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Old 03-20-2012, 06:13 PM   #1 
sparkyjoe
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Confused about cycling

Ok, I promise that I've tried to research this on my own, but I'm getting mixed information and I don't know how to proceed.

I am trying to cycle a 5 gallon using the fishless method.

I filled the tank, threw in a couple of food pellets and then waited a few days until I could get my ammonia.

I finally got my ammonia and added it, and have keep adding it. I have also been using "Cycle" to try to help things along. I also raised the temp to around 80F to facilitate bacteria growth.

Now, for the past couple of days I've been getting some wacky test readings:

I don't remember the specifics, but this Saturday when I tested the Nitrate seemed high (20-40ppm), so I did a PWC (10-20%?) to try to lower them.

YESTERDAY
Ammonia: .5 ppm
Nitrite: .5 ppm
Nitrate: 20 ppm (? Its hard to tell cause it changes based on the lighting)

Added more ammonia last night to raise/maintain the level, now today the reading are:

TODAY
Ammonia: .5 ppm
Nitrite: .5 ppm
Nitrate: 30-40 ppm (? Again, its hard to tell cause it changes based on the lighting. It's darker than the 20 but not quite as dark as the 40?))

I use the API Master Kit for my tests.

The tank is empty except for gravel and a very old ceramic aquarium decoration that I found in my garage and cleaned with white vinegar before adding. I think I'm gonna pull it for various reasons.

We did have a severe storm here this past Sunday (the day after the PWC) and when an outlet got wet (the rain was sudden and hard and I didn't get the window closed in time) I had to turn off the circuit to that room for several house while it dried. The tank has an internal filter, not a HOB, so I hoped that the bacteria would survive.

I have cycled other tanks in the past, but this is the first time I've tried the ammonia method.

The tank seems to be clearing the ammonia I'm adding, but the levels are not dropping to 0 to indicate the cycle is established.

I don't know *why* the Nitrates are so high, or whether the higher nitrate levels are screwing things up and I need to do another PWC? Or if this is normal for a cycle when using ammonia. I am planning on adding live plants, but didn't want to do that til it was cycled.

Any advice is greatly appreciated!
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Old 03-20-2012, 10:41 PM   #2 
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Shamelessly bumping in hopes to get some replies.

Thanks!
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Old 03-20-2012, 11:26 PM   #3 
LionCalie
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Your on the right track. Sometimes readings can be confusing, but you have the bacteria colonizing which is what you want. You should eventually notice your Nitrite lowering, while your Nitrate stays very high.

Honestly, whenever I fishless cycle I don't bother with water changes to lower Nitrate. You need Nitrate to pretty much sky rocket to consume the Nitrite. I just let everything work itself out. I know some people can experience stalls in their cycle if it gets too high, but I have yet to have trouble with that.

I wouldn't worry about your current readings. Keep maintaining the Ammonia level.
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Old 03-20-2012, 11:47 PM   #4 
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Here's how I ended up cycling my tanks. I struggle to read those test colors. I just focused on the safe numbers and made sure things are changing. Just make sure your ammonia doesn't get where you can't see through the tube when you are maintaining it. I dosed until the test tube turned pea green. Then as long as the shades are changing you know it's working itself out. Eventually you'll dose the ammonia and in 12-24 hours everything will be back to safe levels except for your nitrates. After this happens 3 days in a row do a massive water change (85-90%) to reduce the nitrates. Then add your fish to his new safe home.

Last edited by freemike; 03-20-2012 at 11:50 PM.
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Old 03-21-2012, 12:18 AM   #5 
sparkyjoe
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Thank you! That is the information I needed.

It's just so confusing because I don't know how the the nitrates got so high, especially with the pwc I did on Saturday.

I did add more ammonia tonight & hope that it will establish soon. Yes, there's a fish I have in mind for this tank & I want it to be ready when he is!

I'll test again tomorrow & see what I get.
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