Fishless Cycle Questions!!!

Stefanie1234

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

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!
 

Stefanie1234

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

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

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!
 

Stefanie1234

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

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?
 

Stefanie1234

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?
 

Momgoose56

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.
 

Stefanie1234

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
 

Stefanie1234

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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PascalKrypt

That is on track to be a lightning cycle. Nice job!
 

Stefanie1234

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?
 

PascalKrypt

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.
 

Stefanie1234

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.
 

PascalKrypt

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.
Good luck ^^
 

Stefanie1234

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

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. .
 

Stefanie1234

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!!!!
 

Momgoose56

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?
Check your pH with the high range test.
 

Stefanie1234

Check your pH with the high range test.
I’m testing the low one for now to see if it goes below 7
 

Stefanie1234

Update

Ammonia: 0.25 (maybe 0?!!)
Nitrite: 0.25
Nitrate: ~40

I just added some more ammonia
 

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Stefanie1234

I dosed the ammonia back up to to 1.0 ppm and it’s back to 0! I think I’m cycled!!

I just did a 15% water change to get my nitrates down a bit, added 40 more drops of ammonia which= 1ppm ammonia. I waited an hour and tested the ammonia again and it was at 0.5 ppm ammonia, so I redosed 8 more drops. I can’t believe how fast this was. This thread is proof you can cycle a tank in a week!!!
 

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Momgoose56

I dosed the ammonia back up to to 1.0 ppm and it’s back to 0! I think I’m cycled!!

I just did a 15% water change to get my nitrates down a bit, added 40 more drops of ammonia which= 1ppm ammonia. I waited an hour and tested the ammonia again and it was at 0.5 ppm ammonia, so I redosed 8 more drops. I can’t believe how fast this was. This thread is proof you can cycle a tank in a week!!!
That's great! Are you only dosing the ammonia to 1ppm? If your tank is processing 1 ppm to 0 within 12 to 24 hours that's fine, but I suggest, as I think mattgirl did in an earlier post as well, that you dose to 2 ppm and wait until your tank can process that amount to 0ppm in 12-24 hours if you want to fully stock your tank when it's completely cycled. If you plan on stocking it slowly (over a few weeks), the tank processing 1ppm is fine. Just keep an eye on your ammonia levels for a week or so after each addition of fish.
To know exactly how well it's processing ammonia right now, dose it to 2ppm then wait 24 hours to test it.
 

Stefanie1234

That's great! Are you only dosing the ammonia to 1ppm? If your tank is processing 1 ppm to 0 within 12 to 24 hours that's fine, but I suggest, as I think mattgirl did in an earlier post as well, that you dose to 2 ppm and wait until your tank can process that amount to 0ppm in 12-24 hours if you want to fully stock your tank when it's completely cycled. If you plan on stocking it slowly (over a few weeks), the tank processing 1ppm is fine. Just keep an eye on your ammonia levels for a week or so after each addition of fish.
To know exactly how well it's processing ammonia right now, dose it to 2ppm then wait 24 hours to test it.
I may just keep waiting and dosing but I'm no sure! I was not prepared for it to go this quickly as my driftwood is still soaking! Also, I ordered some more decorations on amazon that I have coming in so I'm waiting for that mostly, but I could get a few to start!
 

mattgirl

I may just keep waiting and dosing but I'm no sure! I was not prepared for it to go this quickly as my driftwood is still soaking! Also, I ordered some more decorations on amazon that I have coming in so I'm waiting for that mostly, but I could get a few to start!
You may have accidentally hit upon the perfect formula to kick the cycling process into high gear. Each of the products you added have something in them that helps to speed up the process. It could be each of them by doing their own thing gave this tank everything it needed to complete the cycle in record time.

Once you are convinced that the cycle is in fact complete you may want to continue just getting the ammonia up to 1ppm each time you add it. Even if it goes back down to 0 in 24 hours just add that amount every other day. Once the cycle is done you shouldn't have to add it every day. The 1ppm every other day is a maintenance dose.

Once you are through with the aquascaping and feel you are ready for fish you may want to consider adding enough ammonia to get it up to 2ppm and making sure the cycle will process that much ammonia. It may take more than 24 hours to process it the first time because the bacteria has to catch up with the higher bio-load (more ammonia).

The reason for this is you want to be sure there is enough bacteria to handle the bio-load of the fish you are going to put in there.
 

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