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Old 05-24-2020, 11:43 PM   #1
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Nitrites are completely stuck

So I've been cycling my tank for 2 weeks and a half at least (probably not a long time) and I've been using Seachem stability to hopefully speed along the process.

When I add ammonia, it always fully disappears the next day. There's always 0-5 ppm of nitrates in the water, but I'm pretty sure that's just from the tap. Nitrites are always either 3.5 ppm or higher. I did a pretty big water change a few days ago because I've read that high nitrites delay the cycle. However, when I tested a few hours later, the nitrites still read higher than 3.5 ppm.

Is there anything I can do, and am I doing anything wrong?
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Old 05-25-2020, 02:19 AM   #2
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So I've been cycling my tank for 2 weeks and a half at least (probably not a long time) and I've been using Seachem stability to hopefully speed along the process.

When I add ammonia, it always fully disappears the next day. There's always 0-5 ppm of nitrates in the water, but I'm pretty sure that's just from the tap. Nitrites are always either 3.5 ppm or higher. I did a pretty big water change a few days ago because I've read that high nitrites delay the cycle. However, when I tested a few hours later, the nitrites still read higher than 3.5 ppm.

Is there anything I can do, and am I doing anything wrong?
Seachem Stability might not be the product you want to be adding. In my experience it seems to be more of a beneficial bacteria food rather than beneficial bacteria itself. Stability has been known to basically be nitrite in a bottle which is very helpful for feeding a bacteria population, but not helpful for starting from scratch. Stop dosing the Stability and you should see nitrite start to disappear. Get some tetra safe start (my favorite product for cycling tanks) or a bacteria culture like it and add it to the tank if you want to cut down on cycling time or just skip the additives all together. Sometimes less is more when it comes to dumping stuff in our aquariums.

If you want my honest opinion, the whole fishless cycle thing is much more difficult (and necessary) than a well executed fish in cycle. So many people deal with strange parameter readings during a fishless cycles and create more work for themselves trying to correct them. Also, online you will see the typical argument that it is inhumane to cycle with fish. Nothing could be further from the truth. Fully stocking your tank right off the bat is inhumane and you will experience losses, but a slow and methodical stocking plan will allow for the tank to cycle and cause little to no stress on the fish. I have never cycled an aquarium without fish and have never experienced losses during the process. If I were you, I would ditch the artificial ammonia additions and add a few of the hardier fish in your stocking plan to the tank. Before doing that I would do a few large water changes to flush that nitrite out (3.5 ppm is definitely a lethal level) and move forward with slow stocking with a week or two between each small batch of fish. Let me know if you have any more questions!
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Old 05-25-2020, 02:28 PM   #3
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Didn't realize the Stability could be the one increasing the nitrites. I think I'll skip on bacteria supplements altogether because I've already built up stable ammonia eating population.

Are neon tetras hardy fish? Those are the fish I was going to stock with. I was also planning on adding shrimp, but that's not possible right now as they're pretty sensitive to nitrites. If neon tetras are the right idea, what increment should I go with? The tank is an 18.75 gallon, so I was planning on going with 10-12 neon tetras.

Thanks so much for the advice. I've been looking for something like this for so long...
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Old 05-25-2020, 02:35 PM   #4
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Didn't realize the Stability could be the one increasing the nitrites. I think I'll skip on bacteria supplements altogether because I've already built up stable ammonia eating population.

Are neon tetras hardy fish? Those are the fish I was going to stock with. I was also planning on adding shrimp, but that's not possible right now as they're pretty sensitive to nitrites. If neon tetras are the right idea, what increment should I go with? The tank is an 18.75 gallon, so I was planning on going with 10-12 neon tetras.

Thanks so much for the advice. I've been looking for something like this for so long...
Glad I could help! Aquariums can be confusing at times and a little well timed advice can go a long way. Neons aren't necessarily the best fish to cycle a tank with, but since you have already got some decent biological filtration built up, adding 6 neons to start and then 6 in a few weeks should not be a problem. The key is just to make sure you are not over feeding during the process. Shrimp are definitely good to wait on. I usually say 4-6 months with fish in the tank is a good benchmark for when the tank is established enough to support shrimp.
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Old 05-25-2020, 04:40 PM   #5
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Thank you so very much!
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Old 05-26-2020, 02:02 AM   #6
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One last question... just how sensitive to nitrites are neon tetras?
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Old 05-26-2020, 02:33 AM   #7
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One last question... just how sensitive to nitrites are neon tetras?
Most fish are sensitive to nitrite in the water. I would try and get that closer to <0.5ppm before I added them. A few water changes should help to drive those down.
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Old 05-26-2020, 03:23 PM   #8
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Thanks for the tips!
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Old 05-31-2020, 04:40 AM   #9
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I am in a similar predicament as the original poster (2 weeks into fishless cycle) however I have a very small aquarium (6 gallons with a sponge filter) where ammonia is cycling fine daily but nitrites seem stuck. I planned to only stock invertebrates in my tank due to the small size not allowing much swimming room (mostly shrimp, maybe 1 nerite snail).



If I were to attempt live cycling, do you have a recommendation when it comes to what hardy animal to use in my case? I have read that mystery snails may have too high a bio-load for such a small tank but I also worry that something very small may not produce enough ammonia to keep the cycle going on its own. My Nitrites are constantly over 5ppm even after a large water change. I plan on being patient and sticking with the fishless cycle for a while longer but I'd like to know the other options out there for a tank like mine.



Thank you for any advice.
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Old 06-01-2020, 08:04 PM   #10
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Wow... four days after I added neon tetras to the tank, the nitrite level went from 0.5 to 0 and has stayed there since. Very happy as this means the tank is very close to being finished cycling.

I honestly have no idea what fish you could use to cycle the tank. If the fishless cycle doesn't work, I've read that you should just resort to obtaining some established filter media and using it in your tank.
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Old 06-01-2020, 10:19 PM   #11
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I am in a similar predicament as the original poster (2 weeks into fishless cycle) however I have a very small aquarium (6 gallons with a sponge filter) where ammonia is cycling fine daily but nitrites seem stuck. I planned to only stock invertebrates in my tank due to the small size not allowing much swimming room (mostly shrimp, maybe 1 nerite snail).



If I were to attempt live cycling, do you have a recommendation when it comes to what hardy animal to use in my case? I have read that mystery snails may have too high a bio-load for such a small tank but I also worry that something very small may not produce enough ammonia to keep the cycle going on its own. My Nitrites are constantly over 5ppm even after a large water change. I plan on being patient and sticking with the fishless cycle for a while longer but I'd like to know the other options out there for a tank like mine.



Thank you for any advice.
Small invert only tanks are honestly one of the situations where a fishless cycle can be beneficial. A few ghost shrimp could be an option if you intend on only stocking inverts any way. Grabbing some established filter media like FishOwner said is definitely a good option.

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Wow... four days after I added neon tetras to the tank, the nitrite level went from 0.5 to 0 and has stayed there since. Very happy as this means the tank is very close to being finished cycling.

I honestly have no idea what fish you could use to cycle the tank. If the fishless cycle doesn't work, I've read that you should just resort to obtaining some established filter media and using it in your tank.
Glad to hear things worked out for you after adding a few fish! Nothing beats a couple small fish to get a tank established
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