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Stable readings in cycle but it can't be complete? Can it!

Discussion in 'Cycle your Tank' started by djohnson1974, Dec 26, 2016.

  1. djohnson1974

    djohnson1974 New Member

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    Helllo All,

    I am new to fish keeping and new to the forum. I am in the process of setting up a new 125l jewel rio tank and need some advice please.

    I set the tank up with water and substrate and let it run for a week to make sure everything was working then introduced 4 guppies and 2 platys to carry out a cycle.

    I've checked the water everyday with an API master kit and carried out a 10% pwc every other day. I am feeding every other day too.

    I have introduced some river cobbles to the tank and added a cirax basket to the filter system over the course of the 2 weeks.

    My issue is that the test readings have remained static giving the readings as shown on the attached image so I'm not even sure my cycle has started.

    What should I do next? Advice greatly appreciated.
     

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  2. Toney

    Toney Mostly New Member

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    Do a water change to get 6he nitrates down
     
  3. djohnson1974

    djohnson1974 New Member

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    Thanks for your reply. I do 10% water changes every couple of days do you recommend I do a larger volume change? Also, the water comes out of my tap with nitrate at 25ppm.
     
  4. Toney

    Toney Mostly New Member

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    Do a 50% or more.
     
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  5. StevenF

    StevenF Member

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    Most people do 30 5to 50% water changes once per week. I cannot read the nitrate scale on the card. If your tap water has 25ppm nitrate and the tank now has about 25ppm then it might not have started its cycle. however if the tank nitrates are higher than 25 it might have completed its cycle. aquariums can sometimes cycle ver quickly. But it is more common for it to be slower.

    For now I check ammonia and nitrites daily and if they start showing up. Once they start showing up be prepared to cycle water daily if needed to maintain
     
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  6. djohnson1974

    djohnson1974 New Member

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    Thanks for your replies,

    The nitrates are between 40 and 80ppm, I find it difficult to tell the difference between the two on the api kit. I've heard it is normal to get false positives on the ammonia too at trace levels and having tested my tap water that was reading 0.25ppm for ammonia. Could it really be that my cycle has completed in 2 weeks?
     
  7. djohnson1974

    djohnson1974 New Member

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    I've done a 50% water change how long before I should take my next set of readings? If my readings are as before with lower nitrate levels is my tank cycled?

    Many thanks
     
  8. StevenF

    StevenF Member

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    If you have an overabundance of nutrients it is possible for a cycle to be completed in a few days but that rarely happens. Since your nitrate readings are above your tap readings i would do another water change today and then do a full test daily for the next few days.

    Even if your tank is cycled I would not add any more fish for at least a month . But it would be OK to add some plants now f you want. Plants can reduce nitrate levels but their ability to do so is often limited by the availability of other nutrients, You also might want to consider getting a nitrate filter to filter out some of the excess nitrate. If you do a search on this site you should find some resent posts on ways to deal with high tap water nitrates.. I don't have high tap water nitrates but many others do. Ideally nitrate levels should be no higher than 20ppm.
     
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  9. djohnson1974

    djohnson1974 New Member

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    So I carried out a 50% water change this morning and have just taken new test readings to find they're exactly the same! How can it be that a large water change does not reduce nitrates? See attached image. As far as I can see my tank could not be more stable. Think I may need to invest in a nitrate filter.
     

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  10. StevenF

    StevenF Member

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    If your tap water has 25ppm nitrate and your tank has 80ppm the level after the water change would be about 48ppm. If you have difficulty distinguishing colors for 40 and 80ppm then 48ppm might look like 80ppm to you. In addition more nitrate may have appeared overnight. So your actual level may have been between 50 and 60.
     
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  11. StandbySetting

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    Water conditioners can cause wildly inaccurate readings on nitrate kits, I'd try testing a day after you add new water and see if there is a difference.
     
  12. eaglesaquarium

    eaglesaquarium Life, Liberty & Pursuit of the perfect fish tank
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    Hello and welcome djohnson!

    Call me skeptical, but this doesn't quite add up to me. What did you add to your tank when you first set it up? Any additives, any decor from established tanks, etc.?

    Starting your tank with 6 fish is a sizable bioload for a 'fresh' tank. A tank like that should be showing a spike in ammonia rather rapidly, even for a 125 liter volume. The fact that you haven't seen one and have been testing throughout has me concerned that there is something going on that hasn't been mentioned.

    Have you checked the expiration date on the test kit? Have you had the water tested independently elsewhere. Most LFS will test your water for free if you bring a sample. Btw, ask to SEE the test and double check your results against theirs. Don't listen to their 'your water is fine' nonsense. You want specific values. The easiest way is to just ask them to show you everything, and ask questions about it. IF (and that's a big if a lot of times) they know what they are doing, they will happily explain as much about the test and the nitrogen cycle as they can. This just buys you the time to study the results for yourself. To verify your test... because that's all you are really looking for - to ensure your test kit is working properly.


    I am wondering if you are shaking the bottles sufficiently before administering the drops. I'm wondering if you added anything from an established tank.

    These bacteria can double in number in roughly a day or so (sometimes a little less) but they are considered 'slow growing' bacteria compared to many others. It does take some time for them to build up to the number capable of dealing with the ammonia produced by 6 fish. You do have a large tank for so few fish at this point, so that's a major benefit here, and maybe the high pH, etc. and the nitrate in your water, indicate that your tap water has a fairly sizable population of these bacteria when the water was added to the tank. Its possible, its just not 'the norm'.

    One last question: Do you have live plants?
     
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  13. djohnson1974

    djohnson1974 New Member

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    I appreciate your detailed response. I only added live plants yesterday in an effort to help with the high nitrates. Initially I let my tank run with just conditioned water and natural gravel for a week. I use interpet tapsafe which is advertised as containing the right bacteria as well as conditioning the water. Other than that I introduced around 10 river cobbles and supplemented the filter with a cirax basket. I've read soooo much on the nitrogen cycle and deem myself to have a good grasp of the concept. The test kit is well in date and I have followed every test to the letter including all the correct bottle shaking and development times.

    Next step is water to lfs I think just to verify my results.

    I does feel like my tank is cycled but I share your skepticism. Is it possible there could have been some organic matter in the gravel that started ammonia production in that first week?

    Thanks again
     
  14. eaglesaquarium

    eaglesaquarium Life, Liberty & Pursuit of the perfect fish tank
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    Well, the big questions that remain as I see it are this:

    Where did the 'natural gravel' come from?
    Where did the river cobbles come from?

    I don't know about the specific cirax basket from experience, but from a quick internet search, it just looks like a basket to hold ceramic media and nothing more. So, I will discount that as having any impact as the ceramics and basket wouldn't add any bacteria.

    If the natural gravel or cobbles came from a local stream or pond, they certainly could have contained sufficient bacteria to kickstart your cycle in a major way. These bacteria live on nearly every surface in the aquarium and will be found slightly more abundantly where there is a large amount of water movement, as all their needs would be more readily available (nitrogenous waste, oxygen, and inorganic carbon... plus other trace elements). Your pH being a bit higher than neutral also generally benefits quicker growth, and your bioload is rather small.

    It does seem that you are cycled. How it could happen so quickly without a source of bacteria remains a mystery. If either the cobbles or the gravel are from a natural source though, that can easily account for an infusion of sufficient bacteria to allow quick enough multiplication that you wouldn't necessarily 'see' the buildup of ammonia and/or nitrite. The nitrate being higher than the tap water would be decent evidence, in conjunction with the zero readings for ammonia and nitrite to say that the cycle has occurred.


    1 - I just like to know HOW this happened, in an effort for us to replicate it again in the future, or at least to ensure that we don't misinterpret this result.
    2 - I'd recommend not changing the water for a few days and keep testing the water and see if the tank can sustain this on its own, or if maybe this 'Tapsafe' product is playing a role. (See note below)
    3 - I also like to have proper verification that it IS compete before recommending that you'd slowly increase the bioload.



    NOTE on TAPSAFE and other 'bacterial additives'.
    I'll start by saying this: I am not familiar with Interpret Tap Safe and their website leaves a lot to be desired in terms of investigating their claims and ingredients for bacterial additives. BUT... in general, the specific bacteria strains we are seeking to cultivate are very specifically identified and are actually found in very few products on the market. Many of these products use other bacteria than the ones that we are looking to cultivate and can actually compete with the ones we want. Continually adding it to the tank can slow the 'natural' cycle that we want to encourage. Products like Seachem Stability, etc. can deal with ammonia, but they don't truly cycle the tank. And I'm wondering if possibly your daily addition of TAPSAFE might actually be dealing with the ammonia without actually colonizing the tank. The declaration of adding a 'culture of bacteria and enzymes' seems as though this might be why you aren't seeing ammonia, yet may not actually be cycled.
     
  15. djohnson1974

    djohnson1974 New Member

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    I very much appreciate the detailed responses and the time taken to investigate my situation.

    The natural gravel was purchased in a 10kg bag from amazon which I thoroughly washed before adding to the tank and the river cobbles were from my own pond which I bleached and thoroughly washed prior to introducing to the tank. I'll take some more readings and report back later today having not changed any water for nearly 48 hours.
     

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