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Old 04-19-2013, 04:58 PM   #1 
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Question Fishless Cycle in Blackwater Aquarium

Has anyone had any experience with fishless cycling in a blackwater aquarium? Most specifically do the tannins in the water effect the test results? I am using the API Freshwater Master Test Kit and, like most tests, results are read via comparing the water color after the additives to the color chart provided.

I started my fishless cycle last night and know I added way too much ammonia (Ace brand Janitorial Ammonia) but cannot get ammonia results to read anywhere near 3 or 4 ppm (am only getting it to about 2 ppm). I added about 6 oz of ammonia for a 3 gallon tank - way too much I know. Also the Malaysian driftwood has drastically darkened the water overnight (it was boiled several times, over several days with fresh water each time and the final soak was unboiled and after a few days soaking the water was barely tinted. Most of my blackwater coloring is coming from Indian Almond and Teak leaves). I would remove the driftwood during the cycle but I have 2 Java Ferns I am trying to root to it, and removing the driftwood would only facilitate ease of testing during the cycling. Once I return it it may only darken the water more (though I am thinking that the high levels of ammonia and the additional air stone I have in place for the cycling may be pulling more tannins out then it would in a truly still water environment).

Any suggestions?
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Old 04-19-2013, 05:09 PM   #2 
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Tannins shouldn't affect the results. All my tanks are heavy on the tannins and I can still read whether I have ammonia or not.

One word of warning, just make sure your pH doesn't get below 7. I have found that beneficial bacteria will still be able to process ammonia down to about 6.5, but the process is a lot slower and you have to be careful not to overstock your tank.

If you get too low, your cycle will stall as the beneficial bacteria will not grow in extremely acidic conditions.
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Old 04-21-2013, 04:47 AM   #3 
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Please double-check your ammonia testing procedure. Achieving 3.0/4.0 ppm ammonia should require mere drops-per-gallon, not ounces. In fact, with Ace ammonia, 1 drop/ppm/gal is closer to what can be expected.
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ammonia level, blackwater, fishless cycle

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