Cycling advice first time

mrnegi

Got a test kit today in anticipation of adding fish-- glad I did!!!

I'm looking at

.5 ammonia
0 nitrites
0 nitrates!!

LPS tested this water yesterday and were like ya man you should be good to throw some fish in there in a couple days.

I don't think my cycle has started at all though!

I added 2 of the Aqueon PURE balls when I started and one more today after seeing those numbers.

It's a 10 gallon tank. There's a mystery snail in there and a couple plants. I'm on day 6.

This is my first Tank ever so I guess I don't know if this is normal this early or if I just have no bacteria going.

Advice welcome! Thanks guys
 

Bwood22

I don't think my cycle has started at all though!
CORRECT!

What is your ammonia source?
This is gonna take a few weeks.
 

Azedenkae

Got a test kit today in anticipation of adding fish-- glad I did!!!

I'm looking at

.5 ammonia
0 nitrites
0 nitrates!!

LPS tested this water yesterday and were like ya man you should be good to throw some fish in there in a couple days.

I don't think my cycle has started at all though!

I added 2 of the Aqueon PURE balls when I started and one more today after seeing those numbers.

It's a 10 gallon tank. There's a mystery snail in there and a couple plants. I'm on day 6.

This is my first Tank ever so I guess I don't know if this is normal this early or if I just have no bacteria going.

Advice welcome! Thanks guys
So the Aqueon PURE balls allegedly releases beneficial bacteria, so that's good. Presuming it works.

How have you been introducing ammonia into the tank?
 

mrnegi

So the Aqueon PURE balls allegedly releases beneficial bacteria, so that's good. Presuming it works.

How have you been introducing ammonia into the tank?
CORRECT!

What is your ammonia source?
This is gonna take a few weeks.
Right now the ammonia source is the snail and whatever bits of algae wafer he doesn't eat
 

Azedenkae

Right now the ammonia source is the snail and whatever bits of algae wafer he doesn't eat
Ah. Yeah it may be a bit hard to determine how things are going. You are seeing not too much ammonia, which on the one hand could mean either not much is released yet, but on the other could mean there has been more ammonia, but nitrifiers released by the PURE balls may be establishing somewhete and consuming the ammonia. Problem is it is hard to tell. If you have a low amount of ammonia oxidation, i.e. producing just a small amount of nitrite, you may already have the amount of nitrite-oxidizers needed to process it right away to nitrate, hence not really seeing any nitrite. But this is hard to tell, since you have plants, and that may be consuming any nitrate produced.

This is why I don't cycle with plants lol. XD Or with fish food (algae wafer) either.

But anyways, all good. It should still work. Just make sure the snail does not starve (it shouldn't regardless), and toss in a wafer every time ammonia hits zero... whenever that is.
 

mrnegi

Ah. Yeah it may be a bit hard to determine how things are going. You are seeing not too much ammonia, which on the one hand could mean either not much is released yet, but on the other could mean there has been more ammonia, but nitrifiers released by the PURE balls may be establishing somewhete and consuming the ammonia. Problem is it is hard to tell. If you have a low amount of ammonia oxidation, i.e. producing just a small amount of nitrite, you may already have the amount of nitrite-oxidizers needed to process it right away to nitrate, hence not really seeing any nitrite. But this is hard to tell, since you have plants, and that may be consuming any nitrate produced.

This is why I don't cycle with plants lol. XD Or with fish food (algae wafer) either.

But anyways, all good. It should still work. Just make sure the snail does not starve (it shouldn't regardless), and toss in a wafer every time ammonia hits zero... whenever that is.
Oh man! Haha

What a pickle. So interesting though. I have a feeling, since I'm seeing dead 0 nitrites and nitrates, that nothing has happened yet. Either the PURE balls are no good or there's not enough ammonia for them to survive.

Good news is the snail seems happy. But I guess I'm kinda stuck if I need to raise the ammonia more to get the bacteria going since it might harm the snail?

Also, since we're not sure why if we're at 0,0 from no bacteria or from bacteria and plants, what should be my indicator that things are ready? Zero ammonia?

Thanks again! Seriously has been such an interesting process.
 

devsi

Welcome to Fishlore mrnegi ! Two things...

1. If you're interested I posted a TL;DR of the nitrogen cycle, as simplisticly as possible, in another thread earlier - https://www.fishlore.com/aquariumfi...ng-new-discus-tank-please.509704/post-5055216

2. I used the Pure bombs when I got my first tank, and they release the beneficial bacteria, but also slowly release Ammonia; so you probably are cycling. It will probably take ~2 weeks for that to run it's course. At which point, you could dose ammonia to ~2ppm and see how quickly the bactiera process it.
 

mrnegi

Welcome to Fishlore mrnegi ! Two things...

1. If you're interested I posted a TL;DR of the nitrogen cycle, as simplisticly as possible, in another thread earlier - Help cycling new Discus tank please | Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle Forum | 509704

2. I used the Pure bombs when I got my first tank, and they release the beneficial bacteria, but also slowly release Ammonia; so you probably are cycling. It will probably take ~2 weeks for that to run it's course. At which point, you could dose ammonia to ~2ppm and see how quickly the bactiera process it.
Thanks so much! Great to be here!

Should I take the snail out if I'm gonna dose ammonia like that?
 

devsi

Should I take the snail out if I'm gonna dose ammonia like that?

I would as snails can be just as sensitive to Ammonia as fish.
 

Azedenkae

Oh man! Haha

What a pickle. So interesting though. I have a feeling, since I'm seeing dead 0 nitrites and nitrates, that nothing has happened yet. Either the PURE balls are no good or there's not enough ammonia for them to survive.

Good news is the snail seems happy. But I guess I'm kinda stuck if I need to raise the ammonia more to get the bacteria going since it might harm the snail?
It might, but as far as I know mystery snails can survive in much higher concentrations of ammonia than fish. Not too sure about this though, so take it with a grain of salt.

With that said, there should be no reason why there's not enough ammonia for the beneficial bacteria to survive. They just need the presence of ammonia to respire, and 0.5ppm is definitely enough.
Also, since we're not sure why if we're at 0,0 from no bacteria or from bacteria and plants, what should be my indicator that things are ready? Zero ammonia?
If not dosing ammonia, then the way to know if a tank is cycled is if you can ghostfeed your aquarium as if it is fully stocked for a month or so, and both ammonia and nitrite remains at zero. But that seems to be a whiles away, since the tank can't even process the ammonia produced from the algae wafer.
 

mrnegi

It might, but as far as I know mystery snails can survive in much higher concentrations of ammonia than fish. Not too sure about this though, so take it with a grain of salt.

With that said, there should be no reason why there's not enough ammonia for the beneficial bacteria to survive. They just need the presence of ammonia to respire, and 0.5ppm is definitely enough.

If not dosing ammonia, then the way to know if a tank is cycled is if you can ghostfeed your aquarium as if it is fully stocked for a month or so, and both ammonia and nitrite remains at zero. But that seems to be a whiles away, since the tank can't even process the ammonia produced from the algae wafer.
Ive been looking around and it looks like my tank had a bacteria bloom when I first got it started -- at that time I didnt know what it was but looking at pictures now I can tell.

But obviously there wasn't enough ammonia in there to keep it going at that point.

I'm considering adding some ammonia neutralizer and an air stone in the meantime so the snail isn't being harmed. He spends a lot of time at the top of the tank!

Good to know I don't need to be adding more ammonia. I'm guessing the snail / uneaten wafers are producing whats in there now. Sounds like I would only need to dose once ammonia hits 0 to test if the bacteria are up and running?
 

Azedenkae

Ive been looking around and it looks like my tank had a bacteria bloom when I first got it started -- at that time I didnt know what it was but looking at pictures now I can tell.

But obviously there wasn't enough ammonia in there to keep it going at that point.

I'm considering adding some ammonia neutralizer and an air stone in the meantime so the snail isn't being harmed. He spends a lot of time at the top of the tank!

Good to know I don't need to be adding more ammonia. I'm guessing the snail / uneaten wafers are producing whats in there now. Sounds like I would only need to dose once ammonia hits 0 to test if the bacteria are up and running?
Are you referring to dosing ammonia now? If so what I'd recommend is returning the mystery snails and plants, so then you can fishless cycle far more easily without worrying about the life of live stock or not being able to garner what is going on with the cycle.

Because then you can actually dose 2ppm ammonia safely, and can be sure that your cycle is trudging along when you see nitrate being produced.

Since it will also allow you to know if you are growing the right type of beneficial microorganisms for the cycle. If you have a bacterial bloom and ammonia decreases, that contributes nothing to the cycle as that is just the wrong type of bacteria (when cycling is specifically considered) growing using ammonia as a nitrogen source. Cycling is all about cultivating enough nitrifiers, which use ammonia (and nitrite) as an energy source.
 

mrnegi

Are you referring to dosing ammonia now? If so what I'd recommend is returning the mystery snails and plants, so then you can fishless cycle far more easily without worrying about the life of live stock or not being able to garner what is going on with the cycle.
Oh no, I was thinking of adding something like Ammo Lock to neutralize the ammonia that is in there already until the cycle catches up. LPS told me right off that they won't take returns unless the tank was already established. Should have just told them it was lol

If I was to dose with ammonia later on (maybe when I start getting ammonia 0 and some nitrates present) it would be to do a test of the bacteria and I would remove the snail for a couple days to a tote or something.
 

mattgirl

Oh no, I was thinking of adding something like Ammo Lock to neutralize the ammonia that is in there already until the cycle catches up. LPS told me right off that they won't take returns unless the tank was already established. Should have just told them it was lol

If I was to dose with ammonia later on (maybe when I start getting ammonia 0 and some nitrates present) it would be to do a test of the bacteria and I would remove the snail for a couple days to a tote or something.
Please don't add ammo-lock. If you do you are going to start seeing the ammonia going up. At that point you will start trying to get the ammonia down and adding more ammo-lock to try to counteract the rising ammonia level. If you need the ammonia detoxed use Seachem Prime. Instead of locking up the ammonia it simply detoxes it. The bacteria will still be able to use detoxed ammonia.

If I were you I would leave the snail in there. Feed it well. They have big appetites so feed it well. BTW: They love fresh veggies. A well fed mystery snail should provide enough ammonia to get this 10 gallon tank cycled.

If you start seeing 0 ammonia and the nitrates are slowly going up there will be no reason to add any ammonia. Seeing 0 simply means you have grown enough bacteria to process all the ammonia through to nitrates.
 

Azedenkae

Oh no, I was thinking of adding something like Ammo Lock to neutralize the ammonia that is in there already until the cycle catches up. LPS told me right off that they won't take returns unless the tank was already established. Should have just told them it was lol
Oh gotcha lol. What kinda conditioner are you using? If something like Prime, it already detoxifies ammonia by the way.
If I was to dose with ammonia later on (maybe when I start getting ammonia 0 and some nitrates present) it would be to do a test of the bacteria and I would remove the snail for a couple days to a tote or something.
Makes sense. :D
 

mattgirl

I would remove the snail for a couple days to a tote or something.
I missed this part of your post. Removing the snail and adding ammonia would be a good test of the cycle. It will let you know how strong your bacteria is and will build up more. If it will process 2ppm ammonia you should have plenty of bacteria. By doing this you should be able to add your snail and the fish you are cycling this tank for.
 

mrnegi

Please don't add ammo-lock. If you do you are going to start seeing the ammonia going up. At that point you will start trying to get the ammonia down and adding more ammo-lock to try to counteract the rising ammonia level. If you need the ammonia detoxed use Seachem Prime. Instead of locking up the ammonia it simply detoxes it. The bacteria will still be able to use detoxed ammonia.

If I were you I would leave the snail in there. Feed it well. They have big appetites so feed it well. BTW: They love fresh veggies. A well fed mystery snail should provide enough ammonia to get this 10 gallon tank cycled.

If you start seeing 0 ammonia and the nitrates are slowly going up there will be no reason to add any ammonia. Seeing 0 simply means you have grown enough bacteria to process all the ammonia through to nitrates.
Oh awesome! Actually, the snail cycling thing was a recommendation of someone I met while purchasing the tank so I'm glad they had the right idea!

I've been feeding him algae wafers and some occasional Cucumbers, great to know I can start kinda spoiling him tho :D. I'm gonna try some more variety soon, like something with more Calcium. Do veggies need to be blanched? Or is that just to help them sink?

THANK YOU for the heads up on Ammo Lock.
Oh gotcha lol. What kinda conditioner are you using? If something like Prime, it already detoxifies ammonia by the way.

Makes sense. :D
Oh awesome! LPS mainly carries API stuff so I've been using Stress Coat as my water conditioner. If prime does Chlorine AND Ammonia its a no brainer to have that on hand.

To both of you, thanks for the tips on Seachem Prime! I think it will be great to have on hand no matter what. I had no idea it worked differently than Ammo Lock; I watched a video about Prime and assumed that Ammo Lock worked the same way where the bacteria could still process it.

But if the bacteria can't use the Ammonia after its "Ammo Locked", how does it ever go down? I guess its an emergency intervention as you do water changes.

In any case, it looks like I'm on the right track! That's a huge relief.

Thanks so much, you guys have been such a huge help!
 

Azedenkae

But if the bacteria can't use the Ammonia after its "Ammo Locked", how does it ever go down? I guess its an emergency intervention as you do water changes.
Nah, Prime for example prevents ammonia from being toxic to your livestock, but it is still useable by the nitrifiers. And also can be measured on a normal test kit, too.
 

mattgirl

I normally blanch the fresh veggies for my snails but have found mystery snails can eat them just fine without blanching. Raw zucchini is Elbert's favorite food, BTW: that is Elbert over there in my avatar and my mystery snails chow down on it too. I have to make sure I put in plenty to make sure Elbert gets his share since right now I have about 40 half grown mysteries in the tank with him. Raw has to weighted down for bottom feeders. That isn't as critical for mystery snails but they would probably prefer their food be stable.

Keep food in there constantly for your mystery snail and enough ammonia to cycle this tank should be produced.

The ONLY time I can see ammo-lock being needed is if there is a spike in ammonia and you absolutely can not do a water change right then and you don't have any Prime. It should protect the water pets long enough to get the water change done. Even in that case I still recommend Prime if at all possible. I know both products, prime and ammo-lock claim to do basically the same thing but too many times folks come to us with an ammonia problem they can't get rid of. The one thing most of them have in common is the use of ammo-lock.
 

mrnegi

I normally blanch the fresh veggies for my snails but have found mystery snails can eat them just fine without blanching. Raw zucchini is Elbert's favorite food, BTW: that is Elbert over there in my avatar and my mystery snails chow down on it too. I have to make sure I put in plenty to make sure Elbert gets his share since right now I have about 40 half grown mysteries in the tank with him. Raw has to weighted down for bottom feeders. That isn't as critical for mystery snails but they would probably prefer their food be stable.

Keep food in there constantly for your mystery snail and enough ammonia to cycle this tank should be produced.

The ONLY time I can see ammo-lock being needed is if there is a spike in ammonia and you absolutely can not do a water change right then and you don't have any Prime. It should protect the water pets long enough to get the water change done. Even in that case I still recommend Prime if at all possible. I know both products, prime and ammo-lock claim to do basically the same thing but too many times folks come to us with an ammonia problem they can't get rid of. The one thing most of them have in common is the use of ammo-lock.
Woohoo! Sounds like a plan. He's finally figured out that the algae wafers are food in the past couple of days. I also have some zucchini in the fridge right now so I'll give him a couple rounds tonight.

I gotta say, I thought what I would like most about all this was just watching the fish, but I haven't even gotten fish yet and I'm having so much fun learning about all this stuff. Just learning about the Nitrogen cycle and how everyone deals with it has been really stimulating and interesting.

That said, I REALLY enjoy watching my snail also xD

Is Elbert a bristlenose pleco? I think I've seen them once before! Aren't they usually grey or brown?
 

mattgirl

I never would have thought I would enjoy snails as much as I do. Right now I have ramshorn, rabbit, mystery and assassin snails. Assassins of course have to be kept away from my pet snails. Ramshorns breed quick enough to keep the assassin tank well fed though. The assassins now live in my plant cutting tank along with a colony of ramshorns.

I am happy to hear you are enjoying the process. Often folks come to us stressed out. If they could just sit back and enjoy the process it wold be a lot less stressful. Cycling a tank really is a simple process but it takes time and patience. It seems patience is often in short supply.

Yes, Elbert is a bristlenose pleco. At first i thought he was an albino pleco but he doesn't have the red eyes they normally have. My albino corys have red eyes and pink skin. Elbert has dark eyes and is kinda orange. Bristlenose plecos come in lots of colors. I also have super red bristlenose plecos. They really aren't red so I'm not sure how they got their name. They are a dark orange. Much darker than Elbert and a lot smaller. Elbert is about 5 1/2 inches long. The adult super reds are much smaller.

I bred Elbert and a female super red and all the fry ended up a dark brown with various tan speckles and lines on them. I bred 2 super reds and most looked just like mom and dad but a few of them ended up kinda calico. Mostly dark orange but a bit of darker brown here and there on their bodies.
 

mrnegi

I never would have thought I would enjoy snails as much as I do. Right now I have ramshorn, rabbit, mystery and assassin snails. Assassins of course have to be kept away from my pet snails. Ramshorns breed quick enough to keep the assassin tank well fed though. The assassins now live in my plant cutting tank along with a colony of ramshorns.

I am happy to hear you are enjoying the process. Often folks come to us stressed out. If they could just sit back and enjoy the process it wold be a lot less stressful. Cycling a tank really is a simple process but it takes time and patience. It seems patience is often in short supply.

Yes, Elbert is a bristlenose pleco. At first i thought he was an albino pleco but he doesn't have the red eyes they normally have. My albino corys have red eyes and pink skin. Elbert has dark eyes and is kinda orange. Bristlenose plecos come in lots of colors. I also have super red bristlenose plecos. They really aren't red so I'm not sure how they got their name. They are a dark orange. Much darker than Elbert and a lot smaller. Elbert is about 5 1/2 inches long. The adult super reds are much smaller.

I bred Elbert and a female super red and all the fry ended up a dark brown with various tan speckles and lines on them. I bred 2 super reds and most looked just like mom and dad but a few of them ended up kinda calico. Mostly dark orange but a bit of darker brown here and there on their bodies.
I've actually been keeping a friend posted on all this and he says he wants a snail only tank now!

Speaking of snails -- what are your thoughts on bladder snails?

I've purchased plants from LPS twice now and both times they've brought in bladder snails. When I asked about them the person getting the plants for me was like "Oh...do you want me to pick them off..?".

I hear some people say they are unavoidable and not to stress about them and others start freaking out when they get totally overrun.

I personally like the idea of cute bonus snails, and I understand they don't really harm the aquarium in any way. But with the amount I am trying to feed the mystery atm I'm worried they might get out of hand. I just picked out 3 today.

I was also contemplating assassin snails but I don't have a spare tank and I've grown kinda attached to my mystery snail.

I named him Lunchbox.
 

mattgirl

It is almost inevitable we will at one point end up with what some consider peat snails. In my case it was ramshorns and at one point bladder. I got the assassins to help me out when I got overrun by ramshorns. When i first got snails in my big tank I just wanted them gone. By the time I had accomplished that I decided they do have their place our hobby. After that I welcomed them to my tanks but only in controllable numbers. You will have to kinda keep their numbers down but I've found it is pretty easy to do if I am diligent in removing some when there are too many.

As I said, I had bladder snails for a while but no longer have any. I don't know why they disappeared but I am kinda happy they did. It seems like they enjoyed the roots of my floating plants.

My 5.5 gallon ended up with lots of ramshorns while I was using it as a grow out tank for my baby mystery snails. I was keeping them well fed so they would grow quickly. The ramshorns took advantage of all the extra food. Baby snails are now out of there so the ramshorn population should slow down. I pick a lot of them out of there and move them over to my 2.5 gallon snail jar.

I love that name and it fits so well. they do love eating. Mom to my snail babies was Miss Sneller. I lost her but her babies are thriving. I expect to start seeing clutches of eggs from them before much longer.
 

mrnegi

Hey all!

Quick update.

0.5 Ammonia
0 Nitrites
0 Nitrates

This is even after a 50% water change recently

Snail still seems to be doing good, plants doing good (even growing a little!), but readings have been rock steady at exactly the same.

I'm starting to wonder if the PURE balls I got were dead =/ and if maybe its time to try something else. I think the only other thing LPS has is API Quickstart.

Has anyone had good results with that? Should I just let it keep going? I suppose the bacteria will get going whether I add stuff or not but I've heard that can take like 6 weeks?
 

mattgirl

Bottled bacteria may speed the cycle up and it may not. My best advice when it comes to adding it is it might help but most importantly. it shouldn't hurt.
 

mrnegi

Bottled bacteria may speed the cycle up and it may not. My best advice when it comes to adding it is it might help but most importantly. it shouldn't hurt.
I'm gonna try it, like I said my readings have been the same since I got the testing kit, and there's gotta b enough ammonia as snail has been VERY ahh...productive.
 

mattgirl

I'm gonna try it, like I said my readings have been the same since I got the testing kit, and there's gotta b enough ammonia as snail has been VERY ahh...productive.

The first post on this thread says you are on day 6 of the cycle. That was last Friday. Today is Tuesday. that means it has only been 10 days. It isn't unusual at all for it to take 3 weeks before nitrites show up. You can of course add this and that in hopes of speeding up the cycle or you can just enjoy your snail and give the tank the time it needs to grow the bacteria.
 

mrnegi

The first post on this thread says you are on day 6 of the cycle. That was last Friday. Today is Tuesday. that means it has only been 10 days. It isn't unusual at all for it to take 3 weeks before nitrites show up. You can of course add this and that in hopes of speeding up the cycle or you can just enjoy your snail and give the tank the time it needs to grow the bacteria
Ok good news! I'll check things out again in about a week and report back if any issues. I have been enjoying lunchbox quite a bit anyhow, what's the rush right?

Thanks again. I can't wait to show you my tank once it's really running!
 

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