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Weird cycle test results.

sharkweek178

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I'm fishless cycling a quarantine tank. Normally I just use an established filter and add some fast growing floating plants for my quarantine/hospital. I'm getting some new fish soon and decided to fishless cycle for the heck of it. 10 gallon tank. Sponge filter, air turned up for extra oxygenation. Temp set at 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Play sand substrate, plastic plants and pvc piping. No live plants yet. Testing is being done with an API Master Test kit.

I set up the tank on Jan 1.
I added 24 drops of ammonia on Jan 2.
Put in a bottle of Tetra SafeStart and a handful of sand from an established tank on Jan 3.
Tested on Jan 5. Ammonia 2.0 ppm, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 0.
Tested again on Jan 9. Ammonia 2.0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 10 ppm. That stood out because I thought it was weird to get nitrates without seeing nitrites first. I figured that maybe I accidentally added a wrong amount of reagent or something.
Today Jan 14 the results were Ammonia 0.25, Nitrite 0 and Nitrates 20.

What do we make of these test results? At this rate, it looks like a cycle will have completed in less than 3 weeks. That seems a little too good to be true to me. Especially not seeing any nitrites on any of the tests. I know that Tetra SafeStart and adding a little substrate from an established tank can help accelerate the cycle a little. But I don't think it works that quickly.
Right now my plan is to add 24 more drops of ammonia later today and keep testing.
 
It’s quite common not to see nitrites in a cycle, especially if you’ve added bacteria. It just means there were nitrite-eating bacteria there at the start, waiting for nitrite, and converting it straight to nitrate as soon as it appeared, so it didn’t have a chance to build up to detectable levels.
Tetra Safe Start is one that is known to work.
 
I know I guy who can start a tank in a week!
He just squeezes out all the gunk from one his used sponge filters in it.
 
I will see your 7 days and raise you 6.5. I can set up a tank and have it be cycled an hour or less from when I am done setting it up. For a dollar I will tell you how I do it. :p Normally, when I need to cycle several tanks at once, I will instead cycle filters in a bio-farm.

Hint (I have 20 cycled tanks from 5.5 - 150 gallons running. Some are over-planted, and number of them are best described as heavily or even overstocked.)
 
I will see your 7 days and raise you 6.5. I can set up a tank and have it be cycled an hour or less from when I am done setting it up. For a dollar I will tell you how I do it. :p Normally, when I need to cycle several tanks at once, I will instead cycle filters in a bio-farm.

Hint (I have 20 cycled tanks from 5.5 - 150 gallons running. Some are over-planted, and number of them are best described as heavily or even overstocked.)
In a pinch I have a sponge filter running in an established tank that I use for emergencies. I also throw in a handful of a fast growing floating plant. That usually works. Plus I do water changes every other day when the fish are new to the q tank.
 
I run a Q tank the same as a normal tank until there is a reason to change this. So, weekly water changes and normal feeding. I am one who believe that water changes and maint. on a tank tends to scare most fish. We know this is the case if they are hiding. And this is stressful to some extent. This is especially true for fish new to the tank. I have had established SAEs try to nibble the hair on my forearms and the backs of my hands thinking it is hair algae. I have had established amanos do the same.

So, early on in the life of a tank which is stocked. I prefer to only do weekly maint./WCs unless I have good reason to do them more often.

Of course, this is just my way of doing things and that doesn't mean it is either the only or even the best way. It is just what I feel is the best way and why I think that.
 
I've seen this when providing enough benificial bacteria to start with. IMO just means you have quickly established a cycled tank and the ammonia is being cycled to nitrates efficiently, so you never see nitrites.
 

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