Nitrogen Cycle Question - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 06:15 PM Thread Starter
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Nitrogen Cycle Question

Hi All,

I couldn't find an answer to my specific situation regarding the nitrogen cycle anywhere, so I figured I'd bring it up here. I have a brand new tank that I've been trying to cycle since January 1st. In March, I saw that the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels all dropped to zero. I was also able to add 4ppm of ammonia to the tank and watch (through testing) the beneficial bacteria cycle the ammonia out in 24 hours. I figured the tank had cycled, so I decided to add fish into the tank. Unfortunately, within a month all the fish were dead.

A couple of weeks ago, I emptied the tank and restarted the cycle. I began introducing 4ppm of ammonia to feed the cycle and to test if there are beneficial bacteria present. I'm still using filter media from when I thought the tank was cycled along with API Quickstart to jump start the nitrogen cycle.

Within 48 hours, I can see the 4ppm of ammonia get cycled into nitrites and the nitrites disappear. The only problem is I never get any nitrates from the nitrite consumption. For the past week, I introduce the 4ppm of ammonia every 48 hours in the hopes that nitrates will appear. Unfortunately, it still doesn't happen. I have 0ppm of ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. The horrible side effect of having 0ppm of nitrates is that I'm starting to see cyanobacteria appear.

Does anyone know what's wrong with my tank? Any help would be greatly appreciated!
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 06:53 PM
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Is the tank planted? If yes they might be consuming the no3.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 06:54 PM
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My take is that it's probably not your tank but rather your test kits. I had an API master test kit that gave zero nitrates before as well. Switching to Salifert yielded more "expected" results.

And you didn't mention water plants, lighting, fert dosing if any?


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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 07:12 PM
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For the Nitrate test to work properly you need to shake very very well the bottle #2. I personally shake vigurously and bang it on the desk.

Question, when you added fish, did you add a lot of fish right away? How many fish did you add and what kind of fish were those?

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 07:24 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies! The tank is planted, but mainly just slow growing plants: cryptocoryne, blyxa, and a red lotus plant. I don't know if I have enough plants to take up all the nitrates that quickly. I'm injecting CO2, but I may just get rid of that because I don't think it's entirely necessary considering the amount of plants in the tank. The light is a Kessil A150W Amazon Sun.

I definitely shake bottle #2 very vigorously for 1 minute every time I test. If I shake any harder, all the liquid may just come out of the tube. I'm already getting some drops leaking out when I shake it.

I'm not currently dosing since I just rescaped the tank and added some more ADA Amazonia Light. I didn't want to overdo the ferts in the beginning to prevent an algae outbreak from the start.

In the span of 3 weeks, I added a hillstream loach and 2 ranchus. Definitely did not add them all at once, but when I tested the water as I was adding them, there was still little to no nitrates detected by the API test kit. I'll definitely look into that test kit that was recommended.

Is this the test kit?
https://www.amazon.com/Salifert-Nitr...s%2C216&sr=8-4

Here is my tank:
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 07:44 PM
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Ok, nice to see the tank, pretty good looking.

At this point I am kind of puzzled regarding what killed your fish. I agree your test might not be accurate but in order for nitrates to be toxic they should be in the upper 40+ppm. If your Nitrates were this high I think you would have had other issues like massive algae outbreaks.

Regarding testing I think you should get the Tetra 6 in 1 test strips. They are not super accurate but they are accurate enough to give you a picture of what's going with your water and to proof check your API test. Plus you get to measure Chlorine, Nitrate, Nitrite, PH, GH and KH all in one dip.

What's your water PH, GH, KH?

What kind of water do you use? If tap water I assume you declorinate it? Do you know if your tap water contains Chlorine or Chloramine? Chloramine takes a lot more declorinator to neutralize.

Last edited by vanostav61; 06-07-2020 at 11:40 PM.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 07:45 PM
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Hillstream loaches require very clean (no nitrates) cool water that is highly oxygenated.

Probably not the best animal to start a tank out. Plus injecting co2 means o2 levels drop.

And is that ranchu's as in goldfish? If so they produce way to much pollutants for hillstream loaches

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 07:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darrel View Post
... I'm injecting CO2, but I may just get rid of that because I don't think it's entirely necessary considering the amount of plants in the tank. The light is a Kessil A150W Amazon Sun.

..I'm not currently dosing since I just rescaped the tank and added some more ADA Amazonia Light. I didn't want to overdo the ferts in the beginning to prevent an algae outbreak from the start.
Just a little primer. The number of plants has nothing to do with using co2. It's generally the type of plant. For example Blxya will probably do very poorly without co2. Co2 increases plant uptake. Plant uptake of nutrients is the best way to keep the tank algae free. So removing co2, reduces uptake.

ADA soil provides a lot but you still may be lacking Potassium and some micros if you don' dose. Dosing doesn't generally cause algae, algae develops from spores when organics decompose and release toxins including ammonia. Good plant growth uptakes these, poor growth leaves them for algae.


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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 08:01 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by vanostav61 View Post
Ok, nice to see the tank, pretty good looking.

At this point I am kind of puzzled regarding what killed your fish. I agree your test might not be accurate but in order for nitrates to be toxic they should be in the upper 40+ppm. If your Nitrates were this high I think you would have had other issues like massive algae outbreaks.

Regarding testing I think you should get the Tetra 6 in 1 test strips. They are not super accurate but they are accurate enough to give you a picture of what's going with your water and to proof check your API test. Plus you get to measure Amonia, Nitrate, Nitrite, PH, GH and KH all in one dip.

What's your water PH, GH, KH?

What kind of water do you use? If tap water I assume you declorinate it? Do you know if your tap water contains Chlorine or Chloramine? Chloramine takes a lot more declorinator to neutralize.
Thanks! I'll check out the Tetra test strips. My PH is around 7.2 before CO2 and I get a 1.0 drop so I'm fairly certain I'm injecting about 30ppm of CO2. GH and KH are both around 5 drops from the API test kit. I check the KH daily because it drops so much when I inject CO2. I dose NilocG's KH booster if it goes below 4 drops from the test.

I use tap water from San Francisco, CA, which is very soft. We have very optimal water here, but I still use Seachem Prime to dechlorinate the water before adding it into the tank.

I'm definitely going for a cold-water, river stream tank. It's possible that the ranchu (goldfish) may have died from the PH drop. I'm weening the tank off of CO2 by reducing the time by 2 hours every week, so I'll remove the tank in 4 weeks. I don't want to shock the crypts and have them melt on me. I'm really scared to remove the CO2 honestly. I've always run it with my planted tanks. I'm worried I'll have a tank full of algae as soon as I remove CO2.


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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 08:12 PM
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Kh isn't dropping due to co2. It's dropping due to Amazonia. And I would stop adding kh supplements if you want to run Amazonia soils. Your just fighting with it

I also think your test kits are all messed up which is pointing you in the wrong direction of where your problems are.

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Last edited by pauld738; 06-05-2020 at 08:15 PM. Reason: Typos
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 08:14 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by pauld738 View Post
Kh isn't dropping due to co2. It's dropping due to Amazonia. And I would call stop adding kh supplements if u want to run Amazonia soils. Your just fighting with it

I also think your test kits are all messed up which is pointing you in the wrong direction of where your problems are.

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I had no idea Amazonia dropped KH! Thanks for that knowledge! I'm going to look into some backup test kits just to see what's really happening in my tank.
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