Fishless Cycle H E L P ! ! !

Discussion in 'Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle' started by guppynewb, Jun 15, 2016.

  1. guppynewbValued MemberMember

    Hi All,

    So I'm new to the forum, but I have been doing a lot of research to learn how to start/cycle my tank and have been following the information I found to help me in cycling my 50gal Tank. I have not detected any Nitrite, Nitrate levels, and call me crazy but I feel my ammonia was going down, and it no longer is and I'm really not sure as to how to proceed! I think I may have ruined it :( And if so, I don't know how to fix it.

    I recently bought a 50g brand new tank.
    Filter: Penn-Plax Cascade 1000 Canister Filter (for upto 100gal), 265GPH
    Thermometer: Aquatop GH-300W Aquarium Glass Submersible Heater, 300-Watt
    AirPump: Tetra 77855 Whisper Air Pump (for 100gal)

    1. As per the info, I did the full tank setup, rocks/plants/etc
    2. Added my airpump and it's turned up high. My temperature sits at around 28C.
    3. My filter has carbon packs (the black stones), those biorings for bacteria growth, regular sponges (black ones and white ones)
    4. I went to a specialized fish store in town and they took a sponge from their goldfish filter, they squeezed it into a bag, and that's my seeding material.
    5. I also added 1 1.5-2" moss ball to my tank.
    6. I bought pure ammonia, to make sure I shook the beejeezzzus out of it and it was like water (no bubbles etc), the bottle also says it's pure ammonia, no fragrances, etc. etc.
    7. I added a pinch of fish food to my tank.
    8. Filled up the tank and added dechlorinator Nutrafin AQUAPLUS (Tap Water Conditioner) as per the specifications.
    9. I also added Nutrafin CYCLE - The fish store manager told me it was necessary, and it wasn't until later on that I read some information, that it sort of contraindicated that so I'm not sure if that is my problem?
    10. I started everything and the tank ran.

    Ammonia Levels:

    June 3 - Tank Started, added ammonia to 1ppm. Then 2hrs later added ammonia to 4-5ppm. Added some fish food too.

    Starting Levels: pH 7.4-7.6, Ammonia 0ppm, Nitrite 0ppm, Nitrate 5ppm.

    June 4 - 4ppm
    June 5 - 4ppm
    June 6 - 2ppm (Added 1.5ml Ammonia = ~0.25ppm) I was afraid the ammonia would drop to 0.
    June 7 - 2ppm (Added 1ml Ammonia)
    June 8 - 2ppm (Added 1.5ml Ammonia)
    June 8 Levels: pH 8.0, Ammonia 2ppm, Nitrite 0ppm, Nitrate 5ppm. ( I feel like things stopped here, perhaps because my pH is too high? )
    June 9 - 2ppm (Added some fish food)
    June 10 - 2ppm (At this point I thought things had stopped so I did a 20% water change)

    For the water change, I emptied 20% water with a clean rinsed container, then I stopped the filter and closed its valves.

    I tested the current left over water: Nitrite 0ppm still. pH 8.2.

    I added 20% water from the tap using a brand new hose, and I also added Nutrafin AQUAPLUS tap water conditioner as per specifications. This time I didn't add Nutrafin CYCLE. I waited about 30mins for the water conditioner to do its thing (afraid of killing my bacterias) THEN I started my filter again and resumed running the tank.

    I added 5ml ammonia = ~1.2ppm

    June 11 - 2ppm (Added more fish food)
    June 12 - 2ppm
    June 13 - 2ppm ( I accidently added 25mL Nutrafin CYCLE thinking it was AQUAPLUS tap water conditioner )
    June 14 - 2ppm

    June 14 Levels: Ammonia 2ppm, Nitrite 0ppm, Nitrate 5ppm, pH 8-8.2 (See Image)
    June 15: Same as June 14
    So that's where I am at, I haven't added ammonia, I'm waiting for it to drop to 0.5ppm or 0.25ppm so at least I know it's working... pH hasn't changed, ammonia hasn't changed, nitrite hasn't changed, nitrate hasn't changed!!!

    But I don't know how to proceed. So my questions are:

    Did I ruin my cycle by using nutrafin CYCLE?
    Should I do a 75% water change because of it and start over or a bigger %????
    Did I make any other mistakes along the way?
    What are your suggestions and how should I proceed?

    Any guidance greatly appreciated!!
  2. CindiL

    CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    Hi, welcome to fishlore :;hi2

    I think the main problem was that you kept adding ammonia before it ever dropped to 0. Its fine to use a bacterial additive like Cycle while fishless cycling. I haven't heard great things about that one here though.

    I would start all over with fresh water, add in your water conditioner, dose ammonia to 2.0, wait 24 hours then add in a bottle of TSS+ Tetra Safe Start Plus. Do you know if they carry that around you? If not perhaps Seachem Stability? When using bacteria, its best to dose ammonia to just 1.0-2.0 instead of 4.0. That much ammonia inhibits bacterial growth and less is better.

    Wait a couple of days and then start testing your ammonia, nitrites and nitrates once a day. A "normal" cycle takes at least 4 weeks and longer. If you're using a bacterial additive you can usually have that cycle shortened to a couple of weeks.
    Wait for ammonia to drop to 0, see where your nitrites and nitrates are at before immediately dosing back up. If nitrites are below 5 then go ahead and re-dose ammonia to 2.0 and wait again.

    If you want to post your test results daily we can help you out :)

    Its fine to dose your water conditioner with the filter running, it won't hurt your bacteria. Also your ph is fine.
  3. OP

    guppynewbValued MemberMember

    Hi CindiL, Thank you very much for that information!! I don't mind starting over at all, but does that mean, I should just do a 75% water change if not what percentage? Or does that mean I should clean out the tank, wash/rinse the filter/heater, scrub down my tank/gravel/plants etc.?

    EDIT: Also, unfortunately, I have searched EVERY single pet store in town, they all carry:

    Stress Zyme
    Marineland total care aquarium bacteria

    I found Seachem Stability!!!!! I will get it tomorrow Jun 16! ;) Superdoooper Excited!

    So back to my previous post, to use this, should I first do a major water change to start over? Or do I have to start fresh and scrubby/washy everything down?

    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 29, 2016
  4. CindiL

    CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    I think if it was me I would do at least a 50% water change, re-dose the conditioner, add in your ammonia somewhere between 1.0-2.0,add in a whole container of the Marineland total care. I looked that one up and it appears to be a combination of heterotrophic bacteria and nitrifyers. I think it looks more promising then Cycle and since they distinguish on the packaging between the two types of bacteria thats a plus. I don't think you need to wait to dose the marineland product unless it specifically states so on the packaging. TSS+ is the only product that I know of that you have to wait 24 hours after using a water conditioner to put it in.

    Give it a couple of days and then start testing. Just add to this thread and it will pop up for me (and others to see). Let your ammonia fall to 0 this time. Then based on your nitrite readings re-dose.

    Oh yeah, you don't have to clean out your filters or anything, just leave them as is.

    Edit: Ok, you got stability coming in the mail I see? Same as above. They give dosing instructions on the bottle, I would double that up and dose it twice a day since you'll be starting "as if" you have quite a few fish in there.

  5. OP

    guppynewbValued MemberMember

    So if I use stability, do I still need to add marineland? Or should I just go with the stability and use double dose as you mentioned?
  6. CindiL

    CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    I'd just go with stability for now. I have emailed Seachem on this and they're pretty vague so I just dose it twice a day. I just emailed them again because I'm curious about adding in a bottle or half a bottle at once. I'll let you know what they say but for now just double dose it.
  7. OP

    guppynewbValued MemberMember

    DAY 1 v2.0 (lol) JUNE 15 :) I did a 75% water change and added my water conditioner. Just waiting on the temperature to reach 28-29C, currently at 24C.
    This time I also didn't fill the tank all the way to the top, to allow my filters return pipe to splash all along the water surface to increase oxygen :;tmi

    Levels Before H2O Change: Ammonia 2ppm, Nitrite 0ppm, Nitrate 5ppm, pH 8.4
    Levels After H2O Change: Ammonia 0.5ppm, Nitrite 0ppm, Nitrate 0ppm, pH 7.4

    Dosing up Ammonia to 2ppm now!

    And yes, Stability and Prime will both come in the mail by tomorrow. So I will follow the instructions using a double dose! Will keep you posted! Can't wait to make it work :;sonar

    EDIT: The instructions for Stability, not the Prime, since it's just a water conditioner right? They just came together for a better deal than just the Stability :)
  8. CindiL

    CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    Prime is an awesome water conditioner to have because not only does it detoxify chlorine and chloramines and removes heavy metals but it detoxifies ammonia and nitrites up to 1.0. But yes, instructions were just for stability :)
  9. OP

    guppynewbValued MemberMember

    Today the ammonia went down to 1.0 from 2.0 yesterday, nitrites still 0ppm. Stability just arrived so I added double dose, directions are to add it daily for 7 days. Did you ever hear back about adding half or full bottle? I don't understand how it would affect/damage your biofilter?

    (theory) I can only think of the ammonia running out. So you would want to add it progressively so you can keep dosing up the ammonia until you finish a half bottle/full bottle? (/theory) :p

    I'll keep it as per directions for now :)

    I'm excited to check my ammonia/nitrites tomorrow! Hopefully it's at 0 :D Then at least I know I'm on the right path.

    I read on a different forum that it took someone 32 days to successfully cycle 30gal with no bacteria additives, just filter media. I've already technically have been at it 2 weeks. Since June 2nd, so HOPEFULLY!!!! :) I'm super excited.

    Just thinking ahead here. Say my ammonia is 0 tomorrow, what is the next step? Should I be testing nitrites/nitrates?

    What should I expect to see?

    So step 1.

    Add ammonia, watch it drop, redose ammonia

    Step 2.

    Step 3?

    Cycle completion?

    EDIT: From what I have read/learned over these last weeks, and please do correct me if I'm wrong!

    Ammonia is the feed for the first bacteria colony which converts ammonia to nitrITE.

    So as Ammonia drops, we should expect to see nitrITE starting eventually show up as it increases to a detectable level, while nitrATE is still at 0.

    Now that there is nitrITE, a second bacteria colony, which now feeds on nitrITE, converts it to nitrATE.

    So as you redose ammonia to further increase nitrITE, this feeds the second colony (and the first) and again eventually the levels of nitrATE become readable. And that is our end result or cycle completion.

    So to test how effective the system is, we redose ammonia to 2-4ppm (~approx how much the fish would discard) and if in 24hrs we end up with 0 ammonia, 0 nitrITES and X nitrATES then it's success.

    So while we wait get fish, we keep dosing ammonia to 1ppm to keep the colonies alive, we readjust temperature to the proper, and do a huge 90% water change to get rid of the nitrATES to preferably 5ppm?

    During this time I can add my cichlid pH buffer, water conditioner, Prime perhaps? to ensure I have optimal conditions for my fish?

    And how many fish should I add a time? Or perhaps I can throw in my pleco in first by himself?
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2016
  10. CindiL

    CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    This will depend on how much ammonia you end up growing your bacteria colony to.
  11. OP

    guppynewbValued MemberMember

    So I've added probably 2-3x the recommended dose of stability today and yesterday, Ammonia is still at 1ppm, Nitrites/ates 0ppm. I'll be adding prime every 48hrs, let's see where this week takes me :)
  12. CindiL

    CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    Let me know where you're at when ammonia hits 0 (as far as nitrites go).
  13. OP

    guppynewbValued MemberMember

    So It's been 4 days since I added Stability and Prime, I dosed Ammonia up to 2ppm. And today it's at 0.5-1ppm, as it's been the last few days as well. I've probably used about 1/2 to 3/5 bottle of stability by now. ;)

    No progress seems to be being made, this is ontop of the 2 weeks I had already been cycling (Started June 4) :(

    I'll test and post my Nitrites/Nitrates and pH. Temperature is always stable at 28C.

    *Sigh* Excitement Lost lol
  14. tfreema

    tfreemaFishlore VIPMember

    Patience is key when cycling. I have read a ton of posts that CindiL had helped folks through it!

    I am really glad that you have chosen to do a fishless cycle. Hang in there! You will be there before you know it!
  15. CindiL

    CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    Patience is the key, I know its not very exciting! Stability is not fast but once it seeds and starts multiplying it can be much faster than without. Sometimes it takes a week though.

    What are your nitrites and nitrates today?

    That will tell us if there is anything going on yet.
  16. OP

    guppynewbValued MemberMember

  17. CindiL

    CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    Ok, it takes time but just to double check. Your ammonia is just ammonia and water right? no additives?

    And you dechlorinated the water in the tank before starting the process?
  18. OP

    guppynewbValued MemberMember

    Yup my ammonia is pure ammonia. No additives surfactants etc..

    And yes I dechlorinated the water as per bottle directions and Ive also used prime as per recommendations.
  19. CindiL

    CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    Well now, its just the waiting game. I'd keep adding in the stability daily until its gone.
  20. OP

    guppynewbValued MemberMember

    Sounds good! I'm also going to pick up more filter media squeezings from the pet store :)

    Call me NeRD but! I love it when I add that mucky stuff and the water in the tank goes all gross. Then in not even a minute it clears up crystal clear since I got an awesome filter online lol my excitement for the day haha :)

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