Question about my cycling tank (ammonia 0, nitrate 0 and nitrite 0)


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Hi to every reef tank lovers.

I have a problem with my cycling. Maybe it’s not a problem, but I’ve always been at 0 nitrates, 0 nitrites and 0 ammonia. Don’t worry about the nitrates testing, I shaked the bottle really well. Here is my setup :

- 80 gallons tank

- 20 gallons sump

- My biological media in the sump is Fluval BioMax Rings, 2 boxes of 1100g

- My sump is pumping about 6-7 times my tank volume each hour.

- I have 40lbs Caribsea Life Rock and 40lbs Caribsea Dry Rock

Here is my cycling history. I started by building my sump (DIY) and let my sump pump run for maybe 2-3 days until I received my biological media (Fluval BioMax Rings). I used RO/DI water and kept it freshwater because I didnt receive my reef salt yet. I added the bio media and let it « cycle » if I can say, for a week. I didn’t add any type of ammonia, I was just testing my sump. I tested my water quality with the API reef master kit every 2-3 days. Everything was in the good range and the nitrates was at 0. 1 week after adding the Bio media in the sump, I added the salt in my tank to reach .24-.25. I installed my heater and set it to 80f. After a week with the saltwater I received my rocks, I added the rocks and really started the cycling by ghost feeding my tank every 2-3 days (a little bit at first, but a lot now because I didn’t see any change in my tests). It’s now been 2 weeks since the rocks are in the tank with the heater and with the ghost feeding. One of my negligence was to not have any type of ammonia and nitrite tests, so I don’t know the levels since the beginning, only for the last week. Here is a small resume of my process :

- Day1 Built my sump and let it run without any kind of biological media with freshwater RO/DI.

- Day1 Tested nitrates —> 0

- Day4 Added my biological media in my sump.

- Day7 Tested nitrates —> 0

- Day10 Tested nitrates —> 0

- Day14 Added the salt to my tank (.24-.25)

- Day14 Added my heater and set it to 80f

- Day14 Tested nitrates —> 0

- Day17 Tested nitrates —> 0

- Day21 Added 40lbs of Caribsea Life Rock and 40lbs of Caribsea Dry Rock

- Day21 Ghost feed the tank, a little bit.

- Day21 Tested nitrates —> 0

- Day24 Ghost feed the tank, more than the first time

- Day24 Tested nitrates —> 0

- Day28 Ghost feed a lot because of the readings of my tests (0 ammonia)

- Day28 Tested nitrates, nitrites and ammonia —> 0

- Day29 Tested nitrates, nitrites and ammonia —> 0

- Day30 Tested nitrates, nitrites and ammonia —> 0

- Day31 Ghost feed (about 3g of fish food)

- Day31 Tested nitrates, nitrites and ammonia —> 0

- Day32 Tested nitrates, nitrites and ammonia —> 0

- Day33 Tested nitrates, nitrites and ammonia —> 0

- Day34 Ghost feed (about 5g of fish food)

- Day34 Tested nitrates, nitrites and ammonia —> 0

- Today Ghost feed (about 5g of fish food)

- Today Tested nitrates, nitrites and ammonia —> 0

Does this just mean my tank is cycled? My ph is about 8.25 and always been the same since I added the salt. I also have a power head that is pumping about 2500l/hour. The rocks did not change color or anything. The mechanical filter of my sump is changed everyday and it’s orange/brown color.

Can anyone help me understand if my tank is cycled?

FYI I ordered and will receive 80lbs of Caribsea Ocean Direct Live Sand this week. I chose live sand only because it was near the same price as dry sand and may help my cycling if it’s not yet completed.
Top Shelf Aquatics


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Maybe get your water tested at the LFS once just for a sanity check on your test procedures, but if your tests are right and the tank is digesting that food down to nothing, then it's as cycled as it needs to be.

Stop ghost feeding – add some snails and feed them! :)

Then wait and watch a few weeks and add a a few more CUC or a coral.
After waiting and watching a few more weeks, maybe add a fish or another coral.
Repeat that cycle until you're happy with your livestock and system.
Keep each big change (like new livestock) spaced out by at least a few weeks from the previous one.
Bigger animals like fish would benefit from even longer waits in between additions.
Also, keep those "big changes" as small as possible.
For example, try not to add more than 1-2 animals in any given livestock addition.
You'll avoid most algae blooms and many disease issues this way.


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