Stalled Cycle or Finished Cycle? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-30-2015, 02:30 PM Thread Starter
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Stalled Cycle or Finished Cycle?

I'm having a difficult time understanding why my API Nitrate keeps reading 0ppm. I've been dosing 2ppm Ammonia, which dissipates to 0ppm in 12 hours. When I read my Nitrite level, it hover's around 1ppm and my Nitrate reads 0ppm. How is that possible? If the ammonia is being converted to Nitrite, shouldn't:

1) the Nitrite level be much higher than 1ppm if I have no Nitrate?
or
2) the Nitrate kit is not correct. My steps for testing Nitrate is: 10 drops of bottle 1 -> invert test tube a few times -> shake bottle 2 vigorously for 30 sec -> 10 drops of bottle 2 into test tube -> shake vigorously for 1 min -> wait 5 mins and compare color by placing the test tube directly on the white area on the color card.

I've also been testing Nitrate using the Salifert Nitrate Kit and it reads ~50ppm or higher. With that in mind, I think the API kit is not working correctly.

Note: The Nitrite level has never reached 0ppm since I've been dosing ammonia to 2ppm daily. I'm going to stop dosing ammonia for 24 hours and see if the Nitrite zeroes out. If it does, I have a cycled tank?

Last edited by AboveBeyond; 09-30-2015 at 02:45 PM. Reason: grammar
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-30-2015, 02:57 PM
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Your thoughts on the Ammonia and Nitrite readings are likely correct (without knowing how long you have been doing your fishless cycle). For the times that I have done fishless cycle, the Nitrite level rose to and hovered around 2 for more than 1 week before dropping to the 0.25 level (after Ammonia dropped to 0).

There is a very good chance your Nitrate test solution is not working correctly. For my fishless cycle the Nitrate level was pretty significant (>40ppm) once I neared the end of the Nitrite cycle.

If you stop dosing Ammonia, and your Nitrite level hits 0, that only means your bacteria have nothing to do/eat. How long have you been running your fishless cycle?


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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-30-2015, 03:05 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Immortal1 View Post
Your thoughts on the Ammonia and Nitrite readings are likely correct (without knowing how long you have been doing your fishless cycle). For the times that I have done fishless cycle, the Nitrite level rose to and hovered around 2 for more than 1 week before dropping to the 0.25 level (after Ammonia dropped to 0).

There is a very good chance your Nitrate test solution is not working correctly. For my fishless cycle the Nitrate level was pretty significant (>40ppm) once I neared the end of the Nitrite cycle.

If you stop dosing Ammonia, and your Nitrite level hits 0, that only means your bacteria have nothing to do/eat. How long have you been running your fishless cycle?
it's been about 2-3 weeks now. Ammonia started to zero out about a week and half ago. I've also dosed both Tetra SafeStart and Dr Tim's One and Only to accelerate the cycle.

Question: If I don't stop dosing ammonia, wouldn't the Nitrite say above zero? Or even with the ammonia dosage, the Nitrite will eventually hit zero?

Since I want to see if my Nitrite will zero out, what is the best method without impacting the cycle (if stopping the ammonia dosage is a not a good idea)?

Update 10/7/2015: Tank cycled, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 40-80 nitrate

Last edited by AboveBeyond; 10-07-2015 at 04:01 PM. Reason: Update progress
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-30-2015, 03:55 PM
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Sounds like things are moving along exactly as they should. The cycle wont be complete until the tank can handle both ammonia and nitrite; and since you're still seeing a nitrite reading then the cycle is not yet done.

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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-30-2015, 04:20 PM
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As above.

Continue dosing the ammonia. Eventually your nitrite will be zero. You're very close, I suspect less than a week unless your tank is cold. Even my 21 degree C tanks only took four weeks. Without any bottled bacteria.

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Last edited by Daisy Mae; 09-30-2015 at 04:31 PM. Reason: Typo.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-30-2015, 05:04 PM Thread Starter
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As above.

Continue dosing the ammonia. Eventually your nitrite will be zero. You're very close, I suspect less than a week unless your tank is cold. Even my 21 degree C tanks only took four weeks. Without any bottled bacteria.
So to confirm, I should continue dosing ammonia and eventually both will hit zero?
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-30-2015, 05:26 PM
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Yes, both will hit zero. It tends to take a little longer for the growth of the bacterial population that converts nitrite to nitrate.

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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-30-2015, 05:51 PM
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I always wait for Diana to chime in on any fishless cycle questions; but I think you can lower the amount of ammonia you dose now. Maybe only 1ppm?

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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-01-2015, 02:11 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys. I'll continue to monitor my water parameters. Hopefully I'll see Nitrite hitting zero very soon so I can get the fish this weekend!

Quick update, I remembered that the plant fertilizers I ordered has Potassium Nitrate so I put a tiny amount into the test tube. After I ran the Nitrate test with that, the color showed red as expected. So the Nitrate test kit is probably working correctly after all and I really do have no Nitrate yet.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-01-2015, 02:32 PM
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2-3 weeks and still showing NO2 is right on schedule. Keep on dosing ammonia to 3 ppm if the plants are OK with that. If the plants do not like it, then just dose to 1 ppm, but do this twice a day. This will grow just about the same amount of bacteria as 3ppm once a day.

The bacteria that oxidize NO2 (Nitrospira) are slower growing than the ammonia oxidizing critters. Under optimum conditions, with no starter colony the fishless cycle takes 3 weeks.

Test results:
API NO3 test is notoriously bad. calibrate the test:
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/11...-chemists.html
Then shake the bottles a LOT when you do the test.
Also, some NO3 tests might not be valid when there is NO2 in the water.

NO2 test is probably correct- Some nitrogen is lingering as NO2, some is going on to become NO3 as the bacteria population grows.
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-07-2015, 02:58 PM Thread Starter
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I woke up this morning and did a test on Nitrite and finally, it reads zero. I did a subsequent test on Nitrate and its between 40-80ppm.

I'll continue dosing ammonia until I get all the fishes this weekend! Right before I add them, I'll do a ~50% water change depending on the Nitrate level.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-07-2015, 03:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lksdrinker View Post
I always wait for Diana to chime in on any fishless cycle questions; but I think you can lower the amount of ammonia you dose now. Maybe only 1ppm?
Yes this^
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-07-2015, 03:58 PM
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Congrats on waiting it all out and finishing the cycle. Have fun with the stocking!

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