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A few years ago, a filter went out on a 29 gallon tank. I was away at work, so I came home to dead colony of Neoloamprologus pulcher. I was so upset that I just drained the water, disposed of the fish, and left it sitting there.

Last month, I decided to get it started up again. Replaced the sand, replaced the filter, rinsed the rocks, hosed down the tank and wiped it down.

I attempted to fishless cycle with the shrimp in a media bag and wringing out a filter sponge from another tank. Current water parameters: 0 ammonia 0 nitrite and 160 ppm nitrate. This has never happened before, and I can't figure out what caused that much nitrate. I did one 25% water change in week 2.

Do I need to empty out all of the water, rinse the filter media, and start all over again? And what could have possibly caused this much nitrate? Did I possibly not clean the rocks off enough?
 

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Do you have any nitrate in your tap water? If not it has to be from something inside the tank or it's accessories that retained some pollutants.

During the month, did you have the usual ammonia spike, then nitrite spike? A lot of nitrate can be created just from the cycle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Do you have any nitrate in your tap water? If not it has to be from something inside the tank or it's accessories that retained some pollutants.

During the month, did you have the usual ammonia spike, then nitrite spike? A lot of nitrate can be created just from the cycle.
Tap water read zero for everything. During the first week, there were normal ammonia readings, no nitrites, and already had nitrates in the water. I just assumed that there was some nitrate that was rung out from the filter sponge from the other aquarium. Second week there was still ammonia, some nitrites, and 40 ppm of nitrates already. This prompted the water change. By week three, the ammonia was nearly gone, there was the usual nitrite spike, but nitrates were already at 100 ppm.

The only thing that I can think of is that the rock seems to be fairly porous. Almost like lava rock. I'm wondering if the rock had nitrates that didn't completely rinse out, but leeched into the aquarium water when it was sitting completely submerged.

I will probably try an almost full water change and see what happens. I'm going to move the rock into a little 10 gallon quarantine tank since its currently empty and do before and after readings to test the rock theory. I wouldn't think that one small prawn could result in that much nitrate after a cycle, but I could be mistaken.
 

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The 160ppm may just be from the cycle. I agree do 100% water change and hope for the best.
 

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A few years ago, a filter went out on a 29 gallon tank. I was away at work, so I came home to dead colony of Neoloamprologus pulcher. I was so upset that I just drained the water, disposed of the fish, and left it sitting there.

Last month, I decided to get it started up again. Replaced the sand, replaced the filter, rinsed the rocks, hosed down the tank and wiped it down.

I attempted to fishless cycle with the shrimp in a media bag and wringing out a filter sponge from another tank. Current water parameters: 0 ammonia 0 nitrite and 160 ppm nitrate. This has never happened before, and I can't figure out what caused that much nitrate. I did one 25% water change in week 2.

Do I need to empty out all of the water, rinse the filter media, and start all over again? And what could have possibly caused this much nitrate? Did I possibly not clean the rocks off enough?
Depending on the shrimp, but let's say it is a jumbo and estimated to be 20g for a shrimp, and 25% of it is protein (as far as I can find online). Let's assume maybe 27 of the 29 gal is water.

Following the calculations laid out here, from a single shrimp you get about 38ppm ammonia. Not quite 44ppm, but pretty close. 38ppm ammonia still would produce 138ppm nitrate or so if all of it is converted to nitrate. But that's kinda a very 'optimistic' set of assumptions.

Plus, you also did a water change during the process.

So... yeah kinda weird, but eh.

I'd chalk it up to slight inaccuracies in the measuring process, whatever it may be.
 

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Tap water read zero for everything. During the first week, there were normal ammonia readings, no nitrites, and already had nitrates in the water. I just assumed that there was some nitrate that was rung out from the filter sponge from the other aquarium. Second week there was still ammonia, some nitrites, and 40 ppm of nitrates already. This prompted the water change. By week three, the ammonia was nearly gone, there was the usual nitrite spike, but nitrates were already at 100 ppm.

The only thing that I can think of is that the rock seems to be fairly porous. Almost like lava rock. I'm wondering if the rock had nitrates that didn't completely rinse out, but leeched into the aquarium water when it was sitting completely submerged.

I will probably try an almost full water change and see what happens. I'm going to move the rock into a little 10 gallon quarantine tank since its currently empty and do before and after readings to test the rock theory. I wouldn't think that one small prawn could result in that much nitrate after a cycle, but I could be mistaken.
Hi!😃 nice to meet you!😃
Sometimes it becomes quite frustrating; huh?
You're doing great though. I just wanted to remind you that there are some awesome products out there that will also assist you with these matters too. We live by Seachem products and Safe or Prime will definitely help you in your problem right now.😃
 

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Just do a 100% water change, or a couple 75%, and see what happens. Sounds like the tank is cycled, but there is something in it adding to the bioload. It most likely is from bacteria and other microorganisms dying off, possibly within the rocks (you can take them out and soak them in peroxide or bleach if you want, just make sure you then soak them in some fresh water with dechlorinator in it afterwards). Just stay up on water changes and it will almost certainly stabilize in short order. If it's not big enough to see, it can't be an endless supply of organics. 160 ppm of nitrates is unhealthy for fish and livestock, but it's also still only 1 part in every 6,000+ parts of water. So it's not like you have a rotting fish in there somewhere.
 
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