Nitrite problems with my fishless cycle - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-31-2012, 05:54 PM Thread Starter
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Nitrite problems with my fishless cycle

I have been cycling this tank for about 2 weeks now. Every morning I do some tests. I keep watching the ammonia gradually drop from 4ppm to 0 and then I add some more to bring it back up. The problem is that the nitrites don't want to budge. When I see 0 ppm ammonia I get excited and immediately test for nitrites. Then I'm crushed when the test turns violet immediately after adding the solution. Is this normal? What could be slowing it down? My pH is stable around 6.8-6.9 I would say. It's a 20 Long if anyone is curious.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-31-2012, 06:31 PM
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It is happening because you keep topping up the ammonia that then turns to nitrites, stop topping that up and the nitrites will drop away as the bacteria gets to work and builds to a level that can deal with the amount of nitrites.


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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-31-2012, 06:34 PM
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At 2 weeks into the cycle you are right where you should be. Do a water change to keep your nitrites down between 3 - 5 ppm. I think that it is wise to try to keep some ammonia in the tank, to keep your ammonia converting bacteria alive, but only use 1 drop a day if it is zero.

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-31-2012, 06:35 PM
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Just keep your ammonia levels up. Soon you'll see nitrite and then wait for both ammonia and nitrite to read zero after they both already peaked. It takes about a month. Remember just keep ammonia levels up don't let it zero out
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-31-2012, 06:37 PM
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It depends how much has already been put in and how much is being put in still, the filter could be super charged by now lol


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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-31-2012, 06:39 PM
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If you keep doing what your doing it will keep cycling through the ammonia and the nitrites will suddenly plummet in about 2 weeks time. You don't have to do a water change.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-31-2012, 11:12 PM
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So you have high nitrites at two weeks with ammonia dropping daily? That's actually very good progress; ammonia typically takes up to 2 weeks to drop and then nitrites come around week 3. The nitrite is the longest of the phases so it can take about 3 weeks before it drops. Keep an eye on PH; if it drops do a large water change to bring it back up. You can try doing a water change anyway if you want to get the nitrite down to a readable level on the test kit then dose ammonia to 2 for a few days to let the nitrite bacteria catch up. I'd say you're doing fine though, the nitrite phase is definitely a waiting game.


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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-01-2012, 12:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by librarygirl View Post
So you have high nitrites at two weeks with ammonia dropping daily? That's actually very good progress; ammonia typically takes up to 2 weeks to drop and then nitrites come around week 3. The nitrite is the longest of the phases so it can take about 3 weeks before it drops. Keep an eye on PH; if it drops do a large water change to bring it back up. You can try doing a water change anyway if you want to get the nitrite down to a readable level on the test kit then dose ammonia to 2 for a few days to let the nitrite bacteria catch up. I'd say you're doing fine though, the nitrite phase is definitely a waiting game.
A good post. You seem to have a lack of patience though O.P. The nitrites take the longest for sure. I think your okay by adding ammonia. You don't want to starve the developing colony, it all starts with the ammonia. With a fishless cycle, I wouldn't even worry about doing water changes. Only thing you need to do is keep the ammonia going and top off the water level if needed with treated water. Fishless cycle is a waiting game just like any other method. The good thing about it is your not having to sacrifice any fish. Just site back and let the tank do its thing. Cycling can take anywhere from 3 weeks and beyond. Depends on if you used any aids such as established media or substrate. but 3-6 weeks is typical.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-01-2012, 12:36 AM
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havent done this in awhile, but if ammonia is going down, nitrite should be going up.

this process works faster if you have some old filter media to squeeze in the tank.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-01-2012, 06:46 AM Thread Starter
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I do have old filter media. I'm relieved that it's going well, I have never done this without fish before.
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-01-2012, 08:53 AM
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I never do this its a huge waste of time. buy bacteria in a bottle, pour it in, pour some directly onto your bio media and let it sit for an hour, add fish. Stop stressing over a pointless thing. (I have 13 tanks, started them all like this, no problems).
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-01-2012, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by brainwavepc.com View Post
I never do this its a huge waste of time. buy bacteria in a bottle, pour it in, pour some directly onto your bio media and let it sit for an hour, add fish. Stop stressing over a pointless thing. (I have 13 tanks, started them all like this, no problems).
Lots of newbies try this and have it horribly backfire so Ive never given it a chance. What product do you use?

Also when you say 'no problems' do you mean that you regularly test and ammonia and nitrite are always at 0? No offense but lots of people substitute words like 'fine' for 'still alive but slowly drowning in their own sewage'.
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-01-2012, 12:30 PM
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I did not have good luck with the bottle bacteria either (way back when I first started). Lost a few fish because of that.

When I do a fishless cycle I usually take some filter media from one of the running filters and stick that in the new filter. This really speeds things up and it takes about a week, two at most to cycle.


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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-01-2012, 04:04 PM
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Fishless cycle:
Return the ammonia to 3 ppm once a day. It may drop to 0 ppm every day, too. That is OK. But keep on feeding the bacteria.

Do enough water changes to keep the nitrite under 5 ppm. The bacteria you are growing do not do so well when the nitrite is higher. Yes, it seems to stall at this point, about 1.5 weeks in. Seems there is no change for a week or more. It really is changing, but you cannot tell from the tests. The 2 groups of bacteria are still growing, but about at the same rate: The ammonia removing bacteria are generating nitrite at the same rate the nitrite removing bacteria are removing it. So you see steady nitrite.

When you buy bacteria in a bottle read the label. You want Nitrospiros species of bacteria. All other products are the wrong species of bacteria.

Adding media from a cycled tank is a very good way to jump start the cycle.
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-02-2012, 03:48 AM
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Fine as in my test kit shows a barely detectable amount ammonia or nitrites if any. in my cichlid tank it took about two days for it to level out so I supplemented with ammolock at half dose to keep it safe. But I added too many cichlids and they are dirty fish to begin with. I was new at aquariums then.

I wouldn't put a ton of fish in to start.
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