I've been cycling a 12 gallon planted tank for 11 days now. I'd added some dry bacteria starter, which seemed to help because I saw nitrites and nitrates within the first few days.
But I realised that even though I'm doing a 'fishless' cycle, I haven't been adding any ammonia into the water. My ammonia levels now are 0 ppm, and the highest they've gone while I was cycling was 0.5 ppm. My tapwater has 0.25 ammonia, which I understand is 'locked' after adding water conditioner, so the plants still have to process it. Meaning that (if I understand right) since I started cycling the tank only went up in ammonia once, and only by 0.25 ppm?
There's some rotting plant matter in there which I didn't take out so that it would be an ammonia source, but it hadn't occurred to me till now that that might not have been enough. I also have some bladder snails.
So when I add fish into the tank, will I get ammonia spikes that the bacteria can't handle?
(here are the parameters as of today:
nitrate-10 ppm (my tap water has 5 ppm) )
i have never heard of cycling with snails. all I can say is to wait til your reading is 0,0,20 to put fish in.
It wasn't my intention to use snails to cycle.... They hitchhiked in the plants and I didn't expect them to survive. But I read they produce a lot of waste so just to cover all the variables I mentioned them. I intend to wait until I get those readings, but still, should I be concerned about an ammonia spike beyond what the bacteria can handle (setting the cycle back) when I add fish, since I haven't added ammonia during the cycling process?
Another question--I'm fertilizing with EI as I cycle. How much will adding calcium nitrate affect my nitrate readings?
Here is what usually happens when the nitrogen cycle is growing:
To encourage nitrogen cycle growth, add a very small pinch of fish food every other day. You may also want to remove the plant waste and refrain from fertilizing the plants until they have recovered from any transplant shock.
Operate all the aquarium accessories just as you will when it contains fish, but don't change any of the water. If you do this and do not overfeed the nitrogen cycle bacteria, toxic nitrogen compounds should quickly reach acceptable limits.
When they stay below these limits for a day or two, change 25 percent of the water if you wish, and add a few of the fish. Wait a week to allow the nitrogen cycle to grow in response to the increased biological load, then add the rest of the fish.
Thanks for the advice and the link~ Just to know what to expect if I add the fish food at this point in the cycle, with the parameters I have now: I suppose I will either see the ammonia go up again (if there is not enough first bacteria) or see the nitrites spike again (they already reached a high of 5.0 ppm earlier this week) before going down?
My plants seem to be doing well with the fertilization. I waited a few days before I started, and my hornwort has grown almost as long as my tank and everything looks much greener than when I bought them. But I'll get to removing the plant waste.
Am I correct in assuming that 'acceptable limits' means strictly 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite, or is there some flexibility?
I'm in the middle of cycling my 5gallon tank as well... I originally didn't know about cycling until I bought the tank and 1 goldfish at the petstore.. 2wks later the goldfish is dead and then read about nitrogen cycling...
After reading some forum, I kept the aquarium (minus the goldfish) as is except took out about 1/2 of the water (to speed up cycling)... its been 2 weeks now and I've just been adding fish flakes originally every other day to now twice a day (for the last 2 days).. my ammonia level never goes above .25ppm even now with twice a day of putting a good pinch of fish food in the half full 5gal tank.
My nitrite has been over 5ppm all this time... I haven't even bothered to check for nitrate lately since nitrite is so high.. but when the fish died, I checked nitrate and it had reading of approx 10ppm..
I read somewhere that ammonia levels should be kept at 4ppm during the cycling but I can't seem to get there.. I also read I should NOT put too much fish flakes during cycling which kinda contradicts trying to get 4ppm ammonia level... don't know if I should increase putting food in frequency and amount...
Is this just a waiting game (keep doing what I'm doing now 2x fish food daily and check until nitrites goes down then check for nitrates) or do I need to change anything in what I'm doing??
How do I know if the cycling has stalled??
Thanks so much for any help/insight you can provide.
Both are toxins that will destroy fish immune systems, so even a little bit hurts. That said, ammonia (NH3) tests also measure ammonium (NH4) and do not distinguish between the two compounds. Ammonium, is a component of chloramine, which is used to disinfect public water supplies. Ammonium decays in a couple of days, so an ammonia test three days or so after a partial water change should be measuring only ammonia.
From the readings you listed the nitrogen cycle is nearly complete, especially since you added hornwort. It grows fast and directly ingests toxic nitrogen compounds.
For now, the best course of action is to add no fish before the nitrogen cycle is fully functional. Adding fish now can significantly increase the biological load on the developing nitrogen cycle bacteria and could easily stall the entire process. That's bad for fish and nitrogen cycle cooties alike.