Need Cycling Help/Clarification (Will Post Updates In This Thread)

BRS

JSkeleton

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I apologize for all the cycling questions and threads, I will just update this one from here on out and lay out the entire information below. As of today though (September 3) I've had 0 Ammonia for a few days and stuck at around 5.0 Nitrites for like a week and unsure what to do as it seems I keep hearing mixed things (do a water change, don't do a water change, leave it be, add ammonia, don't add any more ammonia, add more bacteria, don't add any more bacteria etc.).

I started my cycle in a 55 Gallon Aquarium with getting Ammonia to 2.0 using a bit less than recommended dose of Dr Tim's Ammonia Chloride (about 2-3 drops per gallon instead of the recommended 4). I added Brightwell XLM MicroBacter 15x concentration nitrifying bacteria the next morning. Ammonia didn't budge for a week and Brightwell told me to dump the rest of the bottle in (about 2-3 times recommended dose in total of bacteria), which a few days later I noticed ammonia starting to move.

Tank Specs: 55 Gallon Aquarium, 42lbs Arragonite (2-3 inches roughly), 20lbs of white dry rock, 8lbs of purple LifeRock, 1 70 Gallon HOB Filter with biomedia + filter sponge + sponge on intake, 1 30 Gallon HOB Filter with same but biomedia in that one is the bioballs, 200W Eheim TruTemp Heater (temp is around 77F). API Saltwater Master Kit for testing (I know, not the greatest but it came with some stuff I got), and using an RODI 3-stage system for my water. Salinity is around 33ppt.

ROUGH TIMELINE:
August 12

Ammonia 2.0
pH 7.8


August 18
Ammonia 2.0
Nitrites 0.25
Nitrates 10.0


August 20
Ammonia 1.0
Nitrite 0.50
Nitrate 15


August 22
pH 8.0 ish (may have been 7.8)
Ammonia 1.0
Nitrites 1.0
Nitrates 20


August 25
Ammonia 1.0
Nitrites between 2.0 and 5.0 (hard to tell on chart)
Nitrates 40


August 27
Ammonia 0.50
Nitrites between 2.0 and 5.0 (hard to tell on chart)
Nitrates 60


August 28 MORNING
Ammonia 0.25 *Looked between 0.25 and 0.50*
Nitrites *seemed* to look closer to 2.0
Nitrates 80+


August 28 EVENING
Ammonia closer to 0.25 than morning test
Nitrites closer to 1.0 (pretty sure?)


August 29
Ammonia very close to 0 if not 0
Nitrites seem around 1.0 (again *seem*)
Nitrates 160+


August 30
Added 2 extra Filter Sponges To Aquarium (to have some ready for QT and also more places for bacteria to grow)
Added 4 drops of Dr Tim's Ammonia Chloride.


August 31
Morning Nitrites seem close to 2.0
Evening Nitrites seem close to 1.0 (again hard to tell as the 1.0, 2.0, and 5.0 purples are so subtly different)
Added 6 drops of Dr Tim's Ammonia Chloride in morning and 8 more drops in evening (ammonia read 0 MAYBE slightly over).


September 1
15-20% Water Change (reputable Reef Store recommended doing this since Nitrites were not moving)
Nitrites after were 2.0 (?)
Nitrates down to 40 (previously 160+)


September 2
Nitrites still seem 1.0-5.0 range (again the purple hard to tell exactly)
Nitrates back up to 80-160


September 3
pH 7.8
Nitrites seem closer to 5.0 but again, the purples are hard to tell (posted a pic in another thread from a previous day in which I thought it was 1.0-2.0 and people responded saying it looked more like 5.0 to them).


So as of writing this (September 3) I have been cycling for just over 3 weeks (maybe longer but I honestly lost track when I started, the furthest back info I wrote was August 12 so it was around that time I assume). My Nitrites have been in the higher "purple" range for like a week+ and my Ammonia has been in that 0 range (cloudy yellow test which I assume is 0 judging it's API) for close to a week (5-6 days ish?).

I am unsure at this point whether to be dosing Ammonia (don't want bacteria to starve) or not.
I am unsure what to do about the Nitrites not coming down.
I am unsure whether I SHOULD be doing any water changes or not (some people seem to recommend it and some say it might stall your cycle).

I just want to get through the cycle smoothly and not mess anything up is all, especially being new to Saltwater Aquariums and not wanting to get discouraged by messing up before I even really get started. I understand there's lots of opinions out there, but are there any solid, concrete facts and info to apply in my situation to avoid making a mess of things?

Thanks in advance! :)
 
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KrisReef

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I quit reading at August 25, the cycle was safe for fish at that point.

You don't need to feed bacteria anymore. Stop! They won't die if you never feed them again.
A big water change to lower nitrate and you are good to go.

If you don't believe me because I give bad advice all the time, I'm still correct about this one.

Just don't add a store full of fish, and an anemone, and corals today now that the tank is "cycled" and think that will be ok. You need to add new things into the new system slowly because reef tank systems take time to develop. There is more life that will come along as you add new things. Good luck

@livinlifeinBKK
 
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JSkeleton

JSkeleton

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I quit reading at August 25, the cycle was safe for fish at that point.

You don't need to feed bacteria anymore. Stop! They won't die if you never feed them again.
A big water change to lower nitrate and you are good to go.

If you don't believe me because I give bad advice all the time, I'm still correct about this one.

Just don't add a store full of fish, and an anemone, and corals today now that the tank is "cycled" and think that will be ok. You need to add new things into the new system slowly because reef tank systems take time to develop. There is more life that will come along as you add new things. Good luck

@livinlifeinBKK
August 25 the ammonia was still 1.0 though, how was it cycle safe at that point? Also, my 15-20% water change lowered the Nitrates to 40 but the next day they were super high again, so won't that just happen again since my Nitrites are still high?
 
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lulubap

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Your nitrates seem sky high so I wouldn't be concerned about nutrients starving. IMO adding more ammonium chloride might set back your cycle as you're adding more ammonia. Ammonia is absorbed by the nitrifying bacteria (microbacter XLM) which is then broken down into nitrates. Ideally, you want 0 nitrites and 0 ammonia, so you want it all to be turned into ntirates. Nitrites may have boosted in the september period due to the ammonia (at least that's what I think). I'd ride it out and do biweekly (twice a weekish) water changes and see how it goes. I wouldn't be dosing ammonia anymore and do maintenance as if the tank were cycled to 1) get the feel of it and 2) keep it consistent. Water changes should ideally be weekly depending on your bioload but twice a week should be alright seeing your nitrates being so high.

Cycles would ideally be 3 weeks, but they may be longer. I didn't know what I was doing when I cycled my tank due to a misinformed LFS, so mine took way longer. What matters is getting your tank to where it is. And for that, patience is key. Keep me/us updated on the tank. Best of luck.
 

KrisReef

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August 25 the ammonia was still 1.0 though, how was it cycle safe at that point? Also, my 15-20% water change lowered the Nitrates to 40 but the next day they were super high again, so won't that just happen again since my Nitrites are still high?
I’m going to guess that you are using API test kits? These are infamous for giving high ammonia readings after the cycle is completed.
The nitrates you measured were results from the ammonia you added. They result from your cycle bacteria eating ammonia and spitting out nitrite which is also eaten and released into the water as nitrate. All this indicates that your cycle is completed.

You can continue to add ammonia to test the efficacy of the biological filter as long as you need to feel certain that they are present and working.

When you are done with that I would recommend that you perform a large water change to remove the ammonia that was biologically processed into nitrate. The livestock in the tank generally like lower nitrates in their environment.
 
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