Tank cycle - Nitrates up while Nitrites stay the same?
Just wanted to check with the pros to make sure that this is a normal part of the cycle. My nitrites have been holding solid at 1 ppm and my Nitrates have been 10 ppm for almost a full ten days. Finally the Nitrates started going up - 20 ppm yesterday and 80 ppm today.
I assume that this is a good sign, but there's been no decrease in my Nitrites - is that usual?
Oh, but I hate being patient!
Thanks for your response,
Did you say Nitrates have reached 80ppm???? This is a crazy high number, unless you are curing live rock. Can you give some more background? When did you add the live rock to the tank? Was it cured at the LFS, or did it still have a strong odor when you purchased it? What livestock if any do you already have?
I have rarely if ever seen Nitrate go above 20ppm in the cycling stage. Another thought, have you tested your source water for nitrate?
Yes, I am curing live rock. I put it all in the tank about 2.5 weeks ago - 40 pounds of un-cured and one seven pound cured rock. Added a 4 inch sand bed a few days after (argonite or whatever it is called right from the bag). Saw an ammonia spike in the first four days and then saw a nitrite spike. By the end of the first week, Nitrites were at 1 ppm and Nitrates were at 10 ppm. It's stayed there until the past couple of days when the Nitrates started skyrocketing up.
The only thing that I had done in between was gotten some sand from a cycled tank from the LFS as you had suggested and added it to my sand bed. I did this about two days before the Nitrate levels started rising.
Tank is a 50 gallon cube with 10 gallon built in sump. Filtration is a low quality skimmer that I'm just now been getting to work as it should (it's been running the whole time), a bio-pad or sponge (you know the blue on one side white on the other stuff) and a bag of carbon which was changed out once about a week ago.
I have two power heads in the tank and feel that it has pretty good circulation.
Today's readings are:
Temp: 76 degrees (has been very constant)
SG: 1.025 (also very constant)
PH: 8.4 (slightly up, has been 8.2 for last week and a half, incuding yesterday)
NH3: 0 - has been 0 for a week and a half with the exception of a small spike up to .25 after I added the sand from my LFS
No2 - 1 ppm (although sometimes it looks like 5ppm like in the photo below - it better matches 1ppm to the eye, though) - has been this way for a week and a half after spiking at 5ppm at the end of the first week.
No3 - 80 ppm (maybe a little less depending on how you read the colors) had been at 10 ppm for a week (although there was little or no color difference between the first set of drops and the second making me think that it was mainly No2) and has been rising the last few days.
KH: 9.6 degrees (when I first did the test a week ago it was 10.2)
For most of the time, I've kept lighting down to 2 or 3 blue lights (T5) and just yesterday I started adding a couple of white lights in as well. Lights are on maybe 8-10 hours a day.
I've done one water change after the first week (10 out of 50 gallons) when I was reading the Nitrate levels wrong (wasn't shaking vial after adding 1st set of drops) and thought that Nitrate levels were at 160ppm. I've since discovered my error and a few days ago took some water to my LFS so that they can test it and they got the same readings that I did.
Tank is totally covered with diatoms. Just recently I noticed more air bubbles forming just beneath the surface of the sand. Cool stuff is definitely growing on the rocks, more so on the one that I bought cured (now has green mossy stuff on it and a few other unidentified treats). Patches of caroline algae are starting to grow on the un-cured rocks - although it's hard to tell underneath all of the diatom dust.
I'll check my source water in a few minutes - I did check my standby saltwater batch a week ago when I was wondering why my Nitrites were stuck at 1ppm and it registered 0. I didn't check it for Nitrates but I will soon and report back.
Here's photos, that's for your time and your help!
BTW, first shot of API test kit is with white balance corrected in photoshop at the expense of some over saturation. Second shot is some photo as it came off the camera (flash on).
Couldn't stand it anymore - did a 20 gallon water change after blowing everything that I could off of my curing live rocks (including lots of diatoms). Same No2 readings today (No3 down to 20ppm, though) but the tank sure looks nicer.
Good luck with the water change. Generally speaking water changes are the only way to get rid of Nitrate so I hear, as there are no bacteria that break it up into other things. I do not have much experiance with live rock though so I have no idea if it causes this normally.
My main reason for the water change was just to be able to suck out some of the stuff that was just floating around. There seems to be a fine line of action/in-action between cycling a tank, curing live rock, and doing both at the same time. Things had been so constant for so long that I figured a water change wouldn't hurt and I found plenty of junk that I know didn't need to be in there when I did it.
Hopefully that will kick start/un-stall the cycle and, if it slows it down for some reason, then that's fine - with all the stuff that I pulled out of the protein skimmer and sponge today, my feeling is that the tank is healthier for the change.
Finally! No2 @ .25ppm, No3 @ 20ppm!
Tank looks great after it's stir and might be ready for some livestock soon!
Wow. This was a fun experience. Yes, when you are curing live rock that is fresh from the ocean, you will get a crazy amount of die off and a huge nitrate spike. I personally prefer to cure the rock in a separate container prior to placing it into the aquarium. I use a storage tote and home made skimmer:
I would suggest giving it more time for the ntirates to fall near zero. I would also continue to do a daily water change and syphon out as much dead stuff as possible. You should see all kinds of floating critters. You may want to use air line tubing to start a syphon so that you can get down into the small cracks. Do everything you can to elmiinate areas of detritus buildup. It may also help to use a power head to blow water across the live rock to stir up loose debris.
You are almost home free! Are you testing alkalinity and calcium yet? You need to be. Get on this soon and start adding your buffers and supplements. You want coraline algae to flourish quickly before any problem algaes have a chance to take hold.
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