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Hi folks, just finished testing my water (twice) during my cycle and want to check if my readings are making sense.

Background: I spent 1 week attempting to dry start my tank before deciding to flood it. It has now been 6 days since flooding. So soil has been wet a total of 13 days. At time of flooding I added half a bottle of Fluval biological enhancer (enough for a 75g tank).

Yesterday, measured immediately after 50% water change, after c02 and lights had been on 3 hours:

NH4 ~ 0.2 ppm
NO2 ~ 0.01 ppm
PH ~ 7

Today, measured after C02 and lights had been on 3 hours:

NH4 undetectable with test kit
NO2 < 0.005 ppm (barely detectable)
PH ~ 7

PH ~ 7.5 (untreated water from tap)
NH4 undetectable (untreated water from tap)

Sooo, does this mean my tank has cycled? Or am I not getting enough ammonia into the system to start the process off? My substrate is 40 liters of Tropica aqua soil. My tank is heavily planted, so could the plants be absorbing all the ammonia and preventing the cycle?

Also, I was expecting a larger PH drop given the amount of C02 I'm pumping in (4 bubbles per second, and the bubbles are traversing the length of the tank).

Is it possible for a tank to cycle this fast? Yes my NO3 and hardness measurements are conspicuously absent. I'm going shopping for more test kits this weekend.

On the available data though do you think it is safe to add some ottos and amano shrimp?

Cheers,

Michael.
 

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I think the best way to test whether the tank is cycled is to add ammonia (to ~ 4 ppm) to the tank and see how long it takes for it and nitrate to disappear. I did this with my fluval 9 gallon and didn't consider the tank cycled until the nh4 and no2 registered 0 after 24 hours.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I went to the local aquarium store, but they did not sell liquid ammonia. I've since added 1/10th of a teaspoon of betta fish food. Do you think this is a valid substitute?
 

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I would say it is almost certain that the tank is not ready at this time. Adding ammonia is a way to assure that we get a known quantity into the process. the soil and food may add some but it is unknown how much, so we don't know how much ammonia is being processed?
The better way to proceed and know that it is doing what we want is to add a small amount of ammonia that does not have other items. Surficants, a form of detergent is often found in the normal cleaning ammonia found in many stores, so we need to shop carefully to avoid adding detergent. Reading the label may tell you but shaking the bottle is more certain. A bottle of pure ammonia will not foam when we shake it. However, it may be hard to find this pure stuff. Look for it in the area where cleaning supplies are found but in the United States, one of the few who carry it seems to be ACE hardware. You might find it in other places, but shake to assure it is "pure" as some are labeled pure but have other items listed!!! Very cheap stuff but sometimes hard to find.
 

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First, I assume you mean NH3 (ammonia) not NH4 (ammonium).

Push temperature into the 85-95 F range and maintain pH between 7-8.

Once nitrite appears, begin testing pH and ammonia daily until ammonia drops to 1 ppm or less (don’t allow it to drop to zero) and then add enough to raise it to 4 ppm. Once the ammonia drops back to below 1 ppm within 12 hours, and nitrites drop to zero, cycling is complete. The appearance of nitrates confirms cycling.

Ammonia source: https://www.amazon.com/DrTims-Aquatics-Ammonium-chloride-bottle/dp/B006MP4QG6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1534446345&sr=8-1&keywords=DrTim%27s+Aquatics+Ammonium+chloride
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Interesting point on the NH3 vs NH4. My test kit says NH4 Ammonia Nitrogen Detection Reagent. Is this even the correct test kit?

Anyway, after adding a heap of fish food, and measuring using the above test kit 12 hours later, I again got a reading of zero. Note early on this was giving non zero readings.

Also, I checked my Nitrite and it is at zero, but Nitrates are coming in between 10 to 40 ppm (difficult to be sure with the colors all being simmilar..).

The zero NO2 but non zero NO3 is encouraging, and I attribute the fast apparent cycle to the very large volume of plants already being covered with bacteria (assumption), and the bottle of fluval BB.
 

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I think you're fine. Probably fully cycled but, even if it isn't complete yet, plants will absorb any ammonia that new fish will add. If you want to test ammonia, you'll need an ammonia test kit. API makes a decent one and Seachem makes an "Ammonia Alert" product that you hang inside the tank so you can see, at a glance, where your NH3 is at any time. Once you are cycled, though, you probably won't be too concerned about NH3. I use the Seachem product when I'm cycling my QT or if I anticipate a disruption in my main tank.
 

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Interesting point on the NH3 vs NH4. My test kit says NH4 Ammonia Nitrogen Detection Reagent. Is this even the correct test kit?

Anyway, after adding a heap of fish food, and measuring using the above test kit 12 hours later, I again got a reading of zero. Note early on this was giving non zero readings.

Also, I checked my Nitrite and it is at zero, but Nitrates are coming in between 10 to 40 ppm (difficult to be sure with the colors all being simmilar..).

The zero NO2 but non zero NO3 is encouraging, and I attribute the fast apparent cycle to the very large volume of plants already being covered with bacteria (assumption), and the bottle of fluval BB.

Hmm.. Most test kits measure total "Ammonia" ionized or not..
That's an important distinction..

https://support.hach.com/app/answer...licylate-methods-detect-ammonia-or-ammonium?-
Both the Nessler and Salicylate methods have a reaction with molecular ammonia in a basic solution. If the original sample contained ammonium ions, the basic reagents would convert it to molecular ammonia, and then it will react and contribute to the final test result. Therefore, the term “total ammonia” can be used.

"Bad" ammonia (at the same test reading) will increase w a rise in pH.


Who makes your test kit?
Anyways another point is @ pH 7 and normal temps (use 26C) most "ammonia" is safe and in the ionized form NH4+
 
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