Nitrogen cycle

Discussion in 'Just starting out (SW Beginners)' started by Shannon C, Nov 9, 2019.

  1. Shannon C

    Shannon C New Member

    Nov 7, 2019
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    Hi all,

    We have our aquaone 195 tank set up after advice from users on evaporation. To start off we used NSW, live sand & rock but need some more info on the nitrogen cycle.

    Our Ph levels are fine after being low earlier in the week. Our ammonia level is 0 but nitrite is high. Do we just leave everything as it is to find its equilibrium or is it best we intervene now to help turn the nitrite into nitrate? I've read a bit about ways to create ammonia but I understand that we don't need the ammonia yet as we haven't got the correct nitrate levels?

    Any advice or help will be greatly appreciated.
  2. DaveK

    DaveK Well-Known Member

    Nov 21, 2003
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    Philadelpahia, PA
    The nitrogen cycle (over simplified) is where bacteria break down ammonia to nitrite and then nitrite to nitrate. In an established tank, there is so much bacteria that the process happens so quickly and the reading for ammonia and nitrite are 0. In a new tank, there is no bacteria, so you will first see a spike in ammonia, followed by a spike in nitrite, and then both of them dropping back to 0 as the bacteria multiply.

    From what your saying, it looks like your system is in the middle of it's initial cycle. Leave it alone and the nitrite should start to drop, but it may peak first before going down. Don't panic, and don't mess with anything.

    Once all this occurs, test your nitrate and if it's too high, make partial water changes to lower it. A 30% water change will give you a 30% reduction in nitrates, and so on.

    If your in doubt about the tank cycling, you can add one small uncooked shrimp that you get from the grocery store. Then let it decay in the tank to provide a source of ammonia. This is the easiest way to add ammonia, and the one least likely to cause problems or make a mistake with.

    As a final note, sometimes a tank will seem to cycle, but there is really not enough bacteria in the tank, because the tank never had anything in it to really get the cycle going. Adding the shrimp as mentioned above should resolve this.
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