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Discussion in 'Cycle your Tank' started by Deidre Bunch, Mar 21, 2019.

  1. Deidre Bunch

    Deidre Bunch New Member

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    Hi,

    I’m trying to re-establish the cycle in my tank and I’m having some troubles. Two nights ago I had readings as follows: Ammonia 0.25, Nitrite 0.50, Nitrate 10.0. I did two 50% PWC back to back, vacuumed the gravel a bit and added a maintenance dose of bacteria. Last night my levels were: Ammonia 0.25, Nitrite 0.25, Nitrate 5.0. I didn’t have time to do any PWC last night. Tonight my levels were: Ammonia 0.25, Nitrite 0.50, Nitrate 10.0. I did one 50% PWC, vacuumed and added the last of my bottled bacteria.

    I understad how the Nitrite and the Nitrate went down and back up around the PWC but I don’t get why the Ammonia stays the same.

    Also, how can I get rid of the Nitrite without doing so many water changes that my fish become stressed?

    Also, am I slowing down my cycle by doing all these water changes?

    Please help!!
     
  2. Deanasue

    Deanasue Moderator
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    With fish in the tank you’ll have to do water changes.
     
  3. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    Hi and welcome to the forum :)

    Anything that breaks down in the water, be it fish food, fish waste, dead plant, dead fish, etc, produce ammonia. In a healthy tank with an established filter, the ammonia is eaten by beneficial bacteria and converted into nitrite. You get more good bacteria that eat nitrite and convert it into nitrate. You get rid of nitrates by doing water changes.

    In a new tank the bacteria is not normally present and you get a build up of ammonia that harms and can kill the fish. A few weeks after the tank has been set up, you get the first colonies of good bacteria that eat the ammonia. A couple of weeks after that you start to get the other good bacteria that eat the nitrite. It normally takes about 4-6 weeks for an aquarium to develop the colonies of good bacteria that keep the ammonia and nitrite levels at 0.

    When the ammonia and nitrite levels have gone up and come back down to 0, and the nitrate levels start to go up, the tank will be considered cycled (developed the necessary good filter bacteria) and you can feed the fish once or twice a day and do a 75% water change once a week. Until then you keep feeding down and water changes up. By reducing the food going into the tank, you help to keep the ammonia levels lower. By doing big water changes, you help to dilute any ammonia in the water.

    In a newly set up aquarium, you should feed the fish to 2-3 times per week. Don't worry, the fish won't starve. You should also do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate 4-8 hours after feeding. And you should monitor the ammonia and nitrite levels and do a 75% water change any day you have an ammonia or nitrite reading above 0, or a nitrate reading above 20ppm.
    *NB* Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it is added to the tank.

    The big water changes will not harm the filter bacteria or fish as long as any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it is added to the tank.

    -------------------------
    During the first month of a tank's cycle, you monitor the ammonia and nitrite levels. You normally get ammonia readings for the first few weeks. The ammonia goes up and as the beneficial filter bacteria build up in numbers they gradually convert the ammonia into nitrite. After a few weeks the ammonia level will suddenly drop to 0 and the nitrite will start to go up. A couple of weeks later the nitrite levels drop to 0 and the nitrates start to go up. You get rid of nitrates by doing water changes.

    During the cycling period you do not test for nitrates until the ammonia and nitrite have gone up and come back down to 0. Nitrate test kits will read nitrite as nitrate and give you a false reading. So you monitor ammonia during the first few weeks and then start monitoring nitrite as well. Once they have both gone up and come down to 0, you start monitoring nitrate.

    -------------------------
    Do not clean the new filter for the first 6-8 weeks. This allows the filter bacteria a chance to settle in properly and stick to the filter media. Two weeks after the filters have finished cycling, you can start to clean the filter.

    Established filters should be cleaned at least once a month and every 2 weeks is better.

    To clean a power filter or internal sponge/ box filter. You get a bucket of water from the aquarium and squeeze the filter materials out in the bucket of tank water. When they are clean you put them in the aquarium. Wash/ rinse the filter case and impellor assembly (for a power filter) under tap water. Remove any excess tap water by tipping the filter case upside down, then put the filter materials back into the filter and set it back up and get it going.

    If you have an undergravel filter, that will be cleaned when you do water changes and gravel clean the substrate. You can buy a basic model gravel cleaner from any pet shop and they are worth getting. You only need a basic model gravel cleaner like the one in the following link. Do not buy the expensive fancy types because they are no better than a base model gravel cleaner.
    https://www.about-goldfish.com/aquarium-cleaning.html
     
  4. Deidre Bunch

    Deidre Bunch New Member

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    I have Molly, Platy, a pleco and nerite snails.
     
  5. steelo

    steelo Fish Fanatic

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    With a fish in cycle, the only option is to change the water. I believe you want nitrites under 0.75 and ammonia as close to 0 as possible (ANY ammonia can be harmful to fish). The amount of water you change would be dependent upon the levels. This type of cycling can take up to 6 months so I'd monitor the water very closely. I'd also be very frugal feeding them as decomposing food/fish waste will raise the ammonia/nitrite levels, maybe only feed them a pinch every other day. Remove any visible uneaten food/waste you see after feeding.
     
    #5 steelo, Mar 22, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2019
  6. Deidre Bunch

    Deidre Bunch New Member

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    Hi,

    Thanks for this, there is a lot of great information here. I’ve had to “swish” my filter in the water after a PWC because it keeps getting gunked up and not flowing anymore. I bought a second filter and attached it as well with the hope that in a couple weeks it will have enough BB in it that I can replace the original filter and get the flow back. Any advice here?
     
  7. Deidre Bunch

    Deidre Bunch New Member

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    Hi,

    Ammonia tends to stay at between 0 and 0.25 and Nitrites between 0.24 and 0.50. I do either one 50% PWC or two back to back 50% PWC but I can’t seem to get the Ammonia down.
     
  8. Deanasue

    Deanasue Moderator
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    Does your public water supply use chlorine or chloramine? If chloramine then it will show a little ammonia as a false reading. My always shows .25 but when I do free ammonia test it’s fine. I also have an ammonia alert in the tank.
     
  9. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    The ammonia from chloramine is not a false reading. It is actual ammonia that can harm the fish.

    Chloramine is a mixture of chlorine and ammonia. The ammonia helps the chlorine remain active for longer so it can kill bacteria and other microscopic organisms in the water for a for a longer period of time.

    When you use a dechlorinator, it breaks the chlorine ammonia bond and neutralises the chlorine, but it leaves the ammonia behind. This ammonia can harm fish so companies that make dechlorinators, add other things to bind with the ammonia to make it safer for fish. The ammonia is then used by filter bacteria.
     
  10. Deidre Bunch

    Deidre Bunch New Member

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    I have well water but when I tested it I did get a small amount of ammonia. Wouldn’t that just add to how much is in the tank though and still be counted as harmful?
     
  11. Deidre Bunch

    Deidre Bunch New Member

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    So now I’m confused, lol. I do have 0.25 ammonia in my well water and I use the Top Fin conditioner, which is supposed to work on ammonia and chlorine. Does this mean I will get a positive reading even though it is harmless or does the conditioner only work for a certain amount of time and then leave me with extra ammonia from my water?
     
  12. Byron

    Byron Member

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    Most ammonia test kits read ammonia and ammonium as "ammonia." My API does.

    Some conditioners that detoxify ammonia do so temporarily, not permanently, and do it by changing ammonia to ammonium. Prime for example; it is effective according to Seachem for 24-36 hours, after which the "ammonium" turns back into "ammonia" if the pH is above 7.

    When you have ammonia in the source water, and provided it is minimal as suggested here, the initial influx of ammonia to the aquarium at the water changes can be handled safely by using a conditioner that detoxifies ammonia if the pH is basic (above 7). [At an acidic pH, ammonia changes to ammonium for the most part and this is basically harmless, and plants/bacteria/archaea will take either up.] Even if the conditioner is effective for just 24-48 hours, by then the AOB (ammonia oxidizing bacteria) or AOA (ammonia oxidizing archaea), whichever, will be able to handle the ammonia/ammonium. And live plants will take it up regardless, and faster.
     
  13. Deidre Bunch

    Deidre Bunch New Member

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    How do I know if the top fin conditioner only lasts a certain amount of time? I can’t find anything on the bottle about it, it just says “helps neutralize harmful ammonia, chloranime and chlorine”. I do have libe plants but I was told that they were all slow growers and would not help me.
     
  14. Byron

    Byron Member

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    I would not worry about the length of time. The initial detoxification will deal with the immediate influx of ammonia, and the bacteria/archaea will easily handle things after 24 hours. Nitrifying bacteria require 12-32 hours to multiply, which they do by binary division [each bacterium divides into two bacteria]. Nitrosomonas (the AOB) multiply in less time (12+ hours) while Nitrospira (the NOB) require more time (up to 32 hours).

    Plants as I say help, faster growing ones will outcompete the AOB, but even slow growers help.
     
  15. Deanasue

    Deanasue Moderator
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    Thank you, Byron for explaining correctly.
     
    #15 Deanasue, Mar 22, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2019

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