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Discussion Starter #1
Hello fish people. First off I'm new to the forum in terms of posting but have lurked quite a bit. My question regarding beneficial bacteria stems from a recent experience I came across I suppose accidentally. So roughly 2 months back I took apart a small 4gallon planted nano tank I took all the hard scale out and just left the carpet planted with Dwarf hair grass and enough water to be about 1/2 inch or so maybe more below the substrate surface essentially what a dry start would be. I left the plants growing that way until about 2 weeks ago when I was re inspired to set it back up properly. So after picking the hardacape plants etc and getting it all set up I began the cycle of the tank only to find that the ammonia would not show up on my test. I figured still early give it time then he bacteria will form etc. now I should say here I am not new when it comes to understanding the nitrogen cycle and how it's done fish in or fish out method. Anyways after a few more days of this I decided to test all my parameters in the nitro cycle. It comes back 0 ammonia 0 nitrite and 20-30 ppm nitrate. So readings at though my cycle is already done and this is only about 4 days in. My question is could Beneficial bacteria have survived a dry start method from an old substrate that stayed wet/fed with plant debris?
 

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I'd say test you tap water for nitrates, that could be fooling you into thinking its cycled. also what is producing ammonia for you? Do you think it could be the plants using the ammonia up before BB is able to convert it?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I have Tested my tap water and its around 5 ppm and I'm not dosing anything right now so that rules that out also. As my ammonia source I have a guppy in there and was feeding daily. Before the fish was added I was dosing ammonia and waiting 24 hours before testing. I suppose you might be right about the plants using it up and giving a false positive. I was also wondering if anyone has heard of this before or had it happen to them. As it stands it's still about 15-20 nitrate with each water change being spaced 1 day apart and only 15 or so % at a time.
 

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Hmm in that case I am not sure, you would need a densely planted environment to use up all ammonia.
What tests are you using and are they in date?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
It is rather densely planted to be fair there is no bare spots on the substrate at the moment since it was such a small tank it was easy to cover the bottom lol. And I know people aren't too keen on them but I'm using the API liquid tests and yeah they are in date still. I've tested water with just ammonia and I get readings just not in the tank
 

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A fed guppy doesn't generate that much ammonia. It is very possible that the plants are able to assimilate the ammonia, but maybe not hungry enough to remove the existing nitrates. In a well planted tank you won't have much by way of beneficial bacteria colonies because the plants will handle most, if not all of the ammonia, which results in reduced or no nitrates. The determining factor here is the balance between the number and types of growing plants and the relative bio-load.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
You could be right about the plants taking up the ammonia before the bacteria. That would make he most sense as to why I'm not seeing ammonia readings. I'll keep testing and see if anything changes and if not might increase my bio load slightly to see if that spikes anything. Oh also I was getting higher nitrate readings but I did water changes to bring it into 15-20 range it was around 30 before
 

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If you're reading nitrate, there is a nitrogen cycle going on. There's only one way to get nitrate (unless it's in the source-water).

Plants take up ammonia preferentially. But, if they were taking up all the ammonia, there would be nothing to oxidize to nitrite to nitrate.

Guppy are dirty little buggers. But >20ppm nitrate is really high. What else could be producing ammonia in there?
 
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