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Cycling new 29 gal. tank

Gary Bennett

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Good morning.  Set up my tank 3 weeks ago using used aquarium gravel that had been stored for 20+ years.  Everything else is new.  Using under gravel filters as well as Whisper Power Filter hanging on back of tank.  Have added Anubias Nana (5); Wisteria (2) and Dwarf Hairgrass.  I have NOT added any fish yet.  On 2/15 I tested for Nitrites with a very old test kit and got 0.1 ppm.  On 2/19 I retested with a new API Master Kit and Nitites were 2.0 ppm, so I added 15ml of water conditioner (Imagitarium).  I tested today, 2/22, and Nitrites were again 2.0 ppm and Nitrates 5.0 ppm.  In all honesty the Nitite reading could also be 1.0 ppm or 5.0 ppm as the test kit color chart colors for 1.0; 2.0, and 5.0 are almost identical.  I'm curious why the nitrites didnt drop after the addition of the water conditioner and considering there are plants and no fish.  I'm considering buying some bacteria to add.  Any suggestions?

Edited by Gary Bennett
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Yeah, everything here is new/clean enough that I'd recommend adding a bacterial culture and a little fish food to help move things along.

It sounds to me like you're getting a nice colony of nitrifying bacteria getting ramped up. Things are eating ammonia and converting it to nitrites. Things that eat nitrites and turn them into nitrates are usually a bit slower to get going, which is probably why you're seeing a growing amount of nitrites without much growth in nitrates yet. They're a little backlogged at the moment.

Water conditioner typically just removes chlorine or chloramine from the water. Some enhanced water conditioners will also detoxify existing ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates, but won't remove them as such.

Edited by Kirsten
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Welcome Mr. Bennett,

When you say "very old test kit" I'm wondering what you mean. Not 20 years also? If it's more than two years old I wouldn't trust it at all. Even the color comparators fade over time. 

Brace yourself for some brown algae. 

Good luck. You'll have that in tip-top shape in no time.

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