Two Weeks into Cycle - Reality Check

jhatfield

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I'm two weeks into my first tank's cycle and have a couple questions. First, here are the stats:
  • Tank is a Red Sea 170
  • Dry pukani dry rock that has been soaked and acid washed
  • live sand
Parameters measured today:
  • Ammonia - 0
  • Nitrite - >1
  • Nitrate - 10
  • Phosphate - 0
After cycling for 2 weeks while dosing with Aquaforest Bio S it's gotten to the point where ammonia stays at 0 and Nitrites have climbed way past 1ppm. There has always been nitrates even while nitrites were rising. There is nothing showing in the tank in terms of diatoms or cyano yet.

Should I wait until nitrites come down to 0 on their own or start bringing them down with a water changes?

I don't hear much about nitrites. How toxic is nitrites to livestock?

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AcroNem

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Nitrite is less toxic in saltwater than it is in freshwater, but it should still be at 0 all the time. You've been cycling for 2 weeks it's not done yet, try to be patient and give it time. Some macro algae may help with nitrates but I'd just let it keep going and testing to monitor it.
 
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jhatfield

jhatfield

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Thanks for the info! Since the redsea NO2 test kit maxes out at 1ppm is there way to measure higher levels with the same kit?
 

glb

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Sounds like your cycle is moving along. Good luck!
 

alyee5

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Thanks for the info! Since the redsea NO2 test kit maxes out at 1ppm is there way to measure higher levels with the same kit?

I haven't used this test kit; however you could try to dilute your sample with fresh saltwater and normalize your reading. For example if you dilute to a 1:1 ratio of tank water:fresh saltwater and read 0.75 ppm then your tank water is at 1.5 ppm...
 

Hemlawk

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Sorry for the dumn question. I'm still learning.
How do the nitrites go down to zero?
I'm going to start my tank cycle this week.
 

Smo

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Sorry for the dumn question. I'm still learning.
How do the nitrites go down to zero?
I'm going to start my tank cycle this week.

Part of the nitrogen cycle. Another strain of bacteria has to develop to convert the nitrites to nitrates, which are much less toxic. The nitrates are then exported thru water changes, macro algae or chemically, e.g., GFO or Zeolite media.
 
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jhatfield

jhatfield

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I haven't used this test kit; however you could try to dilute your sample with fresh saltwater and normalize your reading. For example if you dilute to a 1:1 ratio of tank water:fresh saltwater and read 0.75 ppm then your tank water is at 1.5 ppm...

I'll give that a shot. thanks!
 
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Hemlawk

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Part of the nitrogen cycle. Another strain of bacteria has to develop to convert the nitrites to nitrates, which are much less toxic. The nitrates are then exported thru water changes, macro algae or chemically, e.g., GFO or Zeolite media.
Ok thanks
So the only way to get rid of nitrites is water changes and time?
 

cnseekatz

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Nitrogen Cycle is extremely important in a saltwater tank. Lots of people get impatient and try to shorten or even skip the cycle. I would advise against that unless you're very experienced.

1. Ammonia in the tank causes bacteria to grow which convert the ammonia to nitrite.
- During this stage, you'll see some reddish/brownish sludge on your rocks, sand and class. These are diatoms, and are generally feeding off the silicates in your sand/rock. Diatoms will disappear on their own. Leave it alone.

2. New bacteria grows that converts nitrite to nitrate.
- As nitrate levels rise, you'll start seeing green algae pop up. Could be green slime or more filamentous (hairy) green algae. These are feeding on the nitrates in your tank. If you do nothing, this will eventually go away on it's own, as all the nutrients in the water are consumed. You can speed up the process by adding some snails/crabs to help with the algae.
- During this stage you may see a planktonic bloom. Your water will get cloudy and have a greenish tint to it. This is phytoplankton suspended in the water, feeding off of the free nitrates. This is a good thing. Cloudy water is annoying, but the phytoplankton in the water is an awesome food for all the little micro critters that are so important to a mature reef. From there, look for a zooplankton bloom. These tiny pods are eating the phyto in the water, will help control detritus in your tank, and will be an amazing food source for fish and corals down the line. The water will clear on it's own as your tank reaches equilibrium.
- At this point, your tank is safe to SLOWLY begin adding livestock. Please go slow. You currently have enough beneficial bacteria for the tank as-is. Adding more bioload will require the bacterial colonies to grow, which takes time. Overstocking the tank right away can overwhelm your bacteria and cause deadly ammonia spikes.

3. Nitrate is removed manually (water changes) or through various other mechanical, chemical, natural means that were mentioned before.
- Water changes, media reactors, protein skimming, macro-algaes like Chaeto, refugiums, etc., all help to keep nutrient levels in your tank low, which helps control nuisance algae and other problems.
 

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