Is My Cycle Done?

  • Thread starter

eljajkeo22

New Member
Messages
37
Reaction score
37
Points
8
I've seen some other posts in regards to fishless cycling, and have also read several library guidelines to the point where I can almost recite them - yet I still managed to have a question.

I started fishless cycle dosing back on 1/6 - ended up dosing 30mL of ammonia to my 55 gallon to get an ammonia level of approx 3-4ppm (I plan on fully stocking my aquarium at once, so I'm dosing and an elevated level). Long story short - It took about 12 days for my ammonia to drop to almost zero (had a twinge of green - not quite zero, not quite 0.25). I redosed 30mL a few times now and am at the point where at the 24 hr mark, my ammonia reading is basically zero - again, very very slight twinge of green.

So on to nitrite - the first day I was at zero ammonia within 24hr of dosing, I also checked nitrite, expecting a massive reading. To my surprise it was zero. I dosed another 30mL of ammonia, and an hour or so later tested nitrite, and there was a slight reading (maybe 0.5ppm). at the 12 hour mark, my nitrtie was at maybe 4ppm (I really cant tell a difference between 2/4/8 ppm on the color chart). Then at the 24hr mark, the nitrite had dropped back to non-detect.

So my question is - is my cycle done already?? My understanding was that the nitrite cycle can take 2-3 times longer than my ammonia cycle. My ammonia cycle took a good 3 weeks to get from 4ppm to virtually 0ppm within 24hrs, so I was a little surprised to already see my nitrite rising then dropping to zero again by the 24hr mark. Is it possible my nitrite bacteria grew simultaneously with my ammonia bacteria? Seems too quick for me to be done done, but at the same time I am getting a nitrite reading shortly after dosing, which then drops back to zero - so it has to be going somewhere.

I just dont want to jump the gun with adding fish prematurely and have a fishpocalypse.

Thanks
 

RookieTank

Valued Member
Messages
251
Reaction score
36
Points
63
Experience
1 year
If you are dosing 3-4ppm of ammonia and 24 hours later ammonia and nitrites are reading 0, you are done.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter

eljajkeo22

New Member
Messages
37
Reaction score
37
Points
8
thats good news. checked my nitrate a few minutes ago and it pretty much maxed out the API test - 160ppm. Doing a 30% change now - will probably do another 30% change or two this afternoon/ evening and a daily 30% change this point forward. I will continue dosing 30mL Ammonia every other day until I add fish (will do my last dose 2-3 days before heading to LFS). I add direct to aquarium from faucet - so I plan on adding 5mL (full aquarium volume dose) of Prime during each change to eliminate chlorine/chloramine in my tap water.

Let me know if anybody else has any other input or if something in my gameplan sounds incorrect.

Thanks!
 

mattgirl

Fishlore Legend
Messages
10,051
Reaction score
9,011
Points
758
Experience
More than 10 years
You will know more about where you are in your cycle once you get those nitrates down to close to 20. I know 10 and 20 look the same on the color chart so if I see orange I consider it good enough.

Did you add any kind of bottled bacteria? Your nitrite phase is kinda unusual but each tank/cycle is different so I wouldn't be concerned with the way yours is acting.

Once you get the nitrates down, your cycle continues to process your chosen amount of ammonia to zero within 24 hours and you are seeing no nitrites then you can consider your cycle complete.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter

eljajkeo22

New Member
Messages
37
Reaction score
37
Points
8
I did not add any bottled bacteria, however, this is not a brand brand new setup. I had something major happen late last year and had to completely restart everything. New substrate, all new water, thoroughly cleaned aquarium, all decorations, filter, etc. HOWEVER - I did not rinse or clean any of the ceramic bio beads in my canister filter. So I am assuming there was still some bio activity going on there, which may explain the nitrite behavior during my fishless cycle.

As far as nitrate - i just tested again after my first 30% change and I'm still probably close to 100ppm. I work closely with a company that deals with water treatment and did buy a small amount of nitrate resin (expensive - $20 for a pound of the stuff). I initially bought this because I have a fairly high nitrate level in my tap water - it reads around 40ppm on the API test kit. I built a little inline canister filter from PVC that I packed with this resin. When I run the tap water through this contraption, the nitrate is zero. I was thinking of putting this in line in my filter outlet line which would then constantly be removing nitrate as it filters. Any reason that would cause any issues? I feel this might knock my nitrates down to virtually nothing in a matter of a few hours. Obviously, I would still do regular water changes - I do not intend for this resin to replace water changes once I have fish. Thoughts? And if I do get my nitrate down to zero via this filtration setup, and I still get zero ammonia/nitrite after 24hrs from dosing - am I ultimately ready for fish?

In whole house systems, this resin is periodically regenerated with a salt solution (just like a water softener) - so I am hoping to prolong the life of the resin by periodically taking it out of the filter line and flushing with a salt solution.

Thanks
 

mattgirl

Fishlore Legend
Messages
10,051
Reaction score
9,011
Points
758
Experience
More than 10 years
This is a very interesting concept. I can't see anything but good results by removing the nitrates the way you are doing it as long as water changes are done occasionally. Water changes are mostly done to lower nitrates but if they can be removed this way weekly water changes shouldn't be necessary.

I would have to say yes, as long as you are seeing zero ammonia and nitrites after 24 hours of dosing for several days in a row I would think this tank should be ready for fish.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter

eljajkeo22

New Member
Messages
37
Reaction score
37
Points
8
Sounds good - thank you for your input - Its around 11:45AM right now - Ill put the nitrate canister in-line in the next couple minutes - I can post later today with a followup on how it performed.

Thank you for your input!
 

The Hunter

Valued Member
Messages
73
Reaction score
36
Points
18
Experience
5 to 10 years
just add fish slowly. youre ready for sure!
 

Guppy nerd

New Member
Messages
42
Reaction score
16
Points
18
Experience
More than 10 years
Very interesting idea on how to keep nitrates down... Please keep us posted and possibly where you get the resin or how you did your canister filter if it works out? It could be an awesome way to keep our little ones healthy, and cut down on water changes..
 

CaptAnnDuchow

Well Known Member
Messages
1,735
Reaction score
1,274
Points
183
Experience
Just started
This is such am interesting concept..cant wait to hear resluts
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter

eljajkeo22

New Member
Messages
37
Reaction score
37
Points
8
kind of in a win/lose situation here. Canister is working however, apparently my filter cannot keep up with the backpressure caused by the packed cylinder. My flow out of the filter fell to a trickle.

Round 2 I had a MagPump sitting around - so as things stand, I have my regular filter going and then a secondary pump going that is just going through the nitrate filter I made. a few minutes after it started flowing, the water flowing out of the magpump/nitrate canister is at that impossible to decipher 10-20ppm nitrate range. This is down from probably 100ppm+ going in the inlet of the filter (deep blood red color after 5 minute reaction time). So its definitely doing its job.

This wont be a permanent setup though as the magpump is quite loud and rattley - I dont want to be listening to that all the time. Option 2 is run some tubing down to basement and put the pump down there in the celing joists (but then I'd be worried about head pressure). Option 3 is get one of those mesh bags at the pet store and throw a baggie of the resin in my canister filter (which sucks becuase I spent a lot of money engineering these canister filters with hose adapters, etc for easy connection/disconnection).

At the very least - these canisters can completely take alll nitrate out of my tap water, so if I cant get a filter setup to work, at least I can do waterchanges with nitrate free water. I'll keep you guys updated.

The Hunter said:
just add fish slowly. youre ready for sure!
A little concerned by this comment - I cycled my aquarium at the 3-4ppm range as opposed to the normal 1-2ppm to give myself a heavy bio load. I am going to be doing a cichlid setup, and would like to add all my fish at once to avoid territory issues that can occur when adding fish at different. Thoughts here?? I read that dosing at 3-4ppm is sufficient to handle a full load of fish at once
 

The Hunter

Valued Member
Messages
73
Reaction score
36
Points
18
Experience
5 to 10 years
eljajkeo22 said:
A little concerned by this comment - I cycled my aquarium at the 3-4ppm range as opposed to the normal 1-2ppm to give myself a heavy bio load. I am going to be doing a cichlid setup, and would like to add all my fish at once to avoid territory issues that can occur when adding fish at different. Thoughts here?? I read that dosing at 3-4ppm is sufficient to handle a full load of fish at once
just dont add 40 fish at once! 20-25 cichlids should be fine!!! sorry to confuse you!
 

mattgirl

Fishlore Legend
Messages
10,051
Reaction score
9,011
Points
758
Experience
More than 10 years
eljajkeo22 said:
A little concerned by this comment - I cycled my aquarium at the 3-4ppm range as opposed to the normal 1-2ppm to give myself a heavy bio load. I am going to be doing a cichlid setup, and would like to add all my fish at once to avoid territory issues that can occur when adding fish at different. Thoughts here?? I read that dosing at 3-4ppm is sufficient to handle a full load of fish at once
The few at a time fish is usually reserved for new tanks that don't have enough bacteria to handle a high bio-load. In your case you should have enough bacteria built up to go ahead and fully stock your tank.

Hopefully you can fine tune your nitrate removing set up to work automatically but even removing what is in your tap water will be a giant step in the right direction. At least you won't be pouring water with high nitrates in there during a water change and you should actually be able to keep them down with water changes.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter

eljajkeo22

New Member
Messages
37
Reaction score
37
Points
8
Ok cool - Was probably going to be adding about a dozen juveniles tops.

I wont have anymore updates today in regards to nitrate levels. I redesigned my 'cartridge' and am now back at a good flow from my regular filter, even having the nitrate resin in-line with it. I will let it go overnight and see what nitrate looks like after work tomorrow. Should be able to post something by 7pm or so.

Fingers crossed that it actually works!
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter

eljajkeo22

New Member
Messages
37
Reaction score
37
Points
8
Ok just got done doing some testing - Where it stands, I dont have the pleasure of announcing zero nitrate in my tank - however, I can say that the level did reduce rather significantly. I did a side by side of my tank vs tap water, and my tank looks to be lower in nitrate than the tap water. The tap definitely has a more reddish tint to it. If i had to guess, the tap is closer to 40 and aquarium somewhere between 20 and 30. Little concerning that my tap is so high being on municipal, as regulatory limits are set at 10ppm for nitrate.

So as to why I am not at zero - Not sure. Maybe I saturated the resin with such a high load? I will try flushing with salt brine solution and putting back in place overnight. I'll post again tomorrow after I can re-test. I'm also due for a dose of ammonia today to keep my colonies strong. Hoping to possibly add fish this weekend if my levels stay where they should.
 

Guppy nerd

New Member
Messages
42
Reaction score
16
Points
18
Experience
More than 10 years
Thanks for the update! But I am concerned now due to the high levels about your family and what you and your neighbors can't lobby to get them to reduce the nitrate levels in your drinking water? I would definitely call the municipal water source and tell them they need to give you some nitrate resin remover. Because I'm pretty sure they're not at the levels the EPA would suggest.
Keep up the good work!
Eagerly awaiting the outcome of your project! For not only your fish is sake but your families...
 

mattgirl

Fishlore Legend
Messages
10,051
Reaction score
9,011
Points
758
Experience
More than 10 years
Your reasoning about the reason for the nitrates not being lower makes sense to me. Since your nitrates were so high to begin with I can see where it could have overwhelmed the resin. Hopefully recharging it will help to get/keep the nitrates down to a safer level.

I think if it were me I would be contacting the water company to find out what is going on and asking them what they plan to do about it. Hopefully it is just a temporary spike, they are on top of it and they have plans to fix it sooner rather than later.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter

eljajkeo22

New Member
Messages
37
Reaction score
37
Points
8
I worked in the environmental lab business for several years and I know that any public supplier needs to test for a number of parameters, including nitrate, at various frequencies, and report the results to the public. I checked our report from last year and the average Nitrate was somewhere around 5 or so.

Chemistry fun time!! The discrepancy has to do with the conversion rate between "nitrate" and "nitrate as nitrogen". The drinking water regulation for nitrate is 10ppm - however, this is Nitrate-Nitrogen. I am almost certain the API test kits test for the nitrate ion, and not nitrate nitrogen. So you have to factor in the amount of nitrogen in the nitrate molecule, as well as the molecular weight of Nitrogen - the nitrate molecule is 3 oxygen (MW. 16) and 1 Nitrogen (MW 14) - so the entire molecule has a molecular weight of 62. The nitrogen atom accounts for 14 of this 62, or 14/62, or 0.226. Sooooo if you take my level of 40ppm and multiply by 0.226, you are really at a regulated level of about 9ppm which is below regulatory safety limits. yes still high, but if you take in the inherent error when reading a color chart where anything between 20 and 80 are very hard to decipher, who knows what my 'actual' number really is.

Long story short, yes I am still going to try to contact the municipality to see what the last round of testing showed as far as nitrate results, but as far as being at a super elevated or dangerous level, I think we're still within the regulated safe limits. Hope that eases some concerns!

More tomorrow!

Edit - Yes this contradicts my initial statement in a previous post about my levels in tap water. That was before I sat and thought my way through it!
 

Isobelle

Well Known Member
Messages
648
Reaction score
299
Points
98
Experience
2 years
Just as a tip if you look into your test tube without the lid on, like down the top, you can tell the colour way better!
 

Guppy nerd

New Member
Messages
42
Reaction score
16
Points
18
Experience
More than 10 years
It kind of sounded like you had some background in that kind of stuff sounds like you're on top of it keep up the good work... and could you please send us some pictures of your contraption when you're done? if you feel like sharing? thank you sir...
 
Toggle Sidebar

Aquarium Calculator

Follow FishLore!





Top Bottom