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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Fishless cycle in my small tank.
My Untreated Tapwater is:
pH: 7.5 (API Master Test Kit)
GH: 180 (API Teststrip)
KH: 180 (API Teststrip)
Nitrite: 0 (API Master Test Kit)
Nitrate: 5 (API Master Test Kit)

Unless otherwise indicated, all tests were done using API Master test kit (liquid tests) (whose expiration date isn't until some time in 2026)

The cycle process began on Dec 17th.
The tank was filled with 2.75 gallons of dechlorinated water.
Heater set to 81 degrees F. (though the actual temperature has consistently run 83-85 F.
Tank contents include a piece of driftwood (that was leaching tannins before water change) and a couple of seashells, the rest is normal gravel and filter material. (plus loose sponges and filter material to seed for a larger tank when this is done)

I added a double dose (5.5ml) of vigorously shaken API quick start (doubled in hope of starting faster, water is fresh not salt).

I fed a 10% Ammonia Hydroxide solution via eyedropper until the Test kit read 4.0 ppm

Dec 19th:
Ammonia: maybe slightly less than 1.5 dosed to about 3.0
Nitrite: 0 - 0.25
Nitrate: 5
pH: 8.0

Dec 20th, near midnight:
Ammonia: ~4.0 (my prior dosing was probably higher than I thought - did not dose/feed ammonia.)
Nitrite: 0 - 0.25
Nitrate: no test
pH: ~8.1

Dec 21st, near midnight:
Ammonia: ~1.5 (did not dose/feed ammonia).
Nitrite: 0 - 0.25
Nitrate: no test
pH: ~8.1

Dec 22, 12:20pm:
Ammonia: ~1.5 (did not dose/feed ammonia).
Nitrite: 0 - 0.25
Nitrate: no test
pH: no test

Dec 23, 12:30am:
Ammonia: ~1.0 (dosed ammonia to ~3.0).
Nitrite: no test
Nitrate: no test
pH: no test

Dec 23, 7:30pm:
Ammonia: ~2.0 (did not dose/feed ammonia).
Nitrite: 0 - 0.25
Nitrate: 5.0
pH: 8.2

Dec 24, 11:57am:
Ammonia: ~1.5 (did not dose/feed ammonia)
Nitrite: 0.25
Nitrate: slightly more than 5.0
pH: 8.0

Dec 26, 1:34am:
Ammonia: 1.0 (dosed ammonia to 4.0).
Nitrite: 0.25-0.5
Nitrate: no test
pH: no test

Dec 27, 9:25pm:
Ammonia: slightly below 2.0 (did not dose/feed ammonia)
Nitrite: slighty above 0.5
Nitrate: no test
pH: no test

Dec 28, 7:32pm:
Ammonia: 1.0 (dosed ammonia to 2.0).
Nitrite: 0.5 - 1.0
Nitrate: slightly above 10
pH: 8.0

Dec 29, 8:43pm:
Ammonia: slightly below 1.0 (did not dose/feed ammonia)
Nitrite: slightly above 1.0
Nitrate: no test
pH: no test

Dec 30, 6:30pm:
Ammonia: 0 (dosed ammonia to ~1.5).
Nitrite: 0.5 - 1.0 (why did this appear to drop?)
Nitrate: slightly above 5.0 (why did this appear to drop?)
pH: no test

API Test strip test was done immediately after the above test on Dec 30
Nitrate: ~10 (why such a drastically different reading?)
Nitrate: ~80 (why such a drastically different reading?)
pH: 7.5 - 8.0
GH: 120-180
KH: 180+

Dec 31 9:04pm
Ammonia: 0 (dosed ammonia to 2.0).
Nitrite: slightly above 0.5
Nitrate: 5 - 10
pH: no test

Jan 1st 10:44pm
Ammonia: 0 (did not dose/feed ammonia)
Nitrite: 0.5 - 1.0
Nitrate: 160+ (tested twice, test water was dark brown! This should not have jump that high)
pH: no test

Performed a 75% water change with dechlorinated tap water right after the above test and retested.
Ammonia: 0.5 -1.0 (did not dose/feed ammonia) (why did a water change make this go up?)
Nitrite: slightly below 1.0 (why did this appear to go up?)
Nitrate: slightly above 20
pH: no test

Jan 2nd 6:11pm
Ammonia: 0 (dosed ammonia to 2.0).
Nitrite: 1.0
Nitrate: slightly above 5.0 (tested twice, 2nd time after ammonia dosing. but had the same value. Why did this go down so much?)
pH: slightly above 8.0

API Test strip immediately after above test on Jan 2nd
Nitrate: 5 - 10 (why so drastically different?)
Nitrate: 40 - 80 (why so drastically different?)
pH: 7.5 - 8.0
GH: 180+
KH: 120

The ammonia-eating bacteria appear to be well established, not sure about the nitrate eaters, maybe some? But why the heck are my nitrate tests so all over the place?

And just to put it out there:
The tank has no plant and no algae problems. Nothing that should be eating Nitrate.
I have been following the instructions and vigorously shaking bottle #2 and the test tube after adding it as per instruction on every test.
 
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