Confused About Cycle

Discussion in 'Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle' started by JHood, Aug 2, 2017.

  1. JHoodNew MemberMember

    I've been cycling my tank for a bit now (since 12 July), and am confused by my readings this morning. I did a max water change last night (I can't say 100% because there was water in the gravel, but it was as much as I could get out) and noticed I have around 1 ppm ammonia in my tap water. The ammonia in the tap water is fine, because I was just going to put some in there anyway. I added fluval dechlorinator (will be switching to Prime as soon as this bottle is done) during the re-add of water. I tested the water after about 20 minutes, showed around .5 ppm for ammonia, so I added around 1 ppm extra to it to get it between 1-2 ppm. Tests read either .5 or .25 ppm for nitrite, and I can't remember exactly what the nitrate reading was. When I got up this morning, ammonia was 0 ppm, so that's good there, but nitrite was around 2 ppm and it looked like nitrate was around 20 ppm (I have a hard time telling the difference between 20 & 40 on nitrate and 2 & 5 on nitrate). I thought it was supposed to be a 1:1:1 ratio for conversions, so what is happening to the tank?

    I have all my test results written down at home, but they seem to be all over the place. I did let the nitrite and nitrate get really high at one point, which I didn't know could stall the cycle. I'm just confused by what I am seeing. I don't want to add more ammonia right now to allow the nitrite bacteria some time to catch up, but how long can I go without "feeding" the ammonia bacteria?

  2. Jayd976Well Known MemberMember

    You shouldn't be doing large water changes on the cycle i would only do a max of 25% of the water. At the end of the cycle your ammonia and nitrites should read 0 and nitrates should be as low as possible. How often are you doing these large water changes? What's the tanks temp and PH? I think you may be stalling the cycle with these large water changes.

  3. JHoodNew MemberMember

    The main reason I originally did a large wc was the nitrates were above 180 and the nitrites were unreadable. I did one Sunday morning, and the numbers didn't seem to change a whole lot, and one last night to see if I could get the numbers down. Since the last one, nitrites are back to at least 2 ppm and new nitrates have shown up, but that seems to be very high very fast. How long can I go without adding more ammonia?

  4. AllieStenFishlore VIPMember

    It is ok to do a large water change. You just have to be strategic about it. You did the right thing by changing your water.

    So your pattern should go like this.

    Add Ammonia. Be exact. Use the calculator. Dose to 2ppm


    Recheck parameters in 24 hours

    If your Ammonia is 0, nitrites are below 5, nitrates are below 80, add 2ppm of ammonia again. No water change needed. You must have ammonia in your tank everyday to feed the bacteria.

    If Ammonia is present (even at 0.25), nitrites are below 5 & nitrates are below 80, Do nothing. Wait another 24 hours and retest

    If Ammonia is 0 and nitrites are above 5 and/or nitrates are above 80. You will do a 75-90% water change first, then add the 2ppm of ammonia again. Retest in 24 hours.

    High nitrites and high nitrates will stall your cycle. This second part of the cycle moves a little slower. So you may be adding Ammonia daily, and then see high nitrites and nitrates for several days. So you might need to be doing water changes several days in a row. If you want to post your results here daily I can help. But sounds like so far it is going exactly as it should.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2017
  5. JHoodNew MemberMember

    2 August.jpg4 August.jpg
    The first test set is from August 2nd and the second (with only the two vials) is from this morning. I do admit I have a hard time telling which purple the nitrite is at. I ask my husband, but even he can't tell. Yesterday I tried the diluted method and I'm pretty sure it read 2 ppm, so that would make it 4 ppm. I may have stalled the cycle when it got high, because I'm pretty sure nitrate went at or above 160 ppm at that point, so I'm trying to get it going again. Or going better, because things seem to be moving
  6. JHoodNew MemberMember

    Still have high nitrites... Grr. Trying to be patient, but it's getting frustrating. Especially with the constant "when can we get fish?'" One question I did have, I did about a 90% wc and the nitrites were still a dark purple. The nitrates came down to light orange, but why do the nitrites stay high? I would think with changing the majority of the water they would be less.
  7. fishtankwatcherValued MemberMember

    Can you explain what you mean by this?
    It's usually "accepted" that if you have an established BB colony (aka "cycle") (strictly an example) and you add say "1ppm" Ammonia then you should get 0ppm if you test 12-24hrs later (depending on tank size/filter), nitrIte will then show a reading and clear after another 12-24hrs (or not at all) and then your nitrAtes will continue to climb (unless you are heavily planted)
    So an established BB colony (aka fish ready tank) SHOULD read (after an intentional/known ammonia addition) 0/ammonia, 0/nitrItes, +/nitrAtes (safest to keep these under 30-50ppm once you have fish)

    Just questions =)
    If you have Nitrate readings (and not from the tap/source water), you should have a cycle (i.e. established BB), how much ammonia are you adding & how frequently?

    Fluval website does not say safe for biological filtration (meaning it might lock the ammonia in a way that the BB can't process it), I don't know, I haven't used it myself.

    Are you making sure to add the dechlorinator to the tank before the new water and for the complete tank size? Bacteria are very susceptible to the sanitizers added in drinking water to make it "safe for human consumption"
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2017
  8. JHoodNew MemberMember

    I thought if you had 1 ppm ammonia it would turn into to 1 ppm nitrite which would turn into 1 ppm nitrate. But those purples are so similar on the chart for nitrite I really can't tell between 2 and 5 ppm.

    I understand the cycle isn't complete yet, as I can process 4 ppm ammonia to 0 in 24 hours but the nitrites are high. Lately I have been adding 1-2 ppm ammonia to keep the ammonia bacteria fed. I think I'm just waiting on the nitrite processing bacteria to catch up, but even after water changes it seems dark purple.

    I make sure to dechlorinate during water changes, and I just got my bottle of prime today.
  9. fishtankwatcherValued MemberMember

    Have you tested your source water (tap?) to see if nitrItes are already present?
  10. BriggsWell Known MemberMember

    I don't know exactly how the math works, but 1ppm of ammonia makes for way more than 1ppm nitrate at the end of the cycle. Which is why the tests for ammonia and nitrite only go to 8/5 ppm, and nitrate goes all the way to 160 in the API test kit.
  11. JHoodNew MemberMember

    I've got around .5 ppm ammonia and no nitrites or nitrates in my tap water.

    Briggs, that makes a lot of sense.
  12. JHoodNew MemberMember

    It's been just over a month since I saw my first nitrite reading... It's still not dropping. Ammonia will drop, just not the nitrites yet. I think this is week 5.
  13. fishtankwatcherValued MemberMember

    Is your PH a little low?
  14. JHoodNew MemberMember

    It's at 7.6. The nitrites just don't see to want to drop (yet). Would this have anything to do with the size of the tank (65G)? The ammonia seemed to get processed quickly. It took about it week for it to process to 0 ppm in 24 hrs.
  15. fishtankwatcherValued MemberMember

    That's good PH, the bacteria that process nitrItes develop much slower then the ammonia BB. Did you see nitrItes at one point?
  16. JHoodNew MemberMember

    Yes, there are nitrites, and even nitrates. The issue is I've been going 4 weeks with no nitrite drop. I do water changes when the two get high, and dose ammonia to 1 ppm daily. Just waiting on those pesky nitrite bacteria to catch up I guess.
  17. JHoodNew MemberMember

    This is the best the results have looked right after a large (as much as I could take out) water change. I picked up some stability today so we will see if that helps. 20170822_195325.jpg
  18. JHoodNew MemberMember

    When dosing the stability, does it go in the tank or in the filter? I haven't seen much difference so far, and I'm a little bummed. Tomorrow marks week 6 since nitrites have shown up, and 7 weeks total of cycling.
  19. xapocValued MemberMember

    I dose it with filters all time. No problems.
  20. JHoodNew MemberMember

    Today starts week 8 and I still have fairly high nitrites... Time for a wc I think. I'm usually fairly patient, but this is getting crazy. Come on cycle, get done already! We want fish!

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