Fishless Cycling

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by KVC, Apr 9, 2017.

  1. KVC

    KVCNew MemberMember

    I got an aquarium for the first time and have been attempting to get it cycled now for almost 3 months. I have added conditioned water with Prime, have a filter, heater, had been adding pure janitorial ammonia up to 4ppm to get things going. Finally about 2 weeks ago the ammonia would go from 4 to 0 consistently in 1-2 days. The nitrites spiked and then appeared to go down and then the nitrates appeared only at 5ppm. This was using the API test kit. My pH is right at 7.0 and water temp 80F. However, when I took the water to Petsmart yesterday and they tested it, nitrites and nitrates were through the roof. So I did ~80-90% water exchange last night, and now my home test kit still shows crazy high levels of nitrites and nitrates (not sure what my problem with my test kit was initially). What do I do now? Do I keep adding ammonia or just leave it alone and wait for the nitrites and nitrates to come down? Do I need another water exchange? HELP!
  2. jdhef

    jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    Welcome to FishLore!

    You do need to keep adding ammonia. Since ammonia is the food for the ammonia converting bacteria, if you stop adding ammonia the bacteria will starve off (not good).

    My advice for someone doing a fishless cycle with ammonia is to dose the tank to 4ppm ammonia until nitrites appear. Then dose the tank to 2ppm ammonia. Once your nitrites zero out, you have nitrates and you are processing all 2ppm of ammonia within 24're cycled.

    Nitrites levels over about 5ppm can actually stall the nitrite phase of the cycle. So if your nitrites are getting close to 5ppm, I would recommend a partial water change to get them back down to around 2ppm.

    It sounds like you are very close to being cycled, so it shouldn't take too much longer once you get those nitrites at a better level.

    Good luck!
  3. OP

    KVCNew MemberMember

    Thanks. So we did another huge water change and now our ammonia/nitrites/nitrates are all where they should be- yea! However, the pH is stuck at 8.2. I've tried using the pH down stuff (7 doses) and it hasn't budged. I checked the pH of our tap water, and it's 8.2. Do I need to just give up trying this and do a large water change again using distilled water? Will that mean every time I change the water I need to use distilled? I'd rather not if at all possible, but at some point I want some fish!
  4. PaulaMPi

    PaulaMPiValued MemberMember

    You really shouldn't use the PH down and PH up products. Most fish can adjust to the pH of your tank, and using that much product can cause a huge crash in pH (which would be way more damaging to fish in the long run), and can also affect your cycle.
  5. jdhef

    jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    What fish are you planning on keeping? There is nothing wrong with having a pH of 8.2 for most fish and altering pH can be very risky due to the possibility of sudden pH swings, which can kill fish quickly.
  6. OP

    KVCNew MemberMember

    I am planning to start with "easy" community dwelling fish- danios, mollies, etc. Most things I've read show that your pH needs to be closer to 7 and that levels above 8 can be harmful; is this not the case? The guy at the pet store told me last week to just wait it out and the pH would regulate on its own in a few days. He said that that high of a pH would be harmful. Since nothing changed after one week, I bought the pH down solution to try. This is all so frustrating! Are there certain fish you'd recommend keeping, especially knowing that my water's pH is higher and the water is quite hard? Thanks for any advice!
  7. jdhef

    jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    I think mollies would love a pH of 8.2. Also, if you were keeping African Cichlids, you would need a pH over 8.0 (they are one type of fish that is sensitive to pH). Also, many Rainbow Fish prefer a higher pH.

    Most captive bred fish will do fine in any pH between 6 and 8.5. Generally, hitting a specific pH is more important when trying to get fish to spawn.

    In my opinion, pH is something that many beginners obsess over for some reason, when in reality it is for the most part not all that important. And before you think I'm disparaging you in any way about obsessing over pH, it was my obsession over pH that lead me to FishLore. So there was some good to come of it for me.
  8. Kiks

    KiksWell Known MemberMember

    I have a 30 gallon and a 14 gallon and both are at 8.2 pH. I keep BN plecos, amano shrimp, RCS and guppies and all of them are doing great. Don't worry too much about pH unless it's really really high.
  9. Herkimur

    HerkimurWell Known MemberMember

    I was told by my LFS guy that fish easily adjust to higher PH and higher mineral content.
    It's the other way around that is deadly.
    Dropping a fish that has lived in hard alkaline waters into soft acidic water is like taking a person from an Island at sea level and placing him on top of Mt. Everest.
  10. OP

    KVCNew MemberMember

    That's great news. I bit the bullet and got 5 fish today- hopeful they're gonna make it!