First Time Fishless Cycling 10gal

Naliix

Hi everyone!

I've been lurking this forum and trying to soak up as much information as I can while I do my very first fishless cycle on a 10gal.

Tank Info:
  • 10 gallon with Eheim 50W heater (temp set to 77F), Aquaclear 20-50 gal HOB filter
    • Long story short, my temp is not set higher because my heater came severely miscalibrated so the temp offset is over 10 degrees. I am awaiting a replacement currently
  • Dosing with Dr. Tim's ammonia + Seachem Stability
    • Started dosing ammonia for about 8 days, then got a bottle of Stability and started dosing that for past 5 days
  • I have driftwood + a number of live plants scattered around + 3 pothos cuttings with roots in tank water
  • pH is either 6.8 or 7. I know my region has moderately hard water, if that matters.
Water tests (using API master kit):
With just ammonia - nothing eventful happened, hence why I got Stability
The following now is starting from day 1 dosing Stability following the instructions on the bottle.
Day 1: ammonia 1ppm, dosed first capful Stability
Day 2: ammonia 0ppm, nitrite 1ppm, did not test nitrate. Dosed to 2ppm ammonia.
Day 3: ammonia 1ppm, nitrite 1ppm, 0 nitrates. Not sure why nitrite stayed at 1ppm? Dosed back to 2ppm ammonia.
Day 4: ammonia 1ppm, nitrite 1ppm (possibly 2?), nitrate 5ppm. Did not dose ammonia this time, wanted to wait to drop closer to 0.
Day 5 (today): ammonia 0ppm, nitrite 1ppm, nitrate ??????.
So with nitrate today, when I initially tested, it was clearly 0ppm (I did shake the bottle well), but I was confused as to why. I thought possibly my live plants used it up since it was small amounts before? I noticed my pothos cuttings really loving the tank water because the roots grew visibly from previous night. However, I re-tested just to be sure and made sure to really shake up that #2 bottle... and this time it was bright red, ?40ppm. HOWEVER, I did two things that I'm wondering if it impacted the results:
(1) By this time, I had just a minute ago dosed ammonia and my Stability and THEN decided to redo the test. Do either of these somehow carry nitrates?
(2) I forgot to invert the test tube before added in bottle #2 solution

So I guess my question is: what do you all think of how my cycle is going? I'm also not sure why my nitrite is staying the same at 1ppm, I can understand if it went to 0 and I got nitrates, but so far it's been pretty stuck... I've been trying to be super patient and I would just love for things to be headed in the right direction :(

Thanks everyone!
 

mattgirl

Welcome to Fishlore :)

since the 1ppm nitrites appeared just after adding Stability I have to think what you are seeing came from the bottle. You were actually fairly early in the cycling process for them to show up. The fact that they aren't going any higher leads me to think they came from the bottle instead of from the cycling process.

If we don't add bottled bacteria we can pretty much know what to expect and when to expect it to happen. Having the ammonia going down this early in the cycle is a good thing. Just continue doing what you are doing. Add your ammonia as needed and wait for both ammonia and nitrites to zero out within 24 hours of adding ammonia. Once ammonia starts zeroing out within 24 hours I recommend adding it every 48 hours instead of every 24. This will slow down the production of nitrites while keeping the ammonia eating bacteria fed.

Are you adding any kind of ferts for your plants? It is really unusual although not unheard of for nitrates to spike this high so early in the cycle.
 

Naliix

Welcome to Fishlore :)

since the 1ppm nitrites appeared just after adding Stability I have to think what you are seeing came from the bottle. You were actually fairly early in the cycling process for them to show up. The fact that they aren't going any higher leads me to think they came from the bottle instead of from the cycling process.

If we don't add bottled bacteria we can pretty much know what to expect and when to expect it to happen. Having the ammonia going down this early in the cycle is a good thing. Just continue doing what you are doing. Add your ammonia as needed and wait for both ammonia and nitrites to zero out within 24 hours of adding ammonia. Once ammonia starts zeroing out within 24 hours I recommend adding it every 48 hours instead of every 24. This will slow down the production of nitrites while keeping the ammonia eating bacteria fed.

Are you adding any kind of ferts for your plants? It is really unusual although not unheard of for nitrates to spike this high so early in the cycle.
Hey mattgirl! Thanks for quick response, I've been seeing your name EVERYWHERE so almost feeling blessed to have you in my thread haha!

I had wondered whether the bacteria in the Stabilty added was able to start with the conversion of ammonia to nitrite. I took it as a good sign that the bottle was working. So are you saying you think the nitrite isn't necessarily from any bacteria but it's coming from the contents of the bottle?

I'm not adding any ferts. I also have not done any water changes, just topped up the tank when needed. I have noticed growth on my plants, I have some rotala rotundifolia and all the tops grew new leaves to about +1" this past week.

I'll probably just see what tomorrow's test results look like to see if something weird happened. If I do still see high-ish nitrates, should I do anything about it?
 

Flyfisha

Is this ten gallon your only tank?
 

Naliix

Is this ten gallon your only tank?
Yes unfortunately. I have wanted a planted tank for years but never had the expendable income for it until now!
 

Azedenkae

Quick question. You mentioned you dosed ammonia for eight days prior to adding Stability. How much ammonia did you dose back then?
 

Naliix

Quick question. You mentioned you dosed ammonia for eight days prior to adding Stability. How much ammonia did you dose back then?
Always maximum to 2ppm. I wasn't really doing as consistent testing then as I am now. I don't think I can say it was stuck at 2ppm, might've gone to like 1ppm at times and I would re-dose back to 2. I tested nitrite I think one time somewhere in the middle of those days, it was 0ppm, so was wondering if my plants were just consuming the ammonia?
 

mattgirl

Hey mattgirl! Thanks for quick response, I've been seeing your name EVERYWHERE so almost feeling blessed to have you in my thread haha!
Are you saying I talk a lot ...just kidding :D
I had wondered whether the bacteria in the Stabilty added was able to start with the conversion of ammonia to nitrite. I took it as a good sign that the bottle was working. So are you saying you think the nitrite isn't necessarily from any bacteria but it's coming from the contents of the bottle?
Since it showed up almost immediately after adding the Stability it does lead me to believe the nitrite did come from the bottle. Since it appears the nitrites are going up from the 1ppm we can assume the tank is actually producing them. That is a good sign that things are moving forward and in this case the Stability is working.
I'm not adding any ferts. I also have not done any water changes, just topped up the tank when needed. I have noticed growth on my plants, I have some rotala rotundifolia and all the tops grew new leaves to about +1" this past week.
If you've run the nitrate test on your tap water and see none then this tank is producing nitrates. Another very good sign that the stability has sped this cycle up.
I'll probably just see what tomorrow's test results look like to see if something weird happened. If I do still see high-ish nitrates, should I do anything about it?
As long as the ammonia you are adding continues to go down the cycle is still moving forward. We can let the nitrate climb without causing problems with the cycle. I would try to keep them down low enough to keep them on the chart so if it looks like 160 or more get them down with a water change. Same with the nitrites, if they go high enough to peg out the chart get them down with a water change.
 

Naliix

Are you saying I talk a lot ...just kidding :D
I'm saying you talk a lot in the best way ;)
Since it showed up almost immediately after adding the Stability it does lead me to believe the nitrite did come from the bottle. Since it appears the nitrites are going up from the 1ppm we can assume the tank is actually producing them. That is a good sign that things are moving forward and in this case the Stability is working.
Minor clarification, when I dosed Stability I didn't test my waters until 24 hrs after, which is when the nitrites showed up. But overall it sounds like things are looking like they're on the right track anyway!
If you've run the nitrate test on your tap water and see none then this tank is producing nitrates. Another very good sign that the stability has sped this cycle up.
I haven't tested my water (probably should), but I assume if my tap water had nitrates, then it would've shown up from the get-go, but I've tested 0 nitrates before so I imagine it's coming from somewhere else than tap.
As long as the ammonia you are adding continues to go down the cycle is still moving forward. We can let the nitrate climb without causing problems with the cycle. I would try to keep them down low enough to keep them on the chart so if it looks like 160 or more get them down with a water change. Same with the nitrites, if they go high enough to peg out the chart get them down with a water change.
Sounds gooooood!

I will just continue on as is :)
 

mattgirl

Be sure to keep me updated. I really do care and I love reading happy successful endings.
 

Flyfisha

No worries Naliix, I was just checking you didn’t have an old tank you could have stolen a little bacteria from. It’s not that important but it would safe a few days that’s all.

You are in good hands.

Your tank will cycle it just takes time.
 

Naliix


Bit of an update: I'm happy to report that my cycle completed! I actually left for a weekend, and came back and it was ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 40. Then I did a partial water change, got it to about 20. I got a betta fish, he's been in his new tank since last Friday!

I added red cherry shrimp and then literally 50 stems of pearlweed yesterday after doing another water change to try to bring nitrates down to 10 (didn't want to stress out betta too much by doing too much of a water change). I was very nervous about those shrimp though since they're so sensitive. So far, I can still see live shrimp (hoping none died on me yet but they have a lot of hiding space, so I've only seen 3 of 8 so far). I tested my waters today, it's 0/0/5.

Oh also found out my tank is actually 5.5 gal (long story on the confusion), so this is it for my stocking plans unfortunately :(

But overall, success (for now)!
 

JustAFishServant

Bit of an update: I'm happy to report that my cycle completed! I actually left for a weekend, and came back and it was ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 40. Then I did a partial water change, got it to about 20. I got a betta fish, he's been in his new tank since last Friday!

I added red cherry shrimp and then literally 50 stems of pearlweed yesterday after doing another water change to try to bring nitrates down to 10 (didn't want to stress out betta too much by doing too much of a water change). I was very nervous about those shrimp though since they're so sensitive. So far, I can still see live shrimp (hoping none died on me yet but they have a lot of hiding space, so I've only seen 3 of 8 so far). I tested my waters today, it's 0/0/5.

Oh also found out my tank is actually 5.5 gal (long story on the confusion), so this is it for my stocking plans unfortunately :(

But overall, success (for now)!
Sounds amazing, friend! I'm happy when beginners in the hobby are successful. It's not easy no matter what any dog lover says. You don't need to walk a fish but WATER CHEMISTRY! Minerals, chemicals, food, filters, temperature, heaters, phosphates, pH, kH, GH, micro/macroorganisms, nitrogen cycles & algae, etc...might as well take marine biology and chemistry classes! :p

You're doing great so far! Keep it up ;)
 

Naliix

Sounds amazing, friend! I'm happy when beginners in the hobby are successful. It's not easy no matter what any dog lover says. You don't need to walk a fish but WATER CHEMISTRY! Minerals, chemicals, food, filters, temperature, heaters, phosphates, pH, kH, GH, micro/macroorganisms, nitrogen cycles & algae, etc...might as well take marine biology and chemistry classes!

You seem to be doing a great job so far ;)
Thanks!! I'm actually ecstatic cause reading this forum gets a bit demoralizing with all the cycling issues that can pop up.

Yeah, I didn't even look into KH/GH :confused:, but I knew my shrimp were raised in local tap water (got them from a hobbyist 10 min from my house), so I prayed we would have similar parameters on that front!

Now I hope that my single betta is going to be enough to maintain my cycle for my 5.5 gallon. I assume it is since this tank can pretty much just hold a betta LOL...
 

Azedenkae

Now I hope that my single betta is going to be enough to maintain my cycle for my 5.5 gallon. I assume it is since this tank can pretty much just hold a betta LOL...
Any number of fish can 'maintain a cycle' provided it is the final stocking. Given your parameters are holding fine since you added the betta, then yes the cycle will be fine now.

Unless your parameters swing in a way that nitrification slows down or stops of course, but that does not have much to do with the stocking itself.
 

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