Fishless Cycling, Where Is Ammonia Coming From

Lcas1

Member
HI I have just set up a 22 gal tank had it running for 5 days went to get first hardy fish to start cycling but when I took a water sample to fish store said I couldn't do it yet as tank was already cycling.so I bought an apI freshwater master test kit have done some tests and my ammonia reading was .25ppm nitrite .50ppm and nitrate was 40ppm how is this possible? So confused I do have a piece of wood in the tank that I got from the store could this be the cause? Plants and decs are all plastic any advice would be great thanks
 

Fahn

Member
Test the nitrates in your tap water.

Has anything in this tank been in another tank before?
 
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Lcas1

Member
HI yes I tested my tap water no nitrates showed up.some of the decorations I have put in were from a 10 gal tank I had 2 years ago. But I did rinse them all thoroughly.
 

Fahn

Member
Lcas1 said:
HI yes I tested my tap water no nitrates showed up.some of the decorations I have put in were from a 10 gal tank I had 2 years ago. But I did rinse them all thoroughly.
I'd retest the nitrates, really shake that second bottle hard for 30 seconds. This will be a control to make sure you aren't getting a false positive.
 

Donthemon

Member
Have you treated the water with conditioner or anything else? Like Safestart?
 
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Lcas1

Member
I have used tetra aquasafe as my water conditioner that is all and left it running. Did u mean retest my tap water.? Because myself and the fish store have done my aquarium water and both showed the same

Have retested tank and tap water tap water still saying no nitrates and tank water is around the 40ppm I don't get how it can without a proper ammonia source but they all still showing same results confused .com!!
 

Fahn

Member
Could it be something decaying on the driftwood?
 
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Lcas1

Member
That is the only thing I can think that is doing it it has started to get a bit of white stuff growing on it. And it is the only real natural object in the tank so maybe that is the cause
 

mattgirl

Member
Was the piece of drift wood from a tank or was it on a shelf? If from a tank it is very possible that it already had bacteria on it and helped to jump start this cycle.

Since you will be doing a fishless cycle you need to add ammonia to feed the bacteria. The fish do it during a fish in cycle but since you have none you will have to do their job.

You could use fish food but it has to decompose before making ammonia. Pure ammonia is a cleaner option and the amount of ammonia can be controlled better.
 
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Lcas1

Member
The drift wood was on the shelf at the store brought it home rinsed it and put it in tank when I set up. Fish store had said to wait til all my readings go back down then add few hardy fish with a bottle of colony! But I had been thinking about a fish less cycle just don't know anywhere local I can get the ammonia
 

mattgirl

Member
Lcas1 said:
The drift wood was on the shelf at the store brought it home rinsed it and put it in tank when I set up. Fish store had said to wait til all my readings go back down then add few hardy fish with a bottle of colony! But I had been thinking about a fish less cycle just don't know anywhere local I can get the ammonia
Shouldn't have had bacteria on it then. You said you used some deco from a 10 gallon tank but if the tank hasn't been running for 2 years I would think all the bacteria on them would have died off but I guess it is in the realm of possibility that some survived.

I guess I don't really understand the info you got from the LFS. I can see the ammonia and nitrites going to zero but if they told you to wait until ALL the readings go back down maybe they didn't actually mean ALL since the nitrates will just keep building up until they are lowered with water changes.

Is it possible for you to order Dr Tim's ammonium chloride from amazon? Some folks use that. Others have found janitorial strength ammonia at places like Ace Hardware and even others have found some in their local grocery type store. What ever you get if you decide to take this route be sure it has nothing added to it to make it smell or clean better.
 
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Lcas1

Member
It has me confused to like u said! my fish store only tested nitrites and nitrates. I tested the ammonia and nitrites and nitrates when I bought my test kit and was showing ammonia reading as well as what I have mentioned may have to go back and ask them how the nitrates will be able to disappear without changing water. I will look into getting some ammonia thanks for the advice
 

mattgirl

Member
Lcas1 said:
It has me confused to like u said! my fish store only tested nitrites and nitrates. I tested the ammonia and nitrites and nitrates when I bought my test kit and was showing ammonia reading as well as what I have mentioned may have to go back and ask them how the nitrates will be able to disappear without changing water. I will look into getting some ammonia thanks for the advice
Sadly sometimes some of these folks talk so confidently it seems they know what they are talking about but often it is nothing more than an act. It pays to question advice received from a lot of them. If they don't truly understand what is supposed to happen they tend to give bad advice and state it as fact.
 
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Lcas1

Member
They do only deal with fish and are quite reputable where I am from on the plus side least they didn't let me just buy fish to bring them home for them to die when my water isn't right yet. Just out of interest I have a cannister filter set up it has 2 trays came with ceramic rings 2 filter pads and a carbon filter I have them all in at the mo but would u replace the carbon filter and add more ceramic rings and possibly filter floss or another sponge?
 

mattgirl

Member
Lcas1 said:
They do only deal with fish and are quite reputable where I am from on the plus side least they didn't let me just buy fish to bring them home for them to die when my water isn't right yet. Just out of interest I have a cannister filter set up it has 2 trays came with ceramic rings 2 filter pads and a carbon filter I have them all in at the mo but would u replace the carbon filter and add more ceramic rings and possibly filter floss or another sponge?
They could be very trustworthy then but it never hurts to get second and even third opinions

I haven't used carbon in a very long time. If it were me I would use the space taken up with carbon for more bio-media. (sponges are good too) A bit of filter floss is a good idea too. With enough ceramic or other permanent media the floss can be replaced as often as needed without fear of throwing out bacteria.

I use poly-fil (yep, that same stuff made for stuffing pillows) and replace it each week. A big bag of it can be bought cheaply and a bag will last a long time even replacing it each week. It does a good job of polishing the water.
 
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Lcas1

Member
Thanks for the info appreciate it hopefully will get it all sorted soon and will be able to enjoy getting my new fish
 

mattgirl

Member
Lcas1 said:
Thanks for the info appreciate it hopefully will get it all sorted soon and will be able to enjoy getting my new fish
You are so very welcome.
 
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Lcas1

Member
HI u have replied on another of my threads so am just wondering if u can help? Have had a 22 gal tank set up for 7 days now got it all up and running only added dechlorinater to my water went to the lfs to get first fish to do cycle but they tested my water and said I couldn't put fish in yet as tank was already cycling I bought master test kit and had .25 ammonia .50nitrites and 40 ppm nitrates don't get how it can and where the ammonia source is coming from?
 

sixtyfour

Member
That's exciting. The first thing I would want to know is what is coming out of your tap. What kind of declorinator? Add anything else?
 
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Lcas1

Member
Lcas1 said:
HI u have replied on another of my threads so am just wondering if u can help? Have had a 22 gal tank set up for 7 days now got it all up and running only added dechlorinater to my water went to the lfs to get first fish to do cycle but they tested my water and said I couldn't put fish in yet as tank was already cycling I bought master test kit and had .25 ammonia .50nitrites and 40 ppm nitrates don't get how it can and where the ammonia source is coming from?
That was on 5th day of set up went to other store yesterday they said this is possible then gave me some bacteria in a bottle to add which I did. Have checked levels again tonight ammonia has nearly dropped completely nitrite has dropped very slightly and so has nitrate just have never heard of this without a proper ammonia source

sixtyfour said:
That's exciting. The first thing I would want to know is what is coming out of your tap. What kind of declorinator? Add anything else?
I have tested my tap water as well there is no nitrate or nitrite. I used tetra aquasafe for dechlorinater
 

sixtyfour

Member
Any amoninia in the tap?
 
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Lcas1

Member
sixtyfour said:
Any amoninia in the tap?
I haven't tried that to be fair didn't think would have ammonia in tap water only other thing added was the bacteria in a bottle yesterday
 

sixtyfour

Member
If you look at the AquaSafe it's more than just a declorinator. It's got other stuff in it that could have kicked in a cycle.
 
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Lcas1

Member
sixtyfour said:
If you look at the AquaSafe it's more than just a declorinator. It's got other stuff in it that could have kicked in a cycle.
Yes it does say about helping the biological filter just doesn't explain the ammonia may have to check my tap water!!!
 

sixtyfour

Member
One of the things that bugs me about all these products is you never know exactly what it is. Their little ad blurp says some stuff about seaweed and bio enhancing. We really don't know what any of that means. Some of these products have amoninia components to keep the bacteria in the bottle alive. I suspect the AquaSafe in your case.

We see a lot of folks that have amoninia in their tap water.
 
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Lcas1

Member
sixtyfour said:
One of the things that bugs me about all these products is you never know exactly what it is. Their little ad blurp says some stuff about seaweed and bio enhancing. We really don't know what any of that means. Some of these products have amoninia components to keep the bacteria in the bottle alive. I suspect the AquaSafe in your case.
Yes the only other thing I thought could be doing it is the bog wood I put in

I will check my tap water and see what it comes out with thanks
 

Hugginz

Member
Lcas1 said:
I will check my tap water and see what it comes out with thanks
Guarantee there’s ammonia in the tap. I have .25 in mine. It’s from the chloramine I think. The seachem prime and stability were better for me than the Tetra stuff. Once I switched to that I had no more issues.
 
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Lcas1

Member
I have done the test and it isn't showing any? Do I just need to leave everything running and wait til levels drop before I can add a fish? Lfs said had to til the levels had dropped only thing is the nitrates won't drop anyway without a water change will they?
 

Wraithen

Member
Lcas1 said:
I have done the test and it isn't showing any? Do I just need to leave everything running and wait til levels drop before I can add a fish? Lfs said had to til the levels had dropped only thing is the nitrates won't drop anyway without a water change will they?
Correct about the nitrates.

It sounds like your lfs wants you to have a cycled tank prior to getting fish.
 
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Lcas1

Member
Wraithen said:
Correct about the nitrates.

It sounds like your lfs wants you to have a cycled tank prior to getting fish.
Yes but they only tested nitrite and nitrate and said it had started cycling by itself and said I had to wait til nitrates and nitrites had gone back to 0 but that is where I am confused as the nitrates won't just disappear on there own?! I tested them all myself when bought the master test kit

Bloke at the other fish store had said because when u first set up a tank it's a blank slate of any bacteria or anything and it is just establishing itself!? Everything I have read up on says if u do a fish in cycle usually u can run it for 3-4 days then add a fish plus bottled bacteria and this will start the cycle
 

Wraithen

Member
Lcas1 said:
Bloke at the other fish store had said because when u first set up a tank it's a blank slate of any bacteria or anything and it is just establishing itself!? Everything I have read up on says if u do a fish in cycle usually u can run it for 3-4 days then add a fish plus bottled bacteria and this will start the cycle
Well, kinda. You can dechlorinate the water, wait for 24 hours, then add something like safe start plus and fish. Many dechlorinators interfere with the safe start plus.

You could just take them a sample of your tap water if you wanted to get around their intentions since it tests all zeros. Or, you could do a fish less cycle with the same product and some pure ammonia if you have the time and then you can stock quicker.
 
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Lcas1

Member
Yes I think need to go back to the fish store and get them to fully explain what they are waiting to happen as there is no official source of ammonia can't understand how I am getting the readings I am getting and how they expect the nitrate to go down on it's own! If not may order the dr Tim's ammonia and do it myself
 

BillCNC

Member
For cycling a 10 gal tank, stuffing it full of live plant will get that cycle started far faster that just a bottled product alone. It has living bacteria and little critters all over them.

I use plant's and Seachem's Stability, ... or a seeded sponge depending on my time frame.
 
  • Thread Starter

Lcas1

Member
I have just ordered dr Tim's ammonia and a bottle of nitrifying bacteria my 22 gal tank has been set up a week already went to the lfs after 4 days to do a fish in cycle but they tested my water and said it had already started cycling so couldn't put a fish in. there is no real source of ammonia but my readings when I tested were .25 ammonia .50 nitrite and 40 ppm nitrate so have decided to go the fish less cycle route any advice on how to go about it would be great
 

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