New Tank Fishless Cycle: Need advice - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-06-2011, 12:11 AM Thread Starter
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New Tank Fishless Cycle: Need advice

Hi, this is my first tank since junior high school. I'm currently doing a Fishless water cycle for a Fluval Edge 6 gallon.

I have Fluval shrimp stratum substrate, a driftwood, and a live plant (LFS suggested it will be good for beginner tank) already in my tank.

I have the API test kit.

I need help/advice with my numbers.

PH / Ammonia / Nitrite / Nitrate
Day 1: 6 / 2.0ppm / n/a / n/a
Day 2: 6.4 / 2.0ppm / 0ppm / 10ppm
Day 3: 6.0 / 2.0ppm / 0ppm / 20ppm
Day 4: 6.0 / 2.0ppm / 0ppm / 40ppm

So far those are my stats. How do they look, what are my goals, and how do I get there?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-06-2011, 12:14 AM
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Those are weird numbers.
Indicates that there are already bacteria converting nitrite to nitrate, but that doesn't seem possible that early.
Maybe the fluval substrate has nitrate in it?
I'm not experienced with that substrate so I can't help you there.
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post #3 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-06-2011, 12:29 AM
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how are you cycling it...?? plants come with beneficial bacteria on them... plants can also use ammonia..so your tank is most likely halfway cycled... u can't get nitrates unless ur fertilizing, or some source of ammonia/ or nitrite is being broken into nitrate by bacteria

for day 4 nitrate is high....... consider not introducing any more food or ammonia .. cycle appears to have started. test for the next few days, nitrate should continue to rise but ammonia fall... if it doesn't report back and we will go frm there

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post #4 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-06-2011, 12:38 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chlorophile View Post
Those are weird numbers.
Indicates that there are already bacteria converting nitrite to nitrate, but that doesn't seem possible that early.
Maybe the fluval substrate has nitrate in it?
I'm not experienced with that substrate so I can't help you there.
I'm not sure if Fluval Shrimp Stratum Substrate has nitrate already in it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HD Blazingwolf View Post
how are you cycling it...?? plants come with beneficial bacteria on them... plants can also use ammonia..so your tank is most likely halfway cycled... u can't get nitrates unless ur fertilizing, or some source of ammonia/ or nitrite is being broken into nitrate by bacteria

for day 4 nitrate is high....... consider not introducing any more food or ammonia .. cycle appears to have started. test for the next few days, nitrate should continue to rise but ammonia fall... if it doesn't report back and we will go frm there
How am I cycling it?
All I did was add the Fluval Shrimp substrate, add a driftwood, and a plant from my LFS. I followed and added the chlorine and bacteria instructions that came with my fluval. On day 3 I crumbled one flake of fish food which I read to do online. Other than that I did not touch or adjust anything. I did not buy anything to manipulate any of the variables, I'm just doing water tests.

I'll update my numbers as I get them. I'm curious what these numbers really mean. From what I read I think the Ammonia is supposed to make Nitrite higher which makes Nitrate higher? But my Nitrite has always been 0ppm. Hmm.

Thanks
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post #5 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-06-2011, 01:05 AM
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this is how it works. ammonia is generated by food, waste, organic breakdown.. bacteria grow and convert this ammonia to nitrite to feed themselves. there is another set of bacteria that grows that transforms nitrite into nitrate to feed itself. if you are adding cycling bacteria from a bottle. it shouldnt take long, and your ammonia and nitrite readings should stay relatively low. WHY you are getting such high readings c ould be the substrate leaching out.. i will say this. without food you bacteria will die quickly so its good you have some ammonia source right now.

ammonia is the most toxic followed by nitrite and t hen nitrate. 8 ppm of ammonia can kill some fish. likewise 5 nitrite is supposedly bad for some, but my fish survived a nuclear explosion of over 15 ppm nitrite. since its less toxic than ammonia i can see how. nitrate.. well my tank previously had 120 ppm nitrate and all fish were happy. however there gets a point where it is bad.. shrimp are less tolerant to all the above than fish

this is a good read for a beginner
http://www.oscarfish.com/article-hom...manifesto.html

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post #6 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-06-2011, 03:38 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info.

Day 4: 6.0 / 2.0ppm / 0ppm / 40ppm
You said I am getting such high readings. 2ppm Ammonia and 40ppm Nitrate is considered a high reading?

My PH seems a steady 6.0. Is this OK?
I should not put fish/shrimp in until I have 7 PH, and 0 for the rest of the variables? How do I adjust ammonia, nitrate, nitrate?
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post #7 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-07-2011, 03:57 AM
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You shouldn't have a nitrate reading if you've never had a nitrite reading. I wonder if there are nitrates in your tap water. I suggest testing your water straight out the tap and seeing what your readings are. If you are only on day 4 then it would be more reasonable for the reading to be more like 2/0/0 and that the nitrate reading is either false or coming from the tap. And your Ph is somewhat low - also check that from the tap.

I'd also add more than 1 flake of food - put a nice sprinkling in there to really get things going.
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post #8 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-07-2011, 04:39 AM
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Yeah we're missing something here- just one flake of fish food can not give you 2ppm of ammonia.

The increasing nitrate levels suggest that there IS some nitrogen-fixing occurring, but I also agree the 0ppm nitrite level is odd, given the nitrates increasing at that rate...? So I also am a bit confused, unless your tap water contains ammonia and nitrate?

I wouldn't worry about your pH at this point. Stablility over time is much more important that hitting any ideal target pH.





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post #9 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-07-2011, 04:50 AM
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While testing everything every day will give you a better idea of how everything works, you're making things really complicated.

Really, just add a few flakes per day, every day, and test ammonia every couple days. When ammonia hits zero, start testing nitrites every couple days, still adding a few flakes per day. When nitrites hit zero, the cycle is done.

As for your funny nitrate readings, my guess is that you're not following the instructions, or that the test is out of date (check the lot number on the bottle). Read the instructions for the nitrate test *carefully*. And then read them again. That is probably the most entertainingly complicated parameter test out there.
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post #10 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-07-2011, 05:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lauraleellbp View Post
Yeah we're missing something here- just one flake of fish food can not give you 2ppm of ammonia.

The increasing nitrate levels suggest that there IS some nitrogen-fixing occurring, but I also agree the 0ppm nitrite level is odd, given the nitrates increasing at that rate...? So I also am a bit confused, unless your tap water contains ammonia and nitrate?

I wouldn't worry about your pH at this point. Stablility over time is much more important that hitting any ideal target pH.
It might not be the flake of fish food.
I've never used fluval stratum or whatever it is that came with the tank, but its not out of the question that it leeches ammonia much like aquasoil, or is at least fertilized in some manner.
If he tested ammo right after adding water it wouldn't have had a reading yet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kevmo911 View Post
While testing everything every day will give you a better idea of how everything works, you're making things really complicated.

Really, just add a few flakes per day, every day, and test ammonia every couple days. When ammonia hits zero, start testing nitrites every couple days, still adding a few flakes per day. When nitrites hit zero, the cycle is done.

As for your funny nitrate readings, my guess is that you're not following the instructions, or that the test is out of date (check the lot number on the bottle). Read the instructions for the nitrate test *carefully*. And then read them again. That is probably the most entertainingly complicated parameter test out there.
It doesnt make sense that using the test kit wrong would give him increasing numbers over the course of three days, it is possible though.
Most likely he would get numbers all over the place, or zero for every test.

I've always cycled with pure ammonia, targeting 4 ppm.
Also most times that I have cycled my tank I never got a nitrite reading, so I stopped testing it. I would just test ammonia every couple of days.
If it wasn't at 4 I would add more ammonia to get it back to 4 ppm.
No point testing nitrite all the time because it is obviously being produced if my ammonia is going down.
I start to test more frequently when I see ammonia is dropping quickly.
Once it can go from 4ppm to 0 ppm in 24 hours I check nitrite and if there is none then the tank is Cycled.
This ensures your bacteria population is large enough to handle full tank stocking immediately.

rgr555, you entered n/a on day 1 for nitrite and nitrate, is this because you did not test or you got a 0?
I agree you should test tap water for nitrates.
If you get a reading you should also test some distilled water with shouldn't have any at all, if you get a reading then you know your test kit is bad.
You also mentioned "and bacteria instructions that came with my fluval," did the tank come with some sort of beneficial bacteria liquid or powder?
That could explain everything.

Also I've always heard nitrite was much more toxic to fish than ammonia, but fish genetics probably plays a role in that.
Ammonia is not very harmful at low pH ranges, which could explain blazingwolf's 15ppm ammonia survival story.

Last edited by Chlorophile; 08-07-2011 at 07:35 AM.
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post #11 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-09-2011, 06:10 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the continued support. Rest assured I'm not wasting your time with bad water testing procedures.

Today I tested the tap water for pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and got 7, 0, 0, 0, respectively.

PH / Ammonia / Nitrite / Nitrate
Day 1: 6 / 2.0ppm / n/a / n/a
Day 2: 6.4 / 2.0ppm / 0ppm / 10ppm
Day 3: 6.0 / 2.0ppm / 0ppm / 20ppm
Day 4: 6.0 / 2.0ppm / 0ppm / 40ppm
Day 7: 6.0/ 2.0ppm / 0ppm / 40-80ppm (hard to tell)

On Day 1, I skipped nitrite and nitrate tests.

Yes, my Fluval Edge came with beneficial liquid bacteria called Nutrafin Cycle Biological Aquarium Supplement "Powerful Responsive Ammonia And Nitrite Elimination".

I've read how the water cycle works and its confusing with my results. How could Nitrates be at 40ppm if I have 0 nitrite? Could the live plant be the culprit? The plant is from a reputable fish/plant store in Chinatown, NYC. I put the whole pot, soil, and plant in my tank. Could there have been nitrates in the soil from the plant?

The worker who knew I was starting a fishless water cycle told me the plant would have me done in a week. But how can I get my 2.0pm ammonia to 0 if I have 0 nitrites?
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post #12 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-09-2011, 07:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rgr555 View Post
Thanks for the continued support. Rest assured I'm not wasting your time with bad water testing procedures.

Today I tested the tap water for pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and got 7, 0, 0, 0, respectively.

PH / Ammonia / Nitrite / Nitrate
Day 1: 6 / 2.0ppm / n/a / n/a
Day 2: 6.4 / 2.0ppm / 0ppm / 10ppm
Day 3: 6.0 / 2.0ppm / 0ppm / 20ppm
Day 4: 6.0 / 2.0ppm / 0ppm / 40ppm
Day 7: 6.0/ 2.0ppm / 0ppm / 40-80ppm (hard to tell)

On Day 1, I skipped nitrite and nitrate tests.

Yes, my Fluval Edge came with beneficial liquid bacteria called Nutrafin Cycle Biological Aquarium Supplement "Powerful Responsive Ammonia And Nitrite Elimination".

I've read how the water cycle works and its confusing with my results. How could Nitrates be at 40ppm if I have 0 nitrite? Could the live plant be the culprit? The plant is from a reputable fish/plant store in Chinatown, NYC. I put the whole pot, soil, and plant in my tank. Could there have been nitrates in the soil from the plant?

The worker who knew I was starting a fishless water cycle told me the plant would have me done in a week. But how can I get my 2.0pm ammonia to 0 if I have 0 nitrites?
Was the Nutrafin biological blah blah in liquid?
It could have easily contained a form of ammonia that is showing up on your test kit.
I don't know if that stuff was supposed to be a biological starter or if it was an ammonia neutralizer.
If it was a biological starter, did the instructions say to add fish after using it?
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post #13 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-09-2011, 07:28 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Chlorophile View Post
Was the Nutrafin biological blah blah in liquid?
It could have easily contained a form of ammonia that is showing up on your test kit.
I don't know if that stuff was supposed to be a biological starter or if it was an ammonia neutralizer.
If it was a biological starter, did the instructions say to add fish after using it?
Nutrafin was liquid. http://www.hagen.com/uk/aquatic/nutrafin/index.cfm

The bullet points on the bottle says you can add fish immediately after it but I doubt that would be best for the fish. Does the Nutrafin explain my numbers?
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post #14 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-09-2011, 10:40 AM
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Ive used it before, if its new and no where near the expiiration date, it works just fine.

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post #15 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-09-2011, 02:22 PM
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I am puzzled why ammonia and nitrate are staying pretty much steady while the nitrate continues to climb. There should have been a rise in nitrite before the nitrate level appeared and that it is still pegged at 0 is odd isn't it?

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