question about cycling.. - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
 
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post #1 of 8 Old 10-14-2010, 08:05 PM Thread Starter
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Exclamation question about cycling..

Hi everyone I'm new here and have a question. I bought a 36 gallon tank about a month ago and set it all up and added 4 zebra danios to it(wasn't aware of fishless cycling at the time) to kick start the cycle process. I use API master kit to test my waters. After about 3 weeks I was finally starting to read ammonia. Even till this day I still have about 1ppm ammonia and never seen nitrite. Nitrate is at about 20 ppm but my tap water has traces of nitrate in it already. About a week ago I bought a seachem ammonia alert hang inside tank little card reader and it says I have zero ammonia but my API test kit says I have 1ppm. I'm aware the seachem reads only nh3 and the API reads nh3/nh4. Is it possible to have a cycled tank but still have nh4 present? My pH is 6.8. I also have driftwood and some java moss in the tank. A aquaclear 50 and a fluval c3 HOB filter. Am I done cycling or must the API test kit read 0 on both nh3 and nh4 to confirm a full cycle? Thanks guys!

Oh and yes I do weekly water changes of about 10-20% and I use API stress coat to dechlorinate my water.
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post #2 of 8 Old 10-17-2010, 12:28 PM
easiest way to be certain the tanks fully cycled is to wait till ammonia an nitrite reads 0 and there's a little nitrate present in the tank.ever heard of the new tank syndrome? every tank gets it. in the first 2 weeks the ammonia will be high as it drops there will be a nitrite spike in the readings for the next 2 following weeks after they gradually drop you'll see nitrate and thats the safe phase to add live stock.to fully mature a tank will need at least a few months.

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post #3 of 8 Old 10-17-2010, 08:19 PM
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First off, welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.

There are a couple of things that have saved you the loss of the fish. First, if your pH remains below 7, ammonia automatically changes into harmless ammonium. All test kits that we use (like the API) read ammonia/ammonium as ammonia, but it will be harmless in acidic water. Nitrifying bacteria will still use it (the cycle thing), and plants will assimilate it if you have live plants. Sp it makes no difference, except that in acidic water there will be no ammonia issues.

Second good thing is only 4 small fish in a 36g tank. The larger the water volume, the less effect ammonia and nitrite have (to a certain extent). This plus the acidic water should mean no stress to the four danio.

If you are getting 20ppm nitrate, the tank has probably cycled. Howver, you should test your tap water for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Some tap water contains one or more of these, and it is good to know this since the ammonia or nitrate reading may be due to the source water more than the tank.

One other comment, assuming you have the API nitrate test kit: shake regent #2 for 2+ minutes before adding the drops to the tube of water. The instructions say 30 seconds but this can often result in a false and high reading; your 20ppm may be less.

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 youíre going to take it under your wing then youíre 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 #4 of 8 Old 10-20-2010, 02:55 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Byron View Post
First off, welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.

There are a couple of things that have saved you the loss of the fish. First, if your pH remains below 7, ammonia automatically changes into harmless ammonium. All test kits that we use (like the API) read ammonia/ammonium as ammonia, but it will be harmless in acidic water. Nitrifying bacteria will still use it (the cycle thing), and plants will assimilate it if you have live plants. Sp it makes no difference, except that in acidic water there will be no ammonia issues.

Second good thing is only 4 small fish in a 36g tank. The larger the water volume, the less effect ammonia and nitrite have (to a certain extent). This plus the acidic water should mean no stress to the four danio.

If you are getting 20ppm nitrate, the tank has probably cycled. Howver, you should test your tap water for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Some tap water contains one or more of these, and it is good to know this since the ammonia or nitrate reading may be due to the source water more than the tank.

One other comment, assuming you have the API nitrate test kit: shake regent #2 for 2+ minutes before adding the drops to the tube of water. The instructions say 30 seconds but this can often result in a false and high reading; your 20ppm may be less.

Byron.
Thanks for the response!
I was leaning towards my tank being cycled but then again my tap water does naturally contain some nitrAte in it already. I tested my tank again today and the readings are still the same. So do you think it is possible to have a fully cycled tank and still have traces of ammonium? Thanks!
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post #5 of 8 Old 10-20-2010, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by grimmjow850 View Post
Thanks for the response!
I was leaning towards my tank being cycled but then again my tap water does naturally contain some nitrAte in it already. I tested my tank again today and the readings are still the same. So do you think it is possible to have a fully cycled tank and still have traces of ammonium? Thanks!
If there is no ammonia in your source (tap) water, then ammonia showing up in an API test is from something in the tank. As I mentioned, with pH below 7 this is not harmful, so I would ride it out. The nitrite will be a different story however, once it starts to show up and if it is more than .25 ppm a 50% daily partial water change is best, using a good conditioner; Prime is best for this as it detoxifies nitrite. Live plants would also benefit, as they use so much ammonium (from the ammonia remember) that there is little left for bacteria so planted tanks basically do not "cycle" like non-plant tanks must.

On the nitrate in your tap water, how much is it (remembering to shake Regent #2 for 2 minutes when testing nitrate with the API kit)?

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 youíre going to take it under your wing then youíre 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 #6 of 8 Old 10-20-2010, 03:42 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Byron View Post
If there is no ammonia in your source (tap) water, then ammonia showing up in an API test is from something in the tank. As I mentioned, with pH below 7 this is not harmful, so I would ride it out. The nitrite will be a different story however, once it starts to show up and if it is more than .25 ppm a 50% daily partial water change is best, using a good conditioner; Prime is best for this as it detoxifies nitrite. Live plants would also benefit, as they use so much ammonium (from the ammonia remember) that there is little left for bacteria so planted tanks basically do not "cycle" like non-plant tanks must.

On the nitrate in your tap water, how much is it (remembering to shake Regent #2 for 2 minutes when testing nitrate with the API kit)?
I bought Prime about a week ago. Yesterday I also picked up a bottle of Tetra Safe Start from all the positive reviews online about this product being it is basically Bio-Spira. Poured the entire bottle in and I tested the water today and to my surprise I actually now have NitrIte, about 0.25ppm and ammonia is starting to drop to about 0.50ppm so this thing really does work. I dosed my tank with Prime to detoxify the nitrIte. My tap has a small hint of NitrAte I would say about a bit less then 5.0ppm. And yeah, I shake the bottle very vigorously and I time myself for 2 minutes. So it looks like my cycle is finally starting to go in the right track! WoOt! Oh yeah also should I do a water change even tho I am using Prime and my nitrIte's should be detoxified?

Last edited by grimmjow850; 10-20-2010 at 03:44 PM.
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post #7 of 8 Old 10-20-2010, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by grimmjow850 View Post
I bought Prime about a week ago. Yesterday I also picked up a bottle of Tetra Safe Start from all the positive reviews online about this product being it is basically Bio-Spira. Poured the entire bottle in and I tested the water today and to my surprise I actually now have NitrIte, about 0.25ppm and ammonia is starting to drop to about 0.50ppm so this thing really does work. I dosed my tank with Prime to detoxify the nitrIte. My tap has a small hint of NitrAte I would say about a bit less then 5.0ppm. And yeah, I shake the bottle very vigorously and I time myself for 2 minutes. So it looks like my cycle is finally starting to go in the right track! WoOt! Oh yeah also should I do a water change even tho I am using Prime and my nitrIte's should be detoxified?
I also believe in using a good bacteria supplement in non-planted tanks. You're correct, Tetra bought Dr. Hovanec's formula and now market it as SafeStart. Another good 100% bacteria supplemenmt is Seachem's Stability; I've used this myself with never a problem.

Don't use Prime as a medication/treatment, only with water changes. And I would not do these other than the normal once a week, unless fish behaviour shows signs of stress from the nitrite. With 4 small fish in a 36g tank there is not likely to be trouble, and with SafeStart I would not expect the nitrite to be significant. Monitor it.

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 youíre going to take it under your wing then youíre 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 #8 of 8 Old 10-20-2010, 07:21 PM Thread Starter
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I also believe in using a good bacteria supplement in non-planted tanks. You're correct, Tetra bought Dr. Hovanec's formula and now market it as SafeStart. Another good 100% bacteria supplemenmt is Seachem's Stability; I've used this myself with never a problem.

Don't use Prime as a medication/treatment, only with water changes. And I would not do these other than the normal once a week, unless fish behaviour shows signs of stress from the nitrite. With 4 small fish in a 36g tank there is not likely to be trouble, and with SafeStart I would not expect the nitrite to be significant. Monitor it.
Thanks! Fish seems to be doing great, swimming around very actively and eating everything I put in the tank. Yeah I was thinking about Stability but I decided to try out TSS first. Thanks again.
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