MrSix18

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hey guys! new to the forum as i’ve completed gave up trying to figure out the issue myself, and my LFS is absolutely zero help.

currently have over 600 gallons of tanks ranging from 3 125 gallon tanks, 2 75’s, 2 29 gallon, and a 40 breeder hospital tank all in my detached garage/fish room.. i know it’s overkill.. but it keeps me out of trouble ?

i started setting up a 29 gallon tank because i ordered more Exodon Paradoxus as the covid pandemic has made these fish SKYROCKET in price and found some relatively cheap and decided to jump on it, have an entire shoal in my 125 and 75 gallon tanks but am using the 29 gallon to put some size on the yougins before they get in with the full grown 3-4 year/4-5 inch old adults.

i started off seeding this new 29 gallon with cycled media out of my other tanks/sumps. i have about 3 pounds of matrix bio media, in the canister, and another 5 pounds in the 10 gallon sump underneath, with purigen/purfiltrum, a crazy amount of course/fine foam, bio rock, and filter floss before it returns to the tank. so all in all the bio-capacity is absolutely huge for the size tank it is. running a fluval 207 on top of the sump.

here’s the issue i’m having.

Started off with pre-seeded/cycled matrix from other tanks, 2 foam bubble filters from other tanks (i put them in about 2-1/2 months ago when i found out the exodons were about to become for sale) and a big bio rock from the sump under one of the 125’s. fresh new gravel, fresh foam in the canister, fresh bags of purfiltrum/purigen.

i began the first day with 0ammonia 0nitrite 5-10ppm nitrate (my tap tests a little shy of 10ppm but above 5ppm here in st. louis area)

second day was 2ppm ammonia, 2ppm nitrite, 5-10ppm nitrate

3rd day was 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 10nitrate (could be 20 but hard to tell with these darn API kits)

and it has stayed EXACTLY there for the last week and a half.

my question is.. i’ve done ZERO water changes to see if the nitrates rise, which they have not .. stayed steady between 10-20ppm, fish are in and doing great! 0 ammonia 0nitrate 10-20ppm for 11 days now and counting.

question is this, my tap again has around 5-10ppm of nitrate, absolutely nuts.. but after all this MASSIVE preseeded media, and the sump, bio rock, matrix, 2 bubble/foam filters.. wouldn’t i have more nitrate than that? cant help but think with the amount of bacteria that transferred over that i’d of bred/created more nitrite to nitrate (nitrospina, nitrococcus, etc) bacteria

does this tank sound cycled to you? or did somehow i kill off all my bacteria and i’m getting tap water level readings from my nitrate tests? if that’s the case you’d think after a week and half of exodon paradoxus destroying beef heart, pellets, worms, etc etc that the ammonia would be through the roof without water changes..

just looking for input or advice or call me an idiot and i’m totally wrong and it’s not cycled ? just fed up wondering as i have around 15 exodons in here at 14.99$ a piece plus shipping and would rather not kill them off with a simple mistake so i hopped on here hoping you guys could give me your input/advice!


definitely my first post and look forward to helping (and being helped) anywhere i can!

have over 60 exodons, 15 blueberry OB Cichlids, saltwater community tank, 3 arowana, of course their the “silver” aro’s because the others can’t be had ?, countless shell dwelling lake tang cichlids!
 

Naughts

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It sounds cycled to me :)
Do daily ammonia and nitrite tests to reassure yourself for a couple of weeks.
 

mcordelia

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I can see your concern! Do you have plants / any other nitrate sink in the tank? Is your test kit still within date (not expired)? Does your nitrite test flash purple and then fade to blue as it processes? I recently learned that the API kit nitrite test can mistakenly read zero if nitrites are waaaay off the charts, but will flash purple at first if that is the case.

Otherwise, I'll flag @AbbeysDad @Essjay here, since they usually have good comments on cycling and bacteria.
 
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MrSix18

MrSix18

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@Naughts --- Ive been doing exactly that just for some added reassurance. Everything "tests" okay... just have a little voice in my head saying "its not this easy, youre going to loose your fish" lol

@mcordelia -- I do not have plants in this tank at this time, wanted to get the cycle through first before adding any nitrate eating greenery to the mix.. just one less thing to worry about until i get a solid answer on the cycle! as for yours questions.. yes the test kit is still within expiry date, Nitrite does not flash purple whatsoever, drops go in, turns blue almost instantly, stays blue.. even borrowed a friends bottle to see if mine was tainted and the same exact results with his bottle.. I just feel like i should have WAYYYY more nitrates then i do.. you can almost not tell a difference between the tap water nitrate test and the tanks nitrate test.. the tanks color is just a hair more darker orange than my tap's test results.. but im going to hold off on water changes for awhile and see if the nitrates rise whatsoever. but as for this exact second, i JUST retested again about 5 minuts ago and results are

0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrite, 10 MAYBEEE 20 nitrates.. the exact same as they have been for the last week and a half, havent had nitrite levels in over 10 days and ammonia hung around the .25 level for a few days after intially being somewhat high during start up but its sitting beautiful at 0 now and has been!

if i didnt have fish already in there id drop some of my own ammonia in and get the dose up to 1-2 ppm and test in 24-48 hours and see if the bacteria ate it up, but sadly i do not have that luxury due to it being populated with the exodons.. been feeding and all that as if it was normal... just have a hunchh i suppose you could say lol

THANK YOU both for your help and looking forward to see what the people you tagged say!
 

Essjay

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I know the nitrite tester can fool people into thinking it's zero, but the ammonia tester doesn't do this - if it's yellow it's zero.


But I agree that it is strange that both ammonia and nitrite are disappearing but nitrate remaining constant. All I can suggest is to keep an eye on the level - including dilution tests for nitrite.

If you do want plants, I would get some straight away. With the amount you spent on fish, I would do whatever it takes to keep them safe. Since plants take up ammonia and don't turn it into nitrite or nitrate, that is actually the safest option. Particularly floating plants, they are often called ammonia sinks.
 

AbbeysDad

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There are two possible explanations that come to mind...
1) Your nitrate test is incorrect. The 2nd regent in the API test kit is known to separate and unless it is routinely shaken/tapped on a hard surface, it will change the composition of the chemical and yield false results. Test against pure (eg bottled) water to be sure.
2) PERHAPS your bio-media has cultured anoxic/anaerobic fucultative denitrification bacteria that can oxidize nitrates into nitrogen gas. (This is not unlike live rock and deep sand in SW aquariums.)
Some further study:
Bacteria in the Freshwater Aquarium
The Very Best Aquarium Filter
Take 2: Anoxic Biocenosis Clarification Baskets
My Nitrate Fight
Lowering Aquarium Nitrates
So as long as ammonia and nitrites are zero, and the fish are doing okay, we simply have to suspect the accuracy of the nitrate test results OR presume that nitrates are being dispatched.
Keep testing and keep posting. :)
 
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MrSix18

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@AbbeysDad @Essjay @mcordelia @Naughts

sorry for the late reply guys as i’ve been working 14 hour shifts this week (we had a lot of people out with the virus so we managed to crank out some much needed overtime, but unfortunately at the expense of others)

however i managed to test the tank in question twice daily since my last post on sunday. this evening makes 5+ days since the last post!

everything seems fine, i tested with a brand spanking new nitrate kit just to assure the one i have wasn’t tainted as i hadn’t used it in awhile (a month or two) as my other tanks have been established for a minimum 5+ years for the newest acrylic one and the rest have all been on the EXACT same schedule for over 7 years as far as water changes, purigen/aquavitro recharge, vacuuming rock/siphoning and filter media washed/swapped. so no need test as i can almost guess when i have a tank issue just based off seeing the exact same perfect water quality for years.

this tank still has me worried though. same exact test results.. 0 ammonia 0 nitrite 10-20ppm nitrate. i bought a brand new API kit from my LFS that was fairly new according to the expiration date years away. i also tested with a buddies API kit and all 3 of the test (all API) all yielded same results.. 10-20ppm nitrate. we all know it’s virtually impossible to distinguish between the 10-20ppm color orange on the API kits as they are basically the same color just a micro-fraction deeper orange in the 20ppm block.

i’m going to assume the tank is cycled and doing fine.. decided to do a 50% water change on monday evening , and a 30% change wednesday morning.. nitrates went to 5ppm then settled in at the 10-20 ppm mark within 24 hours or so. m


but due to the little birdy in my ear telling me “i’m going to have a crazy ammo/nitrite spike any time now” i decided to do the following.

going to get a tank divider and house the bucktooth and catfish in the big tank and separate them from the OB Blueberry cichlids. and manually dose some Dr Tim’s Ammonia and get it up nice and high and see what happens.. i’ve used their ammonia to cycle tanks countless times in the past but NEVER to test a cycle and see what kind of bacteria level i have grown.

any recommendations on how high to get the ammonia dose with Dr Tim’s ammonia to see if the beneficial bacteria can cycle it back out on its own??

was thinking around the 2ppm mark myself, but didn’t know how long it should theoretically take for the tank to cycle the doses ammonia back out or back to nitrate !?

any help would be greatly appreciated! y’all have been awesome during this head scratching moment i’m having!!

P.S. sorry for the harry potter length book i just posted lol just wanted to be thorough
 

Essjay

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Any amount of ammonia up to about 4 is OK for testing. I wouldn't go higher than that. 1 ppm ammonia is turned into 2.7 ppm nitrite so to keep the highest possible nitrite on the chart, your suggested 2 ppm, or maybe a tad under, sounds the best idea.

The definition of a cycled tank that we use on here is a tank which can clear a 3 ppm dose of ammonia to zero ammonia and zero nitrite in 24 hours. So if your 2 ppm ammonia is completely gone in 24 hours, the tank should be cycled.

If you do have two zeros and you are still worried, you can always add 4 ppm ammonia and see what happens :) But no more than 4 ppm or you risk getting different ammonia eating bacteria growing.
 

mcordelia

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That's what I was going to say, except better worded and with more relevant details :) (so really, I'm just waiting space with this comment)

Regarding you concern of super long posts: I am someone who friends and coworkers alike love to harangue over my excessively long emails, so no worries there!!!/
 

AbbeysDad

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I still don't see test results of the source water (which may or may not have ammonia, nitrites, or nitrates)? You report that even after water changes, nitrates are 10-20ppm so what is the real concern. I guess I'm a bit lost as at first I thought the issue was that nitrates were not appearing or disappearing?
(I have never seen a need to cycle using ammonia - each to his/her own)
 

Naughts

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Hi,
It still sounds cycled to me :)
I'm not familiar with exodons, but just contemplate if your plan of putting them in a section of the big tank is risky at all in terms of less than ideal tank conditions/ exposure to pathogens/ stress of moving?
If the answer is yes it may be better to take the "if it ain't broke, no need to fix it" philosophy.
 

FishGuest5123

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I always seed my new tanks. Just did one Sunday and by Monday I had 0,0,and 40. Had to do a water change before adding new fish. I don’t think you’re cycled. I know this is a stupid question but did you dechlorinate your water before adding seeded media?
 

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