Having Issues With Fishless Cycle... Need Help...

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by Tasmainia300, Apr 21, 2017.

  1. Tasmainia300New MemberMember

    Hello, so I'm having some issues with my fishless cycle in my planted 10 gallon tank. I use an API freshwater master kit.

    I'm on the 22nd day of my cycle, which started with treated tap water and a bottle of Dr. Tims live bacteria. I use pure ammonia to feed the bacteria, dosing up to 2ppm as per the instructions.

    After a little over a week, the ammonia dropped to .5ppm, so I added a 1/4 dose of ammonia to bring the number back up to about 1ppm. 3 days later I was reading .5ppm ammonia again, and thats when my nitrites started dropping from around 2ppm down to .5ppm.

    I let it run a couple more days until the ammonia hit .25ppm and then on April 17 I added a half dose, bringing ammonia back up to a little over 1ppm.

    Since then my nitrites have not gone up at all. They went from .5ppm on the 14th to .25ppm on the 19th and they just now tested at 0ppm.

    My ammonia on the other hand has not seemed to change since the dose on the 17th. It has measured 1ppm since the 18th and still measured 1ppm today.

    I think the nitrites going down was of course normal for cycling but it feels weird to me that my ammonia isn't going down at all...

    I'm not sure what's going on with my cycle and this is the first time I've properly cycled a tank so I'm really nervous that something has gone wrong. To me it seems like my tank has stopped processing ammonia for some reason and that would explain why I'm not seeing any nitrites..

    Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated, and I'm happy to provide more info. This process has just been really stressful and sketchy for me especially since I feel like I can never guess my API kit's colors right, I'm not colorblind but I ALWAYS second and third guess whether it's one color or another..
  2. AWheelerWell Known MemberMember

  3. Tasmainia300New MemberMember

    Okay so here's the thing with my nitrates. I bought this API freshwater kit back in 2014 when I last kept fish. I know the nitrate test can give really inaccurate readings if you don't shake it enough, and trust me, I shake THE HECK out of that bottle. Regardless, my tap water (municipal water) has always tested high (40-80ppm can't tell difference) even though I know that's not even a legal limit. I haven't had it tested by a fish store, because I don't have a dedicated fish store in my town that will test for me.

    Anyways when I got back into the fish hobby recently I was tight on money and decided to use this kit again because it isn't expired. I literally spent 5 minutes shaking the nitrate bottle as hard as I could until my arms ached. I tested the water I was putting into my 10gal and it still read 40-80ppm, maybe even 160. The thing with this api kit is the colors change so drastically in even the tiniest amount of lighting change. I try to view it in the most natural even light I can, but the Nitrate test colors are just too close to tell. Idk if I should get another test kit or what, but I haven't bothered to test nitrates since then.

    I tested my Nitrates now and they read 40-80ppm still. The difference in colors is so small I just cant tell. It will look like one, and then if I move even half an inch it will look like the other...

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    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2017
  4. AllieStenFishlore VIPMember

    Is there an expiration date on the bottle? To me that reads closer to 40 than 80. Do you ever hold a white paper behind it to read it?

    Also there is a dilution test you can do. Using neutral water (distilled) that is 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrites, 0 nitrates. You use 2.5 ml of that water and 2.5 ml of tank water. And do the testing like normal. Then whatever color/result you get you multiply it by 2. It is easier to determine the actual color of your results. Then you won't question it. Distilled water is super cheap. Might be easier to do that, than to get a new kit.

  5. AWheelerWell Known MemberMember

    I don't understand how all these places are getting away with nitrates that are reading THAT high! That is barely even safe for humans! What did you do about the nitrates before? I would almost recommend a water change because it seems like something is stalling... but then again, I don't know with nitrates that high out of the tap. Do you know what your ph is?
  6. Tasmainia300New MemberMember

    Thank you for that suggestion! I'm gonna try that right now (I only drink bottled water so I'll use some of that) and I'll let you know how it goes.

    PH has read 7.6 on the normal test and 7.4 on the high range test consistently. Yeah idk how my water gets away with those levels either. That's why my trust in the test in general is so fragile :/
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2017
  7. AWheelerWell Known MemberMember

    It shouldn't be stalling because of your ph then.
  8. Tasmainia300New MemberMember

    Yeah, idk what's going on :(. Like seriously at this point I feel like I should just do a water change to reduce ammonia and put my Betta in already. I know the whole point of a fishless cycle is not getting fish until it's done but I had found the perfect betta and I just couldn't leave him at petco. I thought it would be fine because I used Dr. Tims and it was supposed to make the cycle quicker but here I am weeks later with my betta in an uncycled 5gallon without a proper display tank to put him in :(

    The expiration date for both nitrate bottles is 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2017
  9. AWheelerWell Known MemberMember

    That is a very hard choice, maybe do water changes and make sure the ammonia and nitrite are staying 0 after 24 hours and then go for it.
  10. AllieStenFishlore VIPMember

    Then I wouldn't get a new set. I would definitely try the dilution test first to see if that helps determine the color. My hubby uses a C-pap machine so we always have distilled water around. If one of the values is too tough for me to tell, I just snag some of it. It works really well.
  11. Tasmainia300New MemberMember

    Uh oh, so I just noticed my normal PH test is expired as of 01/2017. I shows 7.6 on any water I've tested, even distilled. I guess that means it's very possible my cycle stalled due to PH. But I have no way of knowing until my new kit comes on wednesday... What should I do in the meantime?

    I'm getting a new set anyways because I noticed my PH test is expired. The others are not, however. And I'm going to try the dilution test now.

    So I tested JUST my Purified water for nitrates first and got a reading of zero. However upon testing half (2.5ml) tank water and half purified water, I STILL got a reading that looks insanely high to me.... I am now CONVINCED my nitrate test is trash and I really hope my next one isn't. This whole experience has been so discouraging :(

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    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2017
  12. AWheelerWell Known MemberMember

    That makes me wonder how good these tests really are good for...Mine expire in 2020, but I've only had them about a year. I wouldn't get too upset, you said your new ones are coming soon, sounds like patience is all that is required :)
  13. NanologistWell Known MemberMember

    Try a 25% tank water 75% tap. Wouldn't be the first time someone's had 160ppm+ nitrates.

    The fact that the purified water was 0 makes me think it's still somewhat accurate.

    To me that saturated red you've been getting means it's way above 160ppm.

    It could very well be old and inaccurate though.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2017
  14. Tasmainia300New MemberMember

    Okay well if that number really is coming out of my tap, wouldn't that be not only wildly unsafe but highly illegal? I live in California.
  15. AWheelerWell Known MemberMember

    When I tested the nitrates out of the bag my guppies came in recently, the nitrates were so dark they were turning a brown color when going way past 160...isn't that normally how it goes?

    You could have the city come out and test your tap water, they might not test as high as you do though....you can also have it independently tested at a water testing facility (you'd likely have to pay for it)
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2017
  16. AllieStenFishlore VIPMember

    I totally agree. I think your nitrates are indeed that high.
  17. NanologistWell Known MemberMember

    Never seen brown on the nitrate test myself even when they were at least over 200ppm. Just really red like we're seeing here. I'm also starting to question the shades of these colors. Or maybe it's the the fact each of us perceives colors differently, especially under different lighting. One thing I learned in Color Theory 101!

    One video I liked that gave a tip on reading these colors when I first got my kit a couple years go:

    The included color card that comes with the kit isn't very good because of printing limitations. If you look closely you can even see the alternating lines of separate colors instead of it being one solid color.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2017
  18. AWheelerWell Known MemberMember

    The 160 ppm looks like a brownish red to me, so I get what you are saying about perceptions on color :)
  19. NanologistWell Known MemberMember

    Another thing to consider is that the municipal is supposed to provide no more than 10ppm but they cannot control, nor are they liable, for what happens to the water in the pipes they don't own/control. They could also not be following the EPA's regulations... look at the horrible Flint, Michigan debacle.

    The city I live in provides a yearly water quality facts sheet and even though they create and provide lead free water. Many taps they tested had measurable levels of lead...

    But this is Chicago and stuff is god awfully outdated in most neighborhoods.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2017
  20. AWheelerWell Known MemberMember

    It's hard to prove when the contamination happened too, they could know there is a problem and only test after they have done certain things to make sure they are going to pass. Old lead pipes in houses are also often blamed for lead that is in the city water source, it's hard to prove anything, but I'd still bring it to their attention to see if they are aware of it or not..

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