What's Happening With My Cycle?

Mel796

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This isn't my first tank I've set up and have a general idea how the nitrogen cycle works, however I've setup a new 100gal/400l cichlid tank which has been running for 3 weeks now. I'm doing a fishless cycle as I always do and I am not sure what stage my cycle is at. My ammonia, nitrite and nitrates were really high yesterday so I did I 25% WC then and this morning I tested again and the readings were still crazy so I did a 50% WC. My ammonia, nitrites and nitrates are down now but that's obviously because of the water change. What I'm unsure about now is what is currently happening. I have been using Fluval Biological Enhancer, dosed the three days it says at the beginning (3 weeks ago and every water change I add a dose and as well as that I treat the water with Tetra aquasafe.

Here are the readings from my test I have just done:




 

Goldiemom

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How much and how often are you adding ammonia? You should only add it when it drops to .25 or 0. This will give a chance for your nitrites to catch up and drop off.
 

DuaneV

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The nitrogen cycle is simple, here's how it works:

When ammonia builds up in the tank, bacteria builds up in the filter (because the media is a great breeding ground and the water is constantly drawn through it) and the first type of bacteria converts the ammonia to nitrite. THEN another type of bacteria starts growing to eat the nitrites. They convert it to nitrates. Pretty simple, right.

So, when your tank is "cycled", that simply means there is enough of the BB (beneficial bacteria) to convert the bioload from ammonia to nitrates without allowing the ammonia or nitrites to register, keeping your fish in clean, healthy, water.

When you have high numbers of ammonia or nitrites, your BB hasnt caught up yet, hence the term "cycling". Your tank is still cycling. This is when you WILL need to do water changes to keep numbers low. Your ammonia looks fine, so you have the BB eating the ammonia. Its NOW trying to catch up to convert all the nitrites (its close). Nitrates will ALWAYS be a byproduct, and this is why people do water changes on a regular schedule.

So, keep letting it do its thing, keep checking parameters and keep doing water changes. It will get there, but it can take a couple of months to fully cycle.
 
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Mel796

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I h
Goldiemom said:
How much and how often are you adding ammonia? You should only add it when it drops to .25 or 0. This will give a chance for your nitrites to catch up and drop off.
I haven't dosed anything yet because my nitrites/nitrates were really high already for some reason. I have DrTim's Ammonium ready to go but I'm waiting for my nitrites to drop to a good level to dose. Looking at my results Do you think my ammonia/nitrite/nitrate levels are that bad?
 

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A cycle is an endless circle. Remove one element and the circle is broken. By not adding ammonia you have broken the circle and are starving the nitrites. Go ahead and add the ammonia source and your cycle will complete its job of growing enough bacteria to keep the cycle turning.
 

Goldiemom

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I’m confused. If her ammonia is already high, why would she add more? There’s obviously enough to feed the nitrites. Am I missing something that could be a learning process for me?

How did you get that high of ammonia without ever adding any? Were you using fish food?
 

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If I am seeing it correctly she is not registering any ammonia. The liquid in the test tube is yellow. She did say the numbers for all were sky high before the water change but the test isn't showing any now.
 

AquaticJ

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Mel796 said:
I h

I haven't dosed anything yet because my nitrites/nitrates were really high already for some reason. I have DrTim's Ammonium ready to go but I'm waiting for my nitrites to drop to a good level to dose. Looking at my results Do you think my ammonia/nitrite/nitrate levels are that bad?
So you never actually put any ammonia into the tank?
 

Goldiemom

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Ah, that’s what I get for not going back and reading the top again. Makes perfect sense.
 
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Mel796

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Goldiemom said:
I’m confused. If her ammonia is already high, why would she add more? There’s obviously enough to feed the nitrites. Am I missing something that could be a learning process for me?

How did you get that high of ammonia without ever adding any? Were you using fish food?
I was confused about that aswell, I had a feeling it was filter media I was using from another tank that may have bought it in but then that would mean ammonia in my other tank is high, which isn't the case
 
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Mel796

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mattgirl said:
A cycle is an endless circle. Remove one element and the circle is broken. By not adding ammonia you have broken the circle and are starving the nitrites. Go ahead and add the ammonia source and your cycle will complete its job of growing enough bacteria to keep the cycle turning.
I plan on doing that, thanks! I have just taken readings Amm: 0.25, Nitrites: 0.50, : 40. If I add the ammonia in now how long before I see a change in the test? If the ammonia will show up straight away I will keep that test result as day 1 and then measure each day for any changes. If it take a day or so for it to settle the I'll keep the above readings as day 1.
 

mattgirl

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Mel796 said:
I plan on doing that, thanks! I have just taken readings Amm: 0.25, Nitrites: 0.50, : 40. If I add the ammonia in now how long before I see a change in the test? If the ammonia will show up straight away I will keep that test result as day 1 and then measure each day for any changes. If it take a day or so for it to settle the I'll keep the above readings as day 1.
I would think you would be able to read the ammonia within a few minutes if you are adding liquid ammonia. It may take more than a few minutes with a tank this big though. I am not sure how much ammonia is needed but if it were me doing it I would add very small amounts, test and add more if necessary. Keep track of how much you added to get it where it needs to be. That way you will know exactly how much you need the next time.

There may be instruction on the bottle of Dr. Tim's to tell you how much to add. If so I would just follow those directions.

edited to add:Since this is a fishless cycle I would dose it up to at least 2.0 reading of ammonia. You can go higher but I don't think it is necessary at this point.

second edit: I would also stop adding the Fluval Biological Enhancer at this point. I don't know anything about that product but am wondering if that is where your low ammonia readings are coming from. Apparently there isn't enough thus the reason for the stalled cycle.
 

Goldiemom

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Mattgirl said it all perfectly. I agree with 2 ppm. Unless you’re going to have big fish with huge bio loads you don’t need any higher.
 
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Mel796

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mattgirl said:
I would think you would be able to read the ammonia within a few minutes if you are adding liquid ammonia. It may take more than a few minutes with a tank this big though. I am not sure how much ammonia is needed but if it were me doing it I would add very small amounts, test and add more if necessary. Keep track of how much you added to get it where it needs to be. That way you will know exactly how much you need the next time.

There may be instruction on the bottle of Dr. Tim's to tell you how much to add. If so I would just follow those directions.

edited to add:Since this is a fishless cycle I would dose it up to at least 2.0 reading of ammonia. You can go higher but I don't think it is necessary at this point.

second edit: I would also stop adding the Fluval Biological Enhancer at this point. I don't know anything about that product but am wondering if that is where your low ammonia readings are coming from. Apparently there isn't enough thus the reason for the stalled cycle.
Hi, so i've been taking reading for the past week and monitoring the water params and it looks like there is progress. I had raised the ammonia up to 2.0 and have noticed it reduce down to 0,5 today. My nitrites bumped up to 5.0 and is now creeping down. My nitrates where at 80 and plan on doing a water change.

Only thing I'm not sure about is the Nitrites turning into Nitrates, It seems like that process is taking way too long. Is this normal? I want to stock the tank soon but it seems like It's not ready for it.
 

Goldiemom

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Yes, that is the longest step in the process. Be patient. When they drop, they do it quickly. Hold off the on stocking.. you really are almost there. My nitrates stayed high for over 2 weeks last time I cycled. Keep us posted!
 

mattgirl

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Mel796 said:
Hi, so i've been taking reading for the past week and monitoring the water params and it looks like there is progress. I had raised the ammonia up to 2.0 and have noticed it reduce down to 0,5 today. My nitrites bumped up to 5.0 and is now creeping down. My nitrates where at 80 and plan on doing a water change.

Only thing I'm not sure about is the Nitrites turning into Nitrates, It seems like that process is taking way too long. Is this normal? I want to stock the tank soon but it seems like It's not ready for it.
Yes, it is normal for it to take longer. If you haven't done so yet I would do a fairly large water change now that you are seeing the ammonia and nitrites going down and the nitrates going up. Sometimes it seems a cycle can kinda stall at this point and a water change tends to jump start it.

My thoughts on the reasons behind the water change helping. Our tap water has minerals in it. The longer the water sets in a tank the less mineral it has left in it. I have no scientific proof of it but I believe the bacteria we are trying to grow benefits from those minerals and once they are used up a water change replenishes them thus jump starts a slowed down cycle.

Be sure to keep dosing the tank with ammonia each time it goes down. You want to offer those nitrites a steady diet of ammonia to keep them strong and doing their job and soon the nitrites will no longer register. They will still be there but will be converting to nitrates so quickly they won't show up on the tests anymore.

Once you get a reading of 0 nitrites and the ammonia goes down to 0 in a 24 hour period your tank will have completed its cycle which only means it grown all the necessary bacteria.

Even then you will still want to wait a few days before introducing your fish. You continue adding ammonia daily and as long as it goes back to 0 in a 24 hour period you can be assured that you have a strong colony of bacteria thus a strong cycle.

At that point do a really large water change to get the nitrates down as low as you can. 10 to 20 would work and then it is ready for your fish.
 
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Mel796

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mattgirl said:
Yes, it is normal for it to take longer. If you haven't done so yet I would do a fairly large water change now that you are seeing the ammonia and nitrites going down and the nitrates going up. Sometimes it seems a cycle can kinda stall at this point and a water change tends to jump start it.

My thoughts on the reasons behind the water change helping. Our tap water has minerals in it. The longer the water sets in a tank the less mineral it has left in it. I have no scientific proof of it but I believe the bacteria we are trying to grow benefits from those minerals and once they are used up a water change replenishes them thus jump starts a slowed down cycle.

Be sure to keep dosing the tank with ammonia each time it goes down. You want to offer those nitrites a steady diet of ammonia to keep them strong and doing their job and soon the nitrites will no longer register. They will still be there but will be converting to nitrates so quickly they won't show up on the tests anymore.

Once you get a reading of 0 nitrites and the ammonia goes down to 0 in a 24 hour period your tank will have completed its cycle which only means it grown all the necessary bacteria.

Even then you will still want to wait a few days before introducing your fish. You continue adding ammonia daily and as long as it goes back to 0 in a 24 hour period you can be assured that you have a strong colony of bacteria thus a strong cycle.

At that point do a really large water change to get the nitrates down as low as you can. 10 to 20 would work and then it is ready for your fish.
Perfect! I'll do a 50% water change first thing tomorrow, take readings and the dose with ammonia to get it back up to 2.0!
 

mattgirl

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Mel796 said:
Perfect! I'll do a 50% water change first thing tomorrow, take readings and the dose with ammonia to get it back up to 2.0!
Hopefully you are very close to the end

I forgot to mention. Even after you are sure the cycle is complete continue adding ammonia up until the day before you add the fish. If you add the the fish the day you do your large water change to get the nitrates down though there will be no need to add anymore ammonia. The fish will start doing that for you.

Since this tank will have built up enough bacteria to handle 2.0ppm of ammonia a day you should be able to add most if not all of your stock right away. Of course you will want to continue monitoring the tank to make sure things stay stable.

You will want to keep a close eye on the nitrates and when they start climbing you will want to do water changes to keep them in check.
 
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