Cycling issues!

Otsenre

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Hello Fellow members,

Ive just joined this forum since ive been in a bit of a pickle during my first fishles cycle. This is my 4th overall cycle but it has been about 10 years since ive done my last aquarium keeping.
On another forum ive asked a rather long question and the whole story about my setup but have not gotten response for days now.
In that story is also my introduction! here goes nothing hope someone can help me out!

The first post was on 15-11-2019
Dear forum members,

My name is Ernesto from the Netherlands and I started a new aquarium a couple of weeks ago (30-10-2019(. (sorry for the bad english its not my native language)
Its a juwel rio 125 with the internal filter. Ive modded the filter so I could fit 1,5kg of seachem matrix at the botom. On top of that I have a (top/inlet)coarse,(middle)medium and fine filterflos (botom). Ive switched out the heater for a 200w heater from juwel itself (water is set to 26 degrees celsius/78.8 fahrenheit). On the outlet I have a o2 diffuser running also from juwel.
Its ment to be a Tanganyika, shelldweller tank with lamprologus ocellatus inside when its cycled. It has about 120 shells all cleaned before going in the tank, and some rocks.
For the cycling I used seachem stability as told on the bottle for the first 14 days, this is because I started the cycle with seachem purigen and I thought it would maybe stall my cycle so I took it out after the first 7 days and added stability for another 7. I upped my ammonia with (safe) ammonia 5% up to about 2-3 ppm.
I am using a drop test kit from collombo.
After 10 days my readings started to change and I started seeing nitrite and nitrates. In the next couple of days my ammonia decreased to zero and I added more ammonia again to about 2-3 ppm. After that my readings of nitrites and nitrates jumped up hard!
Nitrite are above 5ppm probally higher but I can't read higher with my charts.
Nitrate at about 75/100 ppm. and Ammonia decreasing to zero every 24 hours or less. I only dose once every 24 hours. Now dosing arround 2ppm.
Last week I did a water change for two days both days it was about 30-40% and it dropped my reading a little but not much. A day later they were back at the above readings. I ordered seachem prime in order to help the bacteria a bit but I am not sure if it helps allot since there are no fish in the tank yet.
My other readings are perfect from the tap.
Ph(7,8-8),KH(15-17),GH(7-8) are all fine and did not change throughout the whole process. I test these everyday aswell.
Last week I also added some duckweed to help out the tank cycle, there growing like mad and is looking very well.

So allot of information. My question is. I this just the normal cycling I am seeing or are the nitrites and nitrates way off that I need to do more water changes, to help out cycle a bit. Today ive only dosed the ammonia for about 1-1,5 ppm but I am not sure if that is the right way to go.


After a couple of days ive posted again with an update that was on 18-11-2019
Update on my tank;

Today I tested my water again and nitrites and nitrates were off the scales. I tested my kit and its working as intended so no faulty test kit.
I did a 40% waterchange, and tested at the max of the kit again. 5ppm nitrites and 100ppm nitrates. I had a teststrip set laying arround so I thought why not (I know these are known to be false at times!) The strips says I have 250ppm nitrates and 10ppm nitrites.
I am dosing extra seachem prime every 48 hours (twice the normal dossage) I dose ammonia 1.5 ppm every 24 hours.
Its seems my bacteria are going wild. I have minor light green spots/blobs of algae forming and my plants are still growing good but don't look to good. Altough there not in the tank to stay but just to help me start out with these insane readings.

So do I keep changing water to get my readings in check in order to stabalize the cycle or do I ride it out?

As of today 20-11-2019
Did my daily readings and everything was high again. I skipped a dose of ammonia yesterday to see if that would help but nothing. Since both my test kits are off the charts I decided to do a 65-70% water change today. After that I tested again and readings were finally dropped by a bit.
Nitrite between 2 and 5ppm but closer to 5. I would say about 3,5-4 but.
Nitrate arround 60-80ppm
As a test I also tested with my strip test and that noted: 75ppm nitrate and 3,5 nitrite.
After these tests I dosed the aquarium with seachem stability like it said on the bottle after a water change.
I also dosed it with about 0.75 ppm ammonia to keep the bacteria going.

Any thoughts/tips on my process so far? Please don't hold back if you think I totally messed up!

Thanks in advance

Here are some pictures of the setup.
The tank is kinda foggy since ive just done the big water change and added the seachem stability. Also the bubbles from the air diffuser make it seem cloudy aswell. For some reason the picture enhances this effect. In real life its much less.
thumbnail_IMG_20191120_172023.jpg
thumbnail_IMG_20191120_172032.jpg
thumbnail_IMG_20191120_172042.jpg
 

Algonquin

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Welcome to Fishlore! I think you are doing fine with your cycle, it requires a lot of patience. :)

I'm not sure why you are continuing to dose Prime when there are no fish in the tank. At this point, it's just a dechlorinator for you. If there were fish in the tank, that's a different story - Prime will help to make a small amount ammonia or nitrite safe for your fish.
Keeping the Nitrite and Nitrate from getting crazy high while you are cycling is fine. It will take some time for your Nitrites to drop to 0 - but you are probably getting close.

A fishless cycle can take around 6 weeks(ish), so you are almost there :)

I would stick with one test kit, then your results will be consistent, instead of going back and forth between a liquid test and strips.

:)
Just wanted to add that you still do need to use Prime to dechlorinate your water when doing water changes, but you know that :) I didn't want it to come across that you didn't need Prime at all in my comment above. :)
 
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Otsenre

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Algonquin said:
Welcome to Fishlore! I think you are doing fine with your cycle, it requires a lot of patience. :)

I'm not sure why you are continuing to dose Prime when there are no fish in the tank. At this point, it's just a dechlorinator for you. If there were fish in the tank, that's a different story - Prime will help to make a small amount ammonia or nitrite safe for your fish.
Keeping the Nitrite and Nitrate from getting crazy high while you are cycling is fine. It will take some time for your Nitrites to drop to 0 - but you are probably getting close.

A fishless cycle can take around 6 weeks(ish), so you are almost there :)

I would stick with one test kit, then your results will be consistent, instead of going back and forth between a liquid test and strips.

:)
HI Algonquin,

Thank you for the really quick response :D
My lfs advised my to dose it with prime, and from reading on the web I already got a bit suspicious about even dosing it. There is no chlorine in the tap water arround here so that's not what its needed for :D Ill stop dosing it until I get the fish.
I understand cycling takes a while, ive been there doing it with flake food in the early days waiting for 4 months and I am in no rush to get fish into the tank either. Its just that ive never seen such high readings on both nitrite and nitrates before and I was getting the feeling I was stalling the progress keeping them that high.

As for the testkits ive always used the drop test I had but have gotten the teststrip ones from a friend just to dubble check to see if the ranges were some what close. Ive only tested with the strip 3 times to be sure.
Again thanks for the reply, ill just keep dosing ammonia and keep testing daily until the nitrites drop :D

Greetings Ernesto
 

Algonquin

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You are very welcome, I will do what I can to help! :)

Can you please clarify - are you dosing liquid ammonia, or adding fish food as your ammonia source? It's easier to dose pure ammonia, then you have control over how high your ammonia reading will go, and it will be consistent.
 
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Otsenre

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Algonquin said:
You are very welcome, I will do what I can to help! :)

Can you please clarify - are you dosing liquid ammonia, or adding fish food as your ammonia source? It's easier to dose pure ammonia, then you have control over how high your ammonia reading will go, and it will be consistent.
I am dosing liquid ammonia 5%, ive had it tested so that there a no additives pressent and is safe to use in the aquarium. I dose it with a 5ml syringe. The only doubt I have is that my aquarium is listed as a 125l / 29gallon. But filled with all the stone and sand I dose it calculate the aquarium arround 95liters. Not sure if this is correct.
I use this website to calculate my dosings;

( I hope its allright to put links in posts on the forum!)
 

Sorg67

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I am a rookie just learning, but I would do water changes until you get your nitrites down around 2. Maybe even more to get nitrates down.

I have read conflicting information about whether high nitrites and nitrates can slow or stall a cycle. I have read nothing to suggest that water changes do any harm.

However, I would temperature match any water changes to minimize the risk of stressing your bacteria.
 

Algonquin

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Your dosing sounds fine. Depending on the size of the tank, and the projected bioload with your future stock, people dose ammonia to different amounts. If it's 5 gallon tank that will house one betta, you wouldn't need to dose to 4ppm ammonia daily - 1ppm would be enough. Different story if its a much larger tank that you plan on filling with fish that are big waste producers. Just keep on it consistently, and do water changes occasionally to keep the nitrite and nitrate in check. Sounds like all is well :)
 

mattgirl

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Welcome to Fishlore. I am glad you came to us. we will help you as much as possible. We all want you to be successful. :)

As long as your ammonia is continuing to go down to zero within 24 hours your cycle is moving forward. You might be able to help your cycle along by getting both nitrites and nitrates down with water changes though. The bacteria we are growing doesn't live in the water so you can change out as much water as necessary to get them down.

At this point in your cycle it is no longer necessary or advisable to add any more bottled bacteria. You have ammonia and nitrite eating bacteria so no need to add any extra from a bottle.

I agree with all that said Prime isn't necessary when doing a fishless cycle. In fact you really don't want to use it since it detoxed the ammonia you are adding. The bacteria can still use it but it is better not to add it. Any of the many water conditioners available will work just fine when no fishes lives are at stake. If you have no chlorine/chloramines in your source water I am not sure a water conditioner is even needed. Even back when I was on well water and knew there was no chlorine I still used tetra aqua safe just as extra insurance. That was back before I discovered and started using Seachem prime as my primary water conditioner.
 

Momgoose56

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In my experience, in reference to the high nitrite/nitrate levels, water changes-large ones to get nitrates to 40ppm or less and to keep nitrites at around 2ppm or lower is probably a good idea. For one thing, when your tank IS done cycling, it's not going to have to process 5 ppm nitrites every day, you're not going to let your nitrates get so high that your test kit can't measure them, so why allow those levels to get that high while you're cycling? How will you know if your tank is processing 2ppm of nitrites in 24 hours if you don't keep that level down to where you can even see what your bacteria is doing with the nitrites?
I think, if you do one or two big water changes to get the nitrite and nitrate levels down to at least low mid-range on the test kit (nitrites @ 2ppm or less, nitrates @ 40ppm or less), you may find that if your tank isn't already completely cycled, it's very close to being cycled! :)
 
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Otsenre

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Thank you all, so much information!
As for the water changes ive done all these with the same water temperature. I have the same juwel heater heating my buckets but then just the 100w version of it.
I won't keep adding more bacteria then when doing the big water changes. I just followed the instructions on the bottle :D

The tap water here has some insane quality checks and is in most cases even cleaner and safer then the bottled water we buy in the stores. So I am not worried about it. But just to be certain ill dose some prime when my fish will get in the tank.
As for stocking I will be starting with 5 lamprologus ocellatus. I know these are known to breed allot in the right conditions, but there's a good market arround my area for these fish to I will be able to sell fry quite often. I will have a breeder tank if needed.

Momgoose56 said:
In my experience, in reference to the high nitrite/nitrate levels, water changes-large ones to get nitrates to 40ppm or less and to keep nitrites at around 2ppm or lower is probably a good idea. For one thing, when your tank IS done cycling, it's not going to have to process 5 ppm nitrites every day, you're not going to let your nitrates get so high that your test kit can't measure them, so why allow those levels to get that high while you're cycling? How will you know if your tank is processing 2ppm of nitrites in 24 hours if you don't keep that level down to where you can even see what your bacteria is doing with the nitrites?
I think, if you do one or two big water changes to get the nitrite and nitrate levels down to at least low mid-range on the test kit (nitrites @ 2ppm or less, nitrates @ 40ppm or less), you may find that if your tank isn't already completely cycled, it's very close to being cycled! :)
You are so right! I was just scared of the cycling completly stalling but this might just be it! Tommorow ill do another check and water change if needed! And get the parameters to those you stated and see how it goes :D
Thanks :D
 

Sorg67

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Otsenre said:
The tap water here has some insane quality checks and is in most cases even cleaner and safer then the bottled water we buy in the stores. So I am not worried about it. But just to be certain ill dose some prime when my fish will get in the tank.
My water tests negative for chlorine, but I use a de-chlorinator for water changes anyway, just to be safe.

Chlorine can be harmful to the bacteria
 
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Otsenre

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An update on the tank today. I did a 70-80% water change and got the parameters down to this:
Nitrites : 2-3ppm
Nitrates: 40 ppm
This seems reasonable to keep track of the cycling. I dosed a small ammount of ammonia and ill check again in 24 hours.
 

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