Ammonia Clearing In 12 Hours--continue Adding/on Track?

kellysandiego
  • #1
Just want to clarify that after my ammonia is clearing in 12 hours, that I still want to keep adding it up to 4ppm until nitrites drop to 0? I've been at this since April and think I'm finally in the homestretch after using a neighbor's dirty filter. I'd hate to mess it up at this point. I'm also adding a pinch of fish feed every other day. pH is 8.2, I've only checked this once.

Day 18 (of using seeding material)
Ammonia - drops to 0 in 12 hours
Nitrites - consistently 2-5ppm since day 12 (according to API master kit--can't tell specifically whether it would be over 5)
Nitrates - consistently at 80-160 since day 15 (API master, hard to tell exactly where it is but in the middle)

Thanks in advance for your insights....
 
Goldiemom
  • #2
So what day are you on now? You are certainly close. Unless you plan to have a large bio load in your tank, you can just add ammonia to 2ppm.
 
kellysandiego
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
Thanks Goldiemom! I'm on day 18. I'll heed that advice.
 
DarkOne
  • #4
What size tank? Do you have a heater in the tank? 3 months is a long time to cycle a tank.

If you're dosing ammonia, you don't need to add fish food. Since you don't know if your nitrites are over 5, I'd do a 50% water change. Suck the excess food off the gravel but don't touch the gravel. Don't clean anything, just change the water.
 
Inactive User
  • #5
according to API master kit--can't tell specifically whether it would be over 5

You can dilute tank water samples with increasingly higher volumes of tap water to see if that shows a truer colour. For example, start with 50% tank water, 50% tap water. Then add 75% tap water, and then 90%, 95%.

In my case, at one stage it took a 95% dilution with tap water to get a colour that allowed me to estimate my actual concentration of nitrite to be 10 ppm.

I'd also check your pH again. Conversion of ammonia to nitrite has an acidifying effect on tank water, and too low a pH can stall a cycle.

Have you done any water changes? I would recommend one with tap water to replenish nutrients. Phosphate deficiency is quite common and conversion of ammonia and nitrite is impossible without it.

In addition, you needn't dose to 2 ppm as Goldiemom wrote. In fact, I'd recommend not dosing anymore ammonia until your nitrites are at 0 ppm. Beneficial bacteria won't die without an ammonia, please see the information I collected in another thread.
 
kellysandiego
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
You can dilute tank water samples with increasingly higher volumes of tap water to see if that shows a truer colour. For example, start with 50% tank water, 50% tap water. Then add 75% tap water, and then 90%, 95%.

In my case, at one stage it took a 95% dilution with tap water to get a colour that allowed me to estimate my actual concentration of nitrite to be 10 ppm.

I'd also check your pH again. Conversion of ammonia to nitrite has an acidifying effect on tank water, and too low a pH can stall a cycle.

Have you done any water changes? I would recommend one with tap water to replenish nutrients. Phosphate deficiency is quite common and conversion of ammonia and nitrite is impossible without it.

In addition, you needn't dose to 2 ppm as Goldiemom wrote. In fact, I'd recommend not dosing anymore ammonia until your nitrites are at 0 ppm. Beneficial bacteria won't die without an ammonia, please see the information I collected in another thread.

Thanks Minnowette. I tested pH this morning and it was 8.2. I've been following the following ammonia instructions (dosing up to 4ppm) and have added a pinch of fish food every other day to address the phosphate deficiency issue. Ammonia instructions for a fishless cycle

I'm apprehensive about doing a water change b/c I've worked so incredibly hard to get to this point (3 months before finally seeding the tank and THEN it took off). I'm concerned it will slow things down again and I feel so close to the finish line. Would I essentially be starting over, or how would I know where to continue in the cycling process?
 
kellysandiego
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
What size tank? Do you have a heater in the tank? 3 months is a long time to cycle a tank.

If you're dosing ammonia, you don't need to add fish food. Since you don't know if your nitrites are over 5, I'd do a 50% water change. Suck the excess food off the gravel but don't touch the gravel. Don't clean anything, just change the water.

DarkOne, 20 gallon, heater set to 84 degrees. The first 10 weeks were zero progress with no nitrites forming. 18 days ago I seeded the tank and that's when things started to progress. 50% water change before it's cycled, how much will that throw off my progress? Thanks in advance.
 
Inactive User
  • #8
I'm concerned it will slow things down again and I feel so close to the finish line. Would I essentially be starting over, or how would I know where to continue in the cycling process?

It won't slow things down, nor will you be starting over as most of the nitrification in aquariums is contained within the filter media (and not the water column). A lot of the fishless cycling guides seem to make things unnecessarily complex as they're often based on myths or incorrect assumptions (e.g. beneficial bacteria die in 24 hours if they're not provided a source of ammonia).

In practice, all you need to do is (1) dose 2 ppm ammonia whenever both ammonia and nitrite read 0 ppm; (2) do a water change after ~2 weeks or so to replenish trace elements; (3) ensure pH is above 7.

When both 2 ppm is processed to nitrite and then to nitrate within 24 hours (i.e. ammonia and nitrite both read 0 ppm after 24 hours), then the fishless cycling is complete.
 
DarkOne
  • #9
80° to 82°F is optimal but 84° should be fine. 10 weeks is definitely not normal.

What are you using for a water conditioner? Are you filling a bucket and treating it before pouring it into your tank? Chlorine and chloramines in your tap water will kill your BB so don't let plain tap water touch anything in your tank.
 
kellysandiego
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
Thanks everyone. I did a 75% water change and conditioned the water before adding to the tank.
 
kellysandiego
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
It won't slow things down, nor will you be starting over as most of the nitrification in aquariums is contained within the filter media (and not the water column). A lot of the fishless cycling guides seem to make things unnecessarily complex as they're often based on myths or incorrect assumptions (e.g. beneficial bacteria die in 24 hours if they're not provided a source of ammonia).

In practice, all you need to do is (1) dose 2 ppm ammonia whenever both ammonia and nitrite read 0 ppm; (2) do a water change after ~2 weeks or so to replenish trace elements; (3) ensure pH is above 7.

When both 2 ppm is processed to nitrite and then to nitrate within 24 hours (i.e. ammonia and nitrite both read 0 ppm after 24 hours), then the fishless cycling is complete.

HI Minnowette (and others), an update: (in a nutshell: (1) did 75% water change 2 days ago (2) starting 2 days ago, nitrites have dropped to zero after adding ammonia (3) today, nitrites are reading 2ppm after 18 hours adding ammonia).

2 days ago (Day 18) I did a 75% water change, conditioning the water with Seachem prime before adding tap to the tank. For the past 2 weeks, I had the seeding material in the filter compartment, and the new/clean filter I planned to eventually use sitting in the bottom of the tank hopefully collecting new/good bacteria. I removed the seeding material, placed the "new/clean" filter in it's filter compartment.
Post water change ammonia reading: 0.5

Day 19:
Ammonia: 0-->per Dr Tims ammonia instructions, added 80 drops (4drops per gallon x 20 gallons), bringing Ammonia up to 2ppm--immediately after adding drops, it measured 1ppm; after 1 hour it read 2ppm.
Nitrites: 0
Nitrates: 80

Day 20 (today): I wasn't expecting this nitrite reading, was ready to do 90% water change and go get some fish this weekend.
Ammonia: 0
Nitrites: 2 (!?)
Nitrates: 80

Should I have removed seeding material? Why are nitrites up again?

**Edited: I think I messed up when I was doing a water change, I was trying to scoop a lot of the old fish food on the gravel, and mixed up the gravel quite a bit, probably removing much of the BB.
 
Inactive User
  • #12
**Edited: I think I messed up when I was doing a water change, I was trying to scoop a lot of the old fish food on the , and mixed up the gravel quite a bit, probably removing much of the .

I don't think the water change/siphoning the gravel did much to disturb the cycle.

It's more likely that the old media had a higher density of bacteria than the new filter that's been collecting bacteria at the bottom of the tank and by removing the old media, you've reduced the effective total oxidation rate of ammonia and nitrite in your aquarium.

If the neighbour wants the filter media back, then eventually you would've needed to remove it. Removing it now is better than removing it when fish are present, as at least you can give the bacteria an opportunity to grow further.
 
kellysandiego
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
I don't think the water change/siphoning the gravel did much to disturb the cycle.

It's more likely that the old media had a higher density of bacteria than the new filter that's been collecting bacteria at the bottom of the tank and by removing the old media, you've reduced the effective total oxidation rate of ammonia and nitrite in your aquarium.

If the neighbour wants the filter media back, then eventually you would've needed to remove it. Removing it now is better than removing it when fish are present, as at least you can give the bacteria an opportunity to grow further.

Thank you. I kept the filter media in a separate water source for about 24 hours total, was mildly panicked this AM at the nitrite result and returned it to the tank. I see your comment about removing it prior to fish..... when do most people switch out seeded media?
 
Inactive User
  • #14
when do most people switch out seeded media?

That's an excellent question! I haven't use seeded media before, but I would imagine that most people would remove it somewhere after 1-2 weeks. There has to come a time when you need to force bacteria to prioritise growing on your intended media, rather than re-colonising the seeded filter media.
 
kellysandiego
  • Thread Starter
  • #15
That's an excellent question! I haven't use seeded media before, but I would imagine that most people would remove it somewhere after 1-2 weeks. There has to come a time when you need to force bacteria to prioritise growing on your intended media, rather than re-colonising the seeded filter media.
Thanks Minnowette and everyone for your help, you really got me through to the finish line! We now have our first 2 fish (balloon mollies).
 

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