Did my cycle just restart? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-02-2013, 08:30 PM Thread Starter
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Did my cycle just restart?

I made the decision to drain my 40 breeder tank and fill it with RO water. The tank was almost done cycling, I was able to convert 3-4ppm ammonia to 0 in 24 hours and the nitrites stayed around 5-10ppm, nitrates were around 80+ppm

Fast forward to right now... My tank is currently half full with fresh RO water with about 10% tank water and the water that was in my HOB. I tested the water and it has 0ppm nitrites 10-20ppm nitrates. I just dosed 3ppm ammonia for the 20g in the tank and will add more as I add water.

So my question is am I starting from scratch or do the nitrates prove I have some bacteria?
Am I missing the nitrite bacteria?
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-02-2013, 08:36 PM
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Wait so you said in the first part that nitrites "didn't drop to 0," meaning that you DID have nitrite readings?

The presence of nitrates means you do have a cycle going successfully. If your ammonia and nitrite readings are at 0, you should be okay.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-02-2013, 08:40 PM Thread Starter
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Sorry I didn't clarify. Before I drained my tank I had a nitrite reading of about 5-10ppm, now that I drained the tank and refilled, my nitrites are 0 and nitrates dropped dramatically to 10-20ppm.
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-03-2013, 12:27 AM
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You want 0 Nitrite. If you have any more than that, the cycle is not complete.

If you drained the tank and refilled, you will lose a significant concentration of nitrate and nitrite. To prove or disprove cycle, you need to test several times over a span of time.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-03-2013, 01:09 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gSTiTcH View Post
If you drained the tank and refilled, you will lose a significant concentration of nitrate and nitrite. To prove or disprove cycle, you need to test several times over a span of time.
Does this mean I lost bacteria too?

I retested once I completely filled the tank and I had...
Nitrites: .25ppm - .5ppm
Nitrates: 10ppm

So I guess I didn't completely restart cycle
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-03-2013, 03:10 PM
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Unlikely to have lost all the bacteria, unless your filter media dried out. The water column does contain free floaters, but not in significant quantities.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-03-2013, 06:00 PM Thread Starter
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I made sure I kept media wet, I have increased nitrites/nitrates so I think I'm back on the right track
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-03-2013, 06:10 PM
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did you drain the tank ALL the way... as in whatever was in your filters and gravel?

The filters and gravel are the place the bacteria live.. Give it a few days... keep checking, if ammonia or nitrites are present, you arent done cycling

For the future, if you want to switch tap to RO, just do it over a week long period of a few water changes. If you had any fish or plants in the tank, you can put them into a bit of shock with different water parameters

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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-03-2013, 06:14 PM Thread Starter
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I kept about 1/2" of water above substrate and kept the filter full of the old tank water.
I'm glad I made the switch,,
GH went from 20dkh-->4dkh
and KH went from 12-14dkh-->3-4dkh

My issue will be keeping these new parameters constant so I don't have ph swings
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-03-2013, 06:18 PM
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pH swings aren't that big of a deal, so long as it isn't instant and drastic.

What do you plan to keep that requires such exacting specs? Many plants and stock will adapt to the harder water. Some even prefer it.
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-03-2013, 06:22 PM Thread Starter
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-03-2013, 09:35 PM
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im going thru fishless cycle and my cycle is stuck.
ammonia was added to 4-5ppm after 24 hrs its 0 but nitrite is still at 0.25ppm for few days now. nitrate was always around 10 but gonna check tonight.

i heavily planted from day 1. then added water...
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-04-2013, 05:01 PM
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Most nitrifying bacteria live on surfaces, not free in the water, so 100% water change means almost no bacteria are lost.
Drying out the bacteria is bad, though, so if the tank was drained, then sat a few days, that could make the cycle restart.
The lower mineral level may not be quite so good for the bacteria, but as long as it is not pure RO water they should do OK.
Remember that when you are doing the fishless cycle the goal is to grow the bacteria as fast as possible. You want to give the bacteria optimum conditions. After the colony is well established you can change the water to suit the fish, shrimp and plants. The bacteria colony may slow down, but that is OK. You are no longer in the 'Grow it as fast as you can' phase, and the plants will take over some of the water treatment duties.

If the cycle seems stuck, here is what is often going on.
The ammonia to nitrite bacteria are fast growing. They will be able to remove quite a bit of ammonia (3-5 ppm) within a week to two weeks of starting a fishless cycle.
The nitrite to nitrate bacteria (Nitrospira) are slower growing, and more particular about the conditions.
So the first group of bacteria are busily changing ammonia to nitrite, but the nitrite bacteria are just sitting there, doing almost nothing.

These bacteria do not grow well when the nitrite or ammonia are too high. Max is 5 ppm. So, if the nitrite is rising too high, do a water change and add only enough ammonia to test 3 ppm.

Other optimum conditions:
High GH and KH. These bacteria need some minerals. In fact, I would add some plant nutrients, too. KH2PO4, trace minerals.
High pH. For growing them as fast as possible, a pH in the upper 7s is good. If the pH drops to 7.0 they will still do OK, but under 6.5 they really seem to struggle.
High oxygen. Good water movement.
Moderately warm. Upper 70s F would be good. Higher is OK if you can keep the oxygen level up. These bacteria will even grow at room temperature, and in an outdoor pond, but the cooler it is the slower they grow.

Repeat: Set the conditions for fastest growth during the fishless cycle. You can alter the conditions after the colony has grown.

A fishless cycle with plants can be different. The plants are part of your bio-filter, so the nitrogens (all 3) may not test the same as in a non-planted fishless cycle.
Go by the test results:
When the tank, the system as a whole, can remove 3 ppm ammonia within 24 hours, and the NO2 is zero at 24 hours, then the tank is cycled. It does not matter what the NO3 is. It does not matter if the plants are doing most of the work. If the plants and bacteria can remove the ammonia, and not show nitrite, then that part of the system is safe for fish.
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-04-2013, 05:57 PM
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Good one.
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-05-2013, 01:10 AM
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Whistling after reading Diana's explanation!
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