Help...can't Get Cycle To Start And Plant Question.

Discussion in 'Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle' started by MiniPony, Apr 7, 2017.

  1. MiniPony New Member Member

    Hi fish friends,
    I've been doing a fishless cycle for a few weeks. However, I just can't seem to get it started. Unfortunately I have no way to get used filter media or anything of that nature that would help start my bacterial colony. I've only done 2 doses of ammonia because it has stayed at 3ppm since and has not changed. It has been a week since I last did the ammonia dose. I know people have mixed feelings on whether bottled bacterial type products work. I have been using a live bacteria liquid from a national fish store chain (Big Al's). Is there anything else I can do, or do I just have to wait?

    Also, I have added some beautiful driftwood and it has really helped bring down the pH as our tap water has a pH of 9.2 But the water is so full of the tannins that it looks like someone had diarrhea in the tank. Sorry, that's the only way to describe it. If I do a water change am I going to kill any progress I have made with starting the cycle? I was thinking of doing about a 15% water change twice a week just to help with the water colour and clarity.

    And last, I am being gifted a huge gorgeous sword plant. I don't know what type yet. It's from a friend taking biological science classes at university who grew it as part of her course. With the water parameters being bad and since they will hopefully change so much over the next few weeks, should I keep it somewhere else? I have a large clear Rubbermaid container and an old 5 gallon tank hood and light. So I was thinking it might be better to get it set up in there for the time being.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. MaddieTaylah Well Known Member Member

    Do you have any nitrite readings thus far?

  3. Lonewolf9395 Valued Member Member

    Hi and Welcome!

    A bit more information would be great. Can you please test ammonia, nitrite and nitrate and tell us what those tests say? Also what size of tank is it?

    A water change will not stop your progress. The beneficial bacteria is taking hold in your filter media, not in the water. If you do a water change the really important part is to make sure you treat the water with a dechlorinator before you put it back in. I personally am using Prime as I really like the Seachem products. What are you using to dechlorinate your water? One important thing is to never clean your filter media with tap water, if you feel your filter needs cleaning just rinse it in tank water that you have taken out during a water change.

    Plenty of people use a bacterial supplement to start their cycle, I am not familiar with the Big Al's bacteria as I use Stability.

    Here is a very useful link on how to do a fishless cycle with ammonia and a beneficial bacteria. I would give it a read. :)

    Ammonia Instructions when Cycling with TSS+ or other Bacterial Starter

    Edit: If you could also test your tap water and post those results as well that would be helpful. Thanks!

  4. MiniPony New Member Member

    It's a 65 gallon tank. I know about the cycle and not to wash the filters and such.
    Ammonia is 3ppm, nitrite and nitrate are 0. PH is 7.9 currently. This has been the same for a week. I use the API Master test kit. No nitrites or nitrates have ever shown up yet in this tank. I also use Prime for dechlorinator. Tap water pH is 9.2, ammonia 0.75, 0 nitrate and nitrite.


  5. Lonewolf9395 Valued Member Member

    Ok. So did you wait 24 hours after dechlorinating the water to add your bacteria? I know prime will kill bottled bacteria that is not Stability. Stability is the only one you can add at the same time as Prime.

  6. AngelTheGypsy Fishlore VIP Member

    I would try a different bottle of bacteria. Or several. I just finished my fishless cycle and used stability, TSS, and one and only. They are all a little different.

    If you are not seeing ammonia drop at all, a water change may help. I would aim at starting with 1 ppm ammonia. With .75 in your tap I would start with that. Do a big water change and test your ammonia. If it's around 1, I would add some BB and wait a day or two. Then test ammonia. If it has gone down, test your nitrite. Then follow the instructions on the thread linked above (it's what I used). Don't dose more ammonia until ammonia and nitrite have dropped to .25. Then dose to 1 ppm. When you can convert these to 0 in 24 hours, dose to 2 ppm. Then repeat the process. If at anytime the ammonia or nitrite get above 4 ppm, do a 50% water change. But starting with a low ammonia dose will help to avoid a lot of water changes. Hope this helps!

    Btw using this method I cycled my tank to 3 ppm in 16 days.
    Eventually the wood will stop leaching tannins. [ ].
  7. Lonewolf9395 Valued Member Member

    I agree with much of what was said above. Just keep in mind that every tank is different. Using the method above it took me 6 weeks to cycle, three weeks before any nitrites even showed up. Patience is the hardest part of cycling. :)
  8. Nauthes Valued Member Member

    I will say this is not my experience nor anything i have heard before.
    I used prime and Tetra safe start and my cycle went fine.
  9. MaddieTaylah Well Known Member Member

    If you use this method of a low ammonia dose, once your ammonia and nitrites are 0 and you have a reading of nitrates I recommend just adding your fish slowly and your bioload with slowly increase, thus allowing the beneficial bacteria to populate further, thus being able to handle a larger bioload. I have done this before and it worked well.
  10. AngelTheGypsy Fishlore VIP Member

    Yes that would work. My personal situation was that I am having 10 fish shipped to me at once, so I wanted to be able to add them all at once and the bioload be handled. It depends on the situation and the fish you plan to add.
  11. MiniPony New Member Member

    Hmm. I think I will order some TSS. No where around me carries it. I'dd do a water change and start with lower ammonia levels. I'll go on the hunt for a different type of beneficial bottled bacteria.

    Thanks for your help everyone.
  12. AllieSten Fishlore VIP Member

    It is recommended to wait 24 hours after using Prime to add the TSS, because it can kill the bacteria.
  13. MiniPony New Member Member

    I always wait 48 hours in between doses of anything I put in the tank just to be sure.
  14. AngelTheGypsy Fishlore VIP Member

    Do you have a Walmart? They usually have tss
  15. MiniPony New Member Member

    We do. I'm in Alberta Canada. I haven't seen much as far as fish supplies at our Walmarts but I will check.
  16. Lonewolf9395 Valued Member Member

    I am also in Alberta. Couldn't find tss anywhere, I don't think it is available here. I used Stability to cycle.
  17. MiniPony New Member Member

    Thanks. I didn't think it was available here. Easy to get most Seachem products though. So I'll grab some Stability when I'm out. Thanks.

    Do you have issues with water pH? I'm in Edmonton and our tap water at my current place has an average pH of 9.2. I'm just going to buy R/O water to mix with my tap water for now. But with a 65 gallon tank it's going to be a pain in the rear buying 5 gallon jugs to fill and do water changes. I looked into an R/O system, but unfortunately couldn't find one I can use with our current taps. We rent so can't change the taps.
  18. AngelTheGypsy Fishlore VIP Member

    You may also be able to find Dr Tom's One & Only. I got it on amazon.
  19. Lonewolf9395 Valued Member Member

    I do not have issues with my tap pH even though I am also in Edmonton. Mine is around 7.9 coming out of the tap, so a bit high but not high enough that I feel I need to do anything to change it. My ammonia out of the tap is 0.25 (so treatable with prime), 0 for nitrites and nitrates.I will tag @CindiL to see if she can give you any advice on what to do with tap water with high pH. She spends a lot of time in this Aquarium Water section of the forum and is generous in her knowledge.

    I will warn you to take any advice from the local stores with a grain of salt, I have gotten all sorts of misleading information from them. At one store they tried to tell me Stress coat was the same as TSS+ (it's not), I also had one person sell me Stability and tell me I did not need ammonia to get it to work (they were wrong) and at another store they tried to get me to put a bunch of fish poop in my tank to cycle (not a good idea). So considering the type of advice available in stores here I am very glad you found this forum. :)

    Edit: It might be worth asking your landlord if you change the taps and then change them back when you leave if you could go ahead. Mine has allowed us to do that for things like shower head that we did not like.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2017
  20. CindiL Fishlore Legend Member

    Hi, what type of ammonia are you using? You need to make sure it is only ammonia and water, there should be no scents or soaps etc in it. When you shake it, it should not foam.

    As far as PH goes, will you do a test overnight? Take a bucket of water, add an airstone to it and test the ph after an hour and again the morning and let me know the readings.

    Carbon should remove the tannins. Did you try boiling and soaking the driftwood first?