Question about my fishless cycle - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-12-2013, 04:36 AM Thread Starter
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Question about my fishless cycle

I've been using the post made by librarygirl referenced below to cycle my new tank:

My specs:

-20 gallons (probably about 17 gallons after displacement of substrate and driftwood/plants)
-2.5 inches of flourite
-Heavily planted from the start
-Aquaclear 50 HOB filtration

-I purchased some driftwood that was already in an established tank for quite some time from the LFS. Also convinced them to give me some gravel from one of their "bio-tanks". Added both to the tank about 5 days after starting the tank.

-Added DIY co2 a couple of days after the driftwood and have been experimenting with various methods of diffusion. This has brought my pH down from about 7.8 to 6.4

I've been dosing with Janitorial strength ammonia to 4.0ppm, just like recommended in the guide. The process has been going exactly as described in the guide, and the seeding material I added kick-started the process even more. In the last week since I've added the seeding material I quickly saw an increase in the amount of nitrite. Frankly, it rose well above 5.0ppm within a few days and has stayed there. Regardless, I waited until the nitrates became off the charts high (like explained in the guide) before I did a 50% pwc. This brought down the nitrates, but the nitrites remained above 5.0ppm. I've since done another 70% pwc a couple of days later, but this still did not bring down my nitrites below 5.0ppm. This tells me my nitrite levels are crazy high.

Is this ok that they are so high throughout this process? Is it because I am maintaining a 4.0ppm level of ammonia in a smaller tank and should lower my dosing? Is my introduction of co2 to the tank inhibiting growth of the nitrite-eating bacteria? Should I be doing multiple water changes in a row with tests in between to bring them down? Most importantly, is this expected in the process, or is something not right?
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-12-2013, 06:04 AM
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At this point in the cycle, I would only be dosing ammonia to 2ppm so the bacteria have time to process the existing nitrite into nitrate. It sounds like you don't have a full colony yet so they are struggling to convert the chemicals. Stop dosing until you see the ammonia drop to 1 ppm and nitrite under 5ppm then dose back up to 2ppm. You should see a full cycle within another week or so.

Yes it's normal in this process, you only need to do big water changes when you get major spikes. Also, are you testing for nitrates? If those spike over 30ppm, that should prompt a 50% WC as well.

Last edited by hunterlook; 03-12-2013 at 06:06 AM. Reason: More Info
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-12-2013, 06:48 AM
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Lower the ammonia dose as stated . Good advice. When your nitrates get higher than 50-60ppms do a big water change. High Nitrates will slow down nitrification process & hurt the second stage.
I let my nitrates get out of hand to the point , I could only finish the cycling process after doing 10 or more 50% remineralized R/O water changes . It took for EVER wants my nitrates built up so much they were off the charts it took about 10 water changes to get a reading on nitrates.
Also dose PO4 this seems to help nitrification, dose at least 1-2ppms of PO4! Also dosing baking soda seems to help as well. keep temperature up & have good circulation. Keep TDS up as well. KH of at least 4 & gh of 5 or more works well. Drop ammonia to 1ppm but keep an eye on it that it does not crash. Do not do what I did & let nitrates get sky high!!!! This tank that I cycled fishless was my QT tank which I use & is currently cycled & doing well . Fishless, the only way to go!!! My 2 cents , ROGER
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-12-2013, 02:45 PM Thread Starter
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Yes, I'm at the point in the process where my nitrates are also rising pretty quickly, and they've gotten high enough once to prompt a pwc. I will lower my ammo dosing regiment to 2.0ppm. I guess I was freaking out because I couldn't do a pwc large enough to bring my nitrite down into measurable levels. Seems I need to "have patience" .
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