Fishless Cycling w/ Ammonia

Amber818

Hey guys! Yesterday I started dosing my aquarium with pure Ammonia and Fluval Cycle (beneficial bacteria). I already have a bacterial bloom today. I dosed my water to about 3-4ppm because I plan to add a good amount of fish at once. My one question is do I keep adding ammonia every single day to keep it at that 3-4 ppm range until ammonia and nitrites go to 0 in 24 hours or do I wait until the ammonia drops below 0.5 ppm to add more ammonia to bring it up to 4ppm again? I’ve heard mixed answers from people who say it’s good to add everyday to keep it at that 4 ppm level but I’ve also heard that some people bring it back down to 2 ppm as a maintenance ammonia dose until the tank can cycle that in 24 hours? Any help would be appreciated:) I’m super excited to start this new adventure.
 

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Azedenkae

Hi there!

So the short of it is, wait until both ammonia and nitrite drop to 0, before dosing more ammonia.

A few reasons:
1. There is no need to maintain ammonia at a certain concentration, there is no evidence it helps the nitrifiers grow faster or anything like that.
2. You do want ammonia to at least be present, true, to let the ammonia-oxidizers grow. However, an issue with constantly dosing ammonia is, nitrite-oxidizers tend to grow slower than ammonia-oxidizers snd you may end up with more and more nitrite produced than the nitrite-oxidizers can handle, resulting in a high enough build up of nitrite to stunt the entire process.
3. So the better option is to let both ammonia and nitrite reduce to 0, before dosing ammonia again. It is false that ammonia-oxidizers will die if ammonia-starved for a few days. It takes months, and that's just to result in them going into dormancy rather than significantly dying off.
 
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Amber818

Okay awesome so if fish poop everyday and that adds ammonia everyday wouldn’t I want to dose every day to keep it at 4ppm? And when I add ammonia after they both reach 0 do I add enough to bring it back up to 4 ppm? Again I plan to add a good amount of fish at once
 
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Azedenkae

Okay awesome so if fish poop everyday and that adds ammonia everyday wouldn’t I want to dose every day to keep it at 4ppm? And when I add ammonia after they both reach 0 do I add enough to bring it back up to 4 ppm? Again I plan to add a good amount of fish at once

The difference is when fish poop everyday, all their ammonia is converted to nitrite and then to nitrate without either ammonia or nitrite elevating.

During the cycle, you are likely to not have enough nitrite-oxidizers at the start to handle the nitrite produced from ammonia oxidation, and so nitrite will just keep building up.

That's why the concept in theory makes sense, but in practice you don't want to dose ammonia to 4ppm each day, since that can and often do result in nitrite just spiking to really high levels (as evidenced by the number of threads about that here). It's the same concept behind why you'd not want to dose 4ppm ammonia everyday either, at least to start with or else ammonia would just keep climbing and climbing.

So yeah, when both ammonia and nitrite drop to 0, you dose to 4ppm again, until both ammonia and nitrite drops to 0 within 24 hours.
 
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Amber818

Hi there!

So the short of it is, wait until both ammonia and nitrite drop to 0, before dosing more ammonia.

A few reasons:
1. There is no need to maintain ammonia at a certain concentration, there is no evidence it helps the nitrifiers grow faster or anything like that.
2. You do want ammonia to at least be present, true, to let the ammonia-oxidizers grow. However, an issue with constantly dosing ammonia is, nitrite-oxidizers tend to grow slower than ammonia-oxidizers snd you may end up with more and more nitrite produced than the nitrite-oxidizers can handle, resulting in a high enough build up of nitrite to stunt the entire process.
3. So the better option is to let both ammonia and nitrite reduce to 0, before dosing ammonia again. It is false that ammonia-oxidizers will die if ammonia-starved for a few days. It takes months, and that's just to result in them going into dormancy rather than significantly dying off.
than
The difference is when fish poop everyday, all their ammonia is converted to nitrite and then to nitrate without either ammonia or nitrite elevating.

During the cycle, you are likely to not have enough nitrite-oxidizers at the start to handle the nitrite produced from ammonia oxidation, and so nitrite will just keep building up.

That's why the concept in theory makes sense, but in practice you don't want to dose ammonia to 4ppm each day, since that can and often do result in nitrite just spiking to really high levels (as evidenced by the number of threads about that here). It's the same concept behind why you'd not want to dose 4ppm ammonia everyday either, at least to start with or else ammonia would just keep climbing and climbing.

So yeah, when both ammonia and nitrite drop to 0, you dose to 4ppm again, until both ammonia and nitrite drops to 0 within 24 hours.
Thank you so so much !!!
 
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Amber818

I am doing the fishless cycle with ammonia. I’m on day 3 and yesterday I already started to see Nitrites. I initially dosed the tank to 4 ppm because I plan to add a lot of fish at once. However this is where my question comes in. I have been hearing when your ammonia drops to around 1 -0 you should add more to feed the bacteria. Some people are saying dose half of what you initially dosed but other people are saying dose the full amount again. Which is it? Again I plan on adding a bunch of fish at once (super small fish). It’s a 10 gallon planted tank.
 

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Coradee

Hi & welcome to Fishlore Amber818, we’ve merged your two cycling threads as members can advise you best if they have all of the information in one place.
 
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mattgirl

I am doing the fishless cycle with ammonia. I’m on day 3 and yesterday I already started to see Nitrites. I initially dosed the tank to 4 ppm because I plan to add a lot of fish at once. However this is where my question comes in. I have been hearing when your ammonia drops to around 1 -0 you should add more to feed the bacteria. Some people are saying dose half of what you initially dosed but other people are saying dose the full amount again. Which is it? Again I plan on adding a bunch of fish at once (super small fish). It’s a 10 gallon planted tank.
Since this is just a 10 gallon tank you only need to get the ammonia up to 2ppm. You can't add enough fish to a 10 gallon tank to produce 4ppm ammonia. I recommend adding ammonia each time it gets down to or close to zero. There is no need to add more ammonia while some is still in there feeding the bacteria.

Some say wait until both ammonia and nitrites zero out but if you do that you will keep having nitrite spikes. Continue adding ammonia and you will only have one nitrite spike. When both the ammonia you add and the nitrites drop to zero within 24 hours of adding ammonia and you are seeing some nitrates your cycle will be done.

The bottled bacteria may speed up your cycle but don't get discouraged if it still takes a month or more to complete the cycle.
 
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Amber818

Thank you so much!
 
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Amber818

Hey guys! I think (I hope) I’m getting close to done cycling my tank. It’s only been a week! So my ammonia started around 3.0 (been dosing pure ammonia). It started going down. My nitrites started rising and now my nitrate is rising. Yesterday my ammonia read 0. So I dosed again to around 3.0 ppm. I just read it and it’s at a 0 (only been 24 hours) YAY! however my question is is my nitrites are still sky high. My nitrate is orange and building up everyday. The nitrite should be going down soon right? Should I wait for it to go down to dose ammonia again? Or should I just keep dosing ammonia when I get down to 0 even when my nitrites are high.
 

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Azedenkae

Hey guys! I think (I hope) I’m getting close to done cycling my tank. It’s only been a week! So my ammonia started around 3.0 (been dosing pure ammonia). It started going down. My nitrites started rising and now my nitrate is rising. Yesterday my ammonia read 0. So I dosed again to around 3.0 ppm. I just read it and it’s at a 0 (only been 24 hours) YAY! however my question is is my nitrites are still sky high. My nitrate is orange and building up everyday. The nitrite should be going down soon right? Should I wait for it to go down to dose ammonia again? Or should I just keep dosing ammonia when I get down to 0 even when my nitrites are high.

mattgirl's suggestion is to dose ammonia each time ammonia reaches 0, letting there be only one nitrite spike (even if it may keep on being skyhigh for a while).

My suggestion is to dose ammonia only when nitrite reach 0, which yes will mean ammonia may remain at 0 for a few days while you wait nitrite to decrease, each time.

Both of us have experience cycling tanks, and have our own reasoning for our suggestions. I would suggest picking one of the two methods, whichever makes the most sense to you, and stick with it.
 
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Amber818

I had this same thing happen with my 10g during cycling, but in 2 days it was able to go from 5 to 0 ppm of nitrites randomly. not sure why my cycle always hits a pause when the nitrites need to convert cause my ammonia will convert quickly. I have already added ammonia but for now should i let it wait out so nitrites can catch up?
Hey im going through the same thing with my tank. Can you tell me exactly what you did ?
 
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mattgirl

Hey im going through the same thing with my tank. Can you tell me exactly what you did ?
Normally all you can do is give it time. It seems like nitrites are never going to drop and then one day they are gone. If you are doing a fish in cycle and the nitrites are high, daily water changes may need to be done to protect the fish. If you are doing a fishless cycle then just give them time.
 
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Amber818

D
Normally all you can do is give it time. It seems like nitrites are never going to drop and then one day they are gone. If you are doing a fish in cycle and the nitrites are high, daily water changes may need to be done to protect the fish. If you are doing a fishless cycle then just give them time.
Did you end up adding more ammonia or just waited until the nitrites went down and then added ammonia
 
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RedOnion

D

Did you end up adding more ammonia or just waited until the nitrites went down and then added ammonia
I did not add any ammonia if I remember correctly because my nitrites were stuck up pretty high. I waited till nitrites went down then I did one final test where I added ammonia to make sure it would process in 24hrs. Once the final test went through, it was cycled. My nitrites would sometimes be stuck for a week but it would go down, once it did it was smooth sailing from there. Give it some time all my tanks went through that phase where they were stuck in the nitrites.
 
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Amber818

There are many ways of cycling a tank and really none of them are wrong. I recommend keeping the bacteria fed so when the cycle is complete you will have a strong colony of bacteria. Once fish are added to a tank there will be a constant supply of ammonia. Why would it be any different while fishless cycling. I do recommend adding more when it reaches zero but not any more often than every 24 hours.

I do agree that the bacteria isn't going to die off if we miss a day or two adding ammonia but we are trying to grow enough bacteria to handle the bio-load of our future fish so why not keep it well fed during the process. As always just my humble opinion.

you will probably find the ammonia dropping to zero well before the 24 hour window but don't add any more until a full 24 hours has passed.

Nitrites are strange little creatures. We reach a point to where we think they are never going to drop and then one day we test and they have gone from a rich purple to that beautiful baby blue.
Hey I’m butting into this forum again. You seem to know what your talking about and I just need to listen to one person while doing this haha. Will high nitrites hurt my live plants? I’m doing fishless cycling with live plants and my pure ammonia has been converting every 24 hours from 3ppm to 0. My nitrites however have been stuck around 4.0 for a few days now. Every time my ammonia reaches 0 I add more to get it back up to 3.0 but again nitrites are still stuck. Again my ammonia is doing great. It’s converting over 24 hours back to 0. I have some low nitrate readings for a few days as well. Will my plants be okay and at what point do I say screw it and just do a water change if my nitrites don’t drop? Is it stalled? Or do nitrites just take a long time and I need to keep dosing ammonia and be patient? I really want to just wait it out and let the nitrite drop without doing a water change because I’ve heard from other people that this is the way to go but what is your opinion. Lol my husband and I are worry warts and just want the best for our plants and our patience to get fish in haha. Thank you
 
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RedOnion

Hey I’m butting into this forum again. You seem to know what your talking about and I just need to listen to one person while doing this haha. Will high nitrites hurt my live plants? I’m doing fishless cycling with live plants and my pure ammonia has been converting every 24 hours from 3ppm to 0. My nitrites however have been stuck around 4.0 for a few days now. Every time my ammonia reaches 0 I add more to get it back up to 3.0 but again nitrites are still stuck. Again my ammonia is doing great. It’s converting over 24 hours back to 0. I have some low nitrate readings for a few days as well. Will my plants be okay and at what point do I say screw it and just do a water change if my nitrites don’t drop? Is it stalled? Or do nitrites just take a long time and I need to keep dosing ammonia and be patient? I really want to just wait it out and let the nitrite drop without doing a water change because I’ve heard from other people that this is the way to go but what is your opinion. Lol my husband and I are worry warts and just want the best for our plants and our patience to get fish in haha. Thank you
Your plants will be fine during the cycle. I have always cycled with plants and they do just fine. However I would wait for the nitrites to go down before adding anymore ammonia. It has once taken a whole week for my nitrites to go down, so I would not worry. But this is just my 2 cents.
 
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mattgirl

Hey I’m butting into this forum again. You seem to know what your talking about and I just need to listen to one person while doing this haha. Will high nitrites hurt my live plants? I’m doing fishless cycling with live plants and my pure ammonia has been converting every 24 hours from 3ppm to 0. My nitrites however have been stuck around 4.0 for a few days now. Every time my ammonia reaches 0 I add more to get it back up to 3.0 but again nitrites are still stuck. Again my ammonia is doing great. It’s converting over 24 hours back to 0. I have some low nitrate readings for a few days as well. Will my plants be okay and at what point do I say screw it and just do a water change if my nitrites don’t drop? Is it stalled? Or do nitrites just take a long time and I need to keep dosing ammonia and be patient? I really want to just wait it out and let the nitrite drop without doing a water change because I’ve heard from other people that this is the way to go but what is your opinion. Lol my husband and I are worry warts and just want the best for our plants and our patience to get fish in haha. Thank you
Your plants shouldn't be affected at all by the nitrites. We know your cycle is still moving forward because the ammonia is going down and you are now seeing some nitrates. If you've not done a water change during the past couple of weeks go ahead and do one. Change out at least 50% of the water. It will lower the nitrites and replenish the minerals. At this point I would only be adding ammonia every 48 hours instead of every 24. doing so will give the nitrite eating bacteria a chance to catch up.
 
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Amber818

Your plants shouldn't be affected at all by the nitrites. We know your cycle is still moving forward because the ammonia is going down and you are now seeing some nitrates. If you've not done a water change during the past couple of weeks go ahead and do one. Change out at least 50% of the water. It will lower the nitrites and replenish the minerals. At this point I would only be adding ammonia every 48 hours instead of every 24. doing so will give the nitrite eating bacteria a chance to catch up.
Okay great and adding the same dose of ammonia to get it up to 3.0 like I have been doing right?
 
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mattgirl

Okay great and adding the same dose of ammonia to get it up to 3.0 like I have been doing right?
What size is your tank? I normally base the amount of ammonia on the size of the tank but if this tank has been processing that much then yes, go ahead and add the same amount but every 48 hours instead of every 24. I actually suspect your nitrites to drop to zero shortly after the water change. Don't be too concerned if it still takes a few days though.
 
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Amber818

Your plants shouldn't be affected at all by the nitrites. We know your cycle is still moving forward because the ammonia is going down and you are now seeing some nitrates. If you've not done a water change during the past couple of weeks go ahead and do one. Change out at least 50% of the water. It will lower the nitrites and replenish the minerals. At this point I would only be adding ammonia every 48 hours instead of every 24. doing so will give the nitrite eating bacteria a chance to catch up.
Also yesterday marked only a week since my tank has started. Is it still recommended to do a water change?
 
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mattgirl

Also yesterday marked only a week since my tank has started. Is it still recommended to do a water change?
One week? WOW, things are moving fast. How have you managed that?

shoot, I just realized we are on marmaaa 's thread. :( If you have one we may need to have a mod move all this over to your thread. You can ask a mod to do so by clicking the report button on your question and it can all be moved.
 
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Amber818

One week? WOW, things are moving fast. How have you managed that?

shoot, I just realized we are on marmaaa 's thread. :( If you have one we may need to have a mod move all this over to your thread. You can ask a mod to do so by clicking the report button on your question and it can all be moved.
I just reported it. Yup haha I know! It’s a 10 gallon planted tank. I have just been dosing pure ammonia and Fluval Cycle. Checking parameters everyday! I’m super happy that it’s moving this fast but it’s kindve crazy because this is my first tank and I had no idea what I was doing. I was just going by what others have done online and what do you know my tank is almost cycled I think? If these nitrites will go down haha
 
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mattgirl

I just reported it. Yup haha I know! It’s a 10 gallon planted tank. I have just been dosing pure ammonia and Fluval Cycle. Checking parameters everyday! I’m super happy that it’s moving this fast but it’s kindve crazy because this is my first tank and I had no idea what I was doing. I was just going by what others have done online and what do you know my tank is almost cycled I think? If these nitrites will go down haha
I know it is tempting to talk about this cycle on other threads but please keep your questions on this one. It makes it much easier for us to check back to see what's going on.

It is highly unusual for a cycle to move this fast even with bottled bacteria. It is possible but very unusual. Did you add anything else from a fully cycled tank? If the tank is heavily planted the bacteria on the plants may be why we are seeing what we are seeing.

Either way my recommendations still stand. Since it has only been a week though a water change may not be needed. Just continue adding ammonia every 48 hours. Instead of 3ppm 2ppm ammonia is more than enough for a tank this size.
 
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Amber818

I know it is tempting to talk about this cycle on other threads but please keep your questions on this one. It makes it much easier for us to check back to see what's going on.

It is highly unusual for a cycle to move this fast even with bottled bacteria. It is possible but very unusual. Did you add anything else from a fully cycled tank? If the tank is heavily planted the bacteria on the plants may be why we are seeing what we are seeing.

Either way my recommendations still stand. Since it has only been a week though a water change may not be needed. Just continue adding ammonia every 48 hours. Instead of 3ppm 2ppm ammonia is more than enough for a tank this size.
I’m sorry I’m new to forums. I wasn’t trying to intentionally comment on the other thread. I just wanted to message you. The only thing I can think of is that the plants I got were in another aquarium submerged at the aquarium store. They could have had bacteria already on them ? And okay will do. I’ll go down to less and dose every 48 hours. I’ll also hold off on the water change for now.
 
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mattgirl

I’m sorry I’m new to forums. I wasn’t trying to intentionally comment on the other thread. I just wanted to message you. The only thing I can think of is that the plants I got were in another aquarium submerged at the aquarium store. They could have had bacteria already on them ? And okay will do. I’ll go down to less and dose every 48 hours. I’ll also hold off on the water change for now.
I will be notified each time you comment on this thread. Should you start another thread and want to get my attention you can tag me by typing in @ mattgirl without the space between the @ and my name. I will get a notification. :)

Right now it is just going to take time to finish up this cycle. Those plants must have been in a tank with a very high bio-load to have sped up your cycle. This is an unbelievably fast cycle.
 
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Amber818

I will be notified each time you comment on this thread. Should you start another thread and want to get my attention you can tag me by typing in @ mattgirl without the space between the @ and my name. I will get a notification. :)

Right now it is just going to take time to finish up this cycle. Those plants must have been in a tank with a very high bio-load to have sped up your cycle. This is an unbelievably fast cycle.
Awesome thank you so much you. Yeah I know isn’t it?? It’s pretty cool!
 
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Amber818

I will be notified each time you comment on this thread. Should you start another thread and want to get my attention you can tag me by typing in @ mattgirl without the space between the @ and my name. I will get a notification. :)

Right now it is just going to take time to finish up this cycle. Those plants must have been in a tank with a very high bio-load to have sped up your cycle. This is an unbelievably fast cycle.
So this just happened with my nitrites! :)))
 

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mattgirl

So this just happened with my nitrites! :)))
This cycle has moved at the speed of light. That looks like the nitrites have dropped to very close to zero. Or it may look pure blue to you. I seem to see a vary slight hint of purple but that may just be my monitor. Are you seeing nitrates? If you are then I have to think this tank is cycled. :)
 
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Amber818

This cycle has moved at the speed of light. That looks like the nitrites have dropped to very close to zero. Or it may look pure blue to you. I seem to see a vary slight hint of purple but that may just be my monitor. Are you seeing nitrates? If you are then I have to think this tank is cycled. :)
It is blue. No sign of purple. It’s crazy! I’ve had nitrates for about 5 days now. It’s around 10.00 ppm
 
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mattgirl

I have to think this tank is cycled. I've never seen one cycle this fast without adding a lot of bacteria from a fully cycled tank to jump start it but the numbers don't lie. Seems the Fluval Cycle bottled bacteria was some very good stuff. I do believe this tank is ready for fish. :)
 
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Amber818

I have to think this tank is cycled. I've never seen one cycle this fast without adding a lot of bacteria from a fully cycled tank to jump start it but the numbers don't lie. Seems the Fluval Cycle bottled bacteria was some very good stuff. I do believe this tank is ready for fish. :)
Yay!!! So now I should do a 50% water change the day before I add the fish? I’m so excited to finally get a clean up crew. I have brown algae all over my plants and wood. When I do my water change I plan on stirring up some of it and sucking it up. I also plan on cleaning the glass and gravel as well just to make it nice for the fish. By doing this it won’t affect my bacterial colony right? Or what do you recommend?
 
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mattgirl

Yay!!! So now I should do a 50% water change the day before I add the fish? I’m so excited to finally get a clean up crew. I have brown algae all over my plants and wood. When I do my water change I plan on stirring up some of it and sucking it up. I also plan on cleaning the glass and gravel as well just to make it nice for the fish. By doing this it won’t affect my bacterial colony right? Or what do you recommend?
Over cleaning will remove too much bacteria. I normally recommend waiting for at least a month before doing any cleaning. If you need to clean the glass just clean one side each week. Bacteria is growing on all the surfaces in the tank. Removing too much this early may crash the cycle. Just swirl the siphon tube right above the substrate/decor to dislodge and pull out the diatoms but don't deep clean yet.

The water change before getting fish is normally just to get the nitrates down and replace the minerals lost during the long cycling process. This tank cycled so fast the nitrates didn't have a change to spike too high. Even though the nitrates are low I still recommend changing out at least half the water. That way your fish will be starting out in fresh clean water.

Keep in mind, I stress fresh clean water. We want to just change water without deep cleaning the tank. We want to give the bacteria time to get well established on everything in the tank before disturbing it.
 
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Amber818

Over cleaning will remove too much bacteria. I normally recommend waiting for at least a month before doing any cleaning. If you need to clean the glass just clean one side each week. Bacteria is growing on all the surfaces in the tank. Removing too much this early may crash the cycle. Just swirl the siphon tube right above the substrate/decor to dislodge and pull out the diatoms but don't deep clean yet.

The water change before getting fish is normally just to get the nitrates down and replace the minerals lost during the long cycling process. This tank cycled so fast the nitrates didn't have a change to spike too high. Even though the nitrates are low I still recommend changing out at least half the water. That way your fish will be starting out in fresh clean water.

Keep in mind, I stress fresh clean water. We want to just change water without deep cleaning the tank. We want to give the bacteria time to get well established on everything in the tank before disturbing it.
Awesome thank you so much!!!!
 
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Amber818

mattgirl kindve bummed out! I added ammonia last night and I have another nitrite spike. It’s purple again! Not going to add ammonia tonight but going to add it tomorrow and I’m hoping it will be blue
 
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mattgirl

mattgirl kindve bummed out! I added ammonia last night and I have another nitrite spike. It’s purple again! Not going to add ammonia tonight but going to add it tomorrow and I’m hoping it will be blue
I am sorry you got bummed out. I was hoping it wouldn't but was actually kinda thinking this might happen even though you added bottled bacteria. Cycles just don't move as quickly as yours is moving without some heavy duty bacteria added to the tank. I don't think fluval cycle is that heavy duty bacteria but was willing to accept that it might be.

All you can do is continue to feed the bacteria and give this tank the time it needs to complete this cycle.
 
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Amber818

Yeah that is what I am doing. My nitrates are going up though which is “good”. It’s just weird how it went from dark purple to blue in 24 hours but now it won’t. There was like no in between shade of purple to tell that it was going down you know?
 
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mattgirl

Yeah that is what I am doing. My nitrates are going up though which is “good”. It’s just weird how it went from dark purple to blue in 24 hours but now it won’t. There was like no in between shade of purple to tell that it was going down you know?
It was unusual but does happen from time to time. I know it was a let down when you saw them back but seeing them this early in the cycle is also unusual so I really don't know what to expect.
 
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Amber818

It was unusual but does happen from time to time. I know it was a let down when you saw them back but seeing them this early in the cycle is also unusual so I really don't know what to expect.
So nitrites are blue again. They convert from 3.0 ppm to 0 in 48 hours. Saturday is the only day I can get fish for another 2 weeks. Do you think I would be safe if I dosed it tonight to like 2.0 ppm and if it was 0 tomorrow I would be okay to get fish on Saturday?
 
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