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Day Two of Cycling - .25 Ammonia
I have 29 gal with 5 red-eye tetras. Two days in there is .25 ppm ammonia and 0 Nitrates.
There are 3 very small live plants - I couldn't afford to plant the tank as I had hoped.
I have had fish before but am re-entering the hobby and am a little rusty. I can't remember, do I try to keep the ammonia at 0 or does it need to be present in small quantities to start the cycle?
For the sake of the fish, you want ammonia at zero, and nitrite too when that appears, if it does. Live plants take up ammonia, and a fair bit of it if they are fast growing species, so nitrite may not appear in tests. Floating plants are best at this.
Have you tested your tap water for ammonia, nitrite andnitrate? This is good to do just in case.
If the ammonia is occurring in the tank itslef, not from the tap water, I would do daily water changes of 1/2 the tank. Using a conditioner that detoxifies ammonia during this initial phase is a good idea.
I did test my tap water for ammonia and it was at zero.
The AOOs show up once there is ammonia present from the fish and start producing nitrites right away, no matter how low the concentration is , they start reproducing to a level to suit the level of the ammonia. Because the fish constantly give off ammonia there is always some for the AOOs to scavenge.
The NOOs show up as soon as there are nitrites to oxidize into Nitrates BUT only if the ammonia concentration is below 1ppm...they remain dormant at levels near this and higher. Typically a fishless cycle uses a higher concentration than this which is partly why the nitrite spikes so hard. Same as the AOOs, the NOOs reproduce to suit the level of supply of the nitrites.
If your fish are in and you are changing water during the cycle and treating with Prime and keeping the ammonia levels near zero the whole process will be quicker. Plants help to keep the ammonia levels low and, with enough plants, can eliminate the need to worry about the cycle in the first place... although even at those extremely low levels it will still establish itself in the background.
Our test kits are not scientifically accurate to such a degree as to pick this up. We aim to have zero ammonia (and later zero nitrite) if fish are in the tank, because both of these are highly toxic to fish. While a level with our test kits of .25 or .5 is not going to outright kill fish (though some might), damage is still occurring, and fish that have "lived" through a cycle almost always succumb to other health issues and a shorter lifespan due to the long-term effect.
A fish-less cycle using pure ammonia obviously doesn't have the issue with fish, so we can raise the ammonia and nitrite. But not when fish are present.
The daily partial water change dilutes this ammonia and nitrite to minimize the effect on fish. But enough is still present to keep the bacteria and plants happy. We call this "silent cycling," because you don't see it via tests, and the fish experience (so far as we know) no detrimental effect. As I said initially, fish are continually releasing ammonia by respiration, but if this alone were sufficient to kill them we would never have live fish in any aquarium. Fortunately the plants and bacteria grab this before it has time to weaken the fish.
But having said that, the more fish or the larger the fish per water volume, the more chance there is of ammonia poisoning. The larger the tank, and fewer the fish, the safer.
Does this help?:-)
Yes, that does help. Thank you.
And thanks to both of you for dumbing down the answer...it quickly gets over my head... :roll:
Ammonia in the tap water is unfortunate but easily dealt with, especially when this low. You should test the tap water for nitrite and nitrate as well, if you haven't, as they can be present.
With live plants, the ammonia will not cause issues at water changes. Using a conditioner that detoxifies ammonia might be wise, though here the ammonia is not high and if you have sufficient plants that are fast growing like stem or especially floating they should handle it.
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