55 Gallon Tank Early Nitrates in cycle?

seriosbrad
Member
I am 11 days into my tank since putting my water and substrate in.

Day 1, 2 and 3 were the instructions on the bottle of Nutrafin Cycle.

I waited one week for temperature to stabalize and I had no ammonia then.

Yesterday I added 4 caps of ammonia which brought the ammonia levels in the tank up to around 4ppm..

I added the same ammount of ammonia today.

Went out and got a Nitrate test kit and the aquarium is already showing a level of Nitrates.

To my understanding, I should now cut my ammonia dosage per day in half (two caps) until ammonia and nitrite both reach 0ppm?

Is 11 days to early to start seeing Nitrates?

50 gallon
Temperature = 82F
Ammonia = 4
Nitrite = 0.8
Nitrate = 20
 
toosie
Member
Welcome to Fish Lore!!

It sounds like you just started dosing ammonia yesterday, so that would be when the cycle was initiated.

I would hold off on using any more cycle. It's a land based bacteria that will fight with aquatic bacteria for ammonia, and prevent the aquatic bacteria from naturally cycling your tank. If you are doing a fishless cycle with ammonia, you don't need to worry about adding any bottled bacteria. The natural bacteria will develop on it's own.

If you are already seeing nitrates in the water after only starting to add a source of ammonia yesterday, then I suspect you have a level of nitrate in your tap water. Test the tap water to determine what the levels are at in it.

If you have nitrates in the tap water, then you will have to use that number as your nitrate starting point, and when it starts to rise from there, then you can reduce the amount of ammonia you are dosing.
 
  • Thread Starter
seriosbrad
Member
Thanks for the welcome

I just tested my tap water for Nitrate and the results were zero.

The test kit booklet said high levels of Nitrite will interfere with the Nitrate test results.. is 0.8 Nitrite considered high?

What is your recommended course of action from here?
 
toosie
Member
No, I wouldn't consider .8 Nitrite high. In the testing sense without fish present.

Were you adding fish food or anything to the tank during the first 10 days that would provide an ammonia source for the bacteria?
 
RogueAgent94
Member
Welcome to FishLore!


I agree with toosie. I would stay away from bacteria in a bottle. I think you should just allow your tank to finish cycling on its own. Test every day and add ammonia if needed.
 
  • Thread Starter
seriosbrad
Member
Oh yeah, actually I did add 4 pieces of floating Cichlid pellets on the 4th day (after the Nutrafin bottle cycle) but since then nothing.
 
toosie
Member
Interesting. It must be the land based bacteria that has done the converting, although I'm surprised it lived this long before the ammonia was added. The pellets must have been enough to feed it, but it should be starting to die off now.

I think in your case, I would stop adding the ammonia, and do daily testing. When the ammonia goes down to 1ppm, add enough ammonia to bring it back up to 4ppm. Continue to do that until it only takes about 24 hours for the ammonia to go from 4ppm to 1ppm and then start adding the 1/2 dose of ammonia daily until the cycle is completed.
 
RogueAgent94
Member
+1
 
lurrch
Member
seriosbrad said:
I am 11 days into my tank since putting my water and substrate in.

Day 1, 2 and 3 were the instructions on the bottle of Nutrafin Cycle.

I waited one week for temperature to stabalize and I had no ammonia then.

Yesterday I added 4 caps of ammonia which brought the ammonia levels in the tank up to around 4ppm..

I added the same ammount of ammonia today.

Went out and got a Nitrate test kit and the aquarium is already showing a level of Nitrates.

To my understanding, I should now cut my ammonia dosage per day in half (two caps) until ammonia and nitrite both reach 0ppm?

Is 11 days to early to start seeing Nitrates?

50 gallon
Temperature = 82F
Ammonia = 4
Nitrite = 0.8
Nitrate = 20
If you are using the API liquid test kit, it tests nitrAte by converting it into nitrIte and then measuring the nitrIte. Any amount of nitrIte will make the nitrAte test useless.
 
toosie
Member
Interesting lurrch. Never before in my life have I heard that. I'm not saying you're wrong, but I do find it interesting and would like to check into that a little. Do you mind me asking where you found this info?
 
lurrch
Member
I may be passing along bad information, but here's at least one site that says the same thing:


If you find out definitively either way, I'd be interested to find out.
 
FailedSlacker
Member
Count me in the skeptical group since during my cycle, I registered nitrites without any nitrates - though it's theoretically possible I didn't bang the bottle enough.

I just fired off an email to API - I'll post when they get back to me.
 
  • Moderator
jdhef
Moderator
Member
I think what was being said was that the API kit takes nitrates, turns them into nitites and gets a reading for nitrites. So if you had a nitrite and a nitrate in the water, the nitrates that were converted to nitrites (during te test) would combine with the nitrites that are ready in the water, giving you an errouniously higher nitrate reading.

Now I have no knowledge of this being how the API test kit actually does test nitrate levels, but if it were the case, this is what I believe lurrch meant.
 
lurrch
Member
jdhef, that is what I was trying to say and what the site I linked too says as well. Hopefully the API guys get back to failedslacker so we know for sure, one way or the other.
 
FailedSlacker
Member
jdhef said:
I think what was being said was that the API kit takes nitrates, turns them into nitites and gets a reading for nitrites. So if you had a nitrite and a nitrate in the water, the nitrates that were converted to nitrites (during te test) would combine with the nitrites that are ready in the water, giving you an errouniously higher nitrate reading.

Now I have no knowledge of this being how the API test kit actually does test nitrate levels, but if it were the case, this is what I believe lurrch meant.
That's what I figured he meant.

I had two weeks where I had 1ppm of nitrite and 0ppm of nitrate.

Were the nitrate being converted to nitrite, one would think that the 1ppm of nitrite would have the nitrate reading showing something. But that was only two tests in one tank, so it's nothing more than an anecdote.

Still no answer, though I'm honestly not expecting anything until next week.
 
  • Moderator
jdhef
Moderator
Member
Will 1ppm even show up in the API nitrate test?
 
toosie
Member
FailedSlacker, what you just said, about if there are nitrites, the nitrate test should have some kind of reading if it actually reads nitrites, makes sense to me. (Not a word for word quote, sorry) I have to agree, you would think there would be, but a lot of the time even if nitrites are present, nitrates show 0. That link did say "some test kits" though, so maybe API is different. Can't wait for that response!

Edit: jdhef, you have a very good point there. It would take a nitrite reading of 5.0 (almost off the charts) to be at the lowest level of 5 on the nitrate card. Gosh you're smart. It could be possible. But that would also mean that a level of nitrites probably isn't going to throw the nitrate level that far off, and you could do a nitrite test to see what is nitrites and not nitrates. (didn't realize there was a page two, so I didn't see your post the first time I opened my mouth, (so to speak). LOL)
 
  • Moderator
jdhef
Moderator
Member
toosie said:
Edit: jdhef, Gosh you're smart. (didn't realize there was a page two, so I didn't see your post the first time I opened my mouth, (so to speak). LOL)
Aw come on now, your making me blush!

Yeah, that happens to me all the time...that sneeky page two!
 
toosie
Member
jdhef said:
Aw come on now, your making me blush!

Yeah, that happens to me all the time...that sneeky page two!
You look good in red.
 
  • Thread Starter
seriosbrad
Member
Here's an update to the cycle progress

A couple days ago I took the filter media out of my established 10 gallon and put it in the filter housing of my new 55g.

The bacteria is eating up 5ppm of ammonia basically every night and there are high levels of Nitrites. Over 3.3ppm according to the booklet. (I'm using hagen test kits)
 
toosie
Member
Things are moving along well! I find the Hagen kits work well too, I've used various ones quite a bit. We'll have to check the nitrite/nitrate thing out for them too, out of curiousity. Maybe I'll get to do that today at some point.

Still waiting on API I guess.



EDIT: Lurrch, IMO you deserve an abundance of Rep points for your input. It sounds like nitrites only represent a problem for reading nitrates when nitrite levels are high. Low amounts don't seem to be much of an issue.
Thanks for teaching me (us) this! It's very much appreciated.

Here's a few links for those who'd like to read more.





I haven't found any API info yet, but it's likely the same.
 
lurrch
Member
Well at least I've learned something about keeping fish. Now if I could just figure out why my snails died...
 
toosie
Member
lurrch, Snails seem to be worse for tolerating toxins than even fish, so if you still had any ammonia or nitrites, as your aquarium info indicates, look no further because they would be the culprits!

So seriosbrad, you might have figured this out for yourself because of the above posts, but you might as well save your nitrate reagents until after your nitrite levels have dropped a lot! No point wasting it.
 
  • Thread Starter
seriosbrad
Member
Yeah, definitely going to wait for nitrites to drop before testing for nitrates.

Here's a picture of the aquarium while I wait for the cycle... I plan to add a few more rocks still and a background to hide the wall behind it

 
toosie
Member
Oh hey, looks goood!! Have your rocks altered your pH any?
 
  • Thread Starter
seriosbrad
Member
I don't know yet, I just added them today lol. I'll be checking the PH for the next few days but I did the vinegar test to make sure they were safe as far as that goes

The rocks were free from work and I basically have an unlimited supply available to me
 
toosie
Member
Well, they look very nice! I'd love to put rocks in mine, but all of the ones around here seem to have too much limestone, iron and such in them. I haven't found any I can use because I don't want to harden my water, so I put some granite in, but I like the look of a nice round rock, so I'm always curious when I see them. Maybe someday I'll find some that behave. LOL
 
  • Thread Starter
seriosbrad
Member
I really wanted to stack some flat slate rock from the bottom to the top but it's hard to find here and when I do find it they over-charge you. Though I still haven't checked out Home Depot for that
 
toosie
Member
I had managed to get a hold of a few 4" squares of slate once, but once I soaked them in water the majority of them leached rust, so I could only use about 4 pieces out of a dozen or so. I built a cave type of thing with them and some of the granite. Now I've got some fancy java fern growing over it, so it looks ok, but it's just not a nice rock sitting in the bottom of my private little... lake?? LOL
 
FailedSlacker
Member
I'm eating some crow with my skepticism today. Here is the API rep's response.

Whoever said our kit converts nitrate to nitrite in order to read it is correct. However , the kit has a built in “fudge factor” to compensate for reasonable quantities of nitrite. That said, the nitrate tests for quantities of 5, 10, 20ppm, etc, so only EXTREMELY high nitrite readings could have an effect on the results even if that allowance weren’t built in. If there is enough nitrite to affect the test, you’re already dealing with dangerous situation.
 
toosie
Member
Perfect! I'm glad they got back to you. This was very interesting info, thanks again Lurrch and thank you FailedSlacker for going through the effort to get that response from API. This was a great learning experience.
 
  • Thread Starter
seriosbrad
Member
Ammonia reading a bit less than 1.0, Nitrites reading 0.8. Nitrites were 3.3 a couple days ago...

Almost there! This is day 15 I believe. Adding the seeded material seems to speed things up quite a bit.
 
toosie
Member
Looking good!
 
  • Thread Starter
seriosbrad
Member
Well, it's officially cycled! Moved my 3 Cichlids and Bristlenose Pleco into it. Two of the Cichlids and my Bristlenose were kept in my 29 gallon and the smallest Cichlid was kept in a 10 gallon.


I bought a young Crowntail Betta and another Bristlenose for the 29 gallon since it was vacant . I missed owning a Betta.

10gallon is going in storage. I don't think I am ever going to use an aquarium that small again.
 
toosie
Member
Ooooo, the 10 will make a Great quarantine tank for new or sick fish!! It's perfect for medicating because most medications are based on 10's of gallons and it's safer and less expensive to treat than a main tank. Don't tuck it too far away, you can always rob a little cycled media from your bigger tanks when you need the 10, and obtain an instant cycle.

By the way, Congratulations!!
 
  • Thread Starter
seriosbrad
Member
So my Nitrates seem to be really high (110 on the Hagen chart). I did the initial "big water change after cycle" on the 14th and have been measuring Nitrates and doing about a %30 water change (with tap water conditioner) every day since.

Should I keep doing the %30 daily water change until I see a drop in Nitrates? Or should I change an even higher percentage of the water daily?
 
toosie
Member
With that high of a nitrate reading, I would definitely do larger water changes. If it is more convenient for you, you could even do 2 or 3 in a day to try to bring it down, just remove water without cleaning the substrate. Sometimes I find doing this kind of intervention easier than hauling everything out daily. It may still take a few days to get it down below 20ppm, but less time in the long run.

You might want to double check your tap water, with the changing season, sometimes the water supply also changes. I don't know how much affect it has in your area, but it might be worth a re-check.
 
  • Thread Starter
seriosbrad
Member
So on the 16th and 17th I did a %40ish change in the morning and a %40ish change in the afternoon. Today I did like a %70 and Nitrates are still reading really high.

I'm wondering if my Nitrate test kit is old an expired or something, should Nitrates really stick around at that level for so long with all these water changes? I've smacked the bottles in the kit on the floor and shook them all for a good 3 minutes or so.

Oh and I did do a re-check of the Nitrates in my tap water and it's still reading zero
 
toosie
Member
I find nitrates to be a funny thing. Logic would say that if you have a level of say 100ppm of nitrates that if you remove and replace 50% of the water you would bring down the nitrate level by half which would = 50ppm. But I have never found that to be the case. In my tank I have found at times that 3 50% back to back changes will bring the level down from 20ppm to 10, this was in a 33G tank. In my 85G a 50% change may take it from 10ppm to 5. I'm sure there is some sort of mathematical equation that explains it, but I have never been bothered to try to really figure it out. The only thing I determined is that it takes a lot more water changes than I ever thought it should.

I think your test kit is probably fine, but if you look at the bottle, the last 4 digits are the date of manufacture. API reagents are usually good for 3 years from this date.

EDIT: You could also check your filtration system for an accumulation of food or debris. When you do your next gravel vac, you could also check for areas in the substrate with a build up of organic matter. These things can contribute to nitrates developing rather rapidly in your tank and make bringing levels down more difficult.
 
Aquarist
Member
Good morning,

I have moved your thread to the Aquarium Water/Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle section of the forum.

Thanks!

Ken
 
  • Thread Starter
seriosbrad
Member
Alright thanks aquarist

@toosie
Thank for coming back to help so often, appreciate it!

I hope it wasn't too early to remove the the filter media that I used to seed my new filters with (from the 10 gallon). But since doing so the Nitrates have been cut in half within an hour of removing it. I'm suspecting something from the old 10 gallon tank was in the filter and rotting or something.

I stuck the "bad" filter in my 29 gallon tank that has good params, if the Nitrates rise in that tank, that is definitely the problem.
 
toosie
Member
Not sure if it's too soon or not, but it doesn't sound like it was helping totally anyhow. Sounds like quite the experiment.

Yeah, I'm kinda like that fly that wants to buzz around you all of the time, and never really leaves.
 

Latest threads

Aquarium Calculator

Aquarium Photo Contests

Find a Guru

Top Bottom