• For a Limited Time the R2R Partner Membership is NOW OPEN! Get some cool swag and chances to win part of over $20,000 in prizes! Click here for more details

Cycling an established tank or dose nitrates forever

https://www.triton.de/en/

Kati537

New Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 1, 2020
Messages
18
Reaction score
11
Hey guys, I have an ultra low nutrient system that I’m trying to boost nitrates in. Previously nitrate was always undetectable. I have fish and feed frozen fairly heavily, but I think my reef octopus skimmer works a little too well. I turned down my skimmer and my ammonia has been up the past three days (0.25ppm the first day, 0.5ppm the second/third day) . Nitrites and nitrates are still at 0. I feel like my tank is cycling all over again. My acan coral is not happy unfortunately, but all the other occupants don’t seem too distressed (Yet...). I wanted some opinions on where I should go from here. Should I try to adapt my feeding schedule to keep ammonia between 0.25 and 0.5ppm for a while until I boost my nitrates? Will it take a few weeks? I’m also thinking of running to the store and buying a bottle of nitrifying bacteria just for the heck of it. My other option would be to turn the skimmer back to where it was, and just dose nitrate indefinitely. Oh, and half the rock/sand is 3 years old, the other half is 6 months old (upgraded from 29g to 75g). I don’t think I have a lot of good critters/bacteria/diversity though from keeping the water too clean.
 
Zoanthids.com

Tiki Reef Joshua

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 27, 2020
Messages
336
Reaction score
325
Location
NOVA
If your tank is cycled lock your ammonia kit away and never look at it again. It’s only going to confuse by creating an extra variable. Tanks don’t recycle once established. That’s just a myth. If you want to raise nutrients either feed more, stop skimming, or dose nutrients.
 
OP
Kati537

Kati537

New Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 1, 2020
Messages
18
Reaction score
11
I’m feeding more/skimming less and seeing an ammonia spike. When can I expect enough nitrifying bacteria to flourish and start bring down ammonia and bringing up nitrate?
 
Corals.com

Saltyreef

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 25, 2018
Messages
2,038
Reaction score
1,667
Location
Bay Area, Ca
How does the tank look normally with ULN?

I had an undetecable amount of N and P , coral looked great but i wanted more color so i decided to dose N. Effectively crashing my beautiful tank.

Word of advice. If you do dose N, go slow and be very careful. Also, dont forget about P!!!!
 

BrandonS

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
Dec 9, 2018
Messages
733
Reaction score
809
Are both nitrates and phosphates 0? using any other export methods then a skimmer? Fish load? When you say skimming less do you mean adjusting the skimmer to more dry or using a timer to cut the skimmer off parts of the day?
 

Brew12

Electrical Gru
View Badges
Joined
Aug 14, 2016
Messages
22,021
Reaction score
58,981
Location
Decatur, AL
I don't think skimmers can strip too much from a tank, they aren't efficient enough.

If this is a new setup/transfer, especially if it came from a tank with a lot of algae and/or coral, it could be unable to prevent elevated ammonia. If this has been running as is for more than a month or two, I would consider it unlikely.

Any idea where your nutrients are going? Do you have a lot of algae? Any cloudiness in the water that could be a bacteria bloom?
 

BrandonS

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
Dec 9, 2018
Messages
733
Reaction score
809
Also keep in mind that sometimes you get a bump in phosphates from adding new uncycled rock and or sand. Some of the mined rocks can leach phosphates pretty good depending on where they are mined.

When you upgraded did you just move everything over? rinse your sand? all new sand?
 
Top Shelf Aquatics

BrandonS

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
Dec 9, 2018
Messages
733
Reaction score
809
Hey guys, I have an ultra low nutrient system that I’m trying to boost nitrates in. Previously nitrate was always undetectable. I have fish and feed frozen fairly heavily, but I think my reef octopus skimmer works a little too well. I turned down my skimmer and my ammonia has been up the past three days (0.25ppm the first day, 0.5ppm the second/third day) . Nitrites and nitrates are still at 0. I feel like my tank is cycling all over again. My acan coral is not happy unfortunately, but all the other occupants don’t seem too distressed (Yet...). I wanted some opinions on where I should go from here. Should I try to adapt my feeding schedule to keep ammonia between 0.25 and 0.5ppm for a while until I boost my nitrates? Will it take a few weeks? I’m also thinking of running to the store and buying a bottle of nitrifying bacteria just for the heck of it. My other option would be to turn the skimmer back to where it was, and just dose nitrate indefinitely. Oh, and half the rock/sand is 3 years old, the other half is 6 months old (upgraded from 29g to 75g). I don’t think I have a lot of good critters/bacteria/diversity though from keeping the water too clean.
when you moved the sand over did you rinse it well? sometimes old sand can have a lot of gunk in it and this can cause a re cycle. If it's been 6 months however that is possibly not it. Did you add a bunch of fish after the upgrade?
 
OP
Kati537

Kati537

New Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 1, 2020
Messages
18
Reaction score
11
As I mentioned earlier, half of the rock/sand is 6 months old, the rest of the tank is 3 years old. I upgraded from a 29g to 75g 6 months ago. When I upgraded I saw a small amount of algae start to grow on the glass at about the 3-4 week mark and then it quickly cleared up. A lot of the diversity started disappearing around the 3 month mark, I stopped seeing spagghetti worms, colonizing feather dusters, green algae on the glass etc. I’m still getting copepods and amphipods in my filter sock so at least thats a good sign. None of this would be an issue if it wasn’t for the for the fact that my coral either won’t grow or slowly decreases in size over the course of months. Fish have been doing great the whole time (including during the upgrade). I did lose a 2 year old cleaner shrimp yesterday (he was an adult when I bought him, so he was definitely getting old).

Right now I have a reef octopus 150int running on a 95g volume system, I was thinking that might have been overkill but I’m not sure. I’ve turned the collection to very “dry”, to the point I’m only getting a little bit in the cup. I used to get a ton of noxious smelling stuff in the cup every few days. I’m considering just taking off the cup or putting it on a timer (i heard this was bad for the AC pumps) but I’m going to wait and see the effects turning it “down” has first.

Also, ammonia had consistently tested 0 before this venture of trying to increase nutrients, and now is showing low levels. I don’t doubt that these tests aren’t super accurate, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence i’m seeing a bit of ammonia after actively trying to increase nutrients.

I wanted to add one more thing about being cycled verse not cycled. Feel free to argue with me on this. I think a lot of people view “being cycled” as a binary condition. As if after your tank is cycled you have a whole army of bacteria, waiting and on call. I’m under the impression that if you don’t have enough nutrients to meet their metabolic needs, they die. But it is much easier to regrow more bacteria from low levels of bacteria than from no bacteria (i.e. a new tank). However, it still takes some time for these bacteria to flourish, and I’m not sure how long that is.

I appreciate all of your input guys, it’s giving me a lot of good stuff to think about!
 
OP
Kati537

Kati537

New Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 1, 2020
Messages
18
Reaction score
11
I’m posting some pictures for those who are curious. I have a small yellow tang and a few more fish hiding. I feed heavily, frozen mysis or reef frenzy every day, sometimes flakes for a second meal (for the high metabolism wrasses) and tang get small portions of algae sheets.

For the person who asked me about my nitrate export system, thats a good question because i have ZERO algae. I’m assuming that its bacteria on the rock, coralline, and to a bigger extent the skimmer removing protiens before they have a chance to turn into ammonia. But that’s just an assumption

6F1B9898-25D2-4341-A57C-7BF7510355C6.jpeg 896E87AB-FB3E-4F92-864A-C1F119908F0D.jpeg 0C71DF97-247E-4DA1-B8D2-3DF98CBA66E8.jpeg
 

BrandonS

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
Dec 9, 2018
Messages
733
Reaction score
809
I’m posting some pictures for those who are curious. I have a small yellow tang and a few more fish hiding. I feed heavily, frozen mysis or reef frenzy every day, sometimes flakes for a second meal (for the high metabolism wrasses) and tang get small portions of algae sheets.

For the person who asked me about my nitrate export system, thats a good question because i have ZERO algae. I’m assuming that its bacteria on the rock, coralline, and to a bigger extent the skimmer removing protiens before they have a chance to turn into ammonia. But that’s just an assumption

6F1B9898-25D2-4341-A57C-7BF7510355C6.jpeg 896E87AB-FB3E-4F92-864A-C1F119908F0D.jpeg 0C71DF97-247E-4DA1-B8D2-3DF98CBA66E8.jpeg
filter socs?
 

Brew12

Electrical Gru
View Badges
Joined
Aug 14, 2016
Messages
22,021
Reaction score
58,981
Location
Decatur, AL
When I upgraded I saw a small amount of algae start to grow on the glass at about the 3-4 week mark and then it quickly cleared up.
I suspect the algae cleaned up because your fish or other CuC members are eating it. It most likely this is your nutrient sink.
I turned down my skimmer and my ammonia has been up the past three days (0.25ppm the first day, 0.5ppm the second/third day)
Ammonia is considered toxic at around 0.2ppm with a pH near 8 and a temp of 78F. If your ammonia was actually this high for extended periods your fish would show signs.

Right now I have a reef octopus 150int running on a 95g volume system, I was thinking that might have been overkill but I’m not sure. I’ve turned the collection to very “dry”, to the point I’m only getting a little bit in the cup. I used to get a ton of noxious smelling stuff in the cup every few days. I’m considering just taking off the cup or putting it on a timer (i heard this was bad for the AC pumps) but I’m going to wait and see the effects turning it “down” has first.
I'd go back to operating the skimmer how you had been. There is a lot of "stuff" in the water a skimmer can't remove. Taking the cup off isn't a bad idea if you do decide to go that route. It isn't horribly hard on the pump to start and stop but you can run into a situation where stagnant and potentially dangerous water can be formed and released into your aquarium.

I wanted to add one more thing about being cycled verse not cycled. Feel free to argue with me on this. I think a lot of people view “being cycled” as a binary condition. As if after your tank is cycled you have a whole army of bacteria, waiting and on call. I’m under the impression that if you don’t have enough nutrients to meet their metabolic needs, they die. But it is much easier to regrow more bacteria from low levels of bacteria than from no bacteria (i.e. a new tank). However, it still takes some time for these bacteria to flourish, and I’m not sure how long that is.
This is partially correct. It is my understanding that algae and coral can process more ammonia faster than the bacteria so it can be limiting to your bacteria count. The bacteria don't necessarily die but they can go into a type of dormancy. If you have a large amount of algae in a refugium that has been in place for months and remove the algae you can get a serious ammonia spike. Dormant bacteria recover much more quickly than the bacteria can reproduce.

That’s a pretty empty looking tank, more fish!
I actually agree with this. Adding extra food can help a little, but having more fish to eat the food and expel it as waste is much better for coral imo.
 
OP
Kati537

Kati537

New Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 1, 2020
Messages
18
Reaction score
11
Albertan, that’s what I like to hear! haha. I was assuming I was about at capacity but if I need more nutrients, why not. Since most of them are hiding in the pictures here’s a list of what I have.

Yellow tang
Hoevens wrasse
Exquisite wrasse
Orchid dottyback
Yellow watchman goby
three stripe damsel
Yellow tail damsel
Talbot damsel
2 occelaris clowns

This weekend I’ll go fish store hopping and try to pick out a few new ones.
 
https://www.triton.de/en/

Would you be shocked by today's reefing hobby if you had just returned after a long period of time?

  • Yes (tell us why in the thread)

    Votes: 155 52.7%
  • No

    Votes: 52 17.7%
  • Somewhat

    Votes: 83 28.2%
  • Other

    Votes: 4 1.4%

Online statistics

Members online
2,220
Guests online
5,056
Total visitors
7,276
Premium Algae Scrubbers from Turbo's Aquatics!
Top