Cycling an Aquarium

One of the earliest topics a new aquarium hobbyist needs to learn is how to properly cycle their aquarium. There is a ton of information on this...
  1. mdd1986

    mdd1986 Active Member

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    I'm not in a rush to be honest. I'm QTing a few fish right now so it will be a month before I put any real live stock in the tank. Should I continue to just seed the tank with ammonia? I would hope over time the nitrites will drop.
     

  2. mdd1986

    mdd1986 Active Member

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    Still waiting for my nitrites to go to zero. Basically been 4 weeks since I started the cycle. I read a few threads that said it took some people 8 weeks to complete this last part. Anyone have any similar experiences?
     
  3. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor Reef Tank 365 Article Contributor Partner Member 2018 Partner Member 2019 North Alabama Reef Club

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    Its not uncommon. It's hard to say if it is false positives on the test or just an unbalance in bacteria populations. If your ammonia rapidly goes to 0ppm and you have increasing nitrates I wouldn't worry about the nitrites.
     
  4. mdd1986

    mdd1986 Active Member

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    yea I been told to not does anymore ammonia. My nitrates were above 50. Just going to wait it out at this point. I don't think its false positives at this points since I used a few test kits.
     
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  5. cajunreef985

    cajunreef985 Active Member West Palm Beach Reefer Louisiana Reef Club

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    Clutch Information!! You are appreciated!! ;Writing:cool:
     
  6. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor Reef Tank 365 Article Contributor Partner Member 2018 Partner Member 2019 North Alabama Reef Club

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    Glad you found it useful!
     
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  7. mdd1986

    mdd1986 Active Member

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    Well to give everyone an update (for those who are in similar situations). My nitrite finally has started to bottom out as of yesterday. I got a reading of around .25PPM with the salifert nitrite kit. I started the cycle on December 1st so it take almost 6 weeks to get to this point. My chaeto seems to have grown as well and has reduced my nitrates from 50 down to around 15-20ppm. Just wanted to share for anyone who may experience something similar. Just have to be patient.
     
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  8. Bthomas

    Bthomas Active Member

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    Is it safe to add a clean up crew during the cycle? Started my cycle a week ago today. Ammonia is down to zero now but im going to dose more in the next couple days to bring it back up to 2ppm. Nitrites are still sky high and I havnt even started testing nitrates yet.
    Just wondering if ammonia/nitrite levels or high nitrates during the cycle will harm snails/crabs/cleaner shrimp
     
  9. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor Reef Tank 365 Article Contributor Partner Member 2018 Partner Member 2019 North Alabama Reef Club

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    Most will be ok but I'm not sure that I would take the chance. Especially with the cleaner shrimp.
     
  10. Bthomas

    Bthomas Active Member

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    Is this true for coral and inverts also? (Nitrites being safe for them)
    I think im in the same boat here. I dosed some bio spira couple days ago and now I'm processing ammonia in a day but nitrites are still off the charts. This is day 11 of my 'cycle'
    Would I be safe to add a small clean up crew, couple cleaner shrimp and a few corals? I wanted to get a round of coral and inverts in the tank and then im gonna let it sit fishless for 76 days while they go through a quarantine period.
    If so should i do a water change first?
     
  11. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor Reef Tank 365 Article Contributor Partner Member 2018 Partner Member 2019 North Alabama Reef Club

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    My concern is less the nitrites and more with the nitrates. Some inverts don't tolerate rapid swings in nitrates very well.

    You aren't still adding ammonia, are you? And what are you nitrates doing?
     
  12. Bthomas

    Bthomas Active Member

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    I added ammonia yesterday and this morning it was back to 0. I was planning to do another dose to make sure it continues to process it in a day but I won't once anything has been added to the tank.
    I hadn't been testing nitrates much but I just tested it now and it was sky high, somewhere between the 80 and 160 mark on the api test kit.. guessing i should start doing water changes weekly to bring that down? And not add anything until its at a reasonable level?
     
  13. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor Reef Tank 365 Article Contributor Partner Member 2018 Partner Member 2019 North Alabama Reef Club

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    Definitely stop adding ammonia!

    Your nitrate reading wont be accurate. The nitrate test works by breaking nitrates down into nitrites and then measuring them. So, it won't be accurate without zero nitrites. However, the fact it is that high tells me you have added a bunch of ammonia.

    You will want to do a large water change to get an immediate drop. Remember, one 20g water change is much more effective than doing 4 water changes of 5 gallons. Then wait until your nitrites get close to zero. Once you get there we can figure out where you are at.
     
  14. Bthomas

    Bthomas Active Member

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    I don't feel like I've added that much ammonia. I've only dosed a total of 3 times to bring it up to about 2ppm. First time was the start of the cycle and it took a week to process to 0. Then added bio spira, dosed 2 days in a row and was zero in 24 hours both times.

    Its a 150 gallon tank and I'm only able to do about a 30 gallon change at a time. How often to u suggest i do them?

    So your saying not to add any livestock until nitrates are down and nitrites are closer to 0?
     
  15. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor Reef Tank 365 Article Contributor Partner Member 2018 Partner Member 2019 North Alabama Reef Club

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    Ok, it is harder with a large system. Just because it is such a challenge, I'd hold off for another day or 2 prior to doing a water change. For a small system water changes are a quick, easy, and cheap reset. Not so much for a larger system.

    I'd like to see your nitrites at least on the chart and your nitrates under 60ppm prior to adding snails/hermit crabs. I wouldn't add anything else until nitrites were 0ppm and nitrates under 30ppm. Even many corals won't respond well to high nitrates unless the changes are done gradually.
     
  16. Bthomas

    Bthomas Active Member

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    Sounds good. I'll do a water change in a couple days and then once a week till things are more in order?
     
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  17. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor Reef Tank 365 Article Contributor Partner Member 2018 Partner Member 2019 North Alabama Reef Club

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    I doubt it will even take that long, but it sounds like a good plan.
     
  18. LagunaGlide

    LagunaGlide Active Member Build Thread Contributor

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    A bit confused here. First the 411. 240Gal with about 50gallons or so of water in sump. Live rock has been in the sump with heat and circulation since late December. Before adding sand to system ammonia was 0, Nitrites Zero, and Nitrates around 5 ppm. At one point it had low levels of ammonia and nitrites.

    In the past week I have done my scape, so rock moved from sump to DT, and I added sand yesterday. Once I added the sand I also added some Prime and Dr. Tims One and Only. I tested ammonia before bed and found it to be around .5ppm. I only tested ammonia at that time. This morning I tested for Ammonia, Nitrites, and Nitrates and readings were as follow, Ammonia .25ppm, Trites 0, Trates around 50ppm.
    I am unfortunately currently using and API kit. Trates are definitely between 40 and 80. I assume my system is dealing with the ammonia just fine, but why am I not seeing any nitrites? Once my ammonia goes back to 0ppm do I do a water change regardless of never seeing nitrites?

    Last curious question and kind of a sidebar. Rather than changing water could I now add Chaeto and the amount of Nitrates in the system now would be a good start up nutrient? Or best to change it and be done with it?
     
  19. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor Reef Tank 365 Article Contributor Partner Member 2018 Partner Member 2019 North Alabama Reef Club

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    For cycling, the API kit is just fine and what I normally recommend. No reason to spend more for a test kit that will get used for a few weeks unless you are going to set up a few tanks.

    Just keep in mind that the ammonia test may read 0.25ppm even if actually ammonia is 0ppm and that the nitrate test will not be accurate if you have any nitrites.

    Most likely they are either being processed at a rate faster than they are being generated or you have a nice population of Nitrospira bacteria that convert ammonia directly to nitrate. Using Dr Tims, either is possible.

    Not a requirement. As long as you won't be adding sensitive inverts your nitrates are just fine. Nitrites are not important in a marine system.

    I actually recommend adding chaeto (or other macro algae) prior to adding fish but after the tank is cycled. The biggest benefit is that it will process ammonia directly just like your now cycled rock. It may not do much to reduce nitrates initially since you may be PO4 limited. If you do have enough PO4 in your system this is very cost effective compared to doing a large water change for a system your size.

    Just remember, no starfish, urchins, or anemone's until you get your nitrates stable. They don't necessarily need to be low, just stable.
     
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  20. LagunaGlide

    LagunaGlide Active Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Awesome thank you. I was thinking about it, and it really seemed like a good idea to get the Chaeto a jump start and reduce Nitrates, but wasn't sure it would actually work. Glad to hear. Sounds like I need to get some chaeto ordered.
     
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