07-09-2010, 04:53 PM
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Thanks, that explains things. The ammonia .5 and nitrite .25 are the cycling; the nitrate in the tank is from the tap water and not connected to the cycling. For the future, nitrate at 5 is not a problem, most advise keeping nitrates at 20ppm or less, and plants will do this or regular weekly water changes of 40-50% if no plants. You could use a water conditioner that detoxifies nitrate (Prime does, not sure if there is another) but personally I don't think it is necessary; in your situation I wouldn't bother.
During a cycle a good water conditioner to use is Prime since it detoxifies chlorine/chloramine but also ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. It detoxifies ammonia by changing it to the harmless ammonium which the bacteria can still use (and plants if there are any). It binds the nitrite and nitrate somehow, doesn't matter for our purposes. It is a thought, since it would ease the stress on the fish during the cycling. I would expect nitrite to increase, this is probably the start of the second stage of the cycling. Monitor it, a 50% water change daily if it goes above .25 is advisable. Same for ammonia; it should begin to lower.
So, to answer your original question, I would say this is normal; just monitor daily and control the toxins with partial water changes. And consider a small bottle of Prime to use during this period. Not essential, just another little plus.
Looking ahead (again) to your pH lowering: it would be good to know the hardness of the tap water; you can ascertain this from the water supply people, either on their website if they have one or by enquiry. Get the GH and KH if they have it. These numbers will tell us what to expect in the tank, if the pH will lower on its own with the wood and natural biological processes, or if the hardness will buffer it sufficiently to prevent this.