Fishless Cycle going well!

And1129

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I have been fish-less cycling my new tank since 3-15-20 and it is going well so far!

I made my own ammonia solution in my lab as I described in my first post here. The first week I only had about 2 gallons of water in the tank + substrate and only added 2-3 drops per day with the Aqueon gel balls bacteria starters. On 3-19-20 I got my order of plants and planted, scaped, and filled up my aquarium to near its 15 gal (57L) capacity, and then I started added more ammonia (30 drops of my solution) enough to raise the ammonia up to ~2.6 ppm each day.

This Monday (3-23-20) I measured my parameters and stopped adding ammonia. My parameters were: pH: 7.58, Ammonia: 2-4 ppm, Nitrite: 2-5 pm, Nitrate: 10-20 ppm, Temp: 27.4 C.

I wanted to see what happened when I stopped adding ammonia each day.
3-24-20, parameters were: Temp: 25.9 C, Ammonia: 1-2 ppm, Nitrite: 1-2 ppm, Nitrate 10-20 ppm.
3-25-20, parameters were Temp: 23.4 C, pH: 7.48, ammonia: 1.0-0.50 ppm, Nitrite: 2 ppm, Nitrate: 20-40 ppm.

I just measured today and parameters were: temp: 23.2 C, pH: 7.50, ammonia: 0 ppm!, Nitrite: 1-2 ppm, and nitrate was 5-10 ppm. I was surprised that my nitrates were lower than yesterday, but I do see some of my plants growing, so that would explain that. Otherwise, it looks like my microbial community has established nicely?

Also, a couple days ago, I notice several Bladder Snails in my tank! That was surprising; I understand they are very hardy critters so maybe the ammonia doesn't bother them at all? Funny!

I was planning on doing a water change today to decrease nitrates but now I guess I wont. I just added +2.6 ppm ammonia again for the first time since Monday, so I'll test ammonia again later tonight and tomorrow to see what happens.

This seems like good data to me, but is there a particular signal I should be looking for before I consider adding fish? Ammonia disappears in a day or something like that?

Look forward to comments.
 

SaltyPhone

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Personally I’d stop dosing ammonia altogether. You are going need ferts for the plants. The ferts will provide the nitrogen to get your cycle established. When you have some plant and algae growing with no ammonia start adding fish.
 
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And1129

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Planning on stocking with 4 neon tetras to start with next week, and then if all goes well I will add four more for a total of 8 neon tetras. I'm also thinking 4 Cory Catfish and some Nerite snails (maybe one Assassin snail if my Bladder snails get out of control). If everything is really stable, i'd like to add some shrimp after a month or two. That should be it.
 

AquaticQueen

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And1129 said:
Planning on stocking with 4 neon tetras to start with next week, and then if all goes well I will add four more for a total of 8 neon tetras. I'm also thinking 4 Cory Catfish and some Nerite snails (maybe one Assassin snail if my Bladder snails get out of control). If everything is really stable, i'd like to add some shrimp after a month or two. That should be it.
The stocking plan looks good, but you will want to consider adding a couple more corys. They need schools of at least 6.
 

mattgirl

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And1129 said:
I have been fish-less cycling my new tank since 3-15-20 and it is going well so far!
This seems like good data to me, but is there a particular signal I should be looking for before I consider adding fish? Ammonia disappears in a day or something like that?

Look forward to comments.
You want to see 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and some nitrates 24 hours after adding ammonia. If this tank will process 2.6ppm ammonia within 24 hours straight through to nitrates you should be able to add all your neons at the same time. If you could raise the amount of ammonia to 3.6ppm you could add the corys too. If the tank will cycle that much ammonia there will be enough bacteria to handle the bio-load of 8 neons and 4 corys with ease.

That is one of the beauties of fishless cycling. You can grow enough bacteria for fully stocking a tank just by adjusting the amount of ammonia you add. The more ammonia the more bacteria there will be. I am surprised to see this cycle moving so quickly though. Seems the gel balls bacteria starters are doing a fine job. :)
 
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And1129

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Thanks for the comments mattgirl. That is kind of what I was looking for, but where do you get those numbers from? How do you figure how much ammonia a fish produces? I had been wondering about that...

I started the tank warm and gradually lowered temp, so I think that helped with bacterial growth, and I have a ton of surface area both in the tank and in the filter regions. My plan is to continue to dose and monitor for another week. Then, sometime next week when ammonia reaches 0 again, I'll do a water change, let that stabilize, and add a few tetras.
 

mattgirl

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And1129 said:
Thanks for the comments mattgirl. That is kind of what I was looking for, but where do you get those numbers from? How do you figure how much ammonia a fish produces? I had been wondering about that...

I started the tank warm and gradually lowered temp, so I think that helped with bacterial growth, and I have a ton of surface area both in the tank and in the filter regions. My plan is to continue to dose and monitor for another week. Then, sometime next week when ammonia reaches 0 again, I'll do a water change, let that stabilize, and add a few tetras.
You are very welcome. I base the numbers basically just from experience. I don't know of any way to test it. I go by the folks I've tried to help and the fact that they've been able to add their fish without experiencing a mini-cycle. That tells me that they have grown enough bacteria to handle the bio-load. I like to err on the side of caution and recommend growing more than is actually needed so 3.6 may grow more than you need but it is better to have too much than too little. Any extra bacteria will eventually die off but that isn't a problem.
 

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