Fishless Cycle Advice

Fishproblem
Member
Hi all! I’ve been feeding my tank pellet food and dosing with seachem’s Aquavitro seed to add bacteria. The API test results were impossible to decipher, so I ordered Salifert’s Ammonia and Nitrate test kits. Nitrate comes in the mail tomorrow, but I’ve got my ammonia kit and the reading is 0. Does this mean I’m likely to see a nitrate reading when I test tomorrow, or is it possible I haven’t fed the tank enough? I tossed in a pinch of frozen brine shrimp yesterday (8-10 shrimp, I’d guess - in a 2.5 gallon tank) after getting a 0 reading for ammonia, and this morning about 12 hours later the tank tested at 0 again. Does this sound right? I think there’s probsbly no way of knowing until my nitrate test arrives, but thought I’d ask.
 
kanzekatores
Member
My guess is that you'll have some nitrates, but it's not impossible that you don't have anything yet. That happens with me, and I can only guess it's because of algae in the tank. If you're not getting anything I'd try adding in more food or trying dosing liquid ammonia
 
SM1199
Member
It's hard to know without getting a test for the intermediate step of nitrites. Since ammonia -> nitrites -> nitrates, if you get a reading of 0 ammonia and 0 nitrates, that could either mean you've got bacteria that are converting to nitrites effectively but not to nitrates yet, or it could mean you're not adding enough of an ammonia source!

Edited to add: even if you do get a positive reading for nitrates, it is not a guarantee that your tank is cycled because some tap water has nitrates present, so be sure to test your water source as well.
 
Jesterrace
Member
Fishproblem said:
Hi all! I’ve been feeding my tank pellet food and dosing with seachem’s Aquavitro seed to add bacteria. The API test results were impossible to decipher, so I ordered Salifert’s Ammonia and Nitrate test kits. Nitrate comes in the mail tomorrow, but I’ve got my ammonia kit and the reading is 0. Does this mean I’m likely to see a nitrate reading when I test tomorrow, or is it possible I haven’t fed the tank enough? I tossed in a pinch of frozen brine shrimp yesterday (8-10 shrimp, I’d guess - in a 2.5 gallon tank) after getting a 0 reading for ammonia, and this morning about 12 hours later the tank tested at 0 again. Does this sound right? I think there’s probsbly no way of knowing until my nitrate test arrives, but thought I’d ask.
No way of knowing without getting the test since we don't know where your tank is at in the cycle. How long has it been running?
 
V1K
Member
How long have you been cycling it? It takes a couple of days for ammonia to ramp up, and I think it's even more of the case when you use food and not actual ammonia. I cycled mine with ammonia, it took a week for ammonia to disappear, and a bit over a week for the nitrites.
 
  • Thread Starter
Fishproblem
Member
SM1199 said:
It's hard to know without getting a test for the intermediate step of nitrites. Since ammonia -> nitrites -> nitrates, if you get a reading of 0 ammonia and 0 nitrates, that could either mean you've got bacteria that are converting to nitrites effectively but not to nitrates yet, or it could mean you're not adding enough of an ammonia source!

Edited to add: even if you do get a positive reading for nitrates, it is not a guarantee that your tank is cycled because some tap water has nitrates present, so be sure to test your water source as well.
Reef tank, lol. Using distilled water with 0 readings for everything. If there are nitrates in there, bacteria put it there!


Jesterrace said:
No way of knowing without getting the test since we don't know where your tank is at in the cycle. How long has it been running?
figured, just feeling impatient and hoping I’ve been feeding the tank enough. It’s been running just shy of two weeks now.


V1K said:
How long have you been cycling it? It takes a couple of days for ammonia to ramp up, and I think it's even more of the case when you use food and not actual ammonia. I cycled mine with ammonia, it took a week for ammonia to disappear, and a bit over a week for the nitrites.
I set the tank up with seawater two weeks ago, and started feeding it a few days later. The api kit looked like I was getting an ammonia reading, but now I’m getting nothing with salifert. The nitrate kit should be here any minute, so I’ll have my answer soon!
 
V1K
Member
Fishproblem said:
I set the tank up with seawater two weeks ago, and started feeding it a few days later. The api kit looked like I was getting an ammonia reading, but now I’m getting nothing with salifert. The nitrate kit should be here any minute, so I’ll have my answer soon!
If saltwater is anything like freshwater, the ammonia can be gone by now .
 
  • Thread Starter
Fishproblem
Member
V1K said:
If saltwater is anything like freshwater, the ammonia can be gone by now .
Fingers crossed! I've been dosing BB every day so I'm optimistic!
 
Pfrozen
Member
it'll take 2-3 days for your fish food to rot and release ammonia. there's actually bacteria responsible for that process as well, though we don't usually consider that as part of the cycle
 
  • Thread Starter
Fishproblem
Member
Okay! So I have no ammonia but a lot of nitrates and nitrite (according to my API kit which I only kinda trust)

looks like my readings are 0, 1.0, .5

does that look about correct to you guys?

ammonia:

72758EC6-9A9E-4E22-B342-B6649416F957.jpeg


nitrite:

473964A2-5A0E-4EA7-B7C6-E4074029CA77.jpeg

BE828963-6120-4F37-93D3-47A02EF61DE6.jpeg


nitrate:

7242067D-F9B1-48DF-954C-2A7A0A545A69.jpeg


I imagine this means I’m part way through the cycle and my nitrite consuming bacteria needs to grow more.
 
Jesterrace
Member
Fishproblem said:
Okay! So I have no ammonia but a lot of nitrates and nitrite (according to my API kit which I only kinda trust)

looks like my readings are 0, 1.0, .5

does that look about correct to you guys?

ammonia:

72758EC6-9A9E-4E22-B342-B6649416F957.jpeg


nitrite:

473964A2-5A0E-4EA7-B7C6-E4074029CA77.jpeg

BE828963-6120-4F37-93D3-47A02EF61DE6.jpeg


nitrate:

7242067D-F9B1-48DF-954C-2A7A0A545A69.jpeg


I imagine this means I’m part way through the cycle and my nitrite consuming bacteria needs to grow more.
That would be correct. Nitrite is usually the mid stage of the process. Until Ammonia and Nitrite are zero you need to wait. Once it breaks down and the nitrates spike and drop a bit then you can start doing a water change to help bring nitrates down and be good to go.
 
  • Thread Starter
Fishproblem
Member
Jesterrace said:
That would be correct. Nitrite is usually the mid stage of the process. Until Ammonia and Nitrite are zero you need to wait. Once it breaks down and the nitrates spike and drop a bit then you can start doing a water change to help bring nitrates down and be good to go.
super dope. theoretically i know this but i've never actually fishless cycled any of my tanks. one question about the water change though. I've held off on it because I don't want to mess with the cycle, but I need to bring my salinity down because I mixed my salt with an improperly calibrated refractometer (rookie mistake). Would it be okay to do a mid cycle wc to remedy the salt problem? I can't imagine it would be too awful to do.
 
  • Thread Starter
Fishproblem
Member
okay so I retested today and in the process discovered that I misread the instructions on the nitrate kit. Only the low range nitrate readings should be divided, so my actual readings (unchanged since yesterday) are 0 ammonia, 1.0ppm nitrite, and 50ppm nitrate.

does that look like I’m nearing the end of my cycle?
 
Jesterrace
Member
I would say about the middle. The nitrite is what usually takes the longest to break down.
 
mimo91088
Member
Sorry if I missed it up there, but if it's a saltwater tank why don't you just add established liverock? Boom, cycle done.
 
Tallen78
Member
Fishproblem said:
okay so I retested today and in the process discovered that I misread the instructions on the nitrate kit. Only the low range nitrate readings should be divided, so my actual readings (unchanged since yesterday) are 0 ammonia, 1.0ppm nitrite, and 50ppm nitrate.

does that look like I’m nearing the end of my cycle?
Add some Fritz 900 turbo start and in a day or two ur good
 
  • Thread Starter
Fishproblem
Member
mimo91088 said:
Sorry if I missed it up there, but if it's a saltwater tank why don't you just add established liverock? Boom, cycle done.
didn't want to add any undesirables along with fresh live rock!

Tallen78 said:
Add some Fritz 900 turbo start and in a day or two ur good
brine shrimp ended up doing the trick. tank's been cycled for a couple of months now
 

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