If you're getting a nitrite reading it will cycle eventually.......... If you want to speed things along, continue water changes until you get an ammonia reading of 4ppm or below. I cycled a new system about 3 months ago using Urea. I dosed like i normally do and got the same readings as you did(stronger than usual ammonia i think). I had to change water about 6 times to get the reading down. Guess I'm also a newbie.
If you're "fishless cycling".... then it doesn't really matter how high your ammonia levels get... and theres no real need to water change...
It will just take a little longer... unless you up your aeration to assist....
Bsically the nitrite to nitrate conversion wont commence until the ammonia has fallen to zero anyway... (regardless of level).... as the ammonia inhibits the bacteria necessary for nitrite conversion....
Hence.. the higher the level of ammonia... the longer it takes (and more oxygen)... to convert to nitrites.... and the longer it takes before the conversion to itrates commences...
Great work! Please keep posting as you progress. As you know, your nitrites will peak and fall to zero. Since you already had a nitrite reading, i suspect you should be there in a couple of days. Good luck!
Justin Taylor said:
Thanks for the help! It took three 1/2 water changes and now ammonia is at 4.0 ppm. Everything else is holding steady!
I will be interested to hear how it goes for you as I am in the same darn boat. I have isolated the barrel that holds my lava rock that will act as my biofilter (I will be raising my fish in my basement and my greenhouse outside) and I did a 20% water change and now am adding nitrifying bacteria, but from posts above am worried that they won't take hold due to excess ammonia. Will likely change more water and add some big aeration to the barrel and try to establish the colony; then slowly process the 170 gal from the main tank through the biofilter. If you get your system cranking with the high ammonia then I hope I can replicate.
RupertofOz: I noted your comment on inhibiting nitrite and nitrate conversion with interest. My fishless system appears to contradict that. Like Justin, I overdosed the ammonia and got >8.0ppm, after two weeks nitrites were pegged high too and me nitrates were showing up. I did a 80% water change which brought the ammonia down to .25 and reduced the nitrite level as well. I was happy with myself until the very next day when ammonia tested >8 again with high nitries again. The only thing I could think of is my hydroton trapped some ammonia. Today I flushed the system twice through the inlet pipe hoping to wash the media in situ and got ammonia down to 1.0ppm. I am hopeful tomorrow the reading will hold.
The temperature for optimum growth of nitrifying bacteria is between 77-86° F (25-30° C).
Growth rate is decreased by 50% at 64° F (18° C).
Growth rate is decreased by 75% at 46-50° F.
No activity will occur at 39° F (4° C)
Nitrifying bacteria will die at 32° F (0° C).
Nitrifying bacteria will die at 120° F (49° C)
Nitrobacter is less tolerant of low temperatures than Nitrosomonas. In cold water systems, care must be taken to monitor the accumulation of nitrites.
So you will cycle slowly at these temps. Its best to wait it out for now. If you have higher temps later on(when you introduce fish) you won't have to monitor your feeding much. If your temps remain low when you fully cycle you'll have to keep a keen eye on feeding. Plant as soon as you can, roots are great for conversion.