Cycling!

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Timesdragonfly

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Hi all,

Well, I desided to try the method for fishless cycling of getting some used filter media to put with my filter media. I also added some "stress zyme" which claims to speed up the biological process, and then threw in a few fish flakes for good measure. I put that all in on Saturday. And guess what!?! Today, I came into the office and checked my water first thing (using the test tubes, not strips)
The water readings were as follows:

Ammonia: .50
NitrIte: .25
NitrAtr: 10

not ready for my new fish yet, but much father along than I expected to be in two days. Amazing! I have three java fern plants in there, so that should help keep the nitrates down... as long as they make it through the rest of the cycle. I'm so excited!!! I can't wait!

~J~
 

Phloxface

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I used that method to cycle my newest 5 gallon tank. I filled it with live plants, put some food in, threw used filter media on top of the new filter cartridge and filled a bowl with gravel from one of my other tanks and let it sit in the tank and put some BioMax filter media from Phlox's tank in there too. I even put in a little water from my other tank. (about 10%) I tested the water about 4 times a day and was amazed how fast it cycled! It was finished in 5 days! (I think the larger the tank the longer it would take) I kept testing afterwards to make sure and the water parameters stayed stable.  I waited another week and then picked up my fish. She's had no problems since then. Having other tanks you can borrow from really speeds up the process. I knew my other tanks were healthy so I wasn't worried. I'd be more concerned if I got stuff from a fish store. I would have liked to get the BioSpira  but I live in Canada and we can't get it here. I'm told it's illegal to ship live bacteria across the border...

Java Ferns are pretty hardy plants. They should be fine in a cycling tank. My plants suffered no adverse effects.
 
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Timesdragonfly

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I got my air pump going today, and switched out the heater that I had orriginally purchased... it was "pre-set" for about 78 F which wasn't going to work b/c I couldn't make it go up or down. The air pump was MUCH to powerful, but I bought a vaulve that lets me adjust the air flow, so now I just have a few going! Looks good, I CAN'T WAIT!
 

chickadee

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I am happy for you and you will not have to be so careful with the cycle as you are not making a community tank that is going to have a lot of fish in it. When you cycle a tank, the important thing to remember when it is finished is not to overload the tank with fish right away and since you are not planning on many fish in there anyway, you can start out with a couple right away and finish out with the Betta in about a week.....or am I confused, are you planning for tankmates right away or leaving the Betta by himself? Anyway, if you wanted to have tankmates they need a little while to settle in and then Mr. Betta can take up residence.

It is good that you are getting an adjustable heater..the bacteria grows even faster at 82 so think how fast it would have gone if it were warmer .

Those are good readings but do not become upset if you still have a spike in both the nitrite and nitrate. It has to happen as the breakdown of the ammonia is just going to produce the stuff and sometimes the plants cannot keep up with the initial push of it. They will however, help a lot after things settle down. Especially the wide leaves of the Ferns. Your betta is gonna love it there!!!
)

Keep us informed on the progress. Good luck and hope it goes well and I know you are hoping for a fast cycle!!!

Rose
 
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Timesdragonfly

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Thanks!!!

I desided to go with two ottos and the betta! I didn't want to risk problems with a frog, and I wanted something to help keep the tank looking nice. With the new heater, I now have the water up to 80F, so all seems to be going well! I'll check the water tomorrow, and then get the ottos if nothing is too out of wack!

~J~
 

chickadee

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Before you get the otos, you are going to have to have Ammonia 0 and Nitrites 0, the Nitrates should be under 20 all the time for all the fish. Your cycle is going to have to run its course completely before you add even the otos. I would stop the StressZyme also so you know you are not getting a "false cycle". A lot of those products use bacteria but they are a different strain and do not basically do anything but ensure that you have to keep buying them as they are unstable. When you stop the "cycle" that they have fostered usually fails. The used filter media and gravel is the very best way to do a fishless cycle if you cannot get Bio-spira and need it done in a hurry.

I always used the pure ammonia method but it does take a bit longer but does not make a mess with the food and flakes. Takes about 7 to 10 days for a small tank.

Rose
 
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Timesdragonfly

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chickadee said:
When you cycle a tank, the important thing to remember when it is finished is not to overload the tank with fish right away and since you are not planning on many fish in there anyway, you can start out with a couple right away and finish out with the Betta in about a week....
I wasn't planning on adding the fish until a read that... I thought that you were saying that with my stats being what they are it would be okay to add a few fish! Some times it is too easy to misunderstand things when it's typed out!. Thank you for the correction though, and I will wait.
I'm surprized about the stress zyme, but that's what i get for trusting pet store ppl!! It's sad how misinformed some of them are, and then they just go talking like they know what they are talking about.
~J~
 

chickadee

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It is true that the stuff contains a bacteria but just not the one that normally is the one that populates the filter and makes it their home. When we rely on the ones in the "artifiicial" starters (other than Bio-spira) they need to be constantly replenished by adding more of the product. It is sales insurance for the company as if you stop using their product you are probably going to have a mini cycle. Some fish do not take mini cycling well and it can cost fish.

No, they will not tell you this at the fish store, even IF they knew it. It would probably cost them a sale. If the store was very reputable and knowledgable they would not have turned you toward it in the first place. There a whole bunch of those products out there. StressZyme is sometimes used to help with fish that are traumatized and I have heard some people say that it helps but I do not understand how and I usually use Stress Coat as it contains aloe and makes more sense to me. Just a bit of unasked for information.

Other products that are in the same class as StressZyme for "cycle starters" are Cycle, TheraP, and BioZyme. There are probably more but I do not have them just now.

Rose
 

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I hope it's ok to join this thread. I've been watching what Timesdragonfly is doing. I wish I had done it that way. Zen is still in his 2 gal. container (since the 1st) while I'm trying to get the tank cycled. I think I'm messing up though. First, I haven't tested regularly. I have 13 live plants in there not rooted/tied or arranged yet, just in there. The problem is I think I've added WAY too much food. The inside of the glass is yucky now and there's food floating everywhere. Ugh

To make matters worse (smart to wait Timedragonfly!) I had to go and be impulsive at the lps last night. I went for a simple lil pack of Bowl Buddies and ended up walking out with live ones...3 zebra danios and 2 albino cory's.

We went to eat right next to the lps, fast food, while they waited in the jeep. I was stressing so much about the poor danios having to try and school around the haphazard plants. They just wouldn't have been able to and they had to go in the tank last night and there was no way I could fix the plants (exhaustion and pain) so...I decided to bring them back. The lps was closed but I saw someone inside and went and knocked on the door with the danios in hand and waved pleadingly, heh, for them to come to the door. Didn't want my money back since they were closed and registers down, just asked them to please return them to their tank.

So the 2 albino cory's came home. Another mistake. They are constantly moving around and up and down the side (one more than the other) and swimming FAST. I just know Zen will not abide this situation. They go back tomorrow. Plus, their eyes are too sensitive for the lights I need to keep the live plants alive. At least I have a lps that'll deal with me.

Could someone explain a lil what the parameters will look like that will tell me the tank has cycled?

On 11/30 they were: Amm 0.25, NitrIte, 3.0 (why Zen had to come out), and the NitrAte is *always* 20 conditioned and from tap. I tested once since then, yesterday. Amm 0, NitrIte, 1.0.

How will I know when it's cycled? I should have been watching parameters all along shouldn't I have? Have I messed it all up now? And a big question I have is, is it possible to kill the good bacteria with all the food and nastiness of the tank now? Other than me cleaning or using chemicals which I'm not using, are there others ways to kill the good bacteria, which I don't want to do?

Sooo much better to wait Timedragonfly. Too much stress when you don't, trust me

Thanks for any help with this. Need to figure out when the tank has cycled.

Trying to find bio-spira. No luck yet. Can't order over the net so have to find a place I can walk into.
 

chickadee

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I am glad that you took the danios back. They are little fin nippers and would not have worked with a betta. The cories would have probably worked but been needing a cave or something to hide in during the day and then come out at night.

The cycle will be done when the readings are: Ammonia 0; Nitrite 0; and Nitrate at 20 or less. I know you said the tap water is 20 for nitrates so you will probably have to settle for a 20 but it should not be more than that.

Your cycle is progressing nicely and I have someone who has used the flake method coming hopefully to help tell you how the end of the cycle works as far as cleaning the tank without disturbing the bacteria. I have never used this method so I felt better asking Omorrokh as she has done it this way successfully several times before. Nothing is messed up, just not ready yet. Please be patient and do not be tempted to go get any more little live ones just yet. The tank is not ready and it would be unkind. (and I know you are not unkind)

You are in the 2nd stage of 3 on the cycle and the cycle will progress with the testing or without it. It is just easier and nicer to keep track of what is going on so you are not wondering and to see that nothing is going backwards. Just try to do a test every 2 or 3 days, if you can as things may start to move more quickly now.

Now take a few deep breaths and relax and don't be too hard on yourself, we have all been where you are now. It is fine. HONEST!

Rose
 

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<big smile>

Thank you ((Rose)).

3 of anything plus 2 catfish of some kind seems like too much to me for Zen's 10 gal. now (even if it isn't but because Zen's a Betta, I'm using a different standard I guess that feels betta for me, heh)

I now only want just 2 catfish of some kind (the smallest, fully grown, I can find that won't get bigger than the Betta (or not by much) and that aren't speedy gonzalez's. I need something that's laid back and doesn't swim all over the place like these guys do so Zen doesn't freak out. I think that'll make a great tank...Zen and 2 tankmates and that's it.

I'm off the catfish area here in just a few for ideas and, nope, I won't be bringing home anymore live ones until this tank is totally cycled. Then I'll add the 2 catfish and give them a week to acclimate and *then* Zen can go home. My boyfriend tried soo hard to talk me into keeping all 5. Zen is my priority though. It's his tank. It's not a tank for me

Thank you for sending Omorrokh to help out! 2 out of 3 ain't bad <g>. I feel ultra patience now, lol, believe me.

And the nitrAtes...I'm hoping the plants will help with that. I believe it was you that suggested the anubias? I got some of those and 3 java fern and grass and some sword plants (Zen seems to really like these). Are your anubias messy too? Mine may be dying off some, I don't know. I've heard that Betta LOVE java moss...that they use it like a pillow but that that is indeed messy. Have you tried that? I might deal with the mess to give him a pilllow...awww....lol.
 

chickadee

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OOOOH yeah, we went through the Java Moss and it took me a LOOOONNNNGGGG time to pick the strands out of everything and I am too nit picky to have that so my little ones had to find a new plant to love.  The new one was the Madagascar Lace Plant (grows from a bulb) and it had leaves that were big enough to sleep on and went close to the surface.  I had one in each tank until the snails annihilated them.

The smallest catfish by far are the otos.  (Otocinclus catfish)  For some really good pictures of some check out the post by skippi on the Otocinclus Board under Catfish.  She posted them under "breeding otos".  Then there is their website:

https://www.otocinclus.com

Hope some of this helps.

Rose
 

0morrokh

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I have arrived!! ;D

Rose is correct that the cycle is done when ammonia and nitrite are at zero but I thought I should add that nitrates at 20 is not caused by the cycle being done, it's the level you want to keep them at with water changes. The nitrates may be well above 20 when the cycle is finished. As far as cleaning the tank without disturbing the bacteria, I don't remember that ever being a problem. The flakes were either completely "eaten up" by the bacteria, or else they still lay there in pretty big clumps. When you do a huge water change before adding fish, just suck up any remaining flakes. This can be done just fine without digging into the gravel. Then once the tank is more established you can do more aggressive vacuums and dig down into the gravel, but there won't be much left anyway because it will have gotten "eaten" by the bacteria. There isn't really anything special you have to do when you cycle with flakes, or if there is I don't know about it an both my tanks turned out fine. Oh just kidding, there is one thing, and that is to make sure to check the filter media before adding fish. It may have gotten a bit clogged with flakes. In that case just swish it out in old tank water. Even if it is really dirty don't replace it at this point.

Just let me know if you have any more questions.
 

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Ok Rose, that settles that.  No java moss, lol.  I'm a lil nit picky too, just a lil <g>  Thanks for the warning.  I'll look for the Lace bulbs.  I have Hardy Aponogeton Bulbs here so might plant both.  And the type of catfish is settled now too.  Otos it is. 

I was looking at the Compatibility Chart from the web site talked so much about ... the store ... Dr's Foster and Smith and a suprisingly large number are listed as compatible with Betta.  I may look into trying something I haven't heard tried yet from that list because I'm getting another 10 gal and another Betta (unexpected lil wind fall!)  I'm also getting a 5 gal. qtank w/the works.  Such a nice thing to have.  I'd have much rathered Zen hung out in that than the 2 gal and boyfriends fish will need to be kept seperate a couple weeks too.  The Eclipse is so nice but a lil expensive. 

Didn't make it to catfish last night.  Will try to get to skippi's post and that url tonite.  I get reading somewhere and the time flys.

Hi ((0morrokh))    TY for helping.  The nitrAtes have been 20 since the very first 1 1/2 qt. acrylic tank Zen first went to on Oct 18th.  Conditioned or from the tap, nothing has changed this in the slightest, however, I'm going to get the test kit you guys use, the one with the liquid from Aquarium Pharmaceuticals instead of the strips I'm using now.  Will be interesting if it's still 20 with that test kit.

Oh **** to not replacing the filter.  I did today.  Was SO dirty.  Dumb.  I should have checked here first.  I have a Bio-sponge though which I didn't touch (cept sliding 1 filter out and another in against it). 

I used a net and stirred up the rocks and netted the big chunks out too.  I had to empty the bucket (with 2 gals of water) 3 times because I couldn't swish/clean the net in it soo much was the matter in it.  I didn't go overboard though so there's plenty left for the bacterias dinner, I think...

It's ok if I need to wait longer now to let the new filter get yucky again.  I'd rather do it right than quick.
 

0morrokh

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Well you're fortunate you have a bio sponge in your filter so you still have some bacteria. But from now on don't chuck any filter media until well after the cycle is finished because it sets back the cycle since you are loosing a lot of the bacteria.

There is no reason to remove the flakes until right before you add fish. You want to get the tank as nasty as possible so the bacteria all go "yay, ammonia, let's reproduce like crazy so they can help us eat the feast!" ;D I'm a little concerned that by stirring up the gravel you may have upset some of the bacteria. However the majority grows in the filter anyway so it's not a huge deal. From now on just leave the flakes where they are until no more than a day before you actually plan to get fish. Then do a massive water change to lower the nitrates (which will start spiking pretty soon hopefully), and use the siphon to suck up the flakes so you are not disturbing the gravel and bacteria.

Now, it sounds like maybe you are using too many flakes. The tank doesn't need to be swarming with them. This makes your clean up job harder as well as making the final level of nitrates a lot higher since there was more stuff in the first place to break down into ammonia and then nitrites and nitrates. I cycled my 20 gallon with just a pinch of flakes a day. Your filter may get some flakes in it but I don't think it should be getting completely clogged. So while a ton of flakes isn't going to hurt anything maybe you should see how much you are using and reduce if necessary.
 

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((0morrokh))

Thank you for the clarification on this! I understand completely now. Will be getting the aquarium pharmaceuticals test kit Saturday so will test then and see what the nitrates are doing. Meanwhile, a pinch of flakes a day and hands off! to everything else

Karyn
 
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