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Old 06-13-2021, 02:48 PM   #1
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Nitrate help

Hello everyone - Ive just created an account and am VERY new to everything including cycling, so im very sorry in advance for basic, silly questions.
I have done A LOT of research already so Im not just jumping in blindly and stupidly , its just Im a bit stuck..
Ill try to include as much info as I can to begin with and ive read a lot of posts on here already, everyone seems nice so hopefully I wont get hate!

Ive started an axolotl tank - it has been cycling for 7 days now.
Using API test kit.
Im not using a heater to boost but my tank is roughly 22 degrees C. (I know axies need a low temp, ill cool it when I add them in)

It was a second hand tank and think it already had some nitrites as my nitrites were already high on day 1.
My ph is a stable 8.2
Ammonia has been at 4ppm for 4 days (couldnt get pure ammonia until a few days in)
Nitrites at 5 for 4 days.
Nitrates at 80 for 4 days.

I posted on a FB group for axies, and someone mentioned I should do a water change (this was also recommended in the group info files).
I did a 50% change and tested again and my ammonia looks like its gone to 2ppm (makes sense) but my nitrates still look to be at 80.. it MIGHT be 40 but the colours are so similiar.
Nitrites have possibly gone to 2 but once again hard to tell...
Trouble is the nitrates in my tap water are already at 20!

Im really stuck on where to go from here.
Was it right to water change? should I still dose up my ammonia, even if im unsure if it is 2ppm?
How am i supposed to bring my nitrates down when my water is already at 20ppm.

Im sorry for the long post - I bet ive missed something but any help would be appreciated. Thank you!

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Old 06-13-2021, 03:28 PM   #2
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Ill start by saying i have little knowledge of axolotls except that they are cute.

Cycling a tank typically takes 6 to 8 weeks so you have only just started on your fishless (axolotless?) cycle.

A fishless cycle starts off at 4ppm ammonia and you redose to 2ppm when it drops below 1ppm. This stage can take a few weeks. You then keep redosing 2ppm every time it drops below 1ppm. When you are able to dose 2ppm and 24 hours later you see 0ppm ammonia and nitrite you are cycled. Do a big water change to reduce nitrate and add fish.

The best way to speed up your cycle is to introduce some filter media from an established filter. Perhaps you have a friend who keeps fish who could let you have some? Another option is to use a bottled bacteria product like Dr Tims One and Only. This might help but these products are hit and miss whether they work or not. At best they will speed up the cycling process to weeks rather than months. Increasing the water temperature to 29/30c will help also.

Did you do anything wrong by doing a water change? Not really. You have reduced the food source available to any growing beneficial bacteria but a water change is often done to kick start a stalled cycle, so no harm done. The only thing i would say is you didnt really give it enough time, especially if you did nothing to speed it along.

As to your nitrate levels, my understanding is that axolotls arent that sensitive to nitrate, so it should be possible to keep them around the 40 ppm area. My short research says they are ok upto 60ppm. Someone might correct me here. Nitrate really isnt that much of an issue as long as you don't let it get totally out of control. If you wanted to lower the nitrate levels in your tap water consider filtered water, either a filter on your tapwater or buying filtered water.
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Old 06-13-2021, 04:06 PM   #3
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As to your nitrate levels, my understanding is that axolotls arent that sensitive to nitrate, so it should be possible to keep them around the 40 ppm area. My short research says they are ok upto 60ppm. Someone might correct me here. Nitrate really isnt that much of an issue as long as you don't let it get totally out of control. If you wanted to lower the nitrate levels in your tap water consider filtered water, either a filter on your tapwater or buying filtered water.
Thank you so much for your help (PS they are cute arent they!?)

I dosed up to 4ppm of dr tims on day 3 and it sat at 4ppm until today when someone told me to do a water change as my nitrates were at 80ppm.
I cant tell if its gone down or not, or whether the ammonia has even gone down by doing this change ughhh.

Ill test again tomorrow and in the meantime ive got my husband looking up the filter! (hes also now freaking out that our tap water has 20-40ppm of nitrates lol)
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Old 06-13-2021, 04:16 PM   #4
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Let the nitrate get as high as it gets. High nitrate shouldn't stall a cycle. I personally do water changes during fishless cycle to keep nitrite at readable levels as that can easily get higher than the test kit can read if the ammonia to nitrite stage is going well but the nitrite to nitrate stage isnt. 1ppm ammonia converts to 2.7ppm nitrite and then 3.6ppm nitrate for info. There is some debate about high nitrites stalling a cycle, but ive never heard the same about high nitrate.

We had a recent thread about high nitrate in tap water. Those sorts of levels are safe in tap water for human consumption. In the UK and EU 50ppm nitrate is permissable (but still not common, mine is about 5ppm, used to be 0ppm but it went up sometime in the last couple of years). I think USA permissable levels is 10ppm.
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Old 06-13-2021, 04:20 PM   #5
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Let the nitrate get as high as it gets. High nitrate shouldn't stall a cycle.
Ahh yeah this is what I was worried about, a few people said it would stall it but others have said what youve said, to just leave it. so much conflicting info!

So ill test again tomorrow and go from there (:

Ill probably end up getting a filter for my tap!
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Old 06-13-2021, 04:38 PM   #6
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You will always get conflicting info. All i can say is ive never seen anyone claiming high nitrate will stall a cycle, although there are mixed opinions about nitrite. Ive certainly cycled with highish nitrate before. Water changes won't hurt anything though as long as you keep ammonia topped up.
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Old 06-13-2021, 06:00 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by squishyaimz View Post
Ahh yeah this is what I was worried about, a few people said it would stall it but others have said what youve said, to just leave it. so much conflicting info!



So ill test again tomorrow and go from there (:



Ill probably end up getting a filter for my tap!

The truth is that nobody really knows.

Nobody really knows what levels of anything kill off an aquarium cycle because the microbial assemblage of an aquarium filter is diverse. It is impossible to ascertain this information accurately because new studies are emerging all the time and our knowledge in this area is weak.

The sooner we admit that we donít know the sooner we can stop confusing ourselves with meaningless numbers and get on with our hobby and we can share advice about the things we do know

What Iím trying to say is that companies make profit through confusion, confusion breeds questions and answers to those questions usually involves you parting with your hard earned cash. But the truth is that none of it is necessary for successfully keeping an aquarium. It never has been.

Patience is the key factor. Try to stop measuring every day or immediately after water changes. The test kits are really not that good I can assure you and your tank will cycle one day any way.
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Old 06-13-2021, 06:21 PM   #8
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Ok thank you! Ill try to keep that in mind I dont really tend to buy all those chemicals and stuff to put in water (other than dechlorinator) so ill just try to chill a bit more haha
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