Fishless cycle after fish death

aradhana

New Member
Messages
14
Reaction score
2
Points
3
So when I first set up my tank I didn't realize how important the Nitrogen cycle is and I was trying to recover by following the fish-in cycle (which I know isn't the best on my fish tank). I only had one little betta in my 5.5 gal tank, I was doing regular water changes and being very careful not to overfeed him and he seemed to be thriving. I only gave him one pellet, or maybe two and scooped out the rest. He was a very reluctant eater and only ate small portions so it was easy for me to tell when to stop.

Then for a few days, it had slipped my mind that bettas eat more than they should. At this point, my betta had gotten more enthusiastic about food and I accidentally took it as a sign that he was getting hungrier. What I didn't realize was that he was now eating three pellets daily and some of it was getting deposited in the gravel. A week ago, I came home and he couldn't get off the bottom of the tank, had a swollen belly and slowly passed away. I'm not sure if it was the physical overfeeding, the excess food throwing everything off or a mixture of both, but I want to do it right the next time.

I want to make sure the tank is ready for me to bring home another betta in November. Since there isn't a fish in there, but the gravel and filter are the same that they've been for almost two months as well as some pieces of fish food, do I need to add anything to the tank to do a fishless cycle?
 

Dunk2

Valued Member
Messages
267
Reaction score
174
Points
53
Experience
2 years
I’d suggest you test the water before taking any next steps.

If you need to dose ammonia to start the cycling process, consider using pure ammonia from Ace Hardware. It’s easier to control the ammonia level vs. using fish food or another method.

In the meantime, use your time to research the nitrogen cycle and how to properly care for your fish when the cycle is complete.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #5

aradhana

New Member
Messages
14
Reaction score
2
Points
3
That makes sense. I've read a couple of articles, but I'm still unclear about the best way to go about cycling.

I currently have API Stress Coat, SeaChem Prime, TopFin ready Start (bacterial starter), and TopFin Betta Bits.
I am debating whether to purchase Dr. Tim's ammonium chloride and/or SeaChem stability as these seem fairly cheap on Amazon.

Based on what I've read, this is what I think I should do:
If my ammonia levels are too low, I assume I would need to add ammonium chloride/fish food (less reliable).
If my ammonia levels are high, I would need to start the cycle with bacteria, such as SeaChem stability or TopFin ready start?

Does this action plan make sense?
 

SaltyPhone

Well Known Member
Messages
710
Reaction score
350
Points
108
Experience
1 year
Seeing as you weren’t overfeeding I don’t think the water parameters resulted in the betta’s demise. When buying Bettas they often come from open air ponds in tropical regions. Therefore exposed to conditions such as birds flying over dropping S bombs, eating insects who fall into said pond etc. The results of these happenstance are fish with internal/external parasites etc. This happenstance is rare yes but we’ve all seen Bettas who live a few years in an I heated/unfiltered bowls. Just saying you can’t go wrong to treat any new fish as though it has parasites, ich, etc on the first day it arrives.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #7

aradhana

New Member
Messages
14
Reaction score
2
Points
3
Ok so I finally got my API water testing kit, and these were the results (I think based on the colors). I have not changed the water or done anything to the tank since my first betta passed away.
pH: 8.4
Ammonia: 1.0 ppm
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0?
IMG_7480.jpg
 

Ladyglo

Valued Member
Messages
119
Reaction score
66
Points
38
Experience
5 to 10 years
If it were me, I would purchase the Dr Tim’s Ammonium ( you can use hardware store ammonia ,but I personally couldn’t find any by me without additives, and Dr Tim’s is easy)and either use the Stability you already have or purchase Dr Tim’s All in one or Tetra safe start. While you’re waiting for those vacuum and change your water to get rid of any lingering fish food. Once you have your ammonia and starter, dose your tank up to 2ppm of ammonia. Test your water and wait for your ammonia to come back down and then redose back to 2ppm. Watch for your nitrites and nitrates to appear. As you used a starter, you may not see a big nitrite spike. Continue to dose with the ammonia to 2ppm until the tank is processing all the ammonia in 24 hours with no Nitrites (Do water changes as needed to keep Nitrates below 80). At that time, your tank is cycled, do a water change to bring Nitates down to less than 5, and your ready for your Betta. Good luck
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #9

aradhana

New Member
Messages
14
Reaction score
2
Points
3
Ok, so on Friday, I added 20 drops of Dr. Tim's ammonia, a couple of milliliters of TSS and API stress coat (my water conditioner since I was worried prime would bind the ammonia) to temperature equilibrated tap water and added that to my tank. Today I took the readings with my API test kit and got these results:
Ammonia: >8ppm
Nitrite: either 2 or 5ppm (I can't tell)
Nitrate: 80 ppm
I did see the pH drop to what looks like 8.2

Now, this doesn't make sense to me since I know it takes time for the bacteria to convert ammonia into nitrite. All of my levels are showing up high. I wouldn't think it was the test itself since I got all my levels really low with my first test.

I'm confused about whether to let the tank sit and digest all the ammonia or to do a water change. If I do a water change, should I add more TSS, or should I add Prime? I wouldn't add more Dr. Tim's since the ammonia is already so high.

I've attached a picture of the test tubes:
IMG-7532.JPG
 

Ladyglo

Valued Member
Messages
119
Reaction score
66
Points
38
Experience
5 to 10 years
Now, this doesn't make sense to me since I know it takes time for the bacteria to convert ammonia into nitrite
Your tank is already seeded from your previous Betta and you added TSS, so it will cycle faster than a brand new tank:D. I would let the tank sit for now and work at processing the ammonia. If your nitrates start climbing into the 160 range, do a water change to bring them back down. You're right, you don't need to add Prime, because you don't have fish in the tank to worry about, the Stress Coat will be fine. You won't need to add more ammonia until the level comes back close to 0. Then dose again to a level of 2ppm. My only concern is why your ammonia went to 8ppm instead of 2ppm with 20 drops. Maybe lingering fish food or your tap water? If both of those are okay, when you redose the ammonia, I would gradually add the Dr Tim's (maybe start with 5 drops) and then test the level, until you get to the 2ppm. Increasing the tank temperature can help speed the process also.
 

Momgoose56

Fishlore VIP
Messages
5,461
Reaction score
3,322
Points
433
Experience
More than 10 years
Ok, so on Friday, I added 20 drops of Dr. Tim's ammonia, a couple of milliliters of TSS and API stress coat (my water conditioner since I was worried prime would bind the ammonia) to temperature equilibrated tap water and added that to my tank. Today I took the readings with my API test kit and got these results:
Ammonia: >8ppm
Nitrite: either 2 or 5ppm (I can't tell)
Nitrate: 80 ppm
I did see the pH drop to what looks like 8.2

Now, this doesn't make sense to me since I know it takes time for the bacteria to convert ammonia into nitrite. All of my levels are showing up high. I wouldn't think it was the test itself since I got all my levels really low with my first test.

I'm confused about whether to let the tank sit and digest all the ammonia or to do a water change. If I do a water change, should I add more TSS, or should I add Prime? I wouldn't add more Dr. Tim's since the ammonia is already so high.

I've attached a picture of the test tubes:View attachment 631192
You need to do at least a 75% water change to get your ammonia level back down to less than 4 ppm. At levels higher than 4 ppm the ammonia can delay cycling (at those higher levels, ammonia is even slightly toxic to the bacteria that oxidizes it) then go from there.
 

clovervalley

Valued Member
Messages
440
Reaction score
218
Points
78
Experience
Just started
Ok, so on Friday, I added 20 drops of Dr. Tim's ammonia, a couple of milliliters of TSS and API stress coat (my water conditioner since I was worried prime would bind the ammonia) to temperature equilibrated tap water and added that to my tank. Today I took the readings with my API test kit and got these results:
Ammonia: >8ppm
Nitrite: either 2 or 5ppm (I can't tell)
Nitrate: 80 ppm
I did see the pH drop to what looks like 8.2

Now, this doesn't make sense to me since I know it takes time for the bacteria to convert ammonia into nitrite. All of my levels are showing up high. I wouldn't think it was the test itself since I got all my levels really low with my first test.

I'm confused about whether to let the tank sit and digest all the ammonia or to do a water change. If I do a water change, should I add more TSS, or should I add Prime? I wouldn't add more Dr. Tim's since the ammonia is already so high.

I've attached a picture of the test tubes:View attachment 631192
Prime does bind ammonia and converts it to a nontoxic form, however that form can still be used by the bacteria. I agree though, you don’t need to use prime unless you have fish in the tank for now.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #14

aradhana

New Member
Messages
14
Reaction score
2
Points
3
Here's an update:

A couple of days after my last picture, I got these test results:
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: Between 0.5 and 1. When I used 3 instead of 5 drops, I got a lighter blue
Nitrate: 80-160 (high).
IMG-7590.JPG



So I added more Dr. Tim's and did a water change. When I tested it today, I got
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0

IMG-7606.JPG


I added more ammonia today. I think if I get low ammonia and nitrite after this, I will consider the tank cycled?
 

Attachments

  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #16

aradhana

New Member
Messages
14
Reaction score
2
Points
3
So I dosed with ammonia after a 3/5th water change yesterday, and I got
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: > 5.0 ppm (the second tube is using half reagent)
Nitrate: Very high
IMG-7613.JPG

I'm guessing I have the first set of bacteria but haven't been able to establish enough of the second type. I think there was a post about too much nitrite being just as bad, so I will do a water change today to hopefully get those nitrite levels down.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #17

aradhana

New Member
Messages
14
Reaction score
2
Points
3
Ok so I've been seeing a pattern of this for like two weeks
Day 1: dose with ammonia
Day 2: test water, no ammonia, somewhere between 0.50 to 5.0 ppm nitrite (depending on how much ammonia) and like 10-20 ppm nitrate
Day 3: no ammonia, no nitrite, 10-20 ppm nitrate. So I dose again

What does this mean for the tank? Is it cycled or has it stalled and something is causing the nitrite to disappear?
 

mattgirl

Fishlore VIP
Messages
8,907
Reaction score
7,594
Points
608
Experience
More than 10 years
Ok so I've been seeing a pattern of this for like two weeks
Day 1: dose with ammonia
Day 2: test water, no ammonia, somewhere between 0.50 to 5.0 ppm nitrite (depending on how much ammonia) and like 10-20 ppm nitrate
Day 3: no ammonia, no nitrite, 10-20 ppm nitrate. So I dose again

What does this mean for the tank? Is it cycled or has it stalled and something is causing the nitrite to disappear?
You want the nitrites to disappear. You are aiming for 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and some nitrates.

If you add enough ammonia to get it up to 2ppm and it is gone within 24 hours and you are seeing 0 nitrites then yes, your cycle is complete.
 
Toggle Sidebar

Aquarium Calculator

Follow FishLore!





Top Bottom