Fishless Cycle

Greener099

Hi, I need some advice please.

I started my fishless cycle on 3/6/21 started at 4ppm, in a Juwel190 tank, 9/6/21 it dropped to 2ppm so topped it back up to 4ppm, same on the 15/6/21, I started having Nitrite up until the 19/6/21 and now nothing, it seems to have gone back to 0 from 2.0, on the same day I had 20.0 Nitrate showing and now back to 0, is this normal or has something gone wrong? I'm new to all of these and need some advice. Many thanks.
 

Lucyn

It's a very good sign. It's a clear indicator that your cycle can properly process nitrates and if it maintains that way with added Ammonia, I'd say you're ready for fish. I will warn, though, makes sure to feed extremely lightly. Your cycle will be very weak and could crash at any moment, causing you to have mini cycles.
 

Greener099

It's a very good sign. It's a clear indicator that your cycle can properly process nitrates and if it maintains that way with added Ammonia, I'd say you're ready for fish. I will warn, though, makes sure to feed extremely lightly. Your cycle will be very weak and could crash at any moment, causing you to have mini cycles.

Is it time for a water change now then or leave it as it is for the time being. I was worried about it being too soon to add fish as only been 19 days since set up and said it could take weeks.
 

Lucyn

Is it time for a water change now then or leave it as it is for the time being. I was worried about it being too soon to add fish as only been 19 days since set up and said it could take weeks.
If you go the patient route, which I would advise for the upmost assurance that whatever fish you have will be safe, I would continue dosing ammonia and make sure your system is digesting it correctly. No water changes, but if you continue to see only nitrates for another 7-14 days (the longer you wait, the more potentially stable your cycle will be), I would water change down to 20 nitrates at that point and add fish.

If you get eager and decide to get fish immediately (which I wouldn't recommend), I would insure to feed extremely light. When I say light, I'm talking a small pinch every 2 to 3 days. Gradually increasing it over time and watching parameters closely (in which you should anyway). Best of luck, whatever you may decide!
 

Greener099

If you go the patient route, which I would advise for the upmost assurance that whatever fish you have will be safe, I would continue dosing ammonia and make sure your system is digesting it correctly. No water changes, but if you continue to see only nitrates for another 7-14 days (the longer you wait, the more potentially stable your cycle will be), I would water change down to 20 nitrates at that point and add fish.

If you get eager and decide to get fish immediately (which I wouldn't recommend), I would insure to feed extremely light. When I say light, I'm talking a small pinch every 2 to 3 days. Gradually increasing it over time and watching parameters closely (in which you should anyway). Best of luck, whatever you may decide!
Thank you I will go with the patient way, as my other tank I was told I could add fish after a week and I lost 10 out of 14 fish within a couple of days so I want to get it correct this time.
 

mattgirl

Welcome to Fishlore :)

Seeing the nitrites rise and then drop down to zero is what we want to see but is it possible the nitrate test isn't telling you the truth? What kind of test are you testing with? This cycle is moving fairly quick. You mentioned another tank. Is it cycled now and if so did you use media from it to jump start this cycle? that would explain the speed of this cycle.

Are you adding more ammonia each time it drops to zero? We want to keep the bacteria fed much like the fish would be doing if there were fish in this tank. The only difference is they do it constantly throughout the day and we add a days worth once a day once it starts going down to zero.
 

Greener099

Welcome to Fishlore :)

Seeing the nitrites rise and then drop down to zero is what we want to see but is it possible the nitrate test isn't telling you the truth? What kind of test are you testing with? This cycle is moving fairly quick. You mentioned another tank. Is it cycled now and if so did you use media from it to jump start this cycle? that would explain the speed of this cycle.

Are you adding more ammonia each time it drops to zero? We want to keep the bacteria fed much like the fish would be doing if there were fish in this tank. The only difference is they do it constantly throughout the day and we add a days worth once a day once it starts going down to zero.
I have been using the NTLabs multi-test kit, no i started my new tank from scratch, as when I set it up I was still having trouble with my other tank but has all settled now and my 1 guppie and 3 mollies are now happy

When the ammonia drops I add more in to take it back up to 4ppm.
 

mattgirl

I have been using the NTLabs multi-test kit, no i started my new tank from scratch, as when I set it up I was still having trouble with my other tank but has all settled now and my 1 guppie and 3 mollies are now happy

When the ammonia drops I add more in to take it back up to 4ppm.
How quickly does that much ammonia drop back down to zero or have you let it drop that low before adding more? If you aren't I will recommend you do so. Don't add it anymore often than every 24 hours though.

With a tank this size I normally recommend raising the ammonia up to 3ppm. 4 isn't a problem but growing that much bacteria may not be necessary. The more ammonia we add the longer it will take to grow enough bacteria to process it out. If you plan on heavily stocking this tank then go ahead and grow enough bacteria to process the 4ppm.

I have to wonder why your nitrates dropped from 20 back down to 0. That really is unusual this early in the cycling process. Some folks do grow the bacteria that removes or at least keeps the nitrates low but it normally doesn't happen this quickly.
 

Greener099

How quickly does that much ammonia drop back down to zero or have you let it drop that low before adding more? If you aren't I will recommend you do so. Don't add it anymore often than every 24 hours though.

With a tank this size I normally recommend raising the ammonia up to 3ppm. 4 isn't a problem but growing that much bacteria may not be necessary. The more ammonia we add the longer it will take to grow enough bacteria to process it out. If you plan on heavily stocking this tank then go ahead and grow enough bacteria to process the 4ppm.

I have to wonder why your nitrates dropped from 20 back down to 0. That really is unusual this early in the cycling process. Some folks do grow the bacteria that removes or at least keeps the nitrates low but it normally doesn't happen this quickly.
I'm not too sure either, as since it's dropped back to 0 I haven't seen any more showing on results.

I haven't let it drop down to 0 yet I will do this now and then take it back up to 3ppm.

What would you recommend to stock the tank with once done, we want colour and more of a community tank than one species of fish.
 

mattgirl

I'm not too sure either, as since it's dropped back to 0 I haven't seen any more showing on results.

I haven't let it drop down to 0 yet I will do this now and then take it back up to 3ppm.

What would you recommend to stock the tank with once done, we want colour and more of a community tank than one species of fish.
Since it's not rising I have to think to one reading was a false reading. Normally nitrates show up once nitrites spike and then start going down. Once that happens the nitrates gradually go up.

I am not very good at making recommendations when it comes to stocking but there are lots of folks here that will make suggestions. Once the tank is fully cycled start another thread specifically to ask that question so those that can help will see it. Or start one now so you can start making plans.
 

Greener099

Since it's not rising I have to think to one reading was a false reading. Normally nitrates show up once nitrites spike and then start going down. Once that happens the nitrates gradually go up.

I am not very good at making recommendations when it comes to stocking but there are lots of folks here that will make suggestions. Once the tank is fully cycled start another thread specifically to ask that question so those that can help will see it. Or start one now so you can start making plans.
Thank you for your help
 

Greener099

mattgirl i have another tank with 3 Mollies in and 1 Guppie and want to introduce them to out new tank when ready How's the best way of doing this?
 

mattgirl

mattgirl i have another tank with 3 Mollies in and 1 Guppie and want to introduce them to out new tank when ready How's the best way of doing this?

Before I can answer this question I need to ask for more information. Are you planning on running both tanks or are you cycling this one so you can up grade your fishes space?

Are both tanks now fully cycled meaning no ammonia or nitrites in the smaller tank and the ammonia you add to the bigger tank is processing straight through to nitrates within 24 hours?

Are you seeing zero ammonia , 0 nitrites and some nitrates in both tanks?
 

Greener099

Morning mattgirl in my smaller tank it's 0 on all three, new tank that I'm cycling is 0.5 ammonia, 0 Nitrite and 0 Nitrate on this mornings test results, topping the ammonia back up to 2ppm now and see what happens again. When will I know my tank is fully cycled started on 3/6/21. Thanks again.
 

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mattgirl

Have you seen any nitrites at all since you started these cycles? A fully cycled tank will have gone through a nitrite spike and will be showing some nitrates when the cycle is complete.

Did you add any kind of bottled bacteria to these tanks? Some folks report never seeing a nitrite spike when they have added some types of battled bacteria.

You will know the cycles are done in both tanks when you add ammonia and it is gone within 24 hours and you are seeing some nitrates. Seeing nitrates tells us you have both ammonia and nitrite eating bacteria in the tanks. Without both the cycle isn't complete.

Are you 100% confident in the reliability of the tests you are using? I really would expect to see some nitrites and nitrates by now.
 

Greener099

Good Morning, I've been doing my fishless cycle now since 3/6/21 and my ammonia has never dropped to zero in this time, and for the last few day it's been 2ppm on every rest, I've got 0 Nitrite and 5.0 Nitrate showing, I've got a Juwel190 tank with the built in Bioflow filter which consists of bioPad, bicarb, Nitrax, bioPlus coarse and bioPlus Fine, would any of these slow the process down? My results since the 3/6/21 are attached below, every time ammonia dropped below 4 I readded and now reading up to 2ppm but it never drops to zero over a 24HR period. Thanks.
 

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Flyfisha

Hey Greener099,
Have you done a small water change since starting the fishless cycle? If not it will do no harm to freshen up the water a little.

No cleaning. No deep vacuuming, just a 20% water change to add a few minerals etc foe the bacteria.

I see the ammonia was very high on the 1-7
 

Greener099

Hey Greener099,
Have you done a small water change since starting the fishless cycle? If not it will do no harm to freshen up the water a little.

No cleaning. No deep vacuuming, just a 20% water change to add a few minerals etc foe the bacteria.

I see the ammonia was very high on the 1-7
Yeah it went really high I added some live plants in and fertiliser so not sure if that was the issue so I did a water change then but nothing since.
 

Flyfisha

I don’t claim to be an expert on fishless cycles or anything really. But from what I have read a small water change can jump start the bacteria when it’s slow.

When you think about it we change water continuously with fish in a tank and the bacteria are happy . The bacteria are living creatures .

If you read as many old posts as I have seen it’s a common suggestion to add a bit of new water. Especially after this amount of time.

mattgirl #mattgirl
Mattgirl answers many questions on fishless cycles.
As your thread had gone a couple of hours without a reply I bumped it . You may get a reply from another member now?
 

FishDin

Have you tested your source water for ammonia?
 

Greener099

Have you tested your source water for ammonia?
Yes the water I use from tap to refill tank is 0 ammonia.
 

mattgirl

How long has it been now since you did the last big water change? I am not sure what these are bicarb, Nitrax. Are they some kind of chemical filtration? If so they may be disrupting the cycling process.

It would have been better if all of this had been kept in the original thread but I was able to go over there to help refresh my memory. The mods may see this and will merge the two threads.
 

Greener099

How long has it been now since you did the last big water change? I am not sure what these are bicarb, Nitrax. Are they some kind of chemical filtration? If so they may be disrupting the cycling process.

It would have been better if all of this had been kept in the original thread but I was able to go over there to help refresh my memory. The mods may see this and will merge the two threads.
I did my last big water change when it went up to 10ppm which was the 30/6/21. The bicarb and nitrax are sections of the filter but like sponges is the best way to explain them.
 

Azedenkae

every time ammonia dropped below 4 I readded

Sorry, just to clarify. You have been constantly adding more ammonia, every time ammonia dropped?
 

Greener099

Sorry, just to clarify. You have been constantly adding more ammonia, every time ammonia dropped?
Yes I was told every time it dropped to readd ammonia to the start amount of ammonia I started with which was 4ppm, after my big water change after it went to 10ppm I've been adding up to 2ppm.
 

Azedenkae

Yes I was told every time it dropped to readd ammonia to the start amount of ammonia I started with which was 4ppm, after my big water change after it went to 10ppm I've been adding up to 2ppm.
I am still confused - what increased to 10ppm? Ammonia or nitrate?
 

Greener099

I am still confused - what increased to 10ppm? Ammonia or nitrate?
Ammonia increased to 10ppm wasn't 100% why I added live plants a couple of days before and added a feed for them so wasn't sure if this was why
 

mattgirl

I did my last big water change when it went up to 10ppm which was the 30/6/21. The bicarb and nitrax are sections of the filter but like sponges is the best way to explain them.
I see. Some filters come with chemical media designed to remove some of the things we need to cycle a tank. I wasn't sure if these 2 things might be something like that. Since it has been almost 3 weeks since the last water change i am going to recommend you change out half the water now. Doing so will replenish the minerals.

Run your ammonia test after the water change. If there is still some ammonia in the tank don't add any more. If the water change gets it down to or very close to zero get it back up to no more than 2ppm.
 

Greener099

I see. Some filters come with chemical media designed to remove some of the things we need to cycle a tank. I wasn't sure if these 2 things might be something like that. Since it has been almost 3 weeks since the last water change i am going to recommend you change out half the water now. Doing so will replenish the minerals.

Run your ammonia test after the water change. If there is still some ammonia in the tank don't add any more. If the water change gets it down to or very close to zero get it back up to no more than 2ppm.
Thank you will do that tonight.
I see. Some filters come with chemical media designed to remove some of the things we need to cycle a tank. I wasn't sure if these 2 things might be something like that. Since it has been almost 3 weeks since the last water change i am going to recommend you change out half the water now. Doing so will replenish the minerals.

Run your ammonia test after the water change. If there is still some ammonia in the tank don't add any more. If the water change gets it down to or very close to zero get it back up to no more than 2ppm.
Thank you will do that tonight.
I see. Some filters come with chemical media designed to remove some of the things we need to cycle a tank. I wasn't sure if these 2 things might be something like that. Since it has been almost 3 weeks since the last water change i am going to recommend you change out half the water now. Doing so will replenish the minerals.

Run your ammonia test after the water change. If there is still some ammonia in the tank don't add any more. If the water change gets it down to or very close to zero get it back up to no more than 2ppm.
I've done the water change, and result has come out at 0.5 ammonia, so would you say take it back up to 2ppm or leave it how it is for now?
 

Greener099

How long has it been now since you did the last big water change? I am not sure what these are bicarb, Nitrax. Are they some kind of chemical filtration? If so they may be disrupting the cycling process.

It would have been better if all of this had been kept in the original thread but I was able to go over there to help refresh my memory. The mods may see this and will merge the two threads.
I've just checked the box Nitrax is a Nitrate remover so this may be where my issue lies. Would it be best to move this Sponge until tanks ready?
 

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mattgirl

I've just checked the box Nitrax is a Nitrate remover so this may be where my issue lies. Would it be best to move this Sponge until tanks ready?
I would remove any media that claims to remove anything from the tank. Most tanks don't need chemical filtration and they are really not needed while trying to cycle a tank.

Let me reword that because some normal media does claim to remove ammonia and nitrites. In most cases it isn't media doing the removing. It is the bacteria growing on the media that is doing it. Bio-media and normal sponge material should be all you need in this filter.
I've done the water change, and result has come out at 0.5 ammonia, so would you say take it back up to 2ppm or leave it how it is for now?
If you are sure it is .5 then let's see if the bacteria will lower it even more.
 

Greener099

I would remove any media that claims to remove anything from the tank. Most tanks don't need chemical filtration and they are really not needed while trying to cycle a tank.

Let me reword that because some normal media does claim to remove ammonia and nitrites. In most cases it isn't media doing the removing. It is the bacteria growing on the media that is doing it. Bio-media and normal sponge material should be all you need in this filter.

If you are sure it is .5 then let's see if the bacteria will lower it even more.
The Nitrax Sponge has now been removed from tank fingers crossed I will start getting some different results
 

Greener099

Well after taking the Nitrax Sponge out of my filter, ammonia has stayed at 2 over night, but I have Nitrite 1 and Nitrate 10 which hopefully is a good sign mattgirl
 

mattgirl

Well after taking the Nitrax Sponge out of my filter, ammonia has stayed at 2 over night, but I have Nitrite 1 and Nitrate 10 which hopefully is a good sign mattgirl
This is a good sign of forward progress but did the ammonia go up on its own again or did you add some this time?
 

Greener099

This is a good sign of forward progress but did the ammonia go up on its own again or did you add some this time?
From the water change the other day I added it back up to 2ppm as it was on 0.5ppm.
 

mattgirl

From the water change the other day I added it back up to 2ppm as it was on 0.5ppm.
I am happy to hear that you added some. At least we have gotten past the point where it was going up on its own. For now it is just a waiting game. Since this is a fishless cycle we don't have to be overly concerned about the nitrite and nitrate levels. Finally seeing them is a good sign that things are moving forward. Some ammonia is being processed.
 

Greener099

I am happy to hear that you added some. At least we have gotten past the point where it was going up on its own. For now it is just a waiting game. Since this is a fishless cycle we don't have to be overly concerned about the nitrite and nitrate levels. Finally seeing them is a good sign that things are moving forward. Some ammonia is being processed.
I will keep testing every couple of days now and will keep you updated with how things are going. Thank you
 

Greener099

Good morning me again ‍♂️ so I've tested again this morning Ammonia on 1ppm, Nitrite is 0 and Nitrate is on 20. Fingers crossed this is a good sign.
 

Greener099

Good morning mattgirl fishless cycle now been going on for just over 7 weeks, today's test results ammonia 1 (still hasn't dropped to 0), Nitrite 0 and Nitrate 10. I'm still unsure why my ammonia has never dropped to 0, I'm starting to get inpatient now and just want to add fish to the tank.
 

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jdhef

Okay, I looked through this entire thread and here are my thoughts:

I know it is frustrating to have a tank without any fish, but you shouldn't add fish until the tank is cycled.

It is surprising to me that after all this time you still don't have a colony of ammonia converting bacteria. So this leads me to wonder, what is the pH level in your tank. A Ph level to far below 7.0 will prevent that ammonia converting bacteria from developing.

Best of luck and hang in there!
 

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