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I just set up a new 56g tank. I have a new filter in it, and it is running great. I did some water tests today, and I found out that my nitrate is a tad high. Though it is not lethal for fish, it still worries me why there is nitrate in an empty tank.

To help condition the water, I put in 15 gallons from another aquarium. Could this have attributed to the nitrate? I also have a mid-sized amazon sword plant in there. It is very green and looks very healthy. Could this have helped with it? What I dont understand is that there are no fish in the tank, but there is nitrate. Any ideas why there is any nitrate?

What should I do guys?

Thanks in advance.
 

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It is probably because your system is still immature so your nitrite-converting bacteria are also in an immature state. Even by adding some mature media from the other aquarium it is highly unlikely that you will be able to mature your filter and stock your pond without experiencing an ammonia or nitrite reading. How long has the filter been running on your tank?
Lisa
 

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Yes it is too soon check again in about a week. Putting in fish food is a good idea. You have to start getting some good bacteria into your water. Give it time put don't add your fish yet.
 

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Lots of us have nitrates in our water supply. If you test the tap water you may well find that it has significant amounts of nitrates in it. You said your nitrates were high but did not say how high. What is the reading you are getting with your liquid testing kit?
The tank water that you added will be a percentage of the total water so should show that percentage of the tank's reading in the new water unless there is nitrate coming in with the tap water.
An immature bacterial colony will not result in any nitrates at all, it will make it impossible for the ammonia to be processed through to nitrates. Nitrates are only removed from our impounded water systems by water changes. We do not have a full cycle functioning with anaerobic bacteria in a freshwater setup.
The plant should be using up some of the nitrates in your water and gradually reduce the reading unless nitrates are coming in from ammonia conversion or a similar source.
 

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To do a cycle with no instant cycle product you will need to be waiting a matter of 4 to 5 or even 6 weeks unless you can get some seeded filter media from a cycled filter. That would give you an instant cycle. If your fish store would give you a piece of their filter media you could simply put that in your filter and you would be set. Otherwise you will need to feed your filter and let nature take its course. The nitrates are the final product of the process and so I would agree that they are probably what is present in the tap water. During this time of year they tend to be present in ground water due to fertilizers and things used in agriculture rather than a cycle process. So go by the ammonia and nitrite readings tested daily rather than the nitrate readings. Be sure to test straight tap water for the nitrates before trusting a nitrate reading.

If you are doing fishless cycle with fish flakes you will have a long process and just be patient and do not do water changes or mess with the tank until you are cycled or you will delay the process. It will get to looking and perhaps smelling kind of gross but you have to go through it or you will undo what you are doing. Once you start something the only way through is just to go through it. I would not expect to even see ammonia readings for at least a week with this method, then nitrites would not follow for at least another week to 10 days, then nitrates could be as much as 2 weeks or 3 weeks after that. (the nitrates you are really looking for)

Rose
 

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Using fish food is basically the slowest way to cycle a tank, if your doing a fishless cycle I would use pure ammonia. It can still take 4 to 6 weeks to cycle.

If you can get some filter media as Rose said that is one of the fastest ways. Or you can do a silent cycle and stuff lots of stem plants in the tank, filling it up to at least 75% with cheap stem plants that you can remove later on (about 5 weeks later) once you decide what kind of scape you want. You can add fish about a week later this way.
 
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