Fishless Cycle - High Nitrites

reelss

Member
This is my first tank, however, I have done a TON of research and have become quite familiar with the nitrogen cycle and what to expect. I am doing a fishless cycle, and am on day 20. Along the way, I was able to get my hands on seeded filter media which was added to my canister filter.

My setup:
75 gallon
2 sunsun canister filters (first 75 gallon rated , second 100 gallon rated)
Bio media (mix of few pot scrubbers, 1 tray of seachem matrix, several trays of ceramic rings)
Temp set to 85 degree
Constant water circulation with a wavemaker

I have attached a picture of my results.

Questions:
1) I am confused as to where I am in the cycle. I am still getting high nitrites that only come down once I do a large water change.
2) Should I keep dosing ammonia? Lately, I have stopped since that contributes to nitrites going off the charts.
3) What should my plan of action be going forward? Would like to finish cycle so I can add fish.
 

Chaory

Member
Are you adding anything to the tank as ammonia? Sorry didn't look at the chart.
I never try to do a fishless cycle with only liquid ammonia. Maybe someone can chime in.
 

Lonewolf9395

Member
HI and Welcome.

So looking at your chart you have never actually allowed your ammonia to go to zero, that is what you want to do at this point. I think that you should just continue to test daily and wait for both your ammonia and nitrites to drop. It is totally ok for your tank to read zero ammonia for a few days, even up to four days with no damage to the Beneficial bacteria you have established. You want to see both your ammonia and nitrite down around 0-0.25 before you does ammonia again. If you see your nitrite go above 4 or nitrate get above 100 then do a large water change, test and see if you can dose ammonia.

And have you tested your tap water, do you know what your base levels are that you are working with?

This is a very useful guide that many of us have used to fishless cycle our tanks. I recommend giving it a read.
Ammonia Instructions when Cycling with TSS+ or other Bacterial Starter
 
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reelss

Member
Thanks for the help and the link. I had been following a different guide which instructed dosing Ammonia to 4.0.

BTW, I am using API Liquid test kit. Its hard to distinguish between a 0.25 and a 0 Ammonia reading. The last few Ammonia readings might as well have been 0.

My tap water: 8.2 Ph, 0.5 Ammonia (i've also had a reading of 0 in the past, maybe it fluctuates?), 0 Nitrite, 5 Nitrate
Readings this morning 4/15: 0 Ammonia, 0.5 Nitrate, 40 Nitrite

Time to redose Ammonia to 2ppm?
 

Lonewolf9395

Member
I would only dose ammonia to 1 for now. And once your tank can change that to nitrate in 24 hours with a reading of 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite and some nitrates, then I would dose ammonia to 2 and work on getting it to convert that level of ammonia in 24 hours.

The more ammonia you give it the higher your nitrites spike will be and you may stall the cycle.
 
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reelss

Member
So I dosed a little more than I intended yesterday, the reading was up to 2.0 for Ammonia.

This morning's results are as follows:
Ammonia 0, Nitrite 2.0, Nitrate between 40 and 80.

Should I wait another 24 hours to let the Nitrite go down? Do I dose more ammonia today or wait?
 

Lonewolf9395

Member
Definitely wait.

It is good to see the ammonia change that quickly, now wait and see what your nitrites will do. It would be awesome to see them drop over the next 24 hours. Test in 24 hours and see what it says. If you need to you can wait 48 hours before dosing ammonia again.
 
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reelss

Member
Lonewolf9395 said:
Definitely wait.

It is good to see the ammonia change that quickly, now wait and see what your nitrites will do. It would be awesome to see them drop over the next 24 hours. Test in 24 hours and see what it says. If you need to you can wait 48 hours before dosing ammonia again.
Awesome. Thanks!
 
  • Thread Starter

reelss

Member
Lonewolf9395 said:
Definitely wait.

It is good to see the ammonia change that quickly, now wait and see what your nitrites will do. It would be awesome to see them drop over the next 24 hours. Test in 24 hours and see what it says. If you need to you can wait 48 hours before dosing ammonia again.
4/17: Ph = 8.2, Ammonia = 0, Nitrite = 0, Nitrate = 40

I feel like I am very close to done. Should I dose ammonia back to 1.0?
 

AngelTheGypsy

Member
I would dose with what you dosed last time. You converted in 48 hours without a nitrite spike, so the same dose would be fine. And yes you are close

Also, if you are just going to add a few fish first, you can dose to 1 ppm and see if it converts in 24 hours. If so you are cycled. If you want to add more fish at once, do more (I did 3 ppm to add 10 fish and 5 snails at once, but I started with 1 ppm and worked my way up)
 

stella1979

Member
I also followed the guide linked above. I thought you might find it helpful to know how it worked for me. I used a bacterial starter so my conversion times may be a little quicker.

1st ammonia dose to 1ppm - took 2 days to convert
2nd dose to 1ppm - converted in 24 hours
3rd ammonia dose - I then dosed ammonia to 2ppm and it took 4 days to convert
4th ammonia dose - to 2ppm, took 2 1/2 days to converts
5th ammonia dose - to 2ppm, converted in 36 hours
6th ammonia dose - to 2ppm, converted in 24 hours

After a huge WC, I was able to safely add 8 cardinal tetras and 5 guppies. I've had them for 3 days and have not had any spikes in ammonia or nitrites

So, keep dosing ammonia to the same level until it & nitrate go to zero in 24 hours. Afterwards, you may need to do a water change, before adding higher levels of ammonia, if nitrates are over 4ppm or nitrates are over 100ppm. Those levels can stall a cycle.
 

Lonewolf9395

Member
I am going to agree with above. Since you managed to convert in 48 hours without a major spike go ahead and dose to 2.
 
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reelss

Member
Dosed to 2 ppm yesterday morning, but this morning's readings have me a little less excited.

4/18: Ammonia = 0, Nitrite = 5.0, Nitrate = between 80 - 160

Should I wait this out or do a small water change?
 

AngelTheGypsy

Member
I would do the dilution test on the nitrite. 1/2 tank, 1/2 nitrite free(tap). If it's above 2 (without doubling the result, which would be 4) do a 50% WC. But you can also try to wait it out.
 

Lonewolf9395

Member
I agree with above. Although waiting 24 hours and seeing what the Nitrites do would not hurt.
 
  • Thread Starter

reelss

Member
Did the 50% dilution test and Nitrites were at 2. I'll give it another 24 hours without doing a water change. This is testing my patience.
 

Nadiboy

Member
Seems to me to be a ludicrously complicated way to cycle a tank. Cycled media and a few fish is the way to go!
Best of luck with that!
 

AngelTheGypsy

Member
Nadiboy said:
Seems to me to be a ludicrously complicated way to cycle a tank. Cycled media and a few fish is the way to go!
Best of luck with that!
Not everyone can get cycled media
 

Nadiboy

Member
Well, just fish, then!
 

Lonewolf9395

Member
The hardest part of cycling is the waiting.
 
  • Thread Starter

reelss

Member
Thank you for all the help so far.

Today's reading:
4/19: Ammonia = 0, Nitrite = 0, Nitrate = 80

It appears Nitrites are still taking 48 hours to go away.
I had made plans to buy some fish tomorrow evening (about 6-8 juvenile cichlids). Unless its going to be a complete disaster, I intend on following through with the plan. There's only so long you can tell your 2 year old that the fish are sleeping.

I have read about doing a 90% water change before getting fish. Is there anything else I should be doing? Anything to watch out for?
 

Lonewolf9395

Member
I would really recommend finishing the cycle. I would think telling your child the fish are sleeping would be easier than explaining why they are no longer moving and floating belly up in the tank. Your nitrite spikes up above 1, that is a level that can be fatal to fish. I am not positive but I think cichlids are rather sensitive to spikes like that, they are not considered a good fish to cycle with. Do you have any other fish in mind that you plan to stock? Perhaps something a bit more hardy that you can finish the cycle "fish in".

If you plan to go ahead regardless then yes a very large water change is in order, you want to bring the nitrates down as far as you can. And make sure your tank temperature is stabilized at the correct temp for your stocking plan.
 

AngelTheGypsy

Member
I would make sure it's converting in 24 hours first. You've gone through the trouble to cycle without fish, to jump the gun by a couple days, and that may end in fish loss, wouldn't be wise. I'd just be sure.
 
  • Thread Starter

reelss

Member
So I decided not to get the fish today. But I will be picking some up on Saturday at the latest.

Dosed to 1 ppm of Ammonia. Results after 24 hours are as follows:

4/20: Ammonia = 0, Nitrite = 0.5, Nitrate = 160.

Should I do a water change to get the Nitrates down?
 

Lonewolf9395

Member
Yes. You might need to do a few changes to get the nitrate down. Ideally you want it under 20 when you have fish in the tank.

Since you are probably going to be finishing cycling with fish in here is the info you will need: still test daily. If your ammonia plus nitrites are under 1 when added together dose Prime for the tank size. If they are over 1 when added together do a 50% water change and dose Prime for the tank size. If your nitrate gets over 20 do a water change.
 
  • Thread Starter

reelss

Member
Thanks everyone!

1 ppm cycled in 24 hours. Getting fish today. Really excited.
 

Lonewolf9395

Member
It is so much fun shopping for fish. Enjoy and post pics when you can!
 
  • Thread Starter

reelss

Member
Thank you everyone for the help.

I added 9 African Cichlids and 1 small catfish, and 72 hours later Ammonia and Nitrites have stayed at 0. Nitrates are up to 20-40 ppm. It was a long wait, but so far its been going great.

I've added some pictures of the fish I got.
 

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