Nitrite hit zero, but ammonia going down slowly - Fishless Cycle

NEWSHRIMPDUDE

Hi all,

I've been cycling my tank (future home of red cherry shrimp) for a little over 5 weeks. It's a 5.5 gallon tank with fluorite black sand, a couple decent clumps of Java Moss and a large Java Fern. I am using a bacto surge mini sponge fitler and a 10 gallon Tetra Whisper pump. Nitrite showed up about a week into the cycle and went sky high (API Test kit) for about a month. Nitrates were also almost off the charts very high. About three weeks into the cycle I noticed PH was 6 and did a large (80-90%) water change with to get PH back up. Nitrites and nitrates were still high after this test. A week after that, I did a water change of about 2 gallons with salty shrimp, and the nitrite finally went all the way to zero a day or two after. Also, the plants seem to be consuming some of the nitrate and it isn't as crazy now. The issue is ammonia is going down pretty slowly, by about 0.25-0.5 ppm a day, and never seems to quite reach zero. It'll stop at 0.25ppm or so. That's the lowest I've seen it. Its been about 5 days since nitrite hit zero.

Some details:
- TAP WATER is very soft out of the tap. PH is probably 8 plus, but I age it a couple days and it is 7.4ish when its headed into the tank. I add prime and Salty Shrimp GH/KH to bring it up to 7ish GH and 3ish KH.
- TEMPERATURE of the tank is about 23C or 73.5F.
- There is chloramine in the tap water and it tests about 0.25 with the API ammonia test. That said I tested bottled water and it was 0 ppm on the test.
- AMMONIA was initially dosed to 4ppm but I've just been bumping it to 1ppm periodically after nitrite showed up.
- LATEST PARAMETERS PH 7, Ammonia 1, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 15

Questions/TLDR:
Is nitrite going to zero easily before ammonia normal? Will the ammonia from chloramine that shows up in my tap water get cycled out or is it kind of the minimum?

Thanks for any help!
NSD
 

mattgirl

Welcome to Fishlore :)

It seems a lot of folks never see a true zero reading for ammonia. Try shaking both bottles before using and see if it makes a difference. it often does. Since you had high nitrites and they have now dropped to zero I have to think this cycle is actually done. Since this is going to be a home to shrimp you want to let it run a couple of months to allow lots of bio-film to grow. Shrimp tend to do better in a fully mature tank.

Since you have chloramines in your tap water i do recommend you get and use Prime for your water conditioner. It will remove the chlorine and detox the ammonia in the tap water. It will keep it detoxed long enough for the bacteria clear it out of the tank.
 

NEWSHRIMPDUDE

Wonderful, thanks mattgirl. This is my first post, but I've read many of yours during my cycle :)

I actually bumped my ammonia to 3ppm this afternoon to see what happens. I was only dosing 1ppm as mentioned in the OP. I'm curious to see how long it takes to get under 1ppm.

I do dose with Prime. It was kind of buried in my post though. I add that and Salty Shrimp GH/KH to all the water before adding it to the tank.

Do you think the "It seems a lot of folks never see a true zero reading for ammonia." applies given that I tested bottled water at 0 ppm?

I will shake the bottles first next time regardless.

Thanks a lot!
NSD
 

Azedenkae

Do you think the "It seems a lot of folks never see a true zero reading for ammonia." applies given that I tested bottled water at 0 ppm?

I will shake the bottles first next time regardless.

Thanks a lot!
NSD
I can speak a little about this. Some people see 0.25ppm ammonia in their tanks but not in their water source. Others even see it in some tanks but not others. Sometimes it suddenly starts even when previously reading 0, and sometimes it disappears. I have seen SO many variations, and the common theme is - there is nothing else 'wrong'. Fish is healthy, etc.

So while it may just be straight up false readings, it could also be that the test kit is picking up something as ammonia in some tanks but not others. It could be a minute amount of ammonia constantly produced that is yet to be consumed by nitrifiers, and though is significantly less than 0.25ppm still reads as 0.25ppm anyways due to the resolution of the test kit. Could also be a whole other compound, like amino acids, being read as ammonia. That was another theory I have seen.

Regardless, the common theme was no one cared that much to investigate it deeper because it was inconsequential, hence... yeah. So long as it is constantly 0.25ppm and not any higher, then it just something to sweep under the rug. :p
 

georgelee1000

Here’s what you can do. Take a tube and test your tank water and tap water, see if they are similar. For some reason there’s always a green tinge to it. I think a lot of people have similar problem. Maybe the reagent is not fresh anymore.
 

mattgirl

Wonderful, thanks mattgirl. This is my first post, but I've read many of yours during my cycle :)

I actually bumped my ammonia to 3ppm this afternoon to see what happens. I was only dosing 1ppm as mentioned in the OP. I'm curious to see how long it takes to get under 1ppm.

I do dose with Prime. It was kind of buried in my post though. I add that and Salty Shrimp GH/KH to all the water before adding it to the tank.

Do you think the "It seems a lot of folks never see a true zero reading for ammonia." applies given that I tested bottled water at 0 ppm?

I will shake the bottles first next time regardless.

Thanks a lot!
NSD
You are so very welcome :)

I couldn't have explained the .25 reading any better or may not even as well as Azedenkae did. I just know I see it a lot. As long as it goes no higher that .25 I wouldn't be overly concerned about it.

since you bumped the ammonia up you may see a slight spike in nitrites but they should go back down fairly fast. I really don't think you need to grow enough bacteria to handle that much ammonia but doing so really isn't a problem.
 

NEWSHRIMPDUDE

So I did a big water change and dosed 3-4 ppm ammonia and now 9 days later its 0.25 and dropping... Nitrites zero (I saw a tiny bump to not even 0.25 the day after adding ammonia, otherwise 0 the whole time), nitrates 10. This means the ammonia is only going down about 0.35ppm/day.

Should I keep cycling or is this good enough for 10-15 RCS? I know normally its 1 or 2ppm to 0 after 24 hours. Do I just need more patience?:p

Thanks all!
NSD
 

mattgirl

I have to think you are overwhelming this small tank with too much ammonia. You really don't need to grow enough bacteria to process that much. Since this is going to be a shrimp tank even 1ppm would be enough. Shrimp have a very low bio-load.

I will recommend you change out most of the water. Once done if the ammonia is down to the .25 you constantly see get it up to no more than 1ppm. If it goes back down to .25 within 24 hours and you are seeing no nitrites I have to think this cycle is done.

Since you have had your nitrite spike and are now seeing none we know you have both ammonia and nitrite eating bacteria in this tank. Cycling a tank simply means growing both types of bacteria. This tank has done that.
 

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