Fishless Cycling Questions

Kaisy

Hello all,

I am currently setting up a moderately-heavily planted 7.5g cube tank for a future betta (he comes in next week Tuesday/Wednesday.) Due to the fish tank itself not arriving early, I started my cycle in a 5g bucket with a sponge filter on August 10th. I added a heater set to 84F to help the bacteria colonize faster.

I dose with Ace Hardware ammonia - usually up to 2-3ppm each time it falls under 1ppm. I initially added TSS, TSS+, and Stability in hopes of any of them working. My friend also owns a 10g betta tank that has been running for around 5 months. To try and seed my filter, I took his filter media, swished it hard in some tank water, and poured it into my sponge filter in hopes of this helping, even just a little (this occurred August 16th.) There's brown mulm that has stuck to my filter, too.

These past 3 days, ammonia levels drop by half everyday (2-3ppm 2 days ago > 1ppm yesterday > 0.5ppm today) and I have had no nitrite readings whatsoever. My nitrates on the other hand, increase to around 40ppm. My tap water has 10-20ppm nitrates naturally, however.

Have I successfully added enough of the nitrite-eating bacteria that they don't show in my readings? Or are the nitrates building up from my tap water? I compared tubes from the bucket and tap water, and the bucket water nitrates are significantly darker in color, from the API Freshwater Master Test Kit.

Will my filter be strong enough to house my betta when he comes next week? I was hoping the many plants I have would also help with water quality. Surely he doesn't produce that much ammonia? I was hoping to add snails/shrimp as well.I'm tempted to also get chili rasboras/ember tetras, but I'm not sure if there's enough space for them.

Thanks! :)
 

ProudPapa

Since your ammonia is consistently dropping that much and nitrates are rising I'd think your cycle is well on the way. I've seen other reports from people who never saw nitrite readings.
 

Azedenkae

Hello all,

I am currently setting up a moderately-heavily planted 7.5g cube tank for a future betta (he comes in next week Tuesday/Wednesday.) Due to the fish tank itself not arriving early, I started my cycle in a 5g bucket with a sponge filter on August 10th. I added a heater set to 84F to help the bacteria colonize faster.

I dose with Ace Hardware ammonia - usually up to 2-3ppm each time it falls under 1ppm. I initially added TSS, TSS+, and Stability in hopes of any of them working. My friend also owns a 10g betta tank that has been running for around 5 months. To try and seed my filter, I took his filter media, swished it hard in some tank water, and poured it into my sponge filter in hopes of this helping, even just a little (this occurred August 16th.) There's brown mulm that has stuck to my filter, too.

These past 3 days, ammonia levels drop by half everyday (2-3ppm 2 days ago > 1ppm yesterday > 0.5ppm today) and I have had no nitrite readings whatsoever. My nitrates on the other hand, increase to around 40ppm. My tap water has 10-20ppm nitrates naturally, however.

Have I successfully added enough of the nitrite-eating bacteria that they don't show in my readings? Or are the nitrates building up from my tap water? I compared tubes from the bucket and tap water, and the bucket water nitrates are significantly darker in color, from the API Freshwater Master Test Kit.

Will my filter be strong enough to house my betta when he comes next week? I was hoping the many plants I have would also help with water quality. Surely he doesn't produce that much ammonia? I was hoping to add snails/shrimp as well.I'm tempted to also get chili rasboras/ember tetras, but I'm not sure if there's enough space for them.

Thanks! :)
Yep! It sounds like you are cycling for sure. Though it may take a bit more time for it to be complete. Don't forget, 3ppm in a 5 gallon for example is equivalent to 2ppm in a 7.5 gallon, so yeah.

Also, the nitrate should not be due to your tap water, no. After all, your tap water is only 10-20ppm, so anything above it would be from the beneficial bacteria consuming ammonia (and nitrite).
 

jdhef

Yep! It sounds like you are cycling for sure. Though it may take a bit more time for it to be complete. Don't forget, 3ppm in a 5 gallon for example is equivalent to 2ppm in a 7.5 gallon, so yeah.
I do not think that is true. 3ppm would be 3ppm in either size tank, because ppm is not based on the volume of water. It is more like a percentage of ammonia in a given volume of water. So for every 1 million drops of water, 3 of those drops are ammonia.
 

Azedenkae

I do not think that is true. 3ppm would be 3ppm in either size tank, because ppm is not based on the volume of water. It is more like a percentage of ammonia in a given volume of water. So for every 1 million drops of water, 3 of those drops are ammonia.
To clarify, I am talking about the nitrifying capability of the beneficial bacteria. If they can handle 3ppm in a 5 gallon tank, they can only handle 2ppm in a 7.5 gallon tank.

[EDIT]

Here's the math for those who are interested.

3ppm in a 5 gallon (18.9 litre) tank is 56.78mg ammonia total. So if the nitrifiers can eventually handle 3ppm in a 5 gallon tank a day, they are handling 56.78mg ammonia a day. When transferred to the 7.5 gallon tank, they can still obviously only handle 56.78mg ammonia a day. However, 56.78mg ammonia in a 7.5 gallon (28.39 litre) tank would then be 2mg/l, i.e. 2ppm. So the same beneficial bacteria can handle 3ppm in a 5 gallon tank, but only handle 2ppm in a 7.5 gallon tank.
 

Kaisy

Thanks everyone!

Will my new betta be okay even though the cycle won't be fully complete? I don't know how much longer the filter will take to be completely cycled- and he comes next week. That's why I tried so hard to add good bacteria haha.
 

jdhef

Before your betta arrives do a large water change to try to get ammonia/nitrite close to 0ppm. Then just keep up the water changes with Prime and your betta should be fine until the tank cycles.
 

Kaisy

Before your betta arrives do a large water change to try to get ammonia/nitrite close to 0ppm. Then just keep up the water changes with Prime and your betta should be fine until the tank cycles.

Thank you, sounds good!

Also one more question- would high nitrates stall my cycle? Nitrates keep rising to around 80ppm, should I be doing water changes? Or the bacteria will be fine?
 

jdhef

So long as there are no fish in the tank, the high nitrates shouldn't be a problem and shouldn't stall your cycle.
 

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