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Fishless Cycling- please help i am very confused


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Hi! I am just beginning to partake in the hobby yayy, anyway fishless cycling I have purchased the turbo-start and the fishless fuel by fritz My plants just came in and I have just set up my tank yesterday I have a 5 gallon with eco-complete as my substrate, spiderwood, grey mountain stone, and a variety of plants java moss, monte carlo, crypts, bacopa, etc. also some fun floating plants. I dosed my tank yesterday with the fishless fuel to reach 2ppm of ammonia and added in 4ml of the turbo start. Tested everything and on day 1 i have a ph of 7.6 my nitrite and nitrate levels were zero and my ammonia was at 2ppm. Today the plant melt began ( hooray ) things are happenings. Tested everything today after completing a water change because my wood released lots of tannins which lowered my ph a little to low down to 6 so did a 50% water change and I suprisingly had .25 ppm of nitrite I tested this several times and kept getting .25. Called my local fish shop and they recommended I dose again so I did 2 ppm of ammonia but this time only 2 ml of the turbo start. Im not sure where to go next I am seeing little progress which is great but yet, I still have no clue what I am doing lol anything will be very appreciated

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Hi! I am just beginning to partake in the hobby yayy, anyway fishless cycling I have purchased the turbo-start and the fishless fuel by fritz My plants just came in and I have just set up my tank yesterday I have a 5 gallon with eco-complete as my substrate, spiderwood, grey mountain stone, and a variety of plants java moss, monte carlo, crypts, bacopa, etc. also some fun floating plants. I dosed my tank yesterday with the fishless fuel to reach 2ppm of ammonia and added in 4ml of the turbo start. Tested everything and on day 1 i have a ph of 7.6 my nitrite and nitrate levels were zero and my ammonia was at 2ppm. Today the plant melt began ( hooray ) things are happenings. Tested everything today after completing a water change because my wood released lots of tannins which lowered my ph a little to low down to 6 so did a 50% water change and I suprisingly had .25 ppm of nitrite I tested this several times and kept getting .25. Called my local fish shop and they recommended I dose again so I did 2 ppm of ammonia but this time only 2 ml of the turbo start. Im not sure where to go next I am seeing little progress which is great but yet, I still have no clue what I am doing lol anything will be very appreciated

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Hello @Ilovebettas, there is a lot to unpack here but we can take it step by step. First of all, welcome to the hobby, you picked a great one! Haha lets get started! 

As far as the cycling process goes, typically you want to dose the ammonia as per the instructions. Generally you do not want ammonia to test over 5ppm as that can stall the cycle as the nitrite will become too high. 2ppm of ammonia is the most common “dosage”.

From there, the beneficial bacteria should begin using the ammonia and produce nitrite which is what you saw in your test. Then a different beneficial bacteria from the one that consumed the ammonia will have to use the nitrite and produce nitrate. This part of the cycle normally takes longer than the ammonia to nitrite part. 

Nitrate is not toxic to fish in lower concentrations unlike ammonia and nitrite. The most typical recommendations is to keep your nitrates under 40ppm. This can be achieved with plants and water changes (there are other ways as well but we will keep it simple). 

Since you added the fishless fuel along with the beneficial bacteria, you just have to wait now for the bacteria to become established. You will know you arrived here when you test and the ammonia is 0, nitrite is 0 and nitrate is increasing. This will take some time and the time it takes varies with temperature, ph, etc. 

Given that your ph dropped so much, I would test your water for kh. Kh is known as a buffer as it helps prevent your ph from dropping like it did.

Something that happens during the nitrogen cycle as ammonia is becoming nitrite is that the water will become more acidic (lowering ph). If your water has low kh or resistance to lowering ph, then the ph will begin to drop. 

Fish typically do not handle ph swings all that well so we want to make sure you have enough kh to keep the ph from dropping so suddenly. A lower ph also makes the cycling process take longer(this has to do with ammonia vs ammonium but we can discuss that later). 

So it would be very helpful if you could test your kh so we can determine if something needs to be done to increase the kh in your aquarium. 

Sorry if all of that information at once is overwhelming but it is not very difficult once you get the hang of it. I hope that helps! 

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Hi! thankyou so much Isaac its a little bit confusing but very very helpful my ph has actually been more on the high side im pretty sure i added the drops in, incorrectly I could purchase a gh kh kit but according to what I have currently my ph has consistently stayed at 7.4 oh the higher ph level in my api test kit my kh is somewhere between 120-180 i believe my ph hasnt seemed to lower much at all I am so sorry I made a typo my tank ph only dropped from 7.4 to 7 not 6 whoops!

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So if I understand the cycle correctly, it starts with ammonia, becomes nitrites, then nitrates.   As long as you had some ammonia to start with, the rest will EVENTUALLY take care of itself.  
I learned the hard way that the key to cycling my nano-tanks is patience.   I thought my parameters were fairly good because I hadn't seen any nitrites or much nitrates, when in reality the cycle hadn't really gotten going. 
I believe you want to see those nitrites rise, then drop, you want to see the nitrates increase to a healthy level for your plants.  After that happens and your numbers stabilize, you're good to go! 

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The only thing I would add to this thread is that it is always good practice to stock your fish slowly after your cycle is believed to be complete. Your beneficial bacteria (or bio filter) becomes established when there is ammonia and nitrites present. The bacteria will become more abundant with more food (ammonia and nitrite) available in the tank. Therefore, adding too many fish at once will cause a situation where there is too much waste for the bacteria to handle in a timely manner. This will result in ammonia and/or nitrite spikes for a while until the beneficial bacteria become abundant enough to handle the heavier waste load.

Moral of the story is stock slowly and make sure your levels stay ideal before adding additional livestock. Welcome to the hobby by the way!

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