new to this, please help: cycling aquasoil, cycled after 2 weeks? if not what's happening?

Discussion in 'Water Chemistry' started by Abcdefg, 14 Nov 2016.

  1. Abcdefg

    Abcdefg Member

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    Hi,

    I am currently 2 / 3 weeks in to cycling a 50l tank and total amomnia has been at 0ppm for a week now.

    The substrate is powersand special and ada amazonia AS.

    I have also been dosing seachem stability, and my dechlorinator (Interpet Bioactive Tapsafe plus) claims, on the bottle:
    • Makes tap water safe for all fish
    • Instantly removes toxic chlorine, chloramine and heavy metals
    • Instantly adds aloe vera and beneficial bacteria
    on the bottle...


    a few questions:

    - It can't be that the tank is cycled can it?

    - I'm worried that the use of the stability and tape safe is masking the true nature of the tank, so that amonia is being neutralised by dosing these rather than the external filter, tank,substrate and plants doing their magic.

    - I'm worried that the cycle will stall if there's little to no ammonia to feed bacteria, or slow down as there's not much for them to work on.

    - Do members use a dechlorinator that only dechlorinates to avoid unknowns? what do people use product wise to dechlorinate?

    - on some advice from a shop local to my work, I added some fish food to try to raise the ammonia level, in the hope of seeing it rise and then fall again to confirm that the tank is or has cycled somewhat. this has had no effect after two / three days ammonia has not risen (could this be dosing of stability and tap safe?).

    (also dosing Excel and EI <- from a starter kit and according to included instructions)


    Thanks,

    Tom
     
  2. kadoxu

    kadoxu Member

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    It can be cycled, but I doubt it. Ammonia going down is just the first phase of the Nitrogen cycle coming to an end.
    n-cycle.gif
    (Don't pay attention to the water change part of this chart. As you should do them more often than that!)

    I believe that the stability solution is a source of ammonia... probably some bacteria, but there is much discussion and not much proof about this.
    Tap Safe only blocks chlorine and heavy metals from tap water so they don't harm fish and plants. I don't think it removes ammonia.

    Since you are using EI and Excel, I assume you have plants. Plants absorb ammonia, so that's probably why you aren't seeing any rises when you add fish food, but you'll probably run into some algae issues soon if you keep doing it. Dying leaves will generate ammonia, so don't worry too much about it.

    How often do you do water changes?
    How much water do you change on each time?
    What kind of filter do you have?
    What are your other water parameters?
    How much light are you providing to the plants?

    Weeks 3/4 is when the problems really start on planted tanks... so brace yourself! :twisted:
     
  3. ian_m

    ian_m Global Moderator Staff Member

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    Couple of things happening here (probably).
    1. The dechlorinator you are using may also remove ammonia in the tank, giving you the zero reading. Luckily most dechlorinators (Prime etc) leave the ammonia bio-available so tank cycling may not be affected.
    2. Ammonia test kits can be affected by presence of dechlorinator, giving a false zero reading.

    I suspect the tank is not cycled, especially if using ADA product. A good bet is wait 10-12 weeks or plant fully immediately, plants will be fine.

    Most people here probably use Seachem Prime to dechlorinate, being one of the cheapest per litre to use. If you have a really large tank then sodium thiosulphate is even cheaper a 1Kg bag for £5 will dechlorinate 100,000litres (or more). Both affect hobby grade ammonia test kits.
     
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  4. rebel

    rebel Member

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    Your tank will cycle in about 6 weeks. what's happening is that your test results are confusing you. Stop testing and just enjoy ya plants for now. Then cautiously introduce fish at 6 weeks.

    If you wait for 12 weeks. No testing necessary. Introduce fish and enjoy.
     
  5. ian_m

    ian_m Global Moderator Staff Member

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    You can (and I have done it) introduce fish earlier, before cycling has finished by using a combination of frequent water changes and dosing dechlorinator that removes ammonia, directly to the tank.

    I had to do this when I bought my tank 2nd hand, the previous owner had cleaned the tank, washed and dried all the filter media and washed all the substrate, as well as supplying me with some of the fish. So for first couple of weeks I just dosed daily Kordon Amquel+ that removes ammonia and frequently changed the water. Fish were all OK.
     
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  6. dw1305

    dw1305 Expert

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    Hi all,
    Is the tank planted?
    This chart is useful if you don't have any plants, but if your tank is planted the ammonia (NH3) and nitrate (NO3) levels will never build up to the same degree.
    "Ian_m" is right, Seachem won't tell you how Prime works, but "Amquel" has a patent, and it is likely <"that they work in a similar way">. The ammonia is detoxified, but it just cycles through various compounds until it is biologically consumed.
    Your best bet is just to ignore test kits and the "cycled by ammonia" concept all together, neither is very useful. You can test for ammonia successfully with an <"ion selective electrode"> (Above pH7 NH3 is converted to NH4+ when it passes through the membrane into the acidic solution surrounding the sensor), but even that isn't entirely unproblematic.

    If you have plants, and keep your oxygen levels up, the <"tank will become "cycled"> after a few more weeks.

    Planted tanks are never wholly reliant on microbial filtration, and plants give you a negative feedback loop where increased nutrient levels lead to increased plant growth, which depletes nutrient levels etc.

    Because CO2 is often the limiting nutrient for plant growth plants with emersed leaves are really useful, either floaters, or emergent plants.

    cheers Darrel
     
    Last edited: 14 Nov 2016
  7. Abcdefg

    Abcdefg Member

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    Hi Kadoxu, thanks for responding


    ...oh dear, now I'm scared about what's next!...

    How often do you do water changes?
    How much water do you change on each time?

    ---> i've settled in to 1 a week, but it has been extensive - 90 to 95% - as I've been using them as an oportunity to tinker with moss and fix little bits of hardscape - requiring a full drain


    What kind of filter do you have?
    I have an eheim pro 3 250 (2071) so it seems like enough (perhaps a little too much flow, but maybe I can tinker with that) I think output is 950 ltr/h


    What are your other water parameters?

    N03 = 50 to 100ppm
    N02 = 0.5 to 2ppm
    GH = 14
    Kh = 6 /10
    PH = around 7.2 with outliers at 6 and 8 ( hard to tell if this is changing in an erratic way, there was definitely a point where KH and PH seemed to be falling in tandem)

    This is with a JBL 6 in 1 test strip

    The total Amonia is tested with a tetra NH3/NH4 total ammonia liquid test kit

    not sure how reliable the above kits are, I know a testing in general seems to be unreliable from what I've read...

    Out of interest, what on the test strip and ammonia kit can I be confident about? I was assuming at the least PH and Chlorine from the strip and Ammonia total from the liquid, would be reliable?




    How much light are you providing to the plants?

    I have a radion freswater - when I started out this was way to bright (after looking at some figures and doing some guess work), so I've been taking big chunks out of it to arrive at what I have now. 'intesity' is at 11 to 13% (i realise these don't mean a thing without context). - I think this gives me a PAR value of about 35ish at the substrate.


    I seem to be getting hair or BBA, and also green spot and some brown patching (algae of some sort presumably. Don't know whether to do a black out for these..

    The whole history is here...

    http://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/new-tank-ammonia-at-zero-after-two-weeks-will-cycle-stall.43411/


    Thanks very much!
     
  8. Abcdefg

    Abcdefg Member

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    Thanks Darral, Ian,

    help is very much appreciated.

    The tank is planted and was kicked off, unintentionally with a 1 week DSM style flooded substrate only situation. I don't know how to judge the density of the planting, whether it would be considered as lightly, moderately or heavily planted, as there is a bit too much in the way of hardscape in there. Maybe 50% of the footprint of the tank is planted with carpeting stuff which seems to be doing ok (new growth and spreading) and there are some java fern bits and pieces. I added a ludwigia palustris last week (still in pot, haven't planed yet) it has leaves that are emerging from the water surface, so this at least should be getting C02 and nutrients.

    in terms of the bioactive tap safe stuff from interpet it seems to make various and vague promises so I'm erring on the side of, 'it could be doing anything' - i think it might be designed as a 'no need for cycling' type proposition, so it may well be doing or trying to do all sorts, hence the thoughts of maybe switching to things that are single purpose to avoid confusion.

    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: 14 Nov 2016
  9. Abcdefg

    Abcdefg Member

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    I'll try to have patience, and I realise that the testing is a black box that's probably rather or very misleading especially me.
     
  10. Abcdefg

    Abcdefg Member

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    Darrel,

    Out of interest, what would you say could be considered as 'probably working' from a test strip style kit and or regent kits?, I know from reading around from yourself and others that it's all fairly flawed and even something more expensive from Hanna wouldn't necessarily be accurate

    I was assuming chlorine and PH and total ammonia might be, but it would be good to get your opinion on the following:

    - given the caveats about the cheaper end of the testing product market being inaccurate, what can I be confident, to a reasonable degree about testing for, or a lowish budget?

    - If you where in the fictional position of being as informed about the limitations of such kits, as you are, but having a small budget with which to conduct basic 'good to know' tests to try get any useful information about a tank or tap water, then what tests would you do and with what equipment / kits?

    i.e. is there a halfway house between, 'forget testing, a planted tank will be ready support fish and inverts, in around 6 to 8 weeks', and 'try to test everything but be confounded by budget and the basic reality of the system being too complex and too varied.


    - what do you test for if you are starting a new tank, and what do you use to test?


    Thanks again,

    Tom
     
    Last edited: 14 Nov 2016
  11. dw1305

    dw1305 Expert

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    Hi all,
    It depends a little bit on the parameters of the water that you are testing.
    The only reasonably cheap bit of kit that gives an accurate and repeatable value, over a wide range of conditions and without needing constant calibration, is a conductivity meter. You can buy a good low range meter for ~£100.

    A dissolved oxygen probe would also fulfil the "accurate and repeatable" criteria, they need calibration, but this is very straightforward, but they are prohibitively expensive to buy.

    Both of these meter have probes that you can drop into the tank (with the heater/filter/lights turned off) and get a meaningful reading. After that it gets more difficult.

    If you take pH as an example any testing method should give you a reasonably accurate pH value in alkaline, carbonate rich, water. You even know what that pH value should be, ~pH8. The problem comes with water with very little carbonate buffering, pH is a moveable feast and much less informative.

    Another example would be that NO3 is easier to test for in sea water, because it has a known chloride ion (Cl-) concentration, and interference by chloride is one of the problems in getting accurate NO3 values. If you have a look at this thread <"Testing strips vs liquid test"> <"@alto"> may be a better person to tell you which kits he prefers.

    I could get accurate parameters for the tanks that at work, because I have access to lab. grade analytical equipment (ISE, AAS, HPLC etc) and the staff who can use them.
    There is, it uses a bioassay as a proxy to indicate water conditions.

    I use a <"Daphnia bioassay"> for water quality, and a <"Lemna bioassay"> to assess nutrient status.

    cheers Darrel
     
    Sarpijk likes this.
  12. kadoxu

    kadoxu Member

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    That's good. Don't do such a big water change after adding fish (and specially if you add inverts). It can cause them great stress (and even death) to change water conditions so abruptly.

    I have a EHEIM Classic 250 (440l/h) in a 20L tank, so it's not a problem, as long as it's not disturbing the soil and your fish (eventually) have some places where they can rest.

    In general, everyone will tell you hobby grade tests are quite useless (some tests like PH, KH and GH are usually ok). They may be useful just so you know if you get readings above zero.

    As you can see in your test, your tank still has some NO2, which means it's still cycling. You should get 0ppm NO2 in the end of the cycle (even with crappy tests).

    I would consider 35PAR at substrate as medium to medium-high lighting.

    I see you are doing a "siesta" with the light period. It's only good if you don't have injected CO2.
     
  13. Abcdefg

    Abcdefg Member

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    Thanks Darrel,

    I have read some of your other posts on using bioassay over the past few weeks, and will read over again now along with the test strip link,

    however can I ask; something which I wondered on first reading about your use of floaters to asses water quality, was how applicable it is to a tank as small as mine. i'e how well does this scale down?

    - with a water surface area of 60cm x 30cm ish, can I add enough floaters to have a representative enough sample before I get to the point where almost all of the surface is covered and therefore cuts out the direct lighting to the substrate? (not sure how 'useful' the light will be at substrate level once it has been transmitted and scattered through the tissue of the floaters, or what kind of useful wavelengths would come out on the other side? - I'm probably over-thinking this in an uninformed way)

    - the surface conditions will be very varied in this tiny 60 x 30 area. most of the leaves would spend their time rushing around the tank (with my current outpipe setup which I could change admittedly), and if they stayed still then the lighting and other factors might be quite varied - as it's not an infinitely distant parallel light like the sun, but a very close LED.

    (as an aside on this point of light, I would have thought that having a brighter, but more distant light; for example on the ceiling, would help an aquarium situation by tempering the variation in falloff through the tank between substrate and water surface (PAR at surface compared to PAR at substrate), but I don't see anyone doing this. Is this just down to the impracticality of such a setup for most?)

    Thanks

    Tom
     
    Last edited: 14 Nov 2016
  14. dw1305

    dw1305 Expert

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    Hi all,
    Yes, scale isn't really an issue, you'll find all your plants will look similar, you won't find one which is lush and healthy next to one that is pale and deficient. I have floaters on all the tanks, however small. Because they are floating plants they are picking up their nutrients from the water column and that isn't like a substrate, you don't get patches will high nutrients next to areas with low nutrients, it is all the same. The same applies to atmospheric gases, every plant will have access to at least 400ppm CO2.
    Light at the tank bottom definitely is an issue, I've never been successful with any small plants at the bottom of my aquariums, they are gloomy, leaf litter filled spaces with only ferns and mosses.
    Light shouldn''t be a problem, floating plants like Limnobium have evolved in very bright light, but they are capable of surviving in lower light levels.

    I had flow problems with <"Phyllanthus fluitans">, but Limnobium laevigatum is more robust.

    cheers Darrel
     
  15. Abcdefg

    Abcdefg Member

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    Thanks, I'm trying to reduce the light intensity to around 25 at substrate, would that be a good figure to go for without c02?



    I noticed some changes last night;
    - Monte Carlo is yellowing and burning / melting / generally not looking so good in spots on some of the larger (older) leaves, I'm not confident that these are all leaves from before flooding, it could be that some are what was new submerge growth that looked really positive in week 1, but is now not doing so well.

    - I noticed green hair type algae last night. So now I have green hair, black hair, green spot and some brown stuff (on the rocks).

    In response to the algae and now the Browning and yellowing of the Monte Carlo I have started upping the excel dose.

    I dosed 7.5 ml on Sunday after lights out,
    5ml Monday after lights out
    And was going to dose 5ml tonight.

    Is this wise? Or could I be in danger of overdosing?

    I'm considering doing a black out for the algae... should I? I'm worried that the plants have been on a bit of a roller coaster ride and are too new to deal with a black out.

    If it's advisable to do one then how long should I do it for?

    Or is there another way?

    (I'm getting a soda stream co2 kit today from co2 art, but was considering holding back on setting it up until next week, in fear of changing too much stuff all at once)

    Thanks,

    Tom
     
  16. kadoxu

    kadoxu Member

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    Usually plants bought from stores have enough "energy" to run for 2/3 weeks on their own. That's why problems start at week 3 or 4. Melting is normal, since stores usually grow plants emersed. The plants need to ditch the leaves and grow new ones to adapt to lower CO2 levels under water.

    Try not to overdose Excel too much, as it can affect plants as well. And you should use it before lights on instead of after lights off.

    For the algae problems, I would reduce lighting intensity, no need to reduce lighting period, since you are only doing 6 hours of light, and start doing daily 50% water changes (WC) for at least a week, then one WC every other day for another week or two, 2 weekly WC for more 1 or 2 weeks and then reduce to 1 WC a week.

    If you want to do a black out, 3 days is usually enough. Find a way to cover the tank completely and don't even peek inside for 3 days. Then clean up, do a big WC and see if algae is reduced.

    CO2 helps a lot to reduce algae, since it gives the plants an advantage over the algae. So if you are getting it, use it!

    Sometimes it can be quite confusing to identify algae correctly, so posting some photos asking what it is may help.
     
  17. Abcdefg

    Abcdefg Member

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    Thanks,

    I'll step up the water changes and back-off on the lighting.

    ...But as always a couple of questions...

    I have been reading that water changes can cause algae as the chemistry changes dramatically (is this true?), so is the idea that if changes are frequent enough then stability is achieved by the fact that the water in effect mirrors the dechlorinated tap water more, and is constantly brought in line with this stable water source?

    On the question of CO2, I've been reading around and think I have a basic overview of what the process is for getting towards an on off schedule and bubble count, however, if the advice is to test PH frequently to keep track of this and so arrive at something sensible, then are test strips going to cut it for the PH measurements? or do I need to go for something else? ( better strips - i.e. not broad range, liquid test, or cheap PH probe pen).

    What do people tend to use to test and log ph?

    I have a drop checker, but I was viewing this as a day-to-day monitoring thing rather than a calibrating the rate of injection thing,

    Would you be able to advise?

    Again many thanks for the help, it's much appreciated. Amazing to have somewhere with so many knowledgeable folk!

    Cheers


    ..I'll try to get some pictures up of the Algae... can't find the card reader for my camera card at the moment...
     
  18. kadoxu

    kadoxu Member

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    Exactly. When starting a tank, water chemistry changes a lot and fast in the first weeks. Performing daily water changes allows the filter to mature while keeping the chemistry relatively stable.

    I have a Seneye device, if you want to go crazy... :lol:
    You only need to test PH if you change anything... PH is quite easy to test and you have several options. As usual test strips are the worst thing you can have... a PH pen is not that expensive and gives you fast results with little to no mess, you just have to re-calibrate it once in a while.

    Exactly!
     
  19. Abcdefg

    Abcdefg Member

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    Kadoxu, thanks,

    Ive stepped up the water changes and I set up my sodastream co2 kit (went through a whole bottle over the weekend due to not tightening it, but hopefully i'll get it right next time)

    I've set a sort of arbitrary bubble count that seems to result in a lime green checker at some stage before the end of the day (it was that colour when I got back from work today at least...)

    I haven't been able to do any structured tests with the timing the drop in ph, but hopefully will do tomorrow night.

    I was wondering whether its worth investing in a PH pen, I was looking at the BOYU one, seemed cheap but to have decent features like 3 point calibration, any opinions on this particular one or any sub £50 recommendations would be very much appreciated

    or is it just ok to go with the idea that i keep things consistent bubble count wise for the next two weeks, and as long as i never see any yellowishness in the drop checker, then adding fish and shrimp in two weeks time wont gas them?



    Also, finally got round to uploading some algae pics at the bottom of this page;

    https://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/50-litre.47865/

    Thanks!
     
  20. Abcdefg

    Abcdefg Member

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    Darrel, sorry just realised I didn't say thanks for this... very rude of me, apologies!
     

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