Is my cycle stalled ? Fishless cycle

ALH89

Hello!

I've been so patient but I'm starting to get anxious about adding fish and I'm wondering if my cycle is possibly stalled....

I've had nitrites for 3 weeks now, but the past week it's been stalled at 0.5 ppm. When I add more ammonia to get ammonia up to 2 ppm, it's taking about 48 hours for it to go back to 0 ppm. Nitrates have been about 20 ppm for at least a week, maybe closer to 2. So I know its processing but it just seems like it's taking forever! Anything I can do to speed it up? Thanks for reading
 

StarGirl

Nope you just have to wait it out. What is your pH level?
 

mattgirl

3 weeks is a bit long for the nitrite spike to be hanging on. I would change out some of the water. If you've done none since this cycle started go ahead and change out 50% of it. Be sure you both temp match and add your water conditioner to the fresh water before pouring it in there. This should get things moving forward quickly.

Once the water change is done get the ammonia back up to 2ppm. I suspect after the water change you will start seeing the ammonia drop to zero within 24 instead of 48 hours. I suspect you will see zero nitrites very soon too.
 

ALH89

Nope you just have to wait it out. What is your pH level?
pH looks like 6.6 to me
3 weeks is a bit long for the nitrite spike to be hanging on. I would change out some of the water. If you've done none since this cycle started go ahead and change out 50% of it. Be sure you both temp match and add your water conditioner to the fresh water before pouring it in there. This should get things moving forward quickly.

Once the water change is done get the ammonia back up to 2ppm. I suspect after the water change you will start seeing the ammonia drop to zero within 24 instead of 48 hours. I suspect you will see zero nitrites very soon too.
Thanks I will do a water change then and hope it'll move it along!
 

mattgirl

the ph level is slowing down the cycling process. Run the pH on your tap/source water. If it is higher than this the water change should get it back up where it needs to be. The cycling process often lowers the pH and once too low can stall the process.
 

ALH89

the ph level is slowing down the cycling process. Run the pH on your tap/source water. If it is higher than this the water change should get it back up where it needs to be. The cycling process often lowers the pH and once too low can stall the process.
Yeah the tap water is 7 or 7.2
 

mattgirl

Yeah the tap water is 7 or 7.2
The water change should help. If it continues to drop back down in the tank you may want to consider getting some crushed coral. Put about half a cup of it in a media bag and drop it in your filter. As it very slowly dissolves it will stabilize the pH close to the same as your tap water.
 

ALH89

The water change should help. If it continues to drop back down in the tank you may want to consider getting some crushed coral. Put about half a cup of it in a media bag and drop it in your filter. As it very slowly dissolves it will stabilize the pH close to the same as your tap water.
I did the water change but the nitrites are still high
 

mattgirl

I did the water change but the nitrites are still high
did the water change raise the pH in the tank? You may want to consider doing another 50% water change. The second one should lower the nitrites. first though you may want to do a dilution test. put 2.5mls tank water and 2.5mls tap water in the test tube. The results of this test should show you what you nitrites will be after the water change. I do think the water change(s) will get this cycle moving forward and get it past the nitrite spike.

At this point if the ammonia starts going down to zero within 24 hours only add more every other day instead of every 24 hours.
 

JeremyW

I think what has happened here is that your nitrite levels have gone off the chart. So you can no longer see what is happening.

I recommend that you keep changing water until your nitrite test reads a light shade of purple. 0.25-0.5ppm. Then carry on from there.

Get your levels back to a point where you can measure them. Then you will be able to see what is going on.
 

Bwood22

I think what has happened here is that your nitrite levels have gone off the chart. So you can no longer see what is happening.

I recommend that you keep changing water until your nitrite test reads a light shade of purple. 0.25-0.5ppm. Then carry on from there.

Get your levels back to a point where you can measure them. Then you will be able to see what is going on.
That happens 99% of the time when fishless cycling.
The color chart should simply read:
2ppm+

The dilution test is a great idea.
Start with 50/50 tap and tank water in the vial. If its still off the chart go to 75/25 tap water to tank water.

Once you get a readable nitrite result then change out the same ratio in the tank.
 

JeremyW

That happens 99% of the time when fishless cycling.
The color chart should simply read:
2ppm+

Yeah, and I think its one of the main sources of confusion for people doing a fishless cycle. Nobody seems to have any trouble with the ammonia phase. Its almost always the nitrite phase.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I really believe that people are significantly overdosing ammonia during the nitrite spike.

My understanding is that 1ppm ammonia is converted to almost 3ppm nitrite. So dosing 2ppm of ammonia daily will lead to roughly 40ppm nitrites over the course of a week. If it takes a few weeks to get your nitrite phase going, you could easily end up with well over 100ppm nitrites. Which is about 100 times what we can accurately test for, and more than 200 times the concentration you would typically see in a fish-in cycle. Its no wonder people run into problems.

IMHO, once people hit the nitrite phase, they should be cutting WAY back on the ammonia, and start doing regular water changes. But I don't want to derail the OP's thread. So I'll leave it at that.
 

Bwood22

Yeah, and I think its one of the main sources of confusion for people doing a fishless cycle. Nobody seems to have any trouble with the ammonia phase. Its almost always the nitrite phase.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I really believe that people are significantly overdosing ammonia during the nitrite spike.

My understanding is that 1ppm ammonia is converted to almost 3ppm nitrite. So dosing 2ppm of ammonia daily will lead to roughly 40ppm nitrites over the course of a week. If it takes a few weeks to get your nitrite phase going, you could easily end up with well over 100ppm nitrites. Which is about 100 times what we can accurately test for, and more than 200 times the concentration you would typically see in a fish-in cycle. Its no wonder people run into problems.

IMHO, once people hit the nitrite phase, they should be cutting WAY back on the ammonia, and start doing regular water changes. But I don't want to derail the OP's thread. So I'll leave it at that.
Well the primary issue is that people want the "strongest" cycle possible.
Since 5ppm ammonia is toxic to the ammonia oxidizing bacteria.....they use 4ppm instead.
And that gets cut in half for smaller tanks to 2ppm.

So now you have Johnny Fishtank dosing his 20 gallon tank with 2ppm of ammonia every day wondering why his cycle is "stalled".

The reality of the situation is that Johnny isn't going to be putting anything in that tank that is going to produce 2ppm of ammonia per day.

Yet every fishless cycle article, post, video, and guide on the internet is telling him to dose that much.

It's asinine. And unnecessary.

What in God's name are you going to put in that tiny glass box that's going to produce that much waste?

And we wonder why people get impatient. It takes a long time to grow that bacteria to handle that load.

I've been saying this for years, maybe one day it will take hold.

Once you see nitrite.....dont let it get off the chart. Start dosing your ammonia every 3-4 days...the bacteria wont starve and die.

Dose the ammonia, wait 24 hours, if it's all gone then change water until nitrite is readable. And then let it sit for 3-4 days for that 2nd type of bacteria to grow. Then repeat.

Before too long you will notice that you dont have to change as much water (if any at all) to get the nitrite readable.

By doing this you are keeping freshwater and minerals in the tank.
You're nitrite wont get sky high.
And your nitrate wont climb so high either... so at the end you have a nice clean tank to put your fish in that isn't a nitrate/algae cesspool.
 

ALH89

Well the primary issue is that people want the "strongest" cycle possible.
Since 5ppm ammonia is toxic to the ammonia oxidizing bacteria.....they use 4ppm instead.
And that gets cut in half for smaller tanks to 2ppm.

So now you have Johnny Fishtank dosing his 20 gallon tank with 2ppm of ammonia every day wondering why his cycle is "stalled".

The reality of the situation is that Johnny isn't going to be putting anything in that tank that is going to produce 2ppm of ammonia per day.

Yet every fishless cycle article, post, video, and guide on the internet is telling him to dose that much.

It's asinine. And unnecessary.

What in God's name are you going to put in that tiny glass box that's going to produce that much waste?

And we wonder why people get impatient. It takes a long time to grow that bacteria to handle that load.

I've been saying this for years, maybe one day it will take hold.

Once you see nitrite.....dont let it get off the chart. Start dosing your ammonia every 3-4 days...the bacteria wont starve and die.

Dose the ammonia, wait 24 hours, if it's all gone then change water until nitrite is readable. And then let it sit for 3-4 days for that 2nd type of bacteria to grow. Then repeat.

Before too long you will notice that you dont have to change as much water (if any at all) to get the nitrite readable.

By doing this you are keeping freshwater and minerals in the tank.
You're nitrite wont get sky high.
And your nitrate wont climb so high either... so at the end you have a nice clean tank to put your fish in that isn't a nitrate/algae cesspool.
I wasn't even dosing any ammonia for awhile because I didn't think I needed to but then I was reading other threads and I saw lots of recommendations to others to dose up to 2 ppm so that's probably where I went wrong. I wasn't doing it daily though. Water changes it is to get back on track
 

Bwood22

I wasn't even dosing any ammonia for awhile because I didn't think I needed to but then I was reading other threads and I saw lots of recommendations to others to dose up to 2 ppm so that's probably where I went wrong. I wasn't doing it daily though. Water changes it is to get back on track
Just keep your nitrite down where you can read it.
Well the primary issue is that people want the "strongest" cycle possible.
Since 5ppm ammonia is toxic to the ammonia oxidizing bacteria.....they use 4ppm instead.
And that gets cut in half for smaller tanks to 2ppm.

So now you have Johnny Fishtank dosing his 20 gallon tank with 2ppm of ammonia every day wondering why his cycle is "stalled".

The reality of the situation is that Johnny isn't going to be putting anything in that tank that is going to produce 2ppm of ammonia per day.

Yet every fishless cycle article, post, video, and guide on the internet is telling him to dose that much.

It's asinine. And unnecessary.

What in God's name are you going to put in that tiny glass box that's going to produce that much waste?

And we wonder why people get impatient. It takes a long time to grow that bacteria to handle that load.

I've been saying this for years, maybe one day it will take hold.

Once you see nitrite.....dont let it get off the chart. Start dosing your ammonia every 3-4 days...the bacteria wont starve and die.

Dose the ammonia, wait 24 hours, if it's all gone then change water until nitrite is readable. And then let it sit for 3-4 days for that 2nd type of bacteria to grow. Then repeat.

Before too long you will notice that you dont have to change as much water (if any at all) to get the nitrite readable.

By doing this you are keeping freshwater and minerals in the tank.
You're nitrite wont get sky high.
And your nitrate wont climb so high either... so at the end you have a nice clean tank to put your fish in that isn't a nitrate/algae cesspool.

I do want to take a moment to clarify a few points about this post.

First and foremost, I don't want you to think that I am opposing any advice that you have been given nor am I advising that you change your course....because you are really close to being done.

Just hang in there.

But I see lots of posts like these on this forum as well as all around the internet and in fish stores and I believe that a deeper conversation around the practices of fishless cycling in general is warranted.

We need a revolution! :)

What you are doing is working....just stay the course.
 

ALH89

Update I think my cycle is done! I had a busy few days and didn't do any tests but I was gearing up to do another water change tonight and I tested. I think its finally time to add fish! Should I do a small 10-20% water change before getting fish?

Thank you everyone for the advice!
 

StarGirl

You still look to have a small twinge of Nitrite. Soooo close!
 

Dunk2

Agree with StarGirl . . . Looks like a small amount of nitrite.

Prior to this most recent test, when did you last dose ammonia and how much?
 

ALH89

I think it was 3 days ago I just put a small amount to dose up to 1 ppm
 

Dunk2

I think it was 3 days ago I just put a small amount to dose up to 1 ppm
I’d suggest you dose 2 or 3 ppm and see where things are in 24 hours.

A fully cycled tank should process ammonia through to nitrates in 24 hours (no ammonia or nitrites).
 

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