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Cycling an Aquarium

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Brew12

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Thanks for the help. Yes it's the dry purple rock from Caribsea.

I got the tank as a present along with the heater and filter etc. It's too late to go back, and I don't want to upset my wife or kids by returning everything. So we march onward with what we have. I do have an Octopus 2000 skimmer on the way. There's no space for a fish room or place to keep water stored for a top off system or stuff like that. I will go check out that inkbird, thanks for the tip.
One of the most amazing SPS tanks I've seen was a 40 gallon system. All it had were lights, an ATO system, heater, and powerheads. No skimmer, no HOB filter.
Chemistry was maintained using Kalkwasser in the ATO and weekly water changes.
 
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Brew12

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I need a chemist to verify what I am about to say, I studied Physics. The diagram below is saying that ammonia rose to 10mg/l (Milligrams per Liter) which is 10ppm (Parts Per Million) peak about the 12th day, bacteria was starting to convert ammonia in to Nitrite, and a little time later Nitrite in to Nitrate. You can see that this cycle really takes about 40 days.
I'm not a chemist either, but that isn't actually what the graph is showing. The Y axis in the graph is mg/l of only Nitrogen and not the compounds of ammonia, nitrite and nitrogen.
This graph is only shaped the way it is because it assumes a constant linear addition of ammonia. If you would make a 1 time addition of 2ppm ammonia into a closed system the graph would be a straight line across since the PPM nitrogen never changes. I hope I explained that well enough.
If you want to look at it in terms of PPM of each nitrogen source, 1ppm of ammonia makes 2.7ppm nitrite makes 3.6ppm of nitrate. If you do a 2ppm pure ammonia addition, as ammonia starts dropping, ppm nitrite will climb faster than ammonia drops. Once nitrite starts dropping, ppm nitrate will climb faster than nitrite drops.
Another way of looking at it is that 1ppm ammonia contains 0.8ppm nitrogen where 1ppm of nitrite contains 0.3ppm nitrogen and 1ppm nitrate has 0.23ppm nitrogen.

Making this more complicated, this isn't what your test kits will show without lab grade instruments. This is because nitrate tests break nitrate down into nitrite and then read the total. Nitrate tests are only accurate if nitrite is effectively zero. So, what a hobbyist should see is ammonia dropping, nitrite going up slightly and nitrate going up faster (even though no nitrate is actually being produced). Once nitrite starts dropping they will likely see a dip in nitrate before it starts climbing again due to less nitrite interfering with the test.

I know.. clear as mud.. and of course what is seen changes if there are additional outside sources of ammonia, use of bottled bacteria, water changes, and the inaccuracy of our testing.

Please let me know if I caused any undo confusion by not explaining this well. Its much easier to do in person!
 

Bryn

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This graph is only shaped the way it is because it assumes a constant linear addition of ammonia. If you would make a 1 time addition of 2ppm ammonia into a closed system the graph would be a straight line across since the PPM nitrogen never changes. I hope I explained that well enough.
Yes, that is a valid point that I did not consider of constant ammonia. The rest of the explanation was clear, and how I understood it.

This adds a great amount of explanation for the next OCD that comes along... :D

Thanks
 
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Yes, that is a valid point that I did not consider of constant ammonia. The rest of the explanation was clear, and how I understood it.

This adds a great amount of explanation for the next OCD that comes along... :D

Thanks
That chart is still great information and what I added is way beyond what someone new would need to know. About the only thing I can think of that would be useful is that if you dose 2ppm of ammonia 3 times during a cycle you should expect to see roughly 20ppm of nitrate at the end if you have done no water changes.
But.. I figured you would enjoy the finer points.
 

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That chart is still great information and what I added is way beyond what someone new would need to know. About the only thing I can think of that would be useful is that if you dose 2ppm of ammonia 3 times during a cycle you should expect to see roughly 20ppm of nitrate at the end if you have done no water changes.
But.. I figured you would enjoy the finer points.
I thought this was a brilliant addition to the thread, but then I like the why answers.

Truthfully, as you pointed out above, add some ammonia, and Hurry Up and Wait... :D
 

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Hi! I’m new to the saltwater hobby and have come over frim freshwater. I’m currently cycling a 20g nano tank (fishless of course). To speed this up, I used fritz turbostart900 and Dr. Tim’s ammonium chloride in a bottle and within 24 hours saw that my ammonia was 0ppm after adding a the recommended dosage of the turbostart and ammonia. I’m on day 5 of cycling and I’ve been stuck on 2ppm of nitrites for about 3 days now. I’m not sure if it’s stalled or what. Fritz turbostart says it cycles your aquarium in 5 days so I’m not sure if it was a bad bottle? Currently, my pH is 8, ammonia 0, nitrite 2ppm, and nitrate 40ppm. I still have not added fish, but I plan to put 2 clowns in there. Is there any advice anyone could give me on what’s going wrong (if there’s anything going wrong)? Any help would be greatly appreciated
 
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Hi! I’m new to the saltwater hobby and have come over frim freshwater. I’m currently cycling a 20g nano tank (fishless of course). To speed this up, I used fritz turbostart900 and Dr. Tim’s ammonium chloride in a bottle and within 24 hours saw that my ammonia was 0ppm after adding a the recommended dosage of the turbostart and ammonia. I’m on day 5 of cycling and I’ve been stuck on 2ppm of nitrites for about 3 days now. I’m not sure if it’s stalled or what. Fritz turbostart says it cycles your aquarium in 5 days so I’m not sure if it was a bad bottle? Currently, my pH is 8, ammonia 0, nitrite 2ppm, and nitrate 40ppm. I still have not added fish, but I plan to put 2 clowns in there. Is there any advice anyone could give me on what’s going wrong (if there’s anything going wrong)? Any help would be greatly appreciated
Nothings gone wrong, what you are seeing is very common. The Fritz Trubostart doesn't recommend adding 2ppm ammonia for a 5 day cycle. That is a pretty big ammonia load. It would normally take a week or two for that much ammonia to be produced in a newly set up system. Give it another few days and your nitrite should drop back down. You will also see your nitrate test results drop even though nitrate is actually increasing. Don't get caught off guard by this, it is normal.
 

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Nothings gone wrong, what you are seeing is very common. The Fritz Trubostart doesn't recommend adding 2ppm ammonia for a 5 day cycle. That is a pretty big ammonia load. It would normally take a week or two for that much ammonia to be produced in a newly set up system. Give it another few days and your nitrite should drop back down. You will also see your nitrate test results drop even though nitrate is actually increasing. Don't get caught off guard by this, it is normal.
Thank you so much! I’m not 100% sure of what I was doing but I’ve seen people use Dr. Tim’s live nitrifying bacter with the ammonium chloride in a bottle so I thought no different when I decided to use the fritz turbostart instead! Beginners mistake I guess lol! I actually noticed my nitrates dropped 20ppm today so I’m hoping nitrites will follow! If you couldn’t tell I have very bad new tank syndrome. Thanks for the help and also easing my worries!
 
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Thank you so much! I’m not 100% sure of what I was doing but I’ve seen people use Dr. Tim’s live nitrifying bacter with the ammonium chloride in a bottle so I thought no different when I decided to use the fritz turbostart instead! Beginners mistake I guess lol! I actually noticed my nitrates dropped 20ppm today so I’m hoping nitrites will follow! If you couldn’t tell I have very bad new tank syndrome. Thanks for the help and also easing my worries!
In theory, you could use either Dr Tim or the Turbostart and immediately add fish as long as you feed them lightly. However, if your chosen product had become defective by something like high storage temperatures, that could cause serious issues.
By adding the ammonia, we are verifying that the bottled bacteria actually works but in most cases it does take at least a few days for the ammonia and nitrite to drop.
Your nitrates dropping is a great sign your nitrites went down. Nitrate test work by converting nitrate to nitrite and measuring it. The nitrate tests are only accurate if nitrite is 0ppm. Since your nitrite actually dropped, it made it look like your nitrate dropped.
 

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In theory, you could use either Dr Tim or the Turbostart and immediately add fish as long as you feed them lightly. However, if your chosen product had become defective by something like high storage temperatures, that could cause serious issues.
By adding the ammonia, we are verifying that the bottled bacteria actually works but in most cases it does take at least a few days for the ammonia and nitrite to drop.
Your nitrates dropping is a great sign your nitrites went down. Nitrate test work by converting nitrate to nitrite and measuring it. The nitrate tests are only accurate if nitrite is 0ppm. Since your nitrite actually dropped, it made it look like your nitrate dropped.
Okay yay! That makes me feel sooo much better. I thought something had gone terribly wrong. Once nitrites are at 0, I will do a 50% water change to get rid of the large nitrates that I’m assuming will be in the aquarium. Does that mean I’d be ready for fish to be put in there? I was going to buy 2 clowns since they’re hardy and good beginner fish, then wait a while until I get a small gobi or something along those lines.
 

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so my ammonia has dropped from 2 to 0, and here’s my Nitrate test. Do I need to let nitrates go higher or is it cycled and am I good to do the water change?

A09EA2D8-FD4C-4143-A94B-E414EE1B6110.jpeg
 

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Guys, my tank feels like it has stalled on 1ppm of ammonia for like 4 days, i do have nitrites though. My question is why? My ph is at 8.1... I did use dr tims one and only. Would it be okay to use fritz turbo start 900 also? I got a small bottle of it. Would that help? Or bad idea mixing two different brands of bactaria in a bottle
 

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Its ammonia -> Nitrites -> Nitrates
if ammonia and nitrites are zero - then you are ready to introduce your first fish. But take it slow.
Ideally you would do a confirmation test: add ammonia up to 1ppm and then day latter check if ammonia and nitrites are again 0.
But for bigger tanks and slow addition of fish its not needed.
 

clhardy5

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I'm in the process of cycling my quarantine tank. This is day 3 (Fritz Turbo 900 and ammonia - originally dosed to 2ppm)... I know - API sucks - but its what I have for now - and I regret it because I have a hard time with the colors. What would you say these are?
.
IMG_4862.jpeg
IMG_4863.jpeg
IMG_4864.jpeg


Also....next step?
 
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I'm in the process of cycling my quarantine tank. This is day 3 (Fritz Turbo 900 and ammonia - originally dosed to 2ppm)... I know - API sucks - but its what I have for now - and I regret it because I have a hard time with the colors. What would you say these are?
.
IMG_4862.jpeg
IMG_4863.jpeg
IMG_4864.jpeg


Also....next step?
I'd say 0.5ppm on the ammonia, and a little over 1ppm on the Nitrite. Nitrate doesn't matter since you won't get an accurate reading with nitrite in the water. And for the record, I like the API test kits for cycling a tank. If you are setting up a QT you may use meds in, I would recommend getting a Seachem ammonia alert badge.

Now you wait a little longer. Once the nitrite drops I'd call it ready to add fish.
 

DancingWind

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I'm in the process of cycling my quarantine tank. This is day 3 (Fritz Turbo 900 and ammonia - originally dosed to 2ppm)... I know - API sucks - but its what I have for now - and I regret it because I have a hard time with the colors. What would you say these are?
.
IMG_4862.jpeg
IMG_4863.jpeg
IMG_4864.jpeg


Also....next step?
:D next step is wait :)
Everything seems fine - great actually for day 3. Wait till ammonia and nitrite goes to 0 then try dosing some ammonia and see how fast it drops. The gold standard is 2ppm per 24h, but in a big tank and if you are not going to add immediately many and/or big fish 1ppm/24h will be plenty
 

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Hello All,

Starting a new tank.

I watched the A simple, easy guide in 5 minute steps from BRStv. Do I have it correct?

Add a pair of Clownfish
Add MicroBacter7
Test for Ammonia once a week till 0
Wait two weeks
Then test for Nitrite
Then test for Nitrate
Then Add Yellow Tang
Then 2 weeks, Bristletooth Tang
Then 2 weeks, Lawnmower Blenny
Then 2 weeks, 6 line
Then add VIBRANT
At the 4 month mark, then lights on.
Add cleant up crew.
Add coralline algae.
Once coralline algae grows in the glass,then corals.

Thanks for the advice.
 
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Hello All,

Starting a new tank.

I watched the A simple, easy guide in 5 minute steps from BRStv. Do I have it correct?

Add a pair of Clownfish
Add MicroBacter7
Test for Ammonia once a week till 0
Wait two weeks
Then test for Nitrite
Then test for Nitrate
Then Add Yellow Tang
Then 2 weeks, Bristletooth Tang
Then 2 weeks, Lawnmower Blenny
Then 2 weeks, 6 line
Then add VIBRANT
At the 4 month mark, then lights on.
Add cleant up crew.
Add coralline algae.
Once coralline algae grows in the glass,then corals.

Thanks for the advice.
You can do that, although it isn't my preference. At the very least I would add the MicroBacter7 a day or two before adding the clown fish. I would also test ammonia daily and make sure you have a bottle of Seachem Prime you can use in case you see an ammonia spike.
Judging from the fact you are adding tangs, I'm guessing this is a larger tank? If it at least 120g I think this would be very safe for your fish if you feed lightly.
 

Jg2269jg

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Hey was wondering if you could help. I have been out of the hobby for like 6 years and I started a 40 breeder. On 7\22 I added 50 ml of microbacter start xlm and 9 ml of ammonia.
7/23 ammonia level 2, nitrite 0.2
7/24 same
7/25 ammonia 1.5, nitrite 0.3
7\27 ammonia 1.5, nitrite 1
7/28 same
Went on vacation and came back
8/9 ammonia 0, nitrite 1
Nitrite has now stayed at 1 since 7\27. Is my cycle staling? I have done weekly water changes.

Background on tank. 40 breeder with 10-15 gallon sump. I bleached cured my life rock then ran in rodi water with Prime for a week. 40lbs of dry sand. Protein skimmer research u mint since the second week. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated
Jeff
 
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