Question about cycling.. - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-26-2006, 05:39 PM Thread Starter
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Question about cycling..

Okay, so I have a 125g that I'm trying to cycle. I had to wait a couple weeks for my light to arrive and I ended up starting to do a fishless cycle while I waited (probably not the best idea, but it's too late now).

About a week ago, I added a bunch of plants (not as much as Rexx suggests in his guide, but a decent amount) and shortly after that, I got my nitrite spike. The nitrites came up to ~2-3ppm and have stayed around the same level ever since. My ammonia levels are always at 0 (aside from when I add it in) and when I add ammonia to the tank, it's gone back to zero by the next day. My problem is that I haven't detected any nitrates yet and I'm assuming my plants are using them up faster than they are being produced? Should I keep adding ammonia to the tank? Any ideas how to get the tank fully cycled? Is it just a matter of time before the nitrates take hold?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-26-2006, 06:03 PM
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Don't add any more ammonia. Free ammonia is one of the biggest causes of algae in a planted tank. Instead, keep adding more plants and go ahead and add a few fish. In a 125 there is plenty of water to dilute fish waste and with lots of hungry plants you'll never see your nitrates get too high (assuming of course that you don't have tank-buster huge fish). You can add fish into a newly planted tank from the very first day if you add enough fast-growing plants.


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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-26-2006, 06:28 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by JenThePlantGeek View Post
Don't add any more ammonia. Free ammonia is one of the biggest causes of algae in a planted tank. Instead, keep adding more plants and go ahead and add a few fish. In a 125 there is plenty of water to dilute fish waste and with lots of hungry plants you'll never see your nitrates get too high (assuming of course that you don't have tank-buster huge fish). You can add fish into a newly planted tank from the very first day if you add enough fast-growing plants.
Thanks for the reply.

So no more ammonia, and what about the nitrites? Should I do a big water change (how big?) and add a few small fish? I wasn't as worried about having no nitrates as I was with a constant concentration of nitrites. I was under the impression that I shouldn't add fish with detectable amounts of nitrites due to nitrite poisoning.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-26-2006, 06:49 PM
 
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With the presence of nitrItes, that means there are nitrosomas bacteria consuming the ammonia producing nitrItes. No nitrAtes means there are no nitrobacter consuming it. Or if there is nitrobacter is present, there is not enough to produce noticeable amounts of nitrItes. You can add a few hardy fish in there or wait a few weeks longer, which I would prefer.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-26-2006, 07:15 PM Thread Starter
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With the presence of nitrItes, that means there are nitrosomas bacteria consuming the ammonia producing nitrItes. No nitrAtes means there are no nitrobacter consuming it. Or if there is nitrobacter is present, there is not enough to produce noticeable amounts of nitrItes. You can add a few hardy fish in there or wait a few weeks longer, which I would prefer.
But if I do a huge water change and get the nitrItes to a very low level, why would the fish have to be "hardy"? The media will still contain whatever bacteria colonies that were established thus far and the water conditions would be ideal (no chlorine, no chloramine, no ammonia and very low concentrations of nitrItes). I'm hoping to add some corys or cardinal tetras to start out and they aren't exactly hardy.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-26-2006, 10:55 PM
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The reason you are not seeing any nitrates is the plants are using them and the ammonia. Plants will not take up nitrite if ammonia or nitrate is present.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-27-2006, 01:10 AM Thread Starter
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The reason you are not seeing any nitrates is the plants are using them and the ammonia. Plants will not take up nitrite if ammonia or nitrate is present.
So would it just be a matter of time before the nitrites are used up?
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-27-2006, 04:42 AM
 
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Some fish are sensitive to the cycling process, with even lowest levels of ammonia or nitrites. This is why I suggested hardier fish.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-28-2006, 02:20 AM
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Not if you keep adding ammonia.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-28-2006, 02:43 PM Thread Starter
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Not if you keep adding ammonia.
Yes, I stopped adding ammonia and as of yesterday I detected *some* nitrates (around 5-10ppm according to my kit), but the nitrites have not decreased as of yet.

Should I do another huge water change or just wait for the nitrites to get used up naturally?
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-28-2006, 02:51 PM
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IMO, If you remove the Nitrites, and Nitrates with a large water change you will stall the cycling process. You will be removing the food for the bacteria you want to cultivate.

Now, if the levels get dangerously high for fish (which I don't think you have yet) then I would do some small WCs to bring it lower.

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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-28-2006, 03:12 PM Thread Starter
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IMO, If you remove the Nitrites, and Nitrates with a large water change you will stall the cycling process. You will be removing the food for the bacteria you want to cultivate.

Now, if the levels get dangerously high for fish (which I don't think you have yet) then I would do some small WCs to bring it lower.
So I guess the question is, what does the bacteria eat if I'm not adding ammonia and don't have any fish? Will the bacteria all just die? Do I need to get some fish in there as soon as the nitrites are gone? Should I leave loose plant leaves in there to decay instead of removing them?
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-28-2006, 03:20 PM
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The leaves hould be OK, but may take a while. Try putting in some fish flake.
Cycled is a dynamic thing. Even after you cycle the tank, if you add a lot of messy fish, you will go through a min-cycle. The bacteria will reproduce or die out to the levels that can support the population.

This is why I now like heavily planting the tank from the start with fast growers.

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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-29-2006, 03:30 PM Thread Starter
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Another day and not much change.

My nitrites haven't changed at all and my nitrates are still in the 5-10ppm range. I also got my first outbreak of brown algae, is this a good or bad sign?
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-29-2006, 03:37 PM
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ok, Cycling takes weeks. Give it a chance.

Brown diatom algae is typical for new setups.

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