Diary Of A 55g Build

Bruce Thompson

Member
Here we go. I've got the tank in place and running. Now to see if I can have the patience to complete a fishless cycle.

Here's what it looks like at the moment:


I've just added two bags of BioMax to HOB to boost the surface area for bio-filtration, and I'm just starting to read some Ammonia (0.25 PPM), no Nitrite or Nitrate yet, but then I just found out I'm not shaking the second bottle enough so maybe that's a false 0. We'll know more when I test again tomorrow.

I'm trying to be patient. Honest!

The plan is to build it out as a moderately planted tank, with a nice community of:
- Neon Tetras
- Fancy Guppies
- Sword tails
- Cories (Bronze? Dwarf? Haven't decided yet)
- A snail or two or three
- Perhaps some Ghost shrimp
- Maybe a couple of Dwarf Gouramies.

Haven't really decided yet fully, and my wife hasn't given me her ideas yet either, so the stock plan is a work in progress.

The plan is to get the cycle established, then:
- Introduce one fish, probably a shoal of 8 or so Neons
- Wait. A week or two, let them get settled.
- Add a few plants. I'd like to get kind of fill the far left corner with a bit of a jungle, then spread out to low plants in the foreground right corner.
- Wait. A week or two, if I can manage it.
- Introduce another fish. Maybe the guppies. Figuring 2 or 3 males and 4 to 6 females.
- Wait.
- Repeat.

I don't want to overload the tank, but I really REALLY want to start stocking NOW!!! hehe

I'd love to hear any thoughts, suggestions, etc etc. I'm sort of pretending I don't know anything, because the last time I had a tank was over 10 years ago and so much is new! Plus I only had middling success before at best, and I really want this tank to shine.

Cheers!
Bruce.
 

Brannor

Member
Below is my 55G. I didn't even know about Fishless cycles until we had already put fish in the tank... (and we have young daughters who at the time, wanted fishies!

Guppies (about 40 fry at present from varying parents) - 11 Adults at present after two tragic losses in the last few days.
2 Dwarf Gouramis (1 Neon, 1 Flame)
3 Bristlenose Catfish (1 will be moving to a 23G soon)
8 Neon Tetras (may be joining the catfish along with 2 swordtails and some male guppies)
4 Yellow Shrimp (though not sure all 4 are still alive, at least 3 are...but so many places to hide...

At worst, I'll add some more fish after the Guppies settle in time... might try 5 KuhlI Loaches...

And I'll likely add some ghost shrimp to my 55G soon too.
Adding some RCS to the 23G.

Still working on filling up the plants...but waiting/hoping the java fern gets going and the grasses take off.
Good luck with your cycle. I look forward to tracking your progress.

 
  • Thread Starter

Bruce Thompson

Member
That's a gorgeous tank you have there!

Looking over your fish list, I'm getting the feeling I'm not totally off my chump on what I'm thinking (well, not about that anyway :-D ).

The last tank I cycled I did with fish, and I lost at least half of them while the tank cycled. As I recall, fishless cycling was just starting to be talked about and there was a fair bit of controversy at the time about whether it was worth it or not. Prevailing wisdom seemed to be "Meh, buy junk fish and let them do it for you".

Seems opinions have changed :)

I really like how you've got the different zones in your setup with the various elements providing quite a different feel as your eye moves across along. I'd love to achieve something like that with mine.

Cheers!
Bruce.
 

Hunter1

Member
Bruce Thompson said:
That's a gorgeous tank you have there!

Looking over your fish list, I'm getting the feeling I'm not totally off my chump on what I'm thinking (well, not about that anyway :-D ).

The last tank I cycled I did with fish, and I lost at least half of them while the tank cycled. As I recall, fishless cycling was just starting to be talked about and there was a fair bit of controversy at the time about whether it was worth it or not. Prevailing wisdom seemed to be "Meh, buy junk fish and let them do it for you".

Seems opinions have changed

I really like how you've got the different zones in your setup with the various elements providing quite a different feel as your eye moves across along. I'd love to achieve something like that with mine.

Cheers!
Bruce.
Cycling with neons will be a disaster IMO.

Zebra danios are a sturdy fish that will handle the ammonia and nitrites during cycling.

But they are a kool water fish so may limit what you can add later unless you rehome them.

Cherry barbs would be my second choice, anything but neons.
 
  • Thread Starter

Bruce Thompson

Member
Hunter1 said:
Cycling with neons will be a disaster IMO.

Zebra danios are a sturdy fish that will handle the ammonia and nitrites during cycling.

But they are a kool water fish so may limit what you can add later unless you rehome them.

Cherry barbs would be my second choice, anything but neons.
Ah, should probably have been clearer. I'm determined for this to be a fishless cycle. It'll kill me (patience? Me? nah), but I don't want to introduce any fish at all until I can go 2ppm Ammonia to 0ppm Ammonia, 0ppm Nitrites in 24 hours or less.

I love Zebras too, just haven't decided if I want a small shoal of them as well (in all honesty.... probably ;-) )

I'd love some Cherry barbs, they're very pretty, but don't they tend to harass others?

Cheers,
Bruce.
 

Hunter1

Member
Bruce Thompson said:
Ah, should probably have been clearer. I'm determined for this to be a fishless cycle. It'll kill me (patience? Me? nah), but I don't want to introduce any fish at all until I can go 2ppm Ammonia to 0ppm Ammonia, 0ppm Nitrites in 24 hours or less.

I love Zebras too, just haven't decided if I want a small shoal of them as well (in all honesty.... probably ;-) )

I'd love some Cherry barbs, they're very pretty, but don't they tend to harass others?

Cheers,
Bruce.
“Cherry barbs”. Not in my opinion. Tiger barbs do.

I have 9 cherry barbs that I keep in a 20 T just to keep the cycle going as it’s a quarantine tank/ rearing tank.

I have moved pregnant guppies, juvenile platys into the tank with them, no issues.

They seem very docile and have been in that tank 5 months.
 
  • Thread Starter

Bruce Thompson

Member
Thanks Hunter, you're right it was the Tigers I was thinking of. I'll have to give the Cherrys a good look.
 
  • Thread Starter

Bruce Thompson

Member
Why does cycling take so long???? Kidding, the tank's only been up and running for .... what, four days now? Did I mention that I have issues with patience? ;-)

At least I'm seeing a gradual increase in Ammonia, now to see Nitrites and Nitrates follow suit.

Here's today's numbers:
- Temperature: stable at 77.0 +/- .1
- pH: stable at 7.8
- Ammonia: 0.5 ppm
- Nitrite: 0
- Nitrate: 0 (this time I'm confident this is accurate, I properly shook up the second test solution prior to adding it)

I've got some Ammonia Chloride on the way, so I'll be able to force the Ammonia level to 2ppm which I think will help push things along. Right now I'm adding a pinch of flakes twice a day to help get things started.

A question I do have: My LFS advised me not to put plants in until I've got my first fish settled and I'm beginning to wonder about that advise. The reasoning given was that until I've got fish producing food for the plants, they'll be starved for Nitrates. It seems to me that since I'm forcing the cycle and will be seeing Nitrates soon, doesn't that mean that there _will_ be food for the plants? I'm not suggesting I'd turn the tank into a jungle before adding any fish, but I'd like to have some greenery in there for them to swim around/hide in, etc. What do people think?

Thanks!
Bruce.
 

Hunter1

Member
I’ve put plants in all of my tanks, both slow cycle and immediate cycle.

I didn’t notice that but the statement does make sense.
 

Brannor

Member
My wife's tank (23G) was fishlesh, plantless and just had driftwood in it for the first week (along with media from my tank and a bunch of algae wafers and flakes) but now has a bunch of plants, 3 guppies and (oh dear...) 10 RCS. The Ammonia is only barely showing but nothing on Nitrite/Nitrate...so I get you, patience... hmm. I'm probably going to repeat the mistakes of the past... Don't give in like I have...twice now it seems. When I seeded my tank with plants, the mass-chain LFS sold my wife semi-aquatics so I watched and fought in vain to save several plants that just melted... was very depressing until I learnt about aquatics vs semi...

-G
 

psalm18.2

Member
I've cycled all my tanks with plants. Never had an issue.
 
  • Thread Starter

Bruce Thompson

Member
Maybe when we get back this weekend (quick road trip to So Cal), I'll swing by one of the LFS and grab a few starter plants...

It just looks so bare and lonely in there!

;-)
 

Hunter1

Member
Bruce Thompson said:
Maybe when we get back this weekend (quick road trip to So Cal), I'll swing by one of the LFS and grab a few starter plants...

It just looks so bare and lonely in there!

;-)
There are some great on-line plant sellers that do a great job, great value.

I order from wetplants.com. 1/2 the price for plants 2Xs as big.
 
  • Thread Starter

Bruce Thompson

Member
Thanks, I'll look into that!
 
  • Thread Starter

Bruce Thompson

Member
Progress, of sorts. I got Dr Tim's pure ammonia today. For a first try added 100 drops (not enough to get to 2 ppm, but should be enough to be measurable, counting drops was making my eyes cross...) (anyone know off hand how many drops in a ml? I need 220 drops to get 2 ppm in my tank)

Temp: 77.1
pH: 7.8 (maybe 7.9? hard to read)
Ammonia: 1 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrate: 0 ppm (maybe 1 or 2? It's not the perfect match to 0 it was yesterday I don't think, but no where near 5)

Memo to self: When doing the Nitrate test, don't grab the Ammonia #1 solution instead of Nitrate #1!

The good news is, we're going away for a couple of days so I'm just going to let it sit and cycle. The bad news is that my Coffee Roaster went and died on me. Sunday after we're back will be spent tearing it apart and trying to figure out what's wrong, rather than obsessing over the tank. Soonest I'm going to be adding anything then will be the weekend of the 28th.
 

Brannor

Member
Bruce Thompson said:
(anyone know off hand how many drops in a ml? I need 220 drops to get 2 ppm in my tank)
Dr Tim's Aquatics - Ammonium Chloride - Aquarium Fishless Cycle - 60ml
2 oz (59 ml) bottle of reagent grade ammonium chloride for use when fishless cycling. Concentration is 50 mg/ml of total ammonia-nitrogen (TAN). Dose 1 drop per gallon of aquarium water.

1 drop equals 0.05 ml so this bottle will treat 1,180 gallons.

Generally during a fishless cycle one needs to add ammonium chloride to their tank 3 or 4 times so this bottle is enough ammonia to cycle aquariums up to 250 gallons.

Some conversions:

  • 1 teaspoon equals about 5 ml which is 100 drops.
  • 1 tablespoon equals almost 15 ml which is 300 drops
 
  • Thread Starter

Bruce Thompson

Member
Fantastic, thanks!
 
  • Thread Starter

Bruce Thompson

Member
Back after a couple long days driving :)

Temperature seems to be not as stable as I'd like, it was 78.5 when we got in last night, and it's 78.1 now. So the range it's been over is 76.8 to 78.5 in the last week. Going to have to keep an eye on that.

Here's today's number:

Temperature: 78.1
pH: 8.2 (inching up a bit but not dramatic and haven't done a single water change yet)
Ammonia: 1 ppm (I've got an auto-feeder adding a pinch of flakes twice a day, so perhaps not surprising)
Nitrite: 0.25 ppm (First time I've had measurable Nitrites!)
Nitrate: ~2.5 ppm (Darker than 0, not as dark as 5. Also first detectable Nitrate!)

Overall, it looks like it's proceeding well. I'll let the auto-feeder run out today or tomorrow, then see how the levels settle out. Once I see definite 0 ppm on Ammonia, I'll dose it up to 1 ppm then watch to see if Ammonia and Nitrite levels drop to 0 with 24 hours. Once I see that I'll know it's cycled.

Probably going to add a couple of plants next weekend...
 

Hunter1

Member
Congratulations on the progress.
I wouldn’t worry about that small of a temperature swing over a week.

I was gone all day today and left windows open and no air. It was 84 when I got home. I cooled house to 77.

My tanks probably rose 1.5 degrees. 1.5 PH would have killed em, 1.5 degrees in temperature, no issues.
 
  • Thread Starter

Bruce Thompson

Member
Great, thanks Hunter. I'm less worried about swings while I don't have fish.... but once I have fish I was a tad nervous.
 
  • Thread Starter

Bruce Thompson

Member
Slow and steady....

Temp: 78.5
pH: 8.0
Ammonia: 0.5 ppm (nice, down from yesterday)
Nitrites: ~0.35 ppm (darker than 0.25, not as dark as 0.50)
Nitrates: ~2.5 ppm (darker than 0, not as dark as 5, though darker than I recall it being yesterday)

I turned off the auto-feeder yesterday and already I can see that the Ammonia numbers are coming down. I'm liking what I'm seeing for the Nitrite numbers too. Looking forward to maybe getting a couple of plants in over the weekend!

I've also realized, or maybe admitted to myself, that a Quarantine Tank is a necessity. With previous tanks I never had a QT, and the more I'm reading and the more I'm planning on going slow in introducing fish, the more I realize I really do need one.

What I think I'll do it get a 2-gallon tank with a small sponge filter, heater, etc. I've got room for the QT beside my main tank, so I can easily keep the filter in the main tank so it's well colonized, then fill the QT from the main tank when it's needed. That way I don't have to worry about cycling the QT.

Only open question is: What filter to get for the QT? I can run a bubble-stone based filter off the main tank's air pump, got capacity to spare there...
 

Hunter1

Member
Bruce Thompson said:
Slow and steady....

Temp: 78.5
pH: 8.0
Ammonia: 0.5 ppm (nice, down from yesterday)
Nitrites: ~0.35 ppm (darker than 0.25, not as dark as 0.50)
Nitrates: ~2.5 ppm (darker than 0, not as dark as 5, though darker than I recall it being yesterday)

I turned off the auto-feeder yesterday and already I can see that the Ammonia numbers are coming down. I'm liking what I'm seeing for the Nitrite numbers too. Looking forward to maybe getting a couple of plants in over the weekend!

I've also realized, or maybe admitted to myself, that a Quarantine Tank is a necessity. With previous tanks I never had a QT, and the more I'm reading and the more I'm planning on going slow in introducing fish, the more I realize I really do need one.

What I think I'll do it get a 2-gallon tank with a small sponge filter, heater, etc. I've got room for the QT beside my main tank, so I can easily keep the filter in the main tank so it's well colonized, then fill the QT from the main tank when it's needed. That way I don't have to worry about cycling the QT.

Only open question is: What filter to get for the QT? I can run a bubble-stone based filter off the main tank's air pump, got capacity to spare there...
 

Hunter1

Member
This is one of the ones I use. I have these small, single sponge, double small sponge and large double sponge filters.

This small one would work well in a tiny tank like the one you mentioned.
 
  • Thread Starter

Bruce Thompson

Member
I've been browsing Amazon, and that looks just like one of the ones I saw that looked about right. Thanks!
 

Hunter1

Member
  • Thread Starter

Bruce Thompson

Member
Today's numbers:

Temperature: 78.5
pH: 8.0
Ammonia: 0 ppm
Nitrite: 0.5 ppm
Nitrate: 2.5 ppm (maybe)

So looks like the ammonia spike is done and the nitrite spike is in progress! Curious that Nitrates are holding steady or maybe even gone down a little? Still keeping to my plan to get a couple of plants this weekend, but continue to hold off on fish until at least next weekend. I'm astonished how my patience is holding, though my wife just said "We need to get some fish in there!" ;-)
 

Hunter1

Member
Bruce Thompson said:
Today's numbers:

Temperature: 78.5
pH: 8.0
Ammonia: 0 ppm
Nitrite: 0.5 ppm
Nitrate: 2.5 ppm (maybe)

So looks like the ammonia spike is done and the nitrite spike is in progress! Curious that Nitrates are holding steady or maybe even gone down a little? Still keeping to my plan to get a couple of plants this weekend, but continue to hold off on fish until at least next weekend. I'm astonished how my patience is holding, though my wife just said "We need to get some fish in there!" ;-)
Stay the course.
 
  • Thread Starter

Bruce Thompson

Member
Staying the course!

Today's numbers, slow but steady:
pH: 8.0
Ammonia: 0 ppm
Nitrite: 0.5 ppm
Nitrate: 5 ppm

Tomorrow I'll dose Ammonia to 2 ppm and see how long it takes to hit 0. It's getting there!
 
  • Thread Starter

Bruce Thompson

Member
Missed a day, but no worries. Nitrite spike is definitely happening, Nitrates may be a little higher. Temperature is still creeping up.

Temperature: 79.1
pH: 8.0
Ammonia: 0 ppm
Nitrite: 1.0 ppm
Nitrate: 6 or 7 ppm? Slightly dark for 5.0, but not dark enough for 10

Not going to dose Ammonia yet, give the Nitrites a chance to come down. Still pondering getting a few plants tomorrow.
 
  • Thread Starter

Bruce Thompson

Member
Today's the day! Today I'm going to get my first plants and my first fish!

Here's the numbers:

Temperature: 78.8
pH: 8.0
Ammonia: 0 ppm
Nitrite: 0.25 ppm
Nitrate: 10 ppm

I got a bit lazy/busy so didn't dose Ammonia, nor have I gotten any plants yet, but this looks to me like a tank that's cycled sufficiently for a first school.

Probably going to get 7 or 8 cardinal tetras to start off, and some tall plants for the back, something mossy for the front (plan is to encourage moss to creep up the rocks and driftwood).

Going to do a water change this morning, then head off to an LFS is San Francisco that's been highly recommended.

Pictures to come!
 

TexasGuppy

Member
Not dosing ammonia can allow those to die back.. you still have nitrites so you really aren't cycled yet. I'd redose ammonia and monitor.
 
  • Thread Starter

Bruce Thompson

Member
TexasGuppy said:
Not dosing ammonia can allow those to die back.. you still have nitrites so you really aren't cycled yet. I'd redose ammonia and monitor.
Oops, didn't see this until I'd stepped away to do a water change and trip to LFS.

Well, I have a few plants now, and 8 cardinals (starting small and going to slowly work my way up).

The fish looked fine and happy, no obvious signs of distress so I'm crossing my fingers (too dark to see them this morning)

I do have some pics!

The tank:


Plants:


and last but not least, the fish:


Obviously I'm going to be keeping a very close eye on them over the next few days and not introduce anything new for at least a week or two.

Cheers!
Bruce.
 
  • Thread Starter

Bruce Thompson

Member
Oops, double post
 

TexasGuppy

Member
I'd keep some prime handy. Even do a daily dose as a preventative.
Your high pH and temp will cause ammonia (and nitrites) to be toxic at lower levels.

A level of .5ppm ammonia is danger level for your parameters. Plus, Cardinals are a sensitive fish.
 
  • Thread Starter

Bruce Thompson

Member
Thanks TexasGuppy, I dosed Prime yesterday with the water change (roughly 20%), and dosed StressCoat before I added the cardinals.

I'm really hoping my pH starts to come down without my having to fight it to bring it down, I had a tank years ago that I had a constant battle to keep the pH under control (different location so different source water).

Temperature seems to be stable, though still higher than I'd like. The heater I've got isn't calibrated so time for hit-and-miss (and darnit, I should have done that before while the tank was cycling).

Cheers,
Bruce.
 

TexasGuppy

Member
What's your tap pH? Maybe one of your rocks is leaching into the water raising pH.
 
  • Thread Starter

Bruce Thompson

Member
I hadn't thought of testing the pH from the tap.... and I'm not 100% sure I believe what I'm reading right now so I'll test it again later when I run the tank's numbers.... but my read is it's somewhere between 8.4 and 8.8 out of the tap.

Tank light timer hasn't clicked on yet, so can't be certain of my head count, but I've only seen seven so far this morning :-(

Update: All eight are fine, and the school is moving all around the tank.
 
  • Thread Starter

Bruce Thompson

Member
My little shoal of Cardinals seem to be happy, they're all eating enthusiastically and during daylight, all schooling together. One still seems to like sleeping down behind one of the rocks away from the others. No idea.

I have to say that I really hate heaters with no markings... Yesterday I thought I had turned it down, but this morning I see the temperature at 82! Suffice to say I've adjusted and will be checking through the day to watch that its actually going down and not going down too far. Preferred temp is around 76.

I double checked my tap water pH, and it's noticeably higher than the tank:
Tap Water pH: 8.2-8.4
Tank Water pH: 7.8

The color difference of both tubes side-by-side is striking.

Here's the rest of the numbers:
Ammonia: 1.0 ppm (ouch)
Nitrite: 0.25 ppm
Nitrate: 5 ppm

Not liking that Ammonia number, so I'm dosing Prime and I'll check again tomorrow. If it doesn't move then I'll do a water change, dose Prime again, rinse repeat. Not going to think about adding anything else until we're all settled back down.

Might just do a change today just to be on the safe side. You called it, TexasGuppy, either the cycle broke from being left alone for a couple of days, or it wasn't as complete as I thought it was.

Cheers,
Bruce.
 

Most photos, videos and links are disabled if you are not logged in.

Log in or register to view

Top Bottom