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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,

First time posting. I am in the process of doing a fishless cycle of a 60 gallon tank. It has been going for about a 10 days. After adding ammonia yesterday to 3ppm, it was back down near zero this morning. My Nitrites are high (~5ppm, but hard to tell exactly). I did a partial water change of 15-20 gallons, added conditioner. I then did a nitrite & ph test. Nitrite hasn't moved much, if at all (maybe I didn't wait long enough?). The thing that concerns me is the Ph is at 8.4. Prior to the tank it was between 7.4-7.6, although hadn't tested in a few days. I tested it a few times over the week and a half, always the same, so I felt fairly confident that things were stable. When I first checked the Ph, when I first started cycling, it was high. I then dropped on its on. My question is, do I need to worry about this? If not now, what about when I do add fish and do water changes?

For the water change, I used the python system, and partially filled a 5G with conditioned water that I then added to the tank when I started refilling.
 

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Welcome to Cichlid-forum!

Check out the fishless cycling article in the Cichlid-forum Library for more specifics.

If nitrite did not decrease by 15 or 20% then it is likely your ~5ppm result was actually over the max the test would show you.

Do another water change and retest nitrite.

Meanwhile test a sample of your tap water, but first let it sit on the counter for 24 hours before testing.

What conditioner are you using? Just a dechlorinator?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I have read the referenced cycling guide (and several others as well).

I retested the ph maybe an hour later and it was lower, ~7.8? So perhaps just an initial spike? I'm not so worried about this while there aren't any fish in there, but will water changes be a problem with tap water with fish? Would the sudden spike harm them?

I'm using the API freshwater master multitest kit. I also have the gh/kh kit, but haven't tested it recently.

The water conditioner is "API Tap water conditioner." "Super strength", removes chlorine, chloramines & detoxifies heavy metals.

DJRansome said:
Welcome to Cichlid-forum!

Check out the fishless cycling article in the Cichlid-forum Library for more specifics.

If nitrite did not decrease by 15 or 20% then it is likely your ~5ppm result was actually over the max the test would show you.

Do another water change and retest nitrite.

Meanwhile test a sample of your tap water, but first let it sit on the counter for 24 hours before testing.

What conditioner are you using? Just a dechlorinator?
 

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Do another water change and retest nitrite.

Test a sample of your tap water, but first let it sit on the counter for 24 hours before testing.

Yes you don't want your pH bouncing around like that, but we need the test results before we craft solutions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So it has now been a few days. I've done at least a 40% water change each day. Yesterday I did 2 and today I did 2 (about 50%). The Nitrite hasn't budged. Still reading 5ppm (the max it reads).

As I keep adding ammonia, which the good bacteria converts, isn't that just increasing the nitrite levels? Doesn't it build and build and build? Sure the bacteria that converts that is growing (hopefully), but it seems like it has a TON to break down. no?

How much of a water change should I do?
 

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You did 2 50% water changes yesterday and 2 50% water changes today and your nitrite is over 5ppm?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Today was more than yesterday, but 2X~40% yesterday, and at least 2x50% today.

Yes, the color does not appear to have changed at all.
 

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Try 75% tomorrow in one shot tomorrow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
So things had settled down, after doing the above mentioned 75% change, I rechecked an hour or so later, had a measurable nitrite. I've continued adding ammonia every other day or so. I have also continued doing water changes daily until Tuesdaythis week. A few days ago I had a reading for Ammonia, nitrite & nitrate of zero. I quadruple checked to make sure I hadn't made a mistake. While I'm fairly certain this didn't happen, I had feared that I had forgotten to add conditioner the day before when I had done a WC, potentially killing all the bacteria I have built up thus far. I added ammonia, hoping to at least see that disappear by Thursday (which it did. Yesterday was an off day for ammonia, so didn't add any. I saw nitrite (probably in the 5 range) and nitrate @10ppm. Today I checked nitrite had ~2-5ppm, but my nitrates are back to zero. I have not done a water change since before the day everything was zero (maybe Wednesday).

To summarize: I'm not positive about the days...
Monday: last Water change (~50%) . I had a reading of Nitrites & Nitrates, added ammonia after WC
Tues: No WC, reading: 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrite & 0 Nitrate. Added Ammonia. Then Ammonia at ~3 or 4ppm
Wed: No WC, Reading: 0 Ammonia, between 2-5 Nitrite & some Nitrate, no Ammonia added
Thursday NO WC, Reading: between 2-5 Nitrite & some Nitrate, Ammonia added, back to 3-4 (I thought everything was good)
Friday: NO WC, had a reading of Nitrite & nitrate, didn't add ammonia.
Today: I have not done a WC, Amm: 0, Nitrite: 5, Nitrate: 0.
Also checked the Ph, down to 6.8-7

I'm not sure what to do or why this is happening.
 

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DJRansome said:
Meanwhile test a sample of your tap water, but first let it sit on the counter for 24 hours before testing.
Ignore nitrate. For future reference, the test kit instructions say to shake vigorously both before and after adding #2. The test does not work if you omit the shaking. But Ignore nitrate until nitrite is finished spiking and comes back to zero.

For now you are adding ammonia to 2ppm (no higher) and it is coming back to zero within 24 hours? That is good.

Nitrite is 5? That means it is spiking and you are in the 2nd phase of your cycle.

Keep following the article, adding ammonia as specified and small water changes when nitrite goes over 5ppm.
 

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I agree about the point above regarding ignoring nitrates. Don't add more ammonia till it drops to zero. I also have found (through having done many fishless cycles) that it's often better to go lower than the recommended ammonia dose of 2ppm. I like 1ppm. Once beneficial bacteria get more established you can increase to 2ppm and your system should adapt quickly.

Definitely do not do 50-75% water changes during a fishless cycle. You're better off doing multiple water changes in the 20-25% range. Raise the temperature to low 80s and keep the water well oxygenated. These steps will help speed things up.

It sounds like you are well on your way.
 
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