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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I've been having kind of a hard time cycling my tank - until a few days ago, my ammonia just wouldn't drop below 3 ppm (I was never dosing, just using the stuff leached from my Aquasoil). I tried Seachem Stability, I tried Dr. Tim's, no effect with either. I've also been having a green water issue that a UV filter didn't fix, so I did a 3 day blackout with the UV filter in. This helped with the algae, and also I found that my ammonia was at 0 ppm and my nitrites were beyond the scope of my test kit (>10 ppm).

So, my questions are: did my plants have something to do with the cycling issue? I suspect this because stopping their photosynthesizing happened at the same time as the ammonia cycling. If this is the case, will it cause further issues with the nitrite stage of the cycle? I'm worried that my ammonia levels will rise again and nitrites will stop being produced, halting the cycle once more.


Tank/Plant specs:
20 gal high
Fluval 107 filter with a whole lot of bio media
ADA Aquasoil Amazonia with a layer of Powersand advanced
Nicrew 24in Light on brightest setting
Fertilizing 1/2 dose of Thrive three times a week
A little over 2 drops/second CO2
Monte Carlo, DBT, Crypt Parva, Staurogyne Repens, an unknown moss, Anubias Nana Mini, Ludwigia Natans (I think? LFS didn't have a label and forgot what it was)

Parameters:
Ammonia: .25
GH: 60
KH: 40
PH: 6.8
Nitrite: 10 (tested just now, yesterday around 4:00 they were higher than my kit could read)
Nitrate: 60
My water is not RO
 

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How long has the Amazonia been running in the tank? It sounds like it's pretty new? Are you doing the prescribed water change schedule?

That is very coincidental that after black out you went to zero ammonia.

That level of ammonia is not that high, though. I suspect other issues going on in the tank.

A couple things I noticed from your parameters not necessarily impacting the cycle.

Co2 - bps really doesn't tell anything but itself. Need to know what your ph drop is from complete degassed water (this can take longer than 24 hrs) to well after lights/co2 on to know if you have enough co2. If the pH you listed is with co2 on then you don't have enough co2 going into the tank.

Gh - your Gh appears a bit low. 71 is usually the lowest but I would recommend slightly higher in a co2 tank with Aquasoil. I run at 107 ppm these days after dealing with issues while running at 71 (co2 tank with Amazonia type soil). But that's me. :)

You didn't mention light duration? In the beginning you don't want to run for more than ~6 hours full intensity. I'm at 3 hours full intensity on a ~2 year setup if that helps.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
How long has the Amazonia been running in the tank? It sounds like it's pretty new? Are you doing the prescribed water change schedule?

That is very coincidental that after black out you went to zero ammonia.

That level of ammonia is not that high, though. I suspect other issues going on in the tank.

A couple things I noticed from your parameters not necessarily impacting the cycle.

Co2 - bps really doesn't tell anything but itself. Need to know what your ph drop is from complete degassed water (this can take longer than 24 hrs) to well after lights/co2 on to know if you have enough co2. If the pH you listed is with co2 on then you don't have enough co2 going into the tank.

Gh - your Gh appears a bit low. 71 is usually the lowest but I would recommend slightly higher in a co2 tank with Aquasoil. I run at 107 ppm these days after dealing with issues while running at 71 (co2 tank with Amazonia type soil). But that's me. :)

You didn't mention light duration? In the beginning you don't want to run for more than ~6 hours full intensity. I'm at 3 hours full intensity on a ~2 year setup if that helps.

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I'm running 6hr/day right now, and that is my ph when the CO2 is on. What PH should I aim for? I'm just running based off my drop checker. When I checked my PH after the blackout (3 days no CO2), I recall it being only a slight bit higher, between 7 and 8 on the color scale of my test strips.

The Amazonia is new - I put the tank together at the beginning of the month. I've been using their prescribed schedule, yes, I'm nearing the end of it now.
 

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I'm running 6hr/day right now, and that is my ph when the CO2 is on. What PH should I aim for? I'm just running based off my drop checker. When I checked my PH after the blackout (3 days no CO2), I recall it being only a slight bit higher, between 7 and 8 on the color scale of my test strips.

The Amazonia is new - I put the tank together at the beginning of the month. I've been using their prescribed schedule, yes, I'm nearing the end of it now.
Oh, so you are using test strips. Eh, probably not the best to be measuring pH for this type of thing. Just know that test strips are great for a quick look but have the ability to be off more than they are on. And then there is the resolution issue.

The ideal pH is roughly 1.0 below completely degassed water (tank water set out for 36-48 hrs or airstoned for a couple hrs, goes for tap as well). You do have room to play with as most seem to be able to go a bit lower (1.2-1.5 drop) to achieve the 30-40ppm co2 everyone looks for. But you need that pH measurement of completely degassed water first. And realize that kh readings are affected by co2 as well. So ideally you should be testing kh with degassed water, although in my experience it's not a huge difference.

So if your ph, of degassed water, is say 7.5 then you want your ph after co2 has been on for awhile to be atleast 6.5, if not 6.4, 6.3. To get the proper level of co2 in your tank.

Since you have a drop checker you might be ok. But if your kh reading is good than I would be checking that drop checker as it shouldn't be green with a ph of 6.8 after co2 on. That would mean your actual kh reading is closer to 71-89. And Aquasoil should be pulling most kh out of the water column? Maybe you have really hard tap water? My 4 kh tap goes to near zero in my new tank with Contra-soil. I don't know, it just seems off to me that a tank with new Aquasoil would have a kh that would allow for a starting ph of 7.8. Not that that can't happen.

As for your ammonia issue, that's a tough one. I know the levels I've seen thrown around when discussing nitrifying bacteria inhibition are in the 8-9 range, not 3. And I can't imagine plants contributing. They are usually the ones consuming ammonia, lol!

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I'm confused what the issue is.

Aqua soil leeches ammonia at first and after a while nitrosomonas bacteria becomes established and converts it to nitrite, causing nitrite to spike. That the blackout coincided with the nitrite spike doesn't mean anything in particular, and the readings are what you'd expect. It's nitrite spike time. Once nitrobacter bacteria gets established, the nitrite will be converted to nitrate and you'll be done. It takes 4 to 6 weeks and that timing also seems to track. Where's the cycling issue?
 

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I'm confused what the issue is.

Aqua soil leeches ammonia at first and after a while nitrosomonas bacteria becomes established and converts it to nitrite, causing nitrite to spike. That the blackout coincided with the nitrite spike doesn't mean anything in particular, and the readings are what you'd expect. It's nitrite spike time. Once nitrobacter bacteria gets established, the nitrite will be converted to nitrate and you'll be done. It takes 4 to 6 weeks and that timing also seems to track. Where's the cycling issue?
Nitrite 10

Nitrate 60

Ammonia @ .25 is irrelevant.

Conversion to Nitrate seems slow or see-sawing.


Could be normal... or not.
Blackout may have added dead plant/algea
tissue which added ammonia. Ammonia conversion was fine but nitrite to nitrate lagged.

Somewhat expected depending on the amount of die off

Suspect all just needs a bit more time and less messing around.




Frequently asked questions on fishless cycling
 

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Nitrite 10

Nitrate 60

Ammonia @ .25 is irrelevant.

Conversion to Nitrate seems slow or see-sawing.


Could be normal... or not.
Blackout may have added dead plant/algea
tissue which added ammonia. Ammonia conversion was fine but nitrite to nitrate lagged.

Somewhat expected depending on the amount of die off

Suspect all just needs a bit more time and less messing around.




Frequently asked questions on fishless cycling
Sure, but this tank was less than a month old and has never been fully cycled to begin with. The nitrates in the water might be from the Thrive (and possibly the tap maybe). I'll give you that the blackout may have affect the water chemistry, but I still don't see the problem. This still seems like a situation of "wait for your tank to finish cycling". (Reading your last line, maybe we're not actually in disagreement?)
 

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Sure, but this tank was less than a month old and has never been fully cycled to begin with. The nitrates in the water might be from the Thrive (and possibly the tap maybe). I'll give you that the blackout may have affect the water chemistry, but I still don't see the problem. This still seems like a situation of "wait for your tank to finish cycling". (Reading your last line, maybe we're not actually in disagreement?)
Right no disagreement..overall.
Thrive:
Derived From: Potassium Nitrate
Total Nitrogen (N) 2.5600%
2.5600% Water Soluble Nitrogen (N)
 

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To me, it's weird that ammonia would drop to zero during a blackout for algae. Timing might be coincidental but I would expect an increase in ammonia from decaying matter. Not a reduction. Atleast some sort of disruption.

But weird things happen with Aquasoil. They don't call it running hot for nothing, lol.



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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Oh, so you are using test strips. Eh, probably not the best to be measuring pH for this type of thing. Just know that test strips are great for a quick look but have the ability to be off more than they are on. And then there is the resolution issue.

The ideal pH is roughly 1.0 below completely degassed water (tank water set out for 36-48 hrs or airstoned for a couple hrs, goes for tap as well). You do have room to play with as most seem to be able to go a bit lower (1.2-1.5 drop) to achieve the 30-40ppm co2 everyone looks for. But you need that pH measurement of completely degassed water first. And realize that kh readings are affected by co2 as well. So ideally you should be testing kh with degassed water, although in my experience it's not a huge difference.

So if your ph, of degassed water, is say 7.5 then you want your ph after co2 has been on for awhile to be atleast 6.5, if not 6.4, 6.3. To get the proper level of co2 in your tank.

Since you have a drop checker you might be ok. But if your kh reading is good than I would be checking that drop checker as it shouldn't be green with a ph of 6.8 after co2 on. That would mean your actual kh reading is closer to 71-89. And Aquasoil should be pulling most kh out of the water column? Maybe you have really hard tap water? My 4 kh tap goes to near zero in my new tank with Contra-soil. I don't know, it just seems off to me that a tank with new Aquasoil would have a kh that would allow for a starting ph of 7.8. Not that that can't happen.

As for your ammonia issue, that's a tough one. I know the levels I've seen thrown around when discussing nitrifying bacteria inhibition are in the 8-9 range, not 3. And I can't imagine plants contributing. They are usually the ones consuming ammonia, lol!

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I have a low-tech, would my PH from that be equivalent to my degassed PH of the tank in question?

Sure, but this tank was less than a month old and has never been fully cycled to begin with. The nitrates in the water might be from the Thrive (and possibly the tap maybe). I'll give you that the blackout may have affect the water chemistry, but I still don't see the problem. This still seems like a situation of "wait for your tank to finish cycling". (Reading your last line, maybe we're not actually in disagreement?)
Nitrates aren't from Thrive, I've been adding it pretty much this whole time and the Nitrtates only just showed up.
 

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I have a low-tech, would my PH from that be equivalent to my degassed PH of the tank in question?
The problem is the Aquasoil. Even if your low tech tank has Aquasoil too, it's so different from tank to tank. Other parameters as well.

You can just set some water out from the co2 tank. You don't need much.

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The problem is the Aquasoil. Even if your low tech tank has Aquasoil too, it's so different from tank to tank. Other parameters as well.

You can just set some water out from the co2 tank. You don't need much.

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Gotcha - I'll get on that today. So I should be aiming for a little over a 1 PH swing?
 

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Gotcha - I'll get on that today. So I should be aiming for a little over a 1 PH swing?
Every tank is different. So maybe think of it as, shoot for 1 pH drop then let it drift over a tenth or 2 and see what's happening with live stock.

Plants could actually go with more. I've followed tanks where they were battling an algae outbreak and removed the fish to crank the co2 way up to overcome it. The fish don't respond well to that though. :)

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Hi jack33001

I tried Dr. Tim's, no effect with either.
I've not used Dr Tim's but I have many times used Tetra SafeStart, both of which are Dr Tim Hovanec's products. Provided these products are inside their expiry date and have been shaken vigorously before use, they should be very effective. If not, it raises questions about the water parameters - notably, temperature, KH, pH and some important minerals - phosphorus, for example. And, of course, the filtration system/biological media. As the nitrification process needs lots of oxygen, aeration is sometimes necessary, e.g. an airstone + airpump.

Anon
 
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