I need my tank to cycle faster (already seeded plus used bottled bacteria)

Lindsey Stallings

Hi!

I'm new and I've been trying to get the right information on the internet for a while now. But everything says something different.

I set up my tank and added pure ammonia to 3ppm and DrTim's One and Only Bacteria starter last Thursday. I also added ceramic media rings to the filter from my 10 gallon (this is a 15g) at the same time and switched over some of the gravel. Until Monday, it did not have a heater, so I think that may have slowed down the process. But by Monday or Tuesday, the ammonia was at 1ppm and the nitrites were at 0, the nitrates were at 5ppm. I added more ammonia to get it back to 3ppm, then waited. Nothing has changed since. The ammonia has stayed at 2-3ppm and the nitrites are at 0 and the nitrates are at 5.

Today, the PH is at 7.0, the ammonia is at 2-3ppm, the nitrites are at 0, the nitrates are at 5ppm.

I have the heat turned up to 85. I've been testing daily with a liquid test kit.

I'd really like to switch up the tanks (I have a 3 gallon with a betta fish in it that I want to move to the 10 gallon, and I'd like to move the pea puffers from my 10 gallon into the 15g). The reason I want to do it quickly is that the 3 gallon still isn't cycled (I'm doing fish in cycling because I got him from a bad situation) and I'd really like to move him out of that tank ASAP. It's too small. The heater is ty. And it isn't cycled.

My question is, is there anything else I can do? The 10g's filter media is a carbon filter and so I don't know how I could take any of it into the 15 gallon without disrupting the 10g's cycle. Should I get more DrTim's or Tetra Safe Start and re-dose? Any other ideas?

Any help would be really appreciated.

Thanks!
 

Butterfly

Cycling isn't a fast thing. Patience will be in your favor. I have never used Dr Tim's products but according to your numbers it won't be long until Nitrates are up and Ammonia is gone.
 

MarkN1990

Consider dosing win tetra safe start. It'll speed your cycle up


 

el337

If you added the ceramic rings from the 10 gallon puffer tank, that would've jump started your cycle and you could've added your betta right away. Not sure why you decided fishless cycling if you already had established media to use.
 

Lindsey Stallings

If you added the ceramic rings from the 10 gallon puffer tank, that would've jump started your cycle and you could've added your betta right away. Not sure why you decided fishless cycling if you already had established media to use.

I wanted to be safe. There weren't many ceramic rings, maybe 10-15. I worried it wouldn't be enough. And I feel like the ammonia not moving shows that it isn't working, right? I mean, if I had put the fish in, wouldn't the ammonia given off by the fish also not transfer to nitrates?
 

ricmcc

I have always used seeded media to start a tank, meaning that I really know little of using bottled bacteria such as Dr. Tim's.
However, as ignorance has never held me back, are you certain the you can use A/C when cycling a tank this way?
Also, you might check your source water as well; meaning that in the absence of nitrite where does the nitrate come from? best to you, rick
 

Lindsey Stallings

I have always used seeded media to start a tank, meaning that I really know little of using bottled bacteria such as Dr. Tim's.
However, as ignorance has never held me back, are you certain the you can use A/C when cycling a tank this way?
Also, you might check your source water as well; meaning that in the absence of nitrite where does the nitrate come from? best to you, rick

It's recommended for both fish-in and fishless cycling.

And the water doesn't have nitrites or nitrates. It's just R/O water that I treat with Seachem Equilibrium.

I've read that with seeded media and/or bottled bacteria, the nitrite cycle can end up being skipped completely. Which is what I assume happened here.
 

ricmcc

OK, I was just saying that I know little of the product.
May I ask why you use R/O water with Seachem's Equilibrium? Is that the one that sets the pH at 7 and buffers it well?If it is, it buffers not with kH, but rather phosphate, and I would think adding some mineral content via tap water might be the better route, the ratio varying with your source water, of course.
 

Lindsey Stallings

OK, I was just saying that I know little of the product.
May I ask why you use R/O water with Seachem's Equilibrium? Is that the one that sets the pH at 7 and buffers it well?If it is, it buffers not with kH, but rather phosphate, and I would think adding some mineral content via tap water might be the better route, the ratio varying with your source water, of course.

I can't use my tap water. Something is wrong with it and it kills fish within hours. So I have to use R/O water I get from a Glacier machine outside out local grocery store. All equilibrium does is restore the minerals that are lost because of it being R/O water. It doesn't change the pH or buffer the water (as far as I can tell anyway).
 

el337

I wanted to be safe. There weren't many ceramic rings, maybe 10-15. I worried it wouldn't be enough. And I feel like the ammonia not moving shows that it isn't working, right? I mean, if I had put the fish in, wouldn't the ammonia given off by the fish also not transfer to nitrates?

The ammonia you are dosing is way more than the puffers are producing which is why you're not seeing the ammonia being converted. Even if you added all the media, it wouldn't be enough.

I still think it would be faster if you just used your seeded media. Another option would have been to run the 15 gallon filter side by side in the 10 gallon tank for about 3 weeks and then move the fish to their respective tanks.
 

Lindsey Stallings

The ammonia you are dosing is way more than the puffers are producing which is why you're not seeing the ammonia being converted. Even if you added all the media, it wouldn't be enough.

I still think it would be faster if you just used your seeded media. Another option would have been to run the 15 gallon filter side by side in the 10 gallon tank for about 3 weeks and then move the fish to their respective tanks.

I don't understand. Everything I've read online has said to dose to 2-3ppm until it turns to 0 in 24 hours. This is from following both the website for the bottled bacteria along with . Oh well, like I said, there is just a lot of conflicting advice online.

Since I didn't solely use the media, what else can I do now to speed up the process?
 

el337

If the ammonia was coming down, I would think you should see some nitrite but as said previously, maybe the use of the seeded media plus Dr. Tim's helped? But in your first post, you said the ammonia did come down to 1ppm so obviously there is some bacteria that is converting them.

If it were me, I would just do a large water change on the 15g, move the puffers over and dose some Prime if you see traces of ammonia and nitrite <1ppm. You have the seeded media and you have nitrates. I'd also move the betta into the cycled 10 gallon which would be better than leaving it in the uncycled 3g.
 

Lindsey Stallings

If the ammonia was coming down, I would think you should see some nitrite but as said previously, maybe the use of the seeded media plus Dr. Tim's helped? But in your first post, you said the ammonia did come down to 1ppm so obviously there is some bacteria that is converting them.

If it were me, I would just do a large water change on the 15g, move the puffers over and dose some Prime if you see traces of ammonia and nitrite <1ppm. You have the seeded media and you have nitrates. I'd also move the betta into the cycled 10 gallon which would be better than leaving it in the uncycled 3g.

Okay, I'll try this tomorrow (I need to get more water first).
 

Lindsey Stallings

If the ammonia was coming down, I would think you should see some nitrite but as said previously, maybe the use of the seeded media plus Dr. Tim's helped? But in your first post, you said the ammonia did come down to 1ppm so obviously there is some bacteria that is converting them.

If it were me, I would just do a large water change on the 15g, move the puffers over and dose some Prime if you see traces of ammonia and nitrite <1ppm. You have the seeded media and you have nitrates. I'd also move the betta into the cycled 10 gallon which would be better than leaving it in the uncycled 3g.

So I did what you recommended and did a large water change, then moved them in. My ammonia is down to 0.5, but now nitrites are showing up! How often should I do water changes to keep them safe? I'm assuming the nitrite cycle won't last long, but I have no clue.
 

el337

You can keep doing the daily water changes to bring them down or add another bottle of Dr. Tim's. How are the parameters on the 10g?
 

Lindsey Stallings

You can keep doing the daily water changes to bring them down or add another bottle of Dr. Tim's. How are the parameters on the 10g?

I don't have another bottle. I may order another if you think that's safer. But for now, I'll do water changes. Another question: my pH dropped from 7.2 yesterday (before the water change) to 6.0 today. What could be the cause of that? It's too low. Is there anything I can do to fix it?

ETA: I use R/O water because my tap water has something wrong with it and kills fish nearly instantly.
The rest of the reading for that tank are:
Ammonia: 0.25
Nitrites: 0.5
Nitrates: 5

The readings for the 10 gallon are:
pH: 7.6
Ammonia: 0.25 (I've been doing daily water changes because I think I started a minI cycle taking out the extra media)
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 10
 

el337

Your tap water may have ammonia. Can you test it and let us know?
CindiL may be able to advise on stabilizing your pH.
 

CindiL

Hi, welcome to fishlore

I was reading through your thread and had a couple questions...., ok maybe many questions ha ha. How many Pea Puffers do you have? If more than one, it would make sense to me to have their cycled media in with them in the 15 gallon (moved over from their original 10g) as their bio-load will be larger then the bettas. On the 10 gallon you would still have the ceramic rings.

Since you have one tank that is partially cycled and one that is most likely almost cycled, having a cycle bump from removing the rings you could finish up the cycle a couple different ways.

You could use the following formula with Seachem Prime (not sure which water conditioner you're using, if any with the RO water). Prime will not only remove chlorine and chloramines and heavy metals but more importantly in your situation will detoxify ammonia + nitrites up to 1.0 with daily dosing for the full volume of the tank.

This formula will allow the cycle to finish up and keep your fish safe:

If ammonia + nitrites is less then 1.0 - dose Prime for volume of tank, and re-check parameters in 24 hours.
If ammonia + nitrites is 1.0 or greater - do a large water change (minimum 50%), dose prime for volume of tank and re-check in 24 hours.

While doing this you could still be adding bottled bacteria daily if you want to. I think Tetra Safe Start is the only one that you cannot use an ammonia binder with. I am not sure about Dr. Tim's?

With your tap water that kills your fish. Will you check it for ph, ammonia, nitrites and nitrates? Also, what water conditioner were you using when you tried using your tap? I have a feeling there may be chloramines (or nitrites) in your water. If you don't have a water conditioner that detoxifies ammonia (chlorine + ammonia) = chloramines or nitrites that would kill your fish depending on these levels.

If we can figure that out, you may actually be able to save yourself time and money and use your tap

As far as RO goes. Equilibrium is not enough by itself which is why you are seeing your PH drop. Equilibrium will give your calcium and magnesium raising your general hardness which is necessary but it won't give you any buffering capacity (KH or carbonate hardness) which is why you will see PH swings. If you keep using RO water I would add in Seachem Alkaline Buffer which will increase your KH and hold your ph steady around 7.8-8.0. You can always use their Acid Buffer at the same time to keep the ph around 7.5 or so but it is not necessary. I would also recommend Fresh Trace which adds in micro nutrients that you will not find in RO water. Think of RO water as water without anything bad, but also anything good which is why you have to add so much to it. Ideally you'd cut in some of your tap once we figure out what's going on there and then you won't need all of these things I mentioned.

Depending on your answers to all of the above, you can finish up your cycles and we can figure out what's going on with your water.
 

Lindsey Stallings

Hi, welcome to fishlore

I was reading through your thread and had a couple questions...., ok maybe many questions ha ha. How many Pea Puffers do you have? If more than one, it would make sense to me to have their cycled media in with them in the 15 gallon (moved over from their original 10g) as their bio-load will be larger then the bettas. On the 10 gallon you would still have the ceramic rings.

Since you have one tank that is partially cycled and one that is most likely almost cycled, having a cycle bump from removing the rings you could finish up the cycle a couple different ways.

You could use the following formula with Seachem Prime (not sure which water conditioner you're using, if any with the RO water). Prime will not only remove chlorine and chloramines and heavy metals but more importantly in your situation will detoxify ammonia + nitrites up to 1.0 with daily dosing for the full volume of the tank.

This formula will allow the cycle to finish up and keep your fish safe:

If ammonia + nitrites is less then 1.0 - dose Prime for volume of tank, and re-check parameters in 24 hours.
If ammonia + nitrites is 1.0 or greater - do a large water change (minimum 50%), dose prime for volume of tank and re-check in 24 hours.

While doing this you could still be adding bottled bacteria daily if you want to. I think Tetra Safe Start is the only one that you cannot use an ammonia binder with. I am not sure about Dr. Tim's?

With your tap water that kills your fish. Will you check it for ph, ammonia, nitrites and nitrates? Also, what water conditioner were you using when you tried using your tap? I have a feeling there may be chloramines (or nitrites) in your water. If you don't have a water conditioner that detoxifies ammonia (chlorine + ammonia) = chloramines or nitrites that would kill your fish depending on these levels.

If we can figure that out, you may actually be able to save yourself time and money and use your tap

As far as RO goes. Equilibrium is not enough by itself which is why you are seeing your PH drop. Equilibrium will give your calcium and magnesium raising your general hardness which is necessary but it won't give you any buffering capacity (KH or carbonate hardness) which is why you will see PH swings. If you keep using RO water I would add in Seachem Alkaline Buffer which will increase your KH and hold your ph steady around 7.8-8.0. You can always use their Acid Buffer at the same time to keep the ph around 7.5 or so but it is not necessary. I would also recommend Fresh Trace which adds in micro nutrients that you will not find in RO water. Think of RO water as water without anything bad, but also anything good which is why you have to add so much to it. Ideally you'd cut in some of your tap once we figure out what's going on there and then you won't need all of these things I mentioned.

Depending on your answers to all of the above, you can finish up your cycles and we can figure out what's going on with your water.

Sorry, I should have mentioned that I already tested the tap water. It comes out completely clear. I think there are some sort of metals, maybe copper or something in our pipes. I don't think there is much I can do.

I just have two pea puffers. And like I said, I really worry about moving over anything more from the 10g. It already started a minI cycle just by removing the ceramic media. And there really aren't many ceramic rings. I do not think it is enough to keep a tank cycled on it's own.

I've been using solely Seachem Prime for months now and I always dose when I see higher rates of ammonia or nitrites.

DrTim's is the same as Tetra Safe Start. So neither are okay with Prime? What would you recommend instead?

I will look into buying the additional Seachem products. Is Seachem neutral regulator a good idea? It sets the pH to 7.0. I was looking at it yesterday. Or is it too low of a pH for bettas and pea puffers? From what I've read online, 7.8 seems really high for a betta. And pea puffers need a bit less too.
 

Lindsey Stallings

Your tap water may have ammonia. Can you test it and let us know?
@CindiL may be able to advise on stabilizing your pH.

No ammonia or nitrites in the water. I think there are some sort of heavy metals in my pipes.
 

CindiL

I looked at Dr. Tim's website and it doesn't say not to use an ammonia binder, in fact they recommend his product which gets rid of chlorine, chloramines and binds ammonia so I'm thinking it's ok to use with Prime unless his bottle says something different.

I would not get the neutral regulator product. It is phosphate based and unless you have a high tech planted tank I think you would get a lot of algae from the phosphates. Also, it's always best to try and stay with your "natural" ph if possible, or close to it. A stable ph is better then one that is not and a ph of 7.6 or so is fine for your betta and puffers. Most fish will adapt to a wide variety of ph from 6.5-8.5. They only have to adapt their blood ph to the water ph once this way. Many people have all their fish in a ph of 8.0 or higher (myself included) and my betta is 2 1/2 years old now. So I'd still recommend the alkaline buffer.

There is a formula on the back with a ratio of how to mix the acid and alkaline buffer to achieve somewhere close to where you want around 7.5 ish. You could aI'm for 7.0 with those two products together. The alkaline buffer brings up KH and the acid buffer lets you dial the ph down a bit. The most important thing is to keep it stable and use the same formula with every water change once you figure out the right ratio.
 

Lindsey Stallings

I looked at Dr. Tim's website and it doesn't say not to use an ammonia binder, in fact they recommend his product which gets rid of chlorine, chloramines and binds ammonia so I'm thinking it's ok to use with Prime unless his bottle says something different.

I would not get the neutral regulator product. It is phosphate based and unless you have a high tech planted tank I think you would get a lot of algae from the phosphates. Also, it's always best to try and stay with your "natural" ph if possible, or close to it. A stable ph is better then one that is not and a ph of 7.6 or so is fine for your betta and puffers. Most fish will adapt to a wide variety of ph from 6.5-8.5. They only have to adapt their blood ph to the water ph once this way. Many people have all their fish in a ph of 8.0 or higher (myself included) and my betta is 2 1/2 years old now. So I'd still recommend the alkaline buffer.

There is a formula on the back with a ratio of how to mix the acid and alkaline buffer to achieve somewhere close to where you want around 7.5 ish. You could aI'm for 7.0 with those two products together. The alkaline buffer brings up KH and the acid buffer lets you dial the ph down a bit. The most important thing is to keep it stable and use the same formula with every water change once you figure out the right ratio.

Okay, I just ordered Acid Buffer and Alkaline Buffer. They should be in Friday. I am trying to save money, so I went with Seachem's stability instead of DrTim's. That will also be in Friday. It's supposed to work the same as far as I can tell. So until then, just do 50% water changes if it's over 1ppm?
 

CindiL

You can add in stability every day and still follow my formula above with water changes and Prime dosed daily.
It will probably take a couple weeks or less to finish things up since you're partially there already.
 

Lindsey Stallings

You can add in stability every day and still follow my formula above with water changes and Prime dosed daily.
It will probably take a couple weeks or less to finish things up since you're partially there already.

Perfect, Thanks!
 

Lindsey Stallings

I looked at Dr. Tim's website and it doesn't say not to use an ammonia binder, in fact they recommend his product which gets rid of chlorine, chloramines and binds ammonia so I'm thinking it's ok to use with Prime unless his bottle says something different.

I would not get the neutral regulator product. It is phosphate based and unless you have a high tech planted tank I think you would get a lot of algae from the phosphates. Also, it's always best to try and stay with your "natural" ph if possible, or close to it. A stable ph is better then one that is not and a ph of 7.6 or so is fine for your betta and puffers. Most fish will adapt to a wide variety of ph from 6.5-8.5. They only have to adapt their blood ph to the water ph once this way. Many people have all their fish in a ph of 8.0 or higher (myself included) and my betta is 2 1/2 years old now. So I'd still recommend the alkaline buffer.

There is a formula on the back with a ratio of how to mix the acid and alkaline buffer to achieve somewhere close to where you want around 7.5 ish. You could aI'm for 7.0 with those two products together. The alkaline buffer brings up KH and the acid buffer lets you dial the ph down a bit. The most important thing is to keep it stable and use the same formula with every water change once you figure out the right ratio.


One more question: I just put the alkaline buffer and the acid buffer into the tanks. But I'm wondering what to do for water changes. I refill with 5 gallon jugs from the machine. Can I just treat the 5 gallon buckets ahead of time and then add water as needed? It says to use the water soon after though on the bottles. So do I re-dose every time with the full amount for the tank or do I add in just enough to replace the water I removed?

Sorry to ask you so many questions. I just want to do this right. Thanks!
 

CindiL

That's ok, questions are good. Test your ph and kh today and see what the amount you put in did with them. How much did you put in?

I just treat my new water, not the whole tank. For instance, I usually add in 2 tsp alkaline buffer to 15 gallon new water but I have to heat it and aerate it anyways. With RO water, you could add it to the bottle or the tank right when you go to do it. Make sure to mix it with a small amount of water. Depending on how much you change out at once you would only need a small amount.

They do mention to add it to the tank soon but I'm not sure why. I am going to email and ask them because I'm wondering this myself I think it has more to do with the acid buffer but we'll find out.
 

Lindsey Stallings

That's ok, questions are good. Test your ph and kh today and see what the amount you put in did with them. How much did you put in?

I just treat my new water, not the whole tank. For instance, I usually add in 2 tsp alkaline buffer to 15 gallon new water but I have to heat it and aerate it anyways. With RO water, you could add it to the bottle or the tank right when you go to do it. Make sure to mix it with a small amount of water. Depending on how much you change out at once you would only need a small amount.

They do mention to add it to the tank soon but I'm not sure why. I am going to email and ask them because I'm wondering this myself I think it has more to do with the acid buffer but we'll find out.

I don't have a way to test kh, but the ph in both tanks was 7.4 today. I put the amount to buffer it to 7.0 according to the bottle. But 7.4 is fine too.

I haven't done a water change in a few days because the nitrites went away completely and ammonia has been stuck at 0.25 for days now. Should I do a water change or just wait?
 

CindiL

I'd just wait it out
 

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