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Newbie struggling to keep ammonia up during cycling

Subject: Newbie struggling to keep ammonia up during cycling
by guinness on 10/1/2020 19:43:14

Hi everyone,

First time poster here! Firstly I wanted to say thanks for the excellent information on this site which has been extremely helpful to me in setting up my first tropical aquarium (although I did start with a little knowledge as we always had a fish tank in the house when I was growing up!)

My plan is to start small with just a couple of guppies or tetras and get a feel for maintaing the tank before maybe looking at a couple more tankmates.

I've been following the Fishless Cycling guide on this site and I'm now about 14 days in to "Ammonia-only" method using Dr. Tim's ammonium chloride (the post-2016 version so 4 drops/gallon).

The tank is a ~14 gallon tank with a few young plants (Java fern, Anubias) which appear to be doing well. The heater is on and the tank is sitting at ~82F

For the first 8 days or so ammonia was holding steady at 3ppm before I started to see a drop. Sure enough after that, the ammonia started dropping rapidly (down to 0.25ppm overnight) while nitrites rose, so I dutifily dosed ammonia each day back to around 2-3ppm and waited...

Today:
Ammonia: 0.25ppm
Nitrites: Off the scale (API kit)
Nitrate: 20ppm (tap water starting value 10ppm)

Whilst it seems a good sign to me that ammonia is being dealt with so quickly, I'm concerned about the amount I'm needing to add during cycling.

For example, yesterday I added 50 drops of ammonia. I tested ammonia again just one hour later and it's back to 0.25ppm! Where is it all going? At this rate, to achieve 2-3ppm each day during cycling, I'm going to be tipping the bottle in :)

Should I ease off on the ammonia / dose more in / switch to food method?

Thanks in advance..