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My 20 gallon has been set up for maybe a week or so. I just added the remaining plants a few days ago. I have not added any livestock and have decided to do my "cycle" by just allowing the plants to get fully established and start growing.

To my surprise, my ammonia just read around .25ppm and nitrite at 2ppm. This is the first time I tested the water. I haven't added any ammonia source except for some sporadic fish food. I wasn't really expecting such high nitrite at this point in the game. I did a water change yesterday.

How often do you suggest I do water changes right now and going forward? Is 20% once a week enough? And any reason to worry about the nitrite level in terms of establishing my BB, (i.e., should I monitor to keep below 5ppm)?
Plant Green Water Rectangle Botany
 

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Nitrite is just a sign that your tank is cycling. Ammonia is converted to nitrite, then nitrite to nitrate. Your plants will be fine and it's a sign that you are starting to develop BB.

If you're not dosing ammonia, then I'd say let the plants melt. Don't trim plants and don't (IMO) do water changes yet. You want a decent source of ammonia to feed the BB.

Keep an eye on it and test every few days, you should have a pretty good nitrite spike that will then turn into a nitrAte spike. When you see a huge amount of nitrates, and zero ammonia/nitrite, then your cycle should be complete. Do a good water change and then add a couple of fish/shrimp(not too many).
 

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I’ve experienced the same issue in a non-planted Tanganyika tank even before adding livestock.
I think the culprit was the dechlorinater (Seachem Prime) that was causing the reading. Testing tap water with and without Prime seemed to confirm this. I was using API liquid tests.
 

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I’ve experienced the same issue in a non-planted Tanganyika tank even before adding livestock.
I think the culprit was the dechlorinater (Seachem Prime) that was causing the reading. Testing tap water with and without Prime seemed to confirm this. I was using API liquid tests.
Sounds like the Prime split the choramine and you were detecting the (neutralized) ammonia.
 
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