Do you need to do water changes when you are cycling a tank? Can you?

Discussion in 'Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle' started by Emberdee, Mar 24, 2010.

  1. EmberdeeValued MemberMember

    Hi! I just recently got a 60 gallon long aquarium. I am currently cycling it fishless with a piece of raw fish. My water has gotten very brown, it may be from decaying plant matter or driftwood. I'm thinking about doing a water change to help with the brown water, but I don't know if you can. I know this might seem like a silly question, but can you do water changes when you are cycling a tank? Any help would be appreciated!
  2. BennyBValued MemberMember

    Yes to the first, yes to the second. Same as if you had fish in there.

  3. djbristValued MemberMember

    HI emberdee!

    Tanins from driftwood can cause tinted water, mine was too in my 29, it goes away after long time.

    When I cycled fishless with raw shrimp (in a lil small meshed bag) I did not do w/c until I I was cycling, and finally some nitrates. Then I removed the decaying shrimp, then did a 50% water change, and added my one fish. checked parameters closely for next 2 days, and good. It did take a while though and mine was only 5.5gal. 60 might take a while.

    Here is a link to the instructions from fishlore article on cycling and another fishless article

    You may want to try the adding ammonia method. I did this as well on another tank and it was work, every day, but went quicker...:-\

    Good luck and have fun!!

    Last edited: Mar 24, 2010
  4. EmberdeeValued MemberMember

    Oh! Thanks. I just decided to do the raw fish method because it was around. I didn't think my water would be tinted from the driftwood because I did boil it. :;dk Oh well, I guess it'll go away eventually. Thanks for the help!

  5. flyin-loweWell Known MemberMember

    When you boiled the driftwood was the water in the pot tinted? Boiling will usually take a lot of the tannins out of the wood. What kind of wood was it and where did you get it. I have never heard of the water turning brown as part of the cycle, some people get white or milky water from a bacteria bloom but I haven't heard of brown. This would leave me to believe it is from the wood or something else and not from the raw fish. ( I could very well be wrong).
    As far as the water changes I would test your water and see what the parameters are. Many people don't change the water at all during a fishless cycle as it can slow the cycle down. I had very high nitrites and I did a major water change to bring them down and two days later my cycle is now complete.
  6. EmberdeeValued MemberMember

    Yeah, the water was tinted after I boiled it. I heard that boiling would do it too, so I decided to do the quick way rather than soaking it for several weeks. At first I thought it could be the plants, but now I suspect that it is the driftwood. Maybe I just didn't boil it long enough... and the pot was too small. Thanks for the help!
  7. peacemaker92Well Known MemberMember

    Hi Enberdee and WELCOME TO FISHLORE! :;hi2

    Great advice above. Hope everything turns out well and your cycle will finish smoothly. Can't wait for pics of your new tank. Best of luck! :;hf
  8. EmberdeeValued MemberMember

    Thanks! :)
  9. Prince PowderWell Known MemberMember

    First of all, way to go on the fishless cycle!

    It is generally not necessary to do a water change while doing a fishless cycle, but there's no problem with doing it. If your water is brown it is most likely the driftwood leeching tannis. Go ahead and do a water change to get the tannis out. I would also recommend removing the driftwood and boiling it again. If the water turns brown, empty the pot and refill it then boil again. Keep boiling, emptying and refilling it until your water stays clear. The one problem you will run into with the driftwood releasing tannis is that it will lower your pH. While the problem isn't a major one, the lower pH (below 7.0) will convert your ammonia into ammonium which can cause the reproduction of your beneficial bacteria to slow. It won't stop your cycle, but it will make it take longer. If you are planning on fish like discus who absolutely MUST have more acidic water then you will want the lower pH, but most fish will adapt to different pH as long as it is stable. If you're not planning on a really sensitive fish like discus and will have fish that generally have a 7.0 or above then a few water changes will get the tannis out and depending on the pH of your tap water, the pH will raise back up and your cycle will get back into full swing.
  10. EmberdeeValued MemberMember

    Oh, okay. I now realize why my water is turning brown because I just boiled the driftwood continuously, without stopping and changing the water. I will probably drain the tank and boil the driftwood over. I want to make the cycle as quick as possible! Would draining it or doing a water change make the cycle longer than it would be with just keeping the driftwood in there?
  11. Prince PowderWell Known MemberMember

    If the driftwood has lowers the pH too much I would think that would make the cycle take longer than if you just did a water change. While the water change will remove SOME of the ammonia and nitrites from your tank, your shrimp piece will just add it back and you'll be back on track. However, if your pH falls too much then your bacteria will slow their reproduction so depending on how far along you are in the cycle, you could be at this for a while.
  12. AquaristFishlore LegendMember

    Good morning,

    Some great suggestions above.

    Try to keep your pH level anywhere from 7.0 and up while cycling. Once it starts falling below 7.0 the ammonia starts turning into ammonium and will delay the cycling process.
    Since you are cycling fishless, you can have a higher temperature in the tank to help cycle faster too. I don't know that I would go over 85 though since you do have live plants in the tank. Don't want to boil them :)

    As for the driftwood, adding carbon to your filter should remove the brown tint from your water. I don't see any need to drain the tank and start all over. If your pH is falling below 7.0 then remove the driftwood until the cycle is complete. Keep in mind too that while the tank is cycling the pH levels are going to be all over the place.

    I don't recommend doing water changes when cycling fishless. It won't keep the tank from cycling, although it may slow it down a bit. In your case I really don't think it's necessary.

    If you do decide to do a complete water change be sure to keep all of your filter media wet so that you don't lose any good bacteria that may have started to form.

    Best of luck and congrats on a fishless cycle!

  13. EmberdeeValued MemberMember

    Okay, I'll test everything today and see what the PH is. I'll add the carbon, if it isn't already in there and maybe raise the temperature. I think it's around 80 right now. I wouldn't want to slow down my cycle, so I probably won't drain it. And even if I were it's a lot of work to do with all the equipment I have right now for water changes: a gravel vacuum and a bucket.:)

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