Cycling Question - Test Results

fairytale

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I recently started cycling my 20 gal with pure ammonia and I wasn't able to test the water parameters for a few days because I was away from home, but when I got back today and tested the water I found my ammonia at 0.25ppm, nitrites hovering between 2.0-5.0ppm, and nitrates somewhere between 20-40ppm. I've heard a few other people say this means my cycle is nearly done, but I want to be sure I know what this means since I'm still fairly new to the aquarium hobby.
 

Hatchet5467

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No, you still have a ways to go. Ammonia should be at 0 and Nitrates at 0.

Different bacteria convert Ammonia into Nitrite and Nitrite into Nitrate throughout the cycle. You are slowly colonizig bacteria based on available "food." You want the bacteria population to be to a point that it consumes everything so effieciently that you can not register any level of ammonia or nitrites in your aquarium. Nitrates should be close to zero.

Nitrates are what you must remove from your aquarium with water changes as they build up.
 
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Rtessy

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Well, most likely you only have another week or so, given the presence of nitrates. The only thing that slightly concerns me is the ammonia. How recently after adding ammonia did you test the water? Did you remove anything from the filter or clean it in tap water?
 
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fairytale

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Well, most likely you only have another week or so, given the presence of nitrates. The only thing that slightly concerns me is the ammonia. How recently after adding ammonia did you test the water? Did you remove anything from the filter or clean it in tap water?
I added ammonia last week, and the water in the tank has been dechlorinated. I didn't add/remove anything to my filter or clean it with tap. I did attempt to cycle it with fish flakes maybe two months ago, but I had issues with that and started over entirely with all the levels at 0 before adding pure ammonia.

No, you still have a ways to go. Ammonia should be at 0 and Nitrates at 0.

Different bacteria convert Ammonia into Nitrite and Nitrite into Nitrate throughout the cycle. You are slowly colonizig bacteria based on available "food." You want the bacteria population to be to a point that it consumes everything so effieciently that you can not register any level of ammonia or nitrites in your aquarium. Nitrates should be close to zero.

Nitrates are what you must remove from your aquarium with water changes as they build up.
I know my nitrites have to drop before the cycle's finished, I just wanted to make sure nothing crazy was going on lol.
 
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mattgirl

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It sounds to me like your cycle is moving right along as it should. Now that you are there to keep an eye on it you will want to dose the tank with enough ammonia to raise the level to at least 2.0 When it drops back to .25 dose it back up again. You want to feed the bacteria a steady supply of food.

this tank should start process 2.0 of ammonia every 24 hours. Once it does your nitrites may go up a bit more but should start going down and your nitrates will keep going up. At some point you may want to do a water change to lower the nitrates. Maybe not totally necessary but I believe it does help move the cycle along.

It sounds like you have a good grasp of what is happening and what to expect. Just keep a close eye on it and before long this tank will be ready for fish.
 

jdhef

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Sounds like everything is going well with your cycle. You should dose your ammonia back up to 2ppm. Test everyday, when your ammonia gets close to 0ppm dose it back up to 2ppm. Once you have 0ppm nitrites and your ammonia level is dropping to 0ppm within 24 hours, your tank will be cycled. At that point do a large water change to get those nitrates down and add some fish.
 
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