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Innovative Marine Aquariums

Cycle Query


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When I started my fishless cycle, I brought the Ammonia level up to 0.5ppm. I also tested for Nitrites and Nitrates and got 0 readings on both. Makes sense of course.


However, to save on tests, do I need to test for both Nitrites and Nitrates daily?


My assumption based on what I've read is no. Don't test for Nitrites until the Ammonia spikes and no need to test for Nitrates until Nitrites become present.


Do I even need to test for Nitrates until the Nitrites start to come down?


Assumptions correct?

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Personally, I have stopped testing for nitrite on any of my tanks (new or otherwise). Ammonia is the more toxic of the two and you can determine where the cycle is by just testing for ammonia. Sure it's interesting to watch nitrite, but after a you monitor a few cycles, the excitement tends to fade. Give yourself another week after ammonia becomes undetectable for nitrite to come down and for the bacteria populations to become more stable.


I wouldn't test for nitrate until the cycle has become established. Then you can test and change enough water to prepare for livestock.

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Most of the time the three tests are recommended for newcomers to the hobby because it helps them get used to testing procedures and a schedule. It is also beneficial and interesting to watch the nitrogen cycle in progress.


However, it isn't necessary. Once you see ammonia drop to 0 run the other two tests and you'll have a very good idea of where your cycle is. I would continue to test ammonia once a day (once every couple days at the least).

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Last Friday I added some dry base rock from ReefCleaners to my office tank and left the tank running in the office for the weekend.


I came in this a.m. and first topped the tank off.


Then I ran my tests.


Last Tuesday I started the ammonia dosing, but didn't test the NH3 until Thursday. Also on Tuesday I added the live sand....was Special Grade Arag-Alive.


Thursday, NH3 was 0.5 ppm so I added enough to make it 3 ppm. I had 0 nitrites...I tested for the fun of it.


Tested again on Friday and got 3 ppm so I added a couple more drops. No other tests were run.


This a.m. I tested all three just to see what I'd get....2.0 ppm NH3 (raised to 4 ppm with a few drops after test)....0.75 ppm Nitrite....and 20 ppm Nitrates.




I wasn't expecting to see any nitrite and definitely no nitrate reading so few days in. Is it the live sand the reason for the results?

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