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Day 26 cycling my tank

Rich763

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Arlesey, Bedfordshire, England
Hi, I'd welcome your advice please on my first tank that's not cycling. I have a Juwel Rio 125L tank with sand substrate and no live plants. Ammonia at 2.0ppm, 0 nitrite, 0 nitrate, PH 8.0, KH 240, GH 180. Day 26 and I've had zero change since day 1. I added API Quick Start at the beginning of the cycle, nothing happened. Day 19 added Dr Tim's One and Only, nothing happened. Should I continue to be patient and wait, will it just happen eventually? Thanks for your help!
 
Hi, I'd welcome your advice please on my first tank that's not cycling. I have a Juwel Rio 125L tank with sand substrate and no live plants. Ammonia at 2.0ppm, 0 nitrite, 0 nitrate, PH 8.0, KH 240, GH 180. Day 26 and I've had zero change since day 1. I added API Quick Start at the beginning of the cycle, nothing happened. Day 19 added Dr Tim's One and Only, nothing happened. Should I continue to be patient and wait, will it just happen eventually? Thanks for your help!
That's strange. So, the ammonia is consistently reading 2.0ppm? Have you been adding more ammonia, or you just dosed ammonia on day 1 and that's it?
 
I dosed 2.0ppm day 1 and have topped it back to 2.0ppm once only when it looked like it had dropped slightly in the first few days. done nothing but test for the last 3 weeks without any result changes whatsoever. I reduced the temp from 28c to 26c a week ago and redirected my pump jet to create more surface movement as I was concerned about the lack of oxygen in the tank.
 
I dosed 2.0ppm day 1 and have topped it back to 2.0ppm once only when it looked like it had dropped slightly in the first few days.
That was probably some of the ammonia evaporating.

Usually the biggest hold up is waiting for the nitrite to drop, not the ammonia to drop.

I would have expected more ammonia to have evaporated by now. What test kits are you using? Are they new?

One option might be getting a new ammonia testing kit (liquid test) or, taking a tank water sample into the LFS and see what readings they get for ammonia and nitrite.

When test kits have played up for me over the years (which is not often), it's always been the ammonia one, and never the nitrite one.
 
Thanks for your input. The test kits I'm using are the APi Master kit and I also have APi strips to double check Nitrite and Nitrate. I'm going to forget about it and enjoy Christmas. If I cannot see any change in the next couple of weeks I will break it down and start again with a planted arrangement instead. As I'm new to the hobby I only wanted to focus on the fish and not plants.
 
Your general parameters, if accurate, are fine for cycling. The 28C is a better temp than 26C.

The API stsrter was a waste of money as far as I am concerned. With the Dr. Tim's you need to check the expiration date on the bottle, it matters. If the bottle, at any point along its journey to you, was frozen or got very hot, this can kill the bacteria.

Next, cycling is a process. in order to be able to assess how it is progressing requires we also know what happened along the way. What this means is every time you do anything, you need to record it. This begins with two base tests. The first is your tap water which must be out gassed before you test it. The second is the readings for the water in the tank cbefore you do anything to start the cycle. Since live plants can change things greatly know if one has or doesn't have them. If so, then a general idea of the nature and volume of the plants matters.

Next, what insructions were/are you following for cycling your tank? The other issue is did you change any water between day 1 and today? This matters.
 
Your general parameters, if accurate, are fine for cycling. The 28C is a better temp than 26C.

The API stsrter was a waste of money as far as I am concerned. With the Dr. Tim's you need to check the expiration date on the bottle, it matters. If the bottle, at any point along its journey to you, was frozen or got very hot, this can kill the bacteria.

Next, cycling is a process. in order to be able to assess how it is progressing requires we also know what happened along the way. What this means is every time you do anything, you need to record it. This begins with two base tests. The first is your tap water which must be out gassed before you test it. The second is the readings for the water in the tank cbefore you do anything to start the cycle. Since live plants can change things greatly know if one has or doesn't have them. If so, then a general idea of the nature and volume of the plants matters.

Next, what insructions were/are you following for cycling your tank? The other issue is did you change any water between day 1 and today? This matters.
Thanks for the reply. I’ve not done any water changes and the only testing of the water I’ve done is in the tank after I’ve added plenty of water conditioner (API). I’m not following any specific process, I spent weeks researching and watching conflicting You Tube videos before I applied my own process. That is add Dr Tim’s Ammonium Chloride (1 drop per ltr) and then wait for the nitrite to appear and it never did. As I’ve only ever read 2ppm ammonia when expecting 4ppm, and after seeing a drop, I added another 25 drops. That’s it, nothing more to report. I cannot believe that kids manager keep fish and I’ve spent a fortune to only keep a tank of warm water. My original ask is, will this tank cycle if left or do I need to start again? My local shop suggests more patience is needed and that it will start eventually. If that’s the case, I will hold on but need encouragement. Cheers! Have a good holiday!
 
OK- got it.

I am familiar with Dr/ Tim's products, his research and his patents. I almost always have a small bottle of his bacteria in the fridge for emergency use. I am going to assume you have the current version of his ammonium chloride. I use this when there is only a small tank involved. I normally am working on a larger scale and mix my own solution from dry ammonium chloride.

I also am in the states and I have no idea if the directions on the bottles in the UK are similar but I am going to assume so. When Dr. Tim originally offered the product it was more concentrated. However that was changed and today the dosing is as follows:
add 1 drop/liter or 4 drops/gallon to produce an ammonia-nitrogen (NH3-N) concentration of 2 mg/L-N (2ppm).
or add 1 ml/20 gallons (75L).
Do not exceed 5 mg/L NH3-N

So the above actually needs to be translated for most of us in the hobby. There are two scales which can be used to measure ammonia/ammonium, nitrite and nitrate. One is favored by science and the other is used mostly in the hobby and the majority of our test kits. The key is in the chemical formulas for the the three things we test.
Ammonia--> NH3 + Ammonium--> NH4 which we measure as Total Ammonia.
Nitrite-->N02
Nitrite-->N03

Notice that all of the formulas start with N, which is nitrogen. And science cares mostly about the N. So their tests only measure the N. Which is why that scale of measurement is called the Nitrogen Scale.

What the above formulas do not show is that the Ammonium, Nitrite and Nitrate are what are called Ions. It means they have either a positive or negative charge. On the other hand ammonia has no charge.

What our test kits do is to measure all of the parts of our trio of nitrogen focused components. Where science only counts the Ns, our test kits also count the H and O parts (Hydrogen and Oxygen). They are measuring the ions as well. And the scale most of our kits use is called the Total Ion Scale.

This is not as complicated as it seems. Just like there are kilometers in the UK and miles in the USA, we can easily convert one to the other. The same is true with the for the Nitrogen and Total Ion scales. At the heart of it is the fact that the test mg/L or ppm numbers are greater when using the Total Ion Scale than they are on the nitrogen scale. And all of this is relevant because the directions on your bottle of ammonium chloride will produce higher numbers on an API test kit.

So, when you add 1 drop per liter and test, you should not see 2 mg/l (2ppm), you should see about 2.56. And when it says not to exceed 5 mg/l-N (5ppm), this would test at about 6.4. The magnification factor increases with each stage in the cycle. BTW, 1 mg/L = 1 ppm.

Armed with the above information and what you posted, here is how it looks to me.

While your tank is called a 125L, you do not have that much water in it. I would bet the tank is not filled to the very top, there is likely some air space. Then the substrate and any decor also displace some of the volume. The more things we put into a tank, the lower the potential water volume gets. So lets assume your tank really has only 90% of that 125L or 112 (rounded down).

So to produce Dr. T's 2 mg/l-N or API's test kit result of 2.5 mg/L, you should have added 112 drops (about 1.5 ml) of ammonium chloride not 25. 25 drops should only create about 22% of 2.5 mg/L, or about .5 mg/L of ammonia on an API kit. (On Dr. T's Nitrogen scale that would have been .44 mg/L-N) So, I have no clue how you got to 2 ppm on your test kit. I see any of several potential explanations:

1. Your test kits, or at least the ammonia one is expired.
2. You are doing the testing incorrectly.
3. You are misreading the test result color.
3. You could have something in the tap water which gives false readings for ammonia. Iron would be one such thing.
4. You have ammonia in your tap water.

I also have a few more Qs.
What dechlor are you using?
Can you please confirm that you are using API test kits and they are not expired. If not API, then what brand?
Do you have test numbers for your tap parameters?

I am thinking that your solution is to do one of two things. Both require a reset of the tank (i.e. several large water changes). Then you will start over. One way is to do a traditional fishless cycle with no added bacteria. For that you should follow thie directions on this site for doing that. This would mean about 4 -6 weeks to cycle the tank.
https://www.fishforums.net/threads/cycling-your-new-fresh-water-tank-read-this-first.421488/

If you are in a rush, then you need to use the Dr. Tom's and to follow his instructions for doing a fishless cycle using his ammonium chloride and his bacterial starter.
https://www.drtimsaquatics.com/resources/library/quick-guide-to-fishless-cycling-with-one-and-only/

I am happy to work with you to get your tank cycled either way if you want my help.
 
I'm not familiar with Dr. Tim's method. I use an old school thing I learned in 1997

A brute force fishless cycle without plants would imply that you a are maintaining a constant level of ammonia until it dissipates to nitrates daily. Without any water changes.

Making your own recipe based on actual testing will be precise with any actual unknown amount of water or scale used.

For example: Your goal is to maintain an overcrowded tank.

Whatever the quantity of water in there.
You could bring ammonia level to 4 ppm Maximum off the bat. and add a large amount of your favourite startup enhancing product.

Then test daily a the same time, for any ammonia reduction and top off to 4 ppm as soon as it lowers. While continuing to seed the tank with smaller amount of your startup product directly in your filter input, every-time you add ammonia.

Once ammonia starts to drastically reduce everyday. Continue adding and start testing for nitrite.

Continue to add ammonia and seed all the time nitrite are building. As soon as they start declining, you can stop seeding, continue to add ammonia and get ready to introduce your full stock. Once ready Do a 90% water change and go.

I know that many today's method seems to be going around "testing twice a week"...

If you are starting with fishless cycle... Testing everyday, is a pretty good way to understand what is going on and get a grip on the process.

With a precise count of how much ammonia is needed to reach your initial level.

Your maintenance formula can be adjusted by testing, with "near drop" precision. and should increase with time until it requires a full dose everyday.
 
I cannot believe that kids manager keep fish and I’ve spent a fortune to only keep a tank of warm water.
LOL Rich 763, I can relate. I kept fish for years with no real issues. I started in the 70s - the neighbor who gave me the tank told me, put the gravel and plastic plants in, turn on the filter and let it run for a few days until the water is clear. Then go get a couple of fish and wait a few weeks before you add more.

i did it that way for years. Sometimes I got impatient and added more fish- then they would die. Most of the time, I just did a couple of fish, wait about a month, add a few more. Slowly up them. Change water once every couple of weeks unless it looks bad, then do it once a week. Vacuum the gravel as I change the water.

Make sure I put water treatment in and that's it.

Eventually someone told me that adding a couple of real plants would add more oxygen and would be good for the fish. So, I started doing that.

I kept simple basic fish you find at any fish store and had pretty good results. Never looked for more info. Blissful ignorance.

This last time I started reading. Holy crap it felt like everything I ever did was wrong- then I would keep reading to find everything I did was right. So many conflicting opinions and so many rabbit holes to go down.

Doing it the way I did it is fine, as far as I'm concerned, because experience told me it works. It is true that cycling without the fish is better for them, but if I am patient and do it the old way, the fish are fine.
 
In fact, fish-in cycle requires less patience and more dedication.

If you're lazy, patience is a lot less job.
 
OK- got it.

I am familiar with Dr/ Tim's products, his research and his patents. I almost always have a small bottle of his bacteria in the fridge for emergency use. I am going to assume you have the current version of his ammonium chloride. I use this when there is only a small tank involved. I normally am working on a larger scale and mix my own solution from dry ammonium chloride.

I also am in the states and I have no idea if the directions on the bottles in the UK are similar but I am going to assume so. When Dr. Tim originally offered the product it was more concentrated. However that was changed and today the dosing is as follows:
add 1 drop/liter or 4 drops/gallon to produce an ammonia-nitrogen (NH3-N) concentration of 2 mg/L-N (2ppm).
or add 1 ml/20 gallons (75L).
Do not exceed 5 mg/L NH3-N

So the above actually needs to be translated for most of us in the hobby. There are two scales which can be used to measure ammonia/ammonium, nitrite and nitrate. One is favored by science and the other is used mostly in the hobby and the majority of our test kits. The key is in the chemical formulas for the the three things we test.
Ammonia--> NH3 + Ammonium--> NH4 which we measure as Total Ammonia.
Nitrite-->N02
Nitrite-->N03

Notice that all of the formulas start with N, which is nitrogen. And science cares mostly about the N. So their tests only measure the N. Which is why that scale of measurement is called the Nitrogen Scale.

What the above formulas do not show is that the Ammonium, Nitrite and Nitrate are what are called Ions. It means they have either a positive or negative charge. On the other hand ammonia has no charge.

What our test kits do is to measure all of the parts of our trio of nitrogen focused components. Where science only counts the Ns, our test kits also count the H and O parts (Hydrogen and Oxygen). They are measuring the ions as well. And the scale most of our kits use is called the Total Ion Scale.

This is not as complicated as it seems. Just like there are kilometers in the UK and miles in the USA, we can easily convert one to the other. The same is true with the for the Nitrogen and Total Ion scales. At the heart of it is the fact that the test mg/L or ppm numbers are greater when using the Total Ion Scale than they are on the nitrogen scale. And all of this is relevant because the directions on your bottle of ammonium chloride will produce higher numbers on an API test kit.

So, when you add 1 drop per liter and test, you should not see 2 mg/l (2ppm), you should see about 2.56. And when it says not to exceed 5 mg/l-N (5ppm), this would test at about 6.4. The magnification factor increases with each stage in the cycle. BTW, 1 mg/L = 1 ppm.

Armed with the above information and what you posted, here is how it looks to me.

While your tank is called a 125L, you do not have that much water in it. I would bet the tank is not filled to the very top, there is likely some air space. Then the substrate and any decor also displace some of the volume. The more things we put into a tank, the lower the potential water volume gets. So lets assume your tank really has only 90% of that 125L or 112 (rounded down).

So to produce Dr. T's 2 mg/l-N or API's test kit result of 2.5 mg/L, you should have added 112 drops (about 1.5 ml) of ammonium chloride not 25. 25 drops should only create about 22% of 2.5 mg/L, or about .5 mg/L of ammonia on an API kit. (On Dr. T's Nitrogen scale that would have been .44 mg/L-N) So, I have no clue how you got to 2 ppm on your test kit. I see any of several potential explanations:

1. Your test kits, or at least the ammonia one is expired.
2. You are doing the testing incorrectly.
3. You are misreading the test result color.
3. You could have something in the tap water which gives false readings for ammonia. Iron would be one such thing.
4. You have ammonia in your tap water.

I also have a few more Qs.
What dechlor are you using?
Can you please confirm that you are using API test kits and they are not expired. If not API, then what brand?
Do you have test numbers for your tap parameters?

I am thinking that your solution is to do one of two things. Both require a reset of the tank (i.e. several large water changes). Then you will start over. One way is to do a traditional fishless cycle with no added bacteria. For that you should follow thie directions on this site for doing that. This would mean about 4 -6 weeks to cycle the tank.
https://www.fishforums.net/threads/cycling-your-new-fresh-water-tank-read-this-first.421488/

If you are in a rush, then you need to use the Dr. Tom's and to follow his instructions for doing a fishless cycle using his ammonium chloride and his bacterial starter.
https://www.drtimsaquatics.com/resources/library/quick-guide-to-fishless-cycling-with-one-and-only/

I am happy to work with you to get your tank cycled either way if you want my help.
Thanks again for your help. You may have misunderstood my dosing explanation. I originally dosed to 2.0ppm (110 drops) and the a few days later added another 25 drops when it looked like it had gone down to 1.5ppm. Im going to leave it for a couple more weeks and see if it kicks in naturally without any further intervention. If not I will take your advice and change the water. Merry Christmas!
 
Thanks again for your help. You may have misunderstood my dosing explanation. I originally dosed to 2.0ppm (110 drops) and the a few days later added another 25 drops when it looked like it had gone down to 1.5ppm. Im going to leave it for a couple more weeks and see if it kicks in naturally without any further intervention. If not I will take your advice and change the water. Merry Christmas!
Ok... That's good. Continue to maintain a total of 2.0ppm no more, no matter what.

If you have no plants at the moment, And if it shows no sign of "new tank syndrome", don't change the water. until you complete the cycle. It's wasting the ammonia you're adding for nothing. Don't add ammonia blindly. Add only in relation to your test results.

Keep heading in that direction at the same speed, Your boat floats... Continue until you see nitrite lowering.

When it kicks-in, it's going to be surprisingly fast.
 

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