My fishless cycle is becoming an abomination - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-07-2012, 10:24 PM Thread Starter
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My fishless cycle is becoming an abomination

I attached a photo. For one thing the nitrite spike is stalled and does not seem to be getting any better. So the tank processes ammonia fast, and then builds up nitrite (over 5 ppm) without it falling. The tank has been cycling for well over 3 weeks now. I checked my nitrates today and they are very low (about 5ppm).

Also there is their brown sediment somehow being created and forming on everything. You see it floating around in the pic, that was just from shaking off one of my plants. It's also all over the substrate and glass and driftwood. Oh and there are planaria as well. This happened before about 4-5 days ago and I vacuumed the gravel and did a water changeto get rid of all the crud and now it's back.




How can I fix this mess?
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-07-2012, 10:35 PM
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do a 25% water change to get the ammonia and nitrite level down. If it gets too high (like above 5 ppm) it can stall the cycle. The same thing happened to my tank that I just added fish too when it was cycling. Ammonia and nitrite can be bad for the bacteria if they get too high.

The brown sediment is either algae or fungus. I have a lot of it in my tank too. You can get rid of it through water changes or scraping it off with an algae scrubber, or a brush for the stuff on the wood. It will eventually go away on its own.

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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-07-2012, 10:44 PM
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You can boost the population of bacteria by adding a bottled product that includes Nitrospira. These are the very bacteria that are growing so slowly in your tank. DO not waste money on anything else.
Do a really big water change before you add this product, then dose the ammonia to 3 ppm. These bacteria grow slowly when the nitrite and ammonia are over 5 ppm, but they do need ammonia. The first population will turn that into nitrite very quickly, and the Nitrospira you have just added should grow quicker.

Check some other things:
pH should be on the neutral side of neutral, pretty much anywhere in the 7s is fine.
GH and KH need to be over 3 ppm, and higher is better
Temperature is at least room temperature, and higher is not a problem.
Very good water circulation so there is a high level of oxygen in the water.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-07-2012, 11:23 PM
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At 3 weeks, you are still right where you should be. Keep feeding the ammonia a wee bit, and keep the nitrites under 5ppm. I can't really tell what the debri is, but you are going to get diatoms, which is a brown substance that brushes off easy, then after that dies, you will have some green hair algae. These are common in new tanks. Do some time studying the requirements for whatever your light level is, as far as nutrients and co2, or other carbon sources.

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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-07-2012, 11:29 PM
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Do you have another tank?

I took my filters from my 40B and rinsed them in a seperate container of tank water and then poured all that brown nasty muck into my 20L. The tank looked really gross for a few days but it cleared up and it was completely cycled after that. I literally just dumped the muck into the 20gallon's HOB and into the main tank water. Worked like a charm.

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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-07-2012, 11:47 PM
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I've always found that a cycle started from scratch (not seeded with bacteria) takes 6-8 weeks, so you are right about where you should be. It takes time to cycle from scratch!
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-07-2012, 11:52 PM
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You're pretty much on schedule for 3 weeks in. The nitrite phase is the longest; it can last up to 3 weeks so just be patient. If it starts to get high (5+) you can do a large water change (or a couple) to get them to a readable level on the chart; they'll most likely spike again though. If ammonia consumption slows down do another water change but it's really just a waiting game. What test kit are you using? For the API nitrate test, you want to shake and bang both bottles on a hard surface for 30 seconds (the banging loosens up a reagent powder that's in bottle #2) and then shake the tube vigorously for a full minute and then wait 5 minutes for the results; the tests can come back false if it's not done right.

What's your PH? As Diana said you want to make sure it doesn't fall too much; in the low 6's it can stall the cycle. If it starts falling a water change should bring it back up to tap water level.

Not sure what the detritus is. Are you adding fish food or have you added raw shrimp or anything like that?


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Last edited by librarygirl; 08-07-2012 at 11:52 PM. Reason: spelling
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-08-2012, 12:09 AM Thread Starter
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Okay I did 3 large water changes in an attempt to bring the nitrite levels down. After all 3 my API kit is still showing violet, but I have a hard time telling the difference between 2ppm violet and 5ppm violet. It's definitely less because it didn't immediately change that color when I added the drops, it developed after a minute. Still too high?

Also the ph is reasonable. It's about a 7.4. When I run a coke bottle co2 into it it goes to about 6.5. Thwt hasn't been hooked up for days though.

I also the did the thing with the filter muck water from my established fluval edge. Hopefully it helps.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-08-2012, 12:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pageerror404 View Post
Okay I did 3 large water changes in an attempt to bring the nitrite levels down. After all 3 my API kit is still showing violet, but I have a hard time telling the difference between 2ppm violet and 5ppm violet. It's definitely less because it didn't immediately change that color when I added the drops, it developed after a minute. Still too high?

Also the ph is reasonable. It's about a 7.4. When I run a coke bottle co2 into it it goes to about 6.5. Thwt hasn't been hooked up for days though.

I also the did the thing with the filter muck water from my established fluval edge. Hopefully it helps.
Yeah probably still too high. Do another large water change tomorrow.

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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-08-2012, 01:11 AM
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What's your light timing at? You don't want it to set it as you would for an established tank like 9-11 hours... keep it less, just enough so the plants survive but if you set it too much, you may also get algae spikes.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-08-2012, 01:39 AM
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Seed the tank I was cycled almost overnight. I admire your patience though!

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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-08-2012, 01:41 PM
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NM posted in wrong thread.
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-08-2012, 01:43 PM
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Dupe post.
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-08-2012, 03:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pageerror404 View Post
Okay I did 3 large water changes in an attempt to bring the nitrite levels down. After all 3 my API kit is still showing violet, but I have a hard time telling the difference between 2ppm violet and 5ppm violet. It's definitely less because it didn't immediately change that color when I added the drops, it developed after a minute. Still too high?

Also the ph is reasonable. It's about a 7.4. When I run a coke bottle co2 into it it goes to about 6.5. Thwt hasn't been hooked up for days though.

I also the did the thing with the filter muck water from my established fluval edge. Hopefully it helps.

I'm not sure what 'running a coke bottle co2' is exactly, but if you are using intermittent co2 injection, you are setting yourself up for a real algae problem. Only inject co2 if you can do it consistently.

Keep your nitrite between 3 - 5ppm. Very high levels of nitrite can actually stall your cycle.

Standard 10 Gallon (20 x12x12).
Low tech, Sand substrate.
Eheim 2211, and Aqueon Quietflow 10.
Finnex Stingray LED, 20" above substrate
2 Anubias Nana Petite, Christmas moss.
4 Halequin Rasborahs, 5 RCS.
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-08-2012, 03:56 PM
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I recommend raising the temps to 78 and leaving the tank alone and letting it wrap up the cycle. a water change would only prolong the cycle and its not necessary to do since its a fishless method.


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