Fishless Cycle

  • Get the NEW AquariaCentral iOS app --> http://itunes.apple.com/app/id1227181058 // Android version will be out soon!
Apr 2, 2002
2,675
324
92
New York
Dang. I had hoped for better. Is there any chance that you are actually adding more than 1/4 teaspoon? it should be level, that is no mounding of the powder. Working with such small amounts can make it easy yo use a tad too much or too little. I have cooked most of my life and I know about leveling spoon amounts. If, by chance, you don't lnow what the difference between a level and a heaping spoon is, watch this 40 second vid:


In any case, if you added 3 ppm and 24 hours later it is 1 ppm. We know you are about 2/3 of the way there. Since you are not away for very long do not worry. When you get back, if you can test. You should be at 0/0 or 0/very low. This will let you choose if you want to switch to an evening cycle as opposed to a morning one in terms of when you test and add ammonia if needed.
 

railer20

AC Members
Oct 15, 2020
143
11
18
37
Kansas
To answer your question from the other day...yes I have a 1/4 teaspoon that I level off before using.
As for today, I feel deflated. I didn’t get back until late late last night. Expecting 0/0 this morning, NOT even close. I feel like I am going backwards. My PH even with the coral added seems low also. I am starting to lose my patience with this “supposed to be fun” project for our family.

AD20698D-768A-499A-8D0D-AB5518DC5EC8.jpeg

D7A38F86-D22D-47EF-BF5A-6F361532FC5D.jpeg

85B59C23-436A-4168-B0D7-4647AEBED39E.jpeg

904673D6-10E5-49FD-852E-3B8FF50A6B4C.jpeg
 
Apr 2, 2002
2,675
324
92
New York
Every time you post pictures of your test result I keep asking myself why the colors in the test tube never seen to come close to those on the card.This is most true for your nitrite and ammonia results. I hate to ask you to do this, but can you do the following tests?

- Use distilled water only and test it for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. This will let us know that the tests are working properly. (All 0s are expected.)
- Then do the same for your tap water (do not add dechlor). This will let us know if ammonia, nitrite or nitrate are coming in with your tap. Hopefully, you get all 0s here. However, if you do get any readings above 0, this might point to what is causing things to be happening as they are.

Where we are now, from what I see, is the pH is coming down and that is not good in terms of keeping the ammonia bacteria "happy." There are a variety of nitrifying bacteria. What makes them different is the concentration of ammonia on which they can thrive (as well as salinity). The recently discovered Archaea can thrive only in the lowwst ammonia concentrations. The can thrive in levels too low to support the bacteria in our tanks, On the other hand too much ammonia will result in bacteria that do not thrive in tank levels of ammonia but are stars in waste water treatment because of how much ammonia they need and can handle.

Since I was not involved in your initial cycling, I am not certain of how much ammonia you may have actually been adding. If it was too much, you may have developed the "wrong" strain of ammonia bacteria. If so, when we did the reset what had to happened was for the wrong bacteria to die back and the desired bacterial strains had to start almost from scratch. However, that does not explain why the colors I see in your pictures are so far from what is on the card.

While things are not going as rapidly as I expected, they are still clearly going in the right direction. So, after you do the two sets of test above, we will reset the tank again. Do as big a water change as possible. Do not add dechlor until after you do all of the the following. Please record all the test results above and below.

1. Test the tank water for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate.
2. Add a full dose of ammonia. Here it may get tricky. It is important not to add any more ammonium chloride than it takes to get the tank to 3 ppm. Because we are using powder to create ammonia, it is difficult to do accurate fractional changes. So you need to do something similar to the diluted testing for nitrite.

If the ammonia reading in #1 above is .25 ppm or less, just do the normal full 1/4 teaspoon dose. However, if the ammonia is above .25 ppm, you will have yo add less than 1.4 teaspoon. Here is the easiest way to do that. Divide 3 by the ammonia reading in #1. For example of you test .75 ppm then .75/3 = .25 or 25% aka 1/4. So you will only need 3/4 of the full dose. So, put 4 ounces of distilled water into your measuring cup and add the 1/4 teaspoon of ammonium to that and mix it. Then add 3 ounce of this to the tank. Wait about 15 minutes and test for ammonia. This way we will know if the dosing of ammonia is accurate. Does 1/4 teaspoon actually produce very close to 3 ppm?

Then add the dechlor. You can change the volume of distilled to make it easier to achieve the fractional dosing. For example. If you test and get .50 ppm, that is 1/6 of 3 ppm. So use 6 ounces of distilled and then only add 5 to the tank, etc. You may already already realize how to do these things, but I try to overly detail the math and methods so that anybody reading along will understand how to do this stuff.

The nice thing about chloramine is that the presence of ammonia in the water keeps the bacteria alive. The chloramine can put them to sleep but the ammonia counteracts that. This works great for the lower levels of residual chloramine normally still in tap water. So you need not worry, the bacteria you have will not be harmed. The exposure to any residual chloramine will not harm them in the short time frame involved. What I want to avoid is for the ammonia part of chloramine to be liberated by the dechlor and thus showing up in the test.

I know all of this can be frustrating. But it is kind of like an experiment. The difference is we are working with a few uncontrolled variables here. Firstly, what may be in one's tap water is always a bit of a mystery, even when we have water reports. Secondly, things can and do change. Thirdly, even if they are dead accurate, there is so much stuff involved that it can be impossible to know what effect they have on testing or cycling. Add to that the fact that it is almost impossible to know how much of the nitrifying bacteria we have in a tank at the outset. The less we start with, the longer the cycle takes.

Every tank is unique to some extent. Add to that the vagaries of the test kits and the fact that we are measuring ammonium with teaspoons and measuring cups and it should be easy to see how many places it is possible for things to be off a bit in either direction. The one thing that we have to supply is the patience needed and the understanding of the process involved. Finally, add in the remote component and things get more complicated.

That said, do not despair. We will get you cycled. We know you are generally moving in the right direction. Things would work much easier if you only lived next door to me. Then I could see what you see and we could do things more quickly and thus more efficiently. Look at the bright side. When you set up your next tank, you will know so much more and things should go that much faster.
 
Apr 2, 2002
2,675
324
92
New York
That helps a bit. It means you may get a very low dose of ammonia and possibly nitrate with water changes. I say possibly because that test kits is the least accurate for very low levels- under 20 ppm. The ammonia may be the result of the residual chloramine breaking down pm its way from the water supplier. It may also be a false reading. This is not uncommon with the API lit. But, .25 is not a concern if it is real as it should be quickly processed in a cycled tank. And then ammonia will test at 0.

Did you do the big water change and test. And then add the ammonium and test? I am trying to figure out where things are going sideways. Nitrite is the problem. I am not sure what might be interfering with that test. I will have to read some om the Hach site for their colormetric nitrite kit. The instructions for their kits alert one to what may interfere with results and how to deal with that with their kit.

it is important to keep the pH at 7 or above. If the water becomes acid the ammonia bacteria are not happy. The cycle itself is acidic and it is what happens to tanks which suffer from "old tank syndrome." I can also happen during a fishless cycle.

Anyway, please let me know what else you did besides the distilled and tap testing? I still believe you are not that far from cycled. I just can't figure out why things are moving on the slow side. It may be that there was less bacteria than I thought when we began.

The thing is your tap pH appears to be 7.8? If so, this means any total ammonia in your tank will have somewhat elevated levels of NH3. This isn't as much of an issue as African cichlid keepers have with ammonia, but is enough to make me want to use 3 ppm for the ammonia dose. I want to be sure you end up with a large enough bacterial colony to easily handle the ammonia that might be produced once it is fully stocked.
 

railer20

AC Members
Oct 15, 2020
143
11
18
37
Kansas
I have a meeting this morning then plan on doing the water change as I am working from home today. Will be around 9:30 central time.
 

railer20

AC Members
Oct 15, 2020
143
11
18
37
Kansas
Changed about 90% water:
Before Adding Ammonia
Ammonia - .25
Nitrite - .25
Nitrate - 5

After adding 1/4 tsp ammonia but before dechlorinator
Ammonia - 3ppm

After dechlorinator same reading
 
Apr 2, 2002
2,675
324
92
New York
Perfect. Wait 24 hours and test again. Also, test the pH at that time.
 

railer20

AC Members
Oct 15, 2020
143
11
18
37
Kansas
22-1/2 hrs later

Ammonia - between 1 and 2 ppm
Nitrites - to me looks to be .5 - 1 ppm
Nitrates 10-20 ppm
PH - 7.8
 
zoomed.com
hikariusa.com
aqaimports.com
Store