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Old 01-17-2022, 08:25 AM   #1
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Problems understanding water levels

Hello everyone,

I don't know if I'm in the right place or not to ask this but I'll try anyway haha. I started a 20 gallon tank 3 days ago and trying to do a fish-less cycle using live plants and driftwood that were taken from an established tank from my local fish store. I tested the levels on day 1 and got these results:

pH 6.6
Ammonia 0ppm
Nitrite 0ppm
Nitrate 0ppm

I then left the tank for a few days and it is now day 3 and have got the following results:

pH 6.6
Ammonia 1ppm
Nitrite 0ppm
Nitrate 5ppm

Could somebody please help me understand these levels? Is it common for Ammonia to increase so much despite Nitrite remaining at 0. I thought I understood the nitrogen cycle but apparently not 🤣 Any help or info is really appreciated

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Old 01-17-2022, 09:22 AM   #2
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It doesn't look like you understand how to do a fishless cycle.

You need to be dosing ammonia. Either pure ammonia, or ammonia chloride, or fishfood, or a decomposing composing cocktail shrimp. Its probable the ammonia you are seeing is from dead, decaying plant matter, or maybe its leaching from your substrate. There wont be enough ammonia from these sources for a long enough period of time to cycle a tank.

Ammonia turns to nitrite and then nitrate in a cycled tank. You have only just started what is typically a 6 to 8 week process to complete a fishless cycle, so your cycle hasnt even started yet. What you are seeing is the ammonia coming from whatever source it is coming from. Because you arent cycled, none (or very little) of your ammonia is going to nitrite which is why you arent seeing any nitrite. A very small amount of nitrite might be going nitrate which is what you are detecting. It doesnt take much ammonia to result in a lot of nitrate.

If you need further guidance on the nitrogen cycle and how to do a fishless cycle let me know.
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Old 01-17-2022, 09:34 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aiken Drum View Post
It doesn't look like you understand how to do a fishless cycle.

You need to be dosing ammonia. Either pure ammonia, or ammonia chloride, or fishfood, or a decomposing composing cocktail shrimp. Its probable the ammonia you are seeing is from dead, decaying plant matter, or maybe its leaching from your substrate. There wont be enough ammonia from these sources for a long enough period of time to cycle a tank.

Ammonia turns to nitrite and then nitrate in a cycled tank. You have only just started what is typically a 6 to 8 week process to complete a fishless cycle, so your cycle hasnt even started yet. What you are seeing is the ammonia coming from whatever source it is coming from. Because you arent cycled, none (or very little) of your ammonia is going to nitrite which is why you arent seeing any nitrite. A very small amount of nitrite might be going nitrate which is what you are detecting. It doesnt take much ammonia to result in a lot of nitrate.

If you need further guidance on the nitrogen cycle and how to do a fishless cycle let me know.
Ahh okay I had watched a video from GirlTalksFish about fishless cycling with just live plants and they had said that once new plant growth was observed I could then add a small number of fish? I didn't want to go with dosing the tank with a pure ammonia source and I thought that fish-in cycling was harmful/cruel so it seemed to be my best option but it seems that won't actually work?
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Old 01-17-2022, 10:16 AM   #4
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Basically the method you are describing is a fish in cycle but with some plants that will take up a little ammonia. It wont work as a fishless cycle, but might make a fish in cycle a little less stressful for fish. Fish in cycle if done properly is reasonably safe.

You might be looking at whats called a silent cycle, where you go heavy on fast growing surface plants that will pretty much take up all ammonia that your fish produce.
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