Nitrogen Cycle W/ Use Of Bacteria Starter Question

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by peighton, May 27, 2019.

  1. peighton Valued Member Member

    Hello! I have a 10gal with a betta, shrimp, and snails. I wanted to upgrade them to a 20gal and learn how to do a nitrogen cycle without seeding it from their current tank. I got the tank already cycled so never got a chance to learn myself. I wanted to try a bacteria starter product and chose Microbe-Lift (Nite Out II). I dose everyday and started two days ago (today is the third day). I started checking the levels today before the third dose and got levels of:
    Ph 7.4
    Ammonia .25-.50 (color wasn't exact, but it leaned more towards .25)
    Nitrite 0
    Nitrate 5

    Just wondering if its normal to have 0 nitrites? I could stop the product and do just the adding of a little food everyday, but I've read so many articles and posts on the nitrogen cycle and I don't think I quite understand it yet, hence me wanting to jump start the process with a bacteria product. I'll also be adding my plants at the end of the week when they arrive. Thank for any advice!

  2. Tanks and Plants Well Known Member Member

    Hi and welcome to the forum!

    It’s great that you want to learn and understand the Nitrogen cycle! IMHO that is the foundation of having a healthy thriving tank!

    When cycling your tank you could have gone 2 ways, either a “fishless” cycle or a “fish” in cycle.

    Basically the words tell you how you are going to cycle the tank using no fish or fish in the tank. The fishless cycle is the method I like to use because IMHO it’s faster and most important to me(this is just my own personal feelings) is that you are not using any fish as a “Guinea pig” and exposing it to water that is not healthy for it.

    When we are trying cycle a tank we are essentially trying seed our biological media with the beneficial bacteria or BB for short so that BB can break down ammonia and nitrites. These 2 are the most deadly to fish. When it comes to Nitrates(notice the “a”) fishes can tolerate these in higher levels and that’s why we partly do water changes is to get rid of the Nitrates.

    Before I confuse you even more I just want to point out that when I mentioned the “fishless” or “fish-in” cycle, the fishless

    I found a great article from a member who wrote this a while back. The only change I personally would do is, instead of using pure ammonia from the store is to use and what I personally have used is Dr. Tim’s Ammonium Chloride. I don’t know the difference between the 2 but for me it just gave me a peace of mind using something that was made for cycling a fish tank.

    Try and give the article a read and see if it make sense to you.

  3. Dedife Valued Member Member

    I did a fishless cycle back in January (I’m a beginner - first tank). I used Tetra Safe Start and liquid ammonia from Ace. Many things I read at that time is that it is common to not see a nitrite spike when using a bacterial starter.

    (I however, did see nitrites!)
  4. Coptapia Well Known Member Member

    It’s quite common to see no nitrites. It just means that when your bottled bacteria started to produce it there were already nitrite eaters present and it went straight through to nitrate without building up to a measurable level.

    1ml of ammonia turns to 2.7ml of nitrite, which turns to 3.64ml of nitrate.

    Keep adding the ammonia as per instructions. Doing it with fish food takes ages because first you need to grow a different set of bacteria (heterotrophic.... and fungi) to break the food down into ammonia.
    Last edited: May 27, 2019
  5. LilHoodoo New Member Member

    you could push your ammonia up to 4.0 ppm (nice lincoln green test-tube) and verify time to return time to 12 hours as a test -( Yellow)
    I've never had somuch as a nitrite hickup in my tanks - all went to nitrate
  6. peighton Valued Member Member

    oh wow! im not using ammonia, im adding fish food to create it, so that is good to know. maybe ill do another water test today and i guess do a water change? im finding mixed info on water changes when using a bacteria product like TSS.

    I'm only adding that bottle of bacteria starter, not straight ammonia. I am adding a little fish food just to make sure the bacteria is getting fed properly and will get going. Thank you for the reassurance! I'll keep checking my parameters I guess.

    I'm not doing straight ammonia, just the bacteria starter bottle, but I am adding fish food to create more ammonia hopefully. Are water changes needed when using a bacteria starter? I'm finding mixed info on google. :(
    Last edited by a moderator: May 28, 2019
  7. Coptapia Well Known Member Member

    You only need water changes if your KH/carbonates are running out or if the pH is dropping too far. Or if the nitrates are going off the scale... Once the bacteria are in you can water change whenever you like.
  8. Tanks and Plants Well Known Member Member

    @peighton it just great to see you want to learn about the nitrogen cycle! You have the startings of a GREAT hobbiest! I tried the fish food way and it can take ages as member @Coptapia pointed out because the fish food has to broken down by different bacteria. One thing though that I personally have talked to about with 2 different companies that make bottled beneficial bacteria is that when you do a water change and if you use any product that de-chlorinates water AND locks up Ammonia that can slow down the cycling process. You should wait at least 48 hrs before adding any type of BB to your water if you used a product like I just mentioned. The reason is that the BB needs a food source and that food source is ammonia and when you use a product that locks up the ammonia you are essentially locking up the BB’s food source. Now it’s not impossible to cycle a tank like this but i have seen it time and time again when people are having a problem trying to cycle their tank and it’s taking forever.
    This is a whole other part and I have done presentations about this at our local fish club meetings. If you want to know more let me know and I’ll explain it to you.

    Good Luck!