Where are my nitrItes!?!

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Etown73

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Hi there. Question: I’ve been fishless cycling a new 10g tank using bacteria from a bottle for about 5 weeks and why don’t I have any nitrItes yet? I’ve been feeding the tank with 10% ammonia to try to maintain 2ppm. The ammonia has been slowly dropping again and again. I have seen an increase in nitrates. But NO nitrites!?! My API test kit has shown nitrAtes at about 40. I took water samples to two different LFS today and got different numbers between the two of them.



My #s: ammonia 1.5/ nitrIte 0/ nitrAte 40



lfs #1: ammonia 1.5/ nitrIte 0/ nitrAte 0 (doesn’t make much sense as our city tap water has 5 for nitrate)



Lfs #2: ammonia 1.5/ nitrIte 0/ nitrAte 20




Other info on my tank (for what it’s worth): started out using prime for initial 10g fill. Now use tetra water conditioner for chlorine and chloramines when I do water top offs and my one small water change thus far (was maybe 10% change). Used Bio Spira at very beginning and at that point was feeding ammonia to 3 or 4 ppm (so maybe I killed that bacteria?). About 4 weeks into cycling I used Tetra Safestart plus bacteria. At that point I’ve only been dosing ammonia to 2ppm. Using whisper hob filter with charcoal in it. Have bubbler going. Temp initially was at 86, but a couple weeks ago brought it down to 80. No live plants and no fish. Haven’t been able to get material from a cycled tank. pH of water is about 8 and water is very hard in Etown.



Any thoughts on why I have no nitrites, but I do have nitrAtes? The lfs that said my nitrAtes are at 20 and said once the ammonia drops to maybe .5 I could try a platy. My goal has been to get to zero ammonia within 24 hours after dosing it to 2ppm before getting fish. HELP! is there any chance that the initial dose of bottled bacteria eats up the nitrite before it has ever been detected? Thank you
 

Byron

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The answer to you last question in your post is, yes. Reliable bacterial supplements, and Tetra's SafeStart is certainly one, will introduce live bacteria for both AOB and NOB (ammonia oxidizing bacteria and nitrite oxidizing bacteria). This product is intended for use with fish present, so this is a crucial aspect.

I would stop adding any artificial ammonia. Do you have live plants?
 

mbsqw1d

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What's your end goal for the tank fish wise and plants if you don't mind me asking? And what substrate do you have? Thanks
 
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Etown73

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The answer to you last question in your post is, yes. Reliable bacterial supplements, and Tetra's SafeStart is certainly one, will introduce live bacteria for both AOB and NOB (ammonia oxidizing bacteria and nitrite oxidizing bacteria). This product is intended for use with fish present, so this is a crucial aspect.

I would stop adding any artificial ammonia. Do you have live plants?
Thanks for replying. I do not have any plants in the tank. If I stop feeding it with ammonia then I need to add some fish; can I trust that the cycle is far enough along so that the fish wouldn’t get burned? Thank you again.
 
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Etown73

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What's your end goal for the tank fish wise and plants if you don't mind me asking? And what substrate do you have? Thanks
Thanks for inquiring. I have no live plants and might consider them in the future. I have the typical fish store brightly colored gravel. My goal is to get some hardy fish in there like platys and guppies, and other community type fish.
 

Byron

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Thanks for replying. I do not have any plants in the tank. If I stop feeding it with ammonia then I need to add some fish; can I trust that the cycle is far enough along so that the fish wouldn’t get burned? Thank you again.

I would consider your first fish, once you test zero ammonia and nitrite for consecutive days. Do a major water change to reduce the nitrates to as low as possible. As for suitable fish, what are the water parameters, namely GH and pH for the tap water?

Nitrifying bacteria do not die off if ammonia is no longer available. They go into a sort of suspended state, which can last varying periods though not excessive, but a few weeks seems likely.
 
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Etown73

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I would consider your first fish, once you test zero ammonia and nitrite for consecutive days. Do a major water change to reduce the nitrates to as low as possible. As for suitable fish, what are the water parameters, namely GH and pH for the tap water?

Nitrifying bacteria do not die off if ammonia is no longer available. They go into a sort of suspended state, which can last varying periods though not excessive, but a few weeks seems likely.
I’m not sure the current ph and gh (we have very hard water here and the ph of the tap is about 8 to maybe 8.4), but historically in the past I had hardy fish like platys and guppies and the skinny mini shark looking bottom feeder.
 

Byron

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I’m not sure the current ph and gh (we have very hard water here and the ph of the tap is about 8 to maybe 8.4), but historically in the past I had hardy fish like platys and guppies and the skinny mini shark looking bottom feeder.

See if your water authority has a website, the data may be posted on it. Or you can call them. It is wise to pin down the GH especially, but if assuming it is on the hard side thenb livebearers (like platies, guppies) would be one option...except a 10g is not sufficient space for platies. Guppies would work, and/or Endlers. And we could probably find some other cyprinids (thinking the glowlight danio, not to be confused with the glowlight tetra) but we need to be sure of the GH.
 

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Perhaps you missed the nitrite?

As previously mentioned, stop adding ammonia and see how that goes.

It appears like your tank is either cycled, or just about there and you only have ammonia from adding extra. The 5 week timeframe also supports this. Good luck and post some pics once you're all set up!
 
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Etown73

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See if your water authority has a website, the data may be posted on it. Or you can call them. It is wise to pin down the GH especially, but if assuming it is on the hard side thenb livebearers (like platies, guppies) would be one option...except a 10g is not sufficient space for platies. Guppies would work, and/or Endlers. And we could probably find some other cyprinids (thinking the glowlight danio, not to be confused with the glowlight tetra) but we need to be sure of the GH.
I’ll check on the Gh. I wonder if I can even find endlers at my lfs. I’ve had platys in a 10g before. curious as to why you don’t think it’s big enough, but I’m always open to change. I have a thick book of fish species and will take a look at that too. I made some changes in the tank today: 40% water change, charcoal out of filter pouch, 14 drops 10% ammonia, moved biological sponge filter to back of hob filter and put empty charcoal-less pouch in front of bio filter sponge. I plan to remove the empty pouch (which I’m thinking has some bacteria built up on it) after I get a few bio rings and some filter floss going so that I don’t completely screw up my cycling. I also want to put a small prefilter sponge on the intake. thank You for your help btw .
 
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Etown73

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Perhaps you missed the nitrite?

As previously mentioned, stop adding ammonia and see how that goes.

It appears like your tank is either cycled, or just about there and you only have ammonia from adding extra. The 5 week timeframe also supports this. Good luck and post some pics once you're all set up!
Thank you! I did add some more ammonia today after I did a 40% water change . I’m curious to see how fast the bacteria can break it down. I’m going to beef up my biological filtration too if I can. When I did do fishless cycling in the past I dosed the ammonia high at the end and when it dropped to zero in a 24 hr ( or maybe it was 12 hrs) period I did the massive water change and added multiple fish. It worked like a charm, but I had some lovely media from a cycled tank. No such luck this time. I will post pics when we get fish in, but it’s a kids spongebob themed tank for my 8 year old so don’t get your hopes up :)
 
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Etown73

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It’s been a looooooong time but I thought I’d still update. The tank is cycled. The bacteria that change nitrite into nitrate really were up and running from early on thanks to Marineland Bio Spira. I don’t think the Bio Spira or Tetra Safe Start did anything to help with building up the bacteria that convert ammonia to nitrite ☹️. The first fish we got was a variatus platy and he was sick with parasites and Went back to the lfs to be treated (he lived). I left the tank empty for a couple of weeks or so to let the parasites die and fed the Bb with ammonia again. We have 2 male guppies in it now and I’ve got to deal with parasites and maybe ick. I’m going to quarantine any new fish! Anywho, thank you all for the help!
 

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