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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have fishless cycled numerous tanks. This one is acting a little strange. I spiked the ammonia to 5ppm. Continued to add ammonia daily. Ammonia then dropped to 1ppm and has stayed there for 2 weeks. As expected the nitrite then spiked very high and recently dropped to 0ppm. Nitrates are now 40 - 60ppm. So you would think the cycle is completed but the ammonia is still at 1ppm. I used the same API ammonia test on my 180g and got 0ppm, so I know it's not the test kit. Any ideas on this? First time this has happened on 10+ tanks to me.

BTW I am cyling a 20g tank, using a new emperor 280, gravel from an existing tank and sponge mud from the 180 filter. I have done no water changes.
 

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Did you test the Nitrite kit on your other tank? Perhaps the Nitrates are showing a high concentration due to the media being brought over from the other tank containing organic waste?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
bmweiler09 said:
Did you test the Nitrite kit on your other tank? Perhaps the Nitrates are showing a high concentration due to the media being brought over from the other tank containing organic waste?
Yes, it was also 0ppm. The nitrite seemed to be acting normal. Spiking then slowly dropping. I have been testing NO2 and NO3 daily. Yesterday it was at .25ppm, today 0. The only thing out of the ordinary is the ammonia just hanging at 1ppm.
 

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Test some bottled water (aquafina) whatever you have. That should tell you if your kit is good.
 

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If you're sure of the test kit (check with bottled water as suggested) and you're getting 1ppm of ammonia, the tank is not cycled. I'd suggest, in that case, that you don't add ammonia for 2-3 days or more and see if it drops to 0. 5ppm is a boatload of ammonia and may have overwhelmed the bacteria a bit. Between the ammonia and all of the resulting nitrite, it could have inhibited the bacteria a bit.
 

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What is the pH and alkalinity of the water? You haven't changed any but you have added a fair amount of ammonia. Chances are that your pH is low and so the bacteria are slow at processing the ammonia. Change a little water to increase the pH or add some sodium bicarb and chances are the ammonia will drop.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
prov356 said:
If you're sure of the test kit (check with bottled water as suggested) and you're getting 1ppm of ammonia, the tank is not cycled. I'd suggest, in that case, that you don't add ammonia for 2-3 days or more and see if it drops to 0. 5ppm is a boatload of ammonia and may have overwhelmed the bacteria a bit. Between the ammonia and all of the resulting nitrite, it could have inhibited the bacteria a bit.
I did check with bottled water and it was 0ppm. I am use to cycling larger tanks and did put a little too much ammonia in on day one. I had planned on not adding ammonia for a while to see if it drops.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
DrTim's said:
What is the pH and alkalinity of the water? You haven't changed any but you have added a fair amount of ammonia. Chances are that your pH is low and so the bacteria are slow at processing the ammonia. Change a little water to increase the pH or add some sodium bicarb and chances are the ammonia will drop.
PH is at 5.5 but it's only 6.0 out of the tap. I am keeping non africans in the tank but will add some baking soda to see if that works. Didn't think of that. Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
DrTim's said:
Your pH is the problem. The ammonia oxidizing bacteria don't work very well (fast) at that low of a pH. There are other buffer you could add to get the pH up - what fish are you keeping?
If the bacteria didn't work very well, why did I see a nitrite spike and then have them slowly lower like everything was normal? My gf is keeping community tropical fish in it.
 

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In the beginning the pH was 6 or so - (remember pH is on a logarithmic scale) so the bacteria worked ok but once the pH got down to 5.5 the bacteria working very slowly. They are working but not as fast as before. 5.5 is pretty much the low end of their 'working' pH. If you get down to a pH of 5 chances are your ammonia will build up and the stop will stop (or really really slow down).
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
DrTim's said:
In the beginning the pH was 6 or so - (remember pH is on a logarithmic scale) so the bacteria worked ok but once the pH got down to 5.5 the bacteria working very slowly. They are working but not as fast as before. 5.5 is pretty much the low end of their 'working' pH. If you get down to a pH of 5 chances are your ammonia will build up and the stop will stop (or really really slow down).
That makes a lot of sense because all of the other times I cycled in this house (with this water) I buffered the water because I was housing Africans. Thanks again.
 

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I recommend you buffer the water before adding more ammonia. If you add more ammonia now the pH will drop to 5 and the ammonia will build up. You not really 'growing' bacteria at this point. Also the nitrite bacteria don't like this low pH either.

So get the pH up first is the way to go IMO.

BTW - nice tank of Haps you have (I checked-out your movie)!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
DrTim's said:
I recommend you buffer the water before adding more ammonia. If you add more ammonia now the pH will drop to 5 and the ammonia will build up. You not really 'growing' bacteria at this point. Also the nitrite bacteria don't like this low pH either.

So get the pH up first is the way to go IMO.

BTW - nice tank of Haps you have (I checked-out your movie)!
Sounds good. And thanks for the tank compliment! A better camera is coming, that was from my cell phone.
 

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Good call, Dr. Tim. :thumb: pH is something I just don't think of because so many buffer. Solves the mystery and something I have to remember to ask, as I see these low nagging ammonia levels reported once in a while.

rgr4475, please report back how the rest of the cycling goes, as it may be of help to others.
 
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