Fishless Cycling Questions

Cole23

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So about 17 days ago I started cycling my aquarium with Dr. Tim’s ammonia and Dr. Tim’s One and Only live nitrifying bacteria. I just have a couple questions. It happened by accident but I initially dosed my tank with 4.0 ppm ammonia to start the cycle. After about 15 days my ammonia finally dropped to 0.5 ppm, at which point I added more ammonia. Very early in the cycle about one or two days in I had nitrites and nitrates, but my ammonia took a long time to drop. Here are my current numbers 36 hours after the second dose of ammonia on day 15.

pH - 7.6
Ammonia - 2.0 ppm
Nitrite - 2.0 to 5.0 (API Master Test Kit colors are difficult to read for me sometimes)
Nitrate - 40ppm

My pH has been stable at 7.6 since I started the cycle, and I have had high ammonia and nitrates most of that time. Does anyone know if these numbers look appropriate? I know I need to do a large water change once the cycle is finished and I’m adding fish to lower the high nitrates, but should I do one before then as well? Dr. Tim’s guide while using these products said to add fish on day 9 which I’m glad I didn’t listen to as I’m sure those fish would be dead now. I assumed the cycle would be faster when using ammonia and live bacteria but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Is there anything I need to do for my tank right now or anything I can do to speed this process up? Thanks!
 

BassKase

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When you dosed your ammonia on day 15, did you dose it back up to 4ppm? Many times when adding started bacteria, the nitrites will process better than the ammonia. I know that's been the case for me. I would keep dosing up to 4ppm until the bacteria processes that to roughly 0ppm in 24 hours. That's assuming you want a full tank of fish right after cycling. How much ammonia you need to process in a day depends on how stocked your tank is going to be, so the bacteria can handle the bioload you want.
 

Sorg67

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I have no experience in using bottled bacteria, but from other experiences related here, yours does not seem unusual.

I would do a water change now as I believe doing so can speed the cycle. I like the idea of keeping nitrites below 2 ppm. Dr. Tim advocates keeping nitrites below 5 ppm. I cannot tell the difference between 2 and 5 and might be higher than 5.

Higher temperature is also helpful. Say 85 deg F or so.
 

BassKase

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Sorg67 said:
I would do a water change now as I believe doing so can speed the cycle.
I waited until my nitrates reached 60-80 before doing a water change.

If you have more of the starter bacteria, I would put that in after you do a water change. I know many of the bottles say not to change the water until the cycle is complete, so it would be on the safe side to add more if you do change the water. That way it helps prevent a stall.
 
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Cole23

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BassKase said:
When you dosed your ammonia on day 15, did you dose it back up to 4ppm? Many times when adding started bacteria, the nitrites will process better than the ammonia. I know that's been the case for me. I would keep dosing up to 4ppm until the bacteria processes that to roughly 0ppm in 24 hours. That's assuming you want a full tank of fish right after cycling. How much ammonia you need to process in a day depends on how stocked your tank is going to be, so the bacteria can handle the bioload you want.
I did dose to 4ppm on day 15 and it has been over 36 hours since then and it has dropped to around 2.0 since then. My nitrites have consistently been at 2.0 to 5.0 for over a week, and I’m concerned as to why they aren’t dropping. My nitrates have also been at 40 ppm for over a week. And ideally I would like to stock all at once, I think my planned stocking will be under to moderately stocked, definitely not fully or overstocked.
 

BassKase

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I would keep dosing up to 4ppm and watching. I know cycling can take some time. I've seen people who finish it in two weeks, and there are those for which it takes over two months.
 

Sorg67

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Cole23 said:
I did dose to 4ppm on day 15 and it has been over 36 hours since then and it has dropped to around 2.0 since then. My nitrites have consistently been at 2.0 to 5.0 for over a week, and I’m concerned as to why they aren’t dropping. My nitrates have also been at 40 ppm for over a week. And ideally I would like to stock all at once, I think my planned stocking will be under to moderately stocked, definitely not fully or overstocked.
On my first cycle, I though I had 2 to 5 ppm nitrites for a while. When I ultimate decided to do a water change it took several 50 to 70% changes to get my nitrites down below 2 ppm. I estimate that my nitrites hit a high of 40 or 50 ppm.

Dr Tims states that nitrites over 5 ppm can stall a cycle. I did a cycle experiment in which I purposefully stalled a cycle. I brought it back by adding KH. But a water change is a better way to do the same thing IMO.

Given that you have nitrites and nitrates, you have a cycle. Now you are trying to grow and stabilize that cycle.

I would do as many water changes as necessary to get the nitrites down below 2 ppm. I would bet the cycle will finish soon there after.
 

mattgirl

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I agree with Sorg67 Since you are seeing both nitrites and nitrates a water change to get both down should get things moving along. Once you get both down add your ammonia. Allow it to go down to or close to zero before adding more.

When you do your water change be sure to both temp match and add your water conditioner to the new water before pouring it in there. At this point you just want to dip the water out or if using a python type system just pull the water out without disturbing the substrate. Leave your filter(s) alone too. You don't want to disturb the bacteria at this point.

It looks like the bottled bacteria is speeding up your cycle but it is still going to take time and patience to get it firmly established.
 

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