55 Gallon Tank Fishless Cycle Walk-through?

Lilibeth_Seasong
Member
I'm thinking of doing a fishless cycle on my 55 gallon. I had set it up a while ago and cycled it with TSS and five minnows. I later got four platies. Anyway, all those guys ended up dying (I think from parasites). I rinsed it out with water, and, due to the fact that it was set up without fish for several days, I lost the cycle. I had tried to keep it with fish food in a sack, but that only got up to .25 ammonia and made the water terribly cloudy. I was advised by Eienna to let the tank run empty for a month before getting more fish.

I have a ten gallon QT which I had put the remaining sick fish in before they died. I bleached it out after that, and now I fifteen zebra danios that were given to me in there while I wait for the 55 to be ready for them. Don't worry, I'll keep an eye on the params.

So, a few questions. Should I do a fishless cycle with Ace hardware ammonia, or just wait the remaining week and then put the ZD in the 55 and let them cycle it? I am only wondering because I don't know if all fifteen ZD will be okay in the ten gallon for a month+. Maybe just add a few at a time if I go that route?

If fishless is the best way to go, I can do it. I will need step by step instructions if anyone can provide them. This will be my first every fishless cycle, and I really don't know how much ammonia I am supposed to add per day etc. Thank you in advance!

Lilibeth
 
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Lilibeth_Seasong
Member
I started the fishless cycle last night. Added around 28 drops of ammonia and the test a few minutes later was 1.0-2.0 ppm. I think I'll be adding 30 drops now.

The danios seem okay in the ten gallon for now. I did about a 30-40% water change and they seem pretty good. Eating well, exploring, bouncing through the water bottle baffle I put on the filter...
 
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Lilibeth_Seasong
Member
I don't know if this is a problem, but there are some danios lying around on the bottom. I just did a water change this morning, so I don't think it would be an ammonia problem. Could they just be resting? Should I do anything or just wait?
 
horsin1787
Member
I would test to be sure. That is a lot of fish for that size tank and they may just be overloading it faster than you can possibly get it out. Hopefully your main tank hurries up and cycles. I think people have had success with Tetra safe start speeding up the process.
 
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Lilibeth_Seasong
Member
Yes, I used TSS the first time I cycled it. It worked great, but I can't afford to spend $20+ on buying more. It would still be at least a week before I could put them in the 55 with or without anything added. Unless everyone feels the bad stuff is gone by now in the 55. Hmm...
 
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Lilibeth_Seasong
Member
Double posting so people can see this thread

Ammonia is 0 in the ten gallon like it was last night, pH is about 7.0. I didn't test nitrites/rates because I don't think there would be any yet.

Should I just do a water change on the 55 to remove the ammonia I added last night and put the danios in, or just wait it out?
 
anahiii24
Member
The link they give you above is great, I fallowed it to the T and right now I am in week 3 of fish less cycling our 55 gal. tank with pure ammonia (ACE ammonia 10% strength). It takes about 4ml (use a dropper from Walgreens) to raise the ammonia levels from 0ppm to 4ppm. We didn't use anything other than the ammonia, I feel I'm gonna put the poor fish through unnecessary stress if the TSS fails but I've read a lot of people have had success using it.

As far as you stock I don't feel you have too many.
 
horsin1787
Member
If the water is good in the 10, I would wait it out and keep an eye on the ones with suspected issues.
 
Mamajin
Member
If you had parasites in the tank, wouldn't it be a good idea to disinfect it before starting a new cycle? What kind of parasite was it?
 
Eienna
Member
Test all tanks with all three tests (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate) and come back with the results.
 
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Lilibeth_Seasong
Member
I have no idea what they were, or if that is indeed why they dyed. They just started not eating and began tipping from side to side. Not other outward signs of anything.

I didn't completely take the 55 down and disinfect it because (a) it is so big, and (b) I have sand in there. I suppose I could bump some bleach in, let in run for a bit, then drain and rinse. I think that would be a big job though. However, I do care about the safety of my fish, so I will do what is necessary.

What does everyone think?

Will do Eienna.
 
Mamajin
Member
I personally don't know about all of the parasites that could of infected your fish, or if that's what it was. Not knowing, I don't think I could feel good about giving any advice other than starting the tank over.

Definitely wait for others to toss in their ideas, thoughts, and suggestions.
 
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Lilibeth_Seasong
Member
Okay I will.

Here are the params of the 55: Ammonia .25-.50, Nitrite 2.0-5.0, and Nitrate 5.0. I am really surprised by those numbers. I added about 28 drops of ammonia last night, and I didn't know it would work this fast.

Everything is 0 on the ten gallon with pH from 6.8-7.2. One of the danios is floating on his back, so I put him in a cup by himself. He is still breathing but I wish he would go ahead and pass on.

I was so excited about my 55 gallon, but it has just been a mess. If I fail again this time, I am seriously considering selling it and getting several more bettas.
 
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Lilibeth_Seasong
Member
The danio that was floating on his back has died. Some are still sitting on the bottom, others are hanging around the top with noses at the surface. Several a breathing rapidly. I don't know what's wrong or what to do.
 
Ntropic1
Member
I'm new but from what I've learned the 10 gallon is a little over crowded maybe someone could correct me if I'm wrong but could you put a few fish in the 55 g to help it along and thereby alleviate some of the load on the 10 g? How about using some media from the 10 g as well?
 
horsin1787
Member
Lilibeth_Seasong said:
The danio that was floating on his back has died. Some are still sitting on the bottom, others are hanging around the top with noses at the surface. Several a breathing rapidly. I don't know what's wrong or what to do.
Do you have an air stone in there?
 
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Lilibeth_Seasong
Member
No I do not. I have a large air pump and a bubble stone, but it might be too strong. I guess I can try it.

At least one more has died. There is another one floating around on it's back now too.

The ten gallon is a quarantine and meant to be temporary. The 55 is in the middle of a fishless cycle, so I can't move any over.

Is my best bet the air stone? I can't adjust the flow, so I hope it will be fine.
 
horsin1787
Member
I don't know what is wrong with them, but everyone gasping at the surface seems suspicious. Danios are pretty good swimmers, so they should be fine with a little flow. If the flow is too much, you could tie a couple knots in the airline too to slow the flow.
 
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Lilibeth_Seasong
Member
Good idea! I might try that...

*dons detective hat and grabs magnifying glass* I think I am onto something! I believe there is a connection between my previous fish deaths and these now. They start hanging around the surface (or hide), have trouble swimming, and/or stop eating. I had fish die in the 55 and the QT I transferred the sick fish to. So what? Both of those had the same fish and same water in them. Now, after I have thoroughly disinfected everything connected with the QT and the tank itself, I add new fish and...they die. In both cases there is one thing that stays the same...the water I am putting into the tank in the first place. We have an Eradicator whole house filter system which is supposed to remove excess minerals from the water etc. Could it put putting too much of something in? Or taking too much of something out? We don't drink this water, but I use it in my tanks. I am wondering if this is my problem. If so, this could be why I am losing fish in water with nearly perfect params. My betta seems to be the only one not bothered by it. And that could be because he is a totally different type of fish. I am just guessing here. But when I think about it, this all makes sense. What do you think?

I have lost at least four fish by this time.
 
horsin1787
Member
What s the pH straight out of the tap? and do you let the water age before a water change?

Mine is a rather drastic difference so I let it age and degas. 6.6 from tap to 7.8 aged. I think it is due to co2 being temporarily concentrated in the water because of pressure? I think that is a close explanation at least. Either way, the water coming out of my tap has excess co2 and after it ages for about 12* hours, it degases, leaving my pH at 7.8

Edit: if it is an oxygen issue, it would make sense because betta are able to "breath" oxygen from the surface. I would definitely add the air stone and check the tap pH.
 
Eienna
Member
I would expect an oxygen problem as well.
 
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Lilibeth_Seasong
Member
I let the bubblestone run all night, but it didn't help...woke up with 5-6 more dead. I really am beginning to think that this is the same reason the others died before. So it probably wasn't parasites after all.

I think you're right about it having to do with the oxygen or other gases. That is the only way to explain how they were fine in the water that sat for 24 hours, but not in water straight from the tap. The only thing I don't get, is that now it has been 24 hours since I did a water change, but they are still dying. Wouldn't everything from that water have gased off by this time? Or maybe there is something in/off about the water from the tap that is different from the water from the hose that I originally filled it up with.

I really don't get this.

Only have about 2 out of 15 danios left now.
 
Eienna
Member
Waaaiit....is your water like superbubbly when you first put it in? Cloudy-like?

You may be having the same problem I did with my city's water.
 
horsin1787
Member
Mine is too. I know I saw something somewhere about it, but I can't find it now.

Edit: Hopefully this is ok to post from another page.

"It is also a good idea to age your water at least 24 hours. This allows dissolved nitrogen to outgas. When you add water from the tap directly to an aquarium, you will notice tiny air bubbles forming on everything in the tank. This is a result of the water becoming supersaturated with nitrogen because of water warming to room temperature after being cold in the pipes, and being pressurized. These bubbles could potentially form inside your betta, resulting in gas bubble disease. Aging the water will also allow chlorine to evaporate. However, chloramine and heavy metals will not evaporate, so you should still treat your water with a dechlorinator/conditioner."

Taken from
 
Mamajin
Member
If the water is cloudy right out of the tap, that's caused by a little bit of air in the pipes. If you put some water in a glass and let it sit, it should clear up after a short time. If it doesn't then call your local water treatment plant.

If you have a lot of micro bubbles in the tank (so much that it gives the appearance of cloudy water), that can be caused by a dirty filter. I just went through this myself and treated my tanks with Waste-Away. The next day all of the micro bubbles were gone and the water was crystal clear.

None of the above will hurt the fish. Although a dirty filter can cause bad water parameters due to the filter not being able to filter the water properly.

As for Lilibeth_Seasong I think there's something else going on in the tanks. It might be the water filtration in the house, but I think more information about the name brand and model of the filtration system could be beneficial.

If no one here can help after having that info, perhaps you can email SeaChem. I know they make products specifically for adding minerals and whatnot back into the water for those who use RO/DI water in their Freshwater tanks. They would know best, but would need all the info about your water filtration system.
 
horsin1787
Member
Ahh, here we go, this is the one I was looking for.
 
Eienna
Member
Microbubbles of the wrong kind of gas (don't recall which one) can cause a condition similar to the bends in humans.
 
Mamajin
Member
horsin1787 said:
Ahh, here we go, this is the one I was looking for.
One can never have too much knowledge, so thanks for this link! In all my searches about micro bubbles in my tank, I never ran across any of that information.
 
horsin1787
Member
How are they, Lilibeth?
 
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Lilibeth_Seasong
Member
I lost them all. I think it was good that it happened though, so now I know that I have a problem and can work on fixing it.

I think it was Gas Bubble Disease. That is the only way to explain why I lost those fish AND the previous ones. Our water is very bubbly because we have well water and our water treatment system aerates the water a ton. When you first fill a bucket up it is very cloudy with bubbles, but it clears after a few seconds. When you fill anything with it lots of bubbles form on the surfaces.

The problem: very bubbly water. The solution: aging the water. That would be easy enough if I only had a couple small tanks to do changes on. But I have a 55 gallon. MAYBE I could set up a big drum with an airstone to save for water changes, but I wouldn't be able to heat it. So I'm kinda stuck. I don't know if I should go to the trouble or just keep smaller tanks.

This was all just out of the blue for me. I mean, I do one water change...and all my fish die. But I just want to say how thankful I am for the help you have given me. Without all of you, and especially horsin1787 I still wouldn't know what was going on. So, thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU so much!
 
horsin1787
Member
No problem As for water ageing, I use one of those big plastic tubs and the day before I know I'm going to water change. I fill it up and drop a cheapy submersible heater in. If you don't want to do that though, you could always boil a bit of water and pour that in the tub until you hit the right temp.

As for the bubbly thing, I think more of the issue is with the bubbles that come as it is warming to room temp, you should see all those tiny little bubbles collecting on everything.
 
Eienna
Member
I know how you feel. I had it happen to me.
I use only RO/DI water now.
 
ljm0104
Member
I'm very sorry about your fish. Are you where you can go to one of the fish stores in Memphis instead of petco or petsmart? Or do you have a lfs near you?
 
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Lilibeth_Seasong
Member
^ You mean for fish? I have a local pet store and Walmart. I don't buy fish from Walmart, but I used to and I got my betta from there. The nearest petsmart is about 1 1/2 hours away. I buy my fish from my LPS. The people are very knowledgeable and helpful. The fish I lost were given to me by a man who I think works at a vet school near here. Someone was going to dump a bunch of zebras, but he rescued them.

I would love to go to Memphis, but its about a 3 hour drive. :/

Thanks for the sympathy. I believe my plan is now to get a big tub of water with an airstone (and maybe a heater) to keep for water changes.

I'll check to see how the fishless cycle is doing on the 55, though with all that's been going on I haven't been dosing properly. Do I just need to start adding back to 2.0ppm?

Please check out the last posts in my stocking thread->
 
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Lilibeth_Seasong
Member
I have an update! I add about 30 drops of ammonia every other day, or when I think to do it. This fishless cycle has been anything but exact LOL. Here are some pics.
You can see more of the real green color in this one ->
tube 1.jpg
The colors look pretty much like they do in person in these two except the green->
tube 2.jpg

tube 3.jpg

Ammonia is between 0.50-1.0, nitrite is very slight (ha!), nitrate is between 20-40 more on the side of 40. It looks like it's almost done! And am I supposed to only put 15 drops in now? I have been putting in the same amount almost all along.
 
Eienna
Member
Keep up the same dose.
 
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Lilibeth_Seasong
Member
Okay, I will.
 
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Lilibeth_Seasong
Member
Tested today 12 hours after the ammonia dose. Ammonia was 0 ppm with maybe the slightest hint of green in the yellow. Nitrite was .25 ppm. So how long until I'm done? I want to start thinking about stock now...
 
Eienna
Member
Almost there you want your nitrites staying at 0, but that shouldn't take too much longer. You can do a water change before continuing to dose, if you wish to reduce nitrate.
 
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Lilibeth_Seasong
Member
Here are the results from yesterday (I think). (I didn't test ammonia just because whenever I tested after twelve hours it was always 0) Nitrite 0-.25, Nitrate 80-160

test1.jpg


test2.jpg


test3.jpg


test4.jpg


test5.jpg


test6.jpg


I did a 50% WC a little over a week ago. I am having some annoying algae growth in my tank too, so I'm doing a blackout for a few days. I also need to change water more. Here's a link to my algae thread ->
 

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