Fishless Cycle With Fish Food.

Patrick474

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Hi there. Trying to make sure I’m on the right track with cycling my new aquarium. I’m doing a fishless cycle, using fish flakes for about 5-6 days now. I have been adding fish food every day as I read you need to keep “feeding” the beneficial bacteria which I added. First couple days ammonia was zero since the food was still decomposing but now it reads 1.0ppm. Do I keep adding food or stop and just wait for them to convert to nitrite and then nitrate? And once ammonia and nitrite read zero I can do a water change and add fish, correct? Thanks!
 

MrBryan723

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Keep adding food enough to keep your tank at around 1-3ppm. A small amount daily works best. Do it for a month solid before you even mess with test kitsch and by that time you should have almost no ammonia or nitrIte readings but should have a decent amount of nitrAtes built up. At that point you can do a large water change and add fish. Also note aside from adding mature media or bacteria to the tank there isn't really any way to accelerate the nitrogen cycle.
 

JenC

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Welcome to Fishlore!

You might want to pick up a $2-$3 bottle of household ammonia instead - pure, unscented, no additives or surfactants (doesn't foam when shaken vigorously). It's easier, more precise, cleaner, and quicker than using fish food.

As for procedure, I use the below method with success. Water dechlorinated, heater and filter running.
  • Dose water to 4 ppm.
  • Redose to 4 ppm when it falls near 0 ppm, max once per day. Once nitrites appear (typically in Week 2-3) reduce concentration to 3 ppm, still only dosing when it's near 0 ppm, max once per day.
  • Do a water change if needed to keep ammonia and nitrite below 5 ppm and nitrate on the chart. Otherwise, let it do it's thing as long as it's progressing.
  • Cranking the heat to 82° F can help expedite the process but remember to turn it back down before stocking.
  • When dosed ammonia converts to 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite in <24 hours, preferably in <12 hours, the tank is cycled. It usually takes about a month.
  • Before stocking, do a huge water change to remove accumulated nitrates. If not stocking immediately, do a daily maintenance dose of 0.5-1 ppm to keep the cycle fed and strong.
Also, I want to mention this just because it's a common mistake new aquariasts make - don't throw away filter media or cartridges. It's where most of the beneficial bacteria you're growing will live, and you can lose your cycle if you toss it. The exception to this rule is chemical media if you have it, like activated carbon (which should be replaced every 3-4 weeks).

Don't hesitate to ask questions of you have them. Folks are pretty friendly and happy to help.
 
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Patrick474

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Welcome to Fishlore!

You might want to pick up a $2-$3 bottle of household ammonia instead - pure, unscented, no additives or surfactants (doesn't foam when shaken vigorously). It's easier, more precise, cleaner, and quicker than using fish food.

As for procedure, I use the below method with success. Water dechlorinated, heater and filter running.
  • Dose water to 4 ppm.
  • Redose to 4 ppm when it falls near 0 ppm, max once per day. Once nitrites appear (typically in Week 2-3) reduce concentration to 3 ppm, still only dosing when it's near 0 ppm, max once per day.
  • Do a water change if needed to keep ammonia and nitrite below 5 ppm and nitrate on the chart. Otherwise, let it do it's thing as long as it's progressing.
  • Cranking the heat to 82° F can help expedite the process but remember to turn it back down before stocking.
  • When dosed ammonia converts to 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite in <24 hours, preferably in <12 hours, the tank is cycled. It usually takes about a month.
  • Before stocking, do a huge water change to remove accumulated nitrates. If not stocking immediately, do a daily maintenance dose of 0.5-1 ppm to keep the cycle fed and strong.
Also, I want to mention this just because it's a common mistake new aquariasts make - don't throw away filter media or cartridges. It's where most of the beneficial bacteria you're growing will live, and you can lose your cycle if you toss it. The exception to this rule is chemical media if you have it, like activated carbon (which should be replaced every 3-4 weeks).

Don't hesitate to ask questions of you have them. Folks are pretty friendly and happy to help.
Yeah I’ve actually got the dr tims ammonia coming in the mail today. Since there’s already 1.0 ammonia in should I just add roughly 3.0? Or take the food out with a water change and start from fresh. And would that require adding more B.B.? And yes I know to keep filter pad etc in there. Thanks
 

JenC

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Yeah I’ve actually got the dr tims ammonia coming in the mail today. Since there’s already 1.0 ammonia in should I just add roughly 3.0?
I'd try to remove the fish food if you can, just because it'll make the tank dirty and keep decomposing, which may make it more difficult to accurately dose the liquid ammonia. But either way works as long as you can achieve the desired ammonia level.
 

JenC

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If I do a small water change to remove it should I add more bacteria?
You can if you'd like. It won't hurt but it's not necessary. The beneficial bacteria doesn't reside in the water - it's mostly in the filter plus some on surfaces and the substrate - so changing water is fine.
 
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