Nitrogen Cycle - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 05-02-2018, 06:43 AM Thread Starter
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Nitrogen Cycle

I been cycling my new 20g tank for over a week now, I been testing my water daily but still dont see much changes so want to make sure I am doing everything right.

I have the eco-complete substrate along with some cholla woods in the tank, and slowly adding plants (1 anubias, some java and xmas moss matt sitting at the bottom of the tank. My tap water have around 0.5PPM of ammonia in it and also rather high ph (upper 8 to lower 9) but it did drop to the mid to upper 7 after I added the woods and plants. I been testing the water daily, the ammonia level is slightly lower than tap at between 0.25 to 0.5 PPM, with no nitrate or nitrate detected. I also add the Fluval Biological Enhancer daily to help kick start on the BB. I also add a small pinch of fish flakes to the tank daily to add ammonia. However, I am kinda stuck between 0.25 to 0.5 PPM of ammonia no matter how much fish food i added, I think there are some BB in my tank breaking down the ammonia since they remain the same level even though I can clearly see fish food floating around my tank and all over my filter intake sponge but no increase in ammonia level as they break down, but at the same time I am not seeing any nitrite or nitrate in my water testing, I am not sure they are being convert to nitrate that quickly and being absorbed by the plants (i do keep the lights on for more than 10 hrs a day to try to help the plants grow). I have not done any water so far since I never see a spike in ammonia getting above 0.5PPM in my tank but at the same time it never drop below 0.25 PPM either.

My question is, how I know when the cycle process is working and how do I know when it's complete and ready for fish? Does plants in the aquariums absorb ammonia and nitrite directly, or they only take nitrate?

Also on a separate question, we have a huge pond full of aquatic lives in a park nearby, are there any BB in the gravel in the pond that I can take and put in my filter to help the process?
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 05-02-2018, 07:11 AM
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Give it some time. I know that it seems like forever when you're starting up a tank but a week's not very long in the scheme of things especially fish-less. You should start seeing nitrites probably within the next few days. Typically it will drag on longer from there before you start seeing nitrates. Then they'll come on strong and overnight one day you'll get that nice light blue nitrite test and you'll be good from there.

I didn't see that the Fluval stuff did much of anything when I tried it. Stability also kind of meh. Maybe a little better. Neither seemed to really accelerate things very much. Tetra Safe Start and Microbe-Lift Nite-Out definitely did. Took longer for things to build and stabilize beyond but I started seeing nitrAtes within a few days or so with both.

The pond likely does have beneficial bacteria in it but also likely has all kinds of things that you don't want as well. Bacterial diseases and parasites are a real pain. Not worth the risk.

Just let things run their course. You'll get there. Everybody gets impatient waiting. ; )
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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 05-02-2018, 07:17 AM
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What you are doing will work,just takes time.
Approx. two weeks before nitrites appear.
Would add some fast growing plant's also like water sprite, which you can plant or leave floating.
I would cut back on the fish food to maybe a small pinch every couple day's.You do not want to see fish food's floating all about the tank and stuck to filter sponge as you describe.
Would not introduce anything from pond outside to tank indoors.
Patience needed while you source a few more plant's.IMHO
Weekly 25 % water changes while leaving filter material alone for next three weeks.
Have done as you describe many times minus the bacteria in a bottle stuff.
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