Does bacteria in a bottle really work this fast?

Gogiants85

Member
Hello!

I am a novice to the aquarium hobby, but have jumped in with both feet. I understand the nitrogen cycle, but the results I'm seeing are confusing.

I began cycling a 75 gallon (soon to be mbuna) aquarium yesterday morning.

I dosed Fritz Pro ammonium chloride up to 8 ppm.

30 minutes later I added 2 Oz of Fritz TurboStart 700, and 3 capfulls of Stability then walked away.

This morning, I tested the water, and the Ammonia is down to between 2 and 4 ppm, Nitrites are between 2 and 5 ppm, and I have Nitrates of between 20 and 40 ppm. What?!?

I plan on leaving the tank alone today and testing again tomorrow morning to see if the Ammonia continues to drop and if there is a decrease in Nitrites. From everything I've read, I don't completely understand what's going on.

I did the high initial dose of Ammonia intentionally, figuring that I wouldn't have to re-dose once the Nitrite conversion began and the Ammonia would hold around 4ppm until the Nitrates started to show.

My original plan was to add Stability daily after the initial seeding with TurboStart. However, I'm not sure if it's possible the bacteria is taking care of the process but not necessarily colonizing the filter media? So I was thinking I'd let it sit for today and test again tomorrow

Thoroughly confused.

For reference:

Tap water is 0-0-0, pH 7.6. Tank is at 82 degrees F

Filtration is a Marineland Penguin Pro 375 HOB with Biomax media, Aquaclear sponge, and Polyfill. And a Fluval FX4 Canister with the Biomax and sponges it came with.

If anyone can help me decipher this it would be greatly appreciated!!
20210408_152445.jpg
 
Best Answer - View mattgirl's answer

Betta'sAnonymous

Member
This might explain it better. I have had luck with the fritzyme 7 preventing ammonia spikes when moving around seeded media, at least in the sense they never happened. This video is done by a guy who has used the Fritz products to start up tanks talking to one of the Fritz people.
 
  • Thread Starter

Gogiants85

Member
Betta'sAnonymous said:
This might explain it better. I have had luck with the fritzyme 7 preventing ammonia spikes when moving around seeded media, at least in the sense they never happened. This video is done by a guy who has used the Fritz products to start up tanks talking to one of the Fritz people.
This was a great watch. Thank you!!!

So according to the video, the results I'm seeing (getting rid of 4ppm Ammonia in 24 hrs) are exactly what I should be seeing.

This is incredible, and it only leads me to ask why aren't more people using it? I'd never even heard of it until it was recommended by the Cichlid guy at my LFS!
 

Betta'sAnonymous

Member
Gogiants85 said:
This was a great watch. Thank you!!!

So according to the video, the results I'm seeing (getting rid of 4ppm Ammonia in 24 hrs) are exactly what I should be seeing.

This is incredible, and it only leads me to ask why aren't more people using it? I'd never even heard of it until it was recommended by the Cichlid guy at my LFS!
Well, bacteria in a bottle doesn't have a great rep anyway because of most of the other products. Also, i personally think everyone should cycle at least 1 tank the good ol' fashion way. I only use this stuff myself in very specific applications, mainly to boost the bacteria after taking seeded media out of an aquarium and in the tank the seeded media is getting used in.
 
  • Thread Starter

Gogiants85

Member
Betta'sAnonymous said:
Well, bacteria in a bottle doesn't have a great rep anyway because of most of the other products. Also, i personally think everyone should cycle at least 1 tank the good ol' fashion way. I only use this stuff myself in very specific applications, mainly to boost the bacteria after taking seeded media out of an aquarium and in the tank the seeded media is getting used in.
Gotcha. Yeah there definitely seems to be a lot of 'snake oil out there for sure.

Do you think it's a good idea to let it sit for another 24 hrs without adding another dose of Stability? Just to see if the current population will bring the Ammonia down to 0ppm and Nitrites down as well by tomorrow?

Then I can dose 4ppm of Ammonium chloride and do a 24 hr test to see what the bacteria are handling within a 24hr period. I'll probably have to continue to dose just to feed the bacteria because I was expecting up to a month for cycling and don't have a stock list yet!!

I'd like to buy from my LFS, but they don't have many females and there's some species I'm looking at that they don't really stock. Chances are I'll end up having to order online :/
 

Betta'sAnonymous

Member
Yeah you probably got a good idea. Like with a regular cycle the bacteria will die off if nit fed
 

Pfrozen

Member
Cool, never used that product but I do use TSS+. Never seen 24H progress like that but definitely within 2-3 days consistently. I'm a big fan of the bottled bacteria products honestly
 
  • Thread Starter

Gogiants85

Member
Pfrozen said:
Cool, never used that product but I do use TSS+. Never seen 24H progress like that but definitely within 2-3 days consistently. I'm a big fan of the bottled bacteria products honestly
I didn't know it was a legit thing to be honest. I was thinking I was being upsold by the fish guy, but bought in (more or less just to check the integrity of the guy). I fully expected it to NOT work, or be minimal at best. Needless to say I am GLADLY eating this slice of humble pie right now.
Betta'sAnonymous said:
Yeah you probably got a good idea. Like with a regular cycle the bacteria will die off if nit fed
Thank you very much for your advice and opinions!
 

Betta'sAnonymous

Member
It got my attention because so many different youtubers were talking pretty highly of it. I just know from my personal experience using fritzyme products, my fish were safe. Don't know if it was because i already had so much bacteria or if it helped, but certainly didn't hurt! Had a lot of my fish long enough that losses would be tough at this point.
 
  • Thread Starter

Gogiants85

Member
Betta'sAnonymous said:
It got my attention because so many different youtubers were talking pretty highly of it. I just know from my personal experience using fritzyme products, my fish were safe. Don't know if it was because i already had so much bacteria or if it helped, but certainly didn't hurt! Had a lot of my fish long enough that losses would be tough at this point.
Oh definitely! After getting to know their personalities and habits, losing fish would definitely take an emotional toll I'm sure.
 

mattgirl

Member
Congratulations. I have to think you got a fresh bottle that had been handled with care. I've read some good words about this product. Not quite as good as what you are seeing here but still good words. This seems to be working as well as using well seeded media from a heavily stocked tank or maybe even bit better.

Personally I would wait for the ammonia to drop down close to zero before adding more. At that time I would just add enough to get it back up to 4ppm. That amount should grow enough bacteria to handle the future bio-load of this tank. We are trying to replicate the amount of ammonia the fish will be producing. Growing more bacteria than is needed isn't a problem though. The excess will eventually die off.
 
  • Thread Starter

Gogiants85

Member
mattgirl said:
Congratulations. I have to think you got a fresh bottle that had been handled with care. I've read some good words about this product. Not quite as good as what you are seeing here but still good words. This seems to be working as well as using well seeded media from a heavily stocked tank or maybe even bit better.

Personally I would wait for the ammonia to drop down close to zero before adding more. At that time I would just add enough to get it back up to 4ppm. That amount should grow enough bacteria to handle the future bio-load of this tank. We are trying to replicate the amount of ammonia the fish will be producing. Growing more bacteria than is needed isn't a problem though. The excess will eventually die off.
Perfect! Thanks for the advice

I'm very encouraged by the results (which appear to be incredible!!), but for some reason I'm still concerned that there's a possibility the bacteria is "free floating" and not necessarily colonizing the filter media. Is that even a thing?

Is it possible that it just worked so well due to the high initial dose of Ammonium Chloride?

And yes, my target is ~4ppm Ammonia converted to Nitrates consistently over a 24hr period. I'm not sure of the exact bioload of 40-50 juvie Mbunas (before venting and rehoming based on aggression levels and sex), but I'm assuming it shouldn't be much more than that and the bacteria will either die off to match the bioload, or I can add the other 2oz from the bottle as needed if I happen to see a spike.

I really appreciate all of the responses here! They help me feel like I'm not crazy and just missing something lol.
 

Dechi

Member
Gogiants85 said:
I'm not sure of the exact bioload of 40-50 juvie Mbunas
I don’t think you should add 40-50 fish at once, that would be way too much in my opinion. Mbunas produce a large amount of waste, even as juveniles.

I had a tank that was cycled and good for 11 Mbuna juvies (added by groups of 4-5 at a time) and I took the deliberate risk of adding 11 more at once. My filter didn’t handle it and it took two months for the ammonia traces to die off. Since Mbunas need a higher PH (8.0-8.2 ideally), ammonia is more toxic for them. They will live but will start flashing, so it’s really not ideal.

Since then I’ve changed my Fluval 407 for an FX4 and I’m very happy.

eta : I forgot about the Fritz, I guess it would help a lot in that situation. Keep some in your bottle just in case...
 
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Gogiants85

Member
Dechi said:
I don’t think you should add 40-50 fish at once, that would be way too much in my opinion. Mbunas produce a large amount of waste, even as juveniles.

I had a tank that was cycled and good for 11 Mbuna juvies (added by groups of 4-5 at a time) and I took the deliberate risk of adding 11 more at once. My filter didn’t handle it and it took two months for the ammonia traces to die off. Since Mbunas need a higher PH (8.0-8.2 ideally), ammonia is more toxic for them. They will live but will start flashing, so it’s really not ideal.

Since then I’ve changed my Fluval 407 for an FX4 and I’m very happy.

eta : I forgot about the Fritz, I guess it would help a lot in that situation. Keep some in your bottle just in case...
Thanks! Yeah it may be better to stock in batches, I definitely don't want to over do it all at once. I would like to be safe, but also not have excess bacteria die off due to low initial stocking if that makes sense?
 

Betta'sAnonymous

Member
I mean it will catch up again. Maybe throw a couple snails in with first batch of fish to help out a bit?
 
  • Thread Starter

Gogiants85

Member
Betta'sAnonymous said:
I mean it will catch up again. Maybe throw a couple snails in with first batch of fish to help out a bit?
You don't think they'd get beat up?
 

Betta'sAnonymous

Member
Oh right, cichlids. Forgot that part lol
 
  • Thread Starter

Gogiants85

Member
48 Hr update:

Tested just now and I've got:

Ammonia 0.25-0.5 ppm
Nitrite 0.25 ppm
Nitrate 20 ppm

Not sure how the Nitrate went down, but I tested it twice (banging the **** out of bottle #2 both times) and it was consistent.

I'm thinking I'm going to dose it back up to 4 ppm this morning. Thoughts?
 

mattgirl

Member
Gogiants85 said:
Perfect! Thanks for the advice

I'm very encouraged by the results (which appear to be incredible!!), but for some reason I'm still concerned that there's a possibility the bacteria is "free floating" and not necessarily colonizing the filter media. Is that even a thing?
I am sorry I am late answering. Was a bit tired last evening so couldn't think as well as I should. I don't think it would be free floating. I have to think it will settle on filter media and all the decor in this tank. Even if it was it would still be working.

Is it possible that it just worked so well due to the high initial dose of Ammonium Chloride?
This is a possibility. Some of the nitrites and nitrates may have come from the bottle but the fact that the ammonia went from 8 to 4 so quickly we know the bacteria in the bottle is working. The same thing may have happened had you started out with 4ppm ammonia. We can't know the answer to that though.

And yes, my target is ~4ppm Ammonia converted to Nitrates consistently over a 24hr period. I'm not sure of the exact bioload of 40-50 juvie Mbunas (before venting and rehoming based on aggression levels and sex), but I'm assuming it shouldn't be much more than that and the bacteria will either die off to match the bioload, or I can add the other 2oz from the bottle as needed if I happen to see a spike.

I really appreciate all of the responses here! They help me feel like I'm not crazy and just missing something lol.
I have to agree with Dechi on the number of fish you add at first. That does seem like a lot of fish to start out with. It is very possible you will have grown enough bacteria to handle that high a bio-load if fish are very small and are fed lightly but you may still experience spikes.

We do have to remember though, unlike the spike we get from the ammonia we add all at the same time, the fish are just adding a tiny bit at a time. The bacteria we have grown is constantly cleaning out the tiny bit of ammonia the fish are expelling almost constantly.

If you add 4ppm ammonia and it is back down to zero within just a few hours I have to think there will be enough bacteria to handle the stock you plan on adding. Even if you have a low spike once your stock is added the bacteria should catch up quickly.
Gogiants85 said:
48 Hr update:

Tested just now and I've got:

Ammonia 0.25-0.5 ppm
Nitrite 0.25 ppm
Nitrate 20 ppm

Not sure how the Nitrate went down, but I tested it twice (banging the **** out of bottle #2 both times) and it was consistent.

I'm thinking I'm going to dose it back up to 4 ppm this morning. Thoughts?
Great numbers. By all means yes, dose it back up to 4ppm and again each time it drops down close to zero up until the nitrites zero out.
 
  • Thread Starter

Gogiants85

Member
mattgirl said:
I am sorry I am late answering. Was a bit tired last evening so could think as well as I should. I don't think it would be free floating. I have to think it will settle on filter media and all the decor in this tank. Even if it was it would still be working.


This is a possibility. Some of the nitrites and nitrates may have come from the bottle but the fact that the ammonia went from 8 to 4 so quickly we know the bacteria in the bottle is working. The same thing may have happened had you started out with 4ppm ammonia. We can't know the answer to that though.


I have to agree with Dechi on the number of fish you add at first. That does seem like a lot of fish to start out with. It is very possible you will have grown enough bacteria to handle that high a bio-load if fish are very small and are fed lightly but you may still experience spikes.

We do have to remember though, unlike the spike we get from the ammonia we add all at the same time, the fish are just adding a tiny bit at a time. The bacteria we have grown is constantly cleaning out the tiny bit of ammonia the fish are expelling almost constantly.

If you add 4ppm ammonia and it is back down to zero withing just a few hours I have to think there will be enough bacteria to handle the stock you plan on adding. Even if you have a low spike once your stock is added the bacteria should catch up quickly.

Great numbers. By all means yes, dose it back up to 4ppm and again each time it drops down close to zero up until the nitrites zero out.
Thank you for responding! No worries about it being late, I work overnights so I wouldn't anticipate anyone to reply during those hours haha.

I did dose it again, I'm gonna check in a few to make sure it's around 4 ppm before I lay down. I was thinking of adding another dose of Stability (because why not I guess?).

I am glad you relieved my concerns about the bacteria not necessarily colonizing, I'm not sure why my brain went there but I'm new to all of this. With the speed that the cycle took hold, I was genuinely concerned!!

Also, I appreciate each and every one of the responses from you all! It's nice to see a forum that's welcoming to new members, and has genuine people who have the ability to critique and offer alternate methods without coming across as demeaning. I'm beginning to grow fond of this place!!

Thanks again and I'll keep updates to this thread until the cycle is complete!!
 

mattgirl

Member
One thing I failed to mention. I wouldn't run the tests any more often than every 24 hours. There is no need to do so. Even if it has dropped close to zero sooner you only need to add more ammonia once a day. It may drop down to or close to zero sooner than that and if testing you may think you need to add more.

One more thing. Keep an eye on your pH. The cycling process has been known to lower it in some cases as the minerals in our water get used up. We want to make sure it doesn't drop below about 7
 

Tryne

Member
Gogiants85 said:
This was a great watch. Thank you!!!

So according to the video, the results I'm seeing (getting rid of 4ppm Ammonia in 24 hrs) are exactly what I should be seeing.

This is incredible, and it only leads me to ask why aren't more people using it? I'd never even heard of it until it was recommended by the Cichlid guy at my LFS!
My personal reason for not using all these chemicals to start an aquarium cycle is because it works perfectly fine without them. All I need is plants and fish food every day as if there were fish in there for like a month. Once the cycle is finished, I add whatever livestock I want and just continue feeding the same way. No disruption, no added chemicals, easier and cheaper for the same results. The only advantage I could see is if it takes way less time to cycle this way but that doesn't matter to me as I want my plants to have had time to grow before adding anything else anyways.
 
  • Thread Starter

Gogiants85

Member
mattgirl said:
One thing I failed to mention. I wouldn't run the tests any more often than every 24 hours. There is no need to do so. Even if it has dropped close to zero sooner you only need to add more ammonia once a day. It may drop down to or close to zero sooner than that and if testing you may think you need to add more.

One more thing. Keep an eye on your pH. The cycling process has been known to lower it in some cases as the minerals in our water get used up. We want to make sure it doesn't drop below about 7
Excellent! I will keep an eye on that. If it does happen to get close, can I safely do a 50% water change (obviously dosing Prime so the bacteria don't get destroyed) to raise it back up?

If the pH drops that low it will most likely stall the cycle and bind up the Ammonia as Ammonium which can't be processed by the bacteria, leading to die off...correct?

Just double checking, I'm not 100% sure!
 

mattgirl

Member
Gogiants85 said:
Excellent! I will keep an eye on that. If it does happen to get close, can I safely do a 50% water change (obviously dosing Prime so the bacteria don't get destroyed) to raise it back up?

If the pH drops that low it will most likely stall the cycle and bind up the Ammonia as Ammonium which can't be processed by the bacteria, leading to die off...correct?

Just double checking, I'm not 100% sure!
Correct. Bacteria struggles to process ammonium. It will but will do it much slower. The bacteria shouldn't actually die off but could go dormant. Should you have to do a water change it might be a good idea to add another dose of your fritz bacteria.

You probably know more about how to handle your fritz-zyme better than I do. Is there any chance it will lose its potency once opened? If so it might be better to just use all of it now instead of waiting unless it is a huge bottle of it. I don't think we can overdose on bottled bacteria.

I really don't think stability is needed. It won't hurt to add it but I don't think it will help at all. The bacteria in the fritz-zyme is the same bacteria we normally grow in our tanks. The bacteria in the stability isn't. It is basically a band aid that should help protect fish while the proper bacteria grows.
 

Islandvic

Member
You're on the right track with your 75g. You're beat decision was joining the fishlore community. I wish I had done that sooner when i first got into the hobby. Tons of awesome forum members here. Lot of good resources for every niche in the hobby, especially with your future Mbuna stocking. Your scaping of the 75g looks great, the Mbuna will like it tremendously. I wish i had half of that rock in our 55g African tank!

-As for your FritzZyme, cycling with bacteria boosters can be hit or miss. Fritz is a good company and I have been using their "Complete" dechlorinator lately. You never know if the bottle of bacteria is old stock or could have been mishandled and stored in a hot warehouse in the summer killing off most of the bacteria. That could be the reason when some people report that "it didn't work", though I think many times it's due to unrealistic expectations.

Some people report better results with some brands than others, but there are so many variables with our hobby, it's hard to say what works and what doesnt.

I've used Tetra Safe Start, ammonina, plus some cycled media to help jump start the cycle of our 75g and it seemed to work. It wasnt an instant cycle, but i believe it definitely helpee jump start the process.

Since you have no fish, consider bumping the temp up to 85-86f. It may cycle a little faster with a higher temp. I did that when I cycled our 75g.

-What is your stocking plan? You mentioned possibly buying online. That is how I first stocked our 55g African tank with Mbuna. It's always had male Mbuna with a couple of Peacocks as well. My original Mbuna came from Live Fish Direct out of Utah during a 4th of July 25% off sale. Otherwise their fish can be pricey. My friend and I have both ordered fish after that from Imperial Tropicals outof Florida. Everytime our fish arrived as advertised and all healthy. They have a lot of YouTube video content, and other fish hobby channels have done video tours of their facility that you can check out. Imperial Tropiclas is a family owned large scale commercial breeder that luckily has a online retail side to service our hobby. Another website that you might consider is Quinn's Fins. They breed what they sell and they seem to have very good prices on their medium 2"-3" and large 3"-3" Mbuna. If I ever upgraded to a larger tank for my African cichlids, I would probably buy my next batch from Quinn's.

If you dont want to deal with the fish breeding, then conisder getting an all male tank, with only 1 of each type Mbuna you choose and overstock. Or select 1-3 types of Mbuna and get something like a 1/3 ratio of males/females for example. Problem is trying to find a type of Mbuna where the female has color since most do not.

If you want your Mbuna to breed, check out the Saulosi Mbuna, the females have a different vibrant color than the male. Female Rusty's have good color as well as the Red Zebras, and Yellow Tail Acei.

Below I put links to some species profile videos from Jason, rhe host of Prime Time Aquatics. He is a Biology professor, a breeder and one of fhe few fish hobby YouTube channels i actually subscribe to. His channel is full of very educational content.
















-Regarding your quesrion about 50% WC, I see no reason why you could not do this. The type of beneficial bacteria that cycles a tank lives on surfaces of the substratw, decor and all the filter media. So large WC's shouldn't upset a new cycle.

Our tanks get 50%-75% WC's every 7-10 days.

With your pH already at 7.6, hopefully it is already naturally buffered and pH stays consistent. Luckily my water stays at 7.8pH and is well buffered. Good for consistsnt pH in my aquariums, not so good dealing with hard water deposit build in everythong else non-aquarium related, ha.

If you do notice swings in pH, I would suggest to not consider using pH up/down type liquid additive/chemicals. Most common way to stabilize pH in African cichlid tanks is putting a large bag of crushed coral or aragonite in your canister filter, or using it as your substrate. It helps buffer the water, but you may not even need that.

Here are 2 excellent videos regarding pH and water hardness from the same YT channel as the species profile videos I posted above.

pH:


Water Hardness:
 
  • Thread Starter

Gogiants85

Member
mattgirl said:
Correct. Bacteria struggles to process ammonium. It will but will do it much slower. The bacteria shouldn't actually die off but could go dormant. Should you have to do a water change it might be a good idea to add another dose of your fritz bacteria.

You probably know more about how to handle your fritz-zyme better than I do. Is there any chance it will lose its potency once opened? If so it might be better to just use all of it now instead of waiting unless it is a huge bottle of it. I don't think we can overdose on bottled bacteria.

I really don't think stability is needed. It won't hurt to add it but I don't think it will help at all. The bacteria in the fritz-zyme is the same bacteria we normally grow in our tanks. The bacteria in the stability isn't. It is basically a band aid that should help protect fish while the proper bacteria grows.
From what I can tell, the Fritz TurboStart is fine after it's been opened. It just needs to be refrigerated from the time it's manufactured until it's either expired or you're done with it. I'll hold off on the Stability. Thanks!
Islandvic said:
You're on the right track with your 75g. You're beat decision was joining the fishlore community. I wish I had done that sooner when i first got into the hobby. Tons of awesome forum members here. Lot of good resources for every niche in the hobby, especially with your future Mbuna stocking. Your scaping of the 75g looks great, the Mbuna will like it tremendously. I wish i had half of that rock in our 55g African tank!

-As for your FritzZyme, cycling with bacteria boosters can be hit or miss. Fritz is a good company and I have been using their "Complete" dechlorinator lately. You never know if the bottle of bacteria is old stock or could have been mishandled and stored in a hot warehouse in the summer killing off most of the bacteria. That could be the reason when some people report that "it didn't work", though I think many times it's due to unrealistic expectations.

Some people report better results with some brands than others, but there are so many variables with our hobby, it's hard to say what works and what doesnt.

I've used Tetra Safe Start, ammonina, plus some cycled media to help jump start the cycle of our 75g and it seemed to work. It wasnt an instant cycle, but i believe it definitely helpee jump start the process.

Since you have no fish, consider bumping the temp up to 85-86f. It may cycle a little faster with a higher temp. I did that when I cycled our 75g.

-What is your stocking plan? You mentioned possibly buying online. That is how I first stocked our 55g African tank with Mbuna. It's always had male Mbuna with a couple of Peacocks as well. My original Mbuna came from Live Fish Direct out of Utah during a 4th of July 25% off sale. Otherwise their fish can be pricey. My friend and I have both ordered fish after that from Imperial Tropicals outof Florida. Everytime our fish arrived as advertised and all healthy. They have a lot of YouTube video content, and other fish hobby channels have done video tours of their facility that you can check out. Imperial Tropiclas is a family owned large scale commercial breeder that luckily has a online retail side to service our hobby. Another website that you might consider is Quinn's Fins. They breed what they sell and they seem to have very good prices on their medium 2"-3" and large 3"-3" Mbuna. If I ever upgraded to a larger tank for my African cichlids, I would probably buy my next batch from Quinn's.

If you dont want to deal with the fish breeding, then conisder getting an all male tank, with only 1 of each type Mbuna you choose and overstock. Or select 1-3 types of Mbuna and get something like a 1/3 ratio of males/females for example. Problem is trying to find a type of Mbuna where the female has color since most do not.

If you want your Mbuna to breed, check out the Saulosi Mbuna, the females have a different vibrant color than the male. Female Rusty's have good color as well as the Red Zebras, and Yellow Tail Acei.

Below I put links to some species profile videos from Jason, rhe host of Prime Time Aquatics. He is a Biology professor, a breeder and one of fhe few fish hobby YouTube channels i actually subscribe to. His channel is full of very educational content.
















-Regarding your quesrion about 50% WC, I see no reason why you could not do this. The type of beneficial bacteria that cycles a tank lives on surfaces of the substratw, decor and all the filter media. So large WC's shouldn't upset a new cycle.

Our tanks get 50%-75% WC's every 7-10 days.

With your pH already at 7.6, hopefully it is already naturally buffered and pH stays consistent. Luckily my water stays at 7.8pH and is well buffered. Good for consistsnt pH in my aquariums, not so good dealing with hard water deposit build in everythong else non-aquarium related, ha.

If you do notice swings in pH, I would suggest to not consider using pH up/down type liquid additive/chemicals. Most common way to stabilize pH in African cichlid tanks is putting a large bag of crushed coral or aragonite in your canister filter, or using it as your substrate. It helps buffer the water, but you may not even need that.

Here are 2 excellent videos regarding pH and water hardness from the same YT channel as the species profile videos I posted above.

pH:


Water Hardness:
Wow, I really appreciate the plethora of information!! I was already aware of some of it, but the little things like potentially bumping up the temperature I had no idea about!!

As far as buffering the water, I had a long conversation with the Cichlid guy at my LFS. Reason being, my Ph is 7.6 but I have Kh of 6 degrees and a Gh of 10 degrees. According to him, this is basically what everyone has in our area. Their water has the EXACT same parameters with no additional buffer. The pH stays constant and the Cichlids actually THRIVE there. Basically he told me to stop trying so hard lol.

With stocking, I don't want to do a Male only tank. I plan on setting up groups (not to necessarily breed intentionally, but for more natural interactions between fish).

However, in the event that fry survive: I'd like to be cautious and not deliberately have hybrids. Obviously, things happen but in the event that I have to re-home a few, I don't think it's right to distribute hybrids and ruin the "true" lineage of a species.

Right now, the fish I have on my short list are:

Melanochromis Maingano- (Black and blue, horizontal banding. Similar looking and often confused with Johanni. Monomorphic females and less aggressive)

Cynotilapia Afra White Top- White with black vertical striping. Note- I also like the Jalo Reef.


Metriaclima sp. Zebra Chilumba (Luwino Reef)- (Blue with black vertical striping)

Pseudotropheus Saulosi- (Blue w/ black vertical striping males, yellow females and juveniles)

Socolofi (I'm good with either white or blue, depending on the colors of the other species in the tank)

I do like the look of Demasoni, but I've heard they can be as temperamental as the Auratus if they aren't in large groups so I may avoid them.

One of either of the below Labs, I don't want to stock both to reduce the chance of accidental hybrids. I'm not intentionally breeding, but things happen .

Labeotropheus Caeruleus (Yellow Lab)- From what I can tell they get along with pretty much anything.

Labeotropheus Trewavasae Ochre Chilumba- I stumbled across this Trewavasae variant that is shockingly vibrant red and honestly I haven't seen any other TRUELY red Mbuna (not orange like a zebra) and think it looks stunning!!

I am definitely still open to other ideas. I do not plan on stocking all of these species and I'd like to curb excessive conspecific aggression. Some aggression is ok. And I love their personalities...as long as they can let it go, establish their hierarchy and not have one of them turn into a midnight assassin and wipe out the tank! (The reasons I'm avoiding Bumblebee, Auratus, etc...)

People may think I'm attempting to script an episode of Aquatic C.S.I, but if possible I'd like to add one Malawi Peacock or Hap. I haven't heard of one that can hold their own against rowdy Mbuna tank mates, yet also not snap and eat them. So this may end up being a pipe dream haha. There was someone I was talking to that suggested a Livingstonii or an OB Peacock may work out well, but you never really know until they all hit maturity!!

I can agree with you on the quality of this community for sure. I'm very impressed and I find myself lurking around other areas of the site. Maybe one day before too long I'll actually be able to help answer some of the questions I see.

I appreciate the compliment on the rock scape!! We'll find out how much of a pain it will be when the Mbuna get around to redecorating . I can say it's definitely stable and I'm not concerned with an accident occurring. The coral to the left was REALLY large pieces and when I was breaking it up with a hammer (for more caves) I was able to form interlocking notches so it won't fall over. The dragon stone on the right LOOKS nice, but it's really brittle and I have been picking little pieces out of the sand just because it bugs me. Once there are fish in the tank, I doubt I'll care so much because they'll have my attention.

Also, can you send pics of your tank? I'd love to check it out!!!
 

Islandvic

Member
I have a Maingano, he is one of the original Mbuna when the tank was set up in 2019 and is definitely a good looking fish.

I think some Lake Victoria species will go good with Mbuna. I have a red nyererei my friend gave me that looks nice and seems to be compatible. I also have a zebra obliquiden, but unfortunately its a female. It's stripes are cool but doesn't have the yellow and reds the males have. I think those two would give some interesting color to your tank.

You mentioned afras and I've always like them. Do a search for Orange Cobue Afras, they are a very cool looking Mbuna.

You also mentioned adding some Peacocks.

When I first set up the 55g, a month after a bought 4 really nice looking Peacocks from PetSmart of all places. After a 3 week quarantine, they went in with the Mbuna. After awhile, I noticed the Mbuna didn't really mess with the Peacocks, but the real aggression was peacock vs peacock. They have always been more aggressive. I think only 1 of those remain, but since then Ive gotten some more from a friend.

In a 75g, it's possible a couple of Peacocks csn do well in an Mbuna tank.

Its all up to the individual personality of the fish.

Ive got 2 Mbuna in my 75g mixed CA/SA tank that do quite well for example. Watching them spar with the firemouth is hilarious. That tank's stocking came from my friend all at once, so I had no control over what's in there.
 
  • Thread Starter

Gogiants85

Member
Islandvic said:
I have a Maingano, he is one of the original Mbuna when the tank was set up in 2019 and is definitely a good looking fish.

I think some Lake Victoria species will go good with Mbuna. I have a red nyererei my friend gave me that looks nice and seems to be compatible. I also have a zebra obliquiden, but unfortunately its a female. It's stripes are cool but doesn't have the yellow and reds the males have. I think those two would give some interesting color to your tank.

You mentioned afras and I've always like them. Do a search for Orange Cobue Afras, they are a very cool looking Mbuna.

You also mentioned adding some Peacocks.

When I first set up the 55g, a month after a bought 4 really nice looking Peacocks from PetSmart of all places. After a 3 week quarantine, they went in with the Mbuna. After awhile, I noticed the Mbuna didn't really mess with the Peacocks, but the real aggression was peacock vs peacock. They have always been more aggressive. I think only 1 of those remain, but since then Ive gotten some more from a friend.

In a 75g, it's possible a couple of Peacocks csn do well in an Mbuna tank.

Its all up to the individual personality of the fish.

Ive got 2 Mbuna in my 75g mixed CA/SA tank that do quite well for example. Watching them spar with the firemouth is hilarious. That tank's stocking came from my friend all at once, so I had no control over what's in there.
I bet that's quite the show when they go at it haha!

As much as I'd like to, I think I'm going to have to reign back on the idea of mixing a Peacock or Hap. I don't want the Mbuna to get too much protein and end up with bloat, and I'm not sure how well a Peacock or Hap will do on a Herbivore diet

Also, I do like the look of the Cobue! It's making my stocking choices tougher for sure. I will definitely have a Maingano group in the mix though.
72 hr update:

Ammonia down from 4+ppm (I may have put a little extra in by accident yesterday) to about 0.25 ppm

Nitrites look to be between 0.25 and 0.5 ppm

Nitrates are holding steady at around 20 ppm

Also, I tested pH per the advice from mattgirl.

I ended up at 7.6 pH, so I tested with the High Range pH bottle and it's either 7.4 (which is what I was getting before with the High Range Ph test) or 8.0-8.2.
They look really close and my eyes are playing tricks on me.

If it is at 8.0+, then the dry coral (rocks on the left side of the tank) must be unintentionally buffering the pH, which I'm totally ok with! If this is the case, will the buffer wear down over time and negatively affect the fish?

Also, with a 50% water change with tap water at 7.5 pH, that would put it at 7.75 pH until the water buffers back up. Will this be too drastic of a change and shock the fish? Should I do multiple smaller water changes or do you think it will be OK?
 

mattgirl

Member
It looks more like 7.4 in the high range test so I have to think using the normal range is best. Coral will raise the pH but only up to a certain amount and no farther. I actually use and recommend crushed coral to folks that are having problems with their pH dropping. I can't tell them exactly how high the pH will go because it depends on the chemistry of their water. What it does in mine will be different than what it will be in theirs.

Right now I don't think you have anything to be concerned about. I am sorry I gave you something else to worry about. I just wanted you to keep an eye on it just in case it drops too low. That doesn't happen with every cycling tank but it happens often enough to cause me to mention it.

If you've not already done so you may want to run the pH test on your tap water. If the pH of your tank water and tap water are the same I have to think the coral isn't affecting the pH in the tank so will not be anything to be concerned about.
 
  • Thread Starter

Gogiants85

Member
Oh I'm sorry if I appeared worried. No need to apologize, I'm not worried, I just tend to be as thorough as possible!!!

So here's the odd thing about the pH and why I was thinking I was possibly just looking at the color wrong (or maybe their printer was running out of ink when the chart was printed haha). On the High Range Ph test, it looks like the photo I posted. However, on the regular pH test, it is maxed out at 7.6 on the scale lol.

Also worth mentioning, today after I dosed to 4 ppm (I made sure it was EXACT this time), I did add another oz of the TurboStart. Not necessarily because the tank NEEDED it, but just to try and help the Nitrite to Nitrate conversion along some.

Thanks again for all your help and sharing this journey with me!!
 

Islandvic

Member
Looks like your cycling is coming along on track.

You mentioned not mixing the peacock/haps with the Mbuna, so the Mbuna do not get too much protein in their diet due to potential bloat.

That is a good concern, as diet and WC's are key to African cichlid health in my experience.

I feed my African tank the following (rotating something different each day and skip a feeding 1 day/week )
-Ken's Fish Ultra Intense Spirulina Flake, 42% Protein
-Ken's Fish Premium Vegetable Flake, 35% Protein
-Ken's Fish Ultra Intense Spirulina Mini-Sticks, 42% Protein
-Cucumber slices once per week

So far my cichlids have not experienced bloat. The couple of Peacocks I have gobble up the food, even though it is more vegi/spirulina based. The Mbuna love it.
 
  • Thread Starter

Gogiants85

Member
Well that definitely alleviates some concern! I was planning on getting food from Ron's cichlids (Mbuna mix) and using algae wafers and vegetables (romaine lettuce, cucumber, zucchini...) as a supplemental treat. If you're having success I may still be open to the idea of adding a Peacock or two!

Your tank is all male, right? The reason I'm asking is because I'm wondering if a male Peacock would get more aggressive with female Mbuna in the tank because they want to breed, causing an aggression issue with the Mbuna male of whatever species they're trying to breed with. Or I could get a male and female Peacock pair if the lone female wouldn't get harassed and worn out by the male?

I know I may be overthinking some things, I just want to provide the best environment I can and not get greedy with my stocking and have to deal with an avoidable issue.

I understand there will be bumps in the road with all of their personalities, I'd just like to attempt to set the environment up to be as successful as possible.

Thanks for the response! I kind of feel like I may be dragging this thread on, but I REALLY appreciate all of the advice I'm being given!
Gogiants85 said:
Well that definitely alleviates some concern! I was planning on getting food from Ron's cichlids (Mbuna mix) and using algae wafers and vegetables (romaine lettuce, cucumber, zucchini...) as a supplemental treat. If you're having success I may still be open to the idea of adding a Peacock or two!

Is your tank all male? The reason I'm asking is because I'm wondering if a male Peacock would get more aggressive with female Mbuna in the tank because they want to breed, causing an aggression issue with the Mbuna male of whatever species they're trying to breed with. Or I could get a male and female Peacock pair if the lone female wouldn't get harassed and worn out by the male?

I know I may be overthinking some things, I just want to provide the best environment I can and not get greedy with my stocking and have to deal with an avoidable issue.

I understand there will be bumps in the road with all of their personalities, I'd just like to attempt to set the environment up to be as successful as possible.

Thanks for the response! I kind of feel like I may be dragging this thread on, but I REALLY appreciate all of the advice I'm being given!
Also, today I bumped up the temperature a few degrees and I only dosed the Ammonia to 3 ppm. I was thinking of backing down slightly to allow the Nitrite to Nitrate bacteria to catch up so I don't end up with a stalled cycle. We'll see how it works out!
 
  • Thread Starter

Gogiants85

Member
5 day update:

It seemed no matter how much Ammonia I was dosing (4 ppm, 3 ppm, 2 ppm), my Ammonia and Nitrites wouldn't get lower than 0.25-0.5 within a 24hr period. Also, my Nitrates were somewhere between 80 and 160 ppm.

I decided to do a large water change (75% or better) to lower the Nitrates. I emptied the water, dosed enough Prime for 100 gallons, and refilled with temperature matched water.

Due to the amount of filtration I have (Fluval FX4 + Marineland Penguin Pro 375 HOB) I figured I'd wait about 45 minutes to let the tank water turn over 10+times and test again.

Between 0 ppm and 0.25 ppm Ammonia
0 ppm Nitrites
5 ppm Nitrates

Now I'm going to dose 3 ppm Ammonia again and see how we look tomorrow! Hopefully I didn't hurt the cycle, but I wanted to get the Nitrates down. At this point I was also thinking some minerals from fresh water couldn't hurt.
 

mattgirl

Member
Gogiants85 said:
5 day update:

It seemed no matter how much Ammonia I was dosing (4 ppm, 3 ppm, 2 ppm), my Ammonia and Nitrites wouldn't get lower than 0.25-0.5 within a 24hr period. Also, my Nitrates were somewhere between 80 and 160 ppm.

I decided to do a large water change (75% or better) to lower the Nitrates. I emptied the water, dosed enough Prime for 100 gallons, and refilled with temperature matched water.

Due to the amount of filtration I have (Fluval FX4 + Marineland Penguin Pro 375 HOB) I figured I'd wait about 45 minutes to let the tank water turn over 10+times and test again.

Between 0 ppm and 0.25 ppm Ammonia
0 ppm Nitrites
5 ppm Nitrates

Now I'm going to dose 3 ppm Ammonia again and see how we look tomorrow! Hopefully I didn't hurt the cycle, but I wanted to get the Nitrates down. At this point I was also thinking some minerals from fresh water couldn't hurt.
I think you did the right thing by doing the water change. Since you still have some, another dose of bacteria might be a good idea.

Are you giving the ammonia testing solution bottles a quick shake before using them? If not, the next time you run your tests do so and see if it makes a difference. It has for some folks. They find they either don't get an ammonia reading at all or it is at least lower than they thought it was.

Personally I have formed a habit of shaking any liquid before using it so of course shake all the various testing solutions. I know you are shaking bottle #2 for nitrate but I do think we get a more precise reading if we shake all the bottles. We just don't have to get as vicious with most of them.
 
  • Thread Starter

Gogiants85

Member
Update:

Cycle completed on day 11! (For a colony able to process 2 ppm Ammonia to 0 Nitrites within 24 hours, but I pushed further) I've been super busy and slacking on updates.

So when I dosed 3ppm Ammonium chloride after the water change and bumped the temp up to 84 degrees, the Ammonia went down slowly but took 2 days to zero out. However, the Nitrites were off the chart!!

I figured out what I'd been missing throughout the process... PATIENCE!!!

Turns out the Nitrobacter takes its sweet time getting truly established, and the amount of Ammonia I was dosing was asking a LOT of the Nitrobacter before it was quite ready.

I lowered my dosing to 2 ppm, letting the Ammonia get near zero before re-dosing the tank. I then learned why the Nitrites were off the chart:

1 ppm Ammonia gets processed into 2.7 ppm Nitrites, which then oxidizes into 3.6 ppm Nitrates.

So by dosing 4 ppm at first, the Nitrites were all the way up to ~11 ppm and the test kit tops out at 5!!

On day 11, I had 2 ppm Ammonia converted to 0 ppm Nitrites in 24 hours. Then I noticed some brown spots on some decor (I'm assuming diatoms? I've attached a photo below).

So on day 11, knowing that I had established a decent Nitrobacter colony, I dosed back to 4 ppm. This was probably unnecessary, but I had a goal of being able to process 4 ppm within 24 hours, so I stuck with it.

The 4 ppm Ammonia was 0 ppm at 12 hours, Nitrites at 0.5 ppm at 24 hours.

I dosed 4 ppm Ammonia again at midnight, and unfortunately didn't get the chance to test right at 24 hours due to work. However, at 30 hours (when I got home) and both Ammonia and Nitrites were at 0 ppm!!

So, I'll be sure to check right at 24 hours this time, but I believe I now have a bacteria colony capable of processing 4 ppm Ammonia in 24 hours. I'll find out tomorrow, and if all is well I'll be ordering fish and planning my large water change the day before they arrive!!!

Once again, I really appreciate all of the insight from everyone on this thread, it helped educate me. I also hope this thread can serve as a helpful guide to anyone who may stumble across it in the future!!!
 

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