Stuck on Nitrite, snails gone mad, plants growing like crazy. Help! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-20-2014, 09:20 AM Thread Starter
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Stuck on Nitrite, snails gone mad, plants growing like crazy. Help!

Hello all, I am new.

I'm having difficulty cycling. I've always kept tanks (marine and tropical) but it's been ages since I've cycled one. However, I have a situation that's never occurred to be before.

I'm doing a fishless cycle (obviously) and have been doing this for two months with little success.

I have a 200L tank, it's fully planted, I'm injecting CO2, dosing Fetz, and have heated the water to 28 (it looks amazing, very lush and rich with a mixture of easy, difficult and even expert plants - absolutely zero problem with plants in this case). No algae at all.

The problem comes later.

I started the tank with existing filter media to jump start the cycle. I added bottle ammonia and followed the same process I always use. The ammonia went pretty quickly but now, for two weeks, I've been stuck stubbornly on Ammonia 0. Nitrite 0.1. Nitrate 0.

Meanwhile my plants are growing like Triffids (I have to prune daily... it's out of control ... some plants reach to the surface of the tank every day... the CO2 isn't even up high, the drop checker is on a nice lime green). I don't mind the plant takeover (kinda cool) but I have the biggest infestation of snails I've ever encountered. I mean SERIOUSLY ... it's like I am trying to farm them. They are all over EVERYTHING... even floating in the water as if they have run out of space and just want to cruise. I look at the glass and there are tiny, almost microscopic crawllers all over the glass (baby snails?). My wood (tangled Morpani?) is covered in fuzz (I'm assuming this is bacteria).

I've tried everything to get the nitrite down - frequent water changes.

I've tried everything to get the snail problem under control (most suggest to stop feeding, but I'm not feeling an empty tank anyway) :/. The snails are just getting worse and I can't put a natural predator in there like loaches because of the nitrite. I've done the lettuce thing, the trap, tje manual removal, and even the horrible chemical thing (which did nothing).

What I'm confused about is why I am stuck on Nitrite but everything in the tank is multiplying like crazy.

Should I just start again?

I welcome any advice. I've never had such problems before. I look at my other tanks and wonder what on earth I did differently.
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-20-2014, 10:28 AM
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I would begin to think that your nitrite test may be false or not reading the correct value. You could try to get the water tested at a fish store. Make sure you test your water right before you to have an accurate comparsion. You could also add more ammonia and watch it go thru the stages. Also Snails mltiply bc there is an abundance of food alge, plants ect.

Last edited by Danderson; 12-20-2014 at 10:30 AM. Reason: Add
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-20-2014, 12:53 PM
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Usually, when you try a cycle in a tank you add ammonia till you reach whatever level of ammonia you choose it to work at. Then once the first type of bacteria start to Zoro the ammonia you need to add more so there IS some to continue the cycle.
Most suggest 4 ppm of ammonia. The cycle can't work without food(ammonia).
And I'm not sure why you would do this...
"I've tried everything to get the nitrite down - frequent water changes."
Without nitrites the second colony of bacteria that change nitrites to nitrates can't form.
So if you "must have" nitrites for the cycle to proceed, why would you do that ?
You need to add ammonia in measured amounts and write it down how much you use to get it up to at least 2ppm of ammonia so when it goes down you can add that same amount back again to keep it at 2ppm. @ 1ppm of nitrites you likely won't have this happen, but this is each day. Don't do this each hr. With lots of nitrite bacteria it could go down (the ammonia) in just a couple of hrs. There is no set amount of time it takes between the nitrite bacteria forming and the second nitrate bacteria forming.
But this usually takes at least two weeks. Since you have had the 1ppm of the nitrite bacteria for a while, it likely will take less time than two weeks. I suspect that the second colony is already there. It just needs to be enlarged by having some food
so the process can continue. Food= ammonia.
With the speed your plants are growing, they are consuming all the nitrates produced by the bacteria which is why you are getting no reading(a scientifically sound guess..LOL...).
A picture would help make this more accurate but whatever you are using for ferts you will need to add more KNO3 after the cycle has completed.
So get some dry KNO3 which you can add to your ferts or directly into the tank along/w them at fert time. If you are using a calculator to get the
amount of ferts then just raise all of it by 10% to start/w after the cycle has finished. Your ferts likely are being supplimented by the cycle. This will stop once you stop adding the ammonia and then you may see plant deficiencies.

The shortest distance between any two points is a straight the opposite direction...

Last edited by Raymond S.; 12-20-2014 at 01:06 PM. Reason: A picture...
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-20-2014, 01:16 PM
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If your test Nitrite tests are in fact accurate, I would suggest as Raymond S. has: add Ammonia in measured amounts as it seems the bacteria that produce nitrates from nitrites are "underfed".

I'll just throw out a simple caution here: be prepared for a spike in nitrates once the part of the cycle goes full throttle.

There is obviously plenty for the snails to eat at this point, and yes they are good at skimming the water's surface for the proteins concentrated there. I would just advise some patience on this one. The bacteria on the mopani is an obvious food source, and those snails may be the only thing that will take care of it. Snail populations are usually a feast or famine thing and you just have to have some patience with their numbers as their numbers ride the roller coaster of food availability.


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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-20-2014, 02:05 PM
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Some aquarium plants cannot handle a lot of ammonia. I would suggest bringing the ammonia to 1 ppm max, but do this twice a day.

The nitrite > nitrate bacteria are slower growing, and even adding them from an already cycled tank they sometimes take a while to increase.

These bacteria use the carbon from carbonates. Make sure the KH is over 3 degrees, and higher is better. I have had the fishless cycle stall in just this spot, then leap ahead when I started keeping the KH up.
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