killing off the bacteria.

Your 2nd try at it is the right way to go about it. 4 to 6 weeks is normal, although ive seen people on here take 3 months or more. Every cycle is different and it wont run to a timetable. Ive also seen people on here complete a cycle in a week. It all depends on how effective the bottled bacteria is, and that is out of your control. If it hasnt been stored and transported properly the bacteria will just die in the bottle before it even gets to you.

If you want to have a rough timescale of where i would hope to be. After a week i would expect to see some nitrite.

If patience isnt your thing, have you considered a fish in cycle?
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Old 11-28-2020, 09:15 AM   #5
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That is interesting about the initial bacterial bloom and the dechlorinator.

I will just keep testing every couple of days and monitor. Hopefully it won't take too long - but as you say it will run to its own individual timetable and not a set time frame.

I was thinking about a fish-in cycle but didn't want to put them through the stress of it when it isn't necessary if I learn to be patient!

I am going to wait it out and keep my fingers crossed!

Thanks

Matt
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Old 11-28-2020, 11:50 PM   #6
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Re:

Just curious - how is your tap water ph? Because I tested mine out of curiosity and it was about 7.5 or so. It threw me off too, with the cycling because I was putting all these conditioners in and either bringing up the ph too high or too low, as a newbie as well. So you only use API quick start and stress coat with every water change?
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Old 11-29-2020, 06:59 AM   #7
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Just curious - how is your tap water ph? Because I tested mine out of curiosity and it was about 7.5 or so. It threw me off too, with the cycling because I was putting all these conditioners in and either bringing up the ph too high or too low, as a newbie as well. So you only use API quick start and stress coat with every water change?
Hi,

My tap PH sits at 7.2, and my current PH is sitting at 7.4 but sometimes goes up to 7.6/7.8.

From what I have read, I think any time you add any chemical to your tank it will impact your PH to some degree (up or down) so it may take a little while for levels to settle once added. The key is to monitor and test closely, and take action if it drastically drops to around 6 or looks like it will go beyond 8.

API quick start to my knowledge is used to kick start your initial cycling process but needs to be used with a source of ammonia for it to work. I have seen that you can use it whenever you complete water changes as well to help with maintaining the good bacteria in your tank but it is not a requirement.

Stress coat is a different product to API quick start as it is a water conditioner that removes harmful chlorine/chloramines in tap water when you do a water change. This/an aquarium safe water conditioner is therefore required and must be added during water changes.

API stress coat + apparently also has an added element in it to help protect your fish' slime coat. According to the manufacturers comments, you can use Stress coat + when adding or changing water, adding a new fish, or when your fish is sick or injured. You could therefore add Stress Coat + and API Quickstart each time you do a water change but the water conditioner is most important there as it is needed rather than recommended.

That is my understanding anyway, but I am sure someone will correct me if I am wrong!

Matt
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Old 11-30-2020, 01:15 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Aiken Drum View Post
Your first attempt at fishless cycle wasn't really going to work. There needs to be an ammonia source to fuel the cycle. Just setting up the tank, adding dechlorinator and letting it run wont cycle.

The bacterial bloom is normally a sign that nutrients are getting out of balance and that your cycle is started. I also understand it can be triggered by dechlorinator in the water neutralising the chlorine that would normally be killing off the bacteria.

Your 2nd try at it is the right way to go about it. 4 to 6 weeks is normal, although ive seen people on here take 3 months or more. Every cycle is different and it wont run to a timetable. Ive also seen people on here complete a cycle in a week. It all depends on how effective the bottled bacteria is, and that is out of your control. If it hasnt been stored and transported properly the bacteria will just die in the bottle before it even gets to you.

If you want to have a rough timescale of where i would hope to be. After a week i would expect to see some nitrite.

If patience isnt your thing, have you considered a fish in cycle?

Hi,

I tested my water this evening and my ammonia is still reading 4ppm and hasn't gone down, but I now read 0.25 for nitrite and had my first reading for Nitrates at 10ppm!

I will keep monitoring but this seems to be positive. I just wondered how nitrites and nitrates are now present but the ammonia hasn't dropped? seems weird. Does this sound ok? I assume that now nitrites and nitrates are present i should see ammonia go down now?

Thanks

Matt
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Old 11-30-2020, 01:23 PM   #9
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1ppm ammonia converts to 2.7ppm nitrite and in turn converts to 3.6ppm nitrate.

So you dont need to have that much ammonia loss to result in quite a lot of nitrate. Throw in some inaccuracies in reading the colours and it appears that you are getting 10ppm nitrate from no drop in ammonia when your ammonia has probably dropped by say 1.5ppm and your nitrate is really 6 or 7ppm for instance.

Test kits aren't going to be bang on accurate, there will be slight errors in dosing the drops, measuring the correct amount of water, reading the results after the correct time etc. I would be surprised if they even read 100% correct when the test is run perfectly. They are good enough for cycling a tank though.

You are on the right track.
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Old 11-30-2020, 01:56 PM   #10
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1ppm ammonia converts to 2.7ppm nitrite and in turn converts to 3.6ppm nitrate.

So you dont need to have that much ammonia loss to result in quite a lot of nitrate. Throw in some inaccuracies in reading the colours and it appears that you are getting 10ppm nitrate from no drop in ammonia when your ammonia has probably dropped by say 1.5ppm and your nitrate is really 6 or 7ppm for instance.

Test kits aren't going to be bang on accurate, there will be slight errors in dosing the drops, measuring the correct amount of water, reading the results after the correct time etc. I would be surprised if they even read 100% correct when the test is run perfectly. They are good enough for cycling a tank though.

You are on the right track.

That conversion information is helpful to know - thank you.

Good to know I am on the right track. You are right with the inaccuracies - especially around reading of the colours as I find it hard to distinguish sometimes so have probably slightly misread it. It feels good to have now got a positive reading for nitrates though.

Thanks for your help.
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Old 11-30-2020, 03:39 PM   #11
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The conversion assumes nothing else is acting on it. Plants will take up both ammonia and nitrate for instance. So lets say 50% of the ammonia and 50% of the nitrate are taken up by plants, then 1ppm of ammonia would result in less than 1ppm nitrate.
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Old 12-19-2020, 09:49 AM   #12
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After an initial single reading of nitrates previously that disappeared, it has now been consistently appearing on readings for the last few days and the ammonia has finally dropped a bit after sticking at 4.

Today tests show my ammonia has dropped from 4 to 2, with nitrite up to 0.25 and nitrates at 20ppm.

Seems like I am finally seeing some activity in the right direction! So happy as it seemed like the ammonia was never going to drop and nitrates go up!
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Old 12-19-2020, 12:14 PM   #13
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Looks like a start. When your ammonia drops below 1ppm top it back up to 2ppm.

I think you are on track. Been going 3 or 4 weeks now? Probably another 2 or 3 weeks. Taking a little longer than normal but nothing so far out of the ordinary.

Let us know when you have to top up your ammonia. That will give us a better idea of how far along you are.
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Old 01-06-2021, 02:06 PM   #14
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Looks like a start. When your ammonia drops below 1ppm top it back up to 2ppm.

I think you are on track. Been going 3 or 4 weeks now? Probably another 2 or 3 weeks. Taking a little longer than normal but nothing so far out of the ordinary.

Let us know when you have to top up your ammonia. That will give us a better idea of how far along you are.

Thank you.

I now have zero nitrites and zero ammonia, and have dosed to 4ppm of ammonia and its now at zero for ammonia and nitrites again so it looks cycled.

I have done several water changes to bring the nitrates down but I cannot seem to bring it down beyond 20-30ppm. I have done 3-4 50%-80% water changes and it won't drop below it. I have also vacuumed the gravel and makes no difference. My tap water doesn't show any nitrates either so a bit lost!

I think I am ok to add fish now though but will look to do regular water changes to see if I can bring it down further despite it being seemingly impossible! I have bought some nitrate minus to see if that helps.

Do you think it is ok to add fish now?

Thanks

Matt
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Old 01-06-2021, 02:42 PM   #15
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It should be ok to add fish.

I have no idea why your nitrate isnt dropping after a water change. Have you tried testing, do a water change, then immediately afterwards retesting? A 50% water change should remove 50% of the nitrate.
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