nitrogen cycle: like watching paint dry

zerotona
Member
I finally got my API master test kit in the mail! I just finished some tests and was quite disappointed that I have no nitrites at all. The tank has been set up with fish for over 3 weeks now. We were getting the water tested at a lfs who have are quite well known and reputable and they said we were doing everything right and the water wasn't dangerous to the fish etc etc.

So my readings were;

Ammonia: 0.25
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0

I have 2 guppies, a sail fin molly and we had a red wag tail platy who died after giving birth I've been doing frequent water changes 'just in case' because obviously I couldn't test the water at my own convenience. During the water changes I didn't vacuum the gravel or replace filter media.

So does this mean the cycle is just starting now? We added some amtrite last week which claimed to add nitrosomonas and nitrobactor but from the test results it doesn't look like it did anything at all (aside from send the PH through the roof).
 
capekate
Member
HI Zerotona
and welcome to fishlore! ( haven't had a chance to welcome you yet!) You are starting to get ammonia readings. That is the first reading you will find when you start your cycle. So you are in fact in the beginning of cycling your tank. Keep doing those water changes since you are cycling with fish and keep up the good work!!
~ kate
 
  • Thread Starter
zerotona
Member
Thanks
So it's normal to not have any nitrite readings even after 3 weeks? I have never done this before, apart from goldfish when I was a teenager, so I really have no idea what I'm doing.. lol.

I just can't wait until it's finished cycling so I can add another molly because my current one looks like he's a bit lonely without a playmate!
 
lilsoccakid
Member
cycling with fish is much slower then cycling fishless, cause of allt he water changes. keep doing wat ur doing, and they will come eventually!
 
  • Thread Starter
zerotona
Member
The tank and fish were a present, so I have no choice other than to do it with fish. I know that it's not the best thing for the fish but I have nowhere else to put them. I don't even know anyone with an aquarium...

The water had been cloudy for over a week and I have a feeling there might have been some nitrifying bacteria in there but someone (wasn't me : accidentally put a cup of untreated water in the tank. It has become less cloudy ever since, so I'm thinking the water probably killed off what little bacteria there may have been.
 
MelissaF672
Member
Find some gravel from an established tank! It will introduce some good bacteria and might help speed things along.
 
capekate
Member
zerotona said:
The tank and fish were a present, so I have no choice other than to do it with fish. I know that it's not the best thing for the fish but I have nowhere else to put them. I don't even know anyone with an aquarium...

The water had been cloudy for over a week and I have a feeling there might have been some nitrifying bacteria in there but someone (wasn't me : accidentally put a cup of untreated water in the tank. It has become less cloudy ever since, so I'm thinking the water probably killed off what little bacteria there may have been.
HI Zerotona
The new additon of water to the tank will not kill off any of your bacteria unless you have a lot of chlorine in your tap water. A cup of untreated water really won't do any damage. Sometimes a new tank in the beginning will get cloudy for a few days. l
 
  • Thread Starter
zerotona
Member
I would have added gravel or filter media from an established tank, however I don't know anyone else with an aquarium so my only option is a pet store. I don't know if they would be willing to do that or if I should ask, because they could have diseases in their filtration system A dilemma.. hmm.
 
  • Thread Starter
zerotona
Member
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.....

We have nitrites!

Wow. I am so happy! I noticed ammonia had gone down and then I looked at the nitrite test tube and it was purple! All of a sudden.
I read on here that someone said "just when you thought you couldn't do another water change, it will happen." - This is so true!

I realise that my fish are not out of the woods yet, but I am so happy that the cycle has actually STARTED. There is light at the end of this highly stressful, watery tunnel.

As of today my readings are;

Ammonia: 0 - 0.25
Nitrite: 0.25
Nitrate:

When do you guys recommend I do another water change? When nitrite is at 1ppm? This won't get rid of all the bacteria that has finally arrived? I will be getting some aquarium salt tomorrow to make the nitrite a little more bearable for my fish, too.

Any help would really be appreciated!
 
lilsoccakid
Member
most of the bacteria are in the filter and gravel. Barely any are in the water so don't be afriad to do a water change to keep ur fish safe!

ps. congrats on the nitrites! lol
 
  • Thread Starter
zerotona
Member
LOL-- thanks
I meant to say my nitrates are at 0. I tested ammonia again and it's barely registering -- my fish are so happy swimming around, and I thought they were happy before!

Thanks everyone for their help and reassurance
 
armadillo
Member
You're cycled. Yeahiiiie!!! Congrats. Yep, it is soooooo boring to wait until that last bit of nitrite is gone.
 
  • Thread Starter
zerotona
Member
Hmm Well I'm not sure what is going on. Yesterday I definitely had nitrites - It wasn't like "is it blue or is it purple?" - It was definitely purple. They were pretty much 0.25 all day.

I did 10% water change last night because I didn't want it to increase a lot while I was in bed and the fish to have difficulty breathing.

So today, 12 hours after the water change, the test shows;

Ammonia: 0-0.25 - it's hard to tell, the bottle isn't yellow but not really green either
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0-5 - again, difficult to tell. It's darker than yellow, but not quite the colour of 5ppm nitrate.

In 12 hours the ammonia has not risen at all but now there's no nitrites. I don't know what is going on?? I keep thinking maybe the whole thing really is finished but I am just not doing the nitrate test correctly because of all the bottle shaking you have to do.

Any ideas?
 
armadillo
Member
As long as you get ammonia, then your nitrite-producing/ammonia-eating eating bacteria are not keeping up with the ammonia amounts. Your nitrate-producting/nitrite-eating bacteria, on the other hand, seem to be doing a good job. I think you have to wait more.
 
Butterfly
Member
yep it's not there yet but well on its way
Carol
 
  • Thread Starter
zerotona
Member
Thanks guys. I guess it makes sense, my nitrifying bacteria are lethargic, lol.

I still have ammonia readings (0.25 - 0.50), no longer have nitrite readings, but a definite nitrate reading of ~5 right before I did a 20% water change. I am now treating the water with Prime so they should be able to tolerate what ammonia is in there. I have also added livebearer salt and they seem to love it
 
  • Thread Starter
zerotona
Member
Well it seems like my tank was cycled for a day and now it's not. I have constant ammonia readings of 0.25-0.50, and now no nitrites or nitrates. My tank water is also now perfectly clear, which would normally be fantastic but I guess it just means the bacteria all died off and now I am back to square one

I am treating the water with prime so as to alleviate the stress of the ammonia, but I really don't know what I can do to get this going. We can't get biospira in Australia.. the only bacterial additives available are the ones with the 'wrong type' of bacteria, like Cycle and Stress Zyme.

I am going to try and get some gravel or old filter media from the fish store where the fish came from. Does anyone have any idea how much gravel or filter media I would need to get my 20 gallon tank cycling? Also can anyone give me a ball park figure on how long it would take to cycle this thing with my 4 fish and some stuff from an established aquarium?

I feel so bad putting my fish through this And it's stressing me out too.
 
capekate
Member
zerotona said:
Well it seems like my tank was cycled for a day and now it's not. I have constant ammonia readings of 0.25-0.50, and now no nitrites or nitrates. My tank water is also now perfectly clear, which would normally be fantastic but I guess it just means the bacteria all died off and now I am back to square one

I am treating the water with prime so as to alleviate the stress of the ammonia, but I really don't know what I can do to get this going. We can't get biospira in Australia.. the only bacterial additives available are the ones with the 'wrong type' of bacteria, like Cycle and Stress Zyme.

I am going to try and get some gravel or old filter media from the fish store where the fish came from. Does anyone have any idea how much gravel or filter media I would need to get my 20 gallon tank cycling? Also can anyone give me a ball park figure on how long it would take to cycle this thing with my 4 fish and some stuff from an established aquarium?

I feel so bad putting my fish through this And it's stressing me out too.
HI Zerotona
I have cycled my tanks both ways, fishless and with fish. I can say that it takes a lot longer to cycle with fish but its not impossible. It took me about two months+ to cycle with fish. It took 24 days to cycle with none. It sounds like your cycle is almost complete and you will only need to do water changes to keep the ammonia down and not add anymore fish til your tank has cycled. As far as gravel goes, you can use a palm size handful in a netted bag. Do you know anyone that may be able to give you a slip of filter sponge that you can add to your filter? Once you add your gravel from the established tank, and with your readings now it shouldnt take very long, tho it always differs with each tank and so can't say for sure. If you don't add anymore fish, do not vacumn your gravel but do water changes to keep the ammonia from getting to a toxic number I would think that your tank should be cycled within a week of adding the established gravel. But all tanks are different! Good luck with your tank, keep taking those readings, the numbers will tell the truth. ;D
 
  • Thread Starter
zerotona
Member
Thanks for the help Kate. I think I will go with the gravel or filter media from the fish store I got my fish from. The only person I know who I could get some filter media from lives 4 hours away by car.. so anything he could give me would probably be useless by the time he got it here, lol.

Last night I had 0.5 - 1 nitrites and 0.25 ammonia. This morning I have 0 nitrites and 0.25 ammonia. I probably have some nitrates but it's so hard to tell between 0 and 5 nitrates.
 
armadillo
Member
Woudlnt' the fish store give you some filter media or used gravel?
 

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