Cycling question

Morgankatlin

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Hello! So I recently got a new tank and got some sludge from a previous tank that was up and running and some filter media from a previous tank as well. How long do I need to wait till I can get fish in there? And should I still test it daily to see if the ammonia and all the other stuff spikes?
THANK YOU!
Also this morning I tested the water before putting it in I was at ammonia1.0, nitrite 0, Nitrate 20.
 

FishGirl38

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HI there, It depends on how you want to cycle your aquarium. Are you planning on adding fish ASAP, or are you trying to do a fishless cycle?

If you're doing a fishless cycle, you may need to wait about a month before the tank balances out to where you can sustain fish with little stress. You'll also need to continuously dose ammonia to keep the bacteria colony growing and strong in numbers (they have a lifespan too), in a fish in cycle the fish do this for you, a fish-less cycle is totally controlled by us.

If you're doing a fish in cycle, then you can add fish a little sooner, but your tank won't be totally 'ready' or balanced. All this means is that you can't trust that your ammonia is being controlled, and you'll need to test the water and (may) need do water changes more often. In a fish Less cycle, you don't need to worry about water changes because there are no fish that you need to keep alive.

So, Ammonia and nitrite are toxic to fish in concentrations above .5ppm. Right now, you have 1.0 Ammonia, 0nitrite, and 20 nitrate. Your ammonia is high because you don't have much bacteria chomping away at it and you've added the used filter pad (I'm assuming that's where the ammonia came from, unless youve dosed pure ammonia or are ghost feeding with fish food), you could either add a BB supplement like tetra safestart, OR you could just wait a little while, it'll happen with patience.

After about 2 weeks, your ammonia should start to decrease and you'll start to see nitrites. Wait, Dont Add Fish Yet. Nitrites are actually more toxic than ammonia is. You'll have to wait about another 2 weeks for the nitrobactr bacteria to catch up with the nitrites. At that point, they'll be producing nitrates and your ammonia and nitrite will be lesser than they were previously, while your nitrates should be between 5-20ppm. At about the 4-6 week mark, sometimes it takes 3 weeks, so long as the ammonia and nitrite are reading less that .5 naturally and you're getting increasing nitrates - than that is signalling you're bacteria colony is initially strong enough.

You have 'high' nitrate right now because you've added used filter sludge. Erm, 'nitrates' is microscopic tank dirt, its what feeds algae, it's not highly toxic to fish and it's just a waste by-product. I've had nitrates as high as 160ppm before. That's never a good thing, but it won't cause your fish to suffocate in their own waste (like the other ones do).

So, to answer your question, about 4-6 weeks while adding ammonia to keep the cycle going unless you wish to cycle with fish. In which case, you should (*Do a water change by at least 50%, 1.0 ammonia is way to high for a new fish - not to high for cycling a tank without fish though, peak ammonia is considered 4.0ppm in fishless cycles*) Add A FEW (1 for anything less than 10G, max of 2 for 10G, 3-5-7 for 50/75/90G tanks) starter fish for the first month and test the water at least once every 2-3 days. So long as you do a water change and dilute anything above .5ppm (in ammonia and nitrite) than the fish should tolerate the initial stress and you should be able to begin additional, gradual stocking by the 4th week.
 
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Morgankatlin

Morgankatlin

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I was gonna do fishless just so I don’t hurt or kill them
 

JettsPapa

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Adding the filter media from an established tank should be adding the bacteria colony that's in the media, so you could add fish right away without any problems, but I'm surprised that you have 1.0 ppm of ammonia. Did you add ammonia to get it there? If yes, and it goes to zero quickly, you should be okay to add fish right away.
 
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Morgankatlin

Morgankatlin

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That’s what I heard and why I added media to it. Hmm okay I’ll re check since I added the media. And see if it’s still present. Thanks for your help:) still trying to get this cycling thing down
.
 
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Morgankatlin

Morgankatlin

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JettsPapa said:
Adding the filter media from an established tank should be adding the bacteria colony that's in the media, so you could add fish right away without any problems, but I'm surprised that you have 1.0 ppm of ammonia. Did you add ammonia to get it there? If yes, and it goes to zero quickly, you should be okay to add fish right away.
Rechecked and .5 ammonia with 0nitrite and nitrate is 20. Should it be converting faster? Idk if I’m doing something wrong lol
 

JettsPapa

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Morgankatlin said:
Rechecked and .5 ammonia with 0nitrite and nitrate is 20. Should it be converting faster? Idk if I’m doing something wrong lol
Just to make sure I have everything straight, ammonia has gone from 1.0 ppm to 0.5 ppm since yesterday without a water change? If yes, it sounds like you do have a beneficial bacteria colony that's doing its job, and you should be ready for fish as soon as it gets to zero.

Keep in mind that if you don't add fish pretty soon after that point the bacteria will start to die off without an ammonia source. I'm no good at adding ammonia, so if that's the case you might want to start a new thread asking for help keeping the bacteria colony going until you can add fish.
 
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Morgankatlin

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perfect will watch it! Thank you for your help! When it goes to zero and before I get fish should I do a 25% water change or no?
 

FishGirl38

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Hmmm, Just make sure to stock slowly...Its very possible the tank is essentially 'cycled' because you are using used filter media, but you don't want to overload the ammonia with the amount of fish that you add. The tank is still 'new' and the BB will grow to the amount of ammonia you have in the tank...so...for instance...it might not be able to sustain 10 fish at this time (because all that ammonia at once will be too much for the existing bacteria), but later down the line, after you've built the colony up some, It may be able to sustain that much.

I would say, only do a water change if the ammonia is too high. If it's lower than .5ppm, than you don't have to do a water change. You can if you want, rarely does it hurt, but you shouldn't have to.
 

JettsPapa

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Morgankatlin said:
perfect will watch it! Thank you for your help! When it goes to zero and before I get fish should I do a 25% water change or no?
I don't know that it's necessary, but it certainly wouldn't hurt. Also, FishGirl38 made a good point about stocking slow. It's always a good idea to add fish slowly, even in established tanks.
 
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Morgankatlin

Morgankatlin

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JettsPapa said:
I don't know that it's necessary, but it certainly wouldn't hurt. Also, FishGirl38 made a good point about stocking slow. It's always a good idea to add fish slowly, even in established tanks.
Perfect thank you guys! I just wasn’t sure if I needed to change it if my nitrate didn’t go down cause I heard that could be harmful too no?
 

JettsPapa

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Morgankatlin said:
Perfect thank you guys! I just wasn’t sure if I needed to change it if my nitrate didn’t go down cause I heard that could be harmful too no?
Nitrate is widely reported to be harmful, but only in much higher levels than ammonia and nitrites. As long as it's under 40 ppm you'll be fine.
 
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Morgankatlin

Morgankatlin

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JettsPapa said:
Nitrate is widely reported to be harmful, but only in much higher levels than ammonia and nitrites. As long as it's under 40 ppm you'll be fine.
Thank you guys so much!
 

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