My Nitrites Won't Go Down.. And My Nitrates Won't Go Up?

Confused_Penguin
  • #1
Cycling my tank for almost 5 weeks. My 2.6 Fluval Spec tank is able to process 4ppm-8ppm ammonia within a 12 hours. I've been dosing the tank twice a day, before I go to work and when I get back from work.

My nitrites doesn't even look like any color suggested on the API testing kit. when I drop the liquid in the API, the drops turn really dark purple even before I start to shake it. It turns to a light purple, but not anything within the range of the API. I did both liquid and strips, and the strips doesn't even register the color because it turns dark pink, and that option isn't even on the label it came with. So... my question... are my nitrites so high the liquid AND strip cannot register it?

Another question: my nitrates never go any higher than 5ppm. And yes, i've shaken the bottle AND the vile I test it with like crazy. I do have plants in my tank. Are they eating it all up?

First time cycling. I know patience is important but I just want to know what's going on. Also this is a fishless cycle and the temp remains at a constant 80 degrees. can someone help?
 
N8_the_Gr8
  • #2
Try adding some nitrifying bacteria from a bottle. It might help jumpstart the process.
 
atgill
  • #3
^ just to add on, tetra safe start worked great for me. Added it last night got 15 ppm nitrates today after a week of 0!
 
MissRuthless
  • #4
I would think if it's turning a color the test doesn't show, and you're dosing up to 8ppm ammonia per day but showing no nitrates, the nitrite must be extremely high. What's your ph? Have you been changing any water out? The cycle may be stalled because the nitrite is too high.
 
Confused_Penguin
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
^ just to add on, tetra safe start worked great for me. Added it last night got 15 ppm nitrates today after a week of 0!

Should I add API Quick Start? Bottle says it allows instant addition of fish- limits toxic ammonia and nitrite and contains live nitrifying bacteria. I'm just scared it might lower my ammonia, and I'm trying to actually ADD ammonia because my tank process that stuff in around 12 hours.. and it's only a 2.6 gallon tank lol. Or should I use API Stress Zyme? It says it keeps aquarium clean, contains live bacteria to consume sludge and also adds beneficial bacteria. Should I use one or the other or both?

I would think if it's turning a color the test doesn't show, and you're dosing up to 8ppm ammonia per day but showing no nitrates, the nitrite must be extremely high. What's your ph? Have you been changing any water out? The cycle may be stalled because the nitrite is too high.

I add water back in the tank due to evaporation (dechlorinated and around the same temperature). I only ever did 1 water change and that was during the 3rd week when I had the ammonia down to .25 (wasn't processing in a 12 hour period though). I did a water change because my nitrites was 5ppm, but my nitrates was 20ppm (highest it ever got). So I did a 25% water change and added ammonia back to 4ppm.

Should I do another 25% water change before I add 4ppm ammonia back to the tank? Should I do that along with adding either API quickstart or API Stress Zyme? Should I do MORE than just 25% waterchange?

I would think if it's turning a color the test doesn't show, and you're dosing up to 8ppm ammonia per day but showing no nitrates, the nitrite must be extremely high. What's your ph? Have you been changing any water out? The cycle may be stalled because the nitrite is too high.

Also my PH used to be 7.2 but somehow jumped to 7.6 no idea why...
 
ganjero
  • #6
Your results are pretty normal when cycling a tank using liquid ammonia. Be patient, nitrite consuming bacteria takes longer time to build up, sometimes it can take weeks. Your nitrates won't go up until your nitrite bacteria is established. Once the nitrites disappear, you will see the spike in nitrates. You can add some of the nitrifying bacteria additives suggested, but I would just recommend to have patience. The cycle part of setting up a tank teaches to be patient, which is really important in this hobby. Rushing things usually end up in more issues.
 
mattgirl
  • #7
I would do enough water changes to get the nitrites down to a readable level. That may mean several back to back 50% water changes. Then I would dose the ammonia up to no more than 2.0. It is possible that you are overwhelming the tank by dosing the ammonia so high.
 

Confused_Penguin
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
Your results are pretty normal when cycling a tank using liquid ammonia. Be patient, nitrite consuming bacteria takes longer time to build up, sometimes it can take weeks. Your nitrates won't go up until your nitrite bacteria is established. Once the nitrites disappear, you will see the spike in nitrates. You can add some of the nitrifying bacteria additives suggested, but I would just recommend to have patience. The cycle part of setting up a tank teaches to be patient, which is really important in this hobby. Rushing things usually end up in more issues.

I just did a 50% water change and added ammonia up to 4ppm. I would of done 2ppm as suggested by another user but I don't have a dropper. I use a straw, plug up one end and try to add drops that way. I'll invest in one for more accuracy in the future. I decided not to add anything and wait a bit more.

I'm running low on dechlorinator the one I use is specifically tailored for batta fish. If I switch to the sechem one (which I have in stock), will it skew my results? I have had that container for about 2 monhs but haven't used it because I heard it might neutralize everything and I don't want to start over. Or is that just rumors? Can someone help clarify
 
mattgirl
  • #9
I just did a 50% water change and added ammonia up to 4ppm. I would of done 2ppm as suggested by another user but I don't have a dropper. I use a straw, plug up one end and try to add drops that way. I'll invest in one for more accuracy in the future. I decided not to add anything and wait a bit more.

I'm running low on dechlorinator the one I use is specifically tailored for batta fish. If I switch to the sechem one (which I have in stock), will it skew my results? I have had that container for about 2 monhs but haven't used it because I heard it might neutralize everything and I don't want to start over. Or is that just rumors? Can someone help clarify
It is just rumors. Prime will just render the ammonia less harmful but still leaves it there to feed your cycle. The tests will still register the ammonia too. It is first and foremost a dechlorinator but then it was found to do a bit more than just that.
 
ganjero
  • #10
It is just rumors. Prime will just render the ammonia less harmful but still leaves it there to feed your cycle. The tests will still register the ammonia too. It is first and foremost a dechlorinator but then it was found to do a bit more than just that.
Not just rumors, it has been comfiremd by the manufacturer. Prime detoxifies ammonia, nitrites and nitras for a period of 24-48hrs before it becomes toxic again. The removal of ammonia and nitrites can be completed by the biological filtration or water changes; the removal of nitrates is most of the time completed by water changes.
Also worth noting that Prime produces non toxic ammonia (non toxic for the same period 24-48hrs) when "removing" chloramine. It removes the chlorine from chloramine leaving the ammonia behind. Not an issue for people who tap water doesn't have chloramine.
Any "dechlorinator" that removes chlorimine will leave behind "non toxic" ammonia if you have chlorimine in your water, so don't test for ammonia right after using one.
 
mattgirl
  • #11
Not just rumors, it has been comfiremd by the manufacturer. Prime detoxifies ammonia, nitrites and nitras for a period of 24-48hrs before it becomes toxic again. The removal of ammonia and nitrites can be completed by the biological filtration or water changes; the removal of nitrates is most of the time completed by water changes.
Also worth noting that Prime produces non toxic ammonia (non toxic for the same period 24-48hrs) when "removing" chloramine. It removes the chlorine from chloramine leaving the ammonia behind. Not an issue for people who tap water doesn't have chloramine.
I think we were saying the same thing but you said it so much better. I personally use and swear by Prime I just meant it was rumors that Prime will affect the cycle adversely.
 
ganjero
  • #12
I think we were saying the same thing but you said it so much better. I personally use and swear by Prime I just meant it was rumors that Prime will affect the cycle adversely.
Oh I see, my bad for not reading the entire thing. You are correct, it is just rumors because as you said it won't remove the ammonia, it just detoxifies it for a short period.
On the other topic, IMO I would no bother with water changes until the cycle is completed.
 
mattgirl
  • #13
Oh I see, my bad for not reading the entire thing. You are correct, it is just rumors because as you said it won't remove the ammonia, it just detoxifies it for a short period.
On the other topic, IMO I would no bother with water changes until the cycle is completed.
no problem, I welcome clarification when what I say might be taken incorrectly.

I only suggested water changes in this situation because of the long term super high nitrites. My thinking about it is sometimes too much of a good thing is not good.

In this case the high nitrites seems to have stalled this cycle and adding high amounts of ammonia seem to be keeping it from continuing on to nitrates.. Thus my reasoning behind getting the nitrites down a bit and lowering the amount of ammonia added with the hope that it will get this cycle moving again.

Hopefully the OP will be back soon to let us know if is helping.
 
atgill
  • #14
Should I add API Quick Start? Bottle says it allows instant addition of fish- limits toxic ammonia and nitrite and contains live nitrifying bacteria. I'm just scared it might lower my ammonia, and I'm trying to actually ADD ammonia because my tank process that stuff in around 12 hours.. and it's only a 2.6 gallon tank lol. Or should I use API Stress Zyme? It says it keeps aquarium clean, contains live bacteria to consume sludge and also adds beneficial bacteria. Should I use one or the other or both?

I used TSS because it got good reviews in here and other fish forums, (also heard good things about seachem stability?) although the general consensus seems to be cycling it the longer way is better overall...especially since it’s a fishless cycle. Sorry wish I could be more helpful good luck op!
 
Confused_Penguin
  • Thread Starter
  • #15
Wow I truly appreciate all the advice I'm receiving! Thank you so much for taking the time to respond everyone!

I just got back from work and as usual check my tank and here are my stats:
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: Light Purple (unreadable, but I'm assuming its super high. I've read nitrites be 5ppm before and this color is not that color. The moment I drop the API test the color turns dark purple in the container and a light purple when mixed but it's color is no where in the test kit)
Nitrate: 5ppm
PH: 7.2

I think I'll stick with the API betta fish dechlorinator. I'll use the sechem when I've added fish and maybe have the tank set up for at least a month since I just don't want skew results. It's almost been a month, and I can't believe its taken this long to cycle a 2.6 tank. I've heard people get success within 2 weeks with a 10 gallon tank lol.

I will do another water change perhaps tomorrow to try to get the nitrites readable levels. A 50% waterchange? How many water changes should I do?

For now, I added added ammonia to 2ppm - 4 ppm (still don't have a dropper).
 
MissRuthless
  • #16
I agree with mattgirl - I assumed you were dosing so much ammonia because you had a huge tank and were planning a large stock. I think 4ppm for that tiny tank is astronomical and could very well be the reason you're having trouble. You can't fit enough fish in there to need your bb to be able to process that much ammonia. I would dose to no more than 1-2ppm, and I also agree that a few water changes are in order to bring that nitrite waayyy down. Overloading the tank with ammonia won't make it cycle - I think you've added so much ammonia, and while you have the bacteria to process it you've driven the nitrite up so high that it's overwhelmed and the necessary bacteria is unable to grow.

Regarding prime, detoxification is accomplished by binding a molecule of the ammonia thus converting it to ammonium, which is still available to feed nitrifying bacteria. It is possible to get a false reading for ammonia if one tests directly following a water change with prime because as ganjero said, ammonium is the result of chloramine detoxification. You can avoid this by waiting 24 hours after a water change to test. It will not affect your cycling process or cause any problems, and I recommend you do make the switch at some point sooner or later, as there really is no other comparable product on the market and it can literally be a lifesaver when bad things happen unexpectedly.

Are you planning this tank for a betta, or..?
 
Confused_Penguin
  • Thread Starter
  • #17
I agree with mattgirl - I assumed you were dosing so much ammonia because you had a huge tank and were planning a large stock. I think 4ppm for that tiny tank is astronomical and could very well be the reason you're having trouble. You can't fit enough fish in there to need your bb to be able to process that much ammonia. I would dose to no more than 1-2ppm, and I also agree that a few water changes are in order to bring that nitrite waayyy down. Overloading the tank with ammonia won't make it cycle - I think you've added so much ammonia, and while you have the bacteria to process it you've driven the nitrite up so high that it's overwhelmed and the necessary bacteria is unable to grow.

Regarding prime, detoxification is accomplished by binding a molecule of the ammonia thus converting it to ammonium, which is still available to feed nitrifying bacteria. It is possible to get a false reading for ammonia if one tests directly following a water change with prime because as ganjero said, ammonium is the result of chloramine detoxification. You can avoid this by waiting 24 hours after a water change to test. It will not affect your cycling process or cause any problems, and I recommend you do make the switch at some point sooner or later, as there really is no other comparable product on the market and it can literally be a lifesaver when bad things happen unexpectedly.

Are you planning this tank for a betta, or..?

Thank you so much for all your help. I will start dosing with 2ppm ammonia instead. I just thought more would be better so there is a guaranteed no trace that any ammonia can hurt my fish.

And yes all I'm keeping in there is a betta fish. The tank is heavily planted with a carpet (that just exploded in there which I'm happy with while the tank is cycling), java fern, swords, small driftwood. Lots of algae has grown on the glass and some of the plants so I'm reducing the amount of light from 8 hours to 4 instead. I know that big tanks are better but I just didn't have space
 

mattgirl
  • #18
I will do another water change perhaps tomorrow to try to get the nitrites readable levels. A 50% waterchange? How many water changes should I do?

For now, I added added ammonia to 2ppm - 4 ppm (still don't have a dropper).
I would continue the daily water change until the nitrites get down to at least a readable level. If you can get it down to 1 or 2 I really think your nitrates will start shooting up and your nitrites will disappear fairly quickly after that. Once that happens and it is processing the ammonia within 12 hours or so you can then consider this tank cycled.
 
Rob Shannon
  • #19
My fishless cycle (55 gal) just completed on day 36. My nitrites were off the API scale from the first time I tested for them (day 18ish) until day 34. Then they went from 1.0ppm to 0.0ppm in the next 24hrs. It happens quick it just takes a long time for it to happen. Once I saw trace amounts of Nitrate (day 18ish) I reduced my ammonia dosing. I went down to 2ppm every other day. I did this for about 2.5 weeks and then nitrites disappeared. I didn't do a water change until day 30. Then I did about a 40% water change each day. Within 5 days my cycle completed.
 
MissRuthless
  • #20
My fishless cycle (55 gal) just completed on day 36. My nitrites were off the API scale from the first time I tested for them (day 18ish) until day 34. Then they went from 1.0ppm to 0.0ppm in the next 24hrs. It happens quick it just takes a long time for it to happen. Once I saw trace amounts of Nitrate (day 18ish) I reduced my ammonia dosing. I went down to 2ppm every other day. I did this for about 2.5 weeks and then nitrites disappeared. I didn't do a water change until day 30. Then I did about a 40% water change each day. Within 5 days my cycle completed.

As you said, your nitrites were sky high and your cycle was, in effect, stalled until you commenced with water changes to reduce the nitrite. This is because too much ammonia or nitrite will prevent the bacterial colony from forming. You went thirty days without completing the cycle, and then when you finally reduced the toxin levels to manageable numbers, the cycle completed within five days. This indicates that it had stalled due to high nitrite.

OP - no worries about overwhelming the biofilter. The only betta that could produce 2ppm ammonia per day is a dead one that's rotting. Get those nitrites down and you'll be one step away from betta safe. You're almost there!
 
ganjero
  • #21
A proper fishless cycle should take 6-8 weeks, I don't see anything abnormal with the OP cycle or with Rob's. Nitrobacter takes a longer time to fully established. If you have the patience (which this is the time to learn to be patient in this hobby) your cycle should end giving you a well established biological filter. Rushing things in the hobby ends in bigger issues, so be patient. BTW, chemistry is proportional, no matter the volume of you tank the levels of ammonia/nitrite/nitrate and the cycle period should be similar. The difference the water volume will determine is the surface media, which should be proportional.
 
mattgirl
  • #22
I agree that to cycle a tank (grow the bacteria) one needs lots of patience. This last time I cycled mine (I had it shut down for 6 years so had to start from scratch) it took right at 6 weeks from the day I filled it up and added fish to the day I considered it not only cycled but also established. (established meaning clear water, good perimeters and no fear of it crashing).

I did a fish in cycle so couldn't afford to allow any of the perimeters to go and stay sky high. When I started registering nitrites they went from none to off the chart over night. When that happened I upped my water changes from 30% every other day to 40% every day. On the 5th day of 40% water changes they dropped to zero and that is where they have stayed.

All of this just to say...
Once one starts registering nitrites water changes are in order to speed the cycle along or complete it. One can wait it out but why would they want to when so many things can and do go wrong during that waiting period. I see it every day right here on this forum.

My advice will always be, when something stalls change some of the water to jump start it. The only time I wouldn't recommend a water change is if it is the source water causing the problem.

A cycled or cycling tank needs a semblance of balance. When it isn't balanced things can and do go wrong. Most things in moderation also comes to mind. To much of any one of the 3 main things needed to keep a cycle or cycling tank in check (ammonia, nitrites, nitrates) can stall or crash the cycle. (kill the bacteria or prevent it from growing)
 
Confused_Penguin
  • Thread Starter
  • #23
As you said, your nitrites were sky high and your cycle was, in effect, stalled until you commenced with water changes to reduce the nitrite. This is because too much ammonia or nitrite will prevent the bacterial colony from forming. You went thirty days without completing the cycle, and then when you finally reduced the toxin levels to manageable numbers, the cycle completed within five days. This indicates that it had stalled due to high nitrite.

OP - no worries about overwhelming the biofilter. The only betta that could produce 2ppm ammonia per day is a dead one that's rotting. Get those nitrites down and you'll be one step away from betta safe. You're almost there!

Yes I've been doing 50% water changes a day, and have been adding ammonia up to 2ppm every 12 hours (since my tank can process that much within a short period of time). It's been several days and nitrite still on undreadable level, but every waterchange I've done reads 5ppm afterwards so I don't know if its working or not. Maybe I should do 50% waterchanges twice a day? I don't know, but i'm still trying to get it down. Thank you again for all the support!
 
Ulu
  • #24
I think a lot of people are using way too much ammonia.

If your dosing up to 2 PPM and above on a fairly new tank, the nitrites will come very quickly. If you get excited and keep dosing ammonia you will kill off bacteria before any nitrates can be converted.

Then you ask why is my cycle stalled?

The keys to a fast cycle in my mind are: frequent very low doses of ammonia, enough substrate in the tank to provide plenty of surface area for bacteria, slightly elevated temperatures to promote growth, careful monitoring of the pH so you don't burn the bacteria, and regular small water changes forevermore . . .
 
mattgirl
  • #25
Yes I've been doing 50% water changes a day, and have been adding ammonia up to 2ppm every 12 hours (since my tank can process that much within a short period of time). It's been several days and nitrite still on undreadable level, but every waterchange I've done reads 5ppm afterwards so I don't know if its working or not. Maybe I should do 50% waterchanges twice a day? I don't know, but i'm still trying to get it down. Thank you again for all the support!
If it were me I would start dosing the ammonia every 24 hours instead of every 12 and at this point not over 2.0 each time. Are you seeing any nitrates at all? Please don't get discouraged. I know I was and was thinking I was going to kill my fish but after that 5th day of water changes the nitrites were just gone. They didn't slowly drop. They went from off the chart to zero in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Hopefully you are close to that point right now.
 
Ulu
  • #26
Exactly. The beneficial bacteria must Bloom and they will do it suddenly, but not if you're killing them off with ammonia.

The ammonia which feeds the first bacteria bloom will kill the second bacteria off just as it's first getting enough nitrites to eat. It's like driving a car with your foot on the brake. It just doesn't want to bloom.
 
Confused_Penguin
  • Thread Starter
  • #27
If it were me I would start dosing the ammonia every 24 hours instead of every 12 and at this point not over 2.0 each time. Are you seeing any nitrates at all? Please don't get discouraged. I know I was and was thinking I was going to kill my fish but after that 5th day of water changes the nitrites were just gone. They didn't slowly drop. They went from off the chart to zero in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Hopefully you are close to that point right now.

I am seeing nitrates, but they never exceed over 5ppm.

For the past week I'm doing 50% water change a day and dosing the tank every 12 hours to 2ppm. Been doing this with little change to nitrites.

This weekend I've done is a 75% waterchange and I used sechem this time because I just ran out of the betta fish dechlorinator I usually use. I know using that product effects the results so I'll wait 24 hours till I do an API test to see. I was following the advice of doing waterchanges back to back to get my nitrites in readable level but so far they are still sky high.

Maybe I should stop doing waterchanges and just dose the tank every 24 hours as you stated. I just don't want the bacteria to die but it's almost been a month and this tiny is still not cycled lol. I will follow your advice, and I just did a big waterchange so I'll just dose every 24 hours and update you guys on what's happening. My carpet plants have taken over the tank and growing beautifully though.

Thank you again for everyones advice and help. I read every single comment. Thank you!
 
Ulu
  • #28
Those carpet plants are sucking your nitrates down.

I would quit diddling around and stick a fish in this tank.
 

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