Is this correct? ammonia cycling process

  1. anz Member Member

    I just want to make sure I am doing this correctly. I am doing the "add daily" method to cycling my new tank (add enough ammonia to raise the level to 5 or 6 ppm. The next day and each day thereafter, add the same amount. This continues until the ammonia drops to zero. Once the ammonia drops back to near zero, cut the amount of ammonia you are adding daily in half. Continue to add the ammonia daily and test for nitrites. Once the nitrite drops back to zero, do your big water change and add your fish).

    I am starting with a brand new tank. I have no one to get used filter media/gravel etc. from. I started cycling my tank with fish but they all died, so there may have been some small amount of bacteria developed as a result of that process, but essentially, I think I am starting with nothing.

    I added 7 ml of ammonia (pure ammonia, no surfacants) to water to get to level of 5.0 ppm. Note on an API kit, the ammonia reading goes from 4.0 to 8.0 so I'm "guesstimating" (guessing and estimating!). I have added 7 ml each day since (3 days).

    My ammonia reading is off the API chart. Looks to be darker that the 8.0 reading. My nitrite is just slightly purple. It's not 0 ppm, but it's not quite 0.25 pm either.

    Temperature is set at 84 degrees and I am running two filters (aqua clear 70 and rena xp3), and I have an air stone as well.

    Is this ok? Most people seem to have some previously used media to add which helps with the development of beneficial bacteria. I'm starting from scratch and it seems as if adding this much ammonia to the tank will overwhelm the small amount of beneficial bacteria. Just checking in to see if I am doing this correctly. Any feedback is appreciated.
     
  2. MD Angels Well Known Member Member

    Welcome to fishlore!

    Well, to be honest, I knew about using pure ammonia to cycle a tank, I just never knew the steps for doing so were so precise. So, I looked it up, and found several sites claiming basically the same steps you wrote out above.

    One thing though, about obtaining a cycled tank - is it is not just reaching 0 ammonia, and 0 nitrites, but gaining nitrAtes as well. This tells you the cycle is complete!

    So, once you do reach zero for both ammonia and nitrites, check for your nitrate reading. And be sure to shake and beat that #2 bottle like heck! lol (crystals can form and skew results if not). :)
    After a WC, check your parameters at least 24 hours later. If you still have 0-0-5+, then go ahead and add some fish.

    But don't add all the fish at once, or you will cause an ammonia spike (too much waste added at once and the nitrifying bacteria cannot eat it up fast enough).
    Depending on what they are, add small groups at a time. With a 55, I think you could add 5+ schooling fish at a time just fine, or one or two larger fish (depend on what you want of course).
    I think you are on the right track!

    Oh, btw, that pic is creepy! lol
     

  3. catsma_97504 Fishlore Legend Member

    There are a couple of changes I'd recommend as I believe there is a bit of confusion...happens to all of us.

    How long have you been cycling?

    If you were to fill the test tube but use half of the test reagent (4 drops instead of 8 with the API kit) what is your ammonia level? If you get more than 4 ppm with half the reagent a water change is in order.

    Never constantly add the same amount daily because it builds up to a point that it can actually kill the bacteria. I suspect you are at this point.

    There are 2 schools of thought on cycling with ammonia. Either add enough ammonia to maintain 1-2 ppm ammonia daily. Or, dump enough ammonia to raise it to 8 ppm and sit back for the cycle to develop.

    Also, crank the heat as high as possible. The hotter the better.

    Hope this helps.
     

  4. kinezumi89 Fishlore VIP Member


  5. anz Member Member

    If you include the time when I had fish in the tank, it's been since the March 2. I only started the fishless cycle 3 days ago.
    2) I just ran the test as you suggested (with half of the reagent) and it is off the chart. It started out green, but ended up blue! Please tell me how much of a water change I should do, and explain why.
    3) I got these instructions on how to cycle using this method off of this site. Her are the instructions for the "Add Daily" Method

    "I call this the "Add Daily" method because that is what you do. The start is exactly like the other method. To begin, you add enough ammonia to raise the level to 5 or 6 ppm. The difference is that the next day and each day thereafter you add the same amount. This continues until the ammonia drops to zero. This will take much longer than the other method because of the massive amount of ammonia the tank will initially contain. It generally takes about 3 days before any bacteria begin to form and you are able to notice even a small change in the color of your tests. In the other method, on the 3rd day there will still only be about 5 to 6 ppm of ammonia in the tank. With the "Add Daily" method, there will be approximately 15 to 18 ppm on the 3rd day so you need a lot of bacteria to process all of that.

    Once the ammonia finally drops back to near zero, cut the amount of ammonia you are adding daily in half. That will still be plenty to keep the bacteria already developed fed. Continue to add the ammonia daily and test for nitrites. Once the nitrite drops back to zero, do your big water change and add your fish."

    As you can see, it does not say to add "enough ammonia to raise it to 8 ppm and sit back for the cycle to develop" as you said in your post. I am so confused by all the conflicting information!

    I was concerned that this really high amout of ammonia would be counter productive.

    Please give me an idea about how much of a water change I should do. Do I change enough so that the ammonia is at 8ppm and then leave it alone to do it's thing?
    Also, I cranked up the heater as high as it would go (88 degrees). Thanks for your help.
     
  6. catsma_97504 Fishlore Legend Member

    There are many methodologies to cycling a tank. It is true that we don't all agree with each other. Unfortunately that is creating confusion. I can share my experiences and explain my thoughts with fishless cycling, but odds are others will come along with different ideas.

    For me, keeping the ammonia under 8PPM would get the tank to cycle in 2-3 weeks; but when the level became higher than 12 PPM I would lose ground. I do have very soft water and know that the bacterial growth can deplete my buffers when in the presence of very high ammonia levels. No buffers lead to pH crash, which in turn affects the bacteria and stalls the cycle. Maybe if the water was much harder this wouldn't be a factor? A few of our members are chemists. Hopefully one of them will find this thread and explain further.

    How has your pH been? I'd monitor it to be safe. So long as it stays between 6 and 8 you should be fine.

    Do you know what your hardness levels are? Maybe take a water sample to a LFS and ask them to test the GH and KH levels, unless you have these test kits. Another option would be to contact your water provider and ask for the latest test results on hardness.

    If this were my tank, I would change enough water to get the ammonia down under 8 PPM so that your test kit is able to provide measurable levels. Then I would test every day until I saw the ammonia level dropping. At this point I would add enough to push the level into the 3-4 PPM range. Continue to monitor and add only enough to raise ammonia to into the 3-4 PPM range.

    At this point, I then begin monitoring both ammonia and nitrite daily; and watch for the nitrite spike to rise and fall. Once it begins to fall, then begin testing for nitrates.

    Hope this helps and I haven't added to your confusion.