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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-10-2018, 01:58 PM Thread Starter
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Making sense of readings

My 30 gallon tank has been cycling for the past 6 days. I just tested the water last night:


pH: 7.8 - we have hard water here in Florida, I have an acid buffer to reduce this to neutral.
ammonia: .5ppm
nitrite:0
nitrate: 5ppm


Should nitrite be 0 at this point? Should I be looking for a nitrite spike?


Based on readings, how do you know when a tank is cycled? Obviously you want 0 ammonia and nitrites, right? I've seen conflicting info on nitrates though. Some say 0 reading is fine others say that is not. I have a good bit of plants in there to start with.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-10-2018, 02:07 PM
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@Beccanne You've still got some time. After only 6 days, I wouldn't necessarily expect to see any ammonia conversion to nitrite yet. Are you dosing ammonia to reach a target of 2-3 ppm ammonia? Also, stop using the acid buffer - the beneficial bacteria will actually do better in a higher pH.
You'll know you're cycled when - tank can convert 2 ppm ammonia within 24 hours and your nitrite fully converts to nitrates in that same time period. So once your tank reads 0 on ammonia and nitrite within 24 hours of dosing, you're done. Things you can do to speed up the process - raise the temp of the tank into the 80's and add an air stone. Higher temps + lots of oxygen are great conditions for beneficial bacteria.

In a cycled tank, you'll never have 0 nitrates due to the constant conversion of ammonia > nitrite > nitrate from animal waste. And for the sake of your plants, you don't want zero nitrates. I keep my nitrates in the 30+ ppm range, but for low tech, you may want to stay a bit lower.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-10-2018, 02:11 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for replying.

I actually am not dosing ammonia. And there are no fish in there. I was a bit confused where the ammonia is coming from, the LFS said from decaying plant material? I will stop adding the buffer. I have a heater in there set to 79, so I can raise it to 80. The only additional thing I am adding to the tank is Microbacter7.

Will I need to get ammonia to purposely dose and then test whether it is being converted to nitrite? Or can you just test it periodically and determine it is cycled after "x" number of subsequent readings of 0?

Last edited by Beccanne; 05-10-2018 at 02:14 PM. Reason: Additional info
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-10-2018, 02:19 PM
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You'll need to dose ammonia, or throw something like a frozen shrimp(the kind you eat) in there and let it rot away. If you want to dose ammonia, you can find it at your local hardware stores. You'll need to make sure it's just ammonia, no added surfactants.

Do you have an Ace Hardware local?
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-10-2018, 02:25 PM Thread Starter
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We don't have an Ace Hardware that I know of. It probably wouldn't be carried at Lowe's, right?

How would you know how much ammonia to dose?
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-10-2018, 02:29 PM
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We don't have an Ace Hardware that I know of. It probably wouldn't be carried at Lowe's, right?

How would you know how much ammonia to dose?
No, probably not. Tractor supply also has pure ammonia, although more diluted (2-3 %) if you have one of those nearby.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-10-2018, 02:36 PM
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There's a calculation for that, I don't know it though. I remember in my 10 gallon it took only a few drops of ammonia concentrate to raise my ammonia to where it needed to be. You could start with 2 ml, test with your ammonia kit and go from there.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-10-2018, 02:40 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, @madcrafted. I do have a tractor supply in town.

@mgeorges So just add a little at a time, and test until it reads 2ppm? How long do you wait after dosing it to test?
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-10-2018, 02:48 PM
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Correct. Start with 2 ml and that might be good. Anywhere from 2-3 ppm is perfect.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-10-2018, 02:50 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much!
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-10-2018, 05:58 PM
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I started cycling my 29 gal on April 9. It took 4 ml of 10% ammonia (the one from Ace) to get my ammonia to 4 ppm. As I got farther into the cycle I only would raise it to 2 ppm, so 2 ml. I got a little syringe from the pharmacist.

Today was the first day I finally had 0 nitrites, and though my nitrates were sky high through much of it, they've now dropped to 20 ppm.

I did finally put some fish in the tank last Sunday, and I was nervous as I was still reading nitrites, but I decided to finish up cycling without the added ammonia at that point. The fish have been fine.

Good luck, it's a long slow process.


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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-11-2018, 01:22 PM Thread Starter
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Ok I'm more confused now.

I only used the acid buffer once, they told me to mix 1/4 tsp into water that I use for water change. So I did a 25% water change with that acid buffer and now the pH is reading at 6, which is the lowest reading on the API test kit...I wonder if it is even lower than that... Now what can I do about this pH? Just water change to bring it back up?

I tested everything again last night, this time:

ammonia: 0
nitrite: 0
nitrate: 5

Is this tank basically stalled? I don't understand how ammonia went from .5ppm to 0, yet nitrites stayed at 0? If the ammonia is reduced, shouldn't that be reflected in higher nitrites or nitrates? Nitrates are the same as the day before.

I've been adding microbacter7 and the water is pretty cloudy. From my understanding this is a bacterial bloom. So I don't see what is going on with these parameters because I do have bacteria in there to make the conversions.
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-11-2018, 04:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beccanne View Post
Ok I'm more confused now.

I only used the acid buffer once, they told me to mix 1/4 tsp into water that I use for water change. So I did a 25% water change with that acid buffer and now the pH is reading at 6, which is the lowest reading on the API test kit...I wonder if it is even lower than that... Now what can I do about this pH? Just water change to bring it back up?

I tested everything again last night, this time:

ammonia: 0
nitrite: 0
nitrate: 5

Is this tank basically stalled? I don't understand how ammonia went from .5ppm to 0, yet nitrites stayed at 0? If the ammonia is reduced, shouldn't that be reflected in higher nitrites or nitrates? Nitrates are the same as the day before.

I've been adding microbacter7 and the water is pretty cloudy. From my understanding this is a bacterial bloom. So I don't see what is going on with these parameters because I do have bacteria in there to make the conversions.
Different bacteria. The cloudy is heterotrophic feeding off organic residue.
Not the N fixing bacteria which AFAICT have a tendency to clump and sty out of the water column..

Could be feeding off dead autotrophic bacteria (your cycling bacteria). Bad sign if true..

for cycling need neutral or higher for the "good" bacteria for best results..
N fixing bacteria slows or dies as pH drops..

your 7.8 was and will be just fine..no need to mess w/ it..

since you just have plants, I'd rest it for ahwhile as is.. monitor N...
All that cloudy bacteria "should" eventually die off (there, there,there, then...gone)..Which should feed the good bacteria and/or plants.. Cycle of life..

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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-11-2018, 07:57 PM Thread Starter
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@jeffkrol Should I just keep doing water changes then to get my pH back up and also remove some of that bacteria? Or totally leave it alone? And honestly, what's the point of adding microbacter7 if this is not the right bacteria? I'm only adding it because the LFS told me to. I'm honestly getting quite annoyed that all of the suggestions they have given me seem to be complete BS... Feeling very taken advantage of as I've probably spent much more than was necessary on stuff they keep telling me I need. . .

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Last edited by Beccanne; 05-11-2018 at 07:58 PM. Reason: removed censored word...
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