How do I know when my tank is fully cycled?

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cheesepuff

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So my tank has yet to go through a full cycle. I'm still kinda new to this. I gave it a dose of the starter bacteria to get things going about 2 days ago. I have read the nitrogen cycle sticky (still kinda trying to understand it all)

how will I know when my tank is fully cycled?
 
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Rivieraneo

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Simple, your filter acts somewhat like a septic tank or the good bacteria in your stomach. Your filter holds media that bacteria attach itself to. These bacteria are known as nitrosomona and nitrobacter. One uses ammonia as food for energy, the other nitrite. So when your fish produce ammonia, one set of bacteria oxidizes the ammonia and converts it to nitrite, your second set oxidizes nitrite and turns it into nitrate.

You know your tank is cycled when it has 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and between 10-40ppm of nitrate.
 
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cheesepuff

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cool. So just keep doing water tests every few days till I achieve those specs? I have the API mater test kit coming in on Tuesday.
 
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Rivieraneo

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Test your tap water first after using a dechlorinator to see if your tap water already has ammonia, nitrite or nitrate in it. This will allow you to form a base line. Usually, your ammonia will spike, the gradually start to come down while your nitrites spike. Eventually in a few weeks, ammonia and nitrite will level off to 0.
 
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cheesepuff

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Currently my water specs are as such

Nitrate 5 ppm

Ammonia 0.25 ppm

Nitrite 0.25 ppm

PH 8.2 through 8.4

I'm kind of worried about the pH. The alkalinity of the water is far too high for the fish I have. I have driftwood in the tank, but obviously that's not enough.

 

DanB80TTS

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Test your tap water, if it is around that ph or higher then you know the source of the problem and can take neccesary action.
 
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cheesepuff

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The tap water I have has a pH of 7.8. I do not have city water, I have well water.

 

Jsigmo

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I don't see that pH as being a problem for some fish.

Try letting some of the well water sit out in an open container for 24 to 48 hours and then test the pH. This will likely be closer to the aquarium reading, and will be the real pH of your well water after a lot of the CO2 has off-gassed.
 

KarenLM

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I too am on well water with quite a high pH. I buy distilled drinking water and mix one part bottled water and two parts well water for all my water changes.

This keeps my pH a little lower.

Most people on here would tell you to stay away from chemical pH adjustment products, and most fish will be quite happy in a wide range of pH levels as long as it's consistent.

Your driftwood will help lower pH a little as will peat moss in the back of your filter (I don't use peat moss).
 
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cheesepuff

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The water does go through a water softener for the entire house. The biggest problem seems to be with my ghost shrimp. A lot of them are dying off

 

KarenLM

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If you have a water softener for the well you will want to use a product to put trace elements back in the water. I'll do some checking on them for you and post again.

Edit: CindiL - do you have a suggestion for the type of product I'm thinking about?
 

Jsigmo

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Or, you can blend your raw well water with the softened water to get the hardness you want.
 

Bijou88

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Seachem equilibrium I believe is what you're thinking of KarenLM, might double check though. ..

 
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cheesepuff

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Just got back from my local pet smart and had my water tested there too just to see if I used the api master test kit right and their results were far different. It said my water was really really bad. Everything but the chlorine was at Super high levels and the ph was over 8.4

What the heck is going on? The woman said to do a 20% water change and add water treatment, but the man said to just wait it out.

What do I do?

 

Bijou88

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That depends on how bad the results were. ..what were the numbers?

 
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cheesepuff

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I don't remember, but it was all towards the "bad" colors on the chart.

 

Dom90

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KarenLM said:
If you have a water softener for the well you will want to use a product to put trace elements back in the water. I'll do some checking on them for you and post again.

Edit: CindiL - do you have a suggestion for the type of product I'm thinking about?



 

DanB80TTS

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The API test kit is really easy to use. Fill three test tubes to the line with tank water.

In the first, use ammonia bottle 1 and add 8drops, then take ammonia bottle 2 and add 8drops, cap it, shake it for 5 seconds, set it down and leave it.

Take the nitrite bottle, add 5drops to the second test tube, cap it, shake it for 5 seconds, set it down on the right of the first tube.

Finally, take nitrate bottle 1 and put 10 drops in the third tube, then take nitrate bottle 2 and shake it really well, give it a few hard hits with your palm on the bottom and shake it some more, then add 10 drops of it to the tube, cap it, give this one a good 30 second shake. Then set it down to the right of the last tube.

wait 5 minutes or so and then check the results. If you set them down the way I said then it's real easy to remember ammonia-nitrite-nitrate
 
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cheesepuff

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I took another reading with the API master test kit. The ammonia levels remained at .25 ppm, but the nitrites have spiked to the highest level.

 

DanB80TTS

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Ok well it sounds like you are halfway through the cycle. If your nitrites are off the chart then you need to do a water change asap. Nitrites are very bad for fish and it's almost certainly what is killing the shrimp.
High nitrites will also stall the cycle, I know this from experience.
i would suggest a 50% water change, wait an hour,do another 50% water change and then retest.
If you don't have time to do that right now then I would dose prime if you have it, that will make the tank safe for 24hrs.
 
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