Ammonia and nitrates, but no nitrites? (Fishless Cycling)

honeydew

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Hi all! So I’ve been trying to do a fishless cycle with my tank for a little over two weeks now. A few days ago the ammonia levels started dropping, but nitrites still weren’t budging from 0 ppm. After around 4 days of this I looked up what could be happening, and saw that some people’s cycles skipped straight to nitrates without showing nitrites. I tested nitrates and sure enough, there’s 20 ppm (I started at 0ppm.)

Is my tank cycled? I think I might add another dose of ammonia tonight to see how much it drops after 24 hrs. If it’s relevant, I used bottled bacteria a week after I first added the ammonia. Could that have caused the nitrite skip?

Thanks and would be happy for any insight!
 

honeydew

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Update: I’ve been doing the 24-hr test and my ammonia barely budges, so I suppose I’m not cycled. Still no trace of nitrites either. Does anyone know what’s going on here?
 

Tye

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You're still at the start.
You won't start to see nitrites until a large enough colony of ammonia eating bacteria take hold. It's normal to see small amounts of nitrate through the whole process.
When the ammonia eating bacteria are established you will see a sharp spike in nitrites and a complete lack of ammonia. Then that nitrite spike will vanish when the second set of colonizing bacteria establishes itself. Then you'll get the final reading of 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite and 30-40ppm nitrate.
It can take a month or longer to fully cycle a tank, don't worry.
 

honeydew

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You're still at the start.
You won't start to see nitrites until a large enough colony of ammonia eating bacteria take hold. It's normal to see small amounts of nitrate through the whole process.
When the ammonia eating bacteria are established you will see a sharp spike in nitrites and a complete lack of ammonia. Then that nitrite spike will vanish when the second set of colonizing bacteria establishes itself. Then you'll get the final reading of 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite and 30-40ppm nitrate.
It can take a month or longer to fully cycle a tank, don't worry.
Thank you so much for your reply! I’m very paranoid about my axolotl’s safety so I’m definitely grateful to have more experienced users on here to learn from. I’ll just stay patient!
 

honeydew

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Hi all! Just thought I’d leave an update- my tank is finally cycled!

In case any future readers are having the same problems as I had I thought I’d share what worked for me.
I had a sponge filter from the start, but I didn’t notice any progress until I set up an Aquaclear HOB filter and put in some used filter sponge from my LFS. Just a couple days after doing that, I began to get small nitrite readings, and then about a week after that ammonia began dropping quickly and nitrite readings climbed much higher. After a while of this (redosing ammonia up to 4ppm and waiting,) I finally got to the point two days ago where 4ppm of ammonia converted to nitrites then nitrates in 24 hr. Peepo is now happy in his much spacier home!

If anybody reading still has questions that I might be able to answer, then feel free to reply here or message me. Thanks so much to everyone who helped me out!
 
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