Have I messed up my fishless cycle?

Discussion in 'Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle' started by rosie2126, Dec 28, 2012.

  1. rosie2126New MemberMember

    Hiya everyone!

    I'm new to keeping tropical fish and have a question about fishless cycling.

    I think (hope) I was on the right track with my cycle, I went away for xmas so had no way to continue adding ammonia or doing any readings, am I still on track? I'm using API master kit....


    Ammonia 0ppm
    Nitrate 160ppm
    Nitrite 5ppm


    Ammonia 0ppm
    Nitrate 40ppm
    Nitrite 3ppm


    Ammonia 0.25ppm
    Nitrate 40ppm
    Nitrite 5ppm

    18 and 19/12

    Ammonia 0.25ppm
    Nitrate 10ppm
    Nitrite 5ppm

    21, 22 and 23/12

    Ammonia 0ppm
    Nitrate 5ppm
    Nitrite 5ppm


    Ammonia 0ppm (still dropping after 24h)
    Nitrate 80ppm
    Nitrite 0.5ppm


    Ammonia 0ppm
    Nitrate 160ppm
    Nitrite 0.5ppm

    Will the few days absent have upset the cycle or are these readings ok? Many thanks for any help
  2. catsma_97504Fishlore LegendMember

    Welcome to the forum.

    What are you using to cycle? Your ammonia level is almost always 0. This is not good for a fishless cycle. While some progress has been made the bacteria needs a constant food source.

    Push the ammonia level up to the 2-3 ppm range. Then test 24 hours later. Add enough ammonia to again push it into the 2-3 ppm range. By allowing all ammonia to be depleted the cycle quickly can stall.

    Good luck!

  3. hcroarkValued MemberMember

    yes, it looks like you kinda lost some of the nitrate bacteria. You're going through the nirtrite spike again. It's ok. Just keep adding the ammonia and it will get back there soon enough.

  4. rosie2126New MemberMember

    Thank you for your replies. Sorry I didn't realise I didn't say that this is over half way through my cycle. I'm using household ammonia. The first two weeks my ammonia climbed steadily but then hit 8ppm, I did a water change and it steadied at 4ppm for about a week and then started to drop, the results above are from that point in the progress

  5. catsma_97504Fishlore LegendMember

    How high are you pushing the ammonia when you add it? 8 PPM is enough to burn/kill the bacteria. Good thing you did the water change! Never go over 4 PPM ammonia this far into the cycling process.

    Cranking the heat will also help. Not sure what you tank is currently set at.

    It does appear that your tank is able to convert some nitrite into nitrate, but not making much progress at this time.

    Oh, have you been keeping track of your pH? Its changes can be very telling in the cycling progress too.

    You definitely are on the right track. May need to do another water change to get things moving again. Followed by a 2 PPM dose of ammonia.
  6. LyleBWell Known MemberMember

    Just for future reference. When having to abandon ammonia dosing while cycling, for a vacation or whatever:

    Change temporarily to the fish/shrimp method. Has worked for me twice now. Just add a filter media bag with either a couple of raw shrimp or a couple of chunks of raw fish into the tank water. They will keep the process going, and having them in a media bag makes clean-up easy when you return home.

    Two good size shrimp kept my cycle going for 14 days last fall.
  7. rosie2126New MemberMember

    Ive been pushing the ammonia to 3-4ppm, going by various threads this seemed to be the most common advice. My tank is set at 25c at the moment, I have 3 live plants and was advised not to increase the temperature anymore than that, is this correct?
    Thanks for the suggestion Lyle, good to know for future
  8. LyleBWell Known MemberMember

    From my research you can go up to 86 Fahrenheit, 30 Celsius without starting to slow the colonization. Between 74 Fahrenheit and 86 Farenheit it is a linear increase in growth.

    Would depend on how your plants would handle it. I had mine at 84 degrees without plants.
  9. catsma_97504Fishlore LegendMember

    What plants do you have? Coldwater only plants will not handle the high heat; but any tropical plant would enjoy the temporary sauna :)

    What is your current pH level? Has it bottomed out yet?
  10. rosie2126New MemberMember

    Bacopa caroliniana, cabomba caroliniana and Anubias barteri v. nana. My ph has stayed around 7.5 to 8.2. Never any lower or higher. My nitrates rose again to 2ppm and has now dropped to 0. My ammonia is also at 0 and my nitrates are about 80-100
  11. catsma_97504Fishlore LegendMember

    Sounds to me like you are almost there! I would add ammonia in the morning and run the tests in the evening. If the ammonia and the nitrite are both zero, then your tank has cycled. I would focus on these 2 tests as you are obviously converting into nitrates with close to 100 PPM at this point.

    No need to crank the heat being as your tank has most likely cycled, just not quite stable yet. But if you decide to do so, no harm will come to your plants. All those are true tropical species.

    Once you decide your tank has cycled, you will need to do as large a water change as possible. Drain the tank. Then, fill with dechlorinated water. This will remove the buildup of nitrate that always occurs with fishless cycling. Then, you'll be ready to add your first fish :) But go slowly.
  12. rosie2126New MemberMember

    Thanks for all the advice and feedback. My tank is finally cycled :-D the last 3 days the nitrites and ammonia has dropped to zero in just over 12 hours. One last question my ph is about 7.8 (and I plan to buy guppies, would 4 be a good start?) will this be ok, didn't continuously check the ph. Also my gh and kh is really high, how can I reduce this? Will it cause problems? I only have the test strips to test the gh and kh and I'm not sure if they are very accurate
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2013
  13. catsma_97504Fishlore LegendMember

    Congratulations on cycling your tank!!

    Yes, a couple guppies should be fine. Just keep testing to make sure the cycle holds. If not, do a few extra water changes until it catches up.

    Don't worry about your pH. The actual number doesn't really matter, so long as it isn't too high (8.4+). A stable pH is the most important thing.

    High KH and GH is a good thing, to a point. This tells us that you have hard water. Hard water holds pH very stable, which is a very good thing. When you purchase new fish, make sure to acclimate them very slowly.

    Good luck adding your new babies to their home!
  14. rosie2126New MemberMember

    Thanks again for the advice it's helped loads. Really looking forward to adding the first fish now. After the waterchange the nitrite and ammonia dropped to zero in just under 12hours, as you said I will keep checking
  15. AquariaUKValued MemberMember

    Well done!!! As said by the others, test the water regularly and keep doing water changes once or twice a week. A few guppies should be fine but I think 4 should be the maximum. Is this a 45lt tank?

    Are you going to plant it?
  16. rosie2126New MemberMember

    Yep it's a 45L and I have bacopa caroliniana, cabomba caroliniana and Anubias barteri v. nana plants which have been in the tank from the beginning (and to my surprise seem to be doing ok) I've not decided yet if I will stick to having an all guppy tank or add another species eventually, what should be my ideal limit number wise? Various websites say different things. Also, with the waterchanges, how much water should I change to start off with?
  17. AquariaUKValued MemberMember

    I think around 30% but with cycling it's different.
  18. catsma_97504Fishlore LegendMember

    Let your parameter tests guide you for how much water to change. The goal is to maintain 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite and less than 20 PPM nitrate.

    For example, if your nitrate is at 40 PPM and you change 50%, then you will have lowered this parameter to 20 PPM. Knowing that the fish will constantly be adding to the nitrogen levels, more water will need to be changed.
  19. rosie2126New MemberMember

    Thanks again for the reply. Things are all looking good, had 3 male guppies making themselves at home since Friday, the ammonia and nitrite has stayed at 0ppm. A water change has reduced the nitrate (thanks for the advice there!)
  20. catsma_97504Fishlore LegendMember

    Any time. Best of luck with your newly cycled tank.

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice