Could My Tank Be Cycled? (no Nitrates But Plants)

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by Susiefoo, Aug 6, 2017.

  1. Susiefoo

    SusiefooWell Known MemberMember

    I have a 25 gallon tank with 4 male guppies. I added them together with Tetra Safe Start 7 days ago, following all directions from the thread here (24 hours after dechlorinator, no water changes etc).

    I know you aren't supposed to test with TSS but I did ;) and mid-week it was showing about 0.25-0.50 of ammonia, no nitrites and no nitrates. Fish seemed fine, eating and active. When I tested today there was 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, and 0 nitrates.
    There are 4 Amazon swords (bought potted), 1 corkscrew Vallis, 1 java fern and 1 anubias.

    I have attached a photo of my tank so you can see how heavily (or not) it is planted. (Ignore the cloudy water, it's clear now).

    Something must have happened beneficial bacteria-wise as the ammonia has disappeared. But where to? I haven't done any water changes and have been feeding daily.

    If the plants aren't enough to be absorbing the nitrate, then where has the ammonia (and the ammonia that the fish continue to produce) gone?

    Attached Files:

  2. Fanatic

    FanaticFishlore VIPMember

  3. OP

    SusiefooWell Known MemberMember

    Thanks - I know that's the received wisdom, but... Where is my ammonia going if my tank isn't cycled??!
  4. Biiba

    BiibaValued MemberMember

    I once did a fish in cycle with a betta fish, I used prime and tested the water every day, performing water changes every day too. I got to a point where I also had 0 ammonia 0nitrite and 0 nitrates. I couldn't work out what had happened but after about 2 weeks of these readings my nitrates suddenly appeared! It was a 6 gallon tank with a couple of live plants and one betta. I think it took about 5-6 weeks to cycle :)
  5. OP

    SusiefooWell Known MemberMember

    Thanks Biiba! So do you think it was a combination of the light bioload and the plants?
  6. ashark8me

    ashark8meValued MemberMember


    sometimes people learn something and they are very quick to regurgitate it as solid fact without even thinking about whether it is or isn't.

    My 125 planted routinely tests out at 0, 0, 0. That's right ZERO nitrates, and it is cycled and mature. It is not a 100% solid fact that a cycled tank will show measurable nitrates all the time. It's possible for a planted tank to bottom out the nitrates. When it does show nitrates (which happens once in a while if the plants aren't taking them all up for one reason or another) it's 5 or so. So saying a cycled tank will always show nitrates above 20 is simply not true.

    It IS true to say that it is a very good sign of a cycled tank when you see that.

    You may have enough plants that you're not seeing them right now, that tank has only been set up a week so it's kind of early to say how this is going to go down but I would say that even if it's not cycled at this time, as long as you don't add anything else it may cycle very gently (without soaring ammonia numbers) which would be very beneficial to the fish.
  7. OP

    SusiefooWell Known MemberMember

    Thank you ashark8me, yes that's exactly what I was getting at in my OP - whether there can be an exception to the "if you don't see nitrates your tank can't possibly be cycled" rule, and if so, if my current situation (very few fish and live plants) could fit with that :) Agree that's it's still very early on to say what's happening. I'll keep things as they are and monitor for a few weeks.
  8. Biiba

    BiibaValued MemberMember

    I think it must have been Susiefoo! I never really had high readings as I went through the cycle either, I remember worrying that I was doing something wrong and it wasn't cycling but it was lol.

    As a side note, I once again have a 6 gallon with one betta, a sword plant and some mondo grass. My fish has only been in there for 3-4 months but my nitrates are still very low, never really rising any higher than 5 :happy:
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 6, 2017

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