Fishless Cycle Stuck - No Nitrites

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Andy90

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Oct 21, 2020
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Thanks for your input! I'm going to keep tabs on the pH, so far it's holding a pretty stable 7.7 so I'm happy. I added the bacteria and ammonia solution this morning after doing a full water change yesterday and letting the water get to about 82 degrees overnight. So far everything seems okay...tomorrow I'll test it as per the instructions. Hoping it goes well!
 

Andy90

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Oct 21, 2020
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So today is day 3 of my cycle! I've been following the dr tim's instructions and I'm kind of stuck. According to the instructions I should add more ammonia if the ammonia level is below 1 or the nitrites are below 1. Right now the nitrite is definitely a solid 0 but the ammonia isn't. I had someone else confirm the color because I suck at comparing the colors and from what they saw the level is between 1 and 2 (closer to 2 than it is one). I'm assuming I should just leave it alone for right now? There's probably a little more ammonia than there should be because of the small amount that was left over from my huge water change (as I couldn't get it all out) so I'm not wanting to add more as I fear I already might have too much.

pH is still okay, It's a solid 7.6-7.7 Everything else seems normal too.
 

fishorama

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I'm going to punt to TTA, lol. He has much more experience with this cycling method than I do. I wouldn't do anything right now...It "seems" to me you're on track...Two Tank, we need your input!!
 
Apr 2, 2002
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The thing to realize is what is in the bottle of bacteria you added. It is both ammonia and nitrite bacteria. And they are there in the proper balance. This means whatever ammonia is handled, there are enough nitrite backs to reals with that.

The bacteria in the bottle are basically dormant. They are that way because in the bottle they lack what they need to fundction as a group- ammonia, oxygen and inorganic carbon. They are in good shape but asleep. When you put them into the water, they wake up. They have to find a nice place to settle on and then they go to work.

Next, Dr, Tim is a scientist. He works with the nitrogen scale. R=that is why the instructions say: " Day 1 – dose ammonia to 2 ppm ammonia-nitrogen [NH3-N] " That -N lets one know this. If you have the right kind of test kit, you might be able to read the NH3. But most kits use the total ion scale. However, it is possible to convert between the two. If you added 4 drops/gallon you will not get 2 ppm, you will get between 2.4 and 2.7 ppm (2.56 target). The factor I use is x 1.28. So 1 ppm NH3-N = 1.28 ppm NH3.

The same thing happens with Nitrite only the number gets bigger. Dr. Tims's 1 ppm of nitrite on hobby test kits = 2.55 ppm.

I am going to guess you are using API test kits. If so you need to convert the numbers in Dr. Tim's Instructions.
For ammonia multiply them by 1.28
For nitrite multiply them by 2.55.

Wait to add another 4 drops/gallon when ammonia is under 1.28 ppm.

Also, please answer the following ( I caould not got back and read the whole thread, so forgive me if I ask something you arlready posted)

You shook up he bottle of bacteria before you added it?
What brand of dechlor do you use? If you have one that binds ammonia, this slows the cycle and also messes with ammonia results.
How long after the big water change did you add the ammonium chloride and bacteria?
What were your test results for ammonia and nitrite on day 2?
Does the tank have substrate? If not this can also slow the cycle.
Are there live plants in the tank?
What filtration aeration is on/in the tank?


One last observation. You are trying to establish microscopic organisms in your tank. You cannot see them and you cannot count them. The only way you know you have them is your test kits. Testing and keeping a record of results is important when cycling. This is because cycling is a process. It has to follow a specific order. There are factor that can alter the speed of a cycle and even stall it. And the only way to know what is going on in such cases is testing. Also know what can throw test results off is important to know.
 

Andy90

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Oct 21, 2020
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So, bear with me if I'm screwing this up. I'm going to try to answer as best I can
For the ammonia: As of tonight (needed to have someone else compare the colors for me again) it seems to be about a 1.5 (API test kit) Though I would say it's a tad lighter than it was yesterday.
Nitrite: Still at zero
I shook the bacteria in a bottle super well. Even rinsed it out with the tank water as well to make sure I got everything.
I have the API water conditioner that I usually use but for this particular time I used tetra's safe start (dosed to 60 gallons).
I changed the water on Tuesday and then added chemicals the following day. I waited a day for the water to warm back up to about 83 as when I filled the tank the temperature was about 68.
Nitrite on day 2 was 0, but to me the Ammonia definitely seemed to be at least 2, possibly a 3.
Tank has about 1-3 inches of substrate depending on what part of the tank (back vs front) and lots of little decorations and the like.
No live plants, only artificial.
Filtration is two filters (both are three-in-ones (biological, mechanical, chemical (carbon)) also one air pump that is putting air out into two bubbling decorations (a good amount of bubbles coming from both).

Thanks for the continued help everybody.
 
Apr 2, 2002
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Tetra Safe Start Plus is bacteria in a bottle. It does not contain any dechlor. The instructions for use ell one to dechlorinate the water first. Chlorine will kill the bacteria. Chloramine will basically put them to sleep. As long as there is some ammonia in the water, they will revive when the small amount of chlorine remaining is gone.

So I need to be sure I am understanding what you are reporting. What I understand you to be telling us is that you filled your tank with tap water and then added the bacteria. So what I am seeing is that you did not use any product that is sold as a dechlorinator? If so, immediately add dechlor to your tank.

It is important here that you give details. Saying you added chemicals is too vague. What I would like to see you doing is saying exactly what you added by name, how much of it you added and when. Also, the same info is needed for test results. What did you test for, when and what were the exact results you got. These need to be what you see not a posted picture. If you have help deciding on the color, then report what you saw and what that person saw,

The reason I am being such a stickler here is because of the fact that cycling is a process. This process is one of developing invisible coloies of microscopic bacteria. The only way we can know what is going on is our test kits. Hobby kits can do the job but are not exactly lab grade equipment. They can be wrong or there can be things in the water than can interfere with the results. However, it is still important to have as much exact information as possible, it allows us to chart the progress and that tells us where in the process things are. it also helps us know when things may be wrong.

I know almost no fish keepers who had their first cycle be a snap. Most of this stuff is completely new to us when we get our first tank. I know it took me somewhere over 5 years and a number of tanks to have any real understanding. And I am still learning to this day. The one place I feel I was smart about at all was that only my first tank was cycled with fish.

From what I can tell from your reporting of your tank set-up, this should not be a source of anything thet mugh make your cycle go more slowly.
 

Andy90

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Oct 21, 2020
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Oops! Sorry, sorry! I'm getting my terms mixed up. I did NOT use safe start. I used Tetra's version of the water conditioner to remove the chlorine. My mistake, I called it the wrong thing.

What I used to condition the water was: AquaSafe water conditioner. I added that first then the following day added the ammonium chlorine and the bacteria in a bottle (those two things are what I called "chemicals" which technically wasn't right). When I tested for chlorine/chloramine that tested at 0.

I'll update this post with today's results when I have them. I'll try real hard to compare the colors for myself so I can post my interpretation of it as well as what my second person saw.
 
Apr 2, 2002
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I had a hunch that is what you would be posting. However, I never use dechlor because I have amazing well water. I do keep some on hand for use when away from home. The good news is the Tetra peoduct does not detoxifiy ammnonia. That would slow a cycle but not stop it.

I have issues with any product which states it contains an ingredient/ingredients which contain something to help the slime coat of fish. I will never ever put aloe vera in my water. Just as there is a science out there that deals with the bacteria, ammonia or nitrite toxicity. etc. there is research into such additives. Most of it deals with the transport/handling of fish. Some of the stuff used is OK and other stuff is not so good, according to the science. The problem is most products do not tell you exactly what they are using.

You get phrases like this from Tetra, " Provides a slime coating to help wounds heal and protect fish from abrasions. Unique colloid ingredients have been designed to protect fish’s delicate gills and membranes." Designed by whom? Tested by whom? Or this from SeaChem re Prime. "Provides slime coat." However, not all dechlorinators offer such an added ingredient. It is up to each hobbyist to determine what they will or will not use. Prime is one of most popular dechlors out there as far as I know. I am distrustful of any claims I cannot verify from qualified independent sources.
 

Andy90

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Oct 21, 2020
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Figured I would just make a new post rather than edit the old one.

After testing today, I think my ammonia level is a 2. My second pair of eyes thinks it's closer to a 1.5 as it was yesterday. Nitrite level is still showing the light blue color/zero. I also did the high pH range test to make sure that was correct and we both agreed that it's 7.6 (it's lighter than the 7.4 but too dark to be 7.8).

As of now I haven't added anything else, just letting everything sit as it is.
 

jordanl17

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Aug 24, 2021
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Figured I would just make a new post rather than edit the old one.

After testing today, I think my ammonia level is a 2. My second pair of eyes thinks it's closer to a 1.5 as it was yesterday. Nitrite level is still showing the light blue color/zero. I also did the high pH range test to make sure that was correct and we both agreed that it's 7.6 (it's lighter than the 7.4 but too dark to be 7.8).

As of now I haven't added anything else, just letting everything sit as it is.
Where did this story end up?!?!?! I'm in the same boat (as the story was left). waiting for nitrite! 10gal tank. dosed with prime, waited, dosed with Dr. Tim's ammonia, then FritzZime 7 bacteria. heat up to 84f. a few days later cloudy tank, 4.0 ammonia, zero nitrite. pH is 7.8. waiting for nitrite!
 
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