What is this cycling thing doing. - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-02-2016, 10:40 PM Thread Starter
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Question What is this cycling thing doing.

I know what cycling is. I have cycled a tank before.

...This is weird.

I've had my tank running with just water and a filter, no additives, no substrate, no ANYTHING for about a week now. I just hadn't gotten around to buying anything.

Yesterday, I tossed in a piece of driftwood that had been soaking in a bucket for a month, some floating plants from my other tank, and a palm-sized piece of driftwood from my cycled tank. I also dosed ammonia (Ace Hardware brand) to 2.5ppm. pH was much higher than normal for my city water at 8.3. I did not test for nitrites/nitrates because who does that on day one. No heater yet.

Today, I didn't change anything. Just testing. I was surprised when my ammonia went UP somewhat and my pH went DOWN dramatically.

Yesterday, day one:
pH: 8.3
Ammonia: 2.5 ppm
Nitrite/nitrate: Didn't check.

Today:
pH: 6.6
Ammonia: 3.0 ppm
Nitrite: 5.0+ ppm
Nitrate: 20ppm

what

I could understand a quick cycle if the ammonia went DOWN, but... the ammonia went up? What voodoo magic is this?

EDIT: SPOILER ALERT! The problem wound up being the National Geographic PF30 filter. It was kicking out tons of nitrites. No idea why.

Once upon a time I had ludwigia. It disintegrated.

Last edited by Altheora; 11-29-2016 at 01:56 AM. Reason: answer
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post #2 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-03-2016, 11:45 AM
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What kind of test kit are you using? Have you tried calibrating them against a standard?

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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-03-2016, 02:01 PM
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Would not bother with dosing ammonia if I had an already cycled tank.
Can use filter material from already cycled tank to seed the new tank with bacteria.
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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-04-2016, 12:31 AM Thread Starter
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Day three!
Just testing.
pH: 6.6
Ammonia: 3.0 ppm
Nitrite: 5.0+ ppm (turned purple immediately)
Nitrate: 30 ppm

@Darkblade48 I'm using the API Freshwater Master Kit. I've been using it for all of my tanks, and it works fine.

@roadmaster, that was the plan, but I don't know when I'll have fish to keep the bacteria "fed" with ammonia, so I just started it up. This was meant to be very preliminary, and I suddenly had nitrates on day 2.

Once upon a time I had ludwigia. It disintegrated.
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post #5 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-04-2016, 04:04 AM
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Would just wait until a day before placing fish in the new tank to move over some filter material from already established (cycled) tank.
Just wouldn't go crazy with number' of fishes in newly established tank.
Is what I do when starting a new tank.
Plant it ,watch plant's for a few week's to see that the plant's are getting a good start,and then add a few fishes and or shrimps.
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post #6 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-04-2016, 04:20 AM
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You probably did the first test with water fresh from the tap... parameters changed as it off-gassed things like CO2 (more co2 =lower pH), so less CO2 = higher pH.
Without a source of ammonia your tank is not cycling at all. Still strange that your pH went down... Is your wood still leaching tannins?

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post #7 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-04-2016, 07:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nordic View Post
You probably did the first test with water fresh from the tap... parameters changed as it off-gassed things like CO2 (more co2 =lower pH), so less CO2 = higher pH.
Without a source of ammonia your tank is not cycling at all. Still strange that your pH went down... Is your wood still leaching tannins?

OP say's they are dosing ammonia for last few day's.
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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-04-2016, 08:06 AM
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Oh, duh didn't see that, if you pour ammonia in, of course, the pH is going to go up. I have my doubts about his pH test

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post #9 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-04-2016, 12:22 PM Thread Starter
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I've actually only dosed ammonia once so far--to 2.5, and it's gone up since on its own. I also ran the pH test multiple times on day one, since it was so oddly high.

My tank's water level is lowered to provide higher-than-normal splash rates for more oxygenation. The wood may still be leaking a very small amount of tannins, but the water's quite clear.

It is a brand new tank, and I didn't rinse it quite as well as I probably should have. Could the weird levels of nitrite/nitrate be due to something that physically came on the tank? Should I drain out the water and take the time to clean it better? Alternatively, could the wood be rotting? It looks fine, but I really only have so many variables in this basically-empty tank.

Once upon a time I had ludwigia. It disintegrated.
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post #10 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-04-2016, 02:45 PM
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It does seem a little odd...causing one to question the test result accuracy.

I'd suggest a 50% water change to bring all the levels down, then wait a day or two.
Ammonia is toxic, even to nitrosomonas and nitrospira, so lower values are better than higher.

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post #11 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-05-2016, 12:58 AM Thread Starter
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Alright, to lay to rest (or to prove true?) the questioning of my tests, I'm testing both tanks this evening--the fully cycled tank and the uncycled new tank. Cycled tank is getting a low dose of Prime since it's right at the stocking limit until my new one is set up.

Fully cycled, old tank:
pH: 6.6
Ammonia: 0.25 ppm (Spiked likely due to this AM's Prime. I'm not worried.)
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrate: 5.0 ppm

New weird tank, day 4:
pH: 6.8
Ammonia: 3.0
Nitrite: 5.0+
Nitrate: 30

Going to do a 50% WC per @AbbeysDad 's suggestion. If the levels don't shift to something less bizarre by Monday, I'll just empty the tank and start over without the driftwood or floaters, and rinse the tank a bit better. This is just too weird.

Once upon a time I had ludwigia. It disintegrated.
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post #12 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-05-2016, 01:34 AM
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Unfortunately, I can't answer your question, even though I had a similar issue. Well, at least the rise in ammonia. Water conditioner and chloramine perhaps? Not enough info to explain. I can however possibly explain the pH drop. Do you know your KH? The conversion from ammonia to nitrite causes free hydrogen ions which lower pH. If your KH is low, that's why the drop. It's especially noticeable when cycling with ammonia because of dosing so much.

You can do a water change for peace of mind, but it's not really necessary with 3.0 ppm ammonia. That level will not hurt bacteria. In fact,I've never seen anything where the dosing was less than either 4.0 ppm or 5.0 ppm. I dosed to 4.0 ppm and had zero issues...well once I added coral sand to raise the hardness of my soft water since the pH kept bottoming out.
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post #13 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-06-2016, 12:59 AM Thread Starter
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Well, I decided that this tank basically has nothing in it, and--interesting though it may be--it's also rather terrifying.

I decided that if the ammonia dropped, I'd give it some more time... but alas, no. Still 3.0. (I did not do a 50% WC yesterday due to laziness.)

I've decided to just go ahead and take it down, give everything a good rinse, and start over. This is just too weird. Clearly, something is happening, though I don't know what it is. If it continues to do it with everything cleaned, I'll be back. Hopefully not, though!

Thank you all for your input!

Once upon a time I had ludwigia. It disintegrated.
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post #14 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-16-2016, 03:27 AM Thread Starter
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So I took everything out, rinsed it thoroughly. Rinsed the tank much better this time.

Added substrate (BDBS), same filter (rinsed in tap), and let it chill for a week due to lethargy on my part.

I just came home with a betta and plopped the heater and a cave in, as well as some aquarium salt (fin rot treatment). I let that chill for a few hours. Plopped the betta in... then figured why not test things. It's gotta be unremarkable, right? I cleaned stuff and haven't started the cycling process yet.

Ammonia: 0.25
Nitrites: 5.0+
Nitrates: 20ppm

lsakjdfalskdjflaskjdfk.

PS: Did a 50% WC immediately after this post. This poor fish. I figured being shocked a third time in one day was better than sitting in that water when he already has fin rot.

Once upon a time I had ludwigia. It disintegrated.

Last edited by Altheora; 11-16-2016 at 03:47 AM. Reason: aftercare
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post #15 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-22-2016, 05:34 PM Thread Starter
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I'm still having this problem.

Ammonia: 0ppm
Nitrites: 5.0+
Nitrates: 30ppm

I mean, with the ammonia at 0, it COULD be finally trying to cycle, but I honestly doubt it. I have a good bit of frogbit in there and only a the single betta, so I'd imagine they can help process his waste.

Everything was cleaned--the tank was taken completely down on 11/5 and everything was thoroughly rinsed/scrubbed down with tap water. Could the filter itself have a problem somewhere that could be causing the huge, continuous nitrite levels?

Once upon a time I had ludwigia. It disintegrated.
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