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?
Also...how and when do you use the potassium bicarbonate?
Yep, I concur. Do a partial water change to bring your ammonia levels back down to earth and start your cycling process over again. Keep that ammonia at about 4ppm during cycling.
Vlad Jovanovic said:
No R.K. DO NOT add anymore ammonia. Ammonia should be kept between 1ppm - 4ppm while fishless cycling. Anything much above 6 or so becomes toxic to the bacteria you are trying to cultivate and will inhibit their proliferation.
Water change until your ammonia is at least within a readable range (again, preferably between 1ppm and 4ppm).
Since you are beyond the capabilities of your test kit to read...your ammonia could currently be at 9ppm or 20ppm...you have now way of knowing...
So...after you do a partial water change to bring your ammonia into a readable range...the next step would be to buy yourself a pair of handcuffs, attach one end to your left hand, the other to a radiator...and don't go near your system for the next 4-6 weeks
I replaced the water and checked the levels. The PH was at 7.6 and Ammonia was at 4ppm. So I was leaving it alone as per your advice and just checking the levels.
A couple days ago the PH dropped to the bottom again. Ammonia is between 2-4ppm.
What do you think is causing the drop of PH?
Well... where is your NO2 and NO3 at?
Both of them are still at 0...or the bottom of the testing kit color
And they've never moved?
Nope, never moved. When I did the water change I made sure Ammonia was at a good level and PH and then I left it alone and figured the Nitrites would come eventually.
Vlad, I am seeing readings. My Ph is between 8.4 an 8.8. My ammonia, nitrite and nitrate all read 0. Later, over the course of like 3 days i put in a gallon of ammonia. the first 64 ounces was purchased from the dollar store, so I don;t know haow concentrated it was. The second 1/2 gallon smelled like ammonia. The next day i had between .25 and.50 but still no nitrates.
Slow down Pat ...it'll probably take about a month or even two to cycle.
Keeping your ammonia anywhere from between 1ppm and 4ppm is fine. Some folks like to go on the high side, others like to go low...they both work fine...
Eventually all that urea you had also put in will convert to NH3/4 so keep that in mind and be careful. (7 to 10 litres of humonia will usually get me in the 1.5 to 2ppm range...just so you have a ballpark figure to go on). It would be prudent of you to keep it on the low to mid side of the scale because of the unknown urea factor that you introduced.