Today's Test Parameters
Nitrate: - (Dosing ferts for the plants, so Nitrate is present, but not a consequence of cycling.)
Nitrite: 0 ppm
GH: 120 ppm / 7 gpg
pH: Tetra strips say 8.4 but I don't believe it for a second. Seachem pH Alert and API kit both peg pH right around 7.4-7.8.
Temp: 86 - 88 ºF
A week into cycling and still not seeing nitrite. There have been a couple times I thought I saw nitrite show up but I’m beginning to think that those were false readings. Using the API master fresh water test kit, the nitrite reading was just barely tinted purple; not the baby blue of 0 ppm, but not enough to register a “true reading.” Maybe ≤ 0.25ppm. The hygro pintafada has completely melted away, leaving a thick scum on top of the water. There’s also some gunk coming out of the cut ends of the Manzanita burl.
I don’t think this stuff is sap per se, and I know for a fact it’s Manzanita hardwood. Maybe it just didn’t have time to cure completely completely
. Rich at Manzanita Burlworks did say that it was a relatively new piece that had been sandblasted, so maybe it had some stuff left in it. Alternatively, the bubbles coming out of the wood are giving fungal/bacterial cultures an ideal environment to take hold. Even if it is sap, it's leaching very slowly and I don't believe it's any cause for alarm. There are still bubbles coming up from the driftwood every now and then, indicating the water is still permeating the burl.
The driftwood is covered with a thick layer of bio film. The stuff looks like cotton candy, especially in high-flow areas. I’ve never seen such a thick layer of BB. Test kit says 4 ppm ammonia, 0ppm nitrite. I’ve got two canisters running full time. Patience, patience, patience. At least the cycle will give me time to quarantine new fish and let the driftwood really get rid of its tannins. In a perfect world there’d be some kind of wonder fish that could plop in there and chow down on dead stuff in the meantime. It's a little disheartening to see my plants melting away, but you live and learn. Despite research indicating the contrary, I think the process of cycling is too hard on these particular plants. Back to the drawing board.
For a time there was a thick scum on top of the water that has since been rectified with an Eheim 350 surface skimmer and manual removal. It has not returned, leading me to believe it was a product of melting plants and coagulating tannins. The next time I change the water I'll investigate the filter pad in the skimmer.
The good news is that the filters are still going strong. I don't see any clogging, and the return pipes have been angled up to promote gas exchange and give the bacteria more oxygen.