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PostPosted: May 12th, '13, 20:27 
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So I've been cycling my indoor aquarium system for coming up to three weeks now.

Ammonia's sitting pretty low (0.25ppm) but I occasionally up it to 2-3ppm to make sure the nitrosoma bacteria don't starve.

Nitrite spiked about a week into the cycle, but hasn't some down. It's been showing about 5ppm ever since.

Yesterday I added some gravel from an established tank (the aquarium store were very helpful) and some

Today I decided to get a better idea of what the nitrates actually were. First I tried diluting by 10 times (0.5ml of tank water to 5ml) of tap water and tested that. Result was a slightly slower nitrite reading, but it still got to 5ppm after 5 minutes (indicating at least 25ppm really!).

Next, I tried diluting by 100 times (5ml tank water in 500ml of tap water). Finally a sensible reading: 0.25ppm, implying a real reading of 25ppm.

To confirm, I diluted by 50 times (10ml tank water in 500ml of tap water). This confirmed the result by showing 0.5ppm (again implying 25ppm).

I considered doing a water change to bring the nitrates down to a readable range (in case the high nitrites were inhibiting nitrospira bacteria) but I've decided to leave it a few days and see if I can measure any drop. If it doesn't drop at all I'll do a water change in the week. I'm worried about fiddling too much at this point...

So I guess my question is: is this normal? does it mean I over-dosed the ammonia at the start? Do you think waiting is the best option?

My tank is pretty cold (it's indoors but not heated) I'd guess about 15C but I'll measure it later. But the DO should be very high as I've got all sorts of pumps going :)

It's hard to tell if the nitrates have come from the bacteria as my tap water is high in nitrates (it's lower now than it was when I started cycling!).


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PostPosted: May 12th, '13, 22:12 
Forget about your nitrates.... just add more plants... or don't worry about it 25ppm... is nothing...

They'll go higher once those 5ppm of nitrites convert.... :D


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PostPosted: May 12th, '13, 22:29 
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Sorry if I wasn't clear - nitrites are 25ppm

That's nitrites far off the normal scale, I could only measure them accurately by diluting 50 times with tap water...

nitrates I'm not worried about - I want those higher!

I realise I typo'd in my original post, I'll try and fix it!

[Edit: why is the edit button missing from my first post?]

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Last edited by BoredomIsFailure on May 12th, '13, 22:33, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: May 12th, '13, 22:33 
BoredomIsFailure wrote:
So I guess my question is: is this normal? does it mean I over-dosed the ammonia at the start? Do you think waiting is the best option?

Yes, and yes....

I note that you say that you kept bumping the ammonia up to 2-3 ppm... I reckon you probably went closer to 8+... or at least cumulatively...

I don't know why people keep bumping their ammonia levels so high when fishless cycling.... :dontknow:


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PostPosted: May 12th, '13, 22:45 
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I read somewhere that 1ppm ammonia leads to > 1ppm nitrite, I think it's closer to 2.7ppm.

So yes, if my nitrite is current 25ppm then I assume I've added close to 8 or 10ppm ammonia cumulatively.

That would only mean dosing three times at 3ppm though (I've not been making great notes, but I think I've dosed three times).

As for why we do it? I'd like to say it's because I wanted to provide a constant food source for the nitrosoma. But it's probably because I'm impatient!

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PostPosted: May 12th, '13, 22:48 
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RupertofOZ wrote:
BoredomIsFailure wrote:
So I guess my question is: is this normal? does it mean I over-dosed the ammonia at the start? Do you think waiting is the best option?

Yes, and yes....


Thank you for the reassurance that this is normal though :D I'll wait it out and report back...

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PostPosted: May 12th, '13, 22:52 
You had a source of food for the nitrosomonas.... they were producing the nitrites.... :lol:

Yes... adding more... produced more nitrites.... but the nitrospira are inhibited by ammonia....

So they wont begin converting the nitrites... until the ammonia is gone... or you stop adding it..... prolonging the nitrite spike....

See it all the time.... people dose to 8+ppm of ammonia... then sit there for weeks with nitrites above 5+ppm.... wondering why nothing else is happening... :D


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PostPosted: May 12th, '13, 22:55 
BoredomIsFailure wrote:
RupertofOZ wrote:
BoredomIsFailure wrote:
So I guess my question is: is this normal? does it mean I over-dosed the ammonia at the start? Do you think waiting is the best option?

Yes, and yes....


Thank you for the reassurance that this is normal though :D I'll wait it out and report back...

Well it's only "normal".... because people normally overdose their ammonia during cycling.... :lol:

Or, top it up before the nitrospira have dealt with the first level of cycling....


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PostPosted: May 12th, '13, 23:01 
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To be fair, the first result on google for fishless cycling has this to say:

Quote:
Continue to add ammonia daily as you must feed the bacteria that have formed or they will begin to die off.


I at least felt it was the standard practice, and that I was perhaps running a risk by not dosing more often!

My experience definitely seems to show something is inhibiting my nitrospira though!

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PostPosted: May 12th, '13, 23:10 
BoredomIsFailure wrote:
To be fair, the first result on google for fishless cycling has this to say:

Quote:
Continue to add ammonia daily as you must feed the bacteria that have formed or they will begin to die off.


Yep... they do say that...

But they also say that .... "nitrites will be off the chart".... and that it "will seem to take forever"... for the nitrites to drop to zero.... :wink:

They're right... :lol:

The part about the bacteria not having anything to feed on... isn't though...


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PostPosted: May 12th, '13, 23:20 
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Understood. I'll lock up the ammonia bottle and resist all urges to 'feed' my nitrosoma until my nitrites have dropped to zero.

Thanks for the expert advice! :notworthy:

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PostPosted: May 13th, '13, 01:12 
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Hey Rupe, what are the chances that BIFs temps are at least somewhat prohibitive with regard to establishing nitrosomonas? Wiki puts "optimum" pH levels between 6.0 and 9.0 so he's approaching the high side of optimal there but temps between 20-30C are supposedly preferable. It's on the internet so it must be true.... :geek:

That said, w/o knowing any more about the system, and since he's close enough to make an easy adjustment, I'd say burn the $20-30 and get a good quality (Eheim, etc.) tank heater and get things rockin'. Then again, I'm on the internet too... :-P


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PostPosted: May 13th, '13, 01:18 
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I did almost exactly the same thing as you - though didn't add as much ammonia. My ammonia did go to about 7ppm though and never added any more. After that all went away I was left with nitrites that just seemed to stay there and never dropped. They were also up at about 25ppm. Then I read something saying that the conversion from nitrites to nitrates requires good oxygen levels in the water, so I added my spare air pump (wasn't running any air yet because of the fishless cycle) and within 2 days my nitrites were at 0!! I don't know if it has anything to do with DO or if it was just plain coincidence. If you haven't got air running into the water then add some, maybe it'll work for you :)


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PostPosted: May 13th, '13, 06:35 
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Fishbits wrote:
Hey Rupe, what are the chances that BIFs temps are at least somewhat prohibitive with regard to establishing nitrosomonas?


Since you asked: https://www.thingspeak.com/channels/5643

:D

(They're currently at 19C, so not prohibitive, I don't think...)

I hope my heater will get delivered tomorrow, so I might crank it up a few degrees, assuming it can't hurt.

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PostPosted: May 13th, '13, 06:50 
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Dan.g wrote:
I read something saying that the conversion from nitrites to nitrates requires good oxygen levels in the water, so I added my spare air pump (wasn't running any air yet because of the fishless cycle) and within 2 days my nitrites were at 0!! I don't know if it has anything to do with DO or if it was just plain coincidence. If you haven't got air running into the water then add some, maybe it'll work for you :)


That's great advice, and if I hadn't added an air pump and stone last week I'd be all over it like a bad rash!

Seriously though, thanks for the tip :)

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