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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-01-2017, 02:29 PM Thread Starter
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Cycling new tank

Hi. I'm new to plant tanks so this may be a very rudimentary question. I am cycling my tank with fish and wanted to know if the rising ammonia levels are dangerous to the fish and if I should be doing water changes instead of letting the cycle run and letting the biology build up. Should I do anything to counteract the ammonia or just let the cycle continue on its own? My ammonia level is at .5ppm, Nitrites are 0 and Nitrates are 0, pH is at 7.3,dKH is 4, and the tank is 16 gallons at 78 degrees. I appreciate any advice!
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-03-2017, 12:34 PM
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Hi. I'm new to plant tanks so this may be a very rudimentary question. I am cycling my tank with fish and wanted to know if the rising ammonia levels are dangerous to the fish and if I should be doing water changes instead of letting the cycle run and letting the biology build up. Should I do anything to counteract the ammonia or just let the cycle continue on its own? My ammonia level is at .5ppm, Nitrites are 0 and Nitrates are 0, pH is at 7.3,dKH is 4, and the tank is 16 gallons at 78 degrees. I appreciate any advice!


Hi, I had the same issue but was a fish less cycle.

Don't let ammonia go above this. Just to confirm is it 0.5ppm? These can sometimes be a little out as it's not always easy to determine the exact colour of the API test kits.

Have you got any Seachems Prime? I would dose this daily as it makes the ammonia safe for fish but still available to bio.

What substrate do you have?

If I was you I would do a 60% water change every two days for about a week, monitor the levels daily and if levels getting high in between water changes dose prime. If they still increasing I would do daily water changes however this can be a right performance.

So long as ammonia doesn't go above 0.5ppm you should be ok. The next stage is for the Nitrites to increase you want this to happen as it's part of the cycle however again toxic to fish then the final stage is the ammonia and Nitrites should drop to 0ppm and the Nitrates will increase which is what you need if you have plants etc. I think mine are about 40ppm Nitrates.

Hope that helps.


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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-03-2017, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Planttank97 View Post
Hi. I'm new to plant tanks so this may be a very rudimentary question. I am cycling my tank with fish and wanted to know if the rising ammonia levels are dangerous to the fish and if I should be doing water changes instead of letting the cycle run and letting the biology build up. Should I do anything to counteract the ammonia or just let the cycle continue on its own? My ammonia level is at .5ppm, Nitrites are 0 and Nitrates are 0, pH is at 7.3,dKH is 4, and the tank is 16 gallons at 78 degrees. I appreciate any advice!
Yes it is very dangerous to fish. Ammonia spikes in an uncycled tank often claim at least a few fish while it is cycling. Some might argue even letting it stay above .25ppm is hard on the fish. As suggested above, a water conditioner like prime will detoxify ammonia and nitrites for up to 48 hours while still allowing it to be bio-available to the bacteria. If you are doing a cycle with fish i also strongly recommend a product like seachem stability to help quicken the colonization of the beneficial bacteria.

Water change at least 30% every other day, keep that ammonia beneath .5ppm. Keep an eye on your fish. Ammonia detoxified by conditioner still will register on most ammonia test kits like the API one fyi.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-03-2017, 02:02 PM
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What they said....

Often in a planted tank with a low bio-load, N2 cycling is basically automatic. The plants are able to keep ammonia levels down as beneficial biology develops.
But you didn't mention the size of your tank, how heavily it's planted, and/or how many fish and their size. So....the use of Prime and/or frequent water changes may be necessary until the BB develops.

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-03-2017, 02:32 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Planttank97 View Post
Hi. I'm new to plant tanks so this may be a very rudimentary question. I am cycling my tank with fish and wanted to know if the rising ammonia levels are dangerous to the fish and if I should be doing water changes instead of letting the cycle run and letting the biology build up. Should I do anything to counteract the ammonia or just let the cycle continue on its own? My ammonia level is at .5ppm, Nitrites are 0 and Nitrates are 0, pH is at 7.3,dKH is 4, and the tank is 16 gallons at 78 degrees. I appreciate any advice!


Hi, I had the same issue but was a fish less cycle.

Don't let ammonia go above this. Just to confirm is it 0.5ppm? These can sometimes be a little out as it's not always easy to determine the exact colour of the API test kits.

Have you got any Seachems Prime? I would dose this daily as it makes the ammonia safe for fish but still available to bio.

What substrate do you have?

If I was you I would do a 60% water change every two days for about a week, monitor the levels daily and if levels getting high in between water changes dose prime. If they still increasing I would do daily water changes however this can be a right performance.

So long as ammonia doesn't go above 0.5ppm you should be ok. The next stage is for the Nitrites to increase you want this to happen as it's part of the cycle however again toxic to fish then the final stage is the ammonia and Nitrites should drop to 0ppm and the Nitrates will increase which is what you need if you have plants etc. I think mine are about 40ppm Nitrates.

Hope that helps.


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Thank you for all of the advice! Is it normal as the cycle continues for the nitrites to rise while there is still ammonia? And also how long does it usually take for the nitrites to climb and then fall? I used Fluval Cycle which seems to be expediting things.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-03-2017, 04:56 PM
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Never mind, I see this is fish in cycle.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-03-2017, 06:20 PM
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Thank you for all of the advice! Is it normal as the cycle continues for the nitrites to rise while there is still ammonia? And also how long does it usually take for the nitrites to climb and then fall? I used Fluval Cycle which seems to be expediting things.


Yes this is normal. The question is how long is a piece of sting.... it could be a while...

For example mine is a 240litre tank but have lots of Ada substrate which produces huge amounts of ammonia so it took my tank 3 months to cycle. However I also made a lot of mistakes along the way thinking that by not doing a water change the bio would soon tackle the ammonia. That's not what happened.

I would just recommend water changes every couple of days and keep an eye on the levels. If levels go too high dose prime between water changes. Also the seachem stability is a good buy as per previous user comments. I use it but it can be expensive however it's 100% worth it and will speed things up for you.

Also maybe get some live bio bacteria in a bottle again to speed up the process.




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