Fishless Cycling: One Month With 0 Nitrites

JustKeepSwimming4ever

My set up:

A Fluval Spec III (2.6 gallon tank) with a heater (kept at 76-80 F). Substrate is Fluval Plant and Shrimp Stratum (I had no intention of keeping shrimp, wanted to use substrate to grow plants). My filter is the one that came with the tank, but I substituted the carbon filter with biomax.

Did my best to be patient. I waited 3 weeks to grow a carpet, then filled it in with water (along with conditioner) and kept the light on for 8 hours a day. When I added the water I also added ammonia to make it read 1 ppm then waited for the nitrites to come in.

Every end of the week I check ammonia. Third week my ammonia went down to .50 ppm, but when I checked nitrites it read 0. Curious, I checked nitrates and there was 20 ppm!

Beginning of week:
Ph: 6.4
Ammonia: 1 ppm
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0

Third week:
PH: 6.0 (PH went down slightly probably due to the substrate)
Ammonia: .50 ppm (ammonia went down)
Nitrite: 0 (unchanged)
Nitrate: 20 ppm (went up!)

I previously went here for help. Some people suggested that I added more ammonia (at least 2ppm) and then do a nitrite reading in less than 24 hours. I accidentally added ammonia to 4ppm, and tested and there were still no nitrites. I'm assuming the ammonia is being processed so swiftly that it always reads 0. On the third week I topped off my water due to evaporation (using conditioner of course). I know I have to wait a while for the ammonia to drop again so I just waited.

Now I tested the parameters on the 5th or 6th week of cycling Here are my results

5tth Week Cycling:

PH: 6.4
Ammonia: .50 PPM (remember it was previously 4ppm)
Nitrite: 0 (unchanged)
Nitrate: 20ppm

My tank has some algae growing on the sides of it now so I'm limiting the amount of light to 5 hours a day. Carpet is very green and lush.

I don't understand what's going on-- is my tank on its way of being cycled or is it just stalled? I have no nitrite reading but my ammonia levels are going down. Weirdly, my nitrate levels are not going up and I haven't done a single water change. Are my plants eating all the nitrites before it becomes nitrate? How will I know if my tank is cycled if I never had a nitrite spike? Or is my PH too low that nitrites can't form or something?

Please, any advice would be greatly appreciated. I'm completely stumped on what to do.
 

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TheBettaSushi

My set up:

A Fluval Spec III (2.6 gallon tank) with a heater (kept at 76-80 F). Substrate is Fluval Plant and Shrimp Stratum (I had no intention of keeping shrimp, wanted to use substrate to grow plants). My filter is the one that came with the tank, but I substituted the carbon filter with biomax.

Did my best to be patient. I waited 3 weeks to grow a carpet, then filled it in with water (along with conditioner) and kept the light on for 8 hours a day. When I added the water I also added ammonia to make it read 1 ppm then waited for the nitrites to come in.

Every end of the week I check ammonia. Third week my ammonia went down to .50 ppm, but when I checked nitrites it read 0. Curious, I checked nitrates and there was 20 ppm!

Beginning of week:
Ph: 6.4
Ammonia: 1 ppm
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0

Third week:
PH: 6.0 (PH went down slightly probably due to the substrate)
Ammonia: .50 ppm (ammonia went down)
Nitrite: 0 (unchanged)
Nitrate: 20 ppm (went up!)

I previously went here for help. Some people suggested that I added more ammonia (at least 2ppm) and then do a nitrite reading in less than 24 hours. I accidentally added ammonia to 4ppm, and tested and there were still no nitrites. I'm assuming the ammonia is being processed so swiftly that it always reads 0. On the third week I topped off my water due to evaporation (using conditioner of course). I know I have to wait a while for the ammonia to drop again so I just waited.

Now I tested the parameters on the 5th or 6th week of cycling Here are my results

5tth Week Cycling:

PH: 6.4
Ammonia: .50 PPM (remember it was previously 4ppm)
Nitrite: 0 (unchanged)
Nitrate: 20ppm

My tank has some algae growing on the sides of it now so I'm limiting the amount of light to 5 hours a day. Carpet is very green and lush.

I don't understand what's going on-- is my tank on its way of being cycled or is it just stalled? I have no nitrite reading but my ammonia levels are going down. Weirdly, my nitrate levels are not going up and I haven't done a single water change. Are my plants eating all the nitrites before it becomes nitrate? How will I know if my tank is cycled if I never had a nitrite spike? Or is my PH too low that nitrites can't form or something?

Please, any advice would be greatly appreciated. I'm completely stumped on what to do.
Sometimes nitrites never show up and sometimes they are there forever (like it was in my case). I would do a partial water change to get your ammonia to zero, then add ammonia and test it in a few hours. If you see ammonia and no nitrites, test again in 12 hours and see if it shows up. If it were me, I would test for it every couple of hours to see if nitrites show up at all. Nitrates can be in the water you’re using but if your nitrates went up, chances are that your nitrite eating bacteria is processing quickly and your tank is cycled. What type of test are you using? Test strips are inaccurate. I find that the apI freshwater master test kit works much better and is more precise.

Your carpeting is gorgeous. May I ask what plant you used and if you’re injecting co2? I would like to grow a carpet but I’m finding it difficult without the use of co2.
 

JustKeepSwimming4ever

Sometimes nitrites never show up and sometimes they are there forever (like it was in my case). I would do a partial water change to get your ammonia to zero, then add ammonia and test it in a few hours. If you see ammonia and no nitrites, test again in 12 hours and see if it shows up. If it were me, I would test for it every couple of hours to see if nitrites show up at all. Nitrates can be in the water you’re using but if your nitrates went up, chances are that your nitrite eating bacteria is processing quickly and your tank is cycled. What type of test are you using? Test strips are inaccurate. I find that the apI freshwater master test kit works much better and is more precise.

Your carpeting is gorgeous. May I ask what plant you used and if you’re injecting co2? I would like to grow a carpet but I’m finding it difficult without the use of co2.

Thank you for your swift reply.

I have already tried to do exactly what you said-- increasing ammonia and waiting for nitrite in less hours but nothing reads. I have been testing with API test kit.

I haven't done a water change so I might go ahead and do that, but I will probably have to test my ammonia levels in 24 to 48 hours because the water conditioner I am using is Prime, which also neutralizes ammonia. Maybe if I make the ammonia level 1 ppm, then test within 24 hours and if it goes to 0 then I assume I am cycled even if nitrites never show? Is that a safe assumption? I know bacteria is growing in there somewhere. For a 2.6 gallon tank to process 4 ppm Ammonia to .50 within a week, something has to be working.

And yes I have been super patient with my carpet and no I do not use Co2 (to be honest i'm kind of scared to in the fear of.. explosion or leaks or something). I purchased the seeds on amazon and you can find it here:



I also purchased Glosso Factory all-in-one planted aquarium fertilizer that has micros and macros which treats 4,730 gallons. It's a bit expensive but i'm doing everything I can to create a good stable home for my future betta fish. It will probably last me forever. What I do is I put a little spritz of the liquid fertilizer in a spray bottle with distilled water. I do one spray every week, though I'm sure I don't need to do it so often since I have good substrate that should provide nutrients for my plants.

Anyway I hope this helps and thank you for your advice!

If anyone else has any more advice I'm still here checking every few hours to see more replies.
 

TheBettaSushi

Thank you for your swift reply.

I have already tried to do exactly what you said-- increasing ammonia and waiting for nitrite in less hours but nothing reads. I have been testing with API test kit.

I haven't done a water change so I might go ahead and do that, but I will probably have to test my ammonia levels in 24 to 48 hours because the water conditioner I am using is Prime, which also neutralizes ammonia. Maybe if I make the ammonia level 1 ppm, then test within 24 hours and if it goes to 0 then I assume I am cycled even if nitrites never show? Is that a safe assumption? I know bacteria is growing in there somewhere. For a 2.6 gallon tank to process 4 ppm Ammonia to .50 within a week, something has to be working.

And yes I have been super patient with my carpet and no I do not use Co2 (to be honest i'm kind of scared to in the fear of.. explosion or leaks or something). I purchased the seeds on amazon and you can find it here:



I also purchased Glosso Factory all-in-one planted aquarium fertilizer that has micros and macros which treats 4,730 gallons. It's a bit expensive but i'm doing everything I can to create a good stable home for my future betta fish. It will probably last me forever. What I do is I put a little spritz of the liquid fertilizer in a spray bottle with distilled water. I do one spray every week, though I'm sure I don't need to do it so often since I have good substrate that should provide nutrients for my plants.

Anyway I hope this helps and thank you for your advice!

If anyone else has any more advice I'm still here checking every few hours to see more replies.
Thanks for the info on how you made your carpet.

Even if you use prime, the apI test kit reads both free and total ammonia so there wouldn’t be an issue when getting accurate readings. The only thing that tests free ammonia (the harmful kind) is seachems ammonia alert. Which is placed inside the aquarium.

I would go ahead and do a pwc, add 1 ppm of ammonia and test in a few hours regardless if you’re using prime. It’s better to know if you’re actually producing nitrites rather than wait 1-2 days because if you do wait, you most likely won’t see nitrites again. If you test every few hours after a water change, it will be more likely to see nitrites form then disappear. This will let you know if your tank is actually cycled or if it has stalled. Your bb should convert ammonia and nitrites within 24 hours even with the use of prime. As I’m sure you already know, prime doesn’t get rid of toxicity, it just binds ammonia to ammonium and detoxifies nitrites for 1-2 days which gives your bb more than enough time to convert it to nitrates.

I have been in your shoes, so I know how frustrating it can be. A water change and testing every couple of hours worked for me.
 

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