Another cycling question - I have ammonia and NitrAtes but no NitrItes

hazyvonne

Hello everyone! I'm completely new to this hobby, have never had fish before. I've been able to answer most of my newbie questions with some research but this one has got me stumped. I've been simultaneously fishless cycling my 55g main tank and my 10g quarantine tank. For the longest time they were pretty much at the same stage. Now my main tank is done cycling. But something weird started happening in the quarantine tank. When the nitrItes showed up ammonia started going down as expected. Shortly after NitrAtes joined the party. All good. Then one morning I checked and the ammonia hadn't budged - was still at 3 like the day before. The nitrItes were zero. And the NitrAtes were at 35-ish. It stayed like that for almost a week. Then the ammonia slooooowly over a few days went down to zero. Everything else stayed the same (no nitrites, 35-ish nitrates). I dosed ammonia back up to 3. That was about 4 days ago. And all this time I'm at 3 ammonia, 0 nitrItes and 35 nitrAtes. This morning the ammonia had gone down to 2-ish, but again 0 nitrItes and 35 nitrAtes.
Anybody experienced that before? What do I do? Kind of a bummer to have the main tank ready but the quarantine tank dragging behind...
 

Dunk2

Hello everyone! I'm completely new to this hobby, have never had fish before. I've been able to answer most of my newbie questions with some research but this one has got me stumped. I've been simultaneously fishless cycling my 55g main tank and my 10g quarantine tank. For the longest time they were pretty much at the same stage. Now my main tank is done cycling. But something weird started happening in the quarantine tank. When the nitrItes showed up ammonia started going down as expected. Shortly after NitrAtes joined the party. All good. Then one morning I checked and the ammonia hadn't budged - was still at 3 like the day before. The nitrItes were zero. And the NitrAtes were at 35-ish. It stayed like that for almost a week. Then the ammonia slooooowly over a few days went down to zero. Everything else stayed the same (no nitrites, 35-ish nitrates). I dosed ammonia back up to 3. That was about 4 days ago. And all this time I'm at 3 ammonia, 0 nitrItes and 35 nitrAtes. This morning the ammonia had gone down to 2-ish, but again 0 nitrItes and 35 nitrAtes.
Anybody experienced that before? What do I do? Kind of a bummer to have the main tank ready but the quarantine tank dragging behind...
I’ve fishless cycled 2 tanks and never tested positive for nitrites.

Did you happen to dose your tank with bottled bacteria of some sort?
 

hazyvonne

I’ve fishless cycled 2 tanks and never tested positive for nitrites.

Did you happen to dose your tank with bottled bacteria of some sort?
Yes, when after 5 weeks absolutely nothing had happened I got a bit impatient and dosed both tanks with seachem seed. They both started with nitrites and nitrates after that, then the quarantine tank started going weird.
 

Dunk2

Yes, when after 5 weeks absolutely nothing had happened I got a bit impatient and dosed both tanks with seachem seed. They both started with nitrites and nitrates after that, then the quarantine tank started going weird.
Based on things I’ve read (and my own experience), it’s not uncommon to not detect nitrites when bottled bacteria is used.

What is your pH level?
 

hazyvonne

Based on things I’ve read (and my own experience), it’s not uncommon to not detect nitrites when bottled bacteria is used.

What is your pH level?
Oh, you might be on to something. I had not tested ph in quite a while. Just did a ph test on the quarantine tank and it was 6 (or below since the test doesn't go further than that). Could that be the issue? PH too low?
 

Dunk2

Oh, you might be on to something. I had not tested ph in quite a while. Just did a ph test on the quarantine tank and it was 6 (or below since the test doesn't go further than that). Could that be the issue? PH too low?
Yep, could be. As pH drops below 7 and approaches 6 (or below), the cycling process can stall or even stop.

Have you ever heard of or tried crushed coral to buffer and stabilize pH? Do you know your tap water pH after letting it sit/settle for a day?
 

hazyvonne

Yep, could be. As pH drops below 7 and approaches 6 (or below), the cycling process can stall or even stop.

Have you ever heard of or tried crushed coral to buffer and stabilize pH? Do you know your tap water pH after letting it sit/settle for a day?
I have some ph-up that I'll add today. In the beginning I measured ph every day but it never changed so I fell out of the habit of checking it. Didn't even think of it anymore. Let's see if getting it up a bit will make a change. Thank you so much for taking the time to help me out! :)
 

Dunk2

I have some ph-up that I'll add today. In the beginning I measured ph every day but it never changed so I fell out of the habit of checking it. Didn't even think of it anymore. Let's see if getting it up a bit will make a change. Thank you so much for taking the time to help me out! :)
You’re welcome.

Your call, but I would’t personally use pH up, baking soda or any other chemical to raise pH. They can result in pH swings that can shock your fish. And you need to constantly add them to the tank.

I do use crushed coral in all my tanks, which naturally dissolves over time to buffer and stabilize pH.

We’re talking about your 10 gallon quarantine tank? If so and depending on your tap water pH, there might be another option.
 

mattgirl

If so and depending on your tap water pH, there might be another option.
If you are thinking a water change may be all that is needed to get the pH up and things moving forward you are absolutely right. The smaller tank may have used up all the minerals present in the tap water much quicker than the big tank. This caused the pH to crash and the cycle to stall.
 

Dunk2

If you are thinking a water change may be all that is needed to get the pH up and things moving forward you are absolutely right. The smaller tank may have used up all the minerals present in the tap water much quicker than the big tank. This caused the pH to crash and the cycle to stall.
Great minds think alike mattgirl! ;)

I’m hoping for an update from the OP.
 

hazyvonne

Well, you guys/gals were right :D I added just a very small amount of PH-UP a couple times a day (it seems to wear off rather quickly, I'll do a water change like you guys suggested on the weekend), which gets the PH up to about 7-ish. I started doing that Tuesday and this morning (Thursday) my nitrItes started coming back (only at about 0.5ppm but that's a lot more than the zero it's been on for so long). Gotta love a quick and easy fix! :p
Thank you!
 

Katie Dawn

Well, you guys/gals were right :D I added just a very small amount of PH-UP a couple times a day (it seems to wear off rather quickly, I'll do a water change like you guys suggested on the weekend), which gets the PH up to about 7-ish. I started doing that Tuesday and this morning (Thursday) my nitrItes started coming back (only at about 0.5ppm but that's a lot more than the zero it's been on for so long). Gotta love a quick and easy fix! :p
Thank you!
Great! I'd like to echo the recommendation to add some crushed coral rather than continue to use the pH up. I have some in a little mesh drawstring bag sitting right above my sponge filter. I had pH lowering issues just as you when cycling and the crushed coral (per mattgirl's suggestion) did the trick, and I didn't have any more problems pH issues from that point on.
 

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