Nitrogen cycle readings

Discussion in 'Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle' started by platymum2801, Jul 31, 2015.

  1. platymum2801Valued MemberMember

    Ok, so I was pretty sure I understood the nitrogen cycle, as far as the point of it and how to do it and am currently doing one on a 110l tank, I just find the test readings a bit confusing. I'm not 100% sure what they should look like as the tank cycles and when I'll know I'm getting there.
    I just got an api master test kit and did a test yesterday, then a small water change and another test, then a test today. Just to try my test kit out really and get an idea of it. But it is confusing.

    Readings were -

    PH - 8.2
    Ammonia - 0.50ppm
    Nitrite - 0.50ppm
    Nitrate - 80ppm

    After water change -

    PH - 8.0
    Ammonia - 0.50ppm
    Nitrite - 0.25ppm
    Nitrate - 40ppm

    Today -

    PH - 8.0
    Ammonia - low looking 0/0.25ppm
    Nitrite - 0.50ppm
    Nitrate - 40ppm

    Does this look right? Had the tank cycling a week tomorrow so I know it's not done but is it going in the right direction?

    I have plants in the tank, a Juwel bio filter and have been using prime.

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  2. chrt396Well Known MemberMember

    Sounds like you are cycling..just the way you should be. Sounds like the ammonia is being converted to nitrites. The levels although better if at zero...are not at deadly levels so you shouldn't be experiencing any loss. How many fish..if any do you have and what kind? Did you use Tetra Safe Start or some other bacteria kick start? Just keep Nitrates down at or below 40..and dont allow Nitrites to get above .50. They have to peak at some point..but doing the partial water changes will keep the fish safe. I'm cycling three tanks right now..and one of the smaller 29 gallon tanks never achieved a very high toxic level of nitrites. I was using TSS as the bacteria and it sailed right through the cycle. At this appears as if you are doing just fine!

  3. platymum2801Valued MemberMember

    No fish in yet, just "feeding the tank". I've not used anything other than prime when setting it up and in two 20% water changes. Glad it seems to be going ok :) what should the nitrate reading be when cycled? How do I get nitrites down? Just water changes?

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  4. ricmccWell Known MemberMember

    The nitrites will come down as the BB that reduces nitrite becomes better established (it normally is a little slower off the mark then the BB that reduces ammonia).
    One thing that you might check is your source water for nitrate, as it seems a little high for a mid cycle reading; checking source water is always a good idea, I think, as it gives you a baseline to compare tank readings to; all the best, rick
    Sorry, just noticed this in your question about nitrate. There really is no set number for what your nitrate level should be at after your cycle; it depends on your source water, bioload, and frequency of water changes (assuming that you have no or little nitrate in your source water).
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2015
  5. platymum2801Valued MemberMember

    Ok thanks, didn't think of doing that. Glad I seem to be doing it right so far. Patience isn't my strongest point so I don't want to end up prolonging the process even more lol

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  6. chrt396Well Known MemberMember

  7. platymum2801Valued MemberMember

    I could go as far as to say I'm the least patient person I know! So this is a real good hobby for me. It's testing me and growing me as an individual :) lol. I have been accused of treating my fish like I treat my children, but that's not such a bad thing right? I'm determined to get this tank started right since the hiccups that inevitably occurred with the 10l bought for my daughter and 17l I bought to buy us some time and a tiny bit more space. So glad I haven't lost the platys and danios in this process! CAN NOT WAIT to put them in the 110l! But I will... Lol :)

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  8. platymum2801Valued MemberMember

    Hard isn't it?! ;)

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  9. chrt396Well Known MemberMember

    I'm learning patience...but I'm growing impatient trying to learn to have patience. :;fru
  10. platymum2801Valued MemberMember

    Been away a couple days, tested tank today

    Results were -

    Ph - 8.2
    Ammonia - 0.50ppm
    Nitrite - 2.0ppm
    Nitrate - 40ppm

    Next steps?

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  11. LilChickenValued MemberMember

    I feel you on being impatient @platymum2801. I'm in the same boat as you waiting for my tanks to cycle so I can add my corys to their new home in my 75g. Looks like your in the middle of the cycle. You should notice through testing that at first you'll have an ammonia spike, then you'll see ammonia decrease and nitrites increase. After that the ammonia and nitrates will decrease and nitrates increase. Once nitrates are back down you can add your fish although I've heard you can add once nitrates are below 40ppm. I'm assuming this is what you meant by "next steps?". Hope this helps :p
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2015
  12. platymum2801Valued MemberMember

    I wasn't sure whether to do a water change or not. I read you should do water changes throughout the cycle and I also read you shouldn't because it can prolong it or even start it over again. I'm definitely getting closer to being cycled though. Ammonia almost 0 today. Others are the same. Would you water change now? Can't wait to put the fish in, I'll leave it til I'm sure it's cycled and stable though :)

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  13. LilChickenValued MemberMember

    Ive heard the same thing which is why Ive never done a water change during a cycle or even right after.

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  14. platymum2801Valued MemberMember

    Ahh ok I'll hold off then!

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  15. chrt396Well Known MemberMember

    The only time you want to change water is if the fish look funky..where they are gasping for air,,or doing strange things. That is assuming you do a fish IN cycle. If no water changes. Let the bacteria do its THANG!

    I'm going through that right now on an African tank. I pushed the I'm stressing out!
  16. JsigmoWell Known MemberMember

    One thing people sometimes forget when doing a fishless tank startup, is that you're trying to establish enough bacteria in the system to handle the load of ammonia that will be produced by whatever fish you intend to add initially.

    So you want to be sure that you are adding enough ammonia to simulate what your fish will produce. That way, when your tests confirm that the ammonia and nitrite levels are zero, it's not simply because you're not adding much ammonia.

    People often get a surprise when they first add fish and see a spike in ammonia and/or nitrite levels. After all, they were seeing low readings, and thought the tank was ready!

    But if they were not adding as much ammonia during the "cycling" as their fish are now adding, then they didn't establish a large enough colony of bacteria. So they thought the tank was ready, but it really wasn't.

    So you need to be sure that by the time you are ready to add the first fish, you've been adding as much or more ammonia to the tank every day as your planned fish will produce. If you haven't been adding enough ammonia, then the readings are not really telling you that the tank is ready for your initial fish load.

    Of course, you need to also be monitoring the nitrite levels, as well. But the end goal is to be able to add as much ammonia as the fish will in a day, and have ammonia and nitrites read zero after 24 hours.

    So, the question is always: How do you know you're adding enough ammonia during a fishless cycle?

    I think what most fishless cycle experts here seem to recommend is to add enough ammonia to achieve a concentration in the whole tank of something like 2 to 4 ppm. Then wait until the concentration of ammonia drops down to some fairly low value, but not too low. Then dose the tank back up to 2 to 4 ppm again, and again, wait until the level drops to a low, but not zero level again.

    Repeat this until the tank's bacteria colony is able to pull the ammonia level down from 4 to zero in 24 hours. That seems to be enough bacteria to be ready to add some fish.

    Hopefully one of the fishless cycle experts will chime in here about it all.

    I'd be tempted to calculate a prediction for how much ammonia the fish I plan to add at the start will produce, and then make sure my bacteria can handle that daily ammonia load before I add the fish. But the only places I see this mentioned are on aquaculture websites where they talk about ammonia per day per pound of fish in the system

    From that, then I'd need to figure the mass of my fish. And I never see people talking about how much their fish weigh when discussing stocking.

    There are ways you could use to weigh your fish, but I'd need a good guess long before I bought the fish.
  17. platymum2801Valued MemberMember

    This was really helpful, thanks very much! Finally cycling right :)

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  18. platymum2801Valued MemberMember

    Had to put my danios in 110l as mum brought 4 more over for me as I had mentioned to her needing to finish the school (I had two). They then immediately surprised me with little danio babies! As much as I tried to shift about in the 12l and 17l it just wasn't happening, those tanks are too small. So platies are in the 12l, fry in 17l and danios in 110l.

    Reading today

    High range PH - 8.2
    Ammonia - 0ppm
    Nitrite - 0.25ppm
    Nitrate - 40ppm

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  19. lbonini1Well Known MemberMember

    Almost there! You're in the Homestretch!
  20. platymum2801Valued MemberMember


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