Cycling reef tank...some advice

Spur84

Hey guys

Me and my partner have set up many freshwater tanks over our time without issue. We do fishless cycle with fish food and/or shrimp. Have never had any issues before and we dose stability and within a few weeks tops we usually have some nitrite and then a few weeks later the tank has no ammonia and no nitrites and nitrate is present. all good.

However, we are trying our hand at reef this time-have done everything the same. We are using the Seachem tidal filter, have added the required salt mix and have the food inside the tank and have been dosing stability. Within a few days we had ammonia however its been over a month now and ammonia has not gone any higher and no nitrites are present.

We do not want to move any filter media from our cycled tanks as we have read that its better to cycle a reef tank from scratch without any medias from freshwater.

Can anyone recommend something moving forward? should we add more food to the tank to make ammonia higher? any help would be appreciated

Thanks!
 

Spur84

What test kit are you using and how high is the ammonia?


1ppm and we are using api test kits its what weve always used
 
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Megabeth

1ppm and we are using api test kits its what weve always used
I know that API test kits can sometimes give false reading but since its so high I don't think that's the problem.
 
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Spur84

I know that API test kits can sometimes give false reading but since its so high I don't think that's the problem.

we also test our other 4 aquariums to make sure its right and all the other tanks give 0ppm thankfully, and the reef gives 1ppm. is 1ppm ok to continue the cycle with? not too low?
 
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Jesterrace

I know that API test kits can sometimes give false reading but since its so high I don't think that's the problem.

Agreed. The most common false positive from API is generally the .25 reading. 1ppm is pretty high. I would however say that the OP should double check the results with a different test kit just to confirm.
 
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Megabeth

we also test our other 4 aquariums to make sure its right and all the other tanks give 0ppm thankfully, and the reef gives 1ppm. is 1ppm ok to continue the cycle with? not too low?
Id say just wait it out a little bit longer. My tank had a tiny ammonia spike after the nitrite spike and it eventually went away. I also added some bottled beneficial bacteria which I think helped but its not necessary just speeds things up.
 
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Jesterrace

Hey guys

Me and my partner have set up many freshwater tanks over our time without issue. We do fishless cycle with fish food and/or shrimp. Have never had any issues before and we dose stability and within a few weeks tops we usually have some nitrite and then a few weeks later the tank has no ammonia and no nitrites and nitrate is present. all good.

However, we are trying our hand at reef this time-have done everything the same. We are using the Seachem tidal filter, have added the required salt mix and have the food inside the tank and have been dosing stability. Within a few days we had ammonia however its been over a month now and ammonia has not gone any higher and no nitrites are present.

We do not want to move any filter media from our cycled tanks as we have read that its better to cycle a reef tank from scratch without any medias from freshwater.

Can anyone recommend something moving forward? should we add more food to the tank to make ammonia higher? any help would be appreciated

Thanks!

Are you using dry rock or live rock to cycle the tank? Also are you using tapwater or RODI water?
 
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Spur84

Are you using dry rock or live rock to cycle the tank? Also are you using tapwater or RODI water?

hi thanks for reply. we are using dry rock. we are using RODI water. We have also used the following

Seachem ammonia test kit

and also

NYOS nitrite test kit

We have used these to test false positives, but the api one seems to be accurate as its with the same parameters.
Id say just wait it out a little bit longer. My tank had a tiny ammonia spike after the nitrite spike and it eventually went away. I also added some bottled beneficial bacteria which I think helped but its not necessary just speeds things up.

we have considered using dr tims one and only reef-would you (or others) suggest spending the money or just wait it out? its been about a month now.
 
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Rcslade124

First unless you have a cycled saltwater aquarium you cannot transfer media with bacteria. It is different bacteria. I would let the 1ppm sit. It will go away eventually. But 4 weeks is a long time. You are always able to add some bacteria. I hear biospara is a good bacteria and available at petco. If you can find some dr time one and only at a store then it is also good. If you are ordering the bacteria. I would get microbacter or dr times one and only.
 
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Jesterrace

hi thanks for reply. we are using dry rock. we are using RODI water. We have also used the following

Seachem ammonia test kit

and also

NYOS nitrite test kit

We have used these to test false positives, but the api one seems to be accurate as its with the same parameters.


we have considered using dr tims one and only reef-would you (or others) suggest spending the money or just wait it out? its been about a month now.

Dry rock takes longer to cycle as the the biofilter has to start from scratch and it can take up to 60 days to do so. Just to piggyback on what was mentioned in the previous post, you aren't trying to use established filter media from a freshwater tank are you?
 
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Spur84

First unless you have a cycled saltwater aquarium you cannot transfer media with bacteria. It is different bacteria. I would let the 1ppm sit. It will go away eventually. But 4 weeks is a long time. You are always able to add some bacteria. I hear biospara is a good bacteria and available at petco. If you can find some dr time one and only at a store then it is also good. If you are ordering the bacteria. I would get microbacter or dr times one and only.

ok will do, will wait it out for now. if nothing changes in a few weeks i will look at dr tims. its all we have here in australia apart from stability
Dry rock takes longer to cycle as the the biofilter has to start from scratch and it can take up to 60 days to do so. Just to piggyback on what was mentioned in the previous post, you aren't trying to use established filter media from a freshwater tank are you?

no, we arent. as i said in OP-we have read its not good to do so-so we didnt. have done it from scratch
thanks so much for your help guys. will just leave it for now and see how it goes in a few weeks hopefully have some movement by then
 
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Jesterrace

ok will do, will wait it out for now. if nothing changes in a few weeks i will look at dr tims. its all we have here in australia apart from stability


no, we arent. as i said in OP-we have read its not good to do so-so we didnt. have done it from scratch
thanks so much for your help guys. will just leave it for now and see how it goes in a few weeks hopefully have some movement by then

Okay, I wasn't sure so I was just checking. Sounds like it's just taking it's dear sweet time to cycle.
 
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Rcslade124

Yes just wait it out. Took my 120g 5 weeks to consume 2ppm ammonia in 24 hrs. Took another 3 weeks to consume the nitrites. I added fish after ammonia was processed in 24hrs. It take awhile just patience and it will happen.
 
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Spur84

Yes just wait it out. Took my 120g 5 weeks to consume 2ppm ammonia in 24 hrs. Took another 3 weeks to consume the nitrites. I added fish after ammonia was processed in 24hrs. It take awhile just patience and it will happen.

thank you this is good to know that its still normal lol
 
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Jesterrace

thank you this is good to know that its still normal lol

One other question though are you still dosing Ammonia?
 
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Spur84

One other question though are you still dosing Ammonia?

hey, yes, dosing food yes we have been. we do not have ammonia readily available here in australia. only the cloudy/mixed stuff, not pure ammonia.
 
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Jesterrace

hey, yes, dosing food yes we have been. we do not have ammonia readily available here in australia. only the cloudy/mixed stuff, not pure ammonia.

Okay that is part of the problem then. Once you have ammonia you quit feeding the tank and just let it do it's thing. If you keep feeding after it starts then you can impede the cycling process. You only need the feeding to get the process started.
 
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Spur84

GUYS GUYS

its either cycled or VERY CLOSE to

we tested the tank about 2 days ago, 1ppm ammonia

today we tested and it was about....0.1ppm? its VERY light and we finally saw nitrate and nitrite!

once we get to 0ppm ammonia and 0ppm nitrite we will dose approx 1ppm ammonia worth of food again, and then ensure that it can clear it under 24 hours

kind of glad we didnt spend money on dr tims now
 
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Jesterrace

GUYS GUYS

its either cycled or VERY CLOSE to

we tested the tank about 2 days ago, 1ppm ammonia

today we tested and it was about....0.1ppm? its VERY light and we finally saw nitrate and nitrite!

once we get to 0ppm ammonia and 0ppm nitrite we will dose approx 1ppm ammonia worth of food again, and then ensure that it can clear it under 24 hours

kind of glad we didnt spend money on dr tims now

The Nitrite portion of the cycle is usually what takes the longest, so it definitely isn't cycled or close to being cycled at this point. It is good that it is progressing from the stalled ammonia reading you were getting, but definitely need to be prepared for a few more weeks until things can calm down for both the Ammonia and Nitrites.
 
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RayClem

I no longer maintain reef tanks, but I once had five tanks combined into three systems. Using live sand and live rock is the best way to get the nitrogen cycle started. The bacteria responsible for the nitrogen cycle in a saltwater environment are not the same as those for a freshwater environment, so moving media from a freshwater tank to a saltwater tank might not be as helpful as you might hope.

Purchase a bag of live sand such as CaribSea or Nature's Ocean and add that to your tank. It contains live bacteria to get your cycle started.

Your LFS may also sell you a handful of sand from one of their saltwater tanks or have live rock for sale. Live rock is great. Not only does it contain live bacteria, but it also contains worms and crustaceans that are an important part of the reef system. If you are lucky, there will be some coraline algae on the rock to get that started in your reef.
 
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Spur84

The Nitrite portion of the cycle is usually what takes the longest, so it definitely isn't cycled or close to being cycled at this point. It is good that it is progressing from the stalled ammonia reading you were getting, but definitely need to be prepared for a few more weeks until things can calm down for both the Ammonia and Nitrites.

you are absolutely right BUT our nitrATES were over 100! So unless I’m totally mistaken it means ammonia went to nitrites and then became nitrate??
 
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Rcslade124

Your nitrate will test super high with nitrites in the tank. Nitrate test turn the nitrates to nitrites to test nitrate level. So if nitrites are present nitrates will be super high
 
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RayClem

Your nitrate will test super high with nitrites in the tank. Nitrate test turn the nitrates to nitrites to test nitrate level. So if nitrites are present nitrates will be super high

I never knew that the tests use zinc to convert nitrates to nitrite and then the nitrite level is tested. After some research online I confirmed that you are correct. Thanks for teaching me something new.

In the API test kit, the zinc particles are suspended so it it critical that the nitrate test agent #2 is shaken vigorously so the suspended zinc is distributed throughout the solution. That is a mistake I have made until I learned better.

You are absolutely correct that if the tank contains nitrites already, they will affect the nitrate level reported in the test. Once a tank is cycled, that is no longer an issue, but during the middle of the cycling process, it can lead to false conclusions about the state of the cycle.
 
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Rcslade124

So just test ammonia until after the cycle in saltwater. The rest is useless until the ammonia and nitrites are 0
 
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Jesterrace

Your nitrate will test super high with nitrites in the tank. Nitrate test turn the nitrates to nitrites to test nitrate level. So if nitrites are present nitrates will be super high

Agreed. The Nitrate result means little if Nitrites are present. @ the OP, the good news is that at least you are getting forward progress on the cycle instead of being stuck at the same Ammonia level for weeks on end. Just be patient for a few weeks longer and it should do it's thing.
 
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