Having trouble cycling my tank? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-28-2015, 02:36 PM Thread Starter
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Having trouble cycling my tank?

Okay, my tank has been set up for about a week now Now, I have not yet added any plants, and I hope I'm not at the wrong place, but I'm just curious as to why my nitrite levels are through the roof! It's gotta be between 2.0ppm and 5.0ppm, cant really tell from the chart. My ammonia is at .25 and my pH is 8.2. I've been doing daily water changes of about 10-15% daily, and it seems like levels are going up? Any advice would be great, and btw fish don't seem like its causing them any harm or making them act any different from the smaller 30 gallon I had them in.
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-28-2015, 02:39 PM
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do you have any ammonia or nitrates?

I'm not the expert but I think a nitrite spike is what you should expect before it levels out.


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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-28-2015, 04:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FloridaFisher View Post
Okay, my tank has been set up for about a week now Now, I have not yet added any plants, and I hope I'm not at the wrong place, but I'm just curious as to why my nitrite levels are through the roof! It's gotta be between 2.0ppm and 5.0ppm, cant really tell from the chart. My ammonia is at .25 and my pH is 8.2. I've been doing daily water changes of about 10-15% daily, and it seems like levels are going up? Any advice would be great, and btw fish don't seem like its causing them any harm or making them act any different from the smaller 30 gallon I had them in.
Sometimes it can take up to a month for levels to even out. A week is not very long, just be patient, it sounds like it's doing its thing. They always go up before they drop and level out.

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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-28-2015, 04:18 PM
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The joys of cycling.
Bacteria turn ammonia into nitrites. Different bacteria turn nitrites into nitrates, and they take longer to get established. Then, plants use nitrates up so we don't have to worry about those.

Once the bacteria get established your nitrites will drop off a cliff. But it takes a while to get there (my aquariums take 3 weeks for nitrites to drop). Your nitrites are through the roof because your aquarium is so new. It can take up to 6 weeks (though usually closer to 4) to fully cycle an aquarium.

Plants are also fine to go in to the aquarium on day 1. Adding fish should wait until the cycle is done. Google nitrite poisoning, read up on what to watch for and how to avoid it.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-28-2015, 04:41 PM
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No reason to delay planting as xmpjx said. Plants love ammonium.
And so much easier to plant an empty tank.


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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-28-2015, 07:05 PM Thread Starter
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Yes I do, ammonia is .25 and nitrate is 10 ppm

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Originally Posted by schnebbles View Post
do you have any ammonia or nitrates?

I'm not the expert but I think a nitrite spike is what you should expect before it levels out.
Yes I do, ammonia is .25 and nitrate is 10 ppm

Bump: Thank you all so much for the advice, I am new to the hobby and have not fully understood the cycling system!

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The joys of cycling.
Bacteria turn ammonia into nitrites. Different bacteria turn nitrites into nitrates, and they take longer to get established. Then, plants use nitrates up so we don't have to worry about those.

Once the bacteria get established your nitrites will drop off a cliff. But it takes a while to get there (my aquariums take 3 weeks for nitrites to drop). Your nitrites are through the roof because your aquarium is so new. It can take up to 6 weeks (though usually closer to 4) to fully cycle an aquarium.

Plants are also fine to go in to the aquarium on day 1. Adding fish should wait until the cycle is done. Google nitrite poisoning, read up on what to watch for and how to avoid it.
When cycling should I be doing daily water changes? Every time I do one I don't see as if it does much to my levels.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-28-2015, 07:21 PM
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You might want to reduce the amount you are feeding the fish while the cycle is getting established. Certainly avoid overfeeding. You don't want to add any more to the bio load than than you have to.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-28-2015, 07:48 PM
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Considering you have fish in there, yes you need to do water changes. It lowers the level of toxins (ammonia, nitrites...) in the water so hopefully the fish will be fine.

If you didn't have fish, water changes would be optional for cycling in my opinion. You do need to change more than 10-15% of the water though. Closer to 50% would be better (IME with lowering nitrites).

Good luck with your aquarium!
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-29-2015, 12:53 AM
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Do enough water changes, volume and frequency to keep the ammonia under .25ppm and the nitrite under 1ppm.
Add a bacteria-in-a-bottle product that contains Nitrospira species of bacteria. Do not waste money on anything else.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-29-2015, 03:20 AM Thread Starter
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You might want to reduce the amount you are feeding the fish while the cycle is getting established. Certainly avoid overfeeding. You don't want to add any more to the bio load than than you have to.
What would over feeding be considered? At the moment I only have 2 Cichlids and a synodontis catfish. I feed twice a day. Also what kind of filter should I have? Right now I am using a marine land HOB fliter that filters 200 gph, but I've heard whenever I have to change the cartridge it throws away the cycle also? Is it possible to run a filter on an already cycled tank for about a week, then transfer to new tank to speed up the cycle?

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Originally Posted by xmpjx View Post
Considering you have fish in there, yes you need to do water changes. It lowers the level of toxins (ammonia, nitrites...) in the water so hopefully the fish will be fine.

If you didn't have fish, water changes would be optional for cycling in my opinion. You do need to change more than 10-15% of the water though. Closer to 50% would be better (IME with lowering nitrites).

Good luck with your aquarium!
If I do too big of a water change, will it mess up my cycle? And thank you!
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-29-2015, 04:30 AM
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There are very few bacteria in the water. They grow attached to surfaces with high oxygen such as most types of filter media (not just specifically bio media). Water changes will not reduce the population of bacteria, just reduce the levels of toxins.

Who said anything about over feeding? It is a simple formula:
The more nitrogen you add to the tank the more nitrogen you have to remove.

Nitrogen enters the tank as protein.
Nitrogen leaves the tank as...
ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, via water changes.
plant trimmings (plants incorporate nitrogen in their leaves as they grow)
very few other ways.

Since your tank is not mature biologically, the nitrogen in the protein is getting turned into ammonia and nitrite, but not much is getting turned into nitrate, yet.

To alter the basic formula you need to work it from both ends:
Reduce the N entering the tank (feed less, especially high protein foods).
Increase removals (more frequent and larger water changes).
Increase removals by getting plants thriving in the tank. Since this takes time, you are back to the first 2 options.

Ammonia and nitrite are toxic to the fish. You need to remove them NOW, not keep on waiting it out. Water changes can help, but the fastest way to solve the properly fix the problem is to get the bacteria going right away.
To reduce the ammonia and nitrite you need more of the right species of bacteria. This is available from several companies, but you need to be careful which species of bacteria you buy. The right species is Nitrospira. The other bacteria found in the bottle with Nitrospira will also be the right ones.
If the bottle does not specify Nitrospira then it probably has the older species of bacteria, that are now known to not be so active in aquariums. Do not bother with any of these.

Here is how I have handled this in the past (friend's tank with too many fish, no plants, and a problem filter- the bacteria had died):
1) 2 x 50% water changes, back to back, including thorough gravel vac. Use a dechlor that locks up ammonia (read the label- not all do).
2) Add Tetra Safe Start (it is one of several products with Nitrospira, and the one I could find on short notice)
3) Monitor the tank.

The next day there was a trace of ammonia, gone by the day after. No nitrite ever showed up.
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-29-2015, 02:01 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Diana View Post
There are very few bacteria in the water. They grow attached to surfaces with high oxygen such as most types of filter media (not just specifically bio media). Water changes will not reduce the population of bacteria, just reduce the levels of toxins.

Who said anything about over feeding? It is a simple formula:
The more nitrogen you add to the tank the more nitrogen you have to remove.

Nitrogen enters the tank as protein.
Nitrogen leaves the tank as...
ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, via water changes.
plant trimmings (plants incorporate nitrogen in their leaves as they grow)
very few other ways.

Since your tank is not mature biologically, the nitrogen in the protein is getting turned into ammonia and nitrite, but not much is getting turned into nitrate, yet.

To alter the basic formula you need to work it from both ends:
Reduce the N entering the tank (feed less, especially high protein foods).
Increase removals (more frequent and larger water changes).
Increase removals by getting plants thriving in the tank. Since this takes time, you are back to the first 2 options.

Ammonia and nitrite are toxic to the fish. You need to remove them NOW, not keep on waiting it out. Water changes can help, but the fastest way to solve the properly fix the problem is to get the bacteria going right away.
To reduce the ammonia and nitrite you need more of the right species of bacteria. This is available from several companies, but you need to be careful which species of bacteria you buy. The right species is Nitrospira. The other bacteria found in the bottle with Nitrospira will also be the right ones.
If the bottle does not specify Nitrospira then it probably has the older species of bacteria, that are now known to not be so active in aquariums. Do not bother with any of these.

Here is how I have handled this in the past (friend's tank with too many fish, no plants, and a problem filter- the bacteria had died):
1) 2 x 50% water changes, back to back, including thorough gravel vac. Use a dechlor that locks up ammonia (read the label- not all do).
2) Add Tetra Safe Start (it is one of several products with Nitrospira, and the one I could find on short notice)
3) Monitor the tank.

The next day there was a trace of ammonia, gone by the day after. No nitrite ever showed up.
I already have a bottle of Top Fin bacteria Supplement, does that contain Nitrospira? I haven't yet tried using it.
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-29-2015, 02:22 PM
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No.
But since you already have it, use it!

Do a couple of massive water changes so it has the best chance.
The correct species of bacteria that grow in our aquariums grow in low ammonia, low nitrite locations.
Most of the bottled products were discovered in high nitrogen locations, and die out when they are in aquariums because the food (ammonia) is not enough for them.
But if there are any of the right species, they will need optimum conditions to 'hit the ground running' as it were. (maybe....
'hit the water swimming'? ;-)
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-30-2015, 04:19 PM
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Don't feed any more than the fish consume in a couple of minutes. If much of the food is reaching the bottom of the tank I would reduce the amount. I think a lot of us here would agree we tend to over feed our fish.

Yes, you are removing bacteria when you discard your filter. It would be better to rinse it in tank water, RO water or treated tap water to remove the bulk of the waste on it for the time being. You can populate a filter or filter media in an established tank ahead of time. I do this for my quarantine tank when I anticipate I'll be purchasing new fish. It does take some time to do this though also.

You don't say how large the new tank is, only that it is larger than the 30 you had them in. Make sure your filter is rated for the new tank size.
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-30-2015, 08:45 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jr125 View Post
Don't feed any more than the fish consume in a couple of minutes. If much of the food is reaching the bottom of the tank I would reduce the amount. I think a lot of us here would agree we tend to over feed our fish.

Yes, you are removing bacteria when you discard your filter. It would be better to rinse it in tank water, RO water or treated tap water to remove the bulk of the waste on it for the time being. You can populate a filter or filter media in an established tank ahead of time. I do this for my quarantine tank when I anticipate I'll be purchasing new fish. It does take some time to do this though also.

You don't say how large the new tank is, only that it is larger than the 30 you had them in. Make sure your filter is rated for the new tank size.
I have definitely cut back on feeding, will be doing a few 50% water changes over the next few days. Also I have a 55 gallon that I am referring to, I plan on replacing the HOB filter with a canister. Is it possible to let the new filter run on an already cycled tank, so that when I switch it doesn't ruin my cycle and hurt my fish!
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