Cycling a low-tech planted tank
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Old 01-03-2014, 03:48 PM   #1
svkr2k
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Cycling a low-tech planted tank


it is 3rd week of cycling my tank (sorry, i did a major water change 6 days back after planting). I use fish food "tetra bits" for cycling, but, whenever i check for ammonia, the test kit never showed more than 0.25ppm. i believe, i would have tossed in probably 3-5% of 30gm tetra bits pack so far. Probably, tetra bits takes a long time to decompose? will ammonia levels rise few more days later bacause of this??

i got a bottle of 30% liquid ammonia today and dosed 3ppm. hope it cycles faster. any suggestions?

the plants currently in the tank are:
Dwarf Sagittaria
CERATOPTERIS THALICTROIDES
BACOPA CAROLINIANA
CERATOPHLLUM DEMERSUM
HYDROCOTYLE LEUCOCEPHALA
HYGROPHILA POLYSPERMA “GREEN” (i think that is is large leaves type)
LIMNOPHILA INDICA
ROTALA ROTUNDIFOLIA “GREEN”
ROTALA ROTUNDIFOLIA “RED”
SAGITTARIA SP. (NARROW LEAF)
VALLISNARIA SPIRALIS
Egeria Najas
Hygrophila Difformis
Hygrophila Corymbosa (large leaves, thick stem)


6 days after planting the above ones, the following plants are not doing good:
ROTALA ROTUNDIFOLIA “GREEN”
ROTALA ROTUNDIFOLIA “RED”
i.e., the leaves at the bottom part are rotting.

substrate : jbl manado + seachem root tabs
CO2 : Flourish excel 1 cap full every alternate days (will switch to glutaraldehyde after 2 months)
tank size : 44gal, 48" (L) x 15" (W) x 14" (H) - diy
lights diy : 2 x 28w T5 6500k flourescent 48" tube lights, hanging 7" above water surface. Used aluminium sheet (not foil) as reflector.
Photo periods: 6:30am to 9:00am and 5:30pm to 8:00pm

Last edited by svkr2k; 01-11-2014 at 01:38 PM.. Reason: corrected
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Old 01-07-2014, 02:22 AM   #2
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test

Last edited by svkr2k; 01-11-2014 at 03:35 AM.. Reason: removed
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Old 01-11-2014, 03:34 AM   #3
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i dosed ammnia to 4ppm.
After 24 hrs:
Ammonia : 0.5ppm
nitrite : 5ppm
Nitrate : 40ppm

After further 12 hrs:
Ammonia : 0ppm
Nitrite : 5ppm
Nitrate : 40ppm

probably, the bacteria that converts from nitrite to nitrate isnt established yet?
is this normal?

Last edited by svkr2k; 01-11-2014 at 01:27 PM.. Reason: correction
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Old 01-11-2014, 04:24 AM   #4
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Yep completely normal. Wait for the nitrite to disappear then dose with ammonia again. The nitrogen from the fishfood was probably being eaten up by the plants.
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Old 01-13-2014, 04:21 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by THE V View Post
Yep completely normal. Wait for the nitrite to disappear then dose with ammonia again.
Here is the update to the log:

i dosed ammnia to 4ppm.
After 24 hrs:
Ammonia : 0.5ppm
nitrite : 5ppm
Nitrate : 40ppm

After further 12 hrs:
Ammonia : 0ppm
Nitrite : 5ppm
Nitrate : 40ppm

After further 24 hrs:
Ammonia : 0ppm
Nitrite : 5ppm
Nitrate : 20-40ppm

its more than 2 days since i dosed ammonia. the nitrites are still high. If i wait for longer, will the bacteria that convert from ammonia to nitrite die 24 hrs after ammonia levels reach 0ppm ?
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Old 01-13-2014, 02:31 PM   #6
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The Nitrosomas species of bacteria after established can survive starvation for over a year. You'll be good for a few days.

High levels of ammonia inhibit the nitrite to nitrate conversion.

High levels of nitrite also inhibit the ammonia to nitrite conversion.

So the best way to slow down or stall your cycle is to add more ammonia at this point.
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Old 01-13-2014, 05:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by THE V View Post
So the best way to slow down or stall your cycle is to add more ammonia at this point.
sorry, i was confused, as several articles that i referred to suggested that i should continue dosing 1ppm of ammonia to feed the "ammonia-to-nitrite-converting-bacteria" that is already established.
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Old 01-13-2014, 09:28 PM   #8
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I think you should do a water change to bring the nitrites down, and keep up with daily dosing of 3ppm ammonia.

I think the high nitrites can actually inhibit growth of the bacterial colonies. Keep fueling the cycle by adding the same amount of ammonia every day, but do water changes as necessary to keep the nitrites below 5ppm. I think you can pretty much ignore nitrates until you look to add fish. The presence of nitrates also lets you know the bacteria are handling the nitrogen, and it isn't (all) getting pulled up by plants.

Do a search on here for fishless cycle, a poster named Diana puts up a pretty good how-to on how to cycle.

Here's a link to one of the threads she has posted to relatively recently:

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...33&postcount=7
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Old 01-14-2014, 04:22 AM   #9
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If you review the scientific literature it doesn't take you long to see the fallacy of continuous dosing of ammonia. I don't know how many complaints I've seen saying that the cycle has stalled out during the nitrite to nitrate conversion. Basically the nitrosomas bacteria are established when you see the ammonia disappear. Dosing more food just increases the nitrite.

Since the presence of nitrate inhibits the ammonia to nitrite conversion. Feeding more ammonia eventually almost stops this process if the nitrite is not being converted to nitrate. The build up of ammonia from the dosing then slows or stops the growth of the nitrospira or nitrobacter.

And here is the mystery of the strange stalling cycle and why a water change generally helps fix the stalled cycle.
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Old 01-14-2014, 04:41 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by THE V View Post
If you review the scientific literature it doesn't take you long to see the fallacy of continuous dosing of ammonia.
Could you post the link to the scientific literature that you mentioned?
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Old 01-14-2014, 07:28 AM   #11
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but of course...

Here's a paper discussing the formula's of the inhibition.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science...32959203002140

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/1...b.751/abstract

Most of the studies on on wastewater composites but the chemical process is the same in aquatic systems.

here's an oldy from 1976

http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.230...21103241354841

Here's one on a landfill leachate --- not something I think about regularly..

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science...6085240500180X

And here's my google scholar search if you want to look further into the topic

http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=...0%2C5&as_vis=1
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Old 01-14-2014, 09:51 PM   #12
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THE V>

Thanks for posting those. I just skimmed through most of them, but I may go back and reread a bit deeper next time I start cycling a tank (or I get bored at work...).
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Old 01-15-2014, 05:31 AM   #13
svkr2k
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Quote:
Originally Posted by THE V View Post
but of course...

Here's a paper discussing the formula's of the inhibition.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science...32959203002140
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/1...b.751/abstract

Most of the studies on on wastewater composites but the chemical process is the same in aquatic systems.
here's an oldy from 1976
http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.230...21103241354841

Here's one on a landfill leachate --- not something I think about regularly..
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science...6085240500180X
And here's my google scholar search if you want to look further into the topic
http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=...0%2C5&as_vis=1
thank you very much for the providing the links.
i'm glad to be a member in this forum, lots of great ideas/information gets exchanged and definitely helps newbies.
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Old 01-15-2014, 05:37 AM   #14
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i tested tank water today. Nitrite started dropping. its abt 2ppm today.

Also, a note on using water test kits. the color code given in chart for nitrites greater than 1ppm seems almost identical and is impossible for me to tell if a sample is really 2ppm or 5ppm. so i dilute the sample by mixing with ro water and then use it for testing. this gives lower readings for which the color codes are easy to interpret. and interpolate the test result to get the actual concentration in tank water.
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Old 01-20-2014, 02:51 PM   #15
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thank you everybody for suggestions. the tank has cycled. i checked by dosing 1ppm ammonia yesterday. by 24 hrs, ammonia = 0ppm, nitrite = 0ppm.
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