Fishless cycle help please

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Moose84

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Aug 2, 2020
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Warning essay in coming!
Hello, please could I have some advice on my fishless cycle.
I have a 200l Juwel Lido with the internal filter it came with. Started my fishlsss cycle almost 4 weeks ago. It came with some bio boost tablets so I put them in the filter as I figured it couldn't hurt even if it didn't work. Added my plants (I have about 13 and 5 mosses plus floating one)Cranked temp up to 30 degrees and started dosing dr timms up to 4ppm. After 3 days ammonia started dropping overnight to 1 so dosed back up to 4ppm.

I have measured nitrite and nitrate throughout and have had some readings on both (someone told me this could be from my liquid fertiliser) but generally my nitrate doesn't read and nitrite seems stuck at 0.25 or 0.5 and doesn't go any higher even though I am adding 200 drops per day of Dr Tims as it disappears down to zero overnight. This has been happening for over 3 weeks and still no significant nitrite or nitrate. About 10days ago I added a large piece of bogwood which had been soaking and then a week ago my PH started dropping.

I read that you need to do a pwc to preserve buffers so did that and added prime and my flourish as well and carried on with the Dr tims. I am not through a bottlw and a half of dr tims. Ammonia disappears every night ao I know I have that bacteria but I can't seem to get much nitrite to kick start that part of the cycle no matter what I do. Also now my pH is dropping its stressing me out as I know this can kill your good bacteria. I added some bicarb of soda which stabilised the pH for about a week but now its beginning to drop slowly again.

Any advice would be great. Do I just keep dosing with dr tims forever hoping to one day develop a significant spike in nitrite? What can I do about my PH? Should I take my bog wood out?
Many thanks and sorry for the long post!

Today's readings pH 7/6.8 ammonia 0, nitrite 0.25, nitrate 0/5ppm
 
Apr 2, 2002
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Dr. Tim's ammonium chloride is a great product when used properly. This may help.

A Quick Guide to Fishless Cycling

There are many opinions about how to fishless cycle your aquarium. But they normally just confuse readers and generate more questions than answers. Below is an article explaining the process and a couple of ways to fishless cycle, which we encourage everyone to read. Need more information about Fishless Cycling? You can find it in the article: DrTim's Guide to Fishless Cycling
Here we present a short, concise recipe on how to fishless cycle your aquarium. You can choose to add DrTim's One & Only Live Nitrifying Bacteria or not with this method. But, of course, by adding our bacteria, the cycling time will be shorter and you'll be watching fish in your aquarium sooner.

MATERIALS NEEDED:
You will need an ammonia solution, ammonia and nitrite test kits (a pH test kit is also a good idea) and a little patience.
The Process:
  • Day 1 - dose ammonia to 2 ppm ammonia-nitrogen [NH3-N] using our ammonium chloride (1 drop per gallon [After Nov 2016 when using DrTim's ammonium chloride use 4 drops per gallon]) [NOTE: do not expect your test kit to exactly read 2 ppm and it is not critical to get exactly 2 ppm. The key is to not add too much ammonia]. If using DrTim's Aquatics One & Only Live Nitrifying bacteria add it now (turn skimmer, UV and ozone off and remove filter socks for 48 hours).
  • Day 2 - Measure ammonia and nitrite.
  • Day 3 - If ammonia and nitrite are below 1 ppm add more ammonia: four drops of our ammonium chloride per gallon (check the label).
  • Days 4 & 5 - Measure ammonia and nitrite.
  • Day 6 - If ammonia and nitrite are below 1 ppm add 2 ppm ammonia. Four drops of our ammonium chloride per gallon. [NOTE: since you have added the One & Only your ammonia kit will not read 2 ppm and DO NOT continue adding ammonia trying to get to 2 ppm - just add 2 ppm ammonia (4 drops per gallon of our ammonium chloride) and carry-on.
  • Days 7 & 8 - Measure ammonia and nitrite. On the first measurement day (Day 2, 4, 5, 7 or 8) that BOTH ammonia and nitrite are both below 0.5 ppm (NH3-N or NO2-N) your tank is close to being cycled.
  • Now start to measure ammonia and nitrite every day.
  • When BOTH ammonia and nitrite are below 0.2 ppm (NH3-N or NO2-N), add another 2 ppm ammonia.
  • Continue to measure every day. When you can add 2 ppm ammonia and BOTH ammonia and nitrite are below 0.2 ppm (NH3-N or NO2-N) the next day your tank is cycled - congrats! You're done!
  • Do a partial water change and add some fish.
From http://www.drtimsaquatics.com/resources/fishless-cycling
 

fishbuddha

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Aug 2, 2020
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After 4 weeks, I think you have cycled the tank successfully. I would add the fish and check on pH weekly. You may need to stabilize the pH with buffer.
 

FreshyFresh

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Jan 11, 2013
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Did you dose ammonia to 4ppm often?

Reason I ask is, I did this on a 29gal I fishless cycled years ago. What happened to me is nitrites spiked so high on my API master test kit that it read a false zero PPM per the test tube. Out of frustration I did a ~90% water change and discovered nitrates at a very high PPM. Did another large water change and my cycle took off and the tank produced nothing but nitrates in a matter of hours. I believe for my situation, nitrites were so high, it stalled the cycle.
 
Apr 2, 2002
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Cycling a tank using Dr. Tim''s is something that can easily confuse new fish keepers. In a normal fish;less cycle you have almost no bacteria at the start. By adding ammonia you induce those few ammonia bacteria to multiply. This takes a little time. As the ammonia disappears, nitrite will begin to appear. This builds up as there are almost no nitrite bacteria there to handle it yet.

Dr. Tim's it contains both the ammonia and the nitrite bacteria. This changes things. When the bacteria are grown in Dr. Tim's facility, they are essentially doing the same thing as an in tank fishless cycle. The difference is it is dome on a massive scale. The end result is a balance of bacteria between ammonia and nitrite oxidizers, You are pouring a complete cycle into your tank.

The bacteria in the bottle may be a bit asleep when you add them, but the ammonia one adds to the tanks wakes them up fast and away they go. As soon as they begin making nitrite, those bacteria are already there and they then spring into action, you do not have to wait for them to colonize (multiply). Therefore, you will see little or no nitrite at all.

You should be able to cycle almost any tank to handle a full fish load using a single dose of Dr. Tim's and one or two doses of ammonia to no more than 3 ppm (I recommend his ammonium chloride). Because I have a need to be able to have a tank up and ready for fish in 24 hours or less, I husually have some Dr. Tim's in my fridge. I buy a larger size so I can use as needed. However, for those wishing to cycle a singe tank the best size is the one closest to your tank size. If I have time to cycle a tank or bio-farm, I will use a lower dose of the bacteria and then add ammonia for longer to get the tank to where I want it.
 

Moose84

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Aug 2, 2020
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Hi guys thanks for your replies and sorry if I wasn't clear. I didnt use Dr Tims bacteria only ammonia. I got some Juwel bio boost tablets with my filter which I put in but then I was just dosing dr Tims ammonia daily up to 4ppm which took about 200 drops so I got through a bottle in 2 weeks. My ammonia disappears each day from 4 to 0 and has been doing this for 3 weeks but I never seem to get any nitrite spikes. Nitrite always reads between 0.25 and 0.5 and is light purple on the API liquid test kit. I was wondering if my cycle was stalled because ammonia always disappears each day quite quickly but my nitrite doesn't appear. I know plants can eradicate nitrate but not nitrite surely? I cant complete my fishless cycle because I don't seem to have enough nitrite to trigger the nitrite eating bacteria which converts it to nitrate.
 

fishbuddha

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Aug 2, 2020
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Do you have many plants in your tank? Most aquatic plants can take up ammonium, nitrite, and nitrate. As a matter of fact, they preferentially use them in that order. So my opinion is that you haves cycled your tank successfully.
 

Moose84

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Aug 2, 2020
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Yes I have quite a few plants. 3 java ferns, 2 annubias, 5 or 6 different mosses such as java moss and spiky moss. Salvinia floating plant, wilsii, two red and green ones I cant remember the name of and some grasses and other foreground plants. I was wondering if I was successfully cycled but then thought even if I only have 0.25 of nitrite it could still hurt fish and I don't want to accidentally cause suffering.

My tap levels are next to nothing 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite and only around 5ppm nitrate.

Also about 3 weeks into fishless cyclinv my pH started rapidly reducing so I did a water change and added Prime and have been adding stability ever since. I also tried adding some bicarbinate of soda to bring it up when it went right down to 6 because I read this could kill the beneficial bacteria. This helped it stabilise for a week then it started dropping again. Its all very confusing!
 

fishbuddha

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Aug 2, 2020
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I still believe you have cycled successfully. Your plants may be using nitrites up before you can detect them. Keep adjusting pH with sodium bicarbonate weekly. It may take a few times to build up buffer capacity. I think you should introduce one fish and see how it goes. If you want to see nitrite increase, maybe remove and test a bit of your water/substrate in another container without plants. This would help determine if your plants are affecting your ability to detect nitrites.
 
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Moose84

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Thanks I will let you know how it goes. Levels look pretty good anyway but I will start with just one or two fish to keel levels stable.
 
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