Cichlid Fish Forum banner
1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
173 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
On February 20, I filled my tank and turned on the filters, etc.

On February 22, I added the first dose of ammonia, raising it to 3 ppm.

Exactly one week later, on March 1, my ammonia dropped to 0 ppm, and nitrites were high, as expected.

Fast forward past a couple more ammonia doses (half the amount of the original dose) and two small (25%) water changes to keep the nitrites from going astronomical.....

Today, March 7 (only two weeks since I started the cycle, and less than one week since the first time ammonia dropped to 0), nitrites have dropped to 0 ppm and nitrates are 20-30 ppm.

Two weeks! :eek: Is this even possible? I've never had a tank cycle this fast before. It usually takes about a month.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
40,494 Posts
Never heard of it without media that had been established or partially established in another tank.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
173 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
DJRansome said:
Never heard of it without media that had been established or partially established in another tank.
I didn't use any established media, or anything that came from another tank. Everything is brand new. I dosed more ammonia to raise the level back up to 3 ppm. I'll see what the tests reveal in 24 hours.....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
221 Posts
It's not that unusual. If you had used Waterlife Biomature that often cycles within two weeks, for example...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
173 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Ichthys said:
It's not that unusual. If you had used Waterlife Biomature that often cycles within two weeks, for example...
I didn't use any kind of bio/bacterial product to aid cycling. Just ammonia from Ace Hardware. Well, that's not entirely true... My substrate is Eco-Complete Cichlid Sand, which allegedly contains live bacteria to help a new tank cycle faster; but the consensus among experienced aquarists seems to be that such claims are nonsense.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
173 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I'm not sure what's going on with my cycle. It's been 8 years since I've cycled a tank, so apparently I'm out of practice! Here's what's happening:

I add enough ammonia to my 75g tank to raise the ammonia level to 3ppm.

24 hours later, ammonia will be zero and nitrites will be dark purple in the test tube; somewhere between 1ppm and infinity (it's impossible to be more accurate than that, given the ambiguity of the API test card).

Wait another 24 hours and both ammonia and nitrites will be zero.

So, I'm converting 3ppm of ammonia to zero in 24 hours, but it's taking 48 hours to convert the resulting nitrites to zero. Is this normal? I don't remember it working this way the last few times I cycled a tank. I thought the nitrites would stay elevated until the bacteria becomes established enough to eliminate it in 24 hours. It seems odd to me that it's consistently taking 2 days for the nitrites to be eliminated. Is something wrong with my cycle? Or am I not thinking about it correctly?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
207 Posts
Usually you're suppose to raise the levels to 2ppm. It might be taking longer because the established colony can handle 2ppm, but not 3 ppm. Can you see how it goes with 2 ppm ? (Unless you've always raised your levels to 3 ppm, then what I'm saying doesn't apply).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
173 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Idech said:
Usually you're suppose to raise the levels to 2ppm. It might be taking longer because the established colony can handle 2ppm, but not 3 ppm. Can you see how it goes with 2 ppm ? (Unless you've always raised your levels to 3 ppm, then what I'm saying doesn't apply).
Says who? I know the fishless cycling instructions on this site say 1-2ppm, but many other sources say to raise ammonia levels to 4 or 5ppm. I've always done 3ppm. But that's really beside the point. I don't understand why I'm getting 0ppm nitrite readings. It's like I never had a nitrite spike. It took 1 week for ammonia to drop to zero, and then less than 1 week for nitrites to drop to zero. In my experience, that's ridiculously fast. It usually takes a month or so to get zero nitrites. Now I seem to be on some kind of weird 2-day cycle: every other day my nitrites are zero.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
207 Posts
What I meant was if you feed 2 ppm, then you want to get to the point where 2 ppm is zero in 48 hours. You can't feed 2ppm or a while and then feed 3 ppm and expect it to be at zero in 48 hours, since there isn't enough BB colony to handle 3 ppm. I was just wondering if that might have been your problem but if it's not, then perfect.

On another forum, someone has a theory after seeing dozens and dozens of people struggling with fishless cycling with ammonia. They suggest using a little bit of fish flakes on top of ammonia. There is no scientific data behind it but it seems to help some people.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
179 Posts
TL;DR - This is completely normal. You're exactly where you need to be.

Why I say that:

Over the past 8 months I've started and cycled 10 "aquariums" and your experience closely matches mine with the first. That one I stared with Dr. Tim's bacteria and Fritz Ammonium Chloride. It did much like yours and wiped the ammonia out in a week and nitrites about a week later. This was my first tank in years and I did not dose again. We added fish and that night the world caught on fire and a power outage stopped my canister filter and nearly killed the entire cycle. There was enough, and I didn't lose any fish, but I did fight high nitrites for a week or so. You're doing well by dosing multiple times.

About 12 years ago, I took the advice of the LFS owner and started an Mbuna tank with Eco Complete cichlid sand (Sahara sand- very pretty, still like it). Like you, all brand new gear, but, plus fish immediately. 6-10? I can't remember. While I would never do this now after having learned so much, the thing is, there were no ammonia problems, so I'm guessing that the live bacteria in that bag actually do something.

Now, the most funnest part - cycling the K1.
In prep for the big Malawi Reef, I did not want to wait for the tank to cycle, so while I was waiting for the tank to be built, I started the cycle. I got two feet of K1 (Smoky Mountain Bio Media) and got one foot of it cycling with powerheads in a rubbermaid container in the garage. I put it under water, added ammonium chloride (see above. I bought the Fritz container, so I now have an infinite supply of the stuff), squeezed a few cycled sponges in there from another tank (by this time I had 6-7 and no lost fish or ammonia/nitrite issues) and let it run fluidized. I also had some cycled sponges and pot scrubbies in this box. It took a few days for the oxidization to complete. K1 is very slow cycling, especially fluidized, I'm told, and my experience bears this out.

I kept dosing and after about 2 weeks I needed the pot scrubbies and sponges for yet another tank I was starting, so I took them out. At this point the K1 REALLY slowed down. After the first dose, it took a week to clear. I was dosing to about 4 ppm. I realized that the media was seeded, but the bacteria on the pot scrubbies had been doing all the work. I continued dosing to grow the bacteria, and got it down to where it could go through 4ppm overnight, so I started upping the ammonia. This is when the nitrites started hanging worse. It was much like what you described. Ammonia was gone overnight, but it took 2 more days for the nitrites to go away.

Since I had no line of sight on the tank, I decided to test things out and just really mess the media up and get it growing and cycled. I started adding lots of food for the media to eat. I'd dump a bunch of cheap fish food in there every few days. I added a few tablespoons of SUGAR to aid in the creation of bioflocs and about a teaspoon of BAKERS YEAST. Yup, you read that right. OVER NIGHT the nitrites dropped to zero.

I upped the ammonia I was dosing steadily. I bought a scale, to be more accurate, and I was dosing about a half gram per day. At this level, the API test was dark green daily. I started going to 8 ppm, then I stared just messing it up with ammonia. The test tube would be a color I referred to as meaninglessly green. Within 24 hours, it would be clear. So, after about two months of this, I decided to really see what it could do. I dosed 4.5 grams of Fritz ammonium chloride. This is enough to bring 100 gallons of water to about 4ppm. In 20 gallons of water in the rubbermaid tote, it turned the API tube black. You could not see through it. In the garage, you could smell the ammonia. It took 3 days to eat this amount of ammonia. Based on how fast nitrates built in my quarantine tanks, I would say it would take about 500 juvenile Mbuna about a week to make 4.5 grams of ammonia.

This means basically, that overdosing ammonia won't do anything to the cycle. Mess it up. Enjoy! Nature is flexible. What it WILL do is piss you off. The reason for this is that the tests are not meant to measure changes at these levels. That's why anything over 6ppm to me is "meaninglessly green" you find the same thing with the purple color on the nitrite test. If you don't dose to these levels, you'll more easily be able to see what's going on with the tests, so it LOOKS like nothing is happening, but it is. False negative.

The other thing that I should point out is that my tap water has very little buffering capacity. Therefore, after a few doses of ammonia, the box would build nitric acid, lower the PH and shut the cycle down - this could also be another reason that the folks say to not dose so high. It actually can slow the cycle down if the PH drop is not anticipated and corrected for.

I may have missed it, but what's the volume of water you're playing with?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
173 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
SenorStrum said:
.... I would say it would take about 500 juvenile Mbuna about a week to make 4.5 grams of ammonia.
:lol: That's flippin' funny! The question is, how many juvenile mbuna would it take to generate 3-5ppm of ammonia in 24 hours in my tank? If there was a way to calculate that, it would be useful info.

SenorStrum said:
I may have missed it, but what's the volume of water you're playing with?
I have a standard 75g tank, but of course there's only about 60g of water. Thanks for your long post! Very interesting reading! But after all that, I'm not sure what you're suggesting I do. Are you saying my tank is cycled? Or are you saying I should keep doing what I'm doing, or possibly even increase my ammonia dosage?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
179 Posts
Yup. I would say you are cycled. Put fish in. Here's what I did with my cubic foot of K1 - I built and stocked a tank on day one. Fully. 92 Mbuna in at once. Zero ammonia, or nitrite. Already building nitrates. They are very happy.

That's how I know the answer to the ammonia question. In 3 different quarantine tanks, I had about 20 mbuna each. Some had gotten close to full mature size. Each of these tanks was about 30 gallons with a sunsun 303b canister filter on it. It would build 20 ppm of nitrates per week as measured by the API test. This test is measuring total nitrate nitrogen, so converting that back to the ammonia nitrogen measured by the API test at original dosing would be almost 20x difference. Therefore, 1PPM ammonia measured by your API test will break down to 20PPM Nitrates measured by the API test.

Here comes the math. Dangit, I hate this part: (Please remember math is not my strong suit, and please be gentle in your comments. Turns out I was slightly off on my original estimation...)

- 1ppm is .001 grams per liter
- there are 113 liters in 30 gallons
- There was 1.13 grams of ammonia total converted to nitrate nitrogen in that tank over a week.
So - let's say that 20 mbuna give or take 5 will give you about a gram of ammonia per week.
if you dosed your 75 (60 gallons) to 3ppm this is 230 liters x .001grams for parts per million = a total of about 2.3 grams of ammonia your tank can burn out and cycle IF ADDED ALL AT ONCE overnight - is that right?
In that case, you can put all the ammonia that 46 mbuna would make in a week in your tank at once and it will be able to convert.

Therefore, your tank should be quite sufficient to oxidize the small amount of ammonia released by your fish over the week.

Now - what I would do? I'd keep dosing every day the amount of ammonia you know you want to be able to deal with and when she clears within your expected timeframe, you'll know you're good to go. Hopefully the above gives you enough to put some math to fish and then really know for sure. The main point of my giant write up was that its ABSOLUTELY feasible your tank is cycled by now. Verify by testing, then order your fish or go buy them or whatever. The world is super weird now.

Last note- I reserve the right to check my math tomorrow. It's been a long day.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
179 Posts
DANG! I knew it. Yeah, missed a decimal in there.
There was not 1.13 grams of ammonia, there was .113. I carried the error consistently, though and the calculation holds adjusting for that. In the end, it's still based on 20 fish in 30 gallons building about 20ppm nitrates in a week. My original estimate of 500 mbuna was based on these numbers, but how long it would take them to create 4.5 grams of ammonia in my system specifically. I conflated the prior calculations. :|
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
173 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
SenorStrum said:
Yup. I would say you are cycled. Put fish in. Here's what I did with my cubic foot of K1 - I built and stocked a tank on day one. Fully. 92 Mbuna in at once. Zero ammonia, or nitrite. Already building nitrates. They are very happy.

That's how I know the answer to the ammonia question. In 3 different quarantine tanks, I had about 20 mbuna each. Some had gotten close to full mature size. Each of these tanks was about 30 gallons with a sunsun 303b canister filter on it. It would build 20 ppm of nitrates per week as measured by the API test. This test is measuring total nitrate nitrogen, so converting that back to the ammonia nitrogen measured by the API test at original dosing would be almost 20x difference. Therefore, 1PPM ammonia measured by your API test will break down to 20PPM Nitrates measured by the API test.

Here comes the math. Dangit, I hate this part: (Please remember math is not my strong suit, and please be gentle in your comments. Turns out I was slightly off on my original estimation...)

- 1ppm is .001 grams per liter
- there are 113 liters in 30 gallons
- There was 1.13 grams of ammonia total converted to nitrate nitrogen in that tank over a week.
So - let's say that 20 mbuna give or take 5 will give you about a gram of ammonia per week.
if you dosed your 75 (60 gallons) to 3ppm this is 230 liters x .001grams for parts per million = a total of about 2.3 grams of ammonia your tank can burn out and cycle IF ADDED ALL AT ONCE overnight - is that right?
In that case, you can put all the ammonia that 46 mbuna would make in a week in your tank at once and it will be able to convert.

Therefore, your tank should be quite sufficient to oxidize the small amount of ammonia released by your fish over the week.

Now - what I would do? I'd keep dosing every day the amount of ammonia you know you want to be able to deal with and when she clears within your expected timeframe, you'll know you're good to go. Hopefully the above gives you enough to put some math to fish and then really know for sure. The main point of my giant write up was that its ABSOLUTELY feasible your tank is cycled by now. Verify by testing, then order your fish or go buy them or whatever. The world is super weird now.

Last note- I reserve the right to check my math tomorrow. It's been a long day.
First, THANK YOU for going into such detail! I truly appreciate the time and thought you put into your post.

Second, MATH -- not my strong suit either. Let me try to get back to basics by posing the question this way....

Yesterday before dosing ammonia:
ammonia=0ppm, nitrites=0ppm

Yesterday, a couple hours after dosing ammonia:
ammonia=3ppm, nitrites=.25ppm

12 hours after dosing ammonia:
ammonia=.5ppm, nitrites=2ppm(?)

24 hours after dosing ammonia:
ammonia=0ppm, nitrites=.5ppm

Questions: As you can see, ammonia and nitrite both rise and then fall in the 24 hours after dosing. But nitrite doesn't fall all the way back to 0ppm. Doesn't nitrite have to fall all the way down to 0ppm within 24 hours before I can say my tank is "cycled" and safe for fish? And if so, what should my next step be to achieve that target? Should I continue my current dosing regimen (3ppm every other day)? Or, should I start dosing ammonia every day? Or, should I increase my ammonia dose? Or am I thinking about it all wrong, and it's not really necessary to hit 0ppm of nitrites within 24 hours?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
179 Posts
I am happy to provide such information, and hope that it helps. What I'm really saying is that in answer to your first question, I would say you are completely cycled and ready to add fish based on those test results. However, to answer your question more fully, if you would like to see nitrites fall to zero within 24 hours, the method to achieve this is to continue dosing every day. Same amount every day. It will ultimately be gone very quickly the more you continue. I was converting a gram in under 12 hours. Just keep going. BB will grow if you feed it.

I PERSONALLY do not think that you must be able to add all the ammonia 46 fish would produce in a week all at once and then have it clear completely within 24 hours.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
173 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
SenorStrum said:
I am happy to provide such information, and hope that it helps. What I'm really saying is that in answer to your first question, I would say you are completely cycled and ready to add fish based on those test results. However, to answer your question more fully, if you would like to see nitrites fall to zero within 24 hours, the method to achieve this is to continue dosing every day. Same amount every day. It will ultimately be gone very quickly the more you continue. I was converting a gram in under 12 hours. Just keep going. BB will grow if you feed it.

I PERSONALLY do not think that you must be able to add all the ammonia 46 fish would produce in a week all at once and then have it clear completely within 24 hours.
Here's an excerpt from the instructions I've always used (from another site). So, your view is that the highlighted sentence is not correct, in that you don't really need to be able to convert that much ammonia to nitrate that fast. Is that what you're saying?

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
179 Posts
Yes. That is exactly what I'm saying. 4-5ppm ammonia is SO MUCH AMMONIA. That's really the point I was trying to make. Based on data. It represents keeping just tons of fish in your tank. Overall though, do what makes you comfortable.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
173 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
SenorStrum said:
Yes. That is exactly what I'm saying. 4-5ppm ammonia is SO MUCH AMMONIA. That's really the point I was trying to make. Based on data. It represents keeping just tons of fish in your tank. Overall though, do what makes you comfortable.
:thumb:
I agree with you. I always suspected that those instructions were kind of extreme, but I tried to follow them anyway because I didn't have any data/experience to back up my suspicions.
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top