Nitrates from cycle or root tabs?

Discussion in 'Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle' started by jamesonuk, Jun 12, 2016.

  1. jamesonuk

    jamesonukValued MemberMember

    I setup my tank a month ago with some plants and substrate and due to holiday / time I did not actually start cycling it so was just running with the heater and filter on plus the lights on for six hours (three in the morning and three in the evening).

    Last week I stripped the tank right down, changed from gravel to sand.
    I tested at this point and had
    Ammonia 0.25 ppm
    Nitrite 0 ppm
    Nitrate 5 ppm

    I then finally dosed some household ammonia (value stuff from Homebase).but went a little overboard and the test was showing up as 8ppm so I did ~35% water change and test dropped down to 4ppm.
    I have been monitoring all week and ammonia has stayed static at 4 ppm.

    This morning ammonia looked to be a somewhere between 2 and 4 ppm so I also decided to test nitrates / nitrates and I had
    nitrite was between 2ppm and 5ppm (hard for me to differentiate)
    Nitrate was 80ppm

    I was surprised so see high nitrates as the ammonia had not really dropped.
    I have done a fair bit of reading and everything points to cycling looking like
    ( )

    So I was expecting to be at the point where ammonia is starting to drop and nitrites rise but not to have any nitrates yet....

    I did add some root tabs ( ), could these have caused nitrates to spike or is this actually the processed ammonia and the tank is cycling?

    I did a 30% water change again today and nitrates dropped to 20 and ammonia was down to 1ppm (nitrite remained the same).

    I have added some more ammonia (hopefully up to 3ppm but will test again a little later).

    Any explanation of what is going on?
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2018
  2. CindiL

    CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    Hi, you can most definitely have some of the nitrosonomas and the nitrospira growing at the same time in your tank. In fact this is what I would expect. Usually you do see nitrates rising more slowly then that but you dosed quite a bit of ammonia. It just means you have some of each but not enough of each yet.

    I would recommend dosing your ammonia only to 1.0 and allowing the nitrospira to catch up (nitrite reducers). Otherwise you'll be dosing a lot of water changes. I would do a 50% water change or larger, dose to 1.0. Try and keep nitrates under 100 and nitrites at 5 or under. If you're unsure what your nitrites really are, try doing half tank and half bottled, tap or any nitrite free water for the test then multiply by two after you read where it's at.

    After dosing ammonia to 1.0, it's ok to let it drop to 0 and then give it another 24 hours before re-dosing to allow the nitrites to catch up. Once ammonia and nitrites are down to 0 then start increasing your ammonia amounts.

    What size tank is this? Most tanks don't need to be dosed to 4.0 unless you have a large tank you plan on fully stocking with cichlids or something.

    Also, it's not a 1 to 1 ratio (ammonia to nitrites to nitrates), it goes something like this:
    1 PPM NH3 = 2.7 PPM NO2 = 3.64 PPM

    Yours is quite a bit higher which leads me to believe your probably had more ammonia then you thought as the test kits are not very exact at all. Your fertilizer spikes might be contributing, would depend on the nitrogen amounts.
  3. OP

    jamesonukValued MemberMember

    Tank is 180l and will house general community fish. I read a lot about dosing and seemed to be either 2 or 4 ppm. The only downside I saw for 4ppm was that it might take longer and would generate far more bacteria than needed. I thought I would go lower (hence the 3ppm) but I realise this is still far more than necessary.

    What is the reasoning for more water changes? Is there any harm in having high nitrites / nitrates whilst there are no fish? I was mainly doing the change so the levels would register on the testing kit.

    Is there any danger with the current 3ppm dosing (not sure I will get time for a PWC in the next few days). Will this just leave high levels or could it cause problems with my cycle???

  4. CindiL

    CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    Ammonia and nitrites are actually toxic to the bacteria when they're not at very low levels. I know it sounds odd :) but you want to keep nitrites under 5.0 and nitrates under 100 while fishless cycling. If you dose ammonia to 1.0 then you'll keep your water changes down to a minimum while helping the speed of the cycle by not having constantly high toxic levels of ammonia. If you think about it, the reason products like TSS+ (tetra safe start plus) tells you to use only 1 small fish per 10g while using their product is to both keep the fish safe and also allow the cycle (ammonia levels) to not kill off their bacteria.

    I've seen lots of people come here with stalled cycles when those nitrites rise above 5.0 and then just sit and sit and sit.

    So I would get the nitrite levels down below 1.0 with a water change, dose ammonia to 1.0, test daily, wait for ammonia to hit 0 but if you have rising nitrites still, I'd give it another 24 hours before re-dosing ammonia and allow the nitrite converting bacteria to catch up. If they're still under 5.0, then at that time, re-dose your ammonia.

    You can post your parameters every day or two if you want and we can help you finish up. If you buy a bottle of something like TSS+ or Seachem Stability that will help the cycle finish up faster also by providing additional bacteria to attach themselves to your media.

  5. OP

    jamesonukValued MemberMember

    Brilliant thanks. That is the bit I was missing.
    Guess I will need to make time for a PWC tomorrow...
  6. CindiL

    CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    Once your filter can handle the 1.0 ammonia with nitrites at 0, thats when you'll increase ammonia.
  7. OP

    jamesonukValued MemberMember

    OK so did the tests tonight and
    Ammonia 2-4 ppm (which makes sense as I used a calculator to does it to 3ppm)
    Nitrite 2-5 ppm
    Nitrate 20-40 ppm

    Will do a PWC tomorrow and try and get Ammonia down to 1ppm

    Interestingly my pH has risen into the gap between the standard and high range tests (was 7.2 but it is now 7.6 on normal test and somewhere just over 7.4 on high range test). I believe pH fluctuations are expected during cycling??? Out the tap it is 7.2. GH has gone from 10 to 14 (just tested and it still 10 out the tap) so I guess this is down to the root tabs? Not too worried about this but just wanted to check I shouldn't be concerned ;)
  8. CindiL

    CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    Ok, sounds good. I wouldn't worry about the ph as long as its not dropping :) Usually if anything happens is that the ph drops due to low KH during cycling from the high acid level from the ammonia and nitrogen cycle.
  9. OP

    jamesonukValued MemberMember

    Did a quick check when I got back tonight as not sure I will get enough time for a PWC

    Ammonia was already down to 1 (well possibly a little higher but definitely less than 2)
    Nitrites were 5
    Nitrates had gone though ???

    I am presuming (hoping) that the Nitrates have been consumed by the plants, there is plenty of (too much) nitrites so there is plenty of food for the bacteria?

    Update: Managed to find time to do a 30% PWC and Nitrites have dropped to somewhere between 2 and 5.

    Plan is to leave as is and check Ammonia / Nitrite tomorrow and again Wednesday with probably another 30% PWC if Nitrites are up to 5 again
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2016
  10. CindiL

    CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    Sounds like a good plan.

    I do see this once in awhile here with fishless cycling. What happens is that there are some types of organic eating (heterotrophic) bacteria that when they run out of organics can actually consume nitrates. This is a very unusual situation because an aquarium normally always has organics.

    Nothing to worry about. :)
  11. OP

    jamesonukValued MemberMember

    OK tonight's readings
    Ammonia 0 (maybe 0.25)
    Nitrite 2-5 (nearer 5)
    Nitrate 5

    Will definitely got time to do a PWC tonight. I guess I will need to do a PWC tomorrow to get the Nitrites down but should I dose Ammonia tonight or leave it till tomorrow?
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2016
  12. CindiL

    CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    I would leave it until tomorrow if its around .25 and then when you do the water change tomorrow re-dose it then. Also, test your nitrites before the water change tomorrow to see if they have fallen (just in case so then you wouldn't need to do a water change).
  13. OP

    jamesonukValued MemberMember

    Tonight seen a big jump in Nitrates which hopefully means the Nitrite to Nitrate bacteria is coming along.

    Ammonia 0 - 0.25
    Nitrite 2 - 5
    Nitrate 80 - 160

    Which seems a pretty big jump (too big and a dodgy test???)

    I am not going to get time for a PWC tonight so I am going to add just a little ammonia (target < 1) and will try and make sure I do a PWC tomorrow if Nitrites have not dropped
  14. CindiL

    CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    Good, thats what we want to see!

    You'll need to make sure to do a very large water change and get your nitrates down to 20 or less before re-dosing.
  15. OP

    jamesonukValued MemberMember

    Last night everything was basically the same so put in a little bit of ammonia as did not have time to do a PWC.

    This evening I have done about a 70% change and will dose ammonia to 1ppm once the tank has settled down a little. Not going to take any measurements tonight but will check tomorrow.
  16. OP

    jamesonukValued MemberMember

    Last edited: Jun 18, 2016
  17. CindiL

    CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    This IS good news. No nitrites after last nights dosing? You might be cycled....

    Dose it for a few days to be sure.
  18. OP

    jamesonukValued MemberMember

    Will test again this evening but is there any value in increasing ammonia dosing to 2ppm???
  19. CindiL

    CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    Yes you can add more fish if it can handle 2.0 in 24 hours. I should've said that in my last post :)
    Depending on how many you want to add in at once, you can slowly increase it up to 2.0-3.0.
  20. OP

    jamesonukValued MemberMember

    Ammonia 0
    Nitrite 0.25
    Nitrate 20

    Was not only about 21 hours between tests and I think Nitrite was not quite 0.25. looking like it is getting there :)

    Dosed ammonia to 2ppm.

    Need to sort out a plan for stocking now...

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice