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I have been cycling my small system for nearly 3 weeks now.  

The first week both Nitrate & Nitrite levels were doing well.  

I was waiting for the Nitrites to drop to 0 and the Nitrates to go up a bit but the Nitrates went down as well.  

Is this normal?  Or do I need to do something?  

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How high did the levels get before dropping? What is the ammonia reading at? How many gallons is there in the system? Three weeks seems really fast, did you kick start with bacteria from another system?
Small systems are flaky and the numbers can really jump around fast on you.

Nitrates were around 20 or 30.  (Sometimes it's hard for me to tell the color difference)

Ammonia is around 4 to 5.  

The fish tank is about 30 gallons.  

No, I didn't kick start it with anything.  I had some over ammonia(fied) water running through the media a couple weeks before hand and changed the system to the present one.  So...I guess it had a week or two of running really high ammonia water through it.  

How high were you running your ammonia levels? They may have all converted to nitrate and overwhelmed your test. Or you have a successfully cycled tank. Do you have any plants in your system that might have taken the nitrates out?

I'm no expert RK, but when my ssystem cycled the ammonia came down to zero along with the nitrites dropping to zero.

I would give it a few days to see if the ammonia drops off when you are not adding any. If it does drop you will need to add some small amounts to sustain the bacteria colony. The amounts would be very very small - too much ammonia is harmful to the bacteria colony you are trying to establish so keeping the ammonia around 4 is likely enough.

You might get the most out of cracking a beverage of your pleasure and reading through the cycling forum there are dozens of threads with similar questions.

Best of luck.



R.K. Castillo said:

Nitrates were around 20 or 30.  (Sometimes it's hard for me to tell the color difference)

Ammonia is around 4 to 5.  

The fish tank is about 30 gallons.  

No, I didn't kick start it with anything.  I had some over ammonia(fied) water running through the media a couple weeks before hand and changed the system to the present one.  So...I guess it had a week or two of running really high ammonia water through it.  

I put a few seeds in to see if they would sprout during the cycling process and have about 10 sprouts, Romaine Lettuce & Basil and I put a pretty much dead Stevia plant in it that has come back to life and grown quite a bit.  Maybe that's what took up the Nitrates?  

If so...what would the best course of action be? 

I remembered I did something else...I hadn't added any ammonia for a couple weeks.  So I added a tiny bit to try to simulate a bit of fish waste.  

Could that have killed off all the healthy bacteria?

You might have starved them R.K. by not continuously adding ammonia.  The bacteria are living critters and once they colonize in your system they need to be fed or they will start dying off.  When you are cycled you still need to keep adding a daily supply of ammonia at the front end so they will keep producing nitrates at the back end.  So a possible scenario for what you are seeing is that once you stopped adding ammonia your Stevia plant took up some nitrates, which weren't replaced. Then when you added the tiny bit of ammonia recently the nitrosomonas colony had decreased enough that you aren't seeing a conversion anymore.  I doubt you have killed them all off...just treat this like another cycling process and they will recolonize.

Thanks Sylvia.  I will do that.  Do I keep adding Ammonia even if my Ammonia levels go way up after even adding just a tiny bit?  

Ideally you want to keep it at an even-ish 4ppm.  So check it every day, and if it is still at 4 then don't add...but if it drops overnight (which is good news) then add some more.  You will eventually get a feel for your system and know about how much to add to keep it close to 4....but really at that point it is time for fish!

Ya...it was at about 4ppm the whole time I didn't add anymore ammonia as I thought the levels were high enough. If I even add like 1/4 a cap full of ammonia my levels shoot way up to the highest my tester will go.

R.K. How the hell did you get both nitrite and nitrate levels that were "doing well" your very first week of cycling? Just wondering?

Um...I said the first week but was in the process of cycling my other system using the same media I am using now for a couple weeks and when I decided to not use that system I just used the same stuff in this system.  

So it probably had a few weeks of growing stuff before I even started cycling this time around.  

Believe me, I was as surprised to see Nitrates as anyone.

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