Cycle Bump?

Discussion in 'Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle' started by bopsalot, Jul 17, 2017.

  1. bopsalot

    bopsalotWell Known MemberMember

    OK. This one is for you highly experienced members out there, (shout out to @Discusluv )

    Yesterday I did a thorough-ish gravel vac and 40% water change on my 60 gallon community. (2 half-grown angelfish, 1 DG, 5 black neon tetra [will top off the school after my vacation]). I have noticed recently that nitrates are creeping in this tank, despite 40% weekly water changes, nitrates stay around 25ppm at my weekly water tests (API Master Kit). That seems high to me considering the light stocking. I suspect I may be overfeeding and/or leaving too much food in the gravel.
    Gravel vacs reveal a decent amount of spilled micropellets, which I carefully hand sprinkle on hardscape for the growing angels, who are a little messy. My tap water has at least 5ppm nitrates in it already.

    Tank has been up since February, not exactly mature, but the tank cycled months ago, evidenced by many weekly water tests showing zero ammonia, zero nitrites, and rising nitrates.

    Yesterday I tested 5 hours after a gravel vacuum and a 40% water change. I don't usually test after a water change. Strangely, there was 0.25 ppm ammonia, and 0.25 ppm nitrites. Nitrates were still at 25ish. So, after this water change, I decided to add 2 more buckets (8 gallons) to my weekly water change regimen to bring down nitrates, maybe re-think my feeding strategy, and to post a thread if the ammonia or nitrites persisted for a couple days.

    This morning I re-tested. Ammonia has gone down to just a trace of green, way less than 0.25ppm. Nitrites still near 0.25ppm, maybe a tad under. Nitrates 25.

    I was going to wait one more day to post, but I've learned today that 0.25 ppm nitrite is worse than I previously thought.

    Questions: 1. Should I really salt this tank? Or can I wait another day or two for the BB to catch up?

    2. Is this a clear indication that I am adding too much food into the tank? I truly am not feeding a huge amount in my mind, but these pellets do tend to break up and scatter. When I cut back a little on feeding, the angels get dramatically more aggressive with each other at feeding time. I take that as a sign that they are hungry. Perhaps I could vacuum more often, doing 2 water changes per week?

    More alarmingly, I tested the betta tank today, which is also pretty new, but has been completely cycled for weeks. It also had 0.25ppm nitrites in it this morning! In no way is there any possible overfeeding going on in this tank. A single male betta in a cycled 10 gallon. 40% weekly water changes. Changed yesterday. Ammonia has always been zero, nitrites zero, nitrates 5ppm, until today. I immediately suspected the tap water, as this is quite the coincidence. Tap water reads zero nitrites. What is going on here? I want my fishies to have the best environment I can provide, their health is paramount to me. What can I learn from this? I've seen cycle bumps before on past tanks, usually minor and lasting one day, but this seems like a strange coincidence. Nothing out of the ordinary has happened in either tank that I can think of, except that they both were vacuumed yesterday during the weekly 40% water change.

    Sorry for the novel. I just like to be thorough! So should I salt? Am I adding too much bioload? Thoughts? Teach me, please. Thanks!
  2. DiscusluvWell Known MemberMember

    Nitrates can creep up as fish grow larger, eat more, eliminate more waste. I would look at both what I am feeding and how much I am feeding. I would use a premium food for angels like you can find from and it is best to feed small feedings several times daily rather than once a day where food can congregate and get missed by the fish. You may be doing both of these things, feeding a high-quality food and several small feedings. But, that is what I would look at first.
    Discus are very close to Angelfish, their care being very similar. So, as I do with my discus, I would up my frequency and volume of water changes, if possible.
    I do 3x 50% water changes weekly with full gravel vacuum weekly and a quicker cleanup with the vacuum on other days I change water. If this is not possible, I would do at least 2 x 75% weekly. If you do this for a month the change in the vigor, growth, and water conditions of your fish will be dramatic.
    *** More immediately... add 1 teaspoon of salt per 10 gallons of water to aid with Osmoreglation. In addition to this, do 50% daily water changes in both the tanks until the nitrites are no longer present. Add salt each day for the amount taken out in water volume until nitrites are no longer present.
    After the issue is resolved can go with the weekly schedule of water changes I recommended above.
  3. OP

    bopsalotWell Known MemberMember

    Thank you for your thoughtful response! I feed them these micropellets because they are so high quality. I don't know who makes them, the fellow who bred my angelfish sold it to me after they didn't show much interest in my Ocean Nutrition flakes. I suspect he has re-branded these pellets, the label says Miracle Bites,"the ultimate juvenile angelfish food" lol. Very high in protein, enriched in vitamins, they appear to be complete nutrition. All the fish go nuts for them. The angels' growth has been spectacular. They get a small pinch each twice daily, which is largely consumed by the DG. Lol. He'll be moving soon.

    I think too many crumbs are being left behind in the substrate. The stuff breaks up and their fins swish it around a bit. I'm starting to suspect that too high a proportion of the biofilter is living in the substrate. I'm going to up my tank maintenance just like you suggested. Your plan should keep nitrates around 5-10, I would guess. Years ago, I used to be quite lazy about water changes. I had 2 angels that lived at least 7 years in undoubtably high nitrates, in a minimal 29 gallon high. It makes me cringe now to think about it. They were only 4 inches or so long... I believe angels need a bigger tank than that. They were rehomed when the tank sprung a leak.

    These days I enjoy taking care of my little beauties! I want things to be ideal. Maybe I'll finally get that Python. The one thing that bothers me about my setup is the 2 huge HOBs that I run on the 60g. Plenty of mechanical and biofiltration, but too much current at the top. The angels tend to hang out near the bottom. Plenty of places they can go, but it's not ideal. I may upgrade to a canister some day.

    Thanks again. 2 tablespoonful of salt will go into today's last bucket of changed water in the 60g. I'll give a teaspoonful to the betta tank, too.
  4. OP

    bopsalotWell Known MemberMember

    You know I just thought of something... the tap water here just recently started smelling funny. This typically happens every summer when the lake gets an algae bloom.

    Maybe they are adding extra chlorine. The 40% water changes, treated with a single dose of Prime may not have been enough. Chlorine could have taken a toll on my ammonia and nitrite converting bacteria...

    Would double dosing Prime be a good idea? I also have Stress Coat water conditioner. I could use a single dose of each...?
  5. AllieSten

    AllieStenFishlore VIPMember

    I was just going to say this. My water company did a chlorine flush and it caused my cycle to crash. Killed all of my bacteria. I literally had to recycle all 3 of my tanks from scratch. So the chlorine level must have been high. It smelled like a swimming pool, that's what ultimately made me question the chlorine level. Using double dose Prime solved the problem. Seachem actually recommends it for higher chlorine/chloramine levels. I use double dose Prime with all my water changes now. Haven't had a single issue in months. And I do still occasionally smell the chlorine smell. So I am glad I decided to use the higher dose routinely.

    If you go to the Seachem website it will explain it better than I can. With the amounts of chlorine the routine dose dechlorinates versus a double dose. If you need that info. Lol
  6. OP

    bopsalotWell Known MemberMember

    Thank you! I was just getting ready to do my water changes to remove/dilute the nitrite, and I decided to go ahead and retest the nitrites (since you only use 5 drops and that bottle will last longer than the others...)

    Anyway, all trace of nitrite is gone this afternoon from both tanks. I'm glad all this happened because I learned a lot from both of you. Because of what I've learned, I'm still going to do my extra water change, and increase my maintenance routine in the 60 gallon to get nitrates even lower and increase vigor. I think when I do the 50% changes, I'm going to dose the full tank volume with Prime, just as an added insurance policy. I'm going to look at Seachem's website, too. But this plan sounds reasonably safe to me. Thanks again, guys!

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice