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 Post subject: Nitrification cycle
PostPosted: Jul 27th, '11, 21:36 
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Hi folks.

I am new to the forum, although I have been lurking in the background reading others posts etc, for a few weeks now. It is amazing how much info there is here for all to see, however I can´t seem to find out what I want to knw about the nitrification cycle.

I set up a small 2 barrel system about 5 weeks ago. 1 barrel FT 1 barrel cut in half for a GB. I stocked the tank with 15 goldfish at the beginning and also sowed some lettuce seeds and planted some chard seedlings just to get things started. The fish I added were from my garden pond and with the fish I added some of the pond water as a way of kick starting the nitrification process. I have been taking daily readings of pH, ammonia and nitrites. pH reading has been 7.5 daily since the start, ammonia has steadily increased from 0.25ppm at the beginning to about 4.0ppm this week. Nitrites have remained at 0ppm throughout.

Thus far the fish seem to be happy, are eating well, seeds have germinated and seedlings doing well too. This week I bought a nitrate testing kit and found to my amazement that there appears to be a small amount of nitrate in the system.

My question is:- Is it possible for the system to produce nitrates without there being any signs of a nitrite increase (according to my nitrite test kit) or are my test kits telling lies??

From what I have learnt about the nitrification cycle so far, I would have expected ammonia to increase first (which it did) then a nitrite increase, BEFORE any signs of nitrate in the system. Has anyone else found this happen to their new system or can anyone just reassure me that things in my system are normal??


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 Post subject: Re: Nitrification cycle
PostPosted: Jul 28th, '11, 03:51 
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everything sounds good.. the nitrites may take a little longer than ammonia to drop, but then you'll get the nitrates..my first system took about 6 weeks to cycle

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 Post subject: Re: Nitrification cycle
PostPosted: Jul 28th, '11, 05:14 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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With ammonia that high, stop feeding!!!!!
It is possible that some nitrates came over with your pond water too.

I would expect you to be seeing nitrites by now so it might be worth taking a water sample to the pet store or if there is anyone in your area with a test kit you could have them test it too to make sure you don't simply have a faulty nitrite test.

But patience, it can take a long time to cycle, especially in winter.

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 Post subject: Re: Nitrification cycle
PostPosted: Jul 28th, '11, 06:19 
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Been fishlessly cycling my new system for three weeks now after having some goldfish in it that didnt seem to be doing much.
I have fairly constant ammonia readings of 1-2 (charlie carp and pee added every few days) and nitrates of 5-10 but have only ever had trace nitrites. I did put some water from an existing cycled system in this one. It seems to me that the bacteria that convert nitrite are built up but not the ammonia converting bacteria so much. Its hard to tell cause its been so cold.
Plants are growing well

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 Post subject: Re: Nitrification cycle
PostPosted: Jul 28th, '11, 07:18 
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Bacteria growth slows with temperature.
The nitrates are from from pond.
If you want to kick start the process squeeze out some sludge from your pond filter into the bed.
However my system still took 2 and a half weeks to cycle by using that method.

And definately stop feeding, ammonia above 1 can cause gill damage.
Might be a good idea to do a partial water change.


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 Post subject: Re: Nitrification cycle
PostPosted: Jul 28th, '11, 12:19 
Cycling takes time... and patience.... and takes longer in cold weather... and more patience... :wink:

Stop adding the Charlie Carp and "pee".... don't feed until the ammonia drops below 0.5.... and then only feed lightly to maintain ammonia below that level....

Feed your plants with a weekly dose of Seasol...


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 Post subject: Re: Nitrification cycle
PostPosted: Jul 30th, '11, 14:15 
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I have almost never seen nitrites in my system, even when cycling. When I did see nitrites it was when there was a dead fish and my nitrates were at 120+ and ammonia close to 2.0. Even still the highest reading was .25, the lowest on the measurement.

From the information I gathered at the time, this is normal for some systems.

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 Post subject: Re: Nitrification cycle
PostPosted: Jul 30th, '11, 16:04 
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RupertofOZ wrote:
Cycling takes time... and patience.... and takes longer in cold weather... and more patience... :wink:

Stop adding the Charlie Carp and "pee".... don't feed until the ammonia drops below 0.5.... and then only feed lightly to maintain ammonia below that level....

Feed your plants with a weekly dose of Seasol...

Not my thread Rupe, but just saying what is happening here and no fish
I am waiting for the ammonia to drop but its taking time and havent peed or added cc for a week

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 Post subject: Re: Nitrification cycle
PostPosted: Aug 5th, '11, 21:13 
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Thanks all for the responses. This week has seen a few changes in the system. I stopped feeding the fish and also with so much rain the system got a partial water change without my intervening. The system is now running as follows.
Ammonia has dropped to 2ppm.
Still no sign of nitrites, may have to check the test kit as the system has been running for 6 weeks now with no signs of nitrite.
Nitrates have now reduced to almost none. This is presumably with the addition of so much rain water this week flushing the system.
Water temps are between 12 degrees (minimum) and 18 degrees (maximum). I know this will slow down or very nearly stop the growth of bacteria, so I am just sitting back being patient for the moment.
Even with water temps like this, should I not be seeing some signs of nitrites by now?


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 Post subject: Re: Nitrification cycle
PostPosted: Nov 16th, '11, 03:29 
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Hi all,

I am new to aquaponics as well and was hoping somebody could assist on a similar issue for me. My system has been up for 30 days. Currently, I am @ .25 ppm ammonia, .25 ppm nitrite and 100+ ppm nitrate. I am now quite concerned and am desperately looking for a way to bring down the nitrates.....

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


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 Post subject: Re: Nitrification cycle
PostPosted: Nov 16th, '11, 07:27 
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To drop nitrates plant more plants. If space is an issue get floating plants on the fish tank surface. Wet herbs like mint, watercress, gotu cola and duckweed.

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 Post subject: Re: Nitrification cycle
PostPosted: Nov 16th, '11, 09:39 
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Thanks Faye. I am going to add grow bed space, change a bit of the water and cut down on feeding for a short time. Space is an issue so I will integrate floating plants in the fish tank.

Thanks for the tip.


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 Post subject: Re: Nitrification cycle
PostPosted: Jun 2nd, '14, 22:17 
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This has been very helpful - I am in the process of cycling as well. Ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites are all very low. Ph has been relatively high - around 7.6. My system has 50 Gold Fish and in the past 5 weeks I have only lost 4.

Is there is anything else I can do to speed up the cycling process? My plants aren't looking great. I will be going out to get some seaweed fertilizer tomorrow - hoping that will help with plants. I don't want to do anything to jeopardize the the fish...and I don't think I can find another system around here to steal some gravel from...

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 Post subject: Re: Nitrification cycle
PostPosted: Jun 3rd, '14, 00:09 
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It's all a sit and wait when it comes to cycling. Watching your numbers is important and when you have fish, changing your feed habits based on your tests is critical. For reference, my tank took about 5 weeks to fully cycle. It wasn't until that happened that I got really good growth. I had nitrates show up early, nitrites spike off the charts, etc. Now that it has cycled I am seeing growth pick up.

I'll tell everyone what I was told. Sit on your hands and let it happen. Someone will always cycle faster than you but everyone's tank is different so you just have to let it run it's course.


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 Post subject: Re: Nitrification cycle
PostPosted: Jun 3rd, '14, 00:53 
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If my ammonia levels are close to 0 - should I be feeding more to generate more growth...?

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