What's new

Cant start the nitrogen cycle off

RodW

New Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2020
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
Location
Dover, Kent
Hi,

I haven't kept fish for 30 years and I want to get back in to it. I've set up a 230L tank. Treated the water for chlorine, washed everything, got it all up and running. I've added ammonia so its now at 4ppm since the 20th and it's been like that ever since. It just seems I can't get the cycle to start. Anyone got any ideas what could be going wrong? The pH looks to be over 7.6 so I know I should bring that down a bit but it's doing my head in. Temperature is 27-28 degrees.

Testing just shows 0 nitrites but 40ppm nitrates but that's how it's coming out of the tap.

Where am I going wrong?

Thanks,

Rod
 

essjay

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Global Moderator
Joined
Nov 28, 2006
Messages
6,528
Reaction score
1,896
Location
Teesside, UK
It's only been 8 days since you added the ammonia. It took 3 weeks for my ammonia to drop, and 7 weeks to complete the cycle. Since you won't be able to buy fish during the lockdown, patience is going to be a virtue :)

Have you found the fishless cycling method on here? Most other methods tell you to add too much ammonia and this creates so much nitrite that it stalls the cycle. The method on here was written so that nitrite can never get high enough to stall it. Just in case, here it is https://www.fishforums.net/threads/cycling-your-new-fresh-water-tank-read-this-first.421488/


You give your location as Kent so am I correct in assuming you have hard water? Can you look at your water company's website to see just how hard it is please, you need to look for a number and the unit of measurement rather than some vague words. The unit is important as UK water companies often use units not used in fish keeping so we have to convert the numbers.

You do not need to change the pH. If, as I suspect, you do have hard water, you will need to choose hard water fish which also need high pH.


The high nitrate will be problem though. Tank nitrate should be kept below 20 ppm, and if it's higher than that in tap water, you can't do water changes to get it lower than tap level. There are ways to remove the nitrate before it reaches your tank. There are nitrate removing filters; leaving the water to stand with a lot of fast growing plants in it; or using pure water such as reverse osmosis (RO) mixed with your tap water - although this will also reduce the hardness of the tank water.
We have other members who battle with high tap water nitrate; one of them will be able to help you decide the best way to proceed. Butofr now, concentrate on cycling.
 

Colin_T

Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2008
Messages
19,744
Reaction score
3,777
Location
Perth, WA
Besides what Essjay said, you could add a bottle of liquid filter bacteria to help speed things up. You can buy these from pet shops or online. They usually recommend adding it once a week, but I found you get better results adding a double dose every day for a week, then pouring the rest of the bottle into the tank.

Try to add the bacteria near the filter intake so it gets drawn into the filter where it belongs.
 

essjay

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Global Moderator
Joined
Nov 28, 2006
Messages
6,528
Reaction score
1,896
Location
Teesside, UK
I didn't suggest that as we have no idea how long before we can go and buy fish. If it's months, at least doing a fishless cycle without bottled bacteria is something to do ;)

@RodW Pets at Home may well be open as general pet stores are allowed to open, but I would not recommend fish from there. I much prefer Maidenhead Aquatics (which are all in garden centres which can't open) or a good independent fish shop (which are closed)
 
OP
R

RodW

New Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2020
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
Location
Dover, Kent
Thanks folks. I know patience is a virtue and it's one I struggle with :)
I've just done a GH and KH test and the GH is 180, the KH is 120. I'm going to need to get the GH down.

Yes Kent is a hard water area.

Is there a good reliable way to reduce nitrates easily? I'm assuming that a lot of plants will have a positive effect on this. At the moment, it doesn't have any plants in it. I was hoping not to have to add another chemical, or have a separate filter for it but if it has to be done then so be it.

Rod
 

essjay

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Global Moderator
Joined
Nov 28, 2006
Messages
6,528
Reaction score
1,896
Location
Teesside, UK
If you want to keep soft water fish, the way to make the water softer is by mixing tap water and RO water. This will also reduce nitrate. But 180 ppm is not very hard; it converts to 10 dH, which is sort of middling. It is too soft for many hard water fish. It is also too hard for fish that must have very soft water but there are many fish that would be fine in that hardness.


I am very lucky in that my tap water nitrate is under 5 ppm so I have never had to deal with high nitrate. But several members do have high nitrate so I'll leave it to them to advise the best way of dealing with it.
 

seangee

Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2008
Messages
2,901
Reaction score
1,111
Location
Berks
I used a pozzani nitrate filter sccessfully for around a year (search on this site or your favourite search engine). For your size tank it may be a bit frustrating and expensive as you will probably want to change somewhere between 100 and 150 litres per week. One of those cartridges typically lasted me 6-8 weeks (my tap water is 50ppm and I was doing similar volumes). They do not degrade gradually, one day you will have 0 nitrates and the next it will be back up to 40, so you always need to have a spare. I used a hosepipe adaptor which was convenient but took a long time as ideally you run the water through at 2 litres / minute. Since I was filtering water anyway I daisy chained an active carbon filter so did not have to worry about a dechlorinator.

Eventually I got fed up and switched to RO water. At first I used to buy it and mix it with my tap water. At the time Maidenhead was charging £4 for 25 litres. A short while later I bought my own RO unit. 2 of my tanks have exclusively soft water fish so these tanks just get pure RO water and nothing else. This means GH=KH=0 and pH in the tanks is between 5 and 6 (its different in the 2 tanks).

I always suggest people choose fish based on their water parameters as it really is much easier. This may influence your decision on which approach you choose depending on which type of fish you prefer. In practice GH is really the only number that really matters
 
OP
R

RodW

New Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2020
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
Location
Dover, Kent
Turns out patience was the key. It's up and running now. I have installed a few fish as well :)

5 Danio's, 2 small Angels, and a Pleco - all good !

If only I could go out I could now start building the tank the way I want it. I've added some plants, more on order and then we will be good.
 

trending

Most reactions - Past 7 days

Top