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Old 07-23-2013, 10:18 AM   #1 
kellster
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fishless cycle with plants question/help

Hi! I've appreciated and tried to absorb the advice and comments throughout this forum and now I'm trying to cycle a 5 gallon tank (spec v) using ACE hardware ammonia. I've got some plants in my tank (some wisteria, an anubias, and a marimo moss ball) and a fake rock structure that seems to be holding up so far.

I started on July 10 and things were pretty quiet. On July 14, I noticed one anubias leaf starting to get spots and eventually the entire leaf and stem started to turn brown, so I plucked it off and added two drops of Flourish (I did this on 7/16) in hopes it would help the plant. Well, some of the the wisteria branches have been getting some great new growth, but the anubias's leaves are still getting spots on them. The large bit where the stems shoot from is a bright, healthy green, and there seems to be some new growth coming from it. It's not buried - it's just sorta held down on the bottom by a rock on one of its stringy roots.

Shortly after adding the flourish - two days later, I started getting Nitrites and Nitrate readings. And, since the 19th, the two have been off the charts, while my ammonia is somewhere between .25 and .50 ppm. I did a partial water change yesterday (about 40% - I didn't want to bother anything in the tank and did my best not to disturb the sand). This morning, I did my tests and they looked like this (I use the API master kit):

temp: 82f
ph: 8.2 (this has been the same since I started)
Ammonia: 0.25 (it was 0.50 yesterday - normally in the mornings, it's around .50 and 1ppm after adding 2-3 drops the day before).
Nitrites: 5.0+ (as in, it was so purple, there's no purple on the chart to compare it to)
Nitrates: 40-50ppm (I can't tell the difference on the chart between the two, but it's a cherry red color).

Also, I use Prime to detoxify all the goodies in the tap water, granted, I only used it when I did the water change and when I originally added the water on July 9th.

I haven't done anything to the tank today except the test - I'm sorta puzzled as to what to do next. Im assuming the 4 drops a week of Flourish is screwing my cycle? Should I add my 3 drops of ammonia today and continue adding til the numbers come down? Should I do another partial water change? Are my plants screwing with the numbers or perhaps it's me screwing with the plants (ie sticking my hand/arm in the tank to remove dead leaves from the wisteria and the one from the anubias) that's messing up the cycle? Ahhh the paranoia!

Thank you in advance.
-K
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Old 07-23-2013, 11:16 AM   #2 
shellieca
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Welcome to the craziness of cycling a tank!!! You're cycle is moving along as it should. Its obviously processing the ammonia even though it hasn't zeroed out yet. You said you started it on July 10th so its been right about 2 wks, nothing to be paranoid about. There are some mixed views on this so it will be up to you to decide how to proceed . . . I always advise to test ONCE every 24 hrs, dose ammonia if its 1 or less, do a water change if nitrites/nitrates are off the charts for about a week or so or if the Ph drops into the mid to low 6's. As for the plants, its not uncommon for them to look as if they're dying after being "transplanted", most will come back but not all. Happy cycling!!
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Old 07-23-2013, 11:59 AM   #3 
lilnaugrim
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In my ever so humble opinion lol, I think you should boost your ammonia right up to 4ppm! The more you give them to feed, the faster it will cycle (not that 2 weeks is long for a cycle anyway ^_^) but the idea is to not go over 5ppm of ammonia because you can risk stalling out your cycle which would just be no good. So 4ppm is kind of a happy medium, so you really won't have to do water changes at all unless you accidentally overdose which is okay! You then just do a series of 25% water changes until it's at 4ppm or right around there will be great! Just as long as it's not over 5ppm!

The plants will give you some weird readings because they do tend to soak up all/most of your ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. But since you only have a few plants, it really shouldn't matter too much and they should be just fine. As well as your cycle if you add the Flourish, I've never personally heard of liquid ferts hurting a cycle. So that should be just fine ^_^

So so far, you've got your nitrites spiking which means soon you'll be getting your nitrates spiking! Which means, your cycle should be done very soon too. And unless someone else states otherwise, if you bump your ammonia drops up to 4ppm then it will cycle faster and the plants will be fine.

I also agree with shellieca, test every 24 hours and dose when the ammonia get's too low and you'll be all set ^_^
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Old 07-23-2013, 01:48 PM   #4 
kellster
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Thank you for the replies! I'll continue my morning ritual of testing and adding a couple drops of ammonia per the test results, as well as the 2 drops of Flourish every 3-4 days. I guess I'm just super excited lol

-K
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Old 07-23-2013, 03:08 PM   #5 
shellieca
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I know the feeling. You might want to cut back on the Flourish, if I'm not mistaken its only supposed to be dosed once maybe twice a week & overdosing can cause issues. At least that's my understanding. I use it but not with any regularity.
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Old 07-23-2013, 04:57 PM   #6 
lilnaugrim
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Yeah I used to use Flourish twice a week with 1 drop per gallon and then I got algae and lots of it so I now just use once a week with still 1 drop per gallon and all is well!
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Old 07-24-2013, 03:38 PM   #7 
Freyja
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shellieca View Post
I know the feeling. You might want to cut back on the Flourish, if I'm not mistaken its only supposed to be dosed once maybe twice a week & overdosing can cause issues. At least that's my understanding. I use it but not with any regularity.
Every 3-4 days is twice a week.
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Old 07-25-2013, 08:20 AM   #8 
shellieca
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Originally Posted by Freyja View Post
Every 3-4 days is twice a week.
Actually it could be more than twice in one week, for example: M-dose, T, W, T-dose, F, S, S-dose, M- a new week starts. However my point was that once a week or every other week may be better at least IME it has been better to dose less.
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Old 07-26-2013, 09:59 AM   #9 
kellster
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No worries! I will just do it once a week. I don't have many plants and it's really just the anubias that's looking spotty and wierd. One of the leaves has a big brown spot now and the rest are just spotty on the underside.

Yesterday morning, my ammonia levels finally hit zero after 24 hours. Never in my life have I been so happy to see yellow water! But my nitrate and nitrite levels are still super dooper high (I did a 50 percent water change yesterday). So, things are moving along I suppose.

Thank you again for the advice,
-k
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Old 07-26-2013, 01:46 PM   #10 
Flyby Stardancer
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Yep, things are moving along. :) And it typically takes longer for the nitrite-eating bacteria to grow, so don't worry if it seems to drag out.
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