Did My Bacteria Starve To Death And Died? What Happened?

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by FishyGlenda, May 17, 2019.

  1. FishyGlenda Valued Member Member

    The first kind of bacteria converts ammonia to nitrites. The second kind of bacteria converts nitrites to nitrates. How long does bacteria #1 take to die without ammonia? The reason I’m asking this is because I’m currently cycling my tank (since the middle of March) I should be done already but I’m not. In one point in time my ammonia was able to go from 4 ppm to 0 ppm within 12 or 15 hours. Instead of feeding 4 ppm of ammonia daily, I started to feed them 4 ppm of ammonia every 3 days to allow bacteria #2 to catch up for a week. Bacteria #2 was able to catch up and now it’s able to process all the nitrites down to 0 ppm within 24 hours. But bacteria #1 now takes around 1.5 days to process all the ammonia from 4 ppm to 0 ppm. Every time I do a water test 24 hours after adding 4 ppm ammonia, I get 1.5 ppm ammonia and 0 ppm nitrites. I know the #2 bacteria are still there because a few days ago I had 5 ppm nitrates and today they are around 20 to 30 ppm. Is there an explanation to this? Did half of bacteria #1 starve to death and died while I was feeding them 4 ppm of ammonia every 3 days? I only did that to allow bacteria #2 to catch up and because everyone seemed to do it. No one seemed to have a problem with it. But idk why I did or what happened.

    Last edited: May 17, 2019
  2. Momgoose56 Well Known Member Member

    What is your Nitrate level? It sounds to me like your tank is probably cycled. If your nitrates are high, that may be the problem and all you need is one or two big water changes to fix it.
    Oh sorry, I see you posted your nitrate level-not too high. In that case, I suggest that you let your ammonia drop back to 0 ppm (your bacteria are still there, they ARE processing ammonia) then redose the tank to 2ppm ammonia. If that level drops to 0 in 24 hours and your nitrites stay at 0 ppm, your tank has enough bacteria to handle a full load of fish. It does not need to be able to process 4 ppm of ammonia. The number of fish that would produce that level of ammonia in 24 hours would pack your aquarium to 'standing room only' lol!

    Last edited: May 17, 2019
  3. Skavatar Well Known Member Member

    from everything i've read, they're supposed to be able to survive weeks or months without food.

    have you done any water changes? perhaps they need minerals to be replenished via water change.

    what's the pH, GH, and KH? the nitrification process consumes carbonate KH.

  4. FishyGlenda Valued Member Member

    My nitrates went up to 80 or 160 ppm (I don’t remember exactly) after my nitrites went from a really high number (off chart) to 0 ppm. I did two 95% water changes and my nitrates went down to 5 ppm after that. I added 4 ppm of ammonia and tested the water 24 hours after. I still had about 1.5 or 2 ppm ammonia but 0 nitrites. I have been doing that for a few days now. Adding 4 ppm of ammonia every time it gets to 0 ppm (about every 2 days) to regrow bacteria #1. My nitrites went from 5 ppm to about 30 or 40 ppm in those days.

    Update: Well, I think I would be able to see 0 ppm ammonia and 0 ppm nitrites 24 hours after dosing 2 ppm of ammonia. But I want to be able to fully stock my tank afterwards with no issue. That’s why I dosed 4 ppm of ammonia instead of 2 ppm. It’s a 20 gallon high aquarium and I was planning to fully stock it with these fish:
    -6 Neón tetras
    -6 harlequin rasboras
    -3 honey gouramis
    -3 guppies
    -1 molly
    -1 platy
    Do you think I would have no problem at all adding all these fish at once if my tank is able to process 2 ppm of ammonia instead of 4 ppm within 24 hours?

    At the beginning of the cycle my aquarium pH was 8. After my nitrites went from a really highly number to 0 and my nitrates went from 10 ppm to 80 or 160 ppm, my aquarium pH was 7. My tap water pH is 8 and since I wanted to do a big water change to get rid of the nitrates, I decided to bring my aquarium pH back up to 8 slowly (I was scared of killing the bacteria with a shock in pH.) In order to do so, I did maybe like 6 10% water changes continuously just to bring my pH back up slowly. It worked out well because my pH was back at 8. The next day after doing the 6 10% water changes, I did 2 95% water changes to get rid of all nitrates since my aquarium and tap water pH matched now. I tested for nitrates and had 5 ppm again. I added 4 ppm of ammonia and tested the water 24 hours later to see if my aquarium was cycled and if I would get 0 ppm ammonia and 0 ppm nitrites. Well, I got 1.5 ppm and 0 ppm nitrites. Since then, I have been adding 4 ppm ammonia every time it gets down to 0 ppm and that’s like every 36 hours. I don’t know my GH and KH and can’t test for it because I don’t have the materials to do so.

    What’s confusing to me is how my tank went from processing 4 ppm of ammonia in 12 or 15 hours to processing the same amount in 1.5 days. I have read that the bacteria will go dormant without food and revive when it’s available again. But that did not happen to me and I’m the only one who’s experiencing this problem. It seems like everyone kept all of their bacteria after reducing its feeding while I lost half of mine.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 17, 2019
  5. Momgoose56 Well Known Member Member

    Absolutely! After I cycled my 125 with 2ppm I stocked it with 20 African Cichlids, 11 Rainbow fish, a 6 inch common pleco and a 5 inch clown catfish. My levels didn't even twitch. Do the 2 ppm after it gets back to zero and retest 24 hrs later. If it's 0 ppm, you're cycled. Post your results and let us know how it goes!
  6. Aquadisiac New Member Member

    I think you will be over stocking. I have a 20H and looking at mine with your stock list in mind and it seems like a lot! I’d either pick the neons or the rasboras. Mollies can get up to 4 inches, which seems large for a 20H especially with 3 honey Gouramis. Platies can also get to 3 inches. That’s a lot of fish for a 20H with the small footprint. I would revisit your stocking list and perhaps narrow it down.
  7. FishyGlenda Valued Member Member

    What fish and how many exactly do you keep in your 20 gallon high aquarium?
  8. Aquadisiac New Member Member

    I’m turning it into a nano fish only aquarium. I currently have 11 corydoras hasbrosus and 10 ember tetras in QT for this aquarium. Later, I might add a few more of each species. I also have bladder snails. It’s heavily planted and I like the look of a lot of plants with nano fish.
  9. FishyGlenda Valued Member Member

    I might not keep the stocking I mentioned earlier and just motify it. I’ll be thinking about it before I’m done cycling the tank.

    I’ll sure do that. Thanks :)
    Last edited: May 18, 2019