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...can't get nitrites to show up UPDATE, now I can't get nitrites DOWN!

2720 Views 34 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  ravensgate
I've had my new tank up and running for two weeks and despite having been adding pure ammonia for a week I can't get nitrites to show up. I've got nitrAtes showing up (5ppm)...but no nitrites. I added half a bottle of Safestart the day after I started adding ammonia (all I had on hand) and I have a bottle of BT-9 on the way. I've got some ramshorns in there, and it's got a bit of plants (still growing in). It's a 12G Mr Aqua with a Eheim 2213 canister filter on it. I've been using the API test kit. I have an outside tank that's been up for the same amount of time that is cycling along just fine. Nitrites showed up a few days after starting ammonia, it's got more plants in it and no filtration/water agitation.

So, what should I do? Be more patient I assume? This is just getting frustrating, I want this sucker cycled and guess I thought I wouldn't see nitrAtes before nitrItes but then again, maybe I'm just clueless about that.
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If nitrates show up nitrites were present :D
I ran into the same problem when I first started my fishless cycle. You just have to wait it out and let nature take its cycle, it'll show up eventually. Looking at an empty tank for the first month was driving me crazy, but in the end it was all worth it.
If nitrates show up nitrites were present :D
Unless the nitrates are in the tap water, which I'm about to test.

I've tested for ammonia every day and kept the level up to 4-5 ppm and started testing for nitrites on day 2...would I have missed them in the first 48 hours?
Unless the nitrates are in the tap water, which I'm about to test.

I've tested for ammonia every day and kept the level up to 4-5 ppm and started testing for nitrites on day 2...would I have missed them in the first 48 hours?
That bottle you added probably rid you of any nitrites at the time due to the bacteria contained in it. I'm not sure about the overall stability of your tank right now, though...test your tap for ammo/nitrites/nitrates and keep monitoring your tank parameters for a few days. Add ammonia to a set ppm and then check your levels from there.
I also forgot to mention this tank was seeded with 3 filters from my fish tanks.

I'm running a Seachem ammonia test right now and of course API tests all available ammonia and not free ammonia. Looks like the free ammonia in the tank right at this moment is lower than I thought. Still waiting out results but yeah, about to call the API ammonia test useless at this point. Knew I bought that Seachem test for a reason!
Keep testing water until you have stable conditions and all readings are low if not 0. Id say ignore the nitrite spike you might have been expecting. Maybe it just went by unnoticed?
Well crap, back to the ammonia drawing board and no more API ammonia test for me. API tested at about 3ppm, Seachem Free ammonia is 0.1 so yeah, not doing me any good if I've been going off total available ammonia and not what is actually free ammonia. Grrrrrrrrrrr. I'll keep testing and just try to be patient. Since I trust the Seachem test I'll be able to see what it's processing on a daily basis.
But yeah the order of things is ammonia->nitrites->nitrates.

If you check your tap and there's no nitrates, it must have come from nitrites and that means that you have enough bacters to convert ites to ates.
Thanks for the help folks! My BT-9 will be here today so hopefully I can get this all squared away soon.
I think your tank is cycled already. I'm am skeptical that the BT-9 actually contains the correct bacteria to truly cycle a tank like TSS, Nite-Out, and One-and-Only have. I'm not saying it doesn't have it's uses though.
LOVE IT! The day after the first dose of BT-9 got my nitrites to show up. WOOT! At least now I don't feel like I'm stuck anymore. So it was either the BT-9 or me coming here to gripe about it. LOL!
I have to say I'm having the same problem on my new tank, its having very little amount of nitrates but a ton of ammonia from my aquasoil, but its been like this for about a month and a half. I'm going to guess it from my low Ph, but does the other stuff actually work because I would like to use it and move my tiawan bees over to it. Also would the other stuff be shrimp friendly? Or should I get bt-9?

Hope I'm not thread jacking but there's a lot of good info and it send on topic.
The only reason I got the BT-9 was because it was specific for shrimp tanks. I've used the Safestart on other tanks with shrimp and it did well. As far as the other stuff listed in this thread, I'll have to let the ones that have used them chime in. :) I've heard once the pH gets around 6 or below it takes a looooonnnggg time to cycle.
I'm about ready to pull my hair out. I FINALLY got nitrites to show up the day after dosing BT-9. They were sitting between .5-1 ppm a couple of days after they first showed up. The next day they were over 5 ppm. Did a water change of about 40%. The next day still over 5 ppm. Did a water change of 70%. Still over 5 ppm. Today I did a water change of 90%. They are STILL over 5ppm. I'm about to scream! NitrAtes are sitting at about 30ppm after the 90% water change. Is there anything I can do or is this another one of those 'be patient' things? I'm scared to keep changing 90% of the water every dang day trying to deal with this, I don't want to start all this crap over again. I'm also tired of blowing through bottled water for RO/DI. Can I cycle this tank with straight up tap water and then when I do the final change after it's cycled go back to RO/Tap mixed?
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Way to go Kyle! I hope you have all the success you desire. Best of luck always.

Patience is what I suggest. I have always cycled tanks by adding benificial bacteria and adding a few guppies. And then just waiting until my tank is cycled. Keep testing the water and keeping it suitable for the guppies to live. (If possible) If the guppies die put new ones in. Once the water params are suitable for the guppies, buy some cheap ghost shrimp until the nitrates remain at a level to where more delicate shrimp can live in your tank. If you have nitrates though then something is going on in your tank.

When I first got into aquariums, the lfs' didn't even sell benificial bacteria so this was the way it used to be done. Personally I wouldn't even consider adding shrimp to a new tank until I was absolutely sure that whatever I was putting in my tank would live.

Eventually the tank will cycle and eventually, the tank will become suitable for shrimpies. This is the way I have cycled every tank I have ever owned. Sorry you feel like pulling your hair out, sooner than later your tank will come along.

Sent from my Samsung Galaxy using Tapatalk 2
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It's just so aggravating my 3 gallon cycled in 3 days, my outdoor 16 gallon tank cycled in two weeks, this is the most expensive money pit tank I have and it's driving me nuts. I've got plenty of ramshorns in there living just fine right now. Can't kill those suckers though. I've got beneficial bacteria out the yin yang in there, including half a bottle of Safestart, the Bt-9 I started and seeded the tank with 3 different filter. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
Nitrifying bacteria are the same no matter what the source of the ammonia.

Tetra Safe Start has the right species, and adding filter media from a cycled tank is the best source. Dr. Tim's One and Only, and Microbe Lift's Nite Out II are also good. Look for Nitrospira species of bacteria.

I'll bet your tank was cycled from day 1, but the messed up ammonia test had you adding so little ammonia that the bacteria died off to match that level of ammonia. You saw only a brief blip of nitrite because of adding so little ammonia and having plenty of bacteria in the filter then. Nitrate has been climbing slowly because of such low ammonia additions.

However, the bacteria died off. Now you have added another source of bacteria, and are adding more ammonia. Perhaps the remaining bacteria from the first addition is beginning to grow, perhaps the product you added is working. Either way, it should go faster with more ammonia.

These bacteria grow best:
High oxygen (so maintain good water circulation)
Good level of ammonia (3 ppm is the target. More leads to too much NO2)
Moderate levels of nitrite (keep it under 5 ppm)
GH and KH over 3 German Degrees of hardness. (These bacteria need certain minerals and carbonates)
pH in the 7s or a bit higher. (I do not know if it is strictly pH, or if it is related to the carbonates, but the bacteria slow down a lot by 6.5, and are almost worthless at 6.0)
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Thank you Diana! So just keep adding ammonia and plugging away? pH is sitting at 6.8 as it's on Azoo Plant Grower bed. I added mostly tap water today on the 90% change so that will shoot it up a bit and push the GH and KH up (GH was fine at about 6, KH has been running 1-2, this should push it up to about 3-4 for now). Total ammonia has always been over 4ppm and I read that the bacteria can use both free ammonia and total. Is this not true? If it's not then yeah, the cycle probably went whacky on me. There are about 20 ramshorns in it as well being a constant ammonia source on top of adding the pure ammonia (it's a 12g tank). When I first began using the API test it was correct, because there was nothing being added to convert ammonia to ammonium and it took me two days to finally get it up to 5ppm (added probably 5-6ml of pure ammonia to get it there). I had done a couple of water changes when the ammonia reading got too high (over 5ppm) and then added tap water with prime which I will assume was converting at least some of the ammonia into ammonium since once I switched to the Seachem test the total ammonia was the same as what the API test had been reading. Only the free ammonia was what obviously different since Seachem tests for free and API doesn't. I never stopped adding ammonia the whole time and with that being the case and the snails do you really think all of the bacteria died??? Asking because I'm really trying to wrap my head around everything and make sure I'm dealing with this correctly. Thanks for your time!
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