Nitrites Wont Go Down? Help 

Caffee

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hello, so im 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 wont go down from 2.0-5.0ppm. Im 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 im testing it daily.
 

Kiks

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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

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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

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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.
 

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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

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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.
 

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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)
 

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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.
 
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Caffee

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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 im guessing?

EDIT: just tested my PH and im at 7.6. Is that normal?
 
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Caffee

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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. Thats 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. Im using doctor tims ammonia. Also, i using API quick start as bacteria “feed”.
 

mattgirl

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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 im 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

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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?!
 
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Caffee

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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?
 

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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.
 
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Caffee

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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 im very confused on how i could still have such high nitrites. Sorry if im asking for so much help haha, ive never cycled a tank before.
 

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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 im very confused on how i could still have such high nitrites. Sorry if im 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.
 

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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 im very confused on how i could still have such high nitrites. Sorry if im 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.
 
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Caffee

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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! Im 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% wont affect my
progress? Im 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 doesnt seem to be going that way :/.
 

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Caffee said:
Okay, thanks so much for the help! Im 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.
 
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