New tank cycling problem - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
 
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post #1 of 8 Old 09-15-2011, 12:25 PM Thread Starter
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New tank cycling problem

I setup a 10g aquarium on the 8 of Sept. I used RO water, showing zero on the testing scale. I let it run for 24 hrs. I added 9 live plants. I added a Crowntail Betta and 2 Corys on the 9th. I tested the water with strips. They don't check for ammonia. It showed caution nitrites. I tested every day after. On the 10th I added a tuft of moss and a lil gravel from my pet shop. It tested nitrites that day. On the 11th tested high ph and 0 nitrites and nitrates. Same on the 12th (I did a 25% water change this day) and 13th. On the 14th I took a sample to the pet shop and had it chemically tested. All readings show excellent except for a slightly high ph, which is liveable. Why am I not getting any spikes in my tank? Even my pet shop is clueless. What could be going on? Surely, it hasn't cycled so quickly? Any advice?
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post #2 of 8 Old 09-16-2011, 11:50 AM
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You should not see any spike in ammonia or nitrite with live plants. Provided there are sufficient plants and not too many fish to overwhelm the system, the plants assimilate the ammonia and out-compete bacteria. In planted tanks it is usual to avoid any discernible cycling. Some ammonia will get used by bacteria and establish a cycle, but it will be so minimal as to be undetectable by our test kits.

Plants need nitrogen as a macro nutrient, and aquatic plants prefer ammonium as their source of nitrogen. In acidic water, ammonia automatically changes to ammonium and the plants grab it; in basic water the plants take up the ammonia and change it to ammonium themselves, then assimilate it as their nitrogen. Ammonium is basically harmless to fish.

Adding the gravel from the pet store could actually have thrown a wrench into this, as it would have added nitrite for which no bacteria in the aquarium were present. But in your case this may not have been sufficient to cause trouble.

Byron.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #3 of 8 Old 09-16-2011, 03:16 PM Thread Starter
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Actually, if you will look above at my previous post, I did state on the second and third day the nitrites tested caution and stress. For that to occur, they would have needed to be present.

I am considering the possibility, that when I added the moss and gravel from the pet shop, that I had a bacteria bloom. Which can also cause hazy water. In which case, the tank would be cycled, but not stable.

However, it still does not explain the high ph using RO water with no buffers. I've tested the RO water. It's all low end before adding to my tank. Why it went up is a mystery. I use the same water on a 1.5 gallon I have and it tests out in the 6.2 range with almost no buffer. Why its over 7.2 in the 10g with a high buffer is a good question?
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post #4 of 8 Old 09-17-2011, 11:00 AM
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Test strips are not accurate; they provide "general" indications but some members who have used them alongside liquid tests have found they can sometimes be way off. So one must be cautious with test strip readings.

When you added the gravel from the fish store you would have added bacteria producing nitrite which is why nitrite showed up. Without that addition, and aside from the initial "caution" reading which may have been inaccurate anyway, you would not have seen nitrite.

A bacterial bloom can be unrelated to cycling. Bacteria exists in many species, only 2 or 3 of which are related to the nitrification cycle. You can read more about this here:
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/f...quarium-74891/

So that handles the cycling which is done as I previously explained. To the pH, this can be due to something in the tank that is calcareous. This is the only explanation if the same source water is in both tanks. Is there any rock in this tank? And what is the substrate?

Byron.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #5 of 8 Old 09-17-2011, 05:10 PM Thread Starter
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The nitrite was present 2 days before the moss and gravel. According to the strips. After, the moss and gravel, the readings were zero. On the strips and with the stores chemical test.

The substrate is store bought gravel and all of the decorations are simple Walmart items. A fake driftwood tree, a fake piece of coral, a sunken ship and a squid. Besides the live plants, there's nothing else in the tank except a bubble pad.
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post #6 of 8 Old 09-17-2011, 05:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redcrowntail View Post
The nitrite was present 2 days before the moss and gravel. According to the strips. After, the moss and gravel, the readings were zero. On the strips and with the stores chemical test.

The substrate is store bought gravel and all of the decorations are simple Walmart items. A fake driftwood tree, a fake piece of coral, a sunken ship and a squid. Besides the live plants, there's nothing else in the tank except a bubble pad.
The gravel seems the most likely suspect; does it say on the package what it is made of, or can you find it online and post the link?

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #7 of 8 Old 09-18-2011, 10:56 PM Thread Starter
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There is no list of ingredients or how it is made on the bag. It is Aqua Culture Brand Gravel from Walmart and has not shown any signs of being defective. It is 1 bag of white and 2 bags of natural. I looked everywhere on the net, but could not find what it is made of.
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post #8 of 8 Old 09-19-2011, 09:43 AM
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I came across some product reviews (do a Google search) and several report the colour comes off this gravel. This leads me to think it may not be the best. You might want to consider a more natural gravel. Some fish stores sell natural gravel in bulk which is much less expensive. The substrate is probably the most important element in a fish tank; its appearance and composition are significant, and it is the most difficult thing to change later, so getting it right at the start is important.

To my knowledge, the pH of the tank water will either remain what it is in the source water (tap, bottled, RO, whatever) or it will lower due to normal acidification of the water by biological processes. A rising pH in an aquarium indicates something in the tank is calcareous, adding mineral to the water. From what you've mentioned, the gravel is the most likely suspect. "White" gravel is highly suspect; this usually indicates a calcareous substance like limestone or dolomite. Is this same type of gravel in the other tank where the pH does not rise?

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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