Water Quality on Non Cycled Tank

  • Phillipw311
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Phillipw311 created the topic: Water Quality on Non Cycled Tank

Hello all. I got my new 55 gallon tank set up going on 5-6 weeks ago. I attempted artificially cycling my tank with API Quick start twice and it still isn't cycled. I have a juvenile tiger Oscar (3") and he's my only fish in the tank. I have no desire to overpopulate my tank so it is just him and will stay that way. I want the very best for my baby O and will do whatever it takes to provide him with a good, safe home. Before anybody goes wondering, my filtration consists of a traditional mechanical HOB filter and a Fluval 306 canister that I haven't yet changed the media in. I plan to take out the carbon soon and add another layer of biological media (BIOMAX). I believe my tank is almost there. I thought it was cycled and added my O.. I then joined here and found out about the python water changer and API Master Kit and found out that contrary to my belief my tank was NOT yet cycled... And still isn't. I perform 50% water changes as needed to prevent my fish from being harmed, which is usually twice a week. My ammonia stays between 0.25ppm-0.50ppm. I change it if it hits 0.50ppm. I have not let it exceed 0.50ppm thus far. My tap water quality is very clean water and my pH stays right at perfect. It's always right at 7.0-7.2. I have not had a nitrite reading and very seldom nitrate readings. By that I mean it isn't right at 0ppm, but its just shy of it. It is nowhere near 5.0ppm though. Closer to 0ppm. Until today, that's how it's been for 4-5 weeks. Today, however, I checked it and my pH was 7.2, ammonia was 0.25ppm, Nitrite was 0.25ppm, and nitrate was where it has stayed since I got the kit. I use a stop watch so I know I am performing the tests properly on nitrate and shaking well long enough. What threw a red flag for me was the nitrite reading. Is it okay while cycling with my O in the tank to have 0.25ppm of both ammonia and nitrite..? Or is the 0.25ppm of both ammonia and nitrite detrimental to my little O's life?? I honestly have no idea. That's why I am here! Also, now that I also have a nitrite and ammonia reading but yet still lack a good nitrate reading.. What does that say about where I stand in the seemingly endless nitrogen cycle? Please anybody and everybody feel free to input. I am open to any and all advice and willing and ready to listen and learn. Thank you all for your time and patience in advance.
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UNC-CH replied the topic: Water Quality on Non Cycled Tank

It's good that you're getting a nitrite reading. Certain bacteria turn ammonia into nitrite and another type of bacteria turn nitrite into nitrate. So your getting readings for all three tells me that you've got both types of bacteria in your filter and now you just need to give them time to get well-established.

I wouldn't remove any carbon at this point. All media, including carbon is housing your bacteria and I wouldn't touch a thing until after your cycle is complete. Their are some studies that claim the use of carbon over the long term can have health consequences for your oscar. Other studies claim that carbon causes no health problems. In either case, having some carbon in place until your cycle is complete is nothing to worry about. You run a greater risk by removing it and delaying the completion of your cycle.

Generally, the levels that you have of ammonia and nitrite are considered 'safe'. At ammonia levels of 1.0, many test kits indicate this as a 'stress' level (but not a 'danger' level). This is why I picked an ammonia level of no greater than 1ppm while your cycle completes, but keeping it at 0.5ppm is good, maybe better.

Looking at my chart, I was mistaken when I told you to keep nitrite under 1.0ppm. I should have told you to keep it under 0.5ppm. Although I doubt that would have been an issue, I'm glad you checked back in so I could clear that up.

As long as you don't exceed 0.5ppm ammonia and 0.5ppm nitrite, you're oscar will not be stressed by these levels and your bacteria will continue to colonize.
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Suprd71 replied the topic: Water Quality on Non Cycled Tank

I would agree with some of, and disagree with some of UNC-CH's response. Yes you need a minimum level of ammonia and nitrite for the bb to feed. The minimum level is .25 of each. I believe that a .50 level of each, with a low 7's Ph COULD BE, not absolutely, but could be harmful to a baby Oscar. I would do 50% w/c every 2 days until these levels lower and eventually disappear. Baby Oscar is a fragile thing, and while I am familiar with the chart UNC is quoting from, I believe a lower level of toxins is better for a baby O. Change more water, your little dude will be fine.


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Phillipw311 replied the topic: Water Quality on Non Cycled Tank

Okay thanks for the responses and input guys! I just kind of panicked because I haven't had a nitrite reading until today and didn't know what it meant. I know 0ppm ammonia readings along with a nitrate reading is good and means that the tank is cycled. I realize you still don't want the nitrate readings too high because in larger numbers that will also deem to be toxic as well. I obviously wouldn't ever let it get really high, but I know it's the sign of a cycled tank. If I am not mistaken, nitrite is extremely toxic. Maybe even more so than ammonia is. Correct me if I am wrong but that's always been my understanding, But my was concern was that with the two together would create twice the poor water quality and overall toxicity of the water. So, don't try to overcompensate and 0 everything right?? I can't dilute the content that much because it will drastically starve and kill my BB further setting back my cycle correct? So, I just need to keep ammonia and nitrite 0.50ppm or at best a little below until I get a nitrate reading, at which point ammonia and nitrite should 0 out. Is that correct?
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face mcshooty replied the topic: Water Quality on Non Cycled Tank

if i were you i would keep the ammonia and nitrite above .25 but lower than .50 then just be patient sooner or later you're going to see nitrate appear in higher quantities and ammonia and nitrite disappear just try to keep it in the specified range as best you can and it should be fine

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face mcshooty replied the topic: Water Quality on Non Cycled Tank

sumpthing i forgot to mention is once you get nitrates dont let them get higher than 20 ppm lower is better but 20 is the max (in my opinion)

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