New Tank Cycle

  • #1
HI Fishlore community,

I wanted to pick your brains on my new tank which I set up a little over two weeks ago.

To start off with the key data: it's a 10 gallon tank, one of these Aqueon starter packs (with LED lights). It's planted with a bit of Java moss, 3 Anubias Nana Petite, 2 Java Fern, 2 minI Bolbitis Difformis, 2 Amazon Sword and 2 larger Anubias I bought at the local Petco (maybe Anubias Nana large?). Other than that, I have 2 large pieces of driftwood, 2 bigger Ryuoh stones and some small pieces of lava rock.

I started the fishless cycle 2 weeks ago, using a small daily dose of fish food. The water temperature is constantly at around 78 degrees. I didn't have the API kit for the first week, so I started screening the water parameters only a few days ago. These are the 3 last test results:
  • 2 Jul: pH level 7.8, Ammonia 0 ppm, Nitrites 2 ppm, Nitrates 0 ppm
  • 4 Jul: pH level 8.1, Ammonia 0.100 ppm, Nitrites 2.200 ppm, Nitrates 0 ppm
  • 7 Jul: pH level 7.4, Ammonia 0.250 ppm, Nitrites 4 ppm, Nitrates 4 ppm
Now, I have a few questions and smaller "problems" I need some clarity on:

Unfortunately, I forgot to soak the driftwood and pretty much as off day one, the water turned deep orange because the wood released tannins into the water. I didn't mind it at first, but started doing smaller water changes over the course of the next two weeks (every 2-3 days, about 1/10 of the water) to get rid of at least some of the tannins. Should I continue doing so? I was kind of afraid that the relatively dark color of the water would make less light get to my plants and prevent them from really growing?

I had a small problem with snails that must've been in the plants I bought at Petco. Whenever I saw one, I removed it and I haven't seen any the last few days. I don't mind them really, but wasn't sure if eventually they would start nibbling on my plants. So, I guess the question is whether I should keep them to help get rid of algae growth or continue removing them.

Beginning like 5 days ago, I noticed some considerable algae growth on the driftwood and the small anubias. Is there any way to get rid of them without vacuuming the ground (and by doing so potentially removing beneficial bacteria)? Also, my Java moss just doesn't seem to be growing and has turned all brown and get overgrown by algae.

Now for the most important part, the cycle process. Given that I had the first reading for nitrate today, I assume that I have (already?) entered the last stage of the cycle process. I assume that I should continue adding fish food? Generally, as soon as I did the first water testing and noticed that the Ammonia level was almost at 0, I added more fish food but I seem to have problems getting it anywhere above 1 ppm. Is that because the live plants consume some of it? Isn't it rather soon that there is Nitrate already? I would've thought the whole process takes like at least 6 weeks?

And last - and I know that it won't happen for another few weeks probably - my question on how to stock the tank. I was thinking of maybe 7 Panda Corys and 8-10 Ember Tetras. Would that be too much?

As you can see, quite a few questions. Would be super happy if you guys can answer all or some of them.



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  • #2
Is your java fern planted or tied to the driftwood. If it’s buried, it will die, roots need water movement.

If the driftwood is not attached to anything, remove it and boil it. Boil for 3-4 hours, changing water every hour. That will remove the tannins.

Pest snails won’t eat your plants, but will eat the diatoms in a new tank. Not sure is your algae is algae or diatoms. If algae, reduce light periods. Diatoms grow on the plants. I usually rub them off with my fingers in a new tank just before a water change. Then add a Mystery snail but you aren’t cycled yet so I would wait.

Based on your parameters, you are in the last stage of cycling. Once cycled, continue to feed until you add fish. When you get ready to add fish, do a 50% water change to reduce nitrates and vacuum the left over food out.
  • #3
Hunter has given you great advice.
You're almost patient.
When it's time to add fish, add them slowly over the course of at least several days (not a bunch at once).
Again, careful planning and patience is the key to success.
Good Luck and Enjoy !!!
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
Thanks for the quick reply.

I glued both the Java fern and the Java moss on to the driftwood, so the roots should be getting plenty of water movement. That also the reason why I wouldn't want to remove the wood at this stage. The tannins should sort themselves out eventually, right? If I do regular water changes over the next few weeks/months.. ?

I had never heard of diatoms, to be honest, and looking at some pictures on Google now, I am pretty sure that's what it is. It pretty much looks like small hair on the driftwood and the plants. But looking at some articles on it, it seems like this is normal during the cycling process and will sort itself out eventually.

Again, thanks a lot - this already helps a lot!
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
HI all,

I have a few more questions on my fishless cycle. These are my last few tests (in addition to the earlier ones I listed above):

11 July: pH 7.5, Ammonia 0 ppm, Nitrite 0 ppm, Nitrates 5 ppm
13 July: pH 7.8, Ammonia 0.25 ppm, Nitrite 0 ppm, Nitrate 0 ppm

I am not sure what to make of this. Has my cycle somehow stalled/reversed, given that there is no longer any nitrate? I did some partial water changes (10% max, every 4-5 days) to get the tannins out and always used water conditioner. Or can it be that the cycle is finished, but that the plants consume all the nitrates in the water? As I understand, my tank is relatively heavily planted...

Thanks in advance!

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