Fishless Cycle Questions

ZachHawks

Member
120 Gallon Tank
FIshless cycle using Ammonia

Started cycle on 1/2/19

Current, the tank is cycling 3-4ppm of ammonia to zero in less than 24 hours.

Todays tests:

Ammonia - 0
Nitrite - 3-5ppm
Nitrate - 10ppm

On 1/17/19 the tests were this:
Ammonia - 0
Nitrite 1-2 ppm
Nitrate - O ppm

I was just curious if these numbers look reasonable? I think I am getting closer. I have been dosing to 3-4 ppm ammonia every 24 hours. Based on my tests it looks like that Nitrate is is starting to appear, so I think Nitrites should start dropping soon. Am I on the right course?

Appreciate all the help! I have been lurking in the forums this whole process! Thanks again for all your guys help!

Zach
 

Islandvic

Member
ZachHawks , welcome to the forum!

yes, it does appear that the cycle is going well.

does your 120 gallon have a sump, HOB filters or a combo of both?
 
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ZachHawks

Member

Islandvic

Member
I would leave the UV clarifier turned off while cycling the tank.

I think that is the model that Ben Ochart reviewed recently on his YouTube channel.
 
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ZachHawks

Member
Yup, I have it off. So each day I have been feeding the bacteria with ammonia up to 3-4ppm. Should I continue to do that until the Nitrite go to zero?
 

Islandvic

Member
I would.

Your 120 seems practically finished cycling. Probably a week or less left.

What was your plan for stocking?

I have seen those 704B's on YouTube, they have HUGE trays! What do your media trays filled with?
 
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ZachHawks

Member
I am pretty sure I am going with Mbuna....which I haven't quite decided. I was thinking the following:

Pseudotropheus sp. DemasonI Pombo Rocks

Labidochromis Caeruleus Lions Cove

Lions Cove Afra
Cynotilapia sp. "lion"

Maybe like 6-8 of each.

As for my filter, it does have huge trays, plenty of room for plenty of media. I have Bio Balls, Ceramic rings, Cotton filter pad, and then on the top tray I have polishing pad and Poly-fill in the top two trays which really keeps the water clean. First time ever having a canister filter so I am learning on the fly. Going pretty well so far! I'll post some pics of the tank.
 

Frozen One

Member
Whenever I tried to fishless cycle I had an issue of not having any conversion to nitrate. Not sure why but either way it seems to me you’re approaching a point in which the cycle is almost complete.
 
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ZachHawks

Member
Here are some pics....went with pool filter sand and some locally sourced rocks. Painted the back. I think it turned out pretty clean. Built the stand and canopy myself. Canopy has a removable front, doors and canopy door are held on with strong magnets.
 

mattgirl

Member
It sounds like your cycle is moving along really well. I think if it were me I would drop the ammonia level down to no more than 2ppm every 24 hours now though. In my humble opinion it will help keep things more in balance and will allow the cycle to complete without being overwhelmed with super high nitrites.

It seems the nitrite to nitrate phase moves a bit slower than the ammonia to nitrite so if the ammonia level is lowered a bit it should keep the nitrites from rising too high before being converted to nitrates.
 

Islandvic

Member
Very impressive. Excellent looking stand and hood. Those rocks are great for mbuna.

Most times a home built stand/canopy are stronger, better looking, and better craftsmanship than a store bought one.

If I can make a suggestion. Next time you clean out the canister, try out placing them in the following order going from bottom to top:

1. Coarse Foam
2. Polyfil / Polishing Pads
3. Biological
4. Biological

The water enters the canister and goes to the bottom through the tube going through the trays. It then travels back upward through the media and back out to the tank.

The order I suggested, the water hits the coarse mechanical then fine mechanical filtration. This takes care of all your small and large particles of muck.

This leaves the water clean so when it goes through your biological media, none of the muck will clog up all the small pores and keeps all the bio-media clean.

This method I got from watching Richard on his Pondguru YouTube channel before I joined the forum. He even has a playlist of 20+ videos in a series called "**** my filter" where he reviews a filter and puts media in that order in it and sends it back to a viewer.

As a disclaimer, he does promote his brand of pond foams and his brand of bio-media he sells online and his store in the UK. Looking past that point, his general concept of stacking media makes since.

I like his idea of throwing some bio-rings down in the bottom void space before dropping the first tray in.

 
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ZachHawks

Member
I appreciate the tip, I will definitely look into that set up!
 
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ZachHawks

Member
IDK if any of you guys are still following this thread, but I have another questions. This morning I tested water parameters again and got these results: Ammonia 0ppm, Nitrite 1-3 ppm, and Nitrate was off the charts, dark red color. I found this interesting because yesterday I didn't do my normal 3ppm dose of ammonia. I wasn't worried since I felt like the Nitrities were high enough, one missed day would be ok. My question is, do you think my nitrites will now drop in the next couple days? Should I still feed the ammonia daily? I feel like not doing the ammonia yesterday, helped slow down the nitrites and speed up the nitrates? Would this be true? Any help would be great! Thanks
 

mattgirl

Member
You could start adding ammonia every other day OR now that you have all the necessary parts of your cycle (ammonia and nitrite eating bacteria) you could do a few large water changes and may very well find that your cycle is very close to if not already finished.

I have never done a fishless cycle but since joining this forum I have seen this happen over and over. It seems when doing a fishless cycle folks can't tell when it is actually done.

Some folks say just wait it out and eventually the nitrites will zero out. I say why wait.

If there is enough bacteria to consume 2ppm or more ammonia in a 24 hour period and zeros out during that time and the tank has both nitrites and very high nitrates then you have your cycle. It is just out of balance. Water changes will bring it back into balance and often the one struggling to cycle their tank are pleasantly surprised to find that the tank is actually cycled.
 

Hunter1

Member
I agree with Mattgirl on your cycle question.

If you stop dosing altogether, you’ll starve the bacteria.

But I really want to commend you on the stand and hood, very nice work!!
 
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ZachHawks

Member
Thank you Hunter for the compliments on the stand. So today when I go home from work I am gong to do like a 50% water change. When I add the new water I should treat with prime like usual correct? Also, after I have added new water, should I do my dose of ammonia? On the other hand should the water change be bigger? Like 90 percent? When you say do multiple water changes, do you mean a couple today or like 1 today and 1 tomorrow?

Thanks again for all the help! I really do feel like I am close and can't wait to get some fish swimming in there!
 

mattgirl

Member
ZachHawks said:
Thank you Hunter for the compliments on the stand. So today when I go home from work I am gong to do like a 50% water change. When I add the new water I should treat with prime like usual correct? Also, after I have added new water, should I do my dose of ammonia? On the other hand should the water change be bigger? Like 90 percent? When you say do multiple water changes, do you mean a couple today or like 1 today and 1 tomorrow?

Thanks again for all the help! I really do feel like I am close and can't wait to get some fish swimming in there!
Yes, always add Prime or your water conditioner of choice to any new water going in your tank. If you have chlorine or chlorimines in your source water it will possibly kill off the bacteria you are working so hard to grow.

If it were me doing it I would do no less than a 50% water change today and again each day until you get your numbers down. You can do more than 50% but I wouldn't do less. Go ahead and dose your ammonia up to 1 or 2ppm each day after the water change.
 
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ZachHawks

Member
Thank you again! I will do that and report back in a couple days!
 
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ZachHawks

Member

mattgirl

Member
ZachHawks said:
Should I wait to test water parameters after a water change and adding my ammonia? How long? 24 hours?
I don't think it matters. I would have to do it sooner rather than later but only because I would want to know if the water change helped.
 
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ZachHawks

Member
Just curious, but will the use of prime on water changes affect the results of the API test kit? I did a 60% water change yesterday and 75% water change today. Dosed ammonia both times. I'm gonna let it sit a day and see if things change. My nitrates and nitrites didnt drop like I thought they would. Another funny thing, my Nitrate test is showing 40ppm of nitrates in my tap water now also, so idk what's going on. Not sure if my Nitrate test is screwed or what. I am following the directions to the tests to the T.
 
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ZachHawks

Member
Just for giggles I tested some distilled water. Well it showed no nitrates and nitrites. So looks like my tap water does indeed have some amount of nitrate in it.
 

mattgirl

Member
Prime will detox the ammonia but if there is any in there it will still show up in the test. The test doesn't know the difference between detox and not detoxed ammonia.

Is this the first time you have tested your tap water for nitrates? Just wondering if they have been there all along of if something has changed.
 
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ZachHawks

Member
When I tested my tap at the beginning of the cycle they were like 5ppm. I test today and they were 40 or so. That’s after water changes
 

mattgirl

Member
ZachHawks said:
When I tested my tap at the beginning of the cycle they were like 5ppm. I test today and they were 40 or so. That’s after water changes
It does seem something has changed with your water company. I think I would contact them and see if they have made some changes lately that is causing this. Maybe you will know if it is just temporary and was caused by something they are doing.

In the meantime I think I would be checking my tap before each water change to see where it is at. Maybe the nitrates will be lower some of the time and those are the times you will want to be doing the water changes.
 
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ZachHawks

Member
I’ve read that before testing tap water you need to leave it out and exposed for 24 hours before testing, any truth to that?
 

mattgirl

Member
ZachHawks said:
I’ve read that before testing tap water you need to leave it out and exposed for 24 hours before testing, any truth to that?
That is only if you are testing your PH. Sometimes someone finds that the PH in their tank is lower than their tap water. By letting the water set for 24 hours sometimes it gasses off and the level goes down and is the reason the PH in the tank is lower than the water straight from the tap.
 
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ZachHawks

Member
Would it be beneficial for me to use a product like Seachem Denitrate or Seachem Matrix in my canister filter to help with the nitrates? If I do find out I have an issue with my tap water having high nitrates, I might just start using distilled water, but I was wondering if those products would help me get through the cycle? Still going to give a it a few days and see how the aquarium reacts after those big water changes.
 

mattgirl

Member
I have never used Denitrate so can't say anything about it. I have added Matrix to my filter hoping it will help with my nitrates but so far I am not seeing much difference.

If you decide to go with distilled water be sure to add something like equilibrium to add the necessary minerals. Distilled, like RO water, has had everything stripped out of it.

I am talking to another young man who is having a problem similar to yours. If you have an an extra minute or two you might want to read this thread.
Is My Cycle Done?
He too has high nitrates in his tap water.
 
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ZachHawks

Member
Well after a few water changes my cycle appears done, but with nitrates hovering around 20-40. I did find out that my tap does have nitrates higher than usual now, but water company said that should be fixed soon. I read the "Is my cycle done" thread that you suggested. I am going to use the same product he is using to lower my nitrates to a suitable level. The stuff should be here tomorrow! Thank you Amazon prime! Going to put that in the filter and let it go for a few days and see how it does. It was nice to test today and see both ammonia and nitrite at zero, such a relief. Also nice to know my system can turn over 3-4ppm of ammonia in less than 24 hours. So hopefully fish soon! Appreciate all the input from everyone on here! One of the best forums I have ever been to. Will post some pics when I get fish added and will post an update on the nitrate product I ordered after reading about it in that thread. My cycle started January 1, so it really does take some time and patience. Almost 6 weeks for me! Thanks again!!
 

mattgirl

Member
Yay!!!! I love hearing happy endings. Cycling a tank can be stressful but now that it is done the fun part starts
 

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