Sparklehoofs

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Hi,

I am cycling my sump for my Betta rack system.
I am using the API Freshwater Kit.
I shake the living daylights out of all the bottles before use to avoid the crystallisation.

I have cycled 5 tanks previous to this with the fish food method and had no issues whatsoever.

This time I decided to add liquid ammonia at 9.5% and it definitely doesn't have surfactants.

I started the cycle dosing between 3 and 4ppm ammonia. PH is always 7 and temp is high at 89.6f to speed up the process.

Day 6 I seeded my sump with cycled media as I was seeing no changes.
Day 7 ammonia dropped to 2ppm, Nitrite .25ppm and Nitrate 5ppm
Day 8 ammonia 2ppm, Nitrite 0.50ppm Nitrate 20ppm
Day 12 Ammonia 1ppm, Nitrite way above 5ppm Nitrate 80ppm
I dosed the 1ppm back to 2ppm

The next few days the ammonia would be eaten after I'd redose it up to only 1ppm within 24 hours if not a lot sooner but Nitrite and Nitrate was so high that even a dilution test revealed it was off the scale altogether.

I did 2 90% water changes to bring everything back to acceptable levels. Ammonia 0.25ppm, Nitrite 0.5ppm Nitrate 5ppm. I then redosed back to 1ppm ammonia and the same thing happened again.

This time I didn't another 2 90% water changes. Brought Nitrites down to 0.5 to 1ppm. Waited about 24 hours and this was then at 0. As was my ammonia but my nitrates were near 5ppm.

At this stage because Ammonia and Nitrite were at 0 I added 1ppm Ammonia. Watched the Nitrite change from 0 to 0.5 to 1 to again off the charts over a period of 16 hours. Confirmed via dilution test.
Ammonia is again at 0 but Nitirites have climbed and just won't come down.

I'm at my wits end. I don't know what to do. I'm currently not adding anymore Ammonia even though it's at 0 currently for atleast 2 days maybe?

I have my 120 litre sump cycling with a chamber stuffed with sponges. A big bag of ceramic rings and two fluval underwater filters just temporarily as I don't have my rack set up and wanted lots of water flow from the fluval filters. I added a bag of Seachem purigen last night also. I intended adding a lot more media but thought what I have in it currently is enough or am I wrong?

Any suggestions on what is happening and what I can do. I have been cycling for 3 weeks and my 17 betta fish arrive in another 2.5 weeks and I'm freaking out as I assumed it would be well cycled by then.

Thanks 😊
 

TwoTankAmin

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You have stalled your cycle by adding too much ammonia. This, in turn, produced way way too much nitrite and this is what stalled the cycle.

You need to back up and mostly start over. There is an excellent fishless cycleing article on this site and I suggest you follow it.
https://www.fishforums.net/threads/cycling-your-new-fresh-water-tank-read-this-first.421488/

If you want to seed bacteria be aware this changes everything in how one ramps up from a bit of seeding to a fully cycled tank. In a standard fishless cycle the two types of bacteria developr sequentially. You need to establish some of the ammonia ones to get the nitrite. Next, the ammonia ones multiply faster than the nitrite ones. So you see the ammonia spike and as that lessens and eventually disappears, the nitrite has started to ramp up. Here is when most folks go off track and are adding too much ammonia.

When one seeds bacteria they are seeding both types. So, whatever capacity for converting ammonia to nitrite the seeding supplies, it also supplies the needed nitrite bacteria to handle that. So neither readings will even approach what they do with out seeding. But when you do seed and then you keep adding more ammonia than needed you will end up raising nitrite and potentially to the level where it will stall the cycle. Than number on an API nitrite test would be 16.4 ppm. And seeing that takes diluted testing.

The cycle is a bio-cehmical process that is governed by the laws of nature. It proceeds in a completely predicable nature. The cycling article above was specifically designed to make it impossible to produce too much nitrite, or ammonia, as long as one follows the directions to the letter. It is ther patch to a fully cycled tank. Leave the path and you are likely to get lost.

Finally, I have culed well over 150 tanks. I have never once used fish food or human food to do so. it is messy and inexact. You have no way to control ammonia levels doing things this way. The first 8 -10 tanks I cycled I used household ammonia which contained surfactants. I had no issues and all tanks cycled fine and when the fish went in, they also did fine.

The amount of surfactants in ammonia is very tiny. Between water changes during the cycle and having carbon in the filter combined with a 90% water change when the tanks was cycled apparently is more than enough to make surfactants as a non issue. Then I discovered Dr. Tim's ammonium chloride which I still use now and then. However, for the amount of cycling I was doing it was way more economical to buy the Fritx dry ammonium chloride. I had a gram scale so I could weigh it down to the 1/10 of a gram. I rarely cycle tanks any more, I cycle filters in a biofarm when I need them.

While it is OK to use ammonia containing surfactants if you use my precautions. it is not OK tou use ammonia which is scented or low splash. Look for the store brand. Concentrated is OK.

So what to do here? Do as big a water change as you can, Then test you want to see as close to 0 across the board for ammonia and nitrite. If either is over .25, change more water. Then follow the fishless cycling ar5ticle above. If you want to seed with filter squeezing, take this into account. Your numbers will not proceed as laid out in the article because of the seeding. However, your readings are still your guide. Do not add more ammonia unless you meed the conditions listed for being ready to add ammonia. The odds are you will have some of the needed bacteria in the tank, so you may get a boost from them.

If you are not sure about adding ammonia, netter to be later or a bit too little than the reverse. The bacteria do not die if you are a bit late dosing, all that can go wrong from this is your cyled will take a day or two longer. Pay attention to the fact that a true fishless cycle without seeding still only need about 6-7 additions of ammonia. The occasional stubborn cycle might need one or two more.

Finally, there is never a reason to have much more than 3 ppm of ammonia in a tank when doing a fishless cycle. And additions should never be more than 3 ppm. During the cycle you may add 3 ppm to a tank which has a small amount of ammonia or nitrate present. But you still should never see more than about 3.5 ppm on an API type test kit.
 
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Sparklehoofs

Sparklehoofs

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You have stalled your cycle by adding too much ammonia. This, in turn, produced way way too much nitrite and this is what stalled the cycle.

You need to back up and mostly start over. There is an excellent fishless cycleing article on this site and I suggest you follow it.
https://www.fishforums.net/threads/cycling-your-new-fresh-water-tank-read-this-first.421488/

If you want to seed bacteria be aware this changes everything in how one ramps up from a bit of seeding to a fully cycled tank. In a standard fishless cycle the two types of bacteria developr sequentially. You need to establish some of the ammonia ones to get the nitrite. Next, the ammonia ones multiply faster than the nitrite ones. So you see the ammonia spike and as that lessens and eventually disappears, the nitrite has started to ramp up. Here is when most folks go off track and are adding too much ammonia.

When one seeds bacteria they are seeding both types. So, whatever capacity for converting ammonia to nitrite the seeding supplies, it also supplies the needed nitrite bacteria to handle that. So neither readings will even approach what they do with out seeding. But when you do seed and then you keep adding more ammonia than needed you will end up raising nitrite and potentially to the level where it will stall the cycle. Than number on an API nitrite test would be 16.4 ppm. And seeing that takes diluted testing.

The cycle is a bio-cehmical process that is governed by the laws of nature. It proceeds in a completely predicable nature. The cycling article above was specifically designed to make it impossible to produce too much nitrite, or ammonia, as long as one follows the directions to the letter. It is ther patch to a fully cycled tank. Leave the path and you are likely to get lost.

Finally, I have culed well over 150 tanks. I have never once used fish food or human food to do so. it is messy and inexact. You have no way to control ammonia levels doing things this way. The first 8 -10 tanks I cycled I used household ammonia which contained surfactants. I had no issues and all tanks cycled fine and when the fish went in, they also did fine.

The amount of surfactants in ammonia is very tiny. Between water changes during the cycle and having carbon in the filter combined with a 90% water change when the tanks was cycled apparently is more than enough to make surfactants as a non issue. Then I discovered Dr. Tim's ammonium chloride which I still use now and then. However, for the amount of cycling I was doing it was way more economical to buy the Fritx dry ammonium chloride. I had a gram scale so I could weigh it down to the 1/10 of a gram. I rarely cycle tanks any more, I cycle filters in a biofarm when I need them.

While it is OK to use ammonia containing surfactants if you use my precautions. it is not OK tou use ammonia which is scented or low splash. Look for the store brand. Concentrated is OK.

So what to do here? Do as big a water change as you can, Then test you want to see as close to 0 across the board for ammonia and nitrite. If either is over .25, change more water. Then follow the fishless cycling ar5ticle above. If you want to seed with filter squeezing, take this into account. Your numbers will not proceed as laid out in the article because of the seeding. However, your readings are still your guide. Do not add more ammonia unless you meed the conditions listed for being ready to add ammonia. The odds are you will have some of the needed bacteria in the tank, so you may get a boost from them.

If you are not sure about adding ammonia, netter to be later or a bit too little than the reverse. The bacteria do not die if you are a bit late dosing, all that can go wrong from this is your cyled will take a day or two longer. Pay attention to the fact that a true fishless cycle without seeding still only need about 6-7 additions of ammonia. The occasional stubborn cycle might need one or two more.

Finally, there is never a reason to have much more than 3 ppm of ammonia in a tank when doing a fishless cycle. And additions should never be more than 3 ppm. During the cycle you may add 3 ppm to a tank which has a small amount of ammonia or nitrate present. But you still should never see more than about 3.5 ppm on an API type test kit.
Hi thanks for the lengthy reply.

From the article you suggested I seem to have pretty much already done that nearly the same.

I dosed between 3 and 4ppm household ammonia without surfactants added. It was closer to 3ppm than 4ppm.
Waited till the ammonia dropped to 1ppm to dose it back to 2ppm.
After this the ammonia would be at 0ppm within 24 hours so I redosed a 'snack' to 1ppm to keep the bacteria alive.

I'm not understanding why when I dose 1ppm ammonia the nitrites spike like crazy and take over 24 hours to return to 0ppm. Then I redose only 1ppm ammonia again and that cycle continues.

I'm trying to get to the point I can add 1 or 2ppm ammonia and have that gone in 24 hours and no nitrite spike?

Currently my sump is 0 ammonia 0 nitirites and 10ppm nitrates. I'm assuming I should be testing it to see if it will clear in 24 hours but I'm getting stuck on the nitrites it just explodes.
 

Colin_T

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don't bother testing for nitrates when cycling a tank because nitrate test kits read nitrite as nitrate and give you a false reading.
 

TwoTankAmin

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There is only a need for one snack dose in the whole cycle. The snack dose was my creation as i have never seen it anywhere else. The bacteria can be OK not being fed every day. However, before the cycle is fully established, the snack dose is done during the longest period where one will not be adding ammonia. It is intended to keep the ammonia bacteria "happy" without pushing nitrite too high. If one follows the ammonia dosing in the article here, it will be impossible to produce to much nitrite.

Here is what happens when you keep adding ammonia that is not really needed. The ammonia gets processed fast but the nitrite backteria lag. So even as the ammonia vanished the nitrite is building up. Once it hits 5 ppm on the API test, one has no real idea about the actual level. And it is the nitrite which stalls the cycle.

The one drawback with using household ammonia is that the ammonia evaporate. So over time the strenght of the ammonia can change.In the days when I used it the dossing was indrops/10gal. and was not very precise.

Whe I run the bio-farm I do not test for either nitrite nor nitrate. What I do watch ia Ammonia, pH and GH. Mor often I monitor TDS as I know what should be going up and down and it it is out of whack what is likely the reason.

When a fishless cycle goes off the rails the solution is almost always a big water change to reset things. Then you can do a restart which lets you stay in balance with the cycling issues and get the cycle going again and, hopefully, with the expected readings showing up as axpected.

Remember when checking to see if theings clear in 24 or less, that nitrite readings need to be low or wyou must wait until they are to add another dose of ammoni. if you do not do this you will just keep creating to much nitrite. BTW, nitrite is not real stable and it will also create acid.

Finally, most dechlors which also detoxify ammonia will give inaccurate readings after dosing. Here is what SeaChem says about Prime. (Most hobby kits are salicylate based.)
Q.I am using Prime® to control ammonia but my test kit says it is not doing anything, in fact it looks like it added ammonia! What is going on?
A: A Nessler based kit will not read ammonia properly if you are using Prime®... it will look "off scale", sort of a muddy brown (incidentally a Nessler kit will not work with any other products similar to Prime®). A salicylate based kit can be used, but with caution. Under the conditions of a salicylate kit the ammonia-Prime® complex will be broken down eventually giving a false reading of ammonia (same as with other products like Prime®), so the key with a salicylate kit is to take the reading right away.
from the FAQ here https://www.seachem.com/prime.php
 
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Sparklehoofs

Sparklehoofs

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Thanks everyone for the great advice. Finally managed to cycle it. Just did 2 90% WC back to back and waited 2 days to redose Ammonia to 1 to 2ppm waited 2 days again after it reached 0ppm in the 24hrs so I wouldn't spike nitirite again. Continued this for a few days and gradually shortened the 2 days to 24 hours redosing ammonia and this seemed to work.
Was a right headache. But thanks for all the advice. Super appreciated.
 

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