Nitrites still at 0, Help! - Page 3

oliviacislo

Hi there,

I am new to the aquarium hobby and this is my first time cycling a tank so I am looking for advice. I've watched a lot of videos and read articles on the subject of cycling but some info is inconsistent.

My setup:
10 Gallon Cube AIO Nano Tank. Sponge Filters and Bio Balls and a filter sock. The heater is set to 78-79 degrees.
* This aquarium is brand new, I have no established media to add to the tank.

Day 1
Unboxed tank and set up filter media. Added sand, driftwood, rocks, and fake plants.
Treated my water with Prime prior to adding to the tank.
Filled tank and added 1 capful of Stability as bottle directed.

Day 2
Test results:
  • Ph: 7.6
  • Ammonia: 1.0
  • Nitrite: 0
  • Nitrate: 0 - 5.0
Added 1/2 Capful of Stability as bottle directed. Added small pinch of fish food.

Day 3
Added 1/2 Capful of Stability

Day 4
  • Water Test
    • Ph: 7.6
    • Ammonia: 1.0
    • Nitrite: 0
    • Nitrate: 5.0
Day 5
+ 1/2 capful of stability

Day 6
+1/2 capful of stability
+ small pinch of food

Day 7
+ 1/2 capful of stability

Day 8
Water Test:
  • Ph: 7.6
  • Ammonia: 0.5 (ammonia has started to drop)
  • Nitrite: 0
  • Nitrate: 5.0
1-gallon water change to top off the tank. Removed water from the tank without disturbing the substrate and didn't clean any algae off the sides. Added 1 mL prime to water before adding to the tank, added 1 capful stability back in.

Today is Day 8 and I just performed the above tasks. I also tested my tap water for nitrate and they are virtually 0.

I am wondering, am I on the right track? Looks like ammonia is going down, Nitrites so far have not presented themselves but I have nitrates present. Should I continue adding stability after today? Or leave it to run and see if nitrites appear.

Thanks so much for your help!
 

mattgirl

No, not adding any external bacteria. Just feeding my fish as normal. I've changed the water out every few days with the purified drinking water.
Oops, I forgot you have fish in there. Old memory isn't what it once was. You may be able to go to weekly water changes now as long as the ammonia doesn't go any higher than it is right now during the week without a water change. If you are seeing nitrates I have to think this cycle is done.
 
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oliviacislo

Oops, I forgot you have fish in there. Old memory isn't what it once was. You may be able to go to weekly water changes now as long as the ammonia doesn't go any higher than it is right now during the week without a water change. If you are seeing nitrates I have to think this cycle is done.

Here's my full test results. See the image for reference. I'm wondering if maybe the pH is too low/high?

pH: Can you help me interpret this? It doesn't really register on the regular pH and looks maybe like 7.4 on the higher end?
Ammonia: 0.25
Nitrite: Still 0
Nitrate: Appears 0


IMG_1909.jpg
 
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oliviacislo

Think I might have answered my own question. Seems like my pH is entirely too low after a water change and testing it again. Probably because I've been using the bottled purified water with a low pH. I just added drops from my "pH Up" and am going to retest tomorrow to see if that helps.

My pH might have been too low this whole time. So maybe the bacteria died?
 
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mattgirl

Think I might have answered my own question. Seems like my pH is entirely too low after a water change and testing it again. Probably because I've been using the bottled purified water with a low pH. I just added drops from my "pH Up" and am going to retest tomorrow to see if that helps.

My pH might have been too low this whole time. So maybe the bacteria died?
This could very well be the root of what is happening. Probably not dead but maybe dormant. You may have already answered this but is there a reason you aren't just using your tap water? In most cases tap water works just fine.
 
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oliviacislo

This could very well be the root of what is happening. Probably not dead but maybe dormant. You may have already answered this but is there a reason you aren't just using your tap water? In most cases tap water works just fine.


Well, that was the whole thing. When I started this thread so long ago (it feels like) I was using tap water. But my ammonia wasn't dropping. I eventually tested my tap water and we determined that ammonia was present in the tap water and I needed to use purified water moving forward. I did a big water change with purified water and added my fish. I started using purified drinking water exclusively.

It's been a few weeks since I added my fish and ammonia has consistently been 0.25. Been adding prime with every water change - performing water changes every 2-3 days with bottles of purified drinking water. Nitrite always 0. I am now assuming that pH has been pretty low for a while, therefore, stalling my cycle. I also have driftwood in my tank which I've read can bring the pH down.
 
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mattgirl

How much ammonia do you have in your tap water? If it is less than one what I would do is start doing the water changes with half tap water and half of the purified water. By doing this the ammonia you will be adding will be very low and your tanks will be getting some of the minerals present in most of our tap water. I am wondering if the water you are using has had ALL the good stuff filtered out of it.

What is the pH of your tap water? If it is higher than what is in the purified water it will also help raise the pH in the tank but by using half and half the pH won't go higher too quickly.
 
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oliviacislo

How much ammonia do you have in your tap water? If it is less than one what I would do is start doing the water changes with half tap water and half of the purified water. By doing this the ammonia you will be adding will be very low and your tanks will be getting some of the minerals present in most of our tap water. I am wondering if the water you are using has had ALL the good stuff filtered out of it.

What is the pH of your tap water? If it is higher than what is in the purified water it will also help raise the pH in the tank but by using half and half the pH won't go higher too quickly.

Thank you, that is good advice. Let me run a test of my tap water and I'll let you know.
 
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oliviacislo

Thank you, that is good advice. Let me run a test of my tap water and I'll let you know.

mattgirl Just tested my sink/tap water. The ammonia is 1.0 and the pH is 7.6+.
The ammonia in my tank is 0, but the pH is 6.
Interestingly, the filtered water from my fridge has awesome parameters (ammonia is basically 0 and the pH is 7.4 ish)
 
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mattgirl

mattgirl Just tested my sink/tap water. The ammonia is 1.0 and the pH is 7.6+.
The ammonia in my tank is 0, but the pH is 6.
Interestingly, the filtered water from my fridge has awesome parameters (ammonia is basically 0 and the pH is 7.4 ish)
We can work with this water. Think of it this way. If you mix half tap water with half purified water you have cut the ammonia in half. Do a 50% water change with this water and the ammonia will be cut in half again so will now be only adding .25ppm ammonia to the tank.

The problem is your pH will still be low so what I would do is start out with half and half and gradually work up to 3/4 tap to 1/4 purified. The ammonia you will be adding to the tank will still be negligible and this should help raise the pH in the tank. Eventually you should be able to go to straight tap.

If feasible you may be able to just filter your tap water to remove the ammonia and start doing your water changes with it. Start slowly and gradually increase the amount of water you change each time. Slowly as in 10% today, 15% tomorrow, 20% the next and so on. By doing it slowly your little guys will not be disturbed by sudden changes in the parameters.
 
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oliviacislo

We can work with this water. Think of it this way. If you mix half tap water with half purified water you have cut the ammonia in half. Do a 50% water change with this water and the ammonia will be cut in half again so will now be only adding .25ppm ammonia to the tank.

The problem is your pH will still be low so what I would do is start out with half and half and gradually work up to 3/4 tap to 1/4 purified. The ammonia you will be adding to the tank will still be negligible and this should help raise the pH in the tank. Eventually you should be able to go to straight tap.

If feasible you may be able to just filter your tap water to remove the ammonia and start doing your water changes with it. Start slowly and gradually increase the amount of water you change each time. Slowly as in 10% today, 15% tomorrow, 20% the next and so on. By doing it slowly your little guys will not be disturbed by sudden changes in the parameters.


Ok, great! I think I understand. I performed a 10% water change with tap and purified water just now. So I will continue increasing amounts of tap water. I'm assuming once the cycle completes, the ammonia that gets added to the tank will get filtered out anyways?

Right now I feel like my cycle is basically starting over because of the low pH. Bacteria hasn't been growing or lying dormant like you said earlier.
 
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mattgirl

Ok, great! I think I understand. I performed a 10% water change with tap and purified water just now. So I will continue increasing amounts of tap water. I'm assuming once the cycle completes, the ammonia that gets added to the tank will get filtered out anyways?

Right now I feel like my cycle is basically starting over because of the low pH. Bacteria hasn't been growing or lying dormant like you said earlier.
Yes, once we get this tank balanced and your cycle doing what it is supposed to do that tiny bit of ammonia you will be adding will be quickly cleared out by the bacteria. Doing the water changes with steadily increasing tap water should get your pH up where it needs to be to help the bacteria out and if dormant it should get back to work quickly.

You really aren't starting the cycle over. I feel sure the bacteria is still there but hasn't worked as well as it should because of lack of minerals in the purified water and the low pH.
 
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oliviacislo

Yes, once we get this tank balanced and your cycle doing what it is supposed to do that tiny bit of ammonia you will be adding will be quickly cleared out by the bacteria. Doing the water changes with steadily increasing tap water should get your pH up where it needs to be to help the bacteria out and if dormant it should get back to work quickly.

You really aren't starting the cycle over. I feel sure the bacteria is still there but hasn't worked as well as it should because of lack of minerals in the purified water and the low pH.

Water test results today were pH is about 7, ammonia basically 0, nitrite 0, nitrates 0.
 
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mattgirl

Water test results today were pH is about 7, ammonia basically 0, nitrite 0, nitrates 0.
You will eventually see some nitrates but as long as the ammonia, nitrites and pH remain where they are you are in good shape. Since you are seeing 0 ammonia it looks like you have enough bacteria in there to clear up the low amount of ammonia in your tap water so don't be afraid to build up to where you are using straight tap water.
 
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oliviacislo

You will eventually see some nitrates but as long as the ammonia, nitrites and pH remain where they are you are in good shape. Since you are seeing 0 ammonia it looks like you have enough bacteria in there to clear up the low amount of ammonia in your tap water so don't be afraid to build up to where you are using straight tap water.

Okay thank you, I will keep you updated!
 
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oliviacislo

Okay thank you, I will keep you updated!
mattgirl
This morning:
pH: 7.2
Ammonia: Back at .25, maybe a little higher.
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0

I'm lost at this point. Not sure if my tank has cycled, is cycling, if there's any bacteria at all. Lol. I don't know what to do
 
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mattgirl

Please refresh my memory. Is this fish in or fishless?
If fishless are you adding ammonia daily? If not, you should be.
 
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Pfrozen

if your tank has processed 4 ppm in a week you are cycled. I can't tell from the thread, do you have any plants? A handful of an aggressive plant like frogbit will suck up all your nitrates, especially if your tank is already moderately to heavily planted. for example i just added frogbit to a tank im cycling a few days ago and it sucks nitrates up like crazy. I tested last night before bed and saw 20-40 ppm, this morning it was 10-20 ppm. I had 3 small pieces with a couple leaves and just a few days later I now have 5 plants with a couple dozen leaves
 
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oliviacislo

Please refresh my memory. Is this fish in or fishless?
If fishless are you adding ammonia daily? If not, you should be.

I have a betta fish. He's been in there for a month. We've been going back and forth about the tap water (source water with ammonia) and the purified bottled water. I started a fishless cycle back in August and eventually added a fish after about 4 weeks of no progress because ammonia was relatively low and was dosing prime.
 
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oliviacislo

if your tank has processed 4 ppm in a week you are cycled. I can't tell from the thread, do you have any plants? A handful of an aggressive plant like frogbit will suck up all your nitrates, especially if your tank is already moderately to heavily planted. for example i just added frogbit to a tank im cycling a few days ago and it sucks nitrates up like crazy. I tested last night before bed and saw 20-40 ppm, this morning it was 10-20 ppm. I had 3 small pieces with a couple leaves and just a few days later I now have 5 plants with a couple dozen leaves

No plants. Just aquarium decor. I have a betta fish in a 10-gallon tank. Sorry, this thread is pretty old. I started my cycle at the beginning of August and it's been a long journey. It started as a fishless cycle and I was dosing ammonia but because of advice I received on here, people told me not to bother with the whole fishless cycle and just go ahead and add my fish because the bioload wouldn't be huge. Ammonia has since been around .25, I've never seen nitrite. Nitrates were present at one time but have since been 0.

mattgirl recommended a while back that I switch to purified drinking water because my source water contained ammonia. We just recently discussed performing water changes with a mix of tap water and bottled water.

That's why I'm lost now. It has just been a long time and now I feel confused about what to do moving forward.
 
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Pfrozen

No plants. Just aquarium decor. I have a betta fish in a 10-gallon tank. Sorry, this thread is pretty old. I started my cycle at the beginning of August and it's been a long journey. It started as a fishless cycle and I was dosing ammonia but because of advice I received on here, people told me not to bother with the whole fishless cycle and just go ahead and add my fish because the bioload wouldn't be huge. Ammonia has since been around .25, I've never seen nitrite. Nitrates were present at one time but have since been 0.

mattgirl recommended a while back that I switch to purified drinking water because my source water contained ammonia. We just recently discussed performing water changes with a mix of tap water and bottled water.

That's why I'm lost now. It has just been a long time and now I feel confused about what to do moving forward.

I'm guessing your tank is cycled. You are probably keeping the nitrates undetectable with water changes. Though I do admit that its a bit odd to not ever read any nitrates. But if it wasn't cycled you wouldn't be able to process ammonia and nitrite. The only logical explanation is that you are cycled and something is keeping your nitrates low. What kind of filter media are you using? Do you have lava rocks in your tank?
 
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oliviacislo

I'm guessing your tank is cycled. You are probably keeping the nitrates undetectable with water changes. Though I do admit that its a bit odd to not ever read any nitrates. But if it wasn't cycled you wouldn't be able to process ammonia and nitrite. The only logical explanation is that you are cycled and something is keeping your nitrates low. What kind of filter media are you using? Do you have lava rocks in your tank?

Yeah, it is weird. I tried following a cycling guide online using Dr. Tim's liquid ammonia and I dosed Seachem Stability in the beginning. That feels like ages ago now.

I have an AIO water box cube, it came with sponges and bio balls. I have 2 sponges and a bag of bio balls in the main chamber and a little pre-filter sponge on the output to reduce water flow because it was too strong of a current for my betta.

I do have driftwood in the tank, although I've heard that can lower pH but I don't know if it affects nitrates. It is really strange. When I initially began the fishless cycle I did have between 10-20 nitrates with every water test. The only thing I can point to is my water changes. I was having to do them every 2-3 days to keep the ammonia level down but now the ammonia is either 0 or .25 so I do them less frequently, but still weekly at least.
 
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Pfrozen

Yeah, it is weird. I tried following a cycling guide online using Dr. Tim's liquid ammonia and I dosed Seachem Stability in the beginning. That feels like ages ago now.

I have an AIO water box cube, it came with sponges and bio balls. I have 2 sponges and a bag of bio balls in the main chamber and a little pre-filter sponge on the output to reduce water flow because it was too strong of a current for my betta.

I do have driftwood in the tank, although I've heard that can lower pH but I don't know if it affects nitrates. It is really strange. When I initially began the fishless cycle I did have between 10-20 nitrates with every water test. The only thing I can point to is my water changes. I was having to do them every 2-3 days to keep the ammonia level down but now the ammonia is either 0 or .25 so I do them less frequently, but still weekly at least.

Bioballs provide sufficient surface area for denitrifying bacteria to grow.. there are bacteria that consume nitrates as well, not just bacteria that consume ammonia and nitrites.. it is possible that you have a colony of bacteria consuming nitrates at a rate constant enough to keep things at 0. That would be the most likely explanation imo. I asked about lava rocks because lava rocks contain those bacteria by default and will slowly colonize to consume nitrates. I guess you just did a really good job cycling your tank lol. Honestly though, if your parameters are in check and your fish is healthy and its been over 1 month I wouldn't worry about it. All is well
 
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oliviacislo

Bioballs provide sufficient surface area for denitrifying bacteria to grow.. there are bacteria that consume nitrates as well, not just bacteria that consume ammonia and nitrites.. it is possible that you have a colony of bacteria consuming nitrates at a rate constant enough to keep things at 0. That would be the most likely explanation imo. I asked about lava rocks because lava rocks contain those bacteria by default and will slowly colonize to consume nitrates. I guess you just did a really good job cycling your tank lol. Honestly though, if your parameters are in check and your fish is healthy and its been over 1 month I wouldn't worry about it. All is well

Thank you! Yeah, that's kind of where I'm at. I feel like he's healthy. When I test the water the parameters are fine. So I'm going to stop stressing about it.

In regards to Frogbit, I actually did want to order some online to add some variety to my tank and have it on the surface. I'm wondering, how does the Frogbit consuming nitrates affect the tank or the fish? And how would it affect my tank? For some reason, I thought the water needed to have some level of nitrates present in order for the fish to stay healthy.
 
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mattgirl

I have a betta fish. He's been in there for a month. We've been going back and forth about the tap water (source water with ammonia) and the purified bottled water. I started a fishless cycle back in August and eventually added a fish after about 4 weeks of no progress because ammonia was relatively low and was dosing prime.
Gotcha Have you pretty much switched over to all tap water now? Personally I would not be stressing over not seeing nitrates. As long as you change out 50% of his water each week it won't matter if you never get the numbers you are expecting. I wouldn't be stressing over an ammonia reading that low either. The time to be concerned is if it starts going up.

One little guy isn't going to be producing a lot of ammonia. The amount of nitrates depends on the amount ammonia. I realize you do have ammonia in your source water and now that you are gradually switching over to using it the bacteria in the tank should be clearing it out. I have to think that is the reason you are seeing .25 instead of the .5 you were seeing.

I recommended using the bottled water until there was enough bacteria in the tank to start clearing out the ammonia. If you don't mind buying water for the life of this tank you may want to continue doing so but given time I do think this tank will grow enough bacteria to take care of the low amount of ammonia being added while using you tap water.

I really don't understand the fact that there are no nitrates but I would not be stressing over that. You little guy doesn't have to have nitrates to remain health. They are normally a sign of a cycled tank but not something to worry about if they are not there. The most important thing is low or no ammonia and no nitrites. I say low or no ammonia because it seems some folks never get a true zero ammonia reading with their test kit.

Are you absolutely sure you are running the nitrate test correctly? Shaking bottle number 2 like your life depended on it to break the crystals loose and shaking the test tube for a full minute.
 
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oliviacislo

Gotcha Have you pretty much switched over to all tap water now? Personally I would not be stressing over not seeing nitrates. As long as you change out 50% of his water each week it won't matter if you never get the numbers you are expecting. I wouldn't be stressing over an ammonia reading that low either. The time to be concerned is if it starts going up.

One little guy isn't going to be producing a lot of ammonia. The amount of nitrates depends on the amount ammonia. I realize you do have ammonia in your source water and now that you are gradually switching over to using it the bacteria in the tank should be clearing it out. I have to think that is the reason you are seeing .25 instead of the .5 you were seeing.

I recommended using the bottled water until there was enough bacteria in the tank to start clearing out the ammonia. If you don't mind buying water for the life of this tank you may want to continue doing so but given time I do think this tank will grow enough bacteria to take care of the low amount of ammonia being added while using you tap water.

I really don't understand the fact that there are no nitrates but I would not be stressing over that. You little guy doesn't have to have nitrates to remain health. They are normally a sign of a cycled tank but not something to worry about if they are not there. The most important thing is low or no ammonia and no nitrites. I say low or no ammonia because it seems some folks never get a true zero ammonia reading with their test kit.

Are you absolutely sure you are running the nitrate test correctly? Shaking bottle number 2 like your life depended on it to break the crystals loose and shaking the test tube for a full minute.

Okay, thank you for the detailed response as always. And yes, I've become very good at the water tests..... I've used them many many times now.
 
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