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Nitrites high after one day of Dr. Tim’s One and Only

Zachary S.

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Hello, I started my first saltwater aquarium tank (29g) yesterday and added Dr. Tim’s One And Only. Before that my ammonia was at .25 ppm and nitrites were at zero. I used dr Tim’s ammonia and raised the ammonia to 2 ppm. 24 hours later, the ammonia read 1 ppm and nitrites read I believe 3 ppm. I don’t believe that the nitrites were supposed to raise to high in one day. Am I on the right track??? I raised the ammonia backup to 2ppm as directions stated. I have live sand and dry rock and using API test kits.
 

immortl

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Not sure the of the exact timing expected (day 1, day 2, etc...) but it seems to me you're on the right track and doing fine. Ammonia to Nitrite to Nitrate. You add ammonia, it get turned to Nitrite, and then to Nitrate by associated bacteria. Eventually, you should read 0 for both Ammonia and Nitrite. You'll have some nitrate and at that point your tank has cycled.
 

BeejReef

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+1

If you google Dr. Tim and MACNA, Bulk Reef Supply just published one of his talks on the microbiology of cycling.
Very interesting. Watch for yourself, but the main takeaway I got was to not redose ammonia until the nitrite is gone (or very near gone). If you let Nitrite get crazy high, it can prolong the cycle.
 
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Zachary S.

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Not sure the of the exact timing expected (day 1, day 2, etc...) but it seems to me you're on the right track and doing fine. Ammonia to Nitrite to Nitrate. You add ammonia, it get turned to Nitrite, and then to Nitrate by associated bacteria. Eventually, you should read 0 for both Ammonia and Nitrite. You'll have some nitrate and at that point your tank has cycled.
Thank you for responding! Is the nitrite higher just because it is taking much longer timer to convert to nitrate? Should I add anymore ammonia?
 
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Zachary S.

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+1

If you google Dr. Tim and MACNA, Bulk Reef Supply just published one of his talks on the microbiology of cycling.
Very interesting. Watch for yourself, but the main takeaway I got was to not redose ammonia until the nitrite is gone (or very near gone). If you let Nitrite get crazy high, it can prolong the cycle.
Thanks for replying! I’ll definitely check the video out and will stop dosing the ammonia until the nitrites are lower.
 
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blasterman

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Dude....

Add the ammonia. Wait a couple weeks. Then test. Stop train spotting the nitrogen cycle / watching paint dry. You do not need to add more ammonia unless you aren't going to add live stock for awhile and want to keep the nitrogen cycle ready to add lots of live stock later on.


If you have live rock or sand this is typically the time it takes to get the nitrogen cycle going after adding ammonia (couple weeks). If you're starting from scratch it can take longer.

As nitrites climb and fall this disrupts the ammonia conversion for a bit which is why you see both going up and down. A quick nitrite spike usually means things are going good and the bacteria base is quickly gobbling up the ammonia.

The nitrogen cycle is one of the oldest biological processes on earth. Not sure why it has to be marketed.
 

Tuan’s Reef

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Dude....

Add the ammonia. Wait a couple weeks. Then test. Stop train spotting the nitrogen cycle / watching paint dry. You do not need to add more ammonia unless you aren't going to add live stock for awhile and want to keep the nitrogen cycle ready to add lots of live stock later on.


If you have live rock or sand this is typically the time it takes to get the nitrogen cycle going after adding ammonia (couple weeks). If you're starting from scratch it can take longer.

As nitrites climb and fall this disrupts the ammonia conversion for a bit which is why you see both going up and down. A quick nitrite spike usually means things are going good and the bacteria base is quickly gobbling up the ammonia.

The nitrogen cycle is one of the oldest biological processes on earth. Not sure why it has to be marketed.
There will always be a market for instant gratification. ;)

The idea behind bacteria in a bottle is to hurry up the nitrogen cycle
 

mta_morrow

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All will be fine. Just wait till ammonia and nitrite drop to zero. Then dose to 2 ppm ammonia again. Once it is down to 24 hours for ammonia to reach 0 from 2 ppm, cycle is complete. Then wc to get nitrates where you would like them to be and add fish.
 
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Zachary S.

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Just tested again after 24 hours, the ammonia dropped from 2ppm to 0.25ppm, nitrites stayed roughly the same (3-4ppm). Nitrates went up as well to about 10-15 ppm. I believe I’m on the right track, I suppose I should stop adding ammonia until the nitrites catch back up right?
 

immortl

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That's my understanding, yes. Stop adding ammonia. Wait for ammonia reading to drop to 0. Then add in a little more and watch it drop to 0 again quickly (day or so). Then monitor nitrite and when it drops to 0, you should have only nitrates (no ammonia, no nitrite). At that point the cycle has completed.
 
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Zachary S.

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That's my understanding, yes. Stop adding ammonia. Wait for ammonia reading to drop to 0. Then add in a little more and watch it drop to 0 again quickly (day or so). Then monitor nitrite and when it drops to 0, you should have only nitrates (no ammonia, no nitrite). At that point the cycle has completed.
Thank you for replying! I’m not gonna add anymore ammonia until the levels are lower. Wouldn’t it not be good if the nitrites get too high so I should wait until those are lower to add ammonia?
 

immortl

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As I recall there are bacteria that consume the ammonia and turn it to nitrite. Then another type of bacteria consumes nitrite and turns it to nitrate. So long as you don't have any live stock in the tank (should not in a cycling tank) the nitrites will not harm anything. You're waiting to give the de-nitrifying bacteria time to build up and process the nitrite into nitrate. Once you have 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite, you know you have a good population of both types of bacteria. At that point, you can add in a little more ammonia and measure levels to ensure that the ammonia is processed quickly into nitrite and then into nitrate (you may not see any nitrite at that point, it should go quickly from ammonia to nitrate).
 
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Zachary S.

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As I recall there are bacteria that consume the ammonia and turn it to nitrite. Then another type of bacteria consumes nitrite and turns it to nitrate. So long as you don't have any live stock in the tank (should not in a cycling tank) the nitrites will not harm anything. You're waiting to give the de-nitrifying bacteria time to build up and process the nitrite into nitrate. Once you have 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite, you know you have a good population of both types of bacteria. At that point, you can add in a little more ammonia and measure levels to ensure that the ammonia is processed quickly into nitrite and then into nitrate (you may not see any nitrite at that point, it should go quickly from ammonia to nitrate).
Wow this helped a lot, thank you! So I should keep feeding the nitrite bacteria right? I just heard that too much nitrites can cause nitrite poisoning in a tank, is this true?
 

immortl

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At this point, where you have some ammonia, some nitrite and some nitrate, you stop 'feeding/adding' to the tank. Let the bacteria build up and consume what is present. You're waiting until there is only nitrate in the tank. Once you reach this point, only nitrates in the tank, you can add a little more ammonia once, and then watch it (via testing) quickly get turned to nitrite and finally nitrate. You will once again reach the point where the tank only has nitrates. You have successfully cycled the tank and have also verified the cycle with that final test. You're good to go to add livestock (again, NO ammonia present, no nitrite present). If your nitrates are high after this, you can do a water change with freshly mixed salt water to reduce/dilute the nitrates.

I believe nitrite poisoning is when nitrites are present along with live stock in the tank. Nitrite is bad for livestock and can poison them if the concentration is high enough. You are working to prevent this in the future by allowing the nitrogen fixing bacteria to build up on your rock work and sand bed now, before any livestock are present. In the future, after you have added livestock, these bacteria will quickly process ammonia produced by the livestock into nitrite, which will then quickly be processed into nitrate by the other form of bacteria. With enough bacteria present (the point of why you are cycling the tank now) you shouldn't ever have measurable ammonia nor nitrites because the bacteria will process them quickly.

Note - you are currently building up a base of bacteria for this process. In the future, as you add livestock, the waste output from the livestock will increase. The bacteria will multiply to accommodate this, but you don't want to overwhelm them and need to give the multiplying process a little time. In other words, add livestock slowly. Don't dump 4 fish into the tank at once. Maybe 1 or 2 at a time, then another 1 or 2 next week. Space livestock introduction out some. This pertains primarily to fish. I don't think corals produce much waste in the form of ammonia. Anemone's, eh, depends on if you feed them directly or not.

Thanks,
Joe
 
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Zachary S.

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At this point, where you have some ammonia, some nitrite and some nitrate, you stop 'feeding/adding' to the tank. Let the bacteria build up and consume what is present. You're waiting until there is only nitrate in the tank. Once you reach this point, only nitrates in the tank, you can add a little more ammonia once, and then watch it (via testing) quickly get turned to nitrite and finally nitrate. You will once again reach the point where the tank only has nitrates. You have successfully cycled the tank and have also verified the cycle with that final test. You're good to go to add livestock (again, NO ammonia present, no nitrite present). If your nitrates are high after this, you can do a water change with freshly mixed salt water to reduce/dilute the nitrates.

I believe nitrite poisoning is when nitrites are present along with live stock in the tank. Nitrite is bad for livestock and can poison them if the concentration is high enough. You are working to prevent this in the future by allowing the nitrogen fixing bacteria to build up on your rock work and sand bed now, before any livestock are present. In the future, after you have added livestock, these bacteria will quickly process ammonia produced by the livestock into nitrite, which will then quickly be processed into nitrate by the other form of bacteria. With enough bacteria present (the point of why you are cycling the tank now) you shouldn't ever have measurable ammonia nor nitrites because the bacteria will process them quickly.

Note - you are currently building up a base of bacteria for this process. In the future, as you add livestock, the waste output from the livestock will increase. The bacteria will multiply to accommodate this, but you don't want to overwhelm them and need to give the multiplying process a little time. In other words, add livestock slowly. Don't dump 4 fish into the tank at once. Maybe 1 or 2 at a time, then another 1 or 2 next week. Space livestock introduction out some. This pertains primarily to fish. I don't think corals produce much waste in the form of ammonia. Anemone's, eh, depends on if you feed them directly or not.

Thanks,
Joe
Thank you so much Joe! This has informed me on many things. But I would like to add that I measured the parameters today (4th day) and the ammonia read 0ppm, the nitrates stayed at 4-5ppm but the nitrates had a whopping 80 ppm!! I am very very confused on why the nitrates are so high??!!? Yesterday they were around 15-20 but I measured today and they were 80 ppm. I’m just confused on why the nitrates got so high but the nitrites didn’t fall at all? I haven’t added any ammonia since the second day. (So the nitrites levels would decrease)
 
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Zachary S.

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Hello, just a quick update:

PH: 8.1
Ammonia: 0ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrate: 80ppm

I put in 1ppm ammonia in two days ago, and looked at my results yesterday and the ammonia was at 0ppm and the nitrite was at .25ppm so I gave it another day and it’s reading 0ppm ammonia and nitrites. I suppose the cycle is super close to being done? Yes or no? I’m gonna put in another 1 ppm ammonia to see the result for tomorrow. If they read 0, then is the tank cycled?
 

JustinMN18

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So what was the final answer for adding ammonia? I have 0 ammonia and a ton of nitrite (>1), and nitrates. Do I add more ammonia? Or wait until nitrite drops?
 

Dr. Jim

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From one of Dr. Tim's lectures, he said not to let the nitrites rise above 5, otherwise it will become detrimental to something......(I think he said something about it being detrimental to the bacteria that converts ammonia to nitrites). You can search for his lectures for a better explanation.
 

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