Question about my cycle - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-08-2014, 02:49 AM Thread Starter
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Question about my cycle

How long does it take for ammonia to show up in water tests? I have a 29 gallon tank sparsely planted (some HC, frogbit, ludwiga suffruticosa) 1 silver tipped tetra, 3 glowlight tetras, and 5 ghost shrimp. The tank started as a DSM and was growing nicely but then I neglected it for a good half year and recently decided that I was tired of having a neglected tank and decided to clean up the algae that had been growing. I then flooded the tank and added some fresh HC. I am using a new filter so I needed to cycle the tank. I bought a bottle of tetra safe start plus and figured it might just speed up my cycle, dumped in 3/4's of the bottle and then two days later poured in the rest after a small water change. I also had api ammo chips (zeolite) and purigen in the filter initially before I realized that they'd probably stall the cycle so i took them out a few days ago. The weird part is that I've been testing ammonia and nitrites regularly and I've been getting consistent 0-0.25 ppm ammonia readings, 0 nitrite, and around 10 ppm of nitrates. The ammonia readings are a bit iffy because I couldn't get that perfect yellow for 0 ppm on the card but it wasn't the yellow green for 0.25 ppm either. I tested some distilled water and it was the same color so I'm assuming the kit just can't display the 0 ppm reading. I have two api test kits and thus two ammonia test kits with different lot numbers, they keep showing that yellow-slightly green reading when I test my water before when I had the zeolite and purigen and 3 days after i removed it. I tested my tap water water with both ammonia kits to make sure that their results match and they both show my tap has 0.5 ppm of ammonia.

Anyhow, I am confused.
I can only conclude two things.
1. the tetra safestart worked and my tank is cycled already. (tank has been set up for ~2 weeks) the water changes should be adding ammonia because my tap has ammonia but the test kit reading isn't picking anything up when I test a day after a wc.

2. 29 gallons is a big enough volume to dilute any ammonia introduced from water changes and my light bio load right now. Thus I need to keep waiting for the ammonia to build up and for the cycle to start.

Any thoughts? at this point it feels like I WANT ammonia LOL
How could I test if I'm cycled already if that's the case?

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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-08-2014, 04:29 AM
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I just cycled a tank and it took two weeks before I even got any ammonia readings. Note that his was with fish in the tank. The safe start stuff is only useful once you have ammonia, otherwise the bacteria will just die of starvation, so you should probably get some more... It took about 5 weeks to finish my cycle completely.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-08-2014, 02:41 PM
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I may be confused or missing the point. If you have fish in the tank the need to do a fishless cycle is gone. If you are wanting to say the tank is cycled so that it is okay to add more fish, you may have missed the point of doing a cycle. The bacteria will only build to a point that it supports the ammonia being added, like during a fishless cycle, or to the amount that is created by the fish you have. Can you tell what it is you are wanting?

Once fish are in, about the only option you have is to test frequently, work hard to keep the ammonia and nitrite from killing the fish and hope for the least damage.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-08-2014, 05:43 PM
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Your tank is likely cycled. As you ramp up your fish count, keep up your testing. (You might want to invest in a new test kit). Keep the zeolite out of the setup, but the Purigen shouldn't effect ammonia. Your tank has been running for a while and your substrate already has colony of helpful bacteria living in it - which is keeping your levels down.

I trust enough in my in tank's bacteria colony that I don't use any 'bio-media' in my filters at all. The contents of my tank is my bio-media.

With these tank cycling-in-a-bottle products its best to use the whole bottle at once.

My experience with cycle-in-a-bottle products (which I'm a huge fan of) is that they take effect really quickly (like days). There won't work as well when the ammonia is already really low or really high. The bacteria seems to scale well, assuming there are no crazy swings in ammonia. You can't overdose these products. Excess bacteria dies off.

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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-08-2014, 06:13 PM Thread Starter
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thanks for all the answers! All of the answers make sense. I guess I will cautiously proceed with stocking my tank and see how things go. Either way I'll be adding more plants so cycling is less of a problem.

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