New 125L Tank Cycle Question

Joe1988

Hi all,

I have just started to cycle a new 125L aquarium. I am doing a fishless cycle using Dr Tim's method with pure Ammonia Chloride. I have never done a fishless cycle before just fish in cycling.

Today I am on day 14 of the cycle, so far I have:

- Seeded the aquarium with filter media from another aquarium.
- Set the aquarium temperature to 27C or 81F.
- Added FluVal Enhancer to boost the bacteria.
- Added two doses of Dr Tim's Ammonia Chloride as directed (100 drops or 5ml per dose) on days 1 and 3.
- Two water changes (a 50% and 25%).

Dr Tim's method states to add Ammonia on days 1, 3 and 6. I skipped the addition of Ammonia on day 6 (as instructed in Dr Tim's method) as the Ammonia readings when tested were quite high. I have added no more Ammonia since.

Today (day 14) the total Ammonia readings have dropped to 0. Its pretty difficult to read the API Nitrite test at high levels, however I believe they are in the 2-3ppm range. I came to this conclusion as I diluted my aquarium sample with tap water (which has 0 Nitrites) to 1 part aquarium water and 3 parts tap water, I determined the result to be 0.60ppm (very approximate), so 0.60 X 4 is 2.40ppm.

My questions are:

- Does it take longer for the bacteria to convert Nitrite into Nitrate than its does Ammonia to Nitrite?
- As Dr Tim's method is a 14 day cycling process and my aquarium has not finished cycling yet on day 14, do I need to add anymore Ammonia or would adding a sprinkle of flake food each day from now be sufficient? (I do not want to overload the system with more Ammonia as this will in turn increase Nitrites and I have read that high Nitrites can stall the cycle).

I am not getting any Nitrate readings as of yet. I have been using API's Nitrate test, however upon adding 10 drops of bottle 1 to my aquarium sample it is turning a dark brown colour rather than the normal yellow so I am unable to get a accurate Nitrate reading anyway. The test has not passed its expiry date and I have validated it works fine with my other fish tank. Has anybody had this experience with API Nitrate test? Could it possibly be the high levels of Nitrite interfering?

Any help is welcome.

Thanks.
Joe
 

RayClem

The bacteria that convert ammonia to nitrite grow fairly quickly. Getting enough bacteria to drop the ammonia to zero in two weeks is normal, especially since you started with seeded media.

It takes longer to grow the bacteria responsible for converting nitrite to nitrate. If the nitrite levels are above 2 ppm, you might want to cut back on the amount of ammonium chloride you dose, but you want to keep the nitrite level around 2 ppm until you start seeing nitrates starting to increase in the tank.

In another week or two, you might want to adjust the temperature to your permanent setting.

Keep testing ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels daily. Hopefully in another 2-4 weeks you will see the ammonia and nitrite levels drop to zero overnight and the nitrates increasing.

Personally, I like cycling tanks with a protein source rather than ammonia or ammonium chloride. What you have done is great for developing nitrifying bacteria, but it does not develop colonies of bacteria that break down fish waste and uneaten fish food into ammonia. I normally cycle tanks by adding high-protein fish food as my source of nitrogen. The protein gets broken down to urea and then to ammonia. Thus, I suggest adding some fish food to your tank as well so you start developing other colonies of beneficial bacteria as well. Something like 1/4 teaspoon per day should work. With smaller tanks, I only use a pinch.

If some of the fish you are planning to keep in the tank are hardier varieties, you might consider switching from a fishless cycle to a fish-in cycle as soon as you start to see nitrate levels start to rise. Once fish are added, stop using the ammonium chloride and allow the fish food and fish waste to be the nitrogen source. That is entirely up to you.
 
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Joe1988

The bacteria that convert ammonia to nitrite grow fairly quickly. Getting enough bacteria to drop the ammonia to zero in two weeks is normal, especially since you started with seeded media.

It takes longer to grow the bacteria responsible for converting nitrite to nitrate. If the nitrite levels are above 2 ppm, you might want to cut back on the amount of ammonium chloride you dose, but you want to keep the nitrite level around 2 ppm until you start seeing nitrates starting to increase in the tank.

In another week or two, you might want to adjust the temperature to your permanent setting.

Keep testing ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels daily. Hopefully in another 2-4 weeks you will see the ammonia and nitrite levels drop to zero overnight and the nitrates increasing.

Personally, I like cycling tanks with a protein source rather than ammonia or ammonium chloride. What you have done is great for developing nitrifying bacteria, but it does not develop colonies of bacteria that break down fish waste and uneaten fish food into ammonia. I normally cycle tanks by adding high-protein fish food as my source of nitrogen. The protein gets broken down to urea and then to ammonia. Thus, I suggest adding some fish food to your tank as well so you start developing other colonies of beneficial bacteria as well. Something like 1/4 teaspoon per day should work. With smaller tanks, I only use a pinch.

If some of the fish you are planning to keep in the tank are hardier varieties, you might consider switching from a fishless cycle to a fish-in cycle as soon as you start to see nitrate levels start to rise. Once fish are added, stop using the ammonium chloride and allow the fish food and fish waste to be the nitrogen source. That is entirely up to you.
Thanks for the help I am transferring fish from a smaller tank into this one. Are Angels and Cardinals classed as hardy?
 
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86 ssinit

Angels usually are cardinals can be iffy. What type of fish do you have now? How big is your running tank? Are all the fish going into the new tank?
 
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Joe1988

Angels usually are cardinals can be iffy. What type of fish do you have now? How big is your running tank? Are all the fish going into the new tank?
Hi yes they are in an 80L Angel looking a bit cramped so plan is to move them all over
 
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86 ssinit

Ok so your moving all the fish from the 80 to the 120 correct?
 
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Joe1988

Yes thats right
 
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86 ssinit

Well if your going that way there’s no need to cycle the new tank. All you need to do is take the filter from the old tank and as is add it to the new tank. The cycle from the old is in the filter. Your keeping the same amount of fish but now in a bigger volume of water. So the old filter will still filter the amount of waste/ ammonia from your existing fish. Leave new filter running. Both filters run for around a month. Remove media from old filter clean in old tank water than add to new filter again for a month. Than dispose of it or use it to start another tank.
 
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RayClem

Well if your going that way there’s no need to cycle the new tank. All you need to do is take the filter from the old tank and as is add it to the new tank. The cycle from the old is in the filter. Your keeping the same amount of fish but now in a bigger volume of water. So the old filter will still filter the amount of waste/ ammonia from your existing fish. Leave new filter running. Both filters run for around a month. Remove media from old filter clean in old tank water than add to new filter again for a month. Than dispose of it or use it to start another tank.

While a significant portion of your bacteria are in the filter media, the bacteria grow on every surface of the tank: glass walls, in the substrate, on plants, etc. Thus, if you move the filter over to the new tank, you are only taking a portion of the bacteria with you. There will still be lots of bacteria in the old tank.

If you move the filter and move SOME of the fish over, you should be OK, but moving all of the fish at one time is risky.
 
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86 ssinit

Yes this is another argument in aquarium keeping. How much bb is in the decor? Where does the bb grow? I’ve done this many times without a problem. Just did this with my discus tank. Since your water flow is in the filter and is moving waste to the filter most waste ends up in the filter. So bacteria grows mostly in the filter. Now of course some waste is still in the tank so yes there is some bb in the tank. But most is in the filter. Now he’s also going to a larger volume of water. This dilutes the waste takes it longer Togo through the filter. This gives the filter time to produce more bb to run a new tank while the bb slowly builds up in the new tank. As I’ve said I’ve never had a problem.

Being he’s started his fishless cycle. If wanting to do it this way I would change 75% of the water in the tank and get it to where there in no ammonia and no nitrite before adding the filter. Add the filter let it run for 12hrs to 24hrs. Change water in old tank the day before than add sponge filter to old tank while new tank is cycling. Bb in old tank will keep it fine for a day.
 
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RayClem

If most of the beneficial bacteria lives in the filter media, what happens to those who use filters with replaceable cartridges? If they remove an old cartridge and replace it with a new one, are they throwing out most of their bacteria such that their cycle will crash? Hopefully not.

There is no question that changing a filter cartridge will remove beneficial bacteria, but there are normally sufficient bacteria on other surfaces and in the substrate to maintain the nitrogen cycle until the new cartridge develops new colonies.

Somewhere I read that even in a tank with a bare bottom, there will be enough bacteria on the glass sides and floor of the tank to maintain the nitrogen cycle as long as the tank is not overly stocked.
 
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86 ssinit

I’m not saying it’s not in the tank. I’m saying there’s more in the filter. And enough in the filter to take just the filter with the same fish and add them to a new tank and better if a bigger tank. I’m guessing you’ve never done this? It work fine. I moved my first discus from a 45 to a 125 this way. But left the filter on the 45. Just took all the media and added to the 125 filter.
And yes removing the cartridge has ruined many posters cycle. We get them every week. Worst thing in the filter is the cartridge. All should be replaced with a sponge.
 
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