How Long Until Ammonia Rises? Saltwater Tank

watermelon46

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Hi there, this is my first saltwater tank, and it’s been more than a week since I set it up, but no signs of ammonia. I’ve been putting in a small pinches of omega one freshwater flakes, more or less every day, but there have been days when I’ve forgotten to. It’s a 40gal, with 40 lbs of live rock and a thick bed of live sand. I put in cycling fluid on day one, but I can’t remember what the brand was. You only had to put it in once. It said on the bottle tank will be cycled between 36 and 48 hours but I didn’t seriously believe it would take that little time. The live rock spent about an hour out of water before we placed it in our tank.
Shouldn’t ammonia have showed up by now? Or does it really only take two days for the cycle? I have been testing every 5 days so it’s entirely possible I missed it somehow. Thoughts?
 
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watermelon46

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Another thing I forgot to mention is that I didn’t buy another saltwater test kit; I’m using the fluids for the freshwater ones and the color chart except for ph and ammonia, which the person at the store gave me different cards for. No living things are in the tank yet; I’m doing a fish less cycle. I’m using api test kit and the color for ammonia doesn’t really match up to any on the chart, but it looks most like 0. In fact it looks like the 0.50 on the freshwater chart so is it possible that the lady was wrong about the test fluids being the same for fw and sw? Here are pictures
 

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The API test kits for FW and SW are the same. There's no difference for the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate test kits.

A pinch of flake food in a 40G tank in less than 2 weeks probably does not have enough nutrients broken down yet to trigger a spike in ammonia. You can try adding more food, for slightly better results, buy a piece of raw shrimp and toss it in there. That should register ammonia within a week. For the best and instant result, I typically recommend going with actual ammonia, you can look into Dr. Tim's ammonia. Basically, you dose to 1-2PPM of ammonia, sit back and watch the cycle.

Wait - I just re-read your post... you're using live rocks? where did you get it from? If your live rocks were purchased from the LFS and straight into your tank in saltwater then your cycle should've been an instance cycle. You wouldn't need to cycle it. Like Bill said, check your Nitrate. Though, with the API test kit, Nitrates might be hard to read since the test kit range is a lot higher.
 
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watermelon46

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Yes I bought live rock from the lfs. But doesn’t it need to be cycled? I did show a picture of ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates, and nitrates are at 0. But could be that it’s higher, just closer to 0 so api kit reads it as 0.You said freshwater and saltwater api tests are the same, but are the color charts too? If so I’m at 0.50 ppm. So if the live rock from the lfs is mature/cycled, I don’t need to add any food? Also it is possible that the fluid I added was dr Tim’s. In that case I would not need to add ammonia, but I don’t know if it is dr tims or not.
You tell me if I should continue to feed or just sit back and watch the cycle, like you said. Or if it already is cycled. And if the color charts are the same for freshwater and saltwater, then I have 0.50 ppm of ammonia, which must mean that I am partway in my cycle. Even though nitrites currently read 0
 

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if you bought live rocks from your LFS - it should be already cycled. Live rocks that's been in their big vats are typically matured and already growing beneficial bacteria.
As for the API color charts, it is the same. I personally don't think you're actually seeing 0.5 PPM of Ammonia. If you want to be 100% certain at this point, I would find pure ammonia, either from Dr Tims or something to that nature. Dose to 2PPM Ammonia and check next day. It's the same cycle as freshwater, so by next day, you should see a drop in ammonia and a spike in Nitrite/Nitrate.
 
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watermelon46

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Thanks for the help. I will for sure ask next time at the local fish store if the rock I got was cured. You can see above when I posted pictures that the ammonia lined up with the 0.5 so I think it must be. I put it here. And also I’ll check next time at the lfs to see if what I bought was dr. Tim’s. So you said to be sure to dose a couple ppm of Dr. Tim’s . If I do this does this mean it will do a cycle even if it’s already cycled? Or at least be broken down to nitrites and nitrates because even after the nitrogen cycle those processes still happen, correct? So I can just watch it happen and when it’s all done I’ll know for sure if I can start stocking.Hope this will work.
 

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Was the rock pulled wet out of a tank or was it dry or mostly dry when you bought it? That would be the best indicator as to whether or not it was established or whether it needs to cycle (outside of testing of course). API freshwater test will work for saltwater (at least for Ammonia, Nitrate and Nitrite) although it should be noted that API is arguably the least accurate of all the tests. Going forward I would suggest upgrading to Red Sea, Salifert, etc.
 
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watermelon46

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The live rock pulled was pulled out from a tank in the lfs. Does this mean it’s an instant cycle? Should I not add Dr. Tim’s?
 
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watermelon46

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Just went down to 0.25 ppm
If I put it snails and hermit crabs will that speed up the cycle? Of course I will add invertebrates as a cuc for the live rock and eventually corals, but how will inverts affect the cycle?
 
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