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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I'm about a week into my first attempt at a fishless cycle and wanted some advice about where I'm at in the process. A little little background on my 10 gal tank:

initial ammonia level : ~4.0ppm
current ammonia level : 0.25 - 0.50ppm
current nitrite level : ~4.0ppm
current nitrate level : ~15ppm

How far along am I? What should I be doing next and what should I be watching for? Thanks for the help!
 

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Are you adding ammonia each day or do you have a steady supply of ammonia in the tank in the form of rotting food?

The cycle is coming along nicely, altho it's impossible to really say where you are at in the process. But you have both nitrite and nitrate readings which means that both your colonies of bacteria are getting well established. Just keep adding ammonia and checking the parameters. Once your readings a few hours after adding ammonia are 0, 0, and readable nitrates then you are done.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I hadn't added ammonia since the first time. I felt like I put in a ton that time so I was holding back. I just added some to the tank, maybe 10-12 drops. In a 10 gal, is that enough to keep the ammonia breakie-downie bacteria happy?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I took readings again today and nothing has changed except my ammonia level is right at .25ppm - do I need to wait and get a reading of 0ppm before I start adding supplemental ammonia to the tank like I did the other day?
 

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I've never used liquid ammonia to cycle a tank; I find it easier to use fish food. Just put a pea- or marbled-sized lump of food (I like using gel food for cycling, but you can use dry foods, too) in the tank and test for nitrate every week or so. Once you have nitrate, test for ammonia. If there's no ammonia, you're good to go. If you want, you can use SeaChem Stability to speed up the cycle so that it only takes about a week.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Today I registered between 10-20ppm nitrates and 0.25ppm ammonia. When my ammonia finally drops to 0ppm, I know I'm going to have to keep adding small amounts of ammonia to the tank to feed those bacteria that break down ammonia (at least until I can add fish to the tank).
 

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Do you still have nitrites? Keep adding ammonia - once the tank is cycled ammonia and nitrite will drop down to 0 within a few hours of adding ammonia. At that point you can do a large water change and start slowly adding fish.

Do you plan to have a large bioload? The more ammonia you use, the larger your bacteria colonies will be and the more fish you can safely add.
 

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Cannonbolt-
It sounds like you did a great job cycling your tank. You clearly have the bacteria that change ammonia to nitrites. You also have the bacteria that change nitrites to nitrates (as you have described)

This is the point where I always ask myself, "How long do I keep adding ammonia?" Once I see a substantial increase in nitrates...and a significant decrease in nitrites...I usually do a huge water change and add my fish or shrimp. From your numbers...you sound pretty close.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Do you still have nitrites? Keep adding ammonia - once the tank is cycled ammonia and nitrite will drop down to 0 within a few hours of adding ammonia. At that point you can do a large water change and start slowly adding fish.

Do you plan to have a large bioload? The more ammonia you use, the larger your bacteria colonies will be and the more fish you can safely add.
My nitrites stayed at same (between 2 and 5 ppm). I do plan to run a decent bioload, I will make sure to keep adding ammonia to the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Today's reading, not much different from the last reading I took.

pH: ~7.6 (is this ok?)
Ammonia: .25ppm
Nitrites: 2-5ppm
Nitrates: 5-10ppm

Nitrites/ates are a little vague, it's hard to tell the difference in color, there's practically no difference in shades.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
9-15-11 readings:

pH: ~7.6 (maybe a tad higher? doesn't seem right, but what do I know?)
Ammonia: 0.25ppm
Nitrites: more than 0ppm but less than 0.25ppm
Nitrates: ~2.3ppm

As it stands it seems things are going in the right direction but I'm still a little confused. First, my pH seems a bit high, not sure there...there has been some evaporation from the tank perhaps?
Next, I thought my ammonia should have dropped to 0 by this point but I keep getting a very low reading. It's a 10 gallon tank and I'm adding about 10 drops every other day to feed the ammonia eating bacteria...too much, too little?
Lastly - I thought I had read that in the end my nitrate levels would be high and require a water change before adding fish. In my case, the nitrate levels seem to be relatively low...is this because I have a significant amount of plants in the tank?

Any insight would be tremendously helpful, thanks!
 

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GH and KH refer to the hardness and buffering capacity of the water. Basically, they keep the pH from swinging. If they're high, the pH tends to resist changes; if low, the pH can change easily and quickly, stressing your fish.
Try taking another tap pH reading. This time, let the water sit in a cup for a few hours before you test it.

Test your ammonia level right before you add your next dose, and about five minutes after. You might be adding too much ammonia, but it's more likely that your tank isn't finished cycling.
 

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Small 2G tank but used filter media + used gravel + flakes....1 week and cycled!

1. You may be putting too much ammonia - bacteria levels (or numbers) grow to whatever number is required to consume a given amount of ammonia. I would first check #2 on this list before changing up the amount of ammonia you add.

2. Did you test your tap water? Both of my tanks show a 0.25-0.5ppm ammonia...clearly levels that would harm the fish...except when I test my tap, it also shows the same reading. I chuck it to calibration. My fish have all been alive and doing well (deep coloration) for 6 months now...wouldn't be the case if the ammonia was really at 0.5ppm. Your tank could very well be cycled.

3. Plants consume nitrates. If you have plants in there, your nitrate levels are probably going to be low unless you dose ferts (i.e.: EI dosing method).

4. Have you tested your tap pH? Let it sit out for a few hours and test it then...that'll give you a more accurate pH reading. Unless you have something like limestone, shells, or CO2 injected in your tank, your pH should not vary from the tap pH.
 
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