Fishless cycle dilemma/stalled

Lordofwar
Member
Started fishless cycle on 4th jun 20 everything was going great until yesterday. 23 days in cycle. Ammonia which was reading 0 until yesterday is now creeping up again. Nitrite is off the scale and nitrate is in between the readings. Details are in the attachment.

304L tank (holding 230 ltrs)
Ohko rocks
Driftwood
Black minute gravel as substrate

Hydor Canister 450 series with biohome ultimate as media along with sponges and seachem matrix.

Used prime and stability. Used pure ammonia for pollution. Maintained 3ppm initially and then redosed to 1ppm daily as nitrites were off the scale. Is the cycle stalled? Should i perform water change?

Ph is somewhat ok kh dropped to 2 from constant 3.

Please help.
 
  • Thread Starter
Lordofwar
Member
Proceeded with 60% water change will see the readings shortly. Added prime and stability as well.
 
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Lordofwar
Member
Readings after 3 hrs of water change:-
Ammonia - ~0.7
Nitrite - 0.1 brownish in colour not pinkish
Nitrate - 13
Gh-4
Kh-2
Ph-7.3

Read some articles by Mattgirl and water change was recommended to others as per the article so i reckon im on correct path. Will wait for others to chime in.

Shall i opt for seachem replenish? So that kh doesn’t go that low in between water changes? Though still the fishless cycle is on. Cycling not yet completed.

Thanks.
 
mattgirl
Member
It sounds like the water change got you back on track. The cycling process can cause the KH to be depleted. The water changes alone should keep it up and stable. As long as your pH isn't going down below 7 I wouldn't add anything to raise the KH.

edited to add: Add more ammonia each time it reaches 0. I don't know how your ammonia could be going up if you aren't adding any but you do want to continue to feed your cycle. After the water change I would recommend you get the ammonia reading back up to no less than 2pmm.
 
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Lordofwar
Member
mattgirl said:
It sounds like the water change got you back on track. The cycling process can cause the KH to be depleted. The water changes alone should keep it up and stable. As long as your pH isn't going down below 7 I wouldn't add anything to raise the KH.

edited to add: Add more ammonia each time it reaches 0. I don't know how your ammonia could be going up if you aren't adding any but you do want to continue to feed your cycle. After the water change I would recommend you get the ammonia reading back up to no less than 2pmm.
Ammonia is being added every 24 hrs as the reading was 0. The value 0 in the screenshot is after adding ammonia post 24 hrs. However, today instead of being 0 it creeped up. Have not added ammonia today. Will see tomorrow morning what the reading says as have performed the water change.

Thanks much !! Appreciate it.
 
mattgirl
Member
Lordofwar said:
Ammonia is being added every 24 hrs as the reading was 0. The value 0 in the screenshot is after adding ammonia post 24 hrs. However, today instead of being 0 it creeped up. Have not added ammonia today. Will see tomorrow morning what the reading says as have performed the water change.

Thanks much !! Appreciate it.
Please keep us updated. I love reading happy endings
 
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Lordofwar
Member
After water changes the readings this mornings are:-

Ph-7.4
Gh-4
Kh-2
Nitrite-0.1 (brownish in color, yet to show pink)
Nitrate-10
Ammonia- ~0.75

Have added 1ml of pure ammonia. And no it was not zero this morning. Unsure whether the cycle was stalled or does it need to be started all over again? Somewhat confused as ammonia was being processed at 0 post 24 hrs. until couple of days ago. Is was due to off the charts nitrites that water change was performed. Now there is trace of ammonia post 24 hrs. will observe and report.
 
mattgirl
Member
Lordofwar said:
After water changes the readings this mornings are:-

Ph-7.4
Gh-4
Kh-2
Nitrite-0.1 (brownish in color, yet to show pink)
Nitrate-10
Ammonia- ~0.75

Have added 1ml of pure ammonia. And no it was not zero this morning. Unsure whether the cycle was stalled or does it need to be started all over again? Somewhat confused as ammonia was being processed at 0 post 24 hrs. until couple of days ago. Is was due to off the charts nitrites that water change was performed. Now there is trace of ammonia post 24 hrs. will observe and report.
The cycle does not need to be started again. The bacteria you have previously grown is still there. Some may have gone dormant and t is waking up now that things are moving forward again.
 
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Lordofwar
Member
Im unsure what is happening? It seems that a cycle within a cycle has now started. Its been 31 days in cycling the tank. All was ok until last week wherein ammonia declined to 0 for about 5 days every 24 hrs. & nitrite was off the scale. Nitrate was within the limits. It was then that after 5 days ammonia started to creep up whilst nitrite still being off the scale.

I then proceeded with 60% water change post which ammonia is around 2ppm just like the initial days. Nitrite is brownish in colour around 0.1 and yet to show pinkish tinge.

The confusion is should i start all over again? Im loosing the patience and moreover unsure if all would re-happen again once ammonia drops back to 0?

Readings from today after 31 days in cycling
Ammonia 2ppm
Nitrite 0.1
Nitrate 10
Gh 3
Kh 2
Ph 7.8
 
mattgirl
Member
I am not sure what you mean by start over. I know cycling a tank can be frustrating and time consuming.

I think I understand now what you mean when you say the ammonia is creeping up. I am thinking you just mean it isn't going down to zero within 24 hours. Please correct me if I am wrong.

I am confused by the nitrate reading. With as much ammonia as this cycle has processed the nitrates should be much higher than they are right now. For some reason unknown to me the parameters in this tank are way off balance. I know it may seem counterproductive but I think water changes should get whatever is throwing this cycle off balance corrected. Instead of one big one I will recommend you change out no more than 50% of the water. Once in the morning and again in the afternoon/evening. After the second water change go ahead and get your ammonia reading up to at least 2ppm.

When you do them be sure you both temp match and use your water conditioner in the new water. We can't see the bacteria but it is a living thing and needs to be treated with as much care as we would once we have fish in the tank.

If this doesn't get this cycle back on track we are going to have to dig deeper and try to find out what is going on. Keep in mind though, sometimes cycling a tank can take 6 weeks or longer. I know the last time I cycled a tank from scratch it took a full 6 weeks to go from dry to fully cycled. I was doing a fish in cycle though so lots of water changes during those 6 weeks.
 
  • Thread Starter
Lordofwar
Member
mattgirl said:
I think I understand now what you mean when you say the ammonia is creeping up. I am thinking you just mean it isn't going down to zero within 24 hours. Please correct me if I am wrong.
Thats true. After 3 weeks of cycle ammonia started to go zero every 24 hrs. for 4-5 days however nitrite was off the scale. At this time i reduced the ammonia dosage to half of original about 2ml (originally entered 5ml) on day-1. It was during this phase that ammonia started to again rise and was not turning 0 every 24 hrs. Nitrite was still off the scale.
I then performed 60% water change last week and have added ammonia twice till date 2ml each time. Im not dosing it every day.


mattgirl said:
When you do them be sure you both temp match and use your water conditioner in the new water.
Yes.They are temperature matched. Seachem prime is being used as conditioner and so also Stability
mattgirl said:
I know it may seem counterproductive but I think water changes should get whatever is throwing this cycle off balance corrected. Instead of one big one I will recommend you change out no more than 50% of the water.
Till date in past 31 days only 1 water change has been done last week by 60%
mattgirl said:
I am not sure what you mean by start over. I know cycling a tank can be frustrating and time consuming.

I think I understand now what you mean when you say the ammonia is creeping up. I am thinking you just mean it isn't going down to zero within 24 hours. Please correct me if I am wrong.

I am confused by the nitrate reading. With as much ammonia as this cycle has processed the nitrates should be much higher than they are right now. For some reason unknown to me the parameters in this tank are way off balance. I know it may seem counterproductive but I think water changes should get whatever is throwing this cycle off balance corrected. Instead of one big one I will recommend you change out no more than 50% of the water. Once in the morning and again in the afternoon/evening. After the second water change go ahead and get your ammonia reading up to at least 2ppm.

When you do them be sure you both temp match and use your water conditioner in the new water. We can't see the bacteria but it is a living thing and needs to be treated with as much care as we would once we have fish in the tank.

If this doesn't get this cycle back on track we are going to have to dig deeper and try to find out what is going on. Keep in mind though, sometimes cycling a tank can take 6 weeks or longer. I know the last time I cycled a tank from scratch it took a full 6 weeks to go from dry to fully cycled. I was doing a fish in cycle though so lots of water changes during those 6 weeks.
Attaching the screenshots in case they help further. GH and KH are only stable out of the lot of all entries atleast something is right.

Thanks for all your help and support. You indeed are a Legend.
 
mattgirl
Member
We have to hope the water changes will help balance this tank out. I am not sure what is causing what we are seeing so the only thing I can suggest at this point is the water changes. Even though we don't know what is causing the imbalanced the water change should correct it and get this cycle back on track.

BTW: Fishlore Legend simply means I type a lot
 
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Lordofwar
Member
Below are all the details till date:-

DateTemp (degrees)pHGHKHAmmoniaNitriteNitrateTDSAmmonia Added (mL)Prime (Cap)Stability (Cap)Water Added (Ltrs.)Remarks
03-Jun-201.56225Day-1
04-Jun-2030.683200053
05-Jun-2029.78.24333
06-Jun-2029.78.24330.081603
07-Jun-2029.87.84330.11623
08-Jun-2030.284331653
09-Jun-203184321680.25310Water Top-Up
11-Jun-20328.24320.1168
13-Jun-2032.78.24320.2166
14-Jun-2032.21.50.2171
16-Jun-2032.78531.50.31621.20.5114Water Top-Up
17-Jun-203343212178
18-Jun-2032.8431.5281741.2
19-Jun-2033431.52101801.8
20-Jun-2031.9430.32151812.40.25214Water Top-Up
21-Jun-2031.74306151703
22-Jun-2031.44306151783.3
23-Jun-2031.78.64306151804
24-Jun-2031.57.84306201812.1
25-Jun-2031.78.14306201952
26-Jun-2031.97.406181912
27-Jun-2032.57.3520.762018612140Water Change
28-Jun-2033.37.4420.750.1101261
29-Jun-2033.18.1320.750.116127
30-Jun-2032.77.31.10.1510126
01-Jul-2032.77.30.750.1510129
02-Jul-2032.77.420.750.1101322
03-Jul-2033.27.60.750.1101342
04-Jul-2032.87.83220.1101323
 
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Lordofwar
Member
Performed a 50% water change yesterday & added 4ml ammonia

Reading prior water change -
Ammonia 1.5, Nitrite NOT SURE, Nitrate 25, Gh 3, kh 2, ph 7.6

Reading 24hrs after water change-
ammonia 2, Nitrite NOT SURE, nitrate 10, Gh 3,
Kh 2, ph 7.2

Nitrite - NOT SURE attaching the pic how it shows on the scale. I’m uncertain whether its in between 0 & 0.25 or is it below 0?

Are things moving in right direction? Shall i keep dosing ammonia daily unless Nitrite is on the scale?
 
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Lordofwar
Member
I don't understand what is happening?

Things are just not moving. Need help please !!!. It been almost 40 days in cycle. 60% water change was done on 6th Jul'20. Cycle was started on 3rd Jun'20.

In my previous post I attached the pic of Nitrite. Its been the same and is not coming on scale. I dont know whether to read it as Zero or something else hence have chosen it at 0.1 ppm as it is not 0.

Water change has been done twice during the cycling phase till date. 1st time 50% and 2nd time 60%

Below are the latest readings:- (gh-3, kh-2 is stable & constant) rest are as depicted.
DatepHAmmoniaNitriteNitrateAmmonia Added (mL)
06-Jul-207.61.50.1254
07-Jul-207.220.110
08-Jul-207.41.50.110
09-Jul-207.41.750.112
10-Jul-207.61.50.115
11-Jul-207.51.50.120
12-Jul-207.51.50.1153
 
mattgirl
Member
This one has me throughly stumped. I really don't know why the ammonia has stopped going down. All of the numbers tell us that the water is fairly well balanced. Meaning nothing is high enough to be off the chart. pH is in a good range. The only thing I can suggest is time since I can't think of anything else you can do to get this cycle complete. What temp are you keeping this tank? Bacteria grows better at higher temps. Since there are no fish that would be bothered with higher temps I would be running it up to 80 or even a bit higher. 85 wouldn't be too high.
 
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Lordofwar
Member
mattgirl said:
I really don't know why the ammonia has stopped going down.
Would you recommend to keep hitting it 4ppm daily please? As of now I'm only dosing ammonia it if it comes till 1ppm/1.5ppm. (Also i'm not refilling it upto 4ppm its somewhat in the range of 3ppm)

mattgirl said:
What temp are you keeping this tank?
Average would be 31 Degrees Centigrade (~88 F)

Lastly would you recommend that I start feeding some pellets as well in empty tank? Reason being that the minerals etc. shouldn't be depleted completely from the tank. Since its a fishless cycle will the feed in turn produce phospate thereby generating algae to bloom in the tank? (that would be the last thing I want at this stage).

Many thanks as always.
 
mattgirl
Member
Lordofwar said:
Would you recommend to keep hitting it 4ppm daily please? As of now I'm only dosing ammonia it if it comes till 1ppm/1.5ppm. (Also i'm not refilling it upto 4ppm its somewhat in the range of 3ppm)


Average would be 31 Degrees Centigrade (~88 F)

Lastly would you recommend that I start feeding some pellets as well in empty tank? Reason being that the minerals etc. shouldn't be depleted completely from the tank. Since its a fishless cycle will the feed in turn produce phospate thereby generating algae to bloom in the tank? (that would be the last thing I want at this stage).

Many thanks as always.
I wouldn't add more ammonia until what's in there drops close to zero. When it does, go ahead and dose it back up to 4ppm. With a tank this size 4ppm seems like a good number and by growing enough bacteria to process that much ammonia you will be able to add all the fish you plan on adding all at once.

I think I would lower the temp slightly. I don't know that having it up to 88 is a problem but it might be. 85 is about as high as I would be comfortable with.

Adding some fish food may not be necessary but I can't see it being a problem. It is possible the food will help. Should you decide to do so put it in a media bag and hang the bag where water will be running over and through it. I could be way off base but I think fish or fish food adds something necessary that liquid alone doesn't provide. I can't prove this but it just makes sense to me and just seems it is more natural. By having it in a media bag it will be easier to clean out when that time comes. Should you start seeing algae you can easily remove the fish food.

Some folks that do fishless cycling using only liquid ammonia experience a mini-cycle once they add fish. I could be way off but I think the bacteria grown from liquid ammonia is somewhat different than bacteria that has been fed real food meaning ammonia being produced from the waste from fish. I think but of course can't prove that processed fish food grows a stronger more natural bacteria.
 
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Lordofwar
Member
Not much progress made. Its now 45 days in cycle. Readings for past 5 days are in the table:-

20 litres of RO water was topped up this week
0.25 Cup of Prime was added & 3 cups of Stability
GH & KH are 3 & 2 respectively
DatepHAmmoniaNitriteNitrateAmmonia Added
(mL)
13-Jul-207.52.50.115
14-Jul-207.62.50.115
15-Jul-207.21.75-20
16-Jul-207.6--20
17-Jul-207.50.10105
18-Jul-207.41.5015
19-Jul-207.20.250155

I've also bought API master test kit as the older one got over. Nitrite is still ZERO so not a fault with test kit too. Unsure whether Nitrite cycle is completed or is it yet to show on the scale. I'm at the end of my wits.

Is there a possibility that Nitrite bacteria is already multiplied to the level reqd.? Last water change was done on 6th Jul'20 (60% - around 130 ltrs.). Lastly, have added small pellets as well in nylon bag in small quantity. Tied in the center of the tank at the top (to the center bracing of aquarium).

Please let me know what to do?
 
mattgirl
Member
Some folks say they never see a true 0 reading for ammonia when using the API ammonia test. If that is the case then I have to think your cycle is done. If the ammonia you add goes down to .25 and your nitrates go up then I have to think this cycle is done.

Lots of folks don't see a high spike in nitrites when using bottled bacteria so what you are seeing isn't a problem. When a cycle is complete you will see 0/.25 ammonia, 0 nitrites and the nitrates gradually going up within 25 hours of adding ammonia. Your chart is telling me that is what's happening. I have to think this tank is ready for fish.
 
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Lordofwar
Member
Yipeeeee thats good news after too many days..
What I'm planning to do is - For 2-3 days will keep adding ammonia to 5ml and will see how much it gets down in a period of 24 hrs. Then will perform 50% water change and will again add 5ml and see. If all is well then will perform 90% water change & will add fish. Please let me know in case you recommend otherwise.

Also, the only thing i'm unable to understand is what happened to the Nitrite? During the initial days its spiked a lot that it was off scale..then post water change they never turned up on the scale?
 
mattgirl
Member
Lordofwar said:
Yipeeeee thats good news after too many days..
What I'm planning to do is - For 2-3 days will keep adding ammonia to 5ml and will see how much it gets down in a period of 24 hrs. Then will perform 50% water change and will again add 5ml and see. If all is well then will perform 90% water change & will add fish. Please let me know in case you recommend otherwise.
I don't think the 50% water change is needed between doses of ammonia. I also don't think a 90% water change is needed. Doing so is taking a chance on shocking your bacteria. If it were me I would just change enough to get the nitrates below 20ppm before adding fish. That is a safe number.

Also, the only thing i'm unable to understand is what happened to the Nitrite? During the initial days its spiked a lot that it was off scale..then post water change they never turned up on the scale?
That is what is supposed to happen with nitrites. Once they spike and then go back down you should never see them again. It just means you have grown enough bacteria to process the nitrites straight through to nitrates as they are being produced. It happens so quickly they won't register in the test.
 
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Lordofwar
Member
Ok, so on 22nd july evening performed around 40% water change. Readings prior the change were-
Ammonia-0,nitrite-0,nitrate-35,ph-6.8

After water change added 5ml ammonia (prime & stability). After 36 hrs. this morning the readings are-
Ammonia-1.5,nitrite-0,nitrate-10,ph-7.2

Still unsure if the cycle is completed? Should i also keep adding ammonia (4ppm) for continuous 3-4 days of zero reading to be sure and then perform a big water change and add fishes? And as the ammonia is today at 1.5 should i bring it back to 4? This seems to be a never ending cycle.
 
mattgirl
Member
I am at a loss as to why your ammonia isn't going down to zero within 24 hours. We need to get to the bottom this. For one thing, I would stop adding stability. It is not helpful at this point.

You said you add stability & prime. The only time you need to be adding prime is when you do a water change. Prime is simply a water conditioner designed to remove chlorine/chloramines and heavy metals (what ever that means). I always recommend Prime when doing a fish in cycle because it also detoxes low levels of ammonia. When doing a fishless cycle any of the many other water conditioner will work fine.

Prime has been recommended so often here on the forum I am afraid folks have begun to think it it is needed to help cycle a tank. It isn't. It does nothing to help the cycle along. It helps protect the fish when doing a fish in cycle because it detoxes low levels of ammonia. When doing a fishless cycle the ammonia doesn't need to be detoxed. Using Prime isn't going to hurt if used when doing water changes though.

How are you doing your water changes? Buckets or a python type system? When you refill this tank, how do you do it? If by hose do you add Prime (water conditioner) before refilling? When refilling it that way you need to add enough conditioner to treat the full 80 gallons before refilling. I am just assuming you are not on well water so have chlorine/chloramines in your tap water and need a conditioner to remove it.
 
  • Thread Starter
Lordofwar
Member
mattgirl said:
The only time you need to be adding prime is when you do a water change
Agreed. Thats the only time i use & that too for the water being added (not against the whole tank water)

mattgirl said:
When doing a fishless cycle any of the many other water conditioner will work fine.
Shall i opt for any other please? Api or something?

mattgirl said:
How are you doing your water changes? Buckets or a python type system? When you refill this tank, how do you do it?
I get RO water from waterman delivered at home( no its not mineral water simple RO water) that comes in 20ltr bottle. Have checked the TDS and it was at 74 right from the bottle. Have a 100 ltr. drum so the water is poured in it and i pump it to the tank using a water pipe (pump and pipe are brand new specially for aquarium only). While filling in the drum i pour prime in it as per the dosage mentioned on the bottle. And No I'm not on well water.

Thanks for everything. Very much appreciated!!
Eventually we’ll get there
 
mattgirl
Member
Since you are using RO water I have to think there is no chlorine or chloramines in it so you actually don't need a water conditioner at all. If you were doing a fish in cycle I would be recommending Prime when the ammonia spikes but since this is a fishless cycle and you are using RO water it is not needed at all. Save your Prime in case you need it once you get this cycle behind you and have fish in there. You may not even need it then as long as the tank is cycled, meaning you won't see an ammonia spike.

To sum it up. Stop adding Prime and Stability. Wait until the ammonia goes down to close to zero before adding more. More water changes shouldn't be necessary until this cycle is closer to done meaning the ammonia goes to zero within 24 hours of adding it and you are still seeing no nitrites.

edited to add: Since the TDS of the RO water is 74 I have to think there are some minerals in it. We can't know what they are though. Is using your tap water not an option?
 
  • Thread Starter
Lordofwar
Member
mattgirl said:
edited to add: Since the TDS of the RO water is 74 I have to think there are some minerals in it. We can't know what they are though. Is using your tap water not an option?
Apologies No. The tap water is too hard with too high ph. It would be in the range of 9+. Also, i checked GH & KH today and they were at GH-2,KH-1.
 
mattgirl
Member
Lordofwar said:
Apologies No. The tap water is too hard with too high ph. It would be in the range of 9+. Also, i checked GH & KH today and they were at GH-2,KH-1.
Gotcha. That is pretty high so I understand the reason for RO water.
 
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Lordofwar
Member
22nd july evening performed around 40% water change. Readings prior the change were-
Ammonia-0,nitrite-0,nitrate-35,ph-6.8

24jul (36hrs later) after adding 5ml ammonia readings were-
Ammonia-1.5,nitrite-0,nitrate-10,ph-7.2

Today 25th jul readings are-
Ammonia-0.5, nitrite-0,nitrate-80,ph-6.8

Would be opting for 40% water change. Shall I opt for water change? Also if changed shall i dose ammonia too to 4ppm?

Waiting eagerly for your reply. Thanks much.
 
mattgirl
Member
Something isn't adding up. 1ppm ammonia shouldn't raise the nitrates from 10 all the way up to 80. Are you 100% positive that your test results are accurate?

Do you know how the RO water you are using is made? Could the ones that make it be adding something that isn't good for a fish tank. I am just throwing out wild ideas here because I am not understanding why this tank is doing what it is doing.

Since this is a fishless cycle I wouldn't recommend another water change yet.
 
  • Thread Starter
Lordofwar
Member
mattgirl said:
Are you 100% positive that your test results are accurate?
Yes. Have used 2 kits.
mattgirl said:
Do you know how the RO water you are using is made?
unfortunately No.
mattgirl said:
Since this is a fishless cycle I wouldn't recommend another water change yet.
Then how to reduce the Nitrate?
 
  • Thread Starter
Lordofwar
Member
Also forgot to add. Today i got RO water and its lying as it is now as i was waiting for your reply. I performed testing of that and in that there are traces of Nitrate out of the bottle.if the nitrate scake starts from 0-5-10-20-40 by looking at the colour i would say that around 1 would be there in the water itself.
 
mattgirl
Member
If there were fish in this tank then getting the nitrates down would be important but since no fishes lives are at stake what you are seeing right now isn't a problem. Right now we need to figure out why your ammonia isn't processing as quickly as it should and how your nitrates went from 10 all the way to 80 when only processing 1ppm ammonia. The amount of nitrates produced depends on how much ammonia has been processed. There is not enough nitrates in the RO water to account for the nitrates you are seeing.

I have to think something about the RO water is preventing this cycle to complete. I would be very tempted to go ahead and use my tap water even though the pH is pretty high. The high pH isn't going to affect the cycling process. Once the cycle is complete you may need to use a mix of tap and RO water to achieve a lower pH. That or stick with fish that can comfortably live in water with a high pH.
 
Frank the Fish guy
Member
Is it possible that a (dead) critter is lodged somewhere in the driftwood or rock? It decays and feeds the tank,, thus giving a constant supply of ammonia and accounts for the nitrate building up?
 
  • Thread Starter
Lordofwar
Member
Frank the Fish guy said:
Is it possible that a (dead) critter is lodged somewhere in the driftwood or rock?
Thanks for the headsup Frank however that is not a possibility, as the driftwood was washed 10 times or more in hot water & was kept submerged in water for more than a month so that everything gets drained out and no tanins are there. Ohko rocks were cleaned too and kept submerged for a week. During the initial cycling days the ammonia did went to zero for 4-5 days however after that they started re-appearing as in cycle within a cycle happened. ( you may check my earlier posts have shared the details in tabular format)

This is what we are trying to sort out and the help received from Mattgirl is tremendous and so also from others.
 
  • Thread Starter
Lordofwar
Member
mattgirl said:
If there were fish in this tank then getting the nitrates down would be important but since no fishes lives are at stake what you are seeing right now isn't a problem. Right now we need to figure out why your ammonia isn't processing as quickly as it should and how your nitrates went from 10 all the way to 80 when only processing 1ppm ammonia. The amount of nitrates produced depends on how much ammonia has been processed. There is not enough nitrates in the RO water to account for the nitrates you are seeing.

I have to think something about the RO water is preventing this cycle to complete. I would be very tempted to go ahead and use my tap water even though the pH is pretty high. The high pH isn't going to affect the cycling process. Once the cycle is complete you may need to use a mix of tap and RO water to achieve a lower pH. That or stick with fish that can comfortably live in water with a high pH.
Last 2 readings
24jul after adding 5ml ammonia readings were-
Ammonia-1.5,nitrite-0,nitrate-10,ph-7.2

25th jul readings are-
Ammonia-0.5, nitrite-0,nitrate-80,ph-6.8

26jul:-
HAve changed around 100 ltrs. of water also added 2 ltr of tap water. Prime added 1/2 cup but not stability. Readings post water change 45 mins later:-
a-0.5,rite-0,rate-20,ph-7.4 ( there may be possibility tgat yesterday the nitrate might be 40 and i took them for 80 as the colour is almost same on api test kit, coz after water change today by almost 50% nitrate reduced by half).

Added 2.5ml of ammonia (ammonia reading not taken post adding it)

Question - if i’m replacing RO with tap water by 50% in future wont there be a ph shock to the bacteria? As tap water is too toxic with high gh & kh.
 
mattgirl
Member
Lordofwar said:
Last 2 readings
24jul after adding 5ml ammonia readings were-
Ammonia-1.5,nitrite-0,nitrate-10,ph-7.2

25th jul readings are-
Ammonia-0.5, nitrite-0,nitrate-80,ph-6.8

26jul:-
HAve changed around 100 ltrs. of water also added 2 ltr of tap water. Prime added 1/2 cup but not stability. Readings post water change 45 mins later:-
a-0.5,rite-0,rate-20,ph-7.4 ( there may be possibility tgat yesterday the nitrate might be 40 and i took them for 80 as the colour is almost same on api test kit, coz after water change today by almost 50% nitrate reduced by half).

Added 2.5ml of ammonia (ammonia reading not taken post adding it)

Question - if i’m replacing RO with tap water by 50% in future wont there be a ph shock to the bacteria? As tap water is too toxic with high gh & kh.
The simple answer is no. Your tap water is not toxic. The pH is a bit high but mixing half tap and half RO or what ever mixture that will get the pH down to where it needs to be will lower it.
Lordofwar said:
Apologies No. The tap water is too hard with too high ph. It would be in the range of 9+. Also, i checked GH & KH today and they were at GH-2,KH-1.
When you say you checked GH & KH today and they were at GH-2,KH-1. Was that reading your tap water or tank water? Either way both are pretty low and again not toxic.
 
Frank the Fish guy
Member
Will a tank cycle with KH < 2? I thought that would be a problem and might be unstable. The pH is dropping over time as the data shows which is using up the small amount of buffer and the data shows the KH dropping too, perhaps killing off the bacteria that also need it? Then some KH is added, and the process starts over again?

You have very soft water and your KH is getting depleted as your data shows which kills off the bacteria.

Are you intending to keep discus or other very soft water fish? If not, I would add buffers to your water source (soda ash) to get the KH up to to at least 5 to make it stable. That should help the cycle happen and make things stable over time.
 
AvalancheDave
Member
This does seem like a classic low pH/kH problem.
 
mattgirl
Member
AvalancheDave said:
This does seem like a classic low pH/kH problem.
I've not even considered this causing what we are seeing. I can only go by my water. It is very soft. Both GH and KH are almost non-existent. So low in fact I thought my tests had gone bad. Tap water pH is about 6.8, TDS is 21. Even with these numbers my tank cycled.

I do run crushed coral to keep my pH up to 7.2 and add Equilibrium to get the TDS up to at least 75. I didn't start adding the Equilibrium until a couple of years after my tank fully cycled. Plants were struggling. I finally got a TDS meter and found I was missing minerals in my source water.

I know a low KH can cause the pH to become unstable and a pH of 6.5 or less can cause cycling problems. Maybe I missed it but I am thinking the pH in this tank is holding steady at well above 6.5.
 
Frank the Fish guy
Member
mattgirl said:
I've not even considered this causing what we are seeing. I can only go by my water. It is very soft. Both GH and KH are almost non-existent. So low in fact I thought my tests had gone bad. Tap water pH is about 6.8, TDS is 21. Even with these numbers my tank cycled.

I do run crushed coral to keep my pH up to 7.2 and add Equilibrium to get the TDS up to at least 75. I didn't start adding the Equilibrium until a couple of years after my tank fully cycled. Plants were struggling. I finally got a TDS meter and found I was missing minerals in my source water.

I know a low KH can cause the pH to become unstable and a pH of 6.5 or less can cause cycling problems. Maybe I missed it but I am thinking the pH in this tank is holding steady at well above 6.5.
The cool thing about crushed coral is that the lower the pH drops the faster it dissolves thus keeping KH stable over long times. This is natures way!

The other thing is that if a tank has very low KH=1 the pH reading you get is actually unstable but the liquid tests will read some value. If you use a digital pH meter, you will see that the pH is actually random and unstable when KH is very low like this. So I don't trust the pH readings here. Without crushed coral to keep things stable you need a KH of 5 at least to make the water stable and to get a cycle to finish. The bacteria use the KH directly to metabolize the ammonia especially when they are blooming in a new cycle.
 
AvalancheDave
Member
I thought RO water was being used? Anyway, another possibility might be Stability. Heterotrophs do compete with autotrophs (true nitrifying bacteria and archaea).
 
John58ford
Member
Frank the Fish guy said:
Without crushed coral to keep things stable you need a KH of 5 at least to make the water stable and to get a cycle to finish
Is there an outside source for this specific data point or is it generic advice that we need kH (true) and a number made up to place a numerical value (possibly anecdotal) based on ones personal experience?

I run extreme soft water tanks with kH readings between 2-3 and the same with gH. I have not had an issue with pH crash even in the tanks I water change "as needed", or when away from home occasionally months with just top offs.

While it is very true to the research I have done that we need a certain blend of minerals and nutrients, I would like to make sure that if indeed we need to number chase to "5" exactly... There is a source to quote.


Awesome thread going here. Don't give up on your cycle op. You will get it there, but it may be the R.O. causing your cycle to process a lower maximum.
It could be something other things. Also, what is your filter set up? Have some pictures of the tank?
 
  • Thread Starter
Lordofwar
Member
Frank the Fish guy said:
The pH is dropping over time as the data shows which is using up the small amount of buffer and the data shows the KH dropping too, perhaps killing off the bacteria that also need it? Then some KH is added, and the process starts over again?
I agree. We never looked into this angle but the point made by mattgirl also makes sense as she has low ph. Anyways no two tanks are same hence it may differ. The ph on an average is hovering around ~ 7.2+ (if we consider form day 1).

Frank the Fish guy said:
Are you intending to keep discus or other very soft water fish? If not, I would add buffers to your water source (soda ash) to get the KH up to to at least 5 to make it stable. That should help the cycle happen and make things stable over time.
No please, I would opt for hard water fishes (i'm inclined towards Parrot, Blue Acara,Boeseman's rainbow fish, Firemouth, Gold Severum) not all but few...however Parrot would be the main choice.
Do you recommend adding Seachem Replenish? Or shall i mix my tap water? You will love its readings its in the response below.

AvalancheDave said:
This does seem like a classic low pH/kH problem.
Below are the readings of various water parametes considered prior opting for RO water (and YES tapwater readings are not typo, they are the actual readings).

GHKHpH
RO water3(2)3(2)6.6
RO water (24 hrs. later)227.4
Packaged Drinking Mineral Water327
Packaged Drinking Mineral Water (24 hrs. later)228.2
Tap Water34119
Mix (50% / 50%) - RO & Tap Water21(22)79
Mix (90% / 10%) - RO & Tap Water53(2)7.6(7.8)
Mix (90%/10%) - Drinking Mineral Water & Tap Water6(7)37.6
Mix (80% / 20%) -Drinking Mineral Water & Tap Water Mineral & Tap Water7(8)47.6

mattgirl said:
I know a low KH can cause the pH to become unstable and a pH of 6.5 or less can cause cycling problems. Maybe I missed it but I am thinking the pH in this tank is holding steady at well above 6.5.
Yes please the Ph is around ~7.2 average if we consider last 53 days cycling. It been ages by this time people cycle 3 tanks and here i'm stuck with the 1st one....

Frank the Fish guy said:
If you use a digital pH meter, you will see that the pH is actually random and unstable when KH is very low like this. So I don't trust the pH readings here. Without crushed coral to keep things stable you need a KH of 5 at least to make the water stable and to get a cycle to finish. The bacteria use the KH directly to metabolize the ammonia especially when they are blooming in a new cycle.
Have tried 3 ph meter and was unable to calibrate them as the settings were not retained by them hence returned all of them. Now the question is wont altering the KH make an impact on the ph? at kh1/2 I'm at around 7.2 ph...if we increase it to 4/5 wont it have an impact on the ph? I can get it increased anytime as my tap water readings are killer...so its easy for me to mix RO & tapwater....any thoughts please?

AvalancheDave said:
I thought RO water was being used? Anyway, another possibility might be Stability. Heterotrophs do compete with autotrophs (true nitrifying bacteria and archaea).
Thats true RO water is being used & Stability as well.
John58ford said:
Awesome thread going here. Don't give up on your cycle op. You will get it there, but it may be the R.O. causing your cycle to process a lower maximum.
It could be something other things. Also, what is your filter set up?
Giving up is not an option have come this far. I know with the help of you all we'll make it and I also know that i'm in safe hands as you all are with me. Thanks a ton!!! Its more on the WHY now...WHY is it not cycling?

Tanks & Filter details below:-
Tank Size - 80 Gal (304 ltrs.)
Tank Dimension - 42"x21"x21" (Length x Breadth x Height) - inches
Substrate - Black sand/fine granules (around 42 kg), Driftwood & Ohko Stones around 15 kgs (No plants)
Canister Filtration - Hydor professional 450 series (with coarse, medium, fine sponges & Seachem Matrix & Bio-home Ultimate as biological media. NO chemical filteration yet)
Heaters - 2 x 300W
2 air pumps for bubble stone (1 air stone in use)
Seachem Prime & Seachem Stability

Looking at it I've spent a lot on the aquarium & equipments (not the actual fish yet )
 
  • Thread Starter
Lordofwar
Member
John58ford said:
Have some pictures of the tank?
Last but not the least here we go:-
The pics of the quarium
6BBDB06F-9D48-42B0-8A37-9EEBCC9D4BD4.jpeg

28EE4A07-3F52-4F7C-B26E-C122E60F9C2F.jpeg
 
mattgirl
Member
The effort you have put into this tank and trying to cycle it amazes me. I am so glad others have come in to give us some ideas. From all I see you have done everything just as it should be done to successfully cycle this tank. I have to admit that I am totally stumped.

We know you have some ammonia eating bacteria because it quickly consumes at least half the ammonia you add each time. We also know you have nitrite eating bacteria and we have to assume you have enough to consume all of it produced by the ammonia eating bacteria because we see a steady zero reading for it. If we didn't have nitrite eating bacteria we would be seeing nitrites and we wouldn't be seeing the nitrates steadily going up.

If I am remembering correctly you have a TDS meter. I am sure you have said but i will ask. What is the TDS number in the tank? If I am remembering correctly you said the TDS in the RO water is somewhere around 74/75. I am wondering what the folks you get this water from used to get to that number. I don't know if it is possible but have to wonder if something they add or how they produce the RO water could possibly be causing what we are seeing. If not that then I really am stumped.
 
AvalancheDave
Member
It could be a though I've never heard of it happening in an aquarium. Fish food usually contains plenty but if you've never had fish... Also, a lot of places in the US to tap water which should preclude this possibility but not all of them...

I would change only one of the following variables and see what happens:
  • kH (increase)
  • Add inorganic phosphate
  • Stop using Stability
Since nitrification seems to be processing then stalling and kH/pH isn't that low I think adding phosphate would be the one to try first.
 
Frank the Fish guy
Member
Lordofwar said:
Also, i checked GH & KH today and they were at GH-2,KH-1.
Two days ago the OP reported KH of 1 in the tank.

That is too low and there is no KH left to support the bacteria.

Don't look at the pH. That is a ratio if things that are now small.

Your buffers are depleted.

And the OP wants hardwater fish AND has hard tap water! A match made in heaven.

Get your water up to the KH and GH you are going to use for your fish by mixing enough of your tap water in and that will give you a high KH of probably between 10-20 at least to support the kind of fish you want. No sense adding chemical when you have what you need from your tap. Then your tank will be stable and will cycle just fine. You can't cycle a tank without buffers though.

If it was me, I would use the hard tap water and get the fish used to it. I have never met a hardwater cichlid that complains of too much hardness. They just don't like it when there is to little.
 
Frank the Fish guy
Member
AvalancheDave said:
Since nitrification seems to be processing then stalling and kH/pH isn't that low
KH=1 is what is reported. That is as low as it gets.
 
  • Thread Starter
Lordofwar
Member
Readings as of 27 jul’20 (all RO water in the tank)
Ammonia- 0.5, gh-3,kh-2,nitrate-20,ph-7.2, nitrite-0,tds-113

mattgirl said:
What is the TDS number in the tank? If I am remembering correctly you said the TDS in the RO water is somewhere around 74/75.
27th jul:- tds-113. Out of the RO bottle it was at 74. Then in the tank it becomes 99 post which it starts to increase. We can say that in a span of around 15 days it reaches till 130 gradually.

AvalancheDave said:
I would change only one of the following variables and see what happens:
  • kH (increase)
  • Add inorganic phosphate
  • Stop using Stability
Will instead start from KH increase by mixing tap water.

Frank the Fish guy said:
Two days ago the OP reported KH of 1 in the tank.

That is too low and there is no KH left to support the bacteria.
Till date have used RO water so everything is RO in there. Around 220 ltrs. of RO water is in the tank so will add 10% tap water today and will add some ammonia.
 

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