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Phycostatic

Cycling Help Needed for Pico

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Phycostatic

As the title says, I need help cycling my pico tank. I messed up the original cycle by removing every last bit of phosphate somehow, so I tried to add it back by putting some dry fish flakes in. The problem now is that, within roughly 12 hours, the food disappeared, Nitrates spiked, ammonia stayed at 0.5, and nitrites at nearly 2. However, the phosphates did not increase in the slightest bit. I only dosed two things in that time period: aquavitro's remediation (since there was a lot of seemingly organic things floating around) and Seachem's prime (to see if it would help the ammonia level). I have been adding Seachem's stability as well, but not within the 12-hour period that the food was in the tank. Also, I used live sand and live rock in the tank set up, and it's still in there of course. I'll upload a picture of my test results here so anyone may be able to interpret them. They look a little lighter in person, so consider that bit. I also increased the temp to about 82 to help with the bacteria effectiveness. Is that wrong? Did that throw off the whole cycle again? Also, any ideas what happened with the flakes?

From left to right (not considering depth) is: ph - ~8 | Nitrates - ~40 | Ammonia - ~0.5 | KH - ~14 | Phosphates - 0.00 | Nitrites - ~2.0

1066744757_ScreenShot2021-02-13at3_36_48AM.png.cad3dd510dc7364d022b7db617245c70.png

 

Edit: Just did about a 50% w/c and ammonia dropped properly to about 0.1. Nitrites are at 0.4. The phosphates are actually at 0.1 roughly, I believe. Nitrates are at 20 now, KH at 12. I plan on getting my water digitally tested today, so I'll come back later with those results. 

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paulsz

Keep it simple. A cycle shouldn't be too complex. 

 

Lower the temp back to 79. Test using your API kit once a day. WHen you see that ammonia is 0, nitrite is 0 and nitrates are present, you're good to add a fish.

 

No need to test pH and kH right now. They don't impact your cycle.

 

No need to dose anything anymore. You're using live rock and live sand, which has bacteria on it. Just wait for the bacteria to multiply a bit and be able to consume the load you gave it. Then you're good to go!

 

 

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Clown79

Keep things simple. Just test ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate during cycling.

Top up evaporation water, keep temp between 78-80.

 

What rock did you buy? Was it dry or was it wet?

 

Is there life on the rock?

 

Can you post a pic of the tank

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Phycostatic
1 hour ago, paulsz said:

Keep it simple. A cycle shouldn't be too complex. 

 

Lower the temp back to 79. Test using your API kit once a day. WHen you see that ammonia is 0, nitrite is 0 and nitrates are present, you're good to add a fish.

 

No need to test pH and kH right now. They don't impact your cycle.

 

No need to dose anything anymore. You're using live rock and live sand, which has bacteria on it. Just wait for the bacteria to multiply a bit and be able to consume the load you gave it. Then you're good to go!

 

 

I lowered the temp a bit ago, and Ammonia and Nitrites dropped to 0, but so did Nitrates. I just went to my LFS to get another opinion on my nutrients, and apparently Ammonia and Nitrites were actually 0.6 each. Nitrates still measured 0. I got home and tested the three again just to check, and they measured the latter. I had tested the ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates a few minutes before leaving for the LFS, so how could it have spiked to that? Was it a false negative? Phosphates were also at 0.4, so that was strange too. I've been cycling this tank for three weeks now, and have seen everything spike at some point.  They never seem to drop to zero though, despite lowering. Then, later, they'll spike again without me doing anything. Also, if the bacteria still needed to multiply, then how come the flakes were gone within 12 hours? Is that just something else? 

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Phycostatic
1 hour ago, Clown79 said:

Keep things simple. Just test ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate during cycling.

Top up evaporation water, keep temp between 78-80.

 

What rock did you buy? Was it dry or was it wet?

 

Is there life on the rock?

 

Can you post a pic of the tank

Alright, i'll just test those for a bit then.

I bought Carib-Sea Live Rock. It was wet. It took only 30 minutes to get it from my LFS into my tank. Should I have cured it first?

There doesn't seem to be any life on the rock, but from what I've seen some think there might be some sponge on it. 

 

And sure. Here it is, although a bit messy:

 1220097547_ScreenShot2021-02-13at12_03_36PM.png.8cf37b0ca05170fe5128fd9bdd23659b.png

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banasophia
1 hour ago, Clown79 said:

Keep things simple. Just test ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate during cycling.

Top up evaporation water, keep temp between 78-80.

 

What rock did you buy? Was it dry or was it wet?

 

Is there life on the rock?

 

Can you post a pic of the tank

Hey Clown, just thought I’d mention I’ve seen some people posting lately about cycling at an elevated temp and wanted to mention that’s what Dr Tim advises to promote the growth of the denitrifying bacteria. Here’s Dr Tim’s MACNA talk and a screenshot of the relevant part. He suggests 84-85 degrees during the cycle then lower down to the usual temp when cycle is complete, before adding fish.
 

That being said, I will still probably keep my temp at the normal level that you suggested (78-80) when I cycle because I like to use cycling as the time when I make sure I’m able to properly maintain the temp. 
 

It is an important consideration though that the higher temp could lead to even more evaporation, so your reminder is especially good about topping up with freshwater to compensate for the evaporation, particularly for new hobbyists that may not be considering that.

 

https://www.bulkreefsupply.com/content/post/macna-2019-dr-tim-hovanec?utm_term=&utm_campaign=DSA>RLSA+Global&utm_source=adwords&utm_medium=ppc&hsa_acc=7373341438&hsa_cam=843440857&hsa_grp=41971741854&hsa_ad=494636762047&hsa_src=g&hsa_tgt=aud-340908210670:dsa-295317350131&hsa_kw=&hsa_mt=b&hsa_net=adwords&hsa_ver=3&gclid=CjwKCAiAjp6BBhAIEiwAkO9WumRBnyNXRwnZnHQNMSUQ9y2oiWoSL2KAagViahYhNNfpWD4y6Ooy5hoCvpAQAvD_BwE

 

C688E8C3-81E7-4682-AB03-485AAD5ED3E4.thumb.png.a6510939d7437e4dd13de8ee054fe7e6.png

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banasophia

I think this is a good resource for fishless cycling:

https://www.drtimsaquatics.com/resources/fishless-cycling/

 

And here’s a relevant excerpt:

 

Whatever the source of your ammonia, the following is the way to proceed. Add the ammonia solution to the aquarium so that the ammonia concentration is between 2 and 3 mg/L (but, as mentioned, do not go above 5 mg/L). Record the amount of liquid you added. If you are not using DrTim’s One & Only Live Nitrifying Bacteria, wait 2 or 3 days and measure the ammonia and nitrite. Continue measuring ammonia and nitrite every 2 or 3 days until you start to see some nitrite. This is a sign that the ammonia-oxidizing bacteria are starting to work. Add half the initial amount of ammonia you added to the water on day 1. Continue measuring ammonia and nitrite every 2 or 3 days. Around day 9 to 12, the ammonia will probably be below 1 mg/L, maybe even 0, but nitrite will be present. Nitrite does not spike until somewhere between days 14 and 20. You want to be careful adding more ammonia because you do not want the nitrite-nitrogen over 5 mg/L as this will start to poison the nitrite-oxidizing bacteria. Add a little ammonia every few days (1/4 dose), making sure the nitrite does not go above 5 mg/L. Once you start to see the nitrite decrease, it will drop pretty fast. The cycle is completed when you can add the full dose of ammonia (2 to 3 mg/L-N) and overnight it all disappears to nitrate with no sign of nitrite. Now you can start to add fish.

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Phycostatic
1 hour ago, banasophia said:

It is an important consideration though that the higher temp could lead to even more evaporation, so your reminder is especially good about topping up with freshwater to compensate for the evaporation, particularly for new hobbyists that may not be considering that.

 

I make sure I have some RO/DI water within reach at all times for topping off. I think I stay on top of it.

 

1 hour ago, banasophia said:

I think this is a good resource for fishless cycling:

https://www.drtimsaquatics.com/resources/fishless-cycling/

 

And here’s a relevant excerpt:

 

Whatever the source of your ammonia, the following is the way to proceed. Add the ammonia solution to the aquarium so that the ammonia concentration is between 2 and 3 mg/L (but, as mentioned, do not go above 5 mg/L). Record the amount of liquid you added. If you are not using DrTim’s One & Only Live Nitrifying Bacteria, wait 2 or 3 days and measure the ammonia and nitrite. Continue measuring ammonia and nitrite every 2 or 3 days until you start to see some nitrite. This is a sign that the ammonia-oxidizing bacteria are starting to work. Add half the initial amount of ammonia you added to the water on day 1. Continue measuring ammonia and nitrite every 2 or 3 days. Around day 9 to 12, the ammonia will probably be below 1 mg/L, maybe even 0, but nitrite will be present. Nitrite does not spike until somewhere between days 14 and 20. You want to be careful adding more ammonia because you do not want the nitrite-nitrogen over 5 mg/L as this will start to poison the nitrite-oxidizing bacteria. Add a little ammonia every few days (1/4 dose), making sure the nitrite does not go above 5 mg/L. Once you start to see the nitrite decrease, it will drop pretty fast. The cycle is completed when you can add the full dose of ammonia (2 to 3 mg/L-N) and overnight it all disappears to nitrate with no sign of nitrite. Now you can start to add fish.

 

Are you saying that I need to restart my cycle completely? There are measurable levels of NO3, NO2, and NH, so I think my tank is well on its way to being cycled already. The only problem is this tiny bit of NH and NO2 that just won't go away, about 0.5 ppm each. NO3 is up now, to 15. I've seen ammonia spike up to 2 and nitrites up to 2 as well.  I don't dose anything except a tiny amount of bacteria, which I no longer plan on doing, since I'm sure I've added enough. I will say, though, that two large helpings of fish flakes were gone from the sand in roughly 12 hours/overnight, so I believe my bacteria is good and active. Might the readings just be a false positive at this point? They never really seem to change too much.

 

 

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banasophia
27 minutes ago, Phycostatic said:

 

I make sure I have some RO/DI water within reach at all times for topping off. I think I stay on top of it.

 

 

Are you saying that I need to restart my cycle completely? There are measurable levels of NO3, NO2, and NH, so I think my tank is well on its way to being cycled already. The only problem is this tiny bit of NH and NO2 that just won't go away, about 0.5 ppm each. NO3 is up now, to 15. I've seen ammonia spike up to 2 and nitrites up to 2 as well.  I don't dose anything except a tiny amount of bacteria, which I no longer plan on doing, since I'm sure I've added enough. I will say, though, that two large helpings of fish flakes were gone from the sand in roughly 12 hours/overnight, so I believe my bacteria is good and active. Might the readings just be a false positive at this point? They never really seem to change too much.

 

 

Hmmm.... I don’t think fish flakes being gone from the sand means the bacteria came and ate it.... I think the flakes would disintegrate/break down in the water over time and break down into ammonia. I think the problem with using flakes instead of ammonia drops is that it’s hard to know how much ammonia was added that way. Personally I would get the Dr Tim’s ammonia drops for fishless cycling. 
 

The most important thing though is your ammonia and nitrite levels. If the levels are still 0.5 ppm, then your cycle isn’t complete yet. I do not think those are false positives, those look like actual positives in your pic. Those are what you want to see in the cycle if you are fishless cycling, you should not have done a water change. It’s fine, you just need to keep waiting for it to do its thing and for the two types of bacteria to build up.
 

You should not add any Prime while fishless cycling, or do any additional water changes until the cycle is done unless your ammonia or nitrite level get up above 5 because that stalls the cycle. 

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Clown79
1 hour ago, Phycostatic said:

 

I make sure I have some RO/DI water within reach at all times for topping off. I think I stay on top of it.

 

 

Are you saying that I need to restart my cycle completely? There are measurable levels of NO3, NO2, and NH, so I think my tank is well on its way to being cycled already. The only problem is this tiny bit of NH and NO2 that just won't go away, about 0.5 ppm each. NO3 is up now, to 15. I've seen ammonia spike up to 2 and nitrites up to 2 as well.  I don't dose anything except a tiny amount of bacteria, which I no longer plan on doing, since I'm sure I've added enough. I will say, though, that two large helpings of fish flakes were gone from the sand in roughly 12 hours/overnight, so I believe my bacteria is good and active. Might the readings just be a false positive at this point? They never really seem to change too much.

 

 

You don't need to restart the cycle.

 

It takes time and the numbers can go up and down, if you are feeding food only the numbers will change as an ammonia source is added and then processed.

 

A cycle can take 6 + weeks. 

 

Unfortunately the rock you purchased isn't cured liverock. Its dry liferock, just placed in water. There isn't any life on it.

 

If you are using only flake food as an ammonia source for cycling, it harder. There is less accuracy cycling with this method.

 

The flakes being gone- just disintegrated or in the filter.

 

Ammonia needs to reach 2ppm for proper cycling.

 

It might be better using dr tim's ammonia dosing where you can actually dose to 2ppm and let it process. 

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Phycostatic
5 hours ago, banasophia said:

Hmmm.... I don’t think fish flakes being gone from the sand means the bacteria came and ate it.... I think the flakes would disintegrate/break down in the water over time and break down into ammonia. I think the problem with using flakes instead of ammonia drops is that it’s hard to know how much ammonia was added that way. Personally I would get the Dr Tim’s ammonia drops for fishless cycling. 
 

The most important thing though is your ammonia and nitrite levels. If the levels are still 0.5 ppm, then your cycle isn’t complete yet. I do not think those are false positives, those look like actual positives in your pic. Those are what you want to see in the cycle if you are fishless cycling, you should not have done a water change. It’s fine, you just need to keep waiting for it to do its thing and for the two types of bacteria to build up.
 

You should not add any Prime while fishless cycling, or do any additional water changes until the cycle is done unless your ammonia or nitrite level get up above 5 because that stalls the cycle. 

 

Yeah, I was just wondering. I would have gotten that exact product already, but my LFS doesn't sell it and I don't think it's anywhere nearby me, so I have to order it online. It won't be available until later this month, so I'll just get the Fritz brand version. Should get here quickly, though. I will be getting this. I hope it gets here soon, at least. Thanks for the advice. I appreciate it.

 

4 hours ago, Clown79 said:

You don't need to restart the cycle.

 

It takes time and the numbers can go up and down, if you are feeding food only the numbers will change as an ammonia source is added and then processed.

 

A cycle can take 6 + weeks. 

 

Unfortunately the rock you purchased isn't cured liverock. Its dry liferock, just placed in water. There isn't any life on it.

 

If you are using only flake food as an ammonia source for cycling, it harder. There is less accuracy cycling with this method.

 

The flakes being gone- just disintegrated or in the filter.

 

Ammonia needs to reach 2ppm for proper cycling.

 

It might be better using dr tim's ammonia dosing where you can actually dose to 2ppm and let it process. 

 

Okay, good. I'm glad it can be salvaged at least. And good to know. So does that mean I have to continue dosing nitrifying bacteria or is that still unnecessary? Also, the ammonia has reached 2 before. Multiple times. But I'll still use the product I mentioned above to help the bacteria. Thank you for the advice. I appreciate it.

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banasophia
1 hour ago, Phycostatic said:

 

Yeah, I was just wondering. I would have gotten that exact product already, but my LFS doesn't sell it and I don't think it's anywhere nearby me, so I have to order it online. It won't be available until later this month, so I'll just get the Fritz brand version. Should get here quickly, though. I will be getting this. I hope it gets here soon, at least. Thanks for the advice. I appreciate it.

 

 

Okay, good. I'm glad it can be salvaged at least. And good to know. So does that mean I have to continue dosing nitrifying bacteria or is that still unnecessary? Also, the ammonia has reached 2 before. Multiple times. But I'll still use the product I mentioned above to help the bacteria. Thank you for the advice. I appreciate it.

So as it mentions in the excerpt from Dr Tim above, the cycle is completed when you can add the full dose of ammonia (to 2 to 3 mg/L-N) and overnight it all disappears to nitrate with no sign of nitrite (ammonia and nitrite are both zero). Then you can start to add fish (after doing a water change if needed to bring down the nitrate level at the very end of your cycle if your nitrate is high). 

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Phycostatic
10 hours ago, banasophia said:

So as it mentions in the excerpt from Dr Tim above, the cycle is completed when you can add the full dose of ammonia (to 2 to 3 mg/L-N) and overnight it all disappears to nitrate with no sign of nitrite (ammonia and nitrite are both zero). Then you can start to add fish (after doing a water change if needed to bring down the nitrate level at the very end of your cycle if your nitrate is high). 

So is it normal for ammonia to go up without me doing anything? It's about 0.7 now and nitrites went up to 2, so that means more ammonia came from somewhere without there being anything in the tank or me dosing anything. Nitrates went up to about 40 again, so the bacteria is doing something at least. 

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banasophia
5 hours ago, Phycostatic said:

So is it normal for ammonia to go up without me doing anything? It's about 0.7 now and nitrites went up to 2, so that means more ammonia came from somewhere without there being anything in the tank or me dosing anything. Nitrates went up to about 40 again, so the bacteria is doing something at least. 

I would guess that it’s probably from the fish food breaking down. Anyway, that’s good, it’s really just a waiting game at this point, waiting for the two types of bacteria to build up: those that convert ammonia -> nitrite, and those that convert nitrite -> nitrate. I’d just hang tight and retest tomorrow to see where things are. 
 

FYI, I use Caribsea Liferock in all my tanks... I add a media bag of matrix media in the back chamber of every tank to provide additional surface area for the beneficial bacteria since Liferock isn’t very porous. Not really sure if it’s necessary because I’ve never tried to run a tank without it, but I figure the stronger the biofilter in my tanks the better. 

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