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EvaBee EvaBee
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Help! Cycling stalled or just slow? #1
Hello!
We are newbies here. I bought my daughter an 85l tank for Christmas, set it up 2 weeks before and we’ve been cycling it since following your fishless cycle guide. It was all going well, albeit slowly, until now.

Ammonia has been coming down to 0 every 24 hours for the last 3 weeks with nitrites rising steadily. A week or so ago we got excited because it looked like nitrites coming down and nitrates going up, but in reality from a lot of googling it looks like the test kits were just reading weirdly due to sky high nitrites. PH has also been dropping during this ongoing nitrite phase so we have been adding bicarbonate of soda to boost up.

We are now stuck and desperate for some help as this seems never ending. Questions:

Do we need to bring the nitrites down with water changes? From reading things it says really high nitrites can stall cycles.

Do we continue with daily ammonia dosing or is this just compounding the problem? If we stop or reduce dosing then do the bb die quickly (we don’t want to be back at beginning!). Have been dosing to 3ppm as per instructions. Haven’t added yet today as want some advice.

Does soft water stall or prevent cycling? KH Test (NT labs) is 2 drops to turn yellow (our tap water is only 1 drop!) so I think the ph boosting is also boosting this as well a little. Normal tap pH is 7.0.

Do we continue and hope that one day the nitrite eating bacteria arrive?

Any advice would be fab as I feel we are stuck and confused now having been so proud of ourselves at the first stage.

Water parameters from water provider are:

“Hardness Information: Total Hardness level of 19 mg/l Ca
Your water is classified as Soft
48 parts per million
3 Clarke degrees
5 French degrees
3 German degrees”

Tap water has 0 nitrates in.

Many thanks for your help,
Louise
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Re: Help! Cycling stalled or just slow? #2
I think you're "on track", and the nitrite-eating bacteria will follow in time, so don't become too despondent. :) This article http://injaf.org/articles-guides/begi ... -aquarium-ready-for-fish/ might also come in handy as well as the one on here.
My water is a bit softer than yours, and I also had trouble fishless cycling, so you're doing the right thing in adding BoS. Depending on how recently you started using this, it might take a while for the PH to 'stabilise' and indeed this may be contributory to the high nitrites potentially stalling the cycle, esp if they're 2.0+ - what level are they at?
I'd omit or reduce ammonia to 2ppm - not add 3ppm. If you omitted or dosed yesterday, and/or did a water change, what is the situation today re ammonia/nitrite/nitrate levels? This will give us a better picture of how to advise further.
EvaBee EvaBee
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Re: Help! Cycling stalled or just slow? #3
Many thanks for your reply. It’s reassuring that we are hopefully doing ok.
So, we did a 30% water change yesterday and then dosed to 2ppm as I was too scared to omit it. (Glad to see your suggestion of reducing to 2ppm as that was a bit of a guess!)
Today the readings were:
Ammonia = 0
Nitrite = >5.0 (API test, purple for entire 5 mins so could be much higher but at least not turning grey as day before so water change must have brought down a bit - is that correct?)
Nitrate = 5.0 (API)
PH = 7.0 (NT labs) 6.8/7.0 (API)
KH = 2 drops (NT labs)

Using NT labs nitrite and nitrate tests we get 8.0 and 80+ (were going strange peach/orange color but now remaining pink). It was this nitrite test that got our hopes up 10 days ago as it suddenly seemed to go a lighter shade but now dark pink again.

Have dosed again to 2ppm this evening but happy to omit tomorrow if you think that would be a good idea, or do more water changes. Do we need to try to bring nitrite levels down to readable levels? We’ve got temperature to 28 and lid off, no light. What else have we missed??!

Thanks again!
Louise
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Re: Help! Cycling stalled or just slow? #4
Goodness - that nitrite is *very* high. OK, in that case, I would definitely omit adding any ammonia today. Everything else you're doing seems good.

What substrate, if any, do you have in the tank? Just trying to work out if there might be something leaching ammonia, that is converting to nitrites (but there being insufficient nitrite-eating bacteria to reduce them).

I'll also PM you a weblink that might be helpful.
EvaBee EvaBee
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Re: Help! Cycling stalled or just slow? #5
Thanks. We will skip the ammonia dosing for today then. Do you think we should do another water change to try to lower nitrites to levels within the test ranges?

We have gravel (I can get back to you on exact make if needed), a few plastic plants (made by Betta or Aqua One), and a couple of Greek statue/building ornaments made by Betta (as my daughter wanted those!). The ammonia levels, along with all other readings, were a steady 0 for a week before we came across this site and others re fishless cycling (as others’ stories the fish shop didn’t tell us this, just to set up and leave alone for a couple of weeks 😳), and then were 0 till I got hold of some ammonia. So I don’t think the substrate should be causing problems but will leave that to your expert opinion!

It took exactly 3 weeks from adding first ammonia dose for nitrites to appear. That was on the 6th Jan but they are just not coming down. Ammonia steady 0 since 13th Jan (and daily dosing up to now) so that took exactly 4 weeks to go to 0 from initial dose.

All readings today exactly as yesterday (above post) except I added a bit more bicarbonate of soda to boost ph and kh a bit.

If we’ve skipped the ammonia dosing for today we have to add some tomorrow right? And to 2ppm again or less/more?

Many thanks,
Louise
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Re: Help! Cycling stalled or just slow? #6
Will have to be brief (apologies).
* Given that nitrites are so high, then another water change to bring them within test ranges sounds fair enough. [If they weren't off the chart, that might be a different matter.]
* Tank contents all seem fine.
* Nitrites can take that long to come down, and as also been blip in cycle with PH dropping / softness and possible adjustment time for BoS.
* From my reading, I think you could safely skip ammonia dosing for another day or two without it affecting cycle, to see if nitrites can get back under control to manageable levels. (When do resume, to 2ppm.)
Hope that helps. :)
EvaBee EvaBee
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Re: Help! Cycling stalled or just slow? #7
Hello! Thanks so much for your help. A quick update...

We’ve done 3 x 50% water changes over the last couple of days and skipped ammonia dosing. Finally got nitrite and nitrate readings back on the charts so must have been ridiculously high!

Now water parameters are:
PH: 7.6
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0.50
Nitrate: 20
KH: 3 drops

Have redosed ammonia to 2ppm. So will wait to see what happens tomorrow. Do we just let the nitrites climb again and leave it now for a bit? Or do we do more water changes to keep within test ranges? And do we continue with 2ppm ammonia daily or every other day?

Have been adding bicarbonate of soda to boost pH and KH (now got up to 3 drops) but what levels of KH should we be aiming for (for this cycling phase) to prevent stalling again?

We are happy to carry on being patient as we want to get this right but feel like we need a bit of guidance so we don’t mess up now.

Thank you 😊
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Re: Help! Cycling stalled or just slow? #8
Thanks for the update. Well done.
I think the best thing now, just so that we can gauge where it's at and not introduce any potential confounders into the process, is:
* keep the KH at 3 (although I think ordinarily it might be recommended to go a degree or two higher - but let's keep it as it is for reason above);
* not to do any more water changes for the next few days;
* test each day, and add ammonia to 2ppm probably every other day;
* if ammonia starts to remain at 0 *and* nitrite drops below 1 ppm, dose 3 ppm ammonia once again.
Hope that helps.
EvaBee EvaBee
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Re: Help! Cycling stalled or just slow? #9
Thank you! Will do as above and keep you posted...
EvaBee EvaBee
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Re: Help! Cycling stalled or just slow? #10
Hello, an update on our cycling and a few more questions...
Thanks to your really helpful advice above I think we are finally at the end. We followed your instructions and now getting 0 readings for nitrites (and ammonia too) 24 hours after adding full dose of 3ppm 😊 I think we had definitely suffered from a stalled cycle because once we had done those water changes and dosed smaller amounts every other day things got moving quite quickly.
So, before we do the big water change and race out to buy fish, I just wanted to check about ph and KH. Ours is boosted at the minute with bicarbonate of soda but this will be removed with water change. Our tap water is 1 drop KH - does that mean we are at risk of a ph crash and if so, what can we do about it if fish are in the tank? Don’t want to go the shop and get wrong advice so wanted to check here first for expert opinion! Also, does the rapid change in ph/KH levels caused by the massive water change hurt the beneficial bacteria we have built up?
Thanks again!