Help with API nitrate test results fishless cycling

katorimom

HI everyone, I'm fishless cycling with Dr Tim's ammonia and Tetra Safe Start+. I refuse to use fish. Don't want to risk any lives. Tank has no decor except for a sand substrate.

Anyway, I've been at this for over a month. The filter is now processing 2.8 ml of ammonia in 48 hours. I would like to eventually stock my tank all at once. It's a 20 long.

About the nitrate test. A few days ago, the nitrates were at 40. Starting yesterday, every time I add regent #1 to the test tube, it instantly turns the water a golden brown. Continuing with regent #2 gives the same result. No color change, stays golden brown. I know all about the banging & shaking of regent #2.

It's not the test kit, as I just tested my other aquarium with the same kit. Nitrates are a 5. Regent #1 turned the water the typical yellow as it is supposed to. Test kit is not near expiration date.

So today, ammonia was at 0 ( filter had processed the 2.8 ml in 48 hours), nitrites are 0 (never saw any with Safe Start +. And nitrates are unknown since I can't get past regent #1.

My tap water is soft kh 3, and the pH had dropped from 7.4 to 6.2 over the course of a couple weeks. I added cuttlebone to the filter, as I couldn't find crushed coral locally.

Any thoughts about the nitrates? What should I do? Thank you.
 

Inner10

HI everyone, I'm fishless cycling with Dr Tim's ammonia and Tetra Safe Start+. I refuse to use fish. Don't want to risk any lives. Tank has no decor except for a sand substrate.

Anyway, I've been at this for over a month. The filter is now processing 2.8 ml of ammonia in 48 hours. I would like to eventually stock my tank all at once. It's a 20 long.

About the nitrate test. A few days ago, the nitrates were at 40. Starting yesterday, every time I add regent #1 to the test tube, it instantly turns the water a golden brown. Continuing with regent #2 gives the same result. No color change, stays golden brown. I know all about the banging & shaking of regent #2.

It's not the test kit, as I just tested my other aquarium with the same kit. Nitrates are a 5. Regent #1 turned the water the typical yellow as it is supposed to. Test kit is not near expiration date.

So today, ammonia was at 0 ( filter had processed the 2.8 ml in 48 hours), nitrites are 0 (never saw any with Safe Start +. And nitrates are unknown since I can't get past regent #1.

My tap water is soft kh 3, and the pH had dropped from 7.4 to 6.2 over the course of a couple weeks. I added cuttlebone to the filter, as I couldn't find crushed coral locally.

Any thoughts about the nitrates? What should I do? Thank you.

It sounds like you've got something oxidizing the first solution right off the snap rendering your test useless. Seeing as you only have a sand substrate I'd start pointing the finger there. For the heck of it I'd mix 2.5ml or tank water with 2.5ml of fresh water and run the test to see if you get similar results.

Out of all the test in that kit the Nitrate is the most finicky. But luckily for us it's probably the least important.
 

katorimom

To get regent #1 to stay yellow, I had to use 75% tap water. The nitrates tested at more than 40 and less than 60. If I multiply that times 4, the nitrates are around 200.
Don't know if you saw the rest of my first post. It was long. It said I also have cuttlebone in the filter to keep the pH stable.
Will nitrates this high crash my fishless cycle by killing the beneficial bacteria? Thank you.
 

Inner10

To get regent #1 to stay yellow, I had to use 75% tap water. The nitrates tested at more than 40 and less than 60. If I multiply that times 4, the nitrates are around 200.
Don't know if you saw the rest of my first post. It was long. It said I also have cuttlebone in the filter to keep the pH stable.
Will nitrates this high crash my fishless cycle by killing the beneficial bacteria? Thank you.

I don't know about high nitrates crashing a cycle, I've never had it happen personally but I think the highest I've ever gotten up to was less than 150. It sounds like your tank is crying for a water change to lower the nitrates, and it sounds like it's ready for some fish after you swap the water.
 

StarGirl

Are you changing water at all?
 

katorimom

No but I'm going to as soon as I finish my dinner lol. Since there's no living creatures in there, how much do you think I should change?
 

StarGirl

Start with 50% then test tomorrow and see what you get for readings.
 

mattgirl

It is time for a water change to get those nitrates down. Quite often when they get this high the test goes all wonky. I would change out at the very least 80% of the water. I have a feeling you will find that your cycle is done but is too far out of balance to show you that it is.

Be sure to use your water conditioner and temp match the new water
 

katorimom

It is time for a water change to get those nitrates down. Quite often when they get this high the test goes all wonky. I would change out at the very least 80% of the water. I have a feeling you will find that your cycle is done but is too far out of balance to show you that it is.

Be sure to use your water conditioner and temp match the new water
Thank you so much everyone. Really appreciate it. Off to change water
 

mattgirl

Will nitrates this high crash my fishless cycle by killing the beneficial bacteria? Thank you.
oops, sorry, I missed this question earlier. No, they won't crash your cycle. I have seen cycles stall or slow way down when both nitrites and nitrates are off the chart like your nitrates are (or were if you have done the water change) but have not seen off the charts nitrates stalling the cycle. The only problem with them being this high is you can't know whether your cycle is done or not until you get them down.
 

katorimom

I'm so glad. I was really worried I'd be starting all over again. Did the water change matching temp & adding dechlorinator. Will test everything again tomorrow. Thank you so much again.
 

mattgirl

I'm so glad. I was really worried I'd be starting all over again. Did the water change matching temp & adding dechlorinator. Will test everything again tomorrow. Thank you so much again.
You are so very welcome. Please let us know what you are seeing tomorrow. If the water change took your ammonia down to zero you may want to dose it back up to about 2ppm.
 

katorimom

You are so very welcome. Please let us know what you are seeing tomorrow. If the water change took your ammonia down to zero you may want to dose it back up to about 2ppm.
Hi,
Last night I drained the water down to about an inch above the sand. A couple hours before the water change I had added 3 ml of ammonia since it was at zero. I would guess most/all of the 3 ml went down the drain during the water change.

Noon readings today, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, pH 7.4, nitrate between 5 and 10. Yay, nitrate test works again. Just dosed 2.5 ml ammonia. Will test everything again around the same time tomorrow.

I think I'm supposed to get the filter to process 3 or 4 ml ammonia in 24 hours because I want to add all my fish at once? It's going to be a Cory only tank. Want to get either 6 false jullI or 6 peppered Corys. And 6 pygmy Corys if my local store has them. So between 6 and 12 fish in total.

It's a 20 gallon long tank. Filter is a Seachem tidal wave 55. The flow rate is very adjustable. What's not in the tank yet is the decor. A piece of Malaysia driftwood and a piece of Spiderwood. A few smooth rocks. Also have java moss, java fern, anubias and floating water sprite. I'm afraid to add the wood because I don't know if some of the ammonia would be absorbed by and stay inside of the wood. Afraid to add the plants because I don't know if the high ammonia dosing would kill them.

Any thoughts? Thank you so much.
 

mattgirl

Hi,
Last night I drained the water down to about an inch above the sand. A couple hours before the water change I had added 3 ml of ammonia since it was at zero. I would guess most/all of the 3 ml went down the drain during the water change.

Noon readings today, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, pH 7.4, nitrate between 5 and 10. Yay, nitrate test works again. Just dosed 2.5 ml ammonia. Will test everything again around the same time tomorrow.

I think I'm supposed to get the filter to process 3 or 4 ml ammonia in 24 hours because I want to add all my fish at once? It's going to be a Cory only tank. Want to get either 6 false jullI or 6 peppered Corys. And 6 pygmy Corys if my local store has them. So between 6 and 12 fish in total.

It's a 20 gallon long tank. Filter is a Seachem tidal wave 55. The flow rate is very adjustable. What's not in the tank yet is the decor. A piece of Malaysia driftwood and a piece of Spiderwood. A few smooth rocks. Also have java moss, java fern, anubias and floating water sprite. I'm afraid to add the wood because I don't know if some of the ammonia would be absorbed by and stay inside of the wood. Afraid to add the plants because I don't know if the high ammonia dosing would kill them.

Any thoughts? Thank you so much.
Congratulations!!! I do believe you have successfully cycled your tank. If you see 0 ammonia and 0 nitrites tomorrow I think you can consider this tank cycled and ready for fish. 6 or even 12 corys won't have a huge bio-load so if this tank will cycle 2ppm ammonia through to nitrates within 24 hours there should be plenty to handle their bio-load. 3 or 4 ppm isn't a problem but I don't think that much is necessary. I would go ahead and add all the plants and decor, including the driftwood. The driftwood shouldn't absorb and retain the ammonia. By adding all the decor and plants you are giving the bacteria more places to colonize on.

The ammonia shouldn't hurt your plants. They will use it as a food source.
 

katorimom

Congratulations!!! I do believe you have successfully cycled your tank. If you see 0 ammonia and 0 nitrites tomorrow I think you can consider this tank cycled and ready for fish. 6 or even 12 corys won't have a huge bio-load so if this tank will cycle 2ppm ammonia through to nitrates within 24 hours there should be plenty to handle their bio-load. 3 or 4 ppm isn't a problem but I don't think that much is necessary. I would go ahead and add all the plants and decor, including the driftwood. The driftwood shouldn't absorb and retain the ammonia. By adding all the decor and plants you are giving the bacteria more places to colonize on.

The ammonia shouldn't hurt your plants. They will use it as a food source.
Thank you so very much again and again. Hope it tests as cycled tomorrow, if not it should be getting close. Will be adding all the plants and decor within the next couple of days. It will be so nice to have something in the tank besides sand
 

mattgirl

Thank you so very much again and again. Hope it tests as cycled tomorrow, if not it should be getting close. Will be adding all the plants and decor within the next couple of days. It will be so nice to have something in the tank besides sand
Please be sure to share it with us. We love seeing everyone's tanks.
 

katorimom

Please be sure to share it with us. We love seeing everyone's tanks.
Oh darn, the 2.5 ml ammonia I added yesterday at noon was down to 1.0 ammonia at noon today. Guess it's not cycled yet. Nitrites still 0, nitrates up to 20 from yesterday's 5 to 10. Will retest tomorrow same time. Do you think I should lower the next ammonia dose to 2 ml once it hopefully reads 0 tomorrow?
Can I use Prime the next time the nitrates get too high? I' used API dechlorinator yesterday and one other time when the nitrates went to 160. Both times now it seems that the API sent the cycle back. I mixed it into the tank water real well before refilling, so I don't know what the problem might be. Thank you so much.
 

mattgirl

Oh darn, the 2.5 ml ammonia I added yesterday at noon was down to 1.0 ammonia at noon today. Guess it's not cycled yet. Nitrites still 0, nitrates up to 20 from yesterday's 5 to 10. Will retest tomorrow same time. Do you think I should lower the next ammonia dose to 2 ml once it hopefully reads 0 tomorrow?
Can I use Prime the next time the nitrates get too high? I' used API dechlorinator yesterday and one other time when the nitrates went to 160. Both times now it seems that the API sent the cycle back. I mixed it into the tank water real well before refilling, so I don't know what the problem might be. Thank you so much.
I was hoping you would see 0 today but we are still seeing forward progress so it is still just a waiting game. I really think 2ppm will be enough.
Since this is a fishless cycle any water conditioner will be fine. There is no need to detox anything when no fishes lives are at risk. I can;t imagine the conditioner causing any kind of slow down nor can I imagine it being the cause of the high nitrates.

At least you can use this waiting time to get your plants and decor in place so you wil have something other than an empty tank to look at.
 

katorimom

I was hoping you would see 0 today but we are still seeing forward progress so it is still just a waiting game. I really think 2ppm will be enough.
Since this is a fishless cycle any water conditioner will be fine. There is no need to detox anything when no fishes lives are at risk. I can;t imagine the conditioner causing any kind of slow down nor can I imagine it being the cause of the high nitrates.

At least you can use this waiting time to get your plants and decor in place so you wil have something other than an empty tank to look at.
Okay thank you again for the many helpful responses. I appreciate it so very much.
 

mattgirl

Okay thank you again for the many helpful responses. I appreciate it so very much.
I know I am just a faceless person on an internet forum but I really do care.

I just read back through this thread and realized that I missed the fact that you have another cycled tank. If that is the case you could use some of the media from that tank to finish up this cycle. Once someone has one fully cycled tank there is no reason to ever have to go through this long drawn out process again. For instance. I keep extra sponge filters running in my main what some would consider over stocked tank. When I need to set up another tank I can pull one or more of those sponges out of this tank and basically instantly cycle another tank.

I think you are very close to done with this cycle though so pulling media from your cycled tank may not be necessary at this point. I do think it will help this tank if you will go ahead and put your plants and decor in it. By doing so you will be giving the bacteria more surface area to attach to. I can't prove that but it just makes sense to me.
 

katorimom

I hate this 3 kh city water. The ammonia level that was 1.0 yesterday only went down to .50 today. Tested the ph. It's down to 6.8 from 7.4 on the 28th. Nitrites 0 Nitrates up a little to 30. There's half a cuttlebone in the tank. I guess it's failing. The pH had been pretty much a 7.4 since the 16th, even when the nitrates were off the chart. I'm wondering if the huge water change on the 28th pulled the cuttlebone buffering out. Not sure what to do now, add more cuttlebone, some baking soda, change some water or do nothing? I'm so sorry. Such strange things keep happening.
 

katorimom

Yes, I have a cycled 60 gallon tank but I'm afraid of transferring something if I use the media. There's a pair of angels (3 years) and a bristle pleco (10 years) in it. The pleco has never been affected, but the angels have had hexamita more than once, along with one angel having a feeler fin issue (fungal,bacterial, nothing that could ever be diagnosed for sure.) Fin still looks strange now but it's the longest it's been in a year. Just know it wasn't an injury.
 

mattgirl

You may want to use crushed coral in place of the cuttlebone. I have very soft water with very low gh and kh. I keep CC in my filters to keep my PH up and stable. Personally I could never be comfortable using baking soda to control my PH. Some folks do and have had no problems doing so but it is a temporary fix. The CC very slowly dissolves and as it does it stabilizes the PH.

I also keep seashells in all of my tanks. I have to replace them as they slowly dissolve. For me they serve a double purpose. They make nice decor and also help keep my numbers stable.
Yes, I have a cycled 60 gallon tank but I'm afraid of transferring something if I use the media. There's a pair of angels (3 years) and a bristle pleco (10 years) in it. The pleco has never been affected, but the angels have had hexamita more than once, along with one angel having a feeler fin issue (fungal,bacterial, nothing that could ever be diagnosed for sure.) Fin still looks strange now but it's the longest it's been in a year. Just know it wasn't an injury.
I understand your reluctance to using media from a tank you fear may have problems.
 

katorimom

Our city water is so unnatural now. Used to be 3 kh, 4gh, 6.8 pH. A year ago they added something else to it, so now it's consistently 3 kh, 4 gh, 7.4 pH. It remains stable in my 60 by doing a 40 percent weekly water change. Can't find crushed coral or seashells that aren't coated available locally. So I guess for today , I'll try adding a little bit baking soda and the other half of the cuttlebone to try and get the pH back up to 7.0 or so.
 

katorimom

I have good news & bad...The tank fully cycled on Monday. I was so excited. Tuesday I fell and broke my thumb. 6 weeks in a cast to look forward to. Think I should keep feeding ammonia to keep it going? Or call it a lost cause and let the bacteria die off? I'm so sad
 

mattgirl

I have good news & bad...The tank fully cycled on Monday. I was so excited. Tuesday I fell and broke my thumb. 6 weeks in a cast to look forward to. Think I should keep feeding ammonia to keep it going? Or call it a lost cause and let the bacteria die off? I'm so sad
Oh my goodness, I am sorry to hear this. I would continue adding ammonia to keep the bacteria fed. Adding a little bit every other day should keep the nitrates from getting out of hand but will still keep the bacteria fed until your thumb is healed.
 

katorimom

Oh my goodness, I am sorry to hear this. I would continue adding ammonia to keep the bacteria fed. Adding a little bit every other day should keep the nitrates from getting out of hand but will still keep the bacteria fed until your thumb is healed.
Thank you so much. I'm so happy I won't have to start over from scratch How much is a little bit? I'm using this syringe, which is pretty accurate.
IMG_20200213_103211.jpg
 

katorimom

Thank you so much. I'm so happy I won't have to start over from scratch How much is a little bit? I'm using this syringe, which is pretty accurate.
IMG_20200213_103211.jpg
Trying to send the pic again
IMG_20200213_103211.jpg
 

mattgirl

I have forgotten what size your tank is so don't know how much ammonia you will need to add. I would add enough to get it up to about 2ppm every other day.
 

katorimom

mattgirl

It is showing up for me each time
 

katorimom

Okay, thank you so very much again. I appreciate all the help you've given me.
 

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