Fishless cycling - nitrogen cycle problem/question!?!?!

nataliagx3

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I have been fishless cycling my 17 gallon tank for about 8 weeks now. I have been using ammonia from Dr. Tims aquatics and started off by adding about 4 ppm and waiting for it to drop to almost 0 to keep adding more. It was going pretty good for a while it would eventually drop and I would add more. I soon started to see nitrite and then eventually nitrates. A little over a week ago I tested the ammonia and it was about 0.25 ppm my nitrite was about 5 ppm and my nitrates were somewhere between 40-80 ppm. I thought my cycle was almost complete. I added ammonia again and tested the water a few days later to see that my ammonia didn't go down.. I tested again a few days later, basically stayed the same. I now tested my nitrite and there were 0 nitrites. I also tested my nitrates today and they were very high still.

**I haven't removed any water but I did add water to my tank because the water will get really low at times from the heat in my aquarium being pretty high. I use the python (connects to sink) to add water but I use the de-chlorinator stresscoat and I add the amount I need for the water that will be coming into my tank before having my tap water fill into my aquarium. I've done that twice since I started but that's pretty much it.

Can anyone give me ideas as to what's going on??
 

el337

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Welcome to the forum

Typically when your nitrites get that high, you want to wait until it drops before dosing any more ammonia. If it doesn't drop in about 48 hours, you'd want to do a large water change to get that nitrite below 1 or else it will stall your cycle as high nitrite as well as high ammonia are toxic to bacteria. Since your ammonia isn't going down, I'm thinking that your cycle stalled.

You also probably would have wanted to start off with a lower amount of ammonia dosed to 1-2ppm instead of 4ppm so as not to get the parameters to toxic levels. Are you using a bacteria supplement?

What is your pH, ammonia and nitrates out of the tank now? And can you test everything out of your tap water?
 
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nataliagx3

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el337 said:
Welcome to the forum

Typically when your nitrites get that high, you want to wait until it drops before dosing any more ammonia. If it doesn't drop in about 48 hours, you'd want to do a large water change to get that nitrite below 1 or else it will stall your cycle as high nitrite as well as high ammonia are toxic to bacteria. Since your ammonia isn't going down, I'm thinking that your cycle stalled.

You also probably would have wanted to start off with a lower amount of ammonia dosed to 1-2ppm instead of 4ppm so as not to get the parameters to toxic levels. Are you using a bacteria supplement?

What is your pH, ammonia and nitrates out of the tank now? And can you test everything out of your tap water?
My pH of my tank water is about 6.4. My tank water ammonia is 4.0 ppm and the nitrates are about 70-80 ppm. I made the mistake of adding a bit more ammonia yesterday because I thought I needed it to be at 4.0 ppm to wait for it to drop, but I must've been misinformed. My tap water pH is about 7.6 and 0 ammonia,nitrites,and nitrates in my tap. I read that the pH will change because of the added ammonia and etc.

The reason I kept adding ammonia when it would get low was because I thought that even though the nitrites were now high, that the bacteria would die off if there was no ammonia left.

If my tank is now stalled, how should I proceed?

and I used dr tims nitrifying bacteria the first time I tried cycling but I had to start my tank again with new water because my filter tipped over and made my tank water leak.. But I didn't rinse the gravel and I added new water about a week later so not sure if the bacteria would even be alive at that point.
 

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The pH would rise or fall in a tank depending on a lot of things but that large of a swing could mean you have a low KH. Do you have a KH/GH test kit? You want a KH of at least 5dKH that would keep the pH stable which is very important. When the pH drops to 6.4, your bacteria growth slows down and then stop as it gets closer to 6.0. This could also be what's happening here. I'd rectify that by adding some crushed coral, cuttlebone, seashells or oyster shells in your filter to increase the KH which would then naturally raise your pH but keep it stable.

As far as your other parameters, I'd do at least a 50% water change to bring the ammonia down to 1-2ppm. Then I'd get another bottle of Dr. Tim's O&O, TSS+ or Seachem Stability to help you cycle. I personally like Stability as it allows you to do water changes in case your levels get too high.
 
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nataliagx3

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el337 said:
The pH would rise or fall in a tank depending on a lot of things but that large of a swing could mean you have a low KH. Do you have a KH/GH test kit? You want a KH of at least 5dKH that would keep the pH stable which is very important. When the pH drops to 6.4, your bacteria growth slows down and then stop as it gets closer to 6.0. This could also be what's happening here. I'd rectify that by adding some crushed coral, cuttlebone, seashells or oyster shells in your filter to increase the KH which would then naturally raise your pH but keep it stable.

As far as your other parameters, I'd do at least a 50% water change to bring the ammonia down to 1-2ppm. Then I'd get another bottle of Dr. Tim's O&O, TSS+ or Seachem Stability to help you cycle. I personally like Stability as it allows you to do water changes in case your levels get too high.
I'm going to do the 50% water change now. I bought TSS+ so I'm assuming I should wait 24 hrs after the water change to add this? I also tested the kh using strips and the color stayed the same, basically showing around 0 mg/ L. I also bought the crushed coral that I'll add to my filter after my water change.

The test may have been closer to 40 mg/L for the kh which is still very low I presume.

I also just completed the water change of 50% and now my ammonia is now at 1 ppm. I shouldn't add anymore right?
 

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Yes, that is low. I'd get the liquid KH/GH test kit for exact numbers. API sells it on Amazon for about $4. Good to hear about the crushed coral. I'd test in a few days to see where you are.

Yes, that ammonia amount is perfect. Test in 24 hours to see where your ammonia, nitrite, nitrates are. You could add TSS+ (the entire bottle) 24 hours after your water change.
 
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nataliagx3

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el337 said:
Yes, that is low. I'd get the liquid KH/GH test kit for exact numbers. API sells it on Amazon for about $4. Good to hear about the crushed coral. I'd test in a few days to see where you are.

Yes, that ammonia amount is perfect. Test in 24 hours to see where your ammonia, nitrite, nitrates are. You could add TSS+ (the entire bottle) 24 hours after your water change.
And when is the next time I should be adding ammonia?
 

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You want to see ammonia and nitrite drop close to 0.25 first. Let us know what you get tomorrow.
 
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nataliagx3

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el337 said:
You want to see ammonia and nitrite drop close to 0.25 first. Let us know what you get tomorrow.
Levels are still the same today. How long should it take for my pH to raise from the added crushed coral in the filter? I also just added the TSS.
 

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What are the tank's pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate?

You won't see overnight results with the coral. It may even take several days to see a significant increase. I know that @CindiL has suggested to others to add a little baking soda when cycling with a low pH as that would be a good short term fix in raising pH immediately. Since this is a 17g tank, maybe 1/4 tsp of baking soda? Not sure but I'll have her advise.
 

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Hi, welcome to the forum

I would add in 1/4-1/2 tsp of baking soda mixed with a little tank water, test after an hour and add it again until your ph is close to your tap. That will help the nitrifyers start multiplying again too.

It sounds like you stalled but with 0 nitrites it may have just been the drop in ph slowing things down or perhaps your nitrates are higher than you thought. You want to do a water change while fishless cycling when they get up close to 80-100.
 
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nataliagx3

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Right now the tanks ammonia is still 1.0 ppm, the pH is still around 6.5, nitrite still 0, and the nitrate is still upwards of around 80 ppm and I thought that would go down since I did a 50% water change yesterday (monday). I would do another water change but I just added the TSS today so the water change would interfere with that wouldn't it? Added the 1/4 tsp of baking soda just now.. When will I be able to do a water change again since I added the TSS?
 

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Since you did a water change and your nitrates are still reading 80, that tells us they are at or way above 80. I hate for you to waste the TSS+ but if your nitrates are way too high you'll stay where you're at.

One way to test is to do the dilution method, use half tank and half water that has 0 nitrates in it like RO or distilled (sometimes spring water still has nitrates). Do the test and multiply by 2. If the test still looks the same with half tank and half RO then they're probably up close to 160 etc.

The nitrogen cycle uses up carbonates as it is an acidic process. This causes the ph to drop also which by itself will cause you cycling issues.

I guess I would say, do the test, see where you're at, add in some baking soda today. If the nitrates are as high as we think, wait 48 hours (about the time it really should take for the bacteria to adhere to surfaces in your tank, they do not stay free floating), and then do a 75% WC (or more) to get the nitrates back down close to 0.
 
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I tested my ammonia and its at 0.50 ppm now.. Was 1.0 ppm yesterday. When do I wait to add more of that? I will be away for three days so do you think its best if I add a little bit more ammonia? I am testing my nitrate now with the half tank water / half water with 0 nitrates and will let you know the results of that.

Attached a picture of my results from testing half tank water with half water with no nitrates.. Looks around 20 ppm so then would that mean my tank is 40 ppm? 40 and 80 look so similar on color chart. Would it just be safer for me to wait to do a water change when I get back in 3 days? Because I just added the TSS last night at 9 so it hasn't even been 24 hours... Also would like to know if I should leave ammonia alone or add more since it did drop a bit since yesterday ( was 1.0 ppm now is 0.50 ppm )
 

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Ok, so yeah if its showing 20 with the diluted method then its at 40 in the tank. Since you just added in the TSS+ then don't do another water change. Since you're going to be gone for 3 days I would add in enough to bring it up to 1.0 and then test it when you get back to see where ammonia and nitrites are at by then.
 
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nataliagx3

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I added the 1.0 ppm of ammonia yesterday and tested again today and its about 0 ppm and I'm seeing nitrite again and its about 0.25. ppm now. Does this mean my tank is almost cycled? Nitrates are pretty high around 60 ppm I believe. Do I add more ammonia because I'll be away or leave it?
 
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I'm leaving today until Saturday afternoon so I added just a bit more ammonia before leaving. When I get back Saturday will I be able to do a water change? The TSS Was adding on Tuesday night so will that be okay?
 

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Sounds good. If ammonia and nitrites are 0 it would probably be ok to do a water change but see where your nitrates are at first.
 
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Hi! Just got back and my ammonia and nitrites are at 0 and haven't tested nitrates but obviously they would still be higher or probably higher than they were before I left. Is my tank now cycled? I mean I know I should probably now definitely do a water change?
 

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