Starting To Cycle

Hi, I am setting up my 29 gallon. No fish yet, I have a plant order on the way. I was going to work on cycling after planting. But it looks like a little cycling is starting. Any reason why I shouldn't nurse that now? I do have some Dr. Tim's Ammonium Chloride and Seachem Stability to get going (haven't used them yet).

My stats stayed the same (until now).

Previous stats:
pH 8.3
ammonia 0
nitrite 0
nitrates 0

I did put some fish food in my aquarium a few days ago, and it seems to finally be starting to cycle, at least a little.

New stats:

pH 8.2
ammonia .25 ppm
nitrite .25 ppm
nitrate 0

Yay! Pretty big deal for me!

Working on more stats:
KH 9/161.1 ppm
GH off the scale? API General Hardness Test Solution: I kept adding drops up to and past the 12, no change in color. I think I went to fifteen drops. Anyone encounter this?
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I'd go ahead and add that ammonia and the stability. I actually just looked it up and my gh readings were off the charts too, I ended up using 17+ drops. My ph also runs about 8.2. I think my kh is a little higher though.

I wouldn't worry about that though, unless you need to (and evidently you don't need to as much as I always though you need to)
Hi, you might as well start the cycle. Do you know when you're hoping to get fish?

Your KH is ideal at 161ppm it means you'll have a very stable ph.
Your GH just shows you have hard water. Most captive bred fish can adapt to a higher ph and hardness.
Thanks for that info. I'm getting advice as I go along about steps in setup. I will definitely need some advice about when to add fish. I'm in no hurry but of course would like to introduce them when it is best for them and the water cycle.
So I dose until I reach 1.0 ppm? Then add the Stability bacteria starter?

Last night I did status check tests, then added about 20 drops of Dr. Tim's Ammonium Chloride (way less than it says on the bottle).

Last night (before ammonia):
pH 8.1 -- ammonia 0 -- nitrites .25 -- nitrates 0

This afternoon:
pH 8.2 -- ammonia .5 ppm -- nitrites .5 -- nitrates 0

Should I add some more ammonia (to get to 1.0 ppm)? When should I add supplemental bacteria?

I am looking through that article.

This is so weird. I'm trying to farm ammonia eating bacteria without starving them or wiping them out, LOL.
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Yeah, I'd bring it to 1.0 and then wait and test from there.
You add the bacteria supplement now while cycling.
Hi, today's stats. The only change is nitrites went from .5 back to .25. I added ten drops of ammonia.

pH 8.2
ammonia .5
nitrites .25
nitrates 0
My plants came. I did a 1/3 water change getting them planted. The replacement water had a small amount of Prime (it doesn't take a lot). I'll post a photo of new plants when water clears.

I'll do a chemistry test round tomorrow. Planting underwater is VERY EXHAUSTING.

I really appreciate your help
Hi, what happened I got distracted! This is important.

I tested this evening and it was grim. It explains the cloudiness not clearing by the filters.

Don't worry I didn't swap out my filter, LOL. I bought a AquaClear 70 on advice from experienced fishkeepers. Per these EFs, LOL, it's best to have a filter rated twice the tank capacity. I had a lot of detritus flying around after planting, so I set up the AquaClear to start getting some BBs there too. Let me tell you the detritus in my tank cleared up FAST.

Is it possible to have too much filtration?

Test results:
pH 8.0
ammonia 8.0 !!! I tested this twice
nitrites 1.0
nitrates 0

UPDATE: I now think I confused my pH test for my ammonia test. A goofy mistake. I'm goofy sometimes!

I immediately did a 50% water change and retested for ammonia: 2.0 ppm. Better. My poor plants. I used Prime for treating the incoming tap water.
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Ok. Your plants will love the ammonia (if that's what you were referring to).

It is possible to have too much filtration if its blowing your fish around but other than that generally its only a good thing.
Your plants will love the ammonia (if that's what you were referring to).

Yes, I thought the very high pH all day might have injured some plants. Mostly the chilensis broad leaf, the Vals and the Amazon Sword. They all seem to have long melting/brown at the tips. So they like ammonia? It must be something else. Maybe it's normal to get some tip die off with time, especially during transplant. Or maybe I didn't keep them completely wet when planting.

pH 8.0
ammonia 2.0
nitrites .25
nitrates 0

Should I wait? Or add BBs? (I haven't done that since last Monday). Another water change? (the water is a lot less cloudy after yesterday's 50% water change, but is still a bit cloudy).
You want to add the Stability BB every day, I'd double dose it.

Its normal with new plants, especially sensitive ones to have melt from being shipped and then transplanted.

I'd wait now and leave it where its at.

Aquatic plants will consume ammonia before nitrates which they have to convert back to ammonium before they can take it up as an energy source.
Just to make sure I understand, I should start adding a double dose of Stability every day, and leave the plants as they are until they stabilize?

Also, I added Flourish and Flourish Advance right after plants. Should I continue this as well? Which frequency/dose?

Again, I really appreciate your help!
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Yeah I'd leave the plants in the tank where they are, hopefully the melt won't be too severe.

You can continue to fertilize weekly or depending on your lights, twice weekly. You could ask in the plant forum maybe on that one.
Still cloudy. I should have wiped the front of the aquarium off (I was just trimming).


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That's too bad you're having so much melt. What type of plants are they? Did you happen to do a bleach dip on them?
That's too bad you're having so much melt. What type of plants are they? Did you happen to do a bleach dip on them?

No, I was going to do an alum dip as I heard it was good for getting rid of snail eggs, but I just went for it without any dip. I did get several of the packages open at once before I remembered I needed to keep them wet until they were planted. I'm not used to underwater plants, LOL! So I kept spraying them with my sprayer (filtered water). I wonder if the more sensitive plants were injured by this, thin leaves, I guess. Mostly all of my Vals and my Chiliensis broadleaf look bad. Too bad cuz I loved the Chiliensis on first sight and put it in the focal point center front of my design. But it's growing fast. Hey! I see some new growth on my Vals, sweet! I might just replace the Vals (they are the back left corner of my background plants).
I am also cycling a 28 gallon with plants. What I did was treat the water and add the BB 24h later. I am on my 12th day waiting for nitrites to go down. I do have some melting on my narrow leaf temple plant , but I have not been dosing any ferts or excel yet.

If you can try to get some pure ammonia to kick start things.

Upps just saw you do have ammonia , have you been dosing the 4 drops per gallon?
@Neocortex,welcome to the forum
What are your nitrites at? If they're over 4.0 you need to do a large water change as this will stall your cycle.
Feel free to start your own thread also.
  • pH 8.0 (8.0 for the last few days, 8.2 before that)
  • ammonia 2.0 (1.0 yesterday, 2.0 the day before, usually .25 to 1.0)
  • nitrites 2.0 (have been .25 all along except 1.0 22nd -23rd)
  • nitrates 0
Thermometer says 78.1. I keep meaning to replace it, it is a non-programmable that came with my kit that is always set to 77.0 . It always says betwee 77.0 and 78.3

Recommend a good thermometer?
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Ok, good that you're seeing nitrites! I'd increase temperature to 80-82.

I like the digital thermometers personally with the little proble that goes in the water and the reading has a suction cup that sits on the outside. Something like this:
Finally! yay!! It's set at 82 degrees.

And... I fixed the cloudiness!

I decided to look under some of my hardscape and found there were some old fish flakes hanging out under there (curses on the person who suggested adding some flakes to get ammonia without suggesting I put it in some netting and hang on the side!!!) I went through everything and got ALL the flakes I could find and then some. I also removed all the Vals as they were really bad with melt (I'll buy more). I then used a net to grab ALL but the smallest of floating debris for a solid 45 minutes. And t hen I rearranged my two HOB filters so the water circulates with a strong current around the aquarium (fewer dead spots).

Finally. Clear. Need more plants, LOL. Vals and Amazon Sword for the background.


pH 8.0
ammonia .25 -- was 2.0
nitrites 5.0! -- was 2.0
nitrates 20! -- was 0

Maybe turning up the heat worked right away, eh?

I think your guide says that waiting 24 hours for the nitrites to come back down, then a water change(s) as needed. I've heard that the API nitrite test only reads up 'til 5.0, so there may be any amount more nitrites that I don't know about.
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pH 8.0
ammonia .24
nitrites 5
nitrates 20

Did a 30% water change, will test soon.

PS ALGAE Algae is starting on the walls of my tank.
Oh I see you're on vacation! Hope you're having a super great time.


What are your nitrites at? If they're over 4.0 you need to do a large water change as this will stall your cycle.

I remembered your answer to this gent's question. So I did a 30% water change since my nitrites at 5.0 (were over 4.0 for the first time).

BEFORE/AFTER water change
pH 8.0 / 8.0
ammonia .25 / .25
nitrites 5 / 2
nitrates 20 / 80

Wow, nitrates are going crazy.
Good, looks like you're getting close. Your nitrites should drop soon.

I just let the algae grow on my back wall, I don't even bother cleaning it off, just the front and sides. It helps prevent algae in other areas if you let it grow somewhere.....(I think).
Yes!! nitrates dropped from 2 to .25!

pH 8.0 / 8.0
ammonia .25 / .25
nitrites 2 / .25
nitrates 40 / 20

posphate 0
Yay!!! All zero except nitrates.

pH 8.0
ammonia 0
nitrites 0
nitrates 10

Do I still need to dose with ammonia and see if it can get cycled in 24 hours? Or do I already know it's cycled? The whole cycle seemed to suddenly take hold when we turned the heat up a few days ago. POW.
You need to keep up on the ammonia to feed your bacteria until you get fish. I would do your usual dose, then once it converts to zero in 24 for a couple days, plan the date to pick up fish. Then dose with ammonia, pick up fish 24 hours later.
You need to keep up on the ammonia to feed your bacteria until you get fish. I would do your usual dose, then once it converts to zero in 24 for a couple days, plan the date to pick up fish. Then dose with ammonia, pick up fish 24 hours later.

Thanks! What should I dose to? 1 ppm? 2ppm? I dosed to .25 so far. Also, my nitrites and nitrates are both zero, does that mean I lost the cycle?

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