Api quickstart work instantly?

JacobPh8m

Active Member
Hey guys,

SO I just set up a 5-gallon tank, I added 15ml of API Quickstart (Yes I added a bit more, don't think that really has a bad effect) My question is I just tested the water, and my ammonia and nitrite was literally zero? I kinda understand the nitrogen cycle but I'm still SUPER confused? Can anyone explain it to me? (I'm kinda a noob at fish keeping :).
Here's a photo

IMG_5634.jpg
 

DoubleDutch

Fishlore Legend
API Quickstart contains a mix of bacteria that convert ammobia and nitrites but aren't the actual ones in the natural cycle.

So yes they keep the levels low till the natural cycling has taken place. They buy time.

Your tank isn't cycled.
 
OP
JacobPh8m

JacobPh8m

Active Member
API Quickstart contains a mix of bacteria that convert ammobia and nitrites but aren't the actual ones in the natural cycle.

So yes they keep the levels low till the natural cycling has taken place. They buy time.

Your tank isn't cycled.
So how long should i take?
 
OP
JacobPh8m

JacobPh8m

Active Member
Do you have any fish in this tank? Any plants?
No plants no fish, just set up the tank. No Im not trying to say I'm doing a bad thing and I'm getting like tmrw, Im just curious about the cycle system.
 

RayClem

Well Known
You will not have any ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate in your tank when it is first filled unless your tap water contains one or more of those chemicals. My tap water is treated with chloramine which is a combination of chlorine and ammonia, so my tap water does contain ammonia. Those who live in areas with agricultural runoff often find nitrates in their water, especially if it comes from a shallow well.

Thus, it is not surprising that your water tested zero for ammonia, nitrite and nitrates. That is good.

Cycling a tank will take 6-8 weeks under normal conditions. Adding a bacterial supplement such as Quickstart or Fritz Turbozyme may help stabalize the tank during that period, but no matter what the marketing people state on the bottle, there is no such thing as "instant cycling" using a bottled product. A tank is cycled only when beneficial bacteria have colonized the substrate, filter media, and the surfaces of the glass, plants, heater, filter tubes, etc.

The closest thing to instant cycling is starting your cycle using cycled media from another tank. If you have another tank or if you have a friend who has a tank, take some of the filter media from the established tank and use it in your filter. That is the best and fastest way to cycle a tank.


To cycle a tank, the bacteria responsible for the nitrogen cycle must be fed with some form of nitrogen. Personally, I always start my cycle by adding a pinch of fish food to the tank every day, just as I would if the tank had fish in it. Some people start with a raw fish or piece of frozen fish. Some have even used a small quantity of urine. After about three week, I will add a few hardy fish to the tank so it becomes a fish-in cycle rather than fishless cycle. If the ammonia level gets above 1ppm with fish in the tank, you will need to do a water change.

Many people use ammonia to cycle the tank. This can be either pure household ammonia or ammonium chloride. If you use household ammonia, be sure it does not contain any detergents, or scents. Those would be harmful. You want nothing other than ammonia and water. Ammonia is strong, so it does not take much in a 5 gallon tank to reach 2 ppm, which is the desired ammonia concentration. Do not add any more ammonia until the concentration has dropped to zero; then raise it to 2 ppm again. Keep repeating this until the ammonia drops to zero within 24 hours and you start to see nitrite and nitrate increasing.

Ammonium chloride is frequently purchased from Dr. Tim's Aquatics. It is ammonia that has been neutralized with hydrochloric acid. Thus, while ammonia is alkaline, ammonium chloride is slightly acidic. The problem with using ammonium chloride is that the cycle can stall if the pH in the tank gets too low. If that happens, do a water change or add a pinch of baking soda to your tank. It looks like your pH is currently close to neutral.
 

WRWAquarium

Well Known
Hi there

You need an ammonia source for the quick start to do it's job basically.

Nitrogen cycle goes like this:

Fish poo creates ammonia (harmful to fish)

Nitrite bacteria (harmful to fish) grow to eat ammonia

Nitrate bacteria (not harmful to fish unless in high amounts) grow to eat nitrite.

So a cycled tank will only have nitrates, the end product of the cycle and these are kept at a low level with water changes.

The api quick start is designed so you can add fish straight away to your tank and the quickstart keeps the water from harming your fish. If you don't want to add fish yet you will need to add a bottled ammonia or fish food to the tank to start the cycle. Ughh i think above post covers most of what I said but I wrote it out now haha.
 
OP
JacobPh8m

JacobPh8m

Active Member
Hi there

You need an ammonia source for the quick start to do it's job basically.

Nitrogen cycle goes like this:

Fish poo creates ammonia (harmful to fish)

Nitrite bacteria (harmful to fish) grow to eat ammonia

Nitrate bacteria (not harmful to fish unless in high amounts) grow to eat nitrite.

So a cycled tank will only have nitrates, the end product of the cycle and these are kept at a low level with water changes.

The api quick start is designed so you can add fish straight away to your tank and the quickstart keeps the water from harming your fish. If you don't want to add fish yet you will need to add a bottled ammonia or fish food to the tank to start the cycle. Ughh i think above post covers most of what I said but I wrote it out now haha.
Ok thx for all the info, so you would advise just adding some fish food once a day or week? DO I ever take it out?
So I know you guys are saying to add fish food and live hardy fish etc. But Am I able to add the quickstart and just wait/ Or do I need some sort of ammonia?
 

FishDin

Well Known
Adding Quick Start will do nothing unless you add an ammonia source. It needs ammonia (food) to feed the bacteria. For fish-in cycling, the fish provide the ammonia. In fishless cycling, you provide it via liquid ammonia, fish food etc.

I suggest you find an article on cycling and read-up on it as you don't seem to understand how it works.
 

angsess78

Active Member
API Quickstart did zero for my tank. I added a whole liter bottle to a 36 gallon over the course of a week with a consistent 1ppm of ammonia in the tank and nothing changed. I am on the 3rd day of dosing with fluval cycle and finally seeing nitrite.
 
OP
JacobPh8m

JacobPh8m

Active Member
Disclaimer: I am a beginner to fish keeping

Hi guys,
So I have API quickstart right, and I want to add a betta fish, my question is can I add the API quickstart the same day as I get the betta without letting it die? I have heard and seen people do it, and I'm pretty sure it's fine, however, I have had betta before and my tank wasn't fully cycled because I was kinda a noob so I have really bad anxiety about it will happen again. It's a 5-gallon tank.

If I cant do this, how do I do a fishless cycle? Do I just put fish food in?

Cheers,
Jacob
 

Papasmerf73

Active Member
I did this when I set up my first tank not knowing much about the cycle. I lost 3 zebra danios in the first 3 days. I still feel bad about those fish. BTW - I was going to wait awhile but LFS said sure go ahead. Lesson learned. There are some who have done the Seachem Prime and stability combo with success. There's also Fritz Turbostart which many have had success with. Good luck.
I have never done the fishless cycle but it seems very complicated with the ammonia drops, measuring, increasing, decreasing, etc. I would just research everything I could about the fishless cycle. Bettas are not super hardy.
 
OP
JacobPh8m

JacobPh8m

Active Member
I did this when I set up my first tank not knowing much about the cycle. I lost 3 zebra danios in the first 3 days. I still feel bad about those fish. BTW - I was going to wait awhile but LFS said sure go ahead. Lesson learned. There are some who have done the Seachem Prime and stability combo with success. There's also Fritz Turbostart which many have had success with. Good luck.
I have never done the fishless cycle but it seems very complicated with the ammonia drops, measuring, increasing, decreasing, etc. I would just research everything I could about the fishless cycle. Bettas are not super hardy.
So my question is. Does it work with the API quickstart? Maybe I could add some hardy fish. I just wanna know if it actually works
 

GlennO

Well Known
So my question is. Does it work with the API quickstart? Maybe I could add some hardy fish. I just wanna know if it actually works
Bottled bacteria won't give you an instant cycle, the only way to do that is with an appropriately sized established mature filter or media. So you can't add fish immediately. You have to go through the cycling process. Quickstart may or may not speed up the process a little but even that is not guaranteed.
 
OP
JacobPh8m

JacobPh8m

Active Member
Bottled bacteria won't give you an instant cycle, the only way to do that is with an appropriately sized established mature filter or media. So you can't add fish immediately. You have to go through the cycling process. Quickstart may or may not speed up the process a little but even that is not guaranteed.
So should i add an ammonia source? Like pellet food every day?
 

GlennO

Well Known
On top of this fish food tends to release phosphates and other things, leading to algae growth and some other issues. So bottled ammonia is the way to go if you can.
I suppose that's a possibility since you're not doing water changes while cycling.
 
OP
JacobPh8m

JacobPh8m

Active Member
I suppose that's a possibility since you're not doing water changes while cycling.
On top of this fish food tends to release phosphates and other things, leading to algae growth and some other issues. So bottled ammonia is the way to go if you can.
but is it inevitable that it will happen? I have been reading other threads about having PURE AMMONIA for the quickstart to feed on. Is there a possibility that I can cycle a tank with fish?
 

GlennO

Well Known
but is it inevitable that it will happen? I have been reading other threads about having PURE AMMONIA for the quickstart to feed on. Is there a possibility that I can cycle a tank with fish?
Yes you can cycle with fish but it's a risk to the fish and it's more work because you have to keep ammonia & nitrite levels very low which means constant testing and water changes when levels are too high.

Sometimes there is no choice if you have already bought fish without knowing about the nitrogen cycle. But if you have a choice, fishless is the way to go. If you can't get pure ammonia fish food will do.
 
OP
JacobPh8m

JacobPh8m

Active Member
Yes you can cycle with fish but it's a risk to the fish and it's more work because you have to keep ammonia & nitrite levels very low which means constant testing and water changes when levels are too high.

Sometimes there is no choice if you have already bought fish without knowing about the nitrogen cycle. But if you have a choice, fishless is the way to go. If you can't get pure ammonia fish food will do.
Will the fish food decompose? I just put it some flakes, do I have to scoop it out with a net later?
 

GlennO

Well Known
Will the fish food decompose? I just put it some flakes, do I have to scoop it out with a net later?
It's the process of decomposition that produces ammonia. You don't have to scoop any out unless you find your ammonia levels skyrocketing. Maintain ammonia between 2-4ppm. If you haven't already, you'll need to get a Master Test Kit.
 
OP
JacobPh8m

JacobPh8m

Active Member
It's the process of decomposition that produces ammonia. You don't have to scoop any out unless you find your ammonia levels skyrocketing. Maintain ammonia between 2-4ppm. If you haven't already, you'll need to get a Master Test Kit.
I have a master test kit. Thx for all the help. Do I need to turn off my filter when I do this?
 

GlennO

Well Known
I have a master test kit. Thx for all the help. Do I need to turn off my filter when I do this?
No your filter media is where the majority of bacteria will establish. Critical to leave it running.
 
OP
JacobPh8m

JacobPh8m

Active Member
No your filter media is where the majority of bacteria will establish. Critical to leave it running.
ok thx alot, how long will I have to do this? Until my ammonia and nitrite is what level?
 

GlennO

Well Known
ok thx alot, how long will I have to do this? Until my ammonia and nitrite is what level?
Probably around 6 weeks. When ammonia & nitrite readings start to show zero each day and you have increasing nitrate levels. Using fish food that is.
 
OP
JacobPh8m

JacobPh8m

Active Member
Probably around 6 weeks. When ammonia & nitrite readings start to show zero each day and you have increasing nitrate levels. Using fish food that is.
Is there a chance that this doesnt work? Im scared that the results wont show. Im using betta pellets for fish food, so I put about 3 pellets in the morning and 3 at night, is that ok?
 

GlennO

Well Known
Is there a chance that this doesnt work? Im scared that the results wont show. Im using betta pellets for fish food, so I put about 3 pellets in the morning and 3 at night, is that ok?
Fish food as an ammonia source is not a precise method but nothing to be scared of there's no fish to worry about so you can experiment with quantity as you go, adding more or less food and a water change if you overdo it. I'd start by 'feeding' daily a similar amount as if the tank contained fish. Will probably be at least a few days before you detect any ammonia. Take it from there and don't be too concerned about the level (though try not to go over 5ppm) as long it's detectable and remains relatively consistent for as long as it takes to cycle.
 

RayClem

Well Known
I like using fish food as my nitrogen source when cycling a tank. Fish food contains protein which is a combination of various amino acids. The "amino" name is an indication that they are related to ammonia. Certain species of bacteria as well as the matabolism of fish and other animals break down the amino acids. into urea and then other bacteria convert the urea into ammonia. Thus, by starting with fish food rather than pure ammonia, you are developing a much wider range of beneficial bacteria in the tank than you do by adding ammonia. However, it is ammonia that is so toxic to fish. Thus, as long as the ammonia reducing bacteria multiply properly, your tank will be safe for fish. The other types of bacteria will develop as they are needed in the tank.

Nitrites are also toxic to fish, but they are far less toxic than ammonia. Normally I start to introduce hardy fish into the tank as soon as there are sufficient bacteria to deal with the ammonia. If you are planning to add more sensitive fish, wait until the nitrite is also being controlled.
 
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JacobPh8m

JacobPh8m

Active Member
UPDATE:

So after a week of adding fish food, I have stopped adding it because My Nitrate levels were HIGH. Tell me your thoughts and suggestions. Do I just wait?

IMG_5656.jpg
 

FishDin

Well Known
That is not high for nitrates. Keep going and keep testing. Looks like you are well on your way. Looks like your ammonia may be decreasing (good) and your nitrites are spiking (good). And now your beginning to see nitrates (also good). The cycle appears to be progressing nicely.
 

RayClem

Well Known
Nitrates are not high until they get above 20 ppm (some would even say 40 ppm unless you are keeping shrimp). Keep adding your nitrogen source (in this case fish food) on a daily basis until the nitrate level goes over 20 ppm. Then start doing water changes to keep it around 20 ppm. When the ammonia and nitrite levels are below 0.25 ppm and stay there for several days, you are ready to add fish. Some hardy fish might be OK with your current conditions, but it would be best to wait for the nitrite level to drop. Since the test vials are compared against a grey background, it is hard to tell the specific levels. For more accurate results, it is better to compare colors against a sheet of white paper. Since nitrates are developing, it should not take much longer for the cycle to be completed.

The beneficial bacteria responsible for the nitrogen cycle grow on surfaces such as your tank walls, substrate, filter tubes, filter media, plants, etc. Very little of the bacteria are present in the water column. Thus, doing a water change does not adversely impact the cycle unless you fail to dechlorinate the water.
 
OP
JacobPh8m

JacobPh8m

Active Member
UPDATE:
So I have been adding fish food still and I could not be more confused, a week ago the nitrites and ammonia were pretty high, (The pics are above) and the Nitrates are 0ppm. Is this bad or good news?


IMG_5665.jpg
 

CrackerboxPalace

Well Known
how much did you shake nitrate test bottle #2? it usually reads as a false zero unless you shake it well for at least two mins. If you’ve got plants/water changes/excessive amounts of algae that could also explain it.
 

GlennO

Well Known
A week ago you had some nitrites being converted to nitrates. Nitrates usually won't disappear in a non planted tank without water changes. I would re-test. Post any pics against a white background.

It's been less than 3 weeks so it would be an unusually quick cycle if complete, but not impossible.
 
OP
JacobPh8m

JacobPh8m

Active Member
how much did you shake nitrate test bottle #2? it usually reads as a false zero unless you shake it well for at least two mins. If you’ve got plants/water changes/excessive amounts of algae that could also explain it.
I shook it for around 30 seconds and left it to sit for 5 minutes.
A week ago you had some nitrites being converted to nitrates. Nitrates usually won't disappear in a non planted tank without water changes. I would re-test. Post any pics against a white background.

It's been less than 3 weeks so it would be an unusually quick cycle if complete, but not impossible.
I will test again tmrw, I am quite confused but what are the chances it is fully cycled?
A week ago you had some nitrites being converted to nitrates. Nitrates usually won't disappear in a non planted tank without water changes. I would re-test. Post any pics against a white background.

It's been less than 3 weeks so it would be an unusually quick cycle if complete, but not impossible.
Also how long should I shake it for?
 

FishDin

Well Known
I shook it for around 30 seconds and left it to sit for 5 minutes.

I will test again tmrw, I am quite confused but what are the chances it is fully cycled?

Also how long should I shake it for?
You need to shake bottle #2 for at least a minute before using it. The instructions say 30sec, but to be safe you can double it. There is no need to let it sit afterwards.

The chances that it is fully cycled are very slim.

Shake the bottle for 1 minute as stated above. Shake the test tube for one minute after adding drops from bottle #2, then let sit for 5 minutes.

The instructions are clearly illustrated on the back of the test color card.

As others have said, when you post pics of your test tubes, be sure they are in front of a white background so they can be viewed properly.

**Nitrates will not disappear on their own.
 

RayClem

Well Known
The nitrate test is really quirky. Bottle number 2 contains some tiny particles of zinc that reduce nitrates to nitrites before testing. These particles settle to the bottom of the bottle. Thus, if you do not shake vigorously for long enough, you won't get the right amount of zinc transferred to the test vial and the results will be incorrect. Be sure you follow the test procedure exactly. If anything shake longer than specified. You also have to shake the test vial after adding the test ingredients to allow the reagents to react properly with the nitrates in the water.
 
OP
JacobPh8m

JacobPh8m

Active Member
UPDATE:
SO I tested it again and I shook for 2 minutes and left it out for 30 minutes. I come back and there's not much of a difference. I also did a tetrasafe strip test and it says the nitrate test was not 0ppm. Image below.
 

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CrackerboxPalace

Well Known
what do you mean you left it for 30 minutes? If you mean you left it for 30 minutes immediately after shaking for 2 minutes, then the shaking served no purpose. you need to add the drops from bottle #2 soon after shaking.
 
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JacobPh8m

JacobPh8m

Active Member
what do you mean you left it for 30 minutes? If you mean you left it for 30 minutes immediately after shaking for 2 minutes, then the shaking served no purpose. you need to add the drops from bottle #2 soon after shaking.
Have I been doing this wrong the whole time? I just followed a yt vid. Do I add the drops of the first bottle, shake it then add the second bottle?
 

CrackerboxPalace

Well Known
yes you shake the test tube after adding bottle 1. Then you shake bottle #2 hard for 2mins or more. then you add it straight away, shake the tube for a minute and wait 5 minutes for results.
 

FishDin

Well Known
Don't use YT, just flip the card over. It's clearly illustrated on the back of the card.
 

RayClem

Well Known
Please follow the test procedure provided with the API nitrate test exactly. Otherwise you can get incorrect results.

1. Measure 5 ml of test sample in vial.
2. Shake reagent bottle #1 briefly, hold bottle vertical and dispense 10 drops of reagent into test vial.
3. Replace cap on test vial and invert the tube several times to mix the reagent with the sample.
4. Shake reagent bottle #2 vigorously for a minimum of 30 seconds (even longer is OK) to make sure all of the Zinc particles are thoroughly mixed in the reagent solution.
5. Hold bottle # 2 vertically and dispense 10 drops into the test vial.
6. Replace the vial cap and shake the vial vigorously for a minimum of 1 minute to insure the reagent is thoroughly mixed with the test solution.
7. Wait 5 minutes and then read the test result by comparing with the color chart. Allowing the sample to sit for 30 minutes is not helpful and could give you a wrong result.
 
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JacobPh8m

JacobPh8m

Active Member
Please follow the test procedure provided with the API nitrate test exactly. Otherwise you can get incorrect results.

1. Measure 5 ml of test sample in vial.
2. Shake reagent bottle #1 briefly, hold bottle vertical and dispense 10 drops of reagent into test vial.
3. Replace cap on test vial and invert the tube several times to mix the reagent with the sample.
4. Shake reagent bottle #2 vigorously for a minimum of 30 seconds (even longer is OK) to make sure all of the Zinc particles are thoroughly mixed in the reagent solution.
5. Hold bottle # 2 vertically and dispense 10 drops into the test vial.
6. Replace the vial cap and shake the vial vigorously for a minimum of 1 minute to insure the reagent is thoroughly mixed with the test solution.
7. Wait 5 minutes and then read the test result by comparing with the color chart. Allowing the sample to sit for 30 minutes is not helpful and could give you a wrong result.
UPDATE:
So I have Followed the rules above and this is the result:

1633566285747.jpeg
I also did a Tetra safe 6 in 1 test with the strips and it shows zero Nitrite but there is Nitrate.

Please give me thoughts about cycling. Cheers, Jacob.
 

RayClem

Well Known
If you are adding some form of ammonia (pure ammonia, ammonium chloride, fish food, etc. ), you should start to see some nitrates. If your test strips are showing nitrates, then the drops should as well. Be sure you are following the procedure correctly.
 
OP
JacobPh8m

JacobPh8m

Active Member
If you are adding some form of ammonia (pure ammonia, ammonium chloride, fish food, etc. ), you should start to see some nitrates. If your test strips are showing nitrates, then the drops should as well. Be sure you are following the procedure correctly.
yes you shake the test tube after adding bottle 1. Then you shake bottle #2 hard for 2mins or more. then you add it straight away, shake the tube for a minute and wait 5 minutes for results.
UPDATE: So As you can see I can 100% see improvement in the Nitrates and the Ammonia and Nitrites look to be 0ppm or around there. Should I keep adding fish food or is it cycled?
p.s sorry if the photo is a bit off.

1633757517647.jpeg
 

RayClem

Well Known
If the tests are accurate, the tank should be ready for fish. The addition of fish and the food you feed them will continue the nitrogen cycle from this point on. You can stop adding ammonia a couple of days before you introduce the fish.
 
OP
JacobPh8m

JacobPh8m

Active Member
If the tests are accurate, the tank should be ready for fish. The addition of fish and the food you feed them will continue the nitrogen cycle from this point on. You can stop adding ammonia a couple of days before you introduce the fish.
Nice, finally its ready to go. Thx alot for all your help. :)
 

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