Nitrites Wont Go Down?

Caffee

Member
hello, so I'm on day 17 of my fishless cycle for my 5.5 gallon shrimp tank and I thought I was getting somewhere; but now my nitrites won't go down from 2.0-5.0ppm. I'm on day 4 of my parameters being 0.25ppm ammonia, 2.0-5.0ppm nitrites, and 10ppm nitrates. I test every 24 hours with the API master kit, and then add 10ML bacteria (apI quick start). Is there some way I can get those nitrites to start going down? Should I try water changes?

Heres what my parameters been for the past 17 days:

Day 1: added 20-22 drops of ammonia and 10ML of bacteria.

Day 2: added 10ML Of bacteria

Day 3: ammonia 2.0ppm-3.0ppm and nitrite 0ppm. Added 10ML of bacteria

Day 4: added 10ML of bacteria

Day 5: add 10mL of bacteria

Day 6: ammonia 1.0ppm and nitrite 0ppm. Added 10ML bacteria.

Day 7: add bacteria

Day 8: add bacteria

Day 9: ammonia 2.0ppm and nitrite 0ppm. Added 15ML bacteria

Day 10: ammonia 2.0ppm and nitrite 0.25-0.5ppm. Added 10ML bacteria

Day 11: ammonia 2.0ppm and nitrite 0.5-0.1ppm. Added 10ML bacteria

Day 12: ammonia 2.0ppm and nitrite 2.0ppm.
Added 10ML bacteria

Day 13: ammonia 1.0ppm and nitrite 2.0ppm-5.0ppm. Added 10ML bacteria

Day 14: ammonia 0.25ppm and nitrite 2.0-5.0ppm and nitrates 10ppm. Added 10ml bacteria

Day 15: ammonia 0.25ppm, nitrite 2.0-5.0ppm, nitrate 10ppm. Added 10ML bacteria

Day 16: ammonia 0.25ppm, nitrite 2.0-5.0ppm, nitrate 10ppm. Added 10ML bacteria

Day 17: ammonia 0.25ppm, nitrite 2.0-5.0ppm, nitrate 10ppm. Added 10ML bacteria

Note: I tested every two days at one point and now I'm testing it daily.
 

Kiks

Member
Nothing wrong with your parameters. They're pretty much as I'd expect from a fishless cycle at day 17. Keep doing what you're doing and make sure that ammonia is added whenever necessary so the bacteria doesn't start to die off.
Your nitrites will do down by themselves when more of it is converted to nitrates.
 

mattgirl

Member
It is time to do a 75% water change. Once done add enough ammonia to get it back up to 2ppm.

After close to 3 weeks of cycling all of the good stuff (mineral) in your source water are depleted. The big water change will add them back in.

Have you run your PH test? Cycling often causes it to go down. If it gets too low (6.5 or less) it can slow the cycling process down to a crawl.
 

Kiks

Member
mattgirl said:
It is time to do a 75% water change. Once done add enough ammonia to get it back up to 2ppm.

After close to 3 weeks of cycling all of the good stuff (mineral) in your source water are depleted. The big water change will add them back in.

Have you run your PH test? Cycling often causes it to go down. If it gets too low (6.5 or less) it can slow the cycling process down to a crawl.
Out of curiosity: why do you suggest a 75% water change at this point? The minerals being depleted shouldn't be an issue since there's no fish and it's advised to do a very large water change before adding fish once the cycle is done anyways.
 

Skavatar

Member
the nitrite phase usually takes 3 weeks.

1 ammonia = 3 nitrite, your nitrite are most likely over 5ppm, the test just can't test that high.

do a 50% water change. the nitrogen cycle creates acids.
 

mattgirl

Member
Kiks said:
Out of curiosity: why do you suggest a 75% water change at this point? The minerals being depleted shouldn't be an issue since there's no fish and it's advised to do a very large water change before adding fish once the cycle is done anyways.
I have found when the nitrites spike up off the chart a huge water change gets them down to a reasonable level and keeps the cycle moving forward. Some folks say just wait it out and eventually they will go down. I say why wait when a big water change will get them moving forward.

Since the ammonia is going down and there are now nitrates it is telling us that there is both ammonia and nitrite eating bacteria in this tank. Now it is just a matter of getting them balanced.

In my humble opinion a big water change will help balance things out. So many folks have been told not to do water changes while doing a fishless cycle and then they come here wondering why the cycle has stalled. It stalls because it is too far out of balance.

When the nitrites and nitrates go too high the cycle stops processing all of the ammonia. Once a water change is done they find that their cycle is actually done but was too far out of balance.

With all the bottled bacteria added to this tank it is possible that it is very close to cycled. The big water change may prove that to be true.
 

Zka17

Member
Skavatar said:
1 ammonia = 3 nitrite.
huh?!

My experience with the Quick Start is that the nitrite spike is longer than the ammonia one... just keep going...
I would check the pH too - the water changes are most important to keep the pH (the minerals are important for the fish and inverts, not so much for the beneficial bacteria)
 

Skavatar

Member
Zka17 said:
huh?!

My experience with the Quick Start is that the nitrite spike is longer than the ammonia one... just keep going...
I would check the pH too - the water changes are most important to keep the pH (the minerals are important for the fish and inverts, not so much for the beneficial bacteria)
basically 1 ppm ammonia is converted into 3 ppm nitrite, which is converted to 3.9 ppm nitrate.

Ammonia ppm = Nitrate ppm?
Post #8

When the test kits give measurements in ppm, this refers to mg/L.

Comparing an equal number of molecules of ammonia to nitrite to nitrate would be equal if you are considering molarity, but not when you put mass into the picture.

Molecular weights:
N = 14.01
0 = 16.00
H = 1.01

NH3 = 16.03
NO2 = 46.01
NO3 = 62.01

You still have the same number of nitrogen atoms, but the molecule has "gained weight" because of what it has been converted to.
 
  • Thread Starter

Caffee

Member
mattgirl said:
It is time to do a 75% water change. Once done add enough ammonia to get it back up to 2ppm.

After close to 3 weeks of cycling all of the good stuff (mineral) in your source water are depleted. The big water change will add them back in.

Have you run your PH test? Cycling often causes it to go down. If it gets too low (6.5 or less) it can slow the cycling process down to a crawl.
Thanks for the reply! Also no, I have not checked my PH levels since the first time I tested my water. I will test that asap. Also, quick question, once I do my water change and add my ammonia; how long should I wait to test my water again to see if its bumped back up to 2ppm? 24 hours I'm guessing?

EDIT: just tested my PH and I'm at 7.6. Is that normal?
 

Donthemon

Member
When is the last time you added ammonia? How are you feeding the bb? Your chart shows you stopped.
 
  • Thread Starter

Caffee

Member
Donthemon said:
When is the last time you added ammonia? How are you feeding the bb? Your chart shows you stopped.
The only time I added ammonia was on day one. That's because ive been following this tutorial on how to cycle (since its my first time) and the plan was to add more ammonia once both nitrites and ammonia were at or under 0.5ppm. I'm using doctor tims ammonia. Also, I using API quick start as bacteria “feed”.
 

mattgirl

Member
Caffee said:
Thanks for the reply! Also no, I have not checked my PH levels since the first time I tested my water. I will test that asap. Also, quick question, once I do my water change and add my ammonia; how long should I wait to test my water again to see if its bumped back up to 2ppm? 24 hours I'm guessing?
I would test it after about an hour to make sure it is up to at least 2ppm. If it isn't add more until it is at least that much. Check again in 24 hours to see how much is left. If it is down to close to zero get it back up to 2ppm.

I wouldn't add any more bacteria in a bottle at this point. You want to make sure the bacteria that is producing the nitrites and nitrates isn't coming from the bottle.
 

Zka17

Member
Skavatar said:
basically 1 ppm ammonia is converted into 3 ppm nitrite, which is converted to 3.9 ppm nitrate.

Ammonia ppm = Nitrate ppm?
Post #8

When the test kits give measurements in ppm, this refers to mg/L.

Comparing an equal number of molecules of ammonia to nitrite to nitrate would be equal if you are considering molarity, but not when you put mass into the picture.

Molecular weights:
N = 14.01
0 = 16.00
H = 1.01

NH3 = 16.03
NO2 = 46.01
NO3 = 62.01

You still have the same number of nitrogen atoms, but the molecule has "gained weight" because of what it has been converted to.
Hm... first of all, thank you for bringing this in my attention! Second, I apologize if I am polluting the thread...

ppm (parts per million) as a measurement unit is pretty controversial - at least in my head... as a scientist, I am working with SI units (ppm is not SI), and just cannot take it as it is... The controversy comes from the possible definitions: ppm could be a mass fraction (kg/kg), or a mole fraction (mol/mol), or a volume fraction (m3/m3 or l/l) - now, mg/l is none of these, except if we are talking about water (H2O)...

Do we know if the test kits used by us are meaning that ppm=mg/l?

An another question is what exactly our test kits are measuring? Ammonia-nitrogen and nitrite-nitrogen (the nitrogen derived from ammonia/nitrite)? Or effectively the ammonia and nitrite? Because if they measure the nitrogen derived from each, then 1 ppm ammonia = 1ppm nitrite...

My logic is: one molecule of ammonia transforms into one molecule of nitrite - why would we use a measurement unit which shows that during this transformation the end product is triple of the start product? Why would we take in consideration that the molecule gained weight when we are looking for the number of molecules?!
 
  • Thread Starter

Caffee

Member
mattgirl said:
I would test it after about an hour to make sure it is up to at least 2ppm. If it isn't add more until it is at least that much. Check again in 24 hours to see how much is left. If it is down to close to zero get it back up to 2ppm.

I wouldn't add any more bacteria in a bottle at this point. You want to make sure the bacteria that is producing the nitrites and nitrates isn't coming from the bottle.
Okay. How long do I maintain it at 2ppm? Till my nitrites go down to 0ppm and I have nitrate spike?
 

mattgirl

Member
Caffee said:
Okay. How long do I maintain it at 2ppm? Till my nitrites go down to 0ppm and I have nitrate spike?
For now just take it one day at a time. The amount of ammonia you need to add and how long you need to add it depends on what the numbers are tomorrow.

When you see 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and some nitrates 24 hours after adding ammonia your cycle will be complete.
 
  • Thread Starter

Caffee

Member
mattgirl said:
For now just take it one day at a time. The amount of ammonia you need to add and how long you need to add it depends on what the numbers are tomorrow.

When you see 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and some nitrates 24 hours after adding ammonia your cycle will be complete.
Its the next day and I just tested my water. My ammonia is still at 2.0ppm, nitrites are 2.0-5.0ppm (or just off the chart), and nitrates are 5.0ppm. I did a 75% water change yesterday so I'm very confused on how I could still have such high nitrites. Sorry if I'm asking for so much help haha, ive never cycled a tank before.
 

mattgirl

Member
Caffee said:
Its the next day and I just tested my water. My ammonia is still at 2.0ppm, nitrites are 2.0-5.0ppm (or just off the chart), and nitrates are 5.0ppm. I did a 75% water change yesterday so I'm very confused on how I could still have such high nitrites. Sorry if I'm asking for so much help haha, ive never cycled a tank before.
Now that you've done the water change it is just a waiting game. 17 or 18 days seems like a long time but when cycling it really isn't. It took my tank a solid 6 weeks from dry to fully cycled.

Please never apologize when asking for help. You will get through this. It just takes a lot of time and patience.
 

JenC

Member
Caffee said:
Its the next day and I just tested my water. My ammonia is still at 2.0ppm, nitrites are 2.0-5.0ppm (or just off the chart), and nitrates are 5.0ppm. I did a 75% water change yesterday so I'm very confused on how I could still have such high nitrites. Sorry if I'm asking for so much help haha, ive never cycled a tank before.
If your nitrites are really still 5 ppm after a 75% water change then they were REALLY high, like 20 ppm.

If I were in your position I'd just change all the water and start with a clean slate. It's only 5g. Then ammonia and nitrite will be 0 (assuming your tap water has none), you can dose ammonia to 2 ppm and check it 24 hours later. This won't hurt the progress you've made and will give a true indication of where you are with the cycle. Remember the dechlorinator, and only redose ammonia when it falls to 0, max once per day.
 
  • Thread Starter

Caffee

Member
mattgirl said:
Now that you've done the water change it is just a waiting game. 17 or 18 days seems like a long time but when cycling it really isn't. It took my tank a solid 6 weeks from dry to fully cycled.

Please never apologize when asking for help. You will get through this. It just takes a lot of time and patience.
Okay, thanks so much for the help! I'm just waiting for those nitrites to go down now right?

JenC said:
If your nitrites are really still 5 ppm after a 75% water change then they were REALLY high, like 20 ppm.

If I were in your position I'd just change all the water and start with a clean slate. It's only 5g. Then ammonia and nitrite will be 0 (assuming your tap water has none), you can dose ammonia to 2 ppm and check it 24 hours later. This won't hurt the progress you've made and will give a true indication of where you are with the cycle. Remember the dechlorinator, and only redose ammonia when it falls to 0, max once per day.
Sorry, but your sure a 100% won't affect my
progress? I'm so nervous about screwing this up and having it take even longer. I bought doctor tims ammonia and quick start bacteria because I was told that the cycling process would of been sped up at least a bit, but it doesn't seem to be going that way :/.
 

mattgirl

Member
Caffee said:
Okay, thanks so much for the help! I'm just waiting for those nitrites to go down now right?
Right. You want the ammonia and nitrites to start going down. Eventually the ammonia you add will be gone within 24 hours and your nitrites will drop to zero. At that time you will be seeing some nitrates. Nitrites are strange little creatures.

When I got my nitrite spike it went from none to off the chart over night. Since I was doing a fish in cycle I was doing water changes and dosing Prime every day. I did that 5 days straight. The nitrites kept showing to be 5 after every water change. After the 5th one they dropped all the way to zero. I expected a gradual decrease but it didn't work that way for me.

Each tank is unique so it is impossible to predict exactly how fast or slow your cycle will progress. That is why we need a truck load of patience.
 
  • Thread Starter

Caffee

Member
mattgirl said:
Right. You want the ammonia and nitrites to start going down. Eventually the ammonia you add will be gone within 24 hours and your nitrites will drop to zero. At that time you will be seeing some nitrates. Nitrites are strange little creatures.

When I got my nitrite spike it went from none to off the chart over night. Since I was doing a fish in cycle I was doing water changes and dosing Prime every day. I did that 5 days straight. The nitrites kept showing to be 5 after every water change. After the 5th one they dropped all the way to zero. I expected a gradual decrease but it didn't work that way for me.

Each tank is unique so it is impossible to predict exactly how fast or slow your cycle will progress. That is why we need a truck load of patience.
Alright, well I guess i’ll just have to keep checking my water daily. I'm usually the patient type but I'm so worried that this cycle won't finish up or be close to when summer ends. I'm a student so it will defiantly be a struggle finishing the cycle up AND making sure my new little guys do well their first few months in the tank (once the cycle is complete of course) while I have classes. You don't suppose I should start doing water changes right? Or just leave the water and test it daily.
 

JenC

Member
Caffee said:
Sorry, but your sure a 100% won't affect my
progress? I'm so nervous about screwing this up and having it take even longer. I bought doctor tims ammonia and quick start bacteria because I was told that the cycling process would of been sped up at least a bit, but it doesn't seem to be going that way :/.
Yes, I'm sure. Changing water won't hurt anything. That's true now when you're cycling and later when you do regular weekly water changes. The beneficial bacteria live on surfaces - in your filter media, on the substrate, even on walls and decorations. You'll change most of the water after it's cycled before stocking too, and that won't hurt anything either.

I think your tank's just been overwhelmed with a lot of stuff and high levels, which can slow or even stall progress.

Below is how I fishless cycle all my tanks for reference. There are many ways and most of them work. This is just my way - not the only way.
  • Dose dechlorinated water to 4 ppm of ammonia. Redose to 4 ppm when it hits 0-0.25 ppm, max once per day. Let it fall in between doses.
  • Once nitrites are present, drop the ammonia dose to 3 ppm, still only dosing when it nears 0 and max once per day.
  • When the ammonia converts to both 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite in <24 hours, preferably in <12, the tank's ready to handle a full stocking. I do a final stress test of 4-5 ppm to confirm.
  • If stocking immediately, I change most of the water and stock. If stocking is delayed, I dose 1 ppm ammonia daily to keep the cycle strong until stocking, still doing the big water change just before adding fish.
  • I change some water if ammonia reaches 5 ppm, nitrite reaches 5 ppm, or nitrate goes off the chart.
  • Raising the temp to 82°-84° F can help expedite progress. Just remember to turn it back down later.
 

mattgirl

Member
Caffee said:
Alright, well I guess i’ll just have to keep checking my water daily. I'm usually the patient type but I'm so worried that this cycle won't finish up or be close to when summer ends. I'm a student so it will defiantly be a struggle finishing the cycle up AND making sure my new little guys do well their first few months in the tank (once the cycle is complete of course) while I have classes. You don't suppose I should start doing water changes right? Or just leave the water and test it daily.
You don't need to be doing any regular water changes yet. That comes after the tank is cycled and you have fish in there.

It wouldn't hurt to do another one now and might help to get the nitrites down a little bit. If you choose to do so be sure to dose your ammonia back up to no less than 2ppm. More wouldn't be a problem but since it didn't go down any from the 2ppm you added yesterday I don't know that adding more than 2ppm is needed.

You might be surprised how quickly a cycle can finish up once it really gets going. I know the waiting is difficult 'specially when you need it done in a certain length of time.

Fast Fishless cycle You may want to read this thread. It shows you step by step how to do a fast cycle. I've not done it but it seems some have and have been successful.
 
  • Thread Starter

Caffee

Member
mattgirl said:
You don't need to be doing any regular water changes yet. That comes after the tank is cycled and you have fish in there.

It wouldn't hurt to do another one now and might help to get the nitrites down a little bit. If you choose to do so be sure to dose your ammonia back up to no less than 2ppm. More wouldn't be a problem but since it didn't go down any from the 2ppm you added yesterday I don't know that adding more than 2ppm is needed.

You might be surprised how quickly a cycle can finish up once it really gets going. I know the waiting is difficult 'specially when you need it done in a certain length of time.

Fast Fishless cycle You may want to read this thread. It shows you step by step how to do a fast cycle. I've not done it but it seems some have and have been successful.
Alright, again thank you so much for your help. You've defiantly eased my mind quite a bit.

JenC said:
Yes, I'm sure. Changing water won't hurt anything. That's true now when you're cycling and later when you do regular weekly water changes. The beneficial bacteria live on surfaces - in your filter media, on the substrate, even on walls and decorations. You'll change most of the water after it's cycled before stocking too, and that won't hurt anything either.

I think your tank's just been overwhelmed with a lot of stuff and high levels, which can slow or even stall progress.

Below is how I fishless cycle all my tanks for reference. There are many ways and most of them work. This is just my way - not the only way.
  • Dose dechlorinated water to 4 ppm of ammonia. Redose to 4 ppm when it hits 0-0.25 ppm, max once per day. Let it fall in between doses.
  • Once nitrites are present, drop the ammonia dose to 3 ppm, still only dosing when it nears 0 and max once per day.
  • When the ammonia converts to both 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite in <24 hours, preferably in <12, the tank's ready to handle a full stocking. I do a final stress test of 4-5 ppm to confirm.
  • If stocking immediately, I change most of the water and stock. If stocking is delayed, I dose 1 ppm ammonia daily to keep the cycle strong until stocking, still doing the big water change just before adding fish.
  • I change some water if ammonia reaches 5 ppm, nitrite reaches 5 ppm, or nitrate goes off the chart.
  • Raising the temp to 82°-84° F can help expedite progress. Just remember to turn it back down later.
Thanks for the help!
 

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