55 Gallon Tank Fishless Cycling Questions

crazycatlady
Member
Hello everyone. I have a few questions about where I am in the cycling process and where I should go from here. I set my tank up on January 13th, and added plants (specifically 2 Brazilian Swords, and 1 Compact Sword) around January 16th. I tested the water a few times with test strips (I didn't write the results down) and I had "safe" levels of ammonia whatever that means, and high nitrates and nitrites both times. After testing the water with strips the second time I started using a bacterial additive from my LFS called Tropical Science Nitromax sporadically.

So two days ago I finally got an API master test kit and tested my water. The readings were Ammonia: ,25 ppm, Nitrite; 1.0 ppm, and Nitrate 5.0 ppm. I then added Nitromax. I tested the water again today and the results were Ammonia: .25 ppm, Nitrite 0 ppm, and Nitrate: 0 ppm, which seems really strange to me because I don't know why the nitrites and nitrates would go down but not the ammonia. After I tested the water I used up the last of the Nitromax.

I'm wondering if I'm at the beginning or the end of the nitrogen cycle and if I just need to start over because of what I have or have not done so far i.e. adding ammonia to the water. Additionally I was thinking of purchasing some stability today to add to the tank tomorrow and for the next seven days per the directions on the bottle. Would that be okay? By the way my filter is an Aquaclear 70.
 
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jdhef
Moderator
Member
Since you haven't added fish (or an ammonia source of any kind) you really haven't started cycling yet. In a tank which hasn't had an ammonia source added you should have 0ppm ammonia, 0ppm nitrites and 0ppm nitrates. The only way for those levels to be elevated would be if you had ammonia, nitrite or nitrate in your tap water. So I would recommend that you test your tap water to see what that contains.

Of course it is possible that rotting plant leaves could result in ammonia being added to the tank.

I have no knowledge about NirtoMax, but I will say most bacteria suppliments do not work long term. One exception that I personally had success with would be Tetra SafeStart.
 
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crazycatlady
Member
Well I just tested my tap water and it was Ammonia: .25 ppm, Nitrite: 0 ppm, and Nitrate 0 ppm. I also just noticed some plant roots on the bottom of my tank which are probably adding to the problem. Is it okay to use Safestart with the readings I currently have?
 
kinezumi89
Member
Yes, but TSS only works with fish, so you'd need to add fish at the same time. I would also say definitely discontinue the Nitromax, and glad you got an API kit!
 
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crazycatlady
Member
Thanks for the replies! I bought the Nitromax at my LFS with extreme skepticism given what I've read on this forum and only continued using it until it was gone because I couldn't return it. I really wish I had just gone ahead and added the Safestart in the first place! Should I add my full stock immediately or add a few fish at a time?
 
DoTheRightThing
Member
You can do a fishless cycle with TSS, but you need to have 1-2ppm ammonia to start it up instead of 4-5ppm like a regular fishless cycle. Or, you can just follow the instructions on the bottle and be fine too.
 
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crazycatlady
Member
It's interesting that you can do a fishless cycle with TSS but I was more asking, should I add all of the fish I plan to have immediately, or add a few fish, wait a day or so and then add more.
 
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crazycatlady
Member
I looked at the directions for TSS while I was at work today and it doesn't say whether or not to add your full stock or not. Would a school of tetras, say 6-8 be enough to keep the cycle going with TSS or should I add more fish?
 
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jdhef
Moderator
Member
Somewhere on this forum there is a Q&A about SafeStart where a memeber emailed Tetra with questions about it's use. The thread was atarted by either Lucy or Shawnie if I remember correctly, and you could probably find it doing a forum search.

But to answer your question:
Yes you can use SafeStart with the water parameters you have listed. As mentioned you need to add some fish at the same time you add the SafeStart. Also, Tetra recommended in that Q&A to add 1"-2" of fish per 10 gallons unless you are starting an African Cichlid tank where you need to add all of the fish at the same time. So while you could try adding the whole school at once, I think your risk of failure would be higher, and having a partial school for the 14 days it will take SafeStart to get your tank cycled will not be a problem.

I would not try to cycle fishless with SafeStart. It is designed to be used with fish and some members who have tried doing it fishe=less have reported failure.

One thing to be aware of. Do not add SafeStart less that 24 hours after any water conditioner has been added to your tank. Adding SafeStart within 24 hours can cause it to fail.

Good luck!
 
CatfishJack
Member
crazycatlady said:
I looked at the directions for TSS while I was at work today and it doesn't say whether or not to add your full stock or not. Would a school of tetras, say 6-8 be enough to keep the cycle going with TSS or should I add more fish?
What sort of fish are you planning on stocking?
 
CatfishJack
Member
Awaiting word from Tetra regarding the possibilities of whether using TSS in conjunction with normal fishless ammonia dosing actually does anything....
 
kinezumi89
Member
Did you contact them about it? Please post a thread when you find out, I'm interested to hear what they say
 
CatfishJack
Member
kinezumi89 said:
Did you contact them about it? Please post a thread when you find out, I'm interested to hear what they say
I did and I will. Logically I would think that it would work, but their solution being a proprietary thing... who knows. Evidence that I am finding shows otherwise: Either failed cycles or cycles that take just as long as a standard ammonia dosing cycle. With that time frame, why spend money on TSS if it isn't going to speed it up?
 
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crazycatlady
Member
Thanks! I had found the Q&A with TSS before but I was confused because the company and the forum members seemed to have differing opinions. It was still really helpful though. Has anyone stickied that?

I think I'm going to change the topic of this thread to stocking now. I currently have one accidental inhabitant that I discovered today. It's some sort of snail, probably a nuisance one although he's pretty big. But as far as fish here's what I was thinking:

1 Bristlenose Pleco
1-2 Bolivian Rams
6 Bronze Cories
8 Flame tetras
8 Glowlight Tetras

Is that too much for my tank? Will two female Bolivian rams fight? Which fish should I add with the Safestart?
 
CatfishJack
Member
I suck at figuring out safe stocking levels but it does not sound like too much to me, ultimately.

What I would say though is if your Rams are going to be 'centerpiece' fish, to get more of them. 1 of them will be boring. 2 of them is good if they are a breeding pair. If not going for a breeding pair, get more! They are social, but not shoaling (though they will cruise around together from time to time). Regarding Rams fighting. Yes, but it's not bad like you might think. They will have a bit of a pack mentality and will have little squabbles to determine their rank. This behavior may include ramming, nipping, chasing and lip locking. I have not read or heard of it ever causing injury (not to say it couldn't happen but it seems very rare/unheard of)

Once their hierarchy is determined they'll kind of establish their own little territories and sometimes will chase off the intruding ram if it gets to close. Sometimes they seem to forget about it and swim around together checking things out. I think this depends on whether they are in the mood for breeding or not.

The video in my signature line is kind of long for what it is, but it shows multiple instances of my group of four who are in the process of establishing their pecking order. There is at least one instance of two females lip locking and another instance that I don't remember if it is male/female doing it (courting behavior) or female/female - the video is hard for me to tell which fish they were.

No matter what they are doing: establishing order, begging for food (once they realize YOU=Feeding time - they will all forget their squabbles and rush to the front glass and stare you down until you feed them) , strutting their stuff (I have one female BR that loves to show off her colors/fins) or just meandering around and playing in the plants and bubble wall - it is all extremely entertaining to watch!

Feeding time is especially fun, because they get all flared/puffy with each other and have staring contests while waiting for the next morsel to float by. Their dorsal and pelvic fins deploy to full, they puff out their gills to look bigger and its just funny.
 
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crazycatlady
Member
Now that you've described the personality of the Rams I'm even more sure of my choice! I didn't really know much about their personalities before just that they were an okay community cichlid. Will the rams be aggressive towards the other fish if they enter their respective territories though?
 
CatfishJack
Member
If you get a breeding pair, yes. In my research it seems to be mostly just chasing things away. They for the most part completely ignore the otocinclus I have in the same tank. Sometimes I'll spot one of the rams checking one of the otos out, just looking at it and following it, but have never seen them chase or try to ram/nip at the otos.
 
kinezumi89
Member
I have a 55 gallon, and your stock sounds great! I would get 8 cories though - it won't overstock your tank, and they'll appreciate being in a bigger group. I also agree on getting more rams. Either a pair, or one male and two females.
 
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crazycatlady
Member
Great! I'm all for more cories, they're actually my favorite fish. I also think I'll probably get 3 rams. Which fish should I add first with the safestart though?
 
CatfishJack
Member
Not sure any of the stock are on the extremely hardy list, but the Rams are pretty robust and I think should do well with a TSS cycle
 
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crazycatlady
Member
I had heard that Rams liked more established tanks. I was thinking of adding the glowlight tetras or the flame tetras first. Any thoughts on that?

Additionally if there is an already bonded pair of Rams will it mess things up if I add another female to the mix?
 
CatfishJack
Member
German Blue Rams require an established tank. Bolivians are much more hardy and will adapt to a broader range of water conditions (hardness and acidity)

IMO they are better built for withstanding a safestart cycle than a smaller fish.

As for getting them it's best to get them in groups of 4 to 6 and rehoming the ones that don't pair, if a pair is what you're after. If you are set on 3.. I would probably either get all females or get them all at the same time. The "third wheel" if two pair up is going to be a loner and picked on during the spawn.
 
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crazycatlady
Member
That's what I thought. Yesterday when I was at the pet store I noticed there was a pair and they seemed to be picking on everybody else. I'm concerned that the male in the pair is the only male in the tank.

I would like to get four but would that put my stocking levels over the edge with all of the other fish I have picked out?
 
CatfishJack
Member
You could get the male and pick out others that don't seem to be the one paired with him (break them up... you start giving him frozen brine shrimp or blood worms, he'll forgive you).

I don't think for is pushing it
 
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crazycatlady
Member
So just to recap my revised stock is going to be:
1 Bristlenose pleco
4 Bolivian Rams
8 Bronze Cories
8 Flame Tetras
8 Glowlight Tetras
 
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crazycatlady
Member
I'm also trying to figure out what kind of snail hitchhiked in on my plants. It seems to be a single black snail with a shell similar in shape to a Malaysian trumpet snail (but it looks nothing like one). The shell is black with goldish flecks (maybe stripes?). It looks like a pest snail but I don't see any eggs and the snail is fairly large for the snails I've seen that overwhelm tanks, i.e. I feel like he should have replicated by now if he was one of those but maybe I'm wrong. I need to know whether or not to kill him.
 
CatfishJack
Member
maybe just a regular pond snail? How big is it? Can you get a picture?
 
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crazycatlady
Member
It's pretty difficult to get a picture since he's hanging out at the front of the tank near the surface since I had to shut off the filter yesterday (it was making a weird noise, I think it may be clogged). His shell is about an a centimeter long.
 
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crazycatlady
Member
Since you suggested it may be a pond snail I looked it up and that is indeed what it looks like. Now I have to decide whether or not to get rid of it.
 
kinezumi89
Member
If you don't get rid of it, you will soon have MANY pond snails. They can reproduce by themselves. I tried putting a single one in a 2.5 gallon tank with my shrimps, and I was soon overrun with them.
 
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crazycatlady
Member
Thanks for the input about the snail. I suppose I will get rid of it. It's cute but then again so are tribbles.
 
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crazycatlady
Member
I went to remove the pond snail and it had died (was floating in the water). Should I be worried about my water?
 
kinezumi89
Member
Are you certain it's dead? Snails do float sometimes. But even if it is, it's so small and it sounds like it wasn't dead for very long, so I wouldn't be worried. It's just contributing a little ammonia to your cycle
 

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