Fishless/Pure Ammonia cycle: how long until nitrites appear? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-21-2011, 02:56 PM Thread Starter
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Fishless/Pure Ammonia cycle: how long until nitrites appear?

I've been cycling my 20G H with ammonia (Ace Hardware Janitorial Strength) since Monday, October 10 and have YET to see nitrites. Does it typically take 11+ days to see them? I've tested again this morning and nothing.

I check my ammonia daily (sometimes twice per day) and when it drops below 5ppm on my API ammonia test kit, I add a few drops to keep it at 5ppm or above.

Thoughts?


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post #2 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-21-2011, 04:39 PM
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You SHOULD start to see them around 11days to 14days or so.



Other things can affect though, like temp. If its cool, throw a heater in there and get it warmer, it will encourage the bacteria to grow faster. Also, pH can be a factor. Higher pH, the faster bacteria grow. At a lower pH around 6, the bacteria have a hard time growing, that's why very low pH shrimp tanks run like 10x the filtration needed, just to give the bacteria a chance to grow somewhere along the way.

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post #3 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-21-2011, 04:57 PM Thread Starter
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My temperature was 80F for the previous 10 days; last night I set it to 84F to speed it up! My pH is a gnarly 8.4 in the tank - I kid you not.


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post #4 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-22-2011, 03:00 AM
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Also, did you seed it with some mulm from a cycled tank?
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post #5 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-22-2011, 03:10 AM Thread Starter
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I didn't seed it with any mulm - none around .


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post #6 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-22-2011, 03:17 AM
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Quote:
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I didn't seed it with any mulm - none around .
You can always try your LFS. Adding a bit of dirt or compost would work.
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post #7 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 01:44 PM Thread Starter
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Day 17 - ammonia has been elevated for days; 84F; 8.4pH

ZERO NITRITES present, though when I added the 5 drops from the API Nitrite test kit to my 5 mL tube yesterday, it turned to purple while I walked away (before shaking a few times and waiting 5 minutes). I thought "finally, I have nitrites!" but after shaking, it went back to light blue (zero reading). Then after 5 minutes, it was still light blue .

I'm thinking now of getting a shrimp and throw it in the tank to rot and accelerate the process.


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post #8 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 02:23 PM
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If you have ammonia already then adding the shrimp won't do anything. All it will do is add more ammonia. You want the ammonia to be around 4ppm. Much higher than that can stall or even kill your cycle. It sucks waiting but it does take time. Some longer than others. I think my cycle was close to 6 weeks until I added fish.
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post #9 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 02:31 PM Thread Starter
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If you have ammonia already then adding the shrimp won't do anything. All it will do is add more ammonia. You want the ammonia to be around 4ppm. Much higher than that can stall or even kill your cycle. It sucks waiting but it does take time. Some longer than others. I think my cycle was close to 6 weeks until I added fish.
Wait a sec. Much HIGHER than 4ppm can stall or kill the cycle? This is the first I've heard of that. I just add ammonia every few days and it's always showing 8ppm on my API test color chart. (dark, dark greenish-blue). I figured more won't hurt?


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post #10 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 02:39 PM Thread Starter
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I've just confirmed it via some searching online. CRAP. Does that mean I have to start over? Thinking of doing a 25% water change tonight or whatever it takes to reduce to about 4ppm (I can't measure 5 directly with my kit). Thoughts?


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post #11 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 03:15 PM
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Yes doing a water change to bring it down to around 4ppm would be a good start. Don't be adding anymore ammonia until it hits 0. Once it hits 0ppm, you should start seeing nitrites, and they will be off the charts (5+ppm). Once this happens, only add 1ppm of ammonia (whenever ammonia hits 0) until nitrites hit 0ppm, this can take upwards of 2-3 weeks so be patient. Once you start seeing 0 nitrites, you can dose ammonia back up to 4ppm. Then once your tank is processing that ammonia/nitrite within a 12 hour period (double 0's) you are cycled. But make to test the 12 hour period for a week to ensure you are fully cycled.

Hope that helps, if not feel free to PM me and i'll go more in-depth with it


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post #12 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 03:25 PM Thread Starter
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Shiny, THANK YOU, really appreciate it. About how long now, after performing the water change you've recommended, until I see nitrites? 2-3 more weeks? It's like I'm starting completely over :-(. Just want to confirm.. Or is it 2-3 weeks of seeing nitrites before NITRATES appear?


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post #13 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 03:45 PM
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Dilute your test water to find out where it's at. If you think it is at 8ppm, then try diluting with an equal portion of fresh water and confirm 4ppm, or 3 parts fresh and one part test water and test for 2ppm.
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post #14 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 04:14 PM
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Since you said in your original post that it's been 11 days, you should be around day 16 now and you should be seeing some nitrites right now, and they are mostly likely off the chart (5+ppm (DEEP purple)).

Do the water change to bring your ammonia down to around 4ppm and let it drop to 0 before you add anymore ammonia. When you do add more ammonia, only add enough to where it's around 1ppm. Once it hits 0 again, add more ammonia to where it hits 1ppm again. Basically what you are doing is letting the bacteria that breaks down the nitrite build up so you get nitrate. Building up the bacteria to break down the nitrite takes twice as long as the bacteria that breaks down the ammonia. You also want to keep feeding the bacteria that breaks down ammonia which is why I'm telling you to only add 1ppm of ammonia. Once you nitrites hit 0ppm (it will take 2-3 weeks) you can start dosing your ammonia back up to 4ppm. You should already start seeing a little bit of nitrates as the nitrites are being processed. Your nitrates will eventually be off the charts as well once the nitrites start breaking down.

I know I restated what I posted earlier, but just rephrased it a little bit better.

Check out this forum: Fishless cycling
Basically what I am directing you to do is the "Add and Wait Method" listed in the forum. Please read this information over to get a better understanding as they might describe it a little bit better than how I have


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post #15 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-28-2011, 12:48 PM Thread Starter
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Last night I did two 30% water changes, one hour apart. This morning I checked my ammonia levels and I'm finally down to a solid 4ppm (possibly 5ppm).

I should perform one more water change today to drop to 2-3ppm, correct? Not sure if I can get to 1 very easily unless I do a massive water change. Wouldn't 2-3 suffice?

Thanks for all the help, folks!


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