Freshwater cycling

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Mamajin

Psychotic Female
Your tank is cycled. that .25 and even a .25 reading is not accurate. You can not continually have an ammonia reading, even a low one and not get a nitrite reading that follows it.

If ammonia is at 0 and nitrite is also, then you have cycled tank. if something causes the ammonia to go up, it means there are not enough bacteria working to clear the ammonia and they will reproduce. The result is more nitrite gets produced as well- that is more nitrite than the nitrite bacteria can handle. So while the nitrite eaters are working and reproducing, you get some excess nitrite which would show up on the test.

While is has not been documented or scientifically researched, there are an increasing number of posts on the net about issues with the API test kit and ammonium chloride. On the surface it makes no sense this would be a problem, but apparently it is. i am working with somebody on another forum in the exact same situation. Nitrite acts right and ammonia wont go below .25 ppm.

At this point you have two options- to hold the cycle you dose about 4-5 drops every few days, or else do a water change and add a bunch of fish.
Ah, thank you so much! The way you've stated things makes a lot more sense to me. I went ahead and performed a water change and added Seachem Prime. I also went ahead and added the Malaysian driftwood that's been soaking in treated water (Prime). Starting to really get excited with this new setup! Will check the water params again tomorrow and if all looks good, will go get the first set of fish (7 Neon Tetras and 3 Panda Gara).


I'm not sure about the Dr. Tim products or instructions, but have recently gone through fishless cycling by adding household ammonia in both a 29gal and 10gal tank. Are you measuring for nitrates? I'm not sure how this tank could be cycled if you are not seeing any nitrates.
Forgive my newbishness but aren't those two different things (one being ammonia and the other being ammonium)? I only ask so I can learn. Dr Tims instructions for cycling with both Live Nitrifying Bacteria and Ammonium Chloride are different than cycling with just Ammonium Chloride... so he didn't have me test for Nitrates. However, I did anyways. ;) Nitrate today was 5ppm. Hopefully that will come down by tomorrow since I did a PWC this evening. Fingers crossed!

Thank you both for your helpful replies!
 

FreshyFresh

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Forgive my newbishness but aren't those two different things (one being ammonia and the other being ammonium)? I only ask so I can learn. Dr Tims instructions for cycling with both Live Nitrifying Bacteria and Ammonium Chloride are different than cycling with just Ammonium Chloride... so he didn't have me test for Nitrates. However, I did anyways. ;) Nitrate today was 5ppm. Hopefully that will come down by tomorrow since I did a PWC this evening. Fingers crossed!

Thank you both for your helpful replies!
Household ammonia = ammonium hydroxide solution (mostly water). I'm not sure about the difference between the hydroxide and chloride part. Most of your fishless cycling write-ups refer to using plain household ammonia.

Showing nitrates is a great thing! Just be sure your tap water doesn't have nitrates in it already, giving you a false reading. As I'm sure you've read, an established, cycled tank will read 0ppm ammonia, 0ppm nitrites and ~5-40ppm nitrates.
 
Apr 2, 2002
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Actually, if you investigate lab research, they always use ammonium chloride not ammonium hydroxide. The biggest difference between the two is pH related. The pH of the chloride is about 5.1 while that of the hydroxide is 11.63.

Normally you buy the hydroxide in a liquid form. You buy the chloride in granular form and then mix it with ro or ro/di water to make it liquid- as in how DrTim's sells it.

Yes ammonia the gas is NH3 while ammonium is NH4. They also have different weights. How much of one's total ammonia is in each form is pH dependent for the most part with temperature also contributing. Basically, the higher the pH and/or temperature, the more of the ammonia that will be in the toxic NH3 form. It is also the form the ammonia oxidizing bacteria consume.

I'm not sure how this tank could be cycled if you are not seeing any nitrates.
Then how do you explain the appearance, then rise and then drop to 0 for nitrites?

I have only cycled between 60 and 70 tanks- 1st one with fish, almost all the rest without. The few without used heavy seeding or DrTim's bacteria 4 tanks).

The nitrate kit from API is known to be flakey. It is essential that one shake heck out of the bottles, even banging them on a hard surface. This is because the reagents tend to percipitate out and the solid accumulate on the bottom of the bottles and may even stick there.

So I will repeat what I just stated. If you have an ammonia reading that is not off the charts to where it impedes rather than fosters the cycle, you must get a nitrite reading soon after. If the ammonia is being oxidized, it becomes nitrite before it can convert into nitrate. And because the API kits read total ions, an ammonia reading should translate into an even larger ppm nitrite reading. For every ppm of ammonia dosed there should be a reading of about 2.5 ppm of nitrite even though measuring them as ammonia-n and nitrite-n give an identical reading (-n means nitrogen). It has to do with the different weights for hydrogen and oxygen and NH3 + NH4+ vs NO2.

H Atomic mass 1.00794
O Atomic mass 15.9994
N Atomic mass 14.0067

NH3= 14.0067 + (3x1.00794) = 17.03052
NH4= 14.0067 + (4x1.00794) = 18.82452
NO2= 14.0067 + (2x15.9994) = 46.00550

So one ppm of NH3 becomes 2.7 ppm of NO2 and NH4 becomes 2.4439 ppm on most aquarium test kits. Because there is mostly NH4, the conversion is closer to about 1:2.5. Note that the amount of nitrogen remains constant, it is the other components that change. The point is if you have a valid reading of .25 ppm of ammonia, it should then show up as about .62 ppm of nitrite on the API kits and .5 ammonia should show up as over 1 ppm of nitrite.

When done properly and when one has accurate test kits you should be able to complete a fishless cycle using Dr Tim's bacteria in about 7 days +/- 2 days.
 

FreshyFresh

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Then how do you explain the appearance, then rise and then drop to 0 for nitrites?
Brother I can't argue with you. You've got way more experience with this than I do. I'm just asking questions. Your chemistry lesson write-up makes my brain hurt. I was just trying to rule out any flakiness with the testing products/procedures with respect to the ammo and nitrite measurement. Referring only to what's happening in this tank- I realize if nitrites are disappearing, you've most likely got nitrates, but you could also make nitrites disappear by doing WCs. Why not measure for nitrates too, when you've got the tools to do so? That's a sure sign of a stable, established tank after all.

FWIW, even the fishless cycling by adding ammonia on this site refers mostly to household ammonia and treated tap water alone. Not the fancy stuff with boutique beneficial bacteria in a bottle added.

Fishless cycling with seeding material is a piece of cake. A fishless cycle from scratch not so much.
 
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Apr 2, 2002
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Fishless cycling is also a snap w/o any seeding either from a bottle or another tank. It just takes longer without the boost. The problem is that most sites, including this one are still out of tune with the more effective cycling methods. The single biggest problem is normally caused from dosing much more ammonia than needed which in turn produces too much nitrite. Both conditions can stall a cycle and if the number get high enough, you can actually be killing the desired bacteria and encouraging the wrong strains to colonize a tank.

One of the earliest articles on fishless cycling is the following article:[SIZE=-1] Originally published as:[/SIZE][SIZE=-1] Koga, James S. Use Household Ammonia to Humanely Cycle a Tank[SUP]1[/SUP]. Freshwater and Marine Aquarium, 19, no. 4 (December 1996): 213-214. [SIZE=-1]Many years later he added this[SIZE=-1]:
[/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE]
[FONT=Arial,Helvetica]Conclusions:[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]The method remains viable. I don't see any reason for people to NOT use the method if they take the proper preca[/SIZE][/FONT]http://www.csupomona.edu/~jskoga/Aquariums/Ammonia.html[FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]at the newer material, I don't see any reason to change the basic procedure, either. What should be added is a warning to buffer your water if you have low buffering capacity (you probably should be doing this anyway, then?) and to aim for a target level of 1-2 ppm ammonia while cycling.[/SIZE][/FONT][SIZE=-1][SIZE=-1][SIZE=-1]


[SIZE=-1]If you are curious [SIZE=-1]you can read both the original article and the up[SIZE=-1]date here http://www.csupomona.edu/~jskoga/Aquariums/Ammonia.html

[/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE]
I am sorry if the math gave you a headache, but it was only basic addition and multiplication designed to explain that when reading ppms from ammonia to nitrite to nitrate the numbers increase at each level not due to the Nitrogen part of things, aka N, but due to the other things with which the nitrogen combines. Note ammonia, nitrite and nitrate all with one N (nitrogen) what changes is if it combines with H (hydrogen) or O (oxygen) and then how much of each.

As for nitrite being removed via[SIZE=-1][SIZE=-1][SIZE=-1] water changes, this would slow or stop a cy[SIZE=-1]cle. I think you meant to say remove nitr[SIZE=-1]A[/SIZE]te via water changes. Live [SIZE=-1]live plants an[SIZE=-1]d algae will also uptake nitrate. Also the nitrate ki[SIZE=-1]ts are most unreliable, so using them for specific answers that are accurate can be a problem. [SIZE=-1]The keys to cycling are in the ammonia and nitrite.[SIZE=-1][SIZE=-1][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE]
[/SIZE][/SIZE]
[/SIZE]
 

FreshyFresh

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Thank you for the info!

Yes, the bunch of articles I read on fishless cycling by adding household ammonia and the conversations I had online probably wasn't the most current info.

The recommended dose of 4-5ppm ammonia proved to be too much in the long-run for my 29 and 10gal tanks. It may have been OK for the first few days or so, but w/out reducing this dosage BEFORE nitrites showed up, caused my nitrite to go so high, the cycle basically stalled. It took multiple 60-70% WCs in both tanks to bring the nitrites down to a readable level it got so high. Once it was reduced to a PPM or less, the cycle continued nicely. That's how it panned out for me anyway. I'm sure everyone's mileage will vary based on all the variables involved.

It took ~37days for my 29gal and about 2 weeks or so for my 10gal. It was a learning experience and pretty rewarding in the end.

Just kidding on the headache thing! Thanks again.
 

Mamajin

Psychotic Female
It took ~37days for my 29gal and about 2 weeks or so for my 10gal. It was a learning experience and pretty rewarding in the end.
Not trying to push the idea on you or anything, but I feel you should experience doing a cycle at least once with a bottle Dr Tim's Live Nitrifying Bacteria in conjunction with his Ammonium Chloride. I researched the heck out of his bottled bacteria and it has pretty much rave reviews everywhere. It really is good stuff.

Also, here is the article on how to use those two items together.

I didn't use this method when I cycled my 10 gallon tank, and now I wish I had.

Even if you never try this method, perhaps someone else reading this thread will get something from it. :)
 

Nimka

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Rbishop,

Thank you for this post. Of course I didn't see this before I started my tank but it is nice to know that there is someone out there who is informing newbies. My tank is a month old and is going though a cycle with fish in it. I just recently had to do a 50% water change but it looks like end is in sight. My ammonia levels are finally starting to go down and I just added live plants to help. It's be a stressful experience because I am attached to my fish, but it also has been a rewarding one. I have been sharing my experience via Instagram!

Once again, THANK YOU.
 

Rbishop

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YW!
 

tommy d

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This is all great information and fills in a lot of blanks. The posts are all good reference points to look back to for information. Thank you all. But back to my original question .... Can you see the bacteria with an 8X jewelers loop?
 
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