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Where Have My Nitrites Gone?

Author Topic: Where have my nitrites gone?  (Read 2445 times)

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Offline tattooedcat

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Where have my nitrites gone?
« on: January 31, 2014, 03:28:51 PM »
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Hi and I hope someone can advise/reassure me.
I'm currently on day 31 of a fishless cycle of my son's 125l Fluval Roma tank. Filtration is with a Fluval U3. Everything was going tickety boo and I bunged the second dose of ammonia in on the 13th January (day 13). Testing on alternate days with an API Master Test Kit showed a constant level of ammonia at 4ppm and Nitrites at 5ppm until today when the the readings were Ammonia 4ppm and Nitrites down to 0.25ppm. pH is 8 (no change) and Nitrates are 20-40ppm. (Nitrate readings on the 13th Jan were 40-80ppm)
Is a drop in nitrites without a drop in ammonia to be expected at this stage? It was my understanding that for everything to be going well, both ammonia and nitrites should be dropping off by now - or am I being a numpty?
Sorry to be bothering you good people with yet another fishless cycling query but I am concerned and although I have the patience to see a fishless cycle through to the bitter end my 11 yr old lad doesn't.
Many thanks in advance and apologies if this issue has been dealt with elsewhere in the forum.  :)

Offline Sue

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Re: Where have my nitrites gone?
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2014, 04:12:58 PM »
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The theory is that as ammonia goes down, nitrite goes up; then nitrite goes down and nitrate goes up. But in practise things often behave differently.


Can I just check with you:
You added a dose of ammonia on day 1 - how much ammonia did you add?
This dropped on day 13 so you added a second dose - how much ammonia did you add the second time?
Since then you have has constant 4ppm ammonia and 5ppm nitrite until today - have you added any more ammonia apart from day 1 and day 13?
Today (day 31) the ammonia reading was the same and the nitrite reading had dropped
Nitrate readings were higher on day 13 than on day 31.


The fact that the nitrite reading has suddenly dropped suggests that you have just grown a lot of nitrite eating bacteria. It is common to hear of cycles where the nitrite level stays constant then drops to almost zero overnight. If there was no nitrite being made it would stay constant until the bacteria grew, then suddenly drop.
The fact that the nitrite level stayed constant and that the ammonia level also stayed constant suggests that something has happened to your ammonia eaters. Once the ammonia level drops, with an accompanying rise in nitrite, further additions of ammonia should drop quickly and the nitrite level should go up further until the nitrite eaters grow.


So what has happened to your ammonia eaters? Have you done anything at all to the tank, added anything other than ammonia? Did you add more ammonia that you should have done on day 13? If you added the correct amount of ammonia and done nothing else to the tank, I'm at a loss  ???

I think what I'd do in this situation would be a very large water change. Then test the ammonia level half an hour after you've filled up. If you have a reading, subtract that from 3ppm and add enough ammonia to make the reading up to 3ppm - do another test half an hour after adding the ammonia to confirm you have added the right amount. I know the API tester doesn't have a colour for 3ppm so aim for more green that 2ppm but less than 4ppm.
When have you been doing the tests? I know that the light under which you compare the colour of the tube to the chart can have an effect and give a false reading. I did an experiment with all the different bulbs in our house. Daylight is the best light source, though you need to be at home during the day for that. Old fashioned light bulbs and halogen light bulbs give the same reading as daylight. But fluorescent and compact fluorescent (energy saving) bulbs/tubes give a different reading from daylight. We didn't have any LED bulbs when I did the experiment so I don't know about those. If you read the tests under fluorescent light, it is possible you got a false reading for ammonia - and a too-high ammonia level causes the cycle to stall.

Offline tattooedcat

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Re: Where have my nitrites gone?
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2014, 06:32:57 PM »
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Hi Sue and thank you for your reply.
On day 1 I added 4ml of ammonia (Jeyes Kleen Off) which I thought would give me 3ppm - it actually dosed high to 4 ppm so on day 13 when I added a further dose I reduced it to 3.5ml. This still dosed ammonia up to 4ppm and it's stayed at that level ever since. I haven't dosed any more ammonia at all, nor have I added anything else to the tank or changed anything. The only thing that I have had a problem with is the heater, which despite being cranked up to 30 degrees never gets above 27 degrees.
When you say do a large water change, what percentage, roughly, are you recommending I change?
I always do my testing during the day, in natural daylight as I've read your warnings regarding different light sources skewing readings and I thought doing so would make for greater accuracy.
Once again many thanks.
Nicola.

Offline Sue

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Re: Where have my nitrites gone?
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2014, 07:47:54 PM »
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Your tank is the same size as my Rio. A 100% water change will take ages, I'd try about 50%. That's quite a bit but not nearly such hard work.

The bacteria grow faster towards 30 deg, but they will grow, albeit a bit slower, at 27.


If your ammonia is 9.5%, and removing a bit of water volume for substrate and decor if you have them in leaves about 105 litres (using my tank as a guide  :D ). That needs 3.32ml ammonia to get 3ppm.

Offline tattooedcat

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Re: Where have my nitrites gone?
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2014, 06:36:24 AM »
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Hi again.
Just a quick update on the situation with the tank.
I took your advice and did a large water change last Saturday. I checked my nitrites beforehand just to exclude a mistake with the testing which confirmed that I hadn't because by Saturday morning they were at zero. I replaced approx 65%-70% of the water and dosed up to 3ppm of ammonia.
I've been testing the tank every three days for ammonia and nitrites and there has been no change at all. Ammonia is at 3ppm and nitrites are zero. I'm a tad concerned because when I first set up the tank, nitrites were evident at the first test on day 3. I'd be lying if I didn't admit to disappointment that on day 38 of a fishless cycle, we're basically at the same stage as we were on day one.  :(
Any ideas or do I need to be patient a while longer?
Many thanks.

Offline Sue

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Re: Where have my nitrites gone?
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2014, 09:15:52 AM »
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There is one thing you could try which might work - but it's not guaranteed - get a bottle of Tetra Safe Start.

Your water company may be very good at killing bacteria so that you have very very few in your water supply. The chap who wrote the new method of cycling has actually commented on the 'other forum' that UK residents seem to take much longer to cycle than in the USA, and he too puts it down to lack of natural bacteria. Adding Safe Start might not do anything or it might help. It won't do any harm. And I mean Tetra Safe Start, no other product. Apart from Dr Tim's One and Only (which you have to buy on-line and may or may not survive the import process) all the others contain the wrong species of nitrite eating bacteria

Offline fishcake76

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Re: Where have my nitrites gone?
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2014, 02:18:09 PM »
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Hi,

Can I just ask tattooed cat what happened to your readings next? I have a similar situation and would be interested to know if you got your ammonia levels down.

Many thanks,

FC

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