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I'm fishless cycling, on day 31 today. My nitrites have been 5+ since day 11 (showed up day 7), so they have been off the charts for 20 days. Nitrates have been there since day 8 and are at 40 today (they fluctuate).

I've read high nitrites will stall my cycle, so I did a water changes to get them readable. I've done three 75%(ish) water changes and they are still off the charts. My tap water doesn't have nitrites. The ammonia goes away within 24 hours, but nitrites aren't moving (even after water changes).

I have an outdoor (in a greenhouse) constant flood/drain (flood = 10 mins, drain = 5 mins). 

70 gallon fish tank

50 gallon sump tank

15 square foot grow bed with crushed granite, 10" deep.

Plenty of aeration

Temp is around 74.  KH is 10. My pH fluctuates between 7.4-8.

I dosed ammonia to 4ppm until nitrites started showing up and then dosed to 1-2ppm.

I didn't have access to seed my tank.

I have a few plants that are alive but not thriving like the ones I have in soil, although I'm not too worried about their survival right now.  I'm not asking because I'm eager to add fish.  My main concern is that my nitrites are still so high and I can't measure them, so I'm worried it could potentially stall my cycle. So my question is...do I leave things alone? Do I do MORE water changes? Or what?

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Wait, are you dosing so that your ammonia levels are at 1-2ppm every day?

I've noticed a couple people make that mistake. Add the amount of ammonia it takes to initially get your system to 3-4ppm, once you start seeing nitrites, then cut that amount in half and add that every day until you no longer have ammonia or nitrite. If you're continually dosing your system to 1-2ppm every day, then the amount of ammonia you are adding will just keep increasing.

If you did a water change and aren't seeing results, then your nitrate levels are probably higher than you thought. Try doing another water change.

I cut the ammonia down to half when nitrites started.  So the half dose still gives me 1-2ppm.  Is that too much?  Should I decrease the ammonia dose?  It took 2 cap fulls to get me to 4ppm, so I went down to 1 cap ful.

Did you keep your ammonia levels at around 4ppm when you first started cycling? Your levels shouldn't have been allowed to go higher than that.

Yes, I dosed to 4ppm the first time...and it stayed at 4ppm for 7 days (without further dosing).  On day 7 it finally went down to 2ppm, and that's when nitrites showed up, so then I just did 1/2 dose, which put it at 1-2ppm.

I'm not sure why your nitrites are so high. You tested your tap water for nitrites...have you tested for anything else? Ammonia or nitrate? Also, do you know if you're water has chlorine or chloramines in it?

I've tested my tap water for everything.  It has a touch of ammonia .25, but nothing else.  I know my water has chlorine in it, I could not find much on searches for chloramines (so I just assume the worse and say it does), but nonetheless I treat it with Prime before adding it to my system.

Should I wait to dose ammonia again?  If so, how long can I possibly go without dosing with ammonia?  Or is my best bet to keep doing water changes?  If so, how often?  OR, do I leave things alone and just let it do it's thing.  I'm sorta at a loss.  I want to do the right thing, I just don't know what it is

BTW, I flooded my neighbor's yard when I previously did water changes and the city came by thinking we had a leak.  They had to walk in the backyard to see what was going on, LOL.  But my backyard neighbor is a jerk, so I'll be more than happy to flood his yard again.

In my experience, it shouldn't be this hard. When I cycled to start my system, it took like a week.

It's surprising that you've got lots of nitrite and no nitrate after 31 days.

Consider going to a fish store (or a friend with a fish tank) and asking them for a water sample with some rocks. Then, bury the rocks in your system. Assuming your friend's tank is fully cycled, you'll have cultured your tank with the stuff you need.

I don't think chlorine is the problem -- if it was you wouldn't have nitrite because those bacteria would be dead like everything else.

Actually, I've been thinking to way back when I started cycling and the process took me around five to six weeks. Wouldn't take me that long now, but I don't think what's happening to Neely is that out of the ordinary.

Hank Paloci said:

In my experience, it shouldn't be this hard. When I cycled to start my system, it took like a week.

It's surprising that you've got lots of nitrite and no nitrate after 31 days.

Consider going to a fish store (or a friend with a fish tank) and asking them for a water sample with some rocks. Then, bury the rocks in your system. Assuming your friend's tank is fully cycled, you'll have cultured your tank with the stuff you need.

I don't think chlorine is the problem -- if it was you wouldn't have nitrite because those bacteria would be dead like everything else.

I cycled with fish and a lot of water changes days 4~7. I think the fish water or maybe the pebbles brought in the bacteria and the whole thing just moved along faster because the system was colonized from the go. I know people discourage cycling with fish but I've done it several times with aquariums before my AP setup and it's just what works for me.

It's not really that discouraged, you just increase your likelyhood of killing fish if you don't stay on top of things. Both ways are valid.

Hank Paloci said:

I cycled with fish and a lot of water changes days 4~7. I think the fish water or maybe the pebbles brought in the bacteria and the whole thing just moved along faster because the system was colonized from the go. I know people discourage cycling with fish but I've done it several times with aquariums before my AP setup and it's just what works for me.

I agree. If you aren't on top of it or aren't really aware of the process, fish can die before they're supposed to.

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