New To Reefing

May 27, 2016
Water Testing
hi everyone, so I got a new reef tank set up and I bought some test kits.
However apart from the nitrate I have absolutely no idea whether the other two are right or not.
My tank is cycling and I know the nitrate has got to return to yellow and that will tell me the tank is cycled.
What do that other two tests mean? Needs to be a book for reefing for dummies



Jul 11, 2011
Hobart, Tasmania
During the cycle the ammonia will be converted to nitrite, so you will initially see a spike in ammonia followed by a spike in nitrite. Bacteria will then convert the nitrite into nitrate - so you will see a spike in nitrate which will then reduce.

Phosphate inhibits coral growth, especially SPS and will be introduced primarily via your food.


Aug 8, 2015
Ha Dong
As magic said the series goes ammonia nitrite then nitrate. Ammonia being the first thing to test for as it is the most leathal to your tank inhabitants. This is basically waste product from decaying flesh and animal waste. Nitrite is also quite bad for the fish but not as bad as ammonia. These 2 the beneficial bacteria process and is the main goal to get enough bacteria to process the waste as fast as its produced.
Nitrate is the toughest one to process and the main way to reduce it is with water changes or the use of macro algae which will use both phosphates and nitrates then as the algae gets too big you trim a heap off and throw it away effectively removing it from the tank. Nitrates are not great for corals also but they tolerate it much better than the other 2.
Cycling you want to get your ammonia and nitrite 0 while adding something to create a ammonia spike, a common way to do this is to put a small bit of prawn tail in the tank to dirty the water and let the tank process the waste from the decaying tail before adding any livestock. Once those 2 are 0 you can Slowely add livestock a bit at a time and keep testing to make sure the tank is keeping up with the waste production before adding more.
A biopellet reactor with a good skimmer and/or macro and a good skimmer for the reduction of nitrate is something to get onto also. This is quite hard for a tank to process naturally.
Hope that's all correct and helps somewhat


Oct 27, 2015
South Gippsland
There is no need to put anything in your tank to cycle it, it will likely add unwanted phosphates. The tank will cycle just fine on it's own as there is ample dead organisms in the rock already.

Reaching zero nitrate DOES NOT mean your cycle is over. When you have zero ammonia, zero nitrites, zero nitrates and your tank has remained stable that way for a couple of weeks is a good indicator that the ammonia conversion stage of the cycle (the critical part) is over. True cycling of all bacteria takes about 6 months.

When that first stage is over you will be ready to add a single, not too expensive fish because at that point your tank is still far from stable or established. The rule of thumb is never double your fish load in less than a month, not that many of us stick to it, yet it is still good advice.

Here are some things you should read.