No nitrite = no amonia? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-22-2012, 10:29 AM Thread Starter
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No nitrite = no amonia?

Hi everyone

I'm new to this forum, but I will probably migrate from MFK to here (I'm not into MFK)

Anywho, I have a low tech tank abrew and I'm curious about my water parameters. PH is roughly 7, KH 3, and nitrate below 0.3.

My lfs dosent sell amonia tests tho, but since the nitrate is low and plants are growing extremely well, the amonia should be low, right?

I have no fish in it atm, only a helena snail and some ramshorn. The tank has been running for about 3 weeks and the snail seem to be doing fine.

thanks!
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-22-2012, 11:13 AM
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If the tank has been properly cycled and you have virtually no fauna and you are not dumping loads of food into the tank for your one snail you should have a relatively low ammonia. No ammonia = no nitrite = no nitrate.

I good test kit is the way to go though. They are very helpful when something funky starts going on in your tank. API master freshwater kit is $25 and should easily be shipped to your front door.

Born to fish, forced to work, but only have time for work, family, and my aquarium.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-22-2012, 11:59 AM
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Last edited by Sotty; 10-22-2012 at 12:29 PM. Reason: Double post
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-22-2012, 12:26 PM
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Im not sure if you mean NitrATE or NitITE. In the header it says nitrite and in the body it says nitrate.

I would agree the4x4hoss the best thing to do would be to obtain an ammonia test kit. As to where to source one in Sweden, I am not sure.

If you are talking nitrite, you should see a spike in nitrites during the cycle and if your test kit is saying <.3 and you havent seen a spike yet then this means that your cycle hasn't finished yet. You could still have considerable ammonia, but I doubt it as you have very little bioload, which is actually an issue in this situation unless you have been adding ammonia in some other way.

I could be wrong with this if you could test both nitrates and nitrites and show that you have detectable nitrates and zero nitrites. 3 weeks would be a very fast cycle though so I doubt it.

Other sources of ammonia other than waste from livestock is decaying plant matter, some new substrates (usually the more soil type one) can leech ammonia, and uneaten decaying food.

A couple of snails is a very small bioload and you will only grow a sufficient colony of bacteria to deal with the amount of ammonia that the tank is producing. So, if you have not been adding small amounts of ammonia to do a fishless cycle (not advisable without a test kit) or have not been deliberately overfeeding to induce ammonia spikes you likely have a very small colony of nitrifying bacteria.

So basically if you want to cycle the tank you need to get more ammonia in there.

1st option: "Fishless cycle" with ammonia: You can search for the methodology here on the forums. It involves adding household ammonia (non sudsing, non pefumed) to the tank to grow the bacteria colony. you dose the tank to 3ppm of ammonia. This would require a test kit obviously and likely would not be advisable for your snails.

2nd option Fishless cycle with alternative nitrogen source: is to add ammonia into the system by some form of overfeeding. Some people just use fish food but this is messy I think. I prefer shrimp. Go to the store/freezer/fridge and obtain one decent sized shrimp/prawn (not breaded) throw it in the tank. Shrimp is almost pure protein. Protein is high in Nitrogen. As the bacteria breaks down the shrimp it basically turns into a slow release ammonia source. Nitrifying bacteria thrive and reproduce. Replace shrimp if snails completely consume him. Continue to check nitrates/nitrites every several days. Wait another couple weeks. you should see a nitrITE spike and then see the nitrITEs go to zero as the nitrATES continue to steadily rise. Water change with dechlorinator. Then add some hardy fish and observe.

3rd option is to just throw in some cheap hardy fish and do frequent water changes. This will likely cause the suffering and possibly death and most find it ethically repugnant, but it seems like every time we talk about cycling a tank someone brings it up, so I thought I would first. It is an option. It does work. Its just not a very good option in my opinion.

I will reiterate ammonia test kit would be better and is very useful to have on hand down the road.


If I completely missed the boat here sorry, it is early and I am rambling...
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-22-2012, 01:06 PM Thread Starter
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Quick answers -

I meant to say nitrite, not nitrate, sorry.

It is indeed a fishless cycle, but not without fauna. I have about 3-4 cm of ecological potting soil below a thin layer of gravel. Along with the soil came planaria and loats of 2cm pink, swiming worms which lives in clusters in the corners atm (when they'r not taking a swim). I have high hopes that the fish will eat them. There is also white "fleas" hopping around under the surface and who knows what lives in the soil.

The soil itself would have huge amounts of bacteria in it right? It is fertalized with chicken droppings which, Im guessing, would provide amonia amongst other things?

Another though is that the snail is fully aquatic and would die from amonia poisoning if the levels were dangerously high?
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-22-2012, 01:30 PM
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Your plants will use up any ammonia floating around as we'll.
The chicken poop is dangerous. It will supply a constant supply of ammonia for a while. Too much if the substrate is disturbed, maybe add more gravel or sand to keep the ammonia level lower.


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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-24-2012, 10:59 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mistergreen View Post
Your plants will use up any ammonia floating around as we'll.
The chicken poop is dangerous. It will supply a constant supply of ammonia for a while. Too much if the substrate is disturbed, maybe add more gravel or sand to keep the ammonia level lower.
Does anyone have experience how long the amonia will stay in there? The tank is 62x67cm on ground level and Id say almost half of it is covered with plants
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-25-2012, 02:09 AM
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I would not risk adding more livestock to the tank for about a month.
Allow the soil, with its chicken poop and microorganisms, to adjust to being under water. Allow a lot of decomposing things to do so. If you can test for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate that would be best. If you cannot, then err on the side of caution, and wait to add fish.

Perhaps you could find this:
http://www.seachem.com/Products/prod...oniaAlert.html
...or something like it.

When soil of any sort is first submerged all the microorganisms in the soil need to adjust to the altered conditions. Some do not adjust. They die and become food for the others. Some adjust really well, it just takes time. The general time frame is usually about a month.
Living in the garden soil, especially where ammonia is present, are the exact same bacteria that we want in our tanks to remove ammonia. They are relatively slow growing, but they will thrive under water as long as there is enough oxygen and a few other things.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-25-2012, 03:31 AM
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Sorry to hijack the thread. I have a similar problem with regards to Nitrate level which appreciates some advice.


My tank when set up about 3 weeks ago had a high ammonia level due to the Amazonia new subtrate, and plants were growing amazingly. Since then as cycling heads towards "0" ammonia, "0" Nitrites and "0" Nitrates, my leaves on the top of some plants started to brown real bad and it coincide with the end of the cycling. My question is, given that there is still no fauna, is the non-existence of Nitrate the cause of the browning of leaves, since it was doing well when there were ammonia initially.

ps: I'v started dosing Nitrate yesterday and last measured was 5ppm for NO3.


Tank Parameters:

Size: 30g
Temp: 28deg
Lighting and duration: 24w x 4, 8 hours
Co2: Cylinder and coincide with duration of lighting
Livestock: Nil



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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-02-2012, 11:29 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, so here's where I'm at -

The tank has been running fishless for some weeks now. I had to rearrange the podium for the tank so all water was drained, and since the soil got disturbed I figured I pretty much had to restart the "timer".

I've been checking the nitrite levels (still the only test I got) and 3 days ago it was around 0.3mg/l. Now it is clearly lower which puts it in the accetable catagory according to the test.

My logic tells me that if anything, amonia and nitrite should be low, and there might be a high level of nitrate atm?

cheers
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-03-2012, 03:09 AM
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Yes, generally the nitrogen cycle works toward better removal of ammonia and a brief spike in nitrite. Then all the bacteria are growing at a level that deals with the amount of ammonia being added to the system, and the test results will show 0 ppm ammonia and nitrite and rising nitrate.

When the ammonia is low, in the case of soil that has been in the tank long enough to adjust to being under water, then there will be a small bacteria population. It usually does not die off completely, there are always thing dying like plant parts, worms, microorganisms and so on. But the population can get very low, so that the tank would no longer be considered cycled, and any fish added would raise the ammonia level to toxic levels.
If you are not going to stock the tank right away I would add a few drops of ammonia each day to maintain the bacteria, then do as close to 100% water change right before (well, up to 24 hours) before adding the fish.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-03-2012, 11:15 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, I overlooked the part about bacteria starving. I got a platy in transit to see of the water is ok. The wood I put in is a bit of a riskfactor, might be white birch, might be a scots pine tree. Im hoping for a happy platy!

Ah, and another question:

If the platy makes it I still have a very small bioload the following weeks. I do have fishfood tho, so I should be able to overfeed in order to create the needed nutrients for the bacteria?

Last edited by Soil; 11-03-2012 at 03:00 PM. Reason: forgot a thing
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-03-2012, 04:31 PM
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Yes, fish food (any source of protein) will feed the bacteria. Microorganisms will break down the protein and one of the things that comes out of that process is ammonia.

Ultimately, fish food is the main source of ammonia in the tank. Not the fish. They are one of the decomposers, breaking fish food into other things including ammonia; many microorganisms can do that, too.

If you feed the tank with lots of extra fish food, you are feeding the bacteria. I have maintained the cycle in a tank that was temporarily without fish by feeding 'virtual fish' for a few weeks. Pretty expensive source of ammonia, though.

Then, like any version of the fishless cycle, do a big water change right before you add the fish.
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