New tank doesn't seem to be cycling "right" - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-16-2019, 12:08 PM Thread Starter
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New tank doesn't seem to be cycling "right"

Hello folks,

To start, I do know a bit about how the nitrogen cycle is supposed to work, and previously I have cycled a tank with the expected results. That is, I add some ammonia (from the hardware store) plus a bacterial supplement like Seachem Stability or Tetra Safe Start. After a while, nitrites show up, and finally everything gets converted over to nitrates. I have even cycled bio media alone in a jar, and it takes about two days.

This time, I have set up a tank with UNS Controsoil, some dwarf hairgrass, marsilea crenata, moss, and a rotala something. It's been about a month now, and I still don't get the expected results. What happens is I dose 1-2 ppm ammonia, and over about 1-2 days, the ammonia disappears, but at no point do I ever see nitrites or nitrates. The plants are growing out, and there are various splotches of algae and diatoms everywhere, so I do know that stuff is happening.

I also tried the cycle-in-a-jar with similar results. I had a heater set to 80F and water with pH 7+. At one point, I think I saw 5 ppm nitrates, but then half a day later, ammonia/nitrite/nitrate were all zero again.

Here's the parameters for the new tank, with some things being different than the old tank, so maybe one of these is the culprit:
  • pH mid-upper 6's. (UNS Controsoil like to buffer in the low 6's, but I added a touch of bicarbonate to bring it up a little)
  • temp 80F
  • Water is RO + Salty Shrimp GH + a little KHCO3
  • 5000K light for about 8 hrs a day, plus several more hours of indirect lighting
  • Dose both Seachem Stability and Tetra Safestart
  • Half dose of Seachem Excel every other day
  • Light water flow with aeration
  • Using API master test kit
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-16-2019, 12:25 PM
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Are you adding any kind of fertilizer?
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-16-2019, 12:38 PM Thread Starter
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I only dosed Flourish Comprehensive once
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-16-2019, 03:32 PM
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On the surface, all I see 'wrong' is dosing with Excel! Excel is a form gluteraldehyde that in more concentrated amounts is a sterilizer used to sterilize heat sensitive medical and dental equipment. It's presumed safe for BB, but it's often used to kill
It's likely that the plants are consuming the ammonia as plants prefer ammonia as their N2 source. I have a fishkeeper friend that starts new tanks with heavy planting (especially fast growing floating plants) and a modest bioload without regard for cycling and it works for him every time... as the plants handle the ammonia and BB slowly develops over time.
The only final notion is the accuracy of your testing. The API nitrate test is well known to produce flawed results if regent #2 isn't shaken to death.

Tank On, Mike-
60g Marineland Community, Finnex Planted+ 24/7, Silica (pool filter) sand.
10g, 29g, & 37g fry grow out tanks, 110g stock tank.

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