3 Weeks Into Fishless Cycle, I Have Both Nitrites And Nitrates, Neither Go Away. Question

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by HenryC, Jun 16, 2019.

  1. HenryC

    HenryCValued MemberMember

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    Hi guys, 3 weeks onto the fishless cycle, and I keep seeing this every day guys:https://imgur.com/a/a8BDDyD

    Is this ok? What does this mean? I am getting a good quantity of Nitrates but Nitrites don't go away. Where are these Nitrates coming from if Nitrites are not going down?

    Does this mean I have a really weak nitrogen cycle or something? Technically this looks like the cycle is being completed right? My 4ppm ammonia is getting consumed in less than 24 hours, but the other two remain at those levels, they seem to be immobile. I did a 60% water change about 3 days ago and the levels hardly went down. My tank is also planted, if that has any relevance: https://imgur.com/a/zBqBHWO

    Am I dosing too much ammonia and the bacteria can't keep up with the nitrites? What should I do, tweak something or just wait more time?

    I don't see an edit button anywhere so I'll just reply here:
    My pH is stable at 7.8, at the beginning of the cycle I used some fish food in addition to the ammonia and I keep the temperature regulated with a inkbird thermostat at 79-80.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019
  2. NC122606

    NC122606Well Known MemberMember

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    Honestly, I would stop adding that much ammonia and let it play out. But do put some ammonia in it but not enough for it to make a reading.
     
  3. Skavatar

    SkavatarWell Known MemberMember

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    lower ammonia to 2ppm. if you're not using bottled bacteria, then the nitrite phase can take up to 3 weeks to finish.
     
  4. OhDaniGirl

    OhDaniGirlValued MemberMember

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    I agree with reducing your ammonia dosage. I would just dose to 1 ppm. You could do a few massive WCs to get your levels down to something manageable if you wanted.
     
  5. OP
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    HenryC

    HenryCValued MemberMember

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    Thank you all. I am using Dr. Tim's ammonia. I will dose 1 to 2 ppm.
     
  6. mattgirl

    mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

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    Your cycle is moving along just as it should. As others have said you can reduce the amount of ammonia you are adding. In fact at this point in the cycle if it were me I would only dose ammonia every other day until the nitrites drop to zero.

    You may be able to speed the cycle along by doing a big water change. meaning at least 75% to lower both nitrites and nitrates. Be sure to add a water conditioner to the water you are replacing if you have chlorine/chloramines in your source water and get it close to the same temp as the tank.

    Once you do the water change dose the ammonia up to 2ppm. It should go down to zero within 24 hours but you can wait until the following day to add more ammonia. Adding ammonia every 48 hours instead of every 24 gives the nitrite eating bacteria time to do its job without being overwhelmed with more.nitrites.

    Keep in mind that the nitrates will continue to rise. That isn't a problem when fishless cycling unless they go too high. Meaning over 100. They will be removed with water changes.
     
  7. Momgoose56

    Momgoose56Fishlore VIPMember

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    Your cycle is doing exactly what is supposed to! Your nitrites and nitrates are a bit high so I agree with @Skavatar, cut ammonia to 2ppm, and with @OhDaniGirl, do 75-90% water change, get nitrates down closer to 30-40ppm (your nitrites will of course also be reduced) and be patient. You've still got 2-4 weeks to go. Since you're already using ammonia, putting fish food in the tank is redundant and just adds gunk to your substrate you'll have to vacuum out. What size tank is it and what kind of stocking are you going to do?
     
  8. OP
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    HenryC

    HenryCValued MemberMember

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    Thanks! It is an Aqueon 40gal breeder, 36x18x16. Got a Eheim Jager rated for 125w (is that too low? my room temp is usually 75-80) and a Fluval 406 canister with carbon bags + one purigen. I also opted for a circulation pump instead of an air pump because I don't like how bubbles look. Someone over at reddit told me as long as my water surface was being moved, I would be ok with oxygenation. I wonder if its enough if the surface is moving or if I really need to break/disturb it with bubbles?

    This is my first tank so I'm planning on some popular, beginner friendly ones like this (might have to modify depending on my local stock):
    https://imgur.com/a/FNFDcKn

    Other options are Red/Black phantom tetras and/or rummynose tetras, but I would have to order those by mail (from Mexico), and doing so scares me. Afraid the poor fishies will die, don't trust mexican postal service that much lol. I am cautious about the neons too, I lvoe how they look but I keep reading they're so fragile due to mass breeding.

    I choose the dwarf gouramis because they're so colorful and beautiful, kind of the closest thing I can get to a discus (which I absolutely adore) but without the advanced care required since I am a beginner. Know of any other beginner fish full of color like the discus?

    I'm not sure about the apistogramma though. My water pH is 7.8 and adding him drops the recommended parameter to 7. I read that Cichlids are sensitive to pH? Also, not sure if he would be to aggressive for the gouramis/tetras. What do you think? Any suggestion for other nice beginner fish? Ideally, I want a big school of smaller ones, like 20-30, then 3-4 centerpiece ones, along with the minimum recommended number for bottom dwellers (cleaning crew lol).

    My options are further limited because I live in Mexico, although very, very close to the border. I am getting all my stuff from petco/petsmart and the rest from amazon (arrives to a PO BOX that I rent in the USA), so I am kinda limited to what I can find in petco/petsmart and the smaller local aquarium stores (haven't seen that many of these), because I don't have a physical address to order live fish to.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019
  9. DB89

    DB89New MemberMember

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    Try a dilution of your tank water to get a true nitrite reading. Take 1ml of tank water and add it to 4ml tap water (assuming your tap water has no nitrite, if it does use bottled water). Once you get the nitrite reading multiply it by 5 and that will be the true reading in your tank.

    I was in your position about 2 months ago. I performed 3 consecutive 90% changes to get my nitrite right back down (after dilution and measurement I realised my nitrite levels were more like 50ppm!!). I then started with the 2ppm ammonia eod and was fully cycled in 3 days. Keep in mind ammonia has a much smaller molar mass than nitrite and nitrate and due to ppm being a measure of mg/L. It roughly works out that 1 ppm ammonia --> 2.7 ppm nitrite --> 3.6 ppm nitrate.
     
  10. OP
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    HenryC

    HenryCValued MemberMember

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    Thanks, I did it. It still is the darkest color of the chart, even with 1ml tank water + 4ml tap. I tested tap water first for nitrite and it has 0. Jesus so it seems I'm on a similar situation as you. My nitrites must be well above 25ppm. I'm gonna do a 90% water change tomorrow.
     
  11. DB89

    DB89New MemberMember

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    Yeah I'd say so!! Keep in mind if you had say 2 weeks of 4ppm per day ammonia, that's 151.2ppm of nitrite your tank has to process.

    Say hypothetically it's sitting at 70-100ppm a 90% change will bring that down to 7-10ppm, which is still too high. A further 90% change will bring it back to 0.7-1ppm which is a pretty good baseline. Then add your 2ppm ammonia and wait for all nitrite to clear before adding another 2ppm.

    Lastly try to keep the temperature consistent with about 80F. Growth rate is decreased by 50% at 64° F and growth rate is decreased by 75% at 46-50° F. I.e make sure the water you put in the tank is about 80F.
     
  12. OP
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    HenryC

    HenryCValued MemberMember

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    Whew got work ahead of me haha. Did you just fill it up, then drained it immediately? Or did you let the new water settle for a bit?
     
  13. DB89

    DB89New MemberMember

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    Condition the water with dechlorinator, fill, drain, condition, fill.

    I was looking at purple test results for a good month before I remembered what I learnt in my Science degree and implemented what I should have been doing!!

    Do what is necessary to get the nitrite right down. Did I read that you had purigen in the filter? If so take it out until you put fish in, it's a waste of money having it in now.

    Ditch the carbon until the cycle is done too. Maybe replace one of the carbon bags with bakki balls?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 17, 2019
  14. OP
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    HenryC

    HenryCValued MemberMember

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    Thanks! I have purigen for the driftwood, it was making the water brown, but yeah I guess I can take it out now.
     
  15. DB89

    DB89New MemberMember

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    Yeah the tannins won't hurt the cycle, however the purigen can mess with it by absorbing the ammonia and nitrites that the bacteria should be breaking down. Same holds true with the carbon. Pack the cannister with high surface area media; those bakki balls are worth their weight in gold.
     
  16. OP
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    HenryC

    HenryCValued MemberMember

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    I'll order some!
     
  17. Skavatar

    SkavatarWell Known MemberMember

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    don't worry too much about the nitrites since its a fishless cycle. high nitrites won't stall your cycle.

    The nitrite-oxidizing activity of ZS-1 started to be inhibited by ammonia and nitrate when the concentrations of ammonia and nitrate reached 25 mg L−1 and 100 mg L−1, respectively. The inhibition was stronger with higher concentration of ammonia or nitrate. The nitrite-oxidizing activity of ZS-1, however, was not inhibited by high concentration of nitrite (500 mg L−1). The nitrite-oxidizing activity of ZS-1 was increased by low ammonia concentration (1 mg L−1 to 10 mg L−1).
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4433873/
     
  18. OP
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    HenryC

    HenryCValued MemberMember

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    Oh, interesting study. So basically what everyone has told me, lower ammonia and remove nitrates to let bacteria eat nitrites freely. Thanks!
    But I wonder though, do we still have the same bacteria strain as the study? (ZS-1)
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019
  19. Skavatar

    SkavatarWell Known MemberMember

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    possibly

    "Perhaps reflective of its diverse metabolic capabilities, N. winogradskyi is widely distributed in the environment, and strain Nb-255 has served as the model organism for many of the classical studies on NOB physiology (Bock et al., 1986; Bock et al., 1991)."

    "Biological filtration quickly gets underway thanks to nitrifying bacteria such as Nitrosomonas europaea and Nitrobacter winogradskyi"



    maybe not, for certain areas

    Timothy A. Hovanec, Ph.D. did some testing in his area and found that his aquariums had mainly Nitrospira
    http://www.alltropicalfish.com/saltwater-topics/58-filtration/143-bacteria-revealed

    "Tips on promoting the growth of the bacteria
    • Nitrifying bacteria do not like being in water that is too soft. So if your water has a KH of less than 3d (53.6ppm), a GH of less than 3d (53.6ppm) and a pH of less than 7, you may need to increase the KH and GH if you want faster growth of the bacteria in your filter. (See the links above for how to do this.) Though Seachem do claim that their Stability species of bacteria works well over a far wider pH and GH level.[2]
    • Keeping the water warm (over 25°C (77°F) ) promotes the speed of its reproduction.
    • Keep total ammonia levels to less than 1 ppm and any nitrite to less than 1 ppm as otherwise the high levels will suppress the growth of the nitrospira bacteria converting the nitrite into nitrate."
    http://www.theaquariumwiki.com/wiki/Bacteria_bottles,_do_they_work?

    well, i guess i just learned something new, just keep in mind that Dr Hovanec joined Marineland Labs around the time of his finding. and that there are different bacteria cultures in different areas so his findings may not be true for all aquariums all around the world.

    my own experience with fish in cycling and also a nitrite spike in a different tank, is that even with high nitrites (dilution test result of around 8-9ppm) my tanks were still able to be cycled, 3 weeks for the nitrite phase.
     
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