Fishless Cycle Questions!!!

Stefanie1234

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It is my first time doing a fishless cycle for my freshwater 40 gallon breeder aquarium. I am obsessed with this new hobby of mine. It is DAY 4 and I already have my ammonia down from 4ppm to about 2ppm, and I actually have a NITRATE reading of 10ppm!!! I am pumped. I dosed carefully dr tim’s Ammonia and added a combo of TSS, dr Tim’s One and Only and fritz zyme as bacteria (I know I’m crazy).

So my questions are a few things.
My pH is 8.0!! Why is it so high? (I do have drift wood to lower it) but is the nitrate or something making it so high?

Also going about water changes, should I change the water during my fishless cycle when my nitrates exceed a certain number?
What is the best way to do a water change? Let it sit out for 24 hours OR right away get water from tap and dechlorinate and wait 15 mins both or what? I never really knew! Should I just have buckets lined up for emergencies?

Thank you so much to anyone who answers any of these questions!!
 

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Momgoose56

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It is my first time doing a fishless cycle for my freshwater 40 gallon breeder aquarium. I am obsessed with this new hobby of mine. It is DAY 4 and I already have my ammonia down from 4ppm to about 2ppm, and I actually have a NITRATE reading of 10ppm!!! I am pumped. I dosed carefully dr tim’s Ammonia and added a combo of TSS, dr Tim’s One and Only and fritz zyme as bacteria (I know I’m crazy).

So my questions are a few things.
My pH is 8.0!! Why is it so high? (I do have drift wood to lower it) but is the nitrate or something making it so high?

Also going about water changes, should I change the water during my fishless cycle when my nitrates exceed a certain number?
What is the best way to do a water change? Let it sit out for 24 hours OR right away get water from tap and dechlorinate and wait 15 mins both or what? I never really knew! Should I just have buckets lined up for emergencies?

Thank you so much to anyone who answers any of these questions!!
Welcome to Fishlore aand congrats on your new tank!
A pH of 8 is fine for most tropical fish and perfect for cycling a tank. However, your tank is cycling, your pH is going to jump all over the place. It will settle to it's 'permanent' level once the tank is cycled.
When your nitrates start creeping over 40, do a 50% water change.
Dechlorinators work instantly. Just squirt it in, stir, dump in tank. No need to let it sit and no need for standby water.

I'll have to remember your bacteria starter recipe for future reference lol!
 
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Stefanie1234

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I'll have to remember your bacteria starter recipe for future reference lol!
Hahaha!! I literally just blindly made up my own rules, can’t over dose right? I figured one of them will work. I dumped a whole bottle of 100mL TSS right after adding the ammonia (125 drops to be exact). Make sure not to over dose ammonia. Then dumped half of a 32 oz bottle of Fritz Zyme 7. Cranked up to heater to about 78 and let it go! This was On Friday Sep 6th, but on Sunday I added a whole bottle of Dr. Tim’s One and Only 8 oz. It is Tuesday I cannot believe these results. I have read countless reviews on fishless cycling saying it take 3 weeks for a nitrate reading. I know I’m on the right track and am going to monitor these readings everyday. I will post my updates.

Thank you for the info on water changes!!

I also have 2 filters going on my 40 breeder maybe that’s speeding this up. I have a sponge filter and a penguin 350. I modified the penguin 350 from a YouTube video to not ever replace with cartridges but use filter floss (Poly-fil) really cheap by the way, and a cut to size sponge. Right now all I have in the penguin 350 are the two sponges I cut to cartridge size to gather all the beneficial bacteria. Later when I add fish and when it’s cycled I will add the floss because that’s what I’ll be replacing when dirty. My driftwood is soaking separately so for now I just have sand and fake plants.
 

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Stefanie1234

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Update: I took another water test to see where I’m at today. My pH is down to a more neutral 7.4 but from what I know now I don’t need to worry about pH during fishless cycling.

My ammonia went from 2ppm to a little above 1ppm. I posted a picture because I believe it’s lower than yesterday and a lighter green so possibly 1ppm!!!

My nitrite is still 0 which I read is fine if the nitrate and ammonia are fine.

My nitrate is a little darker than yesterday so I’m calling it almost 20ppm!! Which is up from 10 yesterday. I’m really happy with these results.
 

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Momgoose56

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Update: I took another water test to see where I’m at today. My pH is down to a more neutral 7.4 but from what I know now I don’t need to worry about pH during fishless cycling.

My ammonia went from 2ppm to a little above 1ppm. I posted a picture because I believe it’s lower than yesterday and a lighter green so possibly 1ppm!!!

My nitrite is still 0 which I read is fine if the nitrate and ammonia are fine.

My nitrate is a little darker than yesterday so I’m calling it almost 20ppm!! Which is up from 10 yesterday. I’m really happy with these results.
Movin' along!
 
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Stefanie1234

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If my pH drops below 7.0, does that mean its all ammonium and my BB can't consume that? Something I've always wondered
 

Momgoose56

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If my pH drops below 7.0, does that mean its all ammonium and my BB can't consume that? Something I've always wondered
Nitrosomonas and nitrobacter (the bb) will use both ammonia and ammonium as an energy source. The reason cycles stall at lower pH is just because the bb don't replicate as readily in acidic water. A low pH won't kill the bb, it just slows the cycling process and at a pH of 6, the bacteria stop replicating completely. What is your tap water pH?
 
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Stefanie1234

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Nitrosomonas and nitrobacter (the bb) will use both ammonia and ammonium as an energy source. The reason cycles stall at lower pH is just because the bb don't replicate as readily in acidic water. A low pH won't kill the bb, it just slows the cycling process and at a pH of 6, the bacteria stop replicating completely. What is your tap water pH?
Thank you for answering this!! I haven't checked my tap water ph, I will check today.

Also, are high nitrates bad for cycling a tank? If so, why?
 
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Momgoose56

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Also, are high nitrates bad for cycling a tank? If so, why?
Not really sure but I always advise people to keep them around 40 or less because high nitrates can lower tank pH and a low pH can slow the replication of nitrifying bacteria.
 
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Stefanie1234

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Not really sure but I always advise people to keep them around 40 or less because high nitrates can lower tank pH and a low pH can slow the replication of nitrifying bacteria.
Thank you so much for all your informative replies!! Seriously so helpful
 
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Stefanie1234

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It has been a full week. A decrease in ammonia to 1.0ppm or maybe even less!! A nitrite reading of 0.25 ppm and a nitrate reading to almost 40ppm!!! I may do a water change tomorrow and if ammonia drops again I’m dosing it back up to 1
 

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Stefanie1234

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That is on track to be a lightning cycle. Nice job!
Thank you so much!!! Ahhh I’m so excited I’ve never done this before

If my ammonia gets down to 0, how long can the beneficial bacteria go before I dose ammonia again?
 
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PascalKrypt

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Thank you so much!!! Ahhh I’m so excited I’ve never done this before

If my ammonia gets down to 0, how long can the beneficial bacteria go before I dose ammonia again?
They will survive up to a week, though I wouldn't risk more than 2-3 days without food with a brand new cycle in the making.
I would just redose as soon as you see it drop to 0 and see what happens. If it drops to 0 again in about 24 hours and you also have no nitrite reading at that point, you're cycled. If there is still a large amount of nitrite but no ammonia, wait 24 hours and then redose a small amount. If there is barely any nitrite left as well (but you're not completely comfortable with the cycle yet), you can also redose immediately.
 
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Stefanie1234

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They will survive up to a week, though I wouldn't risk more than 2-3 days without food with a brand new cycle in the making.
I would just redose as soon as you see it drop to 0 and see what happens. If it drops to 0 again in about 24 hours and you also have no nitrite reading at that point, you're cycled. If there is still a large amount of nitrite but no ammonia, wait 24 hours and then redose a small amount. If there is barely any nitrite left as well (but you're not completely comfortable with the cycle yet), you can also redose immediately.
I’m definitely taking your advice! Thank so much for getting back to me so soon. I’m keeping a close eye on my tank, and I will update here.
 
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Stefanie1234

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Update: looks like I have
Ammonia: 0.5ppm
Nitrite: 0.5ppm
Nitrate: ~30ppm

I think I’m getting close!

If my nitrite gets too high (and at what number?) should I do a water change?
 

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mattgirl

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You bottled bacteria cocktail may keep your nitrites from spiking very high. That isn't a bad thing. Lots of folks that use TSS+ report never seeing nitrites at all so don't get concerned if they don't go any higher.

If they do go up to off the chart you may need to do water changes to help keep things balanced. Keeping nitrites and nitrates down to reasonable levels (less than 5 for nitrites and less than about 60 for nitrates) will help keep the tank balanced and will help your cycle move forward.

This early in the cycle I would add ammonia again when it gets down to .25 or a bit less. I wouldn't let it set for any length of time without ammonia. It is the food your bacteria needs to grow and get itself well established.

I do recommend you dose the ammonia up to no less than 2ppm each time it gets down to or close to zero. .
 
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Stefanie1234

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You bottled bacteria cocktail may keep your nitrites from spiking very high. That isn't a bad thing. Lots of folks that use TSS+ report never seeing nitrites at all so don't get concerned if they don't go any higher.

If they do go up to off the chart you may need to do water changes to help keep things balanced. Keeping nitrites and nitrates down to reasonable levels (less than 5 for nitrites and less than about 60 for nitrates) will help keep the tank balanced and will help your cycle move forward.

This early in the cycle I would add ammonia again when it gets down to .25 or a bit less. I wouldn't let it set for any length of time without ammonia. It is the food your bacteria needs to grow and get itself well established.

I do recommend you dose the ammonia up to no less than 2ppm each time it gets down to or close to zero. .
Okay thank you so much!!!!
 
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