Starting fishless cycle ...

capekate

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I am starting a new tank using a fishless cycle. I have cycled my other tanks with fish, but don't want to do that with this one. I understand the cycle that it needs to go through, its the steps along the way that are confusing me.
? DAY ONE
Last night my husband and I filled the tank with water, added the gravel and a few plastic plants. The heater is in, but not turned on. Do I need to do that at this point? Does the beneficial bacteria need 'warm' water to grow verses cold water?
Set up the filter, it came with a TopFin HOB ( I will save for a aquaclear as I prefer that brand).
Added the right amount of stress zyme and prime to the water.
Now the next step... adding stress zyme or any material with beneficial bacteria such as old sponge from cycled tank would not be beneficial without the added ammonia? wouldn't any bacteria that I introduce at this time die off without the added ammonia that fish waste etc would normally produce? I bought some ammonia from the store, the ingredients are as follows: ammonium hydroxide solution,surfactant, clarifying agent, contains no phosphorus. Is this the right kind of ammonia? Or should I check the LFS and see if they have any ammonia on their shelves for tanks? Do I add the sponge from cycled tank at this point or wait awhile?
I understand that a fishless, flakeless tank is not going to cycle on its own that it needs help. What should my next step be at this time?

Please bear with me on this one..step by step is just what I need at this point! Or at least... one step at a time!?
thank you ~ kate
 

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Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

Hi, Kate.

The heater is in, but not turned on. Do I need to do that at this point? Does the beneficial bacteria need 'warm' water to grow verses cold water?

Yes, turn the heater on. The bacteria do not "need" heated water to grow, but they do grow faster with warmer temps.

wouldn't any bacteria that I introduce at this time die off without the added ammonia that fish waste etc would normally produce?
and
Do I add the sponge from cycled tank at this point or wait awhile?

If you transfer over colonized material and do not add an ammonia source to feed it, yes, the bacteria will die off. If you transfer colonized material and provide ammonia, either by "feeding" the tank some flakes every 12 hours, or by adding drops of pure ammonia, the bacteria should survive and begin to multiply. Transfering a sponge will not give you an "instant" cycle, but it should speed things along nicely.

I bought some ammonia from the store, the ingredients are as follows: ammonium hydroxide solution,surfactant, clarifying agent, contains no phosphorus. Is this the right kind of ammonia?

Not sure on that one.

step by step is just what I need at this point! Or at least... one step at a time!

Sounds like you are on the right track. I would do the following: 1) wait for confirmation that you have the right ammonia. 2) Begin adding your ammonia daily and testing your water. Do not add the sponge yet. 3) Once you begin to get an ammonia reading on your water tests, even a small one, THEN bring your cycled sponge over into the new tank. 4) Just keep adding the ammonia daily and doing regular tests until you are cycled!
 

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  • #3
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

Thanks so much for the help! ;D
that sure clarified some things for me. I will wait on adding the sponge, will add ammonia to the water. Will start with flakes then til I can find the 'pure' ammonia needed. I will turn on the heater to help it along...
and when the ammonia level is showing a reading I can add the sponge. Ok, that's a good start! At least I know what I can do today...
;D ~ kate

Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

......off to the LPS and see if I can find the ammonia! ;D
 
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

The ammonia you want shouldn't have anything like surfactants, perfumes, or colorants (dyes, etc.) in it. If it doesn't list the ingredients then put it back on the shelf. The ingredients listed should say either Clear Ammonia, Pure Ammonia, 100% Ammonia, or Pure Ammonium Hydroxide. It will probably be from a company that you've never heard of before (most name brands you are familiar with are used to clear floors and contain things to make it foam like surfactants).

One other thing. If you can, try to use a dechlorinator other then Prime or Amquel+ in this case. It won't really hurt anything, but it may appear the slow the cycle. The bound up ammonia and nitrite takes longer for the good bacteria to eat, so you will get lingering low readings in your tests (i.e. you might see 0.25 ppm or 0.5 ppm of ammonia last well into the nitrite part of the cycle when normally it would have been 0 for quite some time). If you don't have anything else handy, then by all means don't spend more money on a product you will only be using while cycling. But if you have an old bottle of something other then Prime sitting around (I know I have a few I bought before I learned that all dechlorinators are not equal and bought Prime) then this would be the perfect time to use them.
 
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  • #6
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

The ammonia you want shouldn't have anything like surfactants, perfumes, or colorants (dyes, etc.) in it. If it doesn't list the ingredients then put it back on the shelf. The ingredients listed should say either Clear Ammonia, Pure Ammonia, 100% Ammonia, or Pure Ammonium Hydroxide. It will probably be from a company that you've never heard of before (most name brands you are familiar with are used to clear floors and contain things to make it foam like surfactants).

One other thing. If you can, try to use a dechlorinator other then Prime or Amquel+ in this case. It won't really hurt anything, but it may appear the slow the cycle. The bound up ammonia and nitrite takes longer for the good bacteria to eat, so you will get lingering low readings in your tests (i.e. you might see 0.25 ppm or 0.5 ppm of ammonia last well into the nitrite part of the cycle when normally it would have been 0 for quite some time). If you don't have anything else handy, then by all means don't spend more money on a product you will only be using while cycling. But if you have an old bottle of something other then Prime sitting around (I know I have a few I bought before I learned that all dechlorinators are not equal and bought Prime) then this would be the perfect time to use them.
Thanks Luniyn~
I didnt find any ammonia at this time yet, and thank you for letting me know which one NOT to get! As for the Prime or Amquel+ which are the two items I do have, are they only dechlorinators? I have no chlorine in my well, so should I be using anything at all? I have been using the Prime with all water changes in my cycled tanks so far. Funny thing with the nitrite levels, I have never had a nitrite reading in my cycled tank. I know that is strange. My readings are 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and 10 nitrate. That tank is just three days short of three months running. Anyway.. the set up for the 55 gallon tank came with some stress coat by API should I use that? Or nothing at all?
thanks so much for your help, Ive read your posts on cycling and you know a lot about it. ;D
~ kate
 

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Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

Prime and Amquel+ are not only dechlorinators, they also detoxify ammonia and nitrites. This is why they could appear to slow the cycle down...ammonia/nitrite that has been chemically bound/detoxified by the Prime takes longer for the bacteria to eat. Therefore you continue to get ammonia and/or nitrite readings on your tests even though the water is safe. The Stress Coat would be a good alternative during your cycle since you are going fishless, as it does not bind ammonia/nitrite. It will remove any chlorine or chloramines in your water though, which is important as either of those will kill off the very bacteria you are trying to cultivate.
 
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

If you are using well water then yeah there isn't a need to use any dechlorinator at all since there isn't any in your water to remove. So no need to use Stresscoat or anything at that point. I use Prime in my tank because I no only have chloramines in my water, but a 1.0ppm reading of ammonia right out of the tap. So I like to be sure it's perfectly safe for my fish. So far so good so that's why I'm such an advocate of that product (used it during a cycle with fish and never had a single problem or even a sign of stress from the fish). You could start to use it if you like once you add fish, but in all honesty unless your pH is really high (like high 7 or 8+) there probably isn't any reason for you to use it or anything even with fish in the tank because of your well water. Again there isn't anything wrong with using it just to be sure the tank is safe, but there doesn't seem to be much of a need in your case.

As to the tank without nitrates, do you have live plants in that tank? If you have enough live plants then they could be consuming all the nitrates that is being produced and make for a balanced tank.
 
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  • #9
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

If you are using well water then yeah there isn't a need to use any dechlorinator at all since there isn't any in your water to remove. So no need to use Stresscoat or anything at that point. I use Prime in my tank because I no only have chloramines in my water, but a 1.0ppm reading of ammonia right out of the tap. So I like to be sure it's perfectly safe for my fish. So far so good so that's why I'm such an advocate of that product (used it during a cycle with fish and never had a single problem or even a sign of stress from the fish). You could start to use it if you like once you add fish, but in all honesty unless your pH is really high (like high 7 or 8+) there probably isn't any reason for you to use it or anything even with fish in the tank because of your well water. Again there isn't anything wrong with using it just to be sure the tank is safe, but there doesn't seem to be much of a need in your case.

As to the tank without nitrates, do you have live plants in that tank? If you have enough live plants then they could be consuming all the nitrates that is being produced and make for a balanced tank.
Good morning Luniyn
I was using the Prime mostly for the slime coat as well as thinking that is what my tanks needed. Thanks for letting me know. My PH is always at 6.4 here. Yes, I have live plants in the tank, so that is probaby why there was no nitrites showing. That tank and the fish are doing fine. ;D Actually all the fish and other tanks are doing fine as well.(knocking on wood..) I lost a lot of fish suddenly and found the culprit was the angel fish. Once I separated them to their own temporary tank ( the 10g) no more loss of fish. I have a 29 gallon tank that will be cycled for them when its time. The two Angels are fine where they are for now. For now I want to concentrate on this tank and not get overwhelmed.
~ kate

Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

DAY THREE
I have not added ammonia to the tank, but have been 'feeding' it with frozen fish food, bloodworms and brineshrimp that are left over from feedings. I hope that will produce ammonia at some point.
Turned the heater on yesterday and water temp is now at 78* and working up to a steady 80* degrees. I hope to bring in more plants ( plastic for now) and a large piece of driftwood soon. As I assume the bacteria needs to grow on the substrate and decorations. I have not taken any readings at this point, not sure its necessary yet. I'm not sure how long its going to cycle this tank this way, but it looks like I'm going to have a long wait before adding fish. I thought of maybe adding some danios to this tank, and I'm wondering if after it cycles and I add the Discus fish to this tank, would the danios be ok with them? and if not,, would they be able to go in the 29 gallon tank with the tiger barbs, longfin black skirt tetras, the serpae tetras and the one bumblebee catfish?? If they could... then I would think about buying some to help with the cycling process. Any thoughts on this?
thanks, ~ kate

Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

Prime and Amquel+ are not only dechlorinators, they also detoxify ammonia and nitrites. This is why they could appear to slow the cycle down...ammonia/nitrite that has been chemically bound/detoxified by the Prime takes longer for the bacteria to eat. Therefore you continue to get ammonia and/or nitrite readings on your tests even though the water is safe. The Stress Coat would be a good alternative during your cycle since you are going fishless, as it does not bind ammonia/nitrite. It will remove any chlorine or chloramines in your water though, which is important as either of those will kill off the very bacteria you are trying to cultivate.
Thank you!
I will add the stress coat since I have it anyway and save the Prime and amquel+ for when I may need it.
 
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  • #10
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

The food will start to produce quite a bit of ammonia shortly, just keep feeding the tank. Believe it or not adding fish will actually slow down the process. In order to keep them alive you have to keep the levels low. The low levels mean that only small amounts of good bacteria can survive, so you are constantly killing off some of the good bacteria due to starvation while replacements grow to take their place and then some. Then a little dies back then more grows, etc. When you don't care about that high levels of ammonia or nitrite (i.e. no fish in the tank to worry about) then the sky's the limit as to how much good bacteria will grow and how fast. It is much less work (no water changes) and easier on the fish if you just stick with it and let the tank cycle fishless.

Now on the plus side, at a pH of 6.4 you pretty much never have to worry about toxic ammonia in your tank. At a temp of 77oF you would need a total ammonia count of over 14 ppm in order to have enough of it be toxic to the fish. And even then they could tolerate it for days before showing any signs of stress. So Prime or Amquel+ really aren't needed in your tanks, even the one's with fish. If you want to use Stresscoat for it's other beneficial ingrediants that's fine but in this tank without fish you don't need to add anything for the moment (the slimecoat only helps when there is fish in the tank to take advantage of it).

As for where the good bacteria grows, it's mostly in the filter. So having good bio-media in there is really all you need at the moment to make the cycle go smoothly. If you want to add the decorations as well, that can only help but not as much as you would think actually grows on that... well except algae .
 
  • #11
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

Definitely put the heater really warm. Mine's at 30! The hotter, the faster I read.
 

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  • #12
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

The food will start to produce quite a bit of ammonia shortly, just keep feeding the tank. Believe it or not adding fish will actually slow down the process. In order to keep them alive you have to keep the levels low. The low levels mean that only small amounts of good bacteria can survive, so you are constantly killing off some of the good bacteria due to starvation while replacements grow to take their place and then some. Then a little dies back then more grows, etc. When you don't care about that high levels of ammonia or nitrite (i.e. no fish in the tank to worry about) then the sky's the limit as to how much good bacteria will grow and how fast. It is much less work (no water changes) and easier on the fish if you just stick with it and let the tank cycle fishless.

Now on the plus side, at a pH of 6.4 you pretty much never have to worry about toxic ammonia in your tank. At a temp of 77oF you would need a total ammonia count of over 14 ppm in order to have enough of it be toxic to the fish. And even then they could tolerate it for days before showing any signs of stress. So Prime or Amquel+ really aren't needed in your tanks, even the one's with fish. If you want to use Stresscoat for it's other beneficial ingrediants that's fine but in this tank without fish you don't need to add anything for the moment (the slimecoat only helps when there is fish in the tank to take advantage of it).

As for where the good bacteria grows, it's mostly in the filter. So having good bio-media in there is really all you need at the moment to make the cycle go smoothly. If you want to add the decorations as well, that can only help but not as much as you would think actually grows on that... well except algae .
Thanks so much Luniyn~ It makes so much sense not to use the fish then. This way I can let the tank do its thing.... and check the water from time to time to see where it is in the cycle. I will continue to feed the tank with the fish food, keep the water temp at 80* and wait on the decorations, this way I can save up for another week for some nice stuff for the tank. ;D
thank you so much for your input! I really do appreciate it! ~ kate
 
  • #13
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

Definitely put the heater really warm. Mine's at 30! The hotter, the faster I read.

I also put our 5 gallon hex that was cycling out on the covered back porch where it gets very hot in this summer heat.
 
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  • #14
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

DAY FOUR
Hello, well its day four and I tested the water perimeters last evening. And was surprised by the readings:
AMMONIA: 0
NITRATES: 10
NITRITES:0
PH: 7
  Now I know this tank has not cycled in four days. that's impossible. the nitrate level can be caused by the fish food I'm putting in the tank?
The PH reading has me stumped as well. All my tanks PH read about 6.4. When I tested my well water last nite it read: 6.0 Why is my PH in the new 55 g tank reading 7.0?
Water temp reads 80*. what is causing the difference in PH readings? Anyone know?
thanks, kate
 
  • #15
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

Have you been measuring days 0 to 4? Because on day 2 of cycling, I am always getting no ammonia, no nitrites, and some nitrates. So it could be that you're at the verrrrry beginning still. Alternatively, you have this great method and it has actually cycled?
 
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  • #16
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

Have you been measuring days 0 to 4? Because on day 2 of cycling, I am always getting no ammonia, no nitrites, and some nitrates. So it could be that you're at the verrrrry beginning still. Alternatively, you have this great method and it has actually cycled?
LOL nooo it hasnt cycled yet, but it would be a miracle if it did lol. But with a new tank set up, new filter and media there is no way its cycled and I'm not even thinking that it did. I am way at the beginning of the cycle. I was surprised that anything registered at this point. I didnt take any water readings before, as I thought it would just be a waste of product. I thought that at day four, I should at least start recording some readings in my logbook. We set the tank up monday evening. And Ive only used bloodworms for feeding the tank three times so far. So I thought it strange that i'd get any reading at this point. Its the PH reading that has me puzzled tho....
~ kate
 
  • #17
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

ha ha ha. Thought so. I figured why crush her when she's down! It would have been verrry surprising indeed. Why is the pH surprising? Don't you normally get 7.0 out of the tap?
 
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  • #18
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

ha ha ha. Thought so. I figured why crush her when she's down! It would have been verrry surprising indeed. Why is the pH surprising? Don't you normally get 7.0 out of the tap?
I have a well and the PH has always been about 6.0-6.4; this sudden reading from the tank surprises me and I'm wondering what outside influence is causing this raise in the PH there. I took a reading out of the tap and it was 6.0 but the tank water is at 7.0 I just don't understand why..
~ kate
 
  • #19
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

Did you test the well water recently? Would be interesting if that changed pH so drastically.
 
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  • #20
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

Did you test the well water recently? Would be interesting if that changed pH so drastically.
The well water PH has not changed, its been constant. Its the PH in the tank that has changed and I have no idea why its so much higher than the tap water.
 
  • #21
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

Not getting much input on this, are you? I for one have no idea, sorry.
 

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  • #22
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

Not getting much input on this, are you? I for one have no idea, sorry.
LOL.. I guess not! thanks for trying tho! hehe.... ;D
 
  • #23
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

Just realised I've asked you to repeat the whole post, question by question. (have you measured the pH, do you really think you've cycled, etc.). Sorry about that. You're ever so patient! Am sooooo tired (I actually did some work today after weeks of utter laziness).
 
  • #24
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

Just realised I've asked you to repeat the whole post, question by question. (have you measured the pH, do you really think you've cycled, etc.). Sorry about that. You're ever so patient! Am sooooo tired (I actually did some work today after weeks of utter laziness).

well, I guess you'll need a few weeks off, right?
 
  • #25
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

Yes, just what the doctor ordered: more time with your fish, less time with your customer.
 
  • #26
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

Yes, just what the doctor ordered: more time with your fish, less time with your customer.

well fish are often more interesting to talk with.
 
  • #27
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

But they take, rather than give money. I've just spent a clean 160 euros this afternoon (that's about 1.5 as much in dollars I think?)
 
  • #28
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

Don't mean to butt in, but I was reading that you were confused about your PH level. Do you have any gravel/decorations in there? I know driftwood slowly lowers the ph, and things such as limestone will raise it. some of the gravels have limestone or other materials that "leech" off into the water raising the ph. maybe this helps?
how is your cycle coming along?
 
  • #29
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

Oooooh. Of course! Clever. Do you think that's what it is, Capekate?
 
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  • #30
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

Don't mean to butt in, but I was reading that you were confused about your PH level.  Do you have any gravel/decorations in there?  I know driftwood slowly lowers the ph, and things such as limestone will raise it.  some of the gravels have limestone or other materials that "leech" off into the water raising the ph.  maybe this helps?
how is your cycle coming along?
HI There,
I do have gravel in the tank, just a few plastic plant decorations. Today I added a very nice large live sword plant to the tank along with another 25 lbs of the natural gravel. We also added the areation wand so have that running now too. I haven't checked readings again, but may do that on monday. Still feeding the tank frozen fish food, now using the shrimp that was left over from the other fish. Found out that my lFS does not carry Discus fish, which was a disappointment and now will have to go alittle farther to find them. IF we can't find the discus fish we will end up doing a cichlid tank. But my heart is set on the Discus tank. So will have to wait and see. Still have a long way to go on the cycle so there is plenty of time. I'm bidding on a nice piece of driftwood on ebay at the moment and hope to be able to add that to the tank as well as a few more sword plants next week. I'm glad that I have other tanks to keep me busy, I'm not in such a hurry to 'stock' this tank yet.
thanks for asking! ~ kate
 
  • #31
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

I know there are some Discus fish on ebay fairly often... of course the downside of that is the shipping costs, but I guess I don't know how much they are in the store or anything. Have you ever had discus before?
 

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  • #32
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

I know there are some Discus fish on ebay fairly often... of course the downside of that is the shipping costs, but I guess I don't know  how much they are in the store or anything.  Have you ever had discus before? 
I have not had Discus fish before, but really fell in love with their beauty. I realize that to buy a fish online its going to cost me the cost of the fish and the cost of shipping which can run to 45.00 which I really cannot afford to do. So I am looking locally for them. In a fish store they can run from 9.99 to 14.99 for small ones and over 20.00 for bigger ones. Unusual colors and patterns can run higher. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can find them somewhere locally. And like I said. if not it will be a cichlid tank which is my second choice for this tank.
~ kate
 
  • #33
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

They are really beautiful. I was reading up on them awhile ago and it said they like certain water conditions (if I remember correctly, soft acidic water and a certain temperature) to survive. I don't know if you've looked into it but it's always something to look into if you haven't. I'd love to have them but i've got high ph hard water, and I didn't want to have to fight it all the time to make it safe for the fish. Good luck with them! I'd lvoe to see pictures = )
 
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  • #34
Re: Starting fishless cycle, with questions...

DAY SIX
Like I mentioned in above post, I have added another bag of natural gravel pebbles. And one large sword plant and the aeration wand. Took another reading this am. the second reading so far. I will add a few more live plants next saturday when I go to the LFS.
AMMONIA : .25
NITRATE : 10
NITRITE : 0
Will continue to feed the tank with fish food and see what happens in a few days.
    ~ kate
 
  • #35
Re: Starting fishless cycle day by day....

Just how much food are you adding? Is it better to add more or less food to help the cycle go faster?
 
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  • #36
Re: Starting fishless cycle day by day....

Just how much food are you adding?  Is it better to add more or less food to help the cycle go faster?
I don't really know how much one should use. I use the syringe and add about 1/2 tsp or 21/2 ml of thawed frozen brine shrimp or bloodworms. Adding food will aid in the cycle if your not using ammonia. Which I am not using. This will probably take 20 or more days to cycle. I'm getting some kind of ammonia reading now, so it must be doing something...
~ kate
 
  • #37
Re: Starting fishless cycle day by day....

Adding food will aid in the cycle if your not using ammonia.
It's not that adding food will aid the cycle, it's the only thing that will cause the cycle to actually happen (when not using pure ammonia or fish). No source of ammonia means no cycle at all. Adding more food will make more ammonia which means more food for the good bacteria to eat, which means more good bacteria in the tank in the long run, which means you can fully stock your tank with fish when the cycle is over. If you are only getting 0.5ppm right now then try adding more food so you will eventually get a higher reading.

Also as to your pH question... the only things that would raise the pH in your tank would be:

1. Chemicals added that "stabilize" the water
2. adding limestone, marble, coral, or sea-shells
3. aerating the tank or adding oxygen by having plants in the tank (try taking a pH reading at night after a few hours of lights out in the tank, it should lower due to the plants respiring CO2)

Did your pH rise after you added the plant or before? Also have you checked your waters hardness? Just curious if you have fairly soft water then pH changes will be easy to come by (i.e. some sort of buffer might help).
 
  • #38
Re: Starting fishless cycle day by day....

So is it better to do a small pinch (amount I would feed if there were actually fish in my tank) or a large pinch, say 5 times the amount I would normally feed my fish? Or does it not matter?
 
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  • #39
Re: Starting fishless cycle day by day....

Adding food will aid in the cycle if your not using ammonia.
It's not that adding food will aid the cycle, it's the only thing that will cause the cycle to actually happen (when not using pure ammonia or fish). No source of ammonia means no cycle at all.
That is what I meant by it would be aiding the cycle, just didnt word it right. I realize without any ammonia in the tank, the cycle will just not happen.

Adding more food will make more ammonia which means more food for the good bacteria to eat, which means more good bacteria in the tank in the long run, which means you can fully stock your tank with fish when the cycle is over. If you are only getting 0.5ppm right now then try adding more food so you will eventually get a higher reading.
thanks, I will add al little more fish food then.

Also as to your pH question... the only things that would raise the pH in your tank would be:

1. Chemicals added that "stabilize" the water
2. adding limestone, marble, coral, or sea-shells
3. aerating the tank or adding oxygen by having plants in the tank (try taking a pH reading at night after a few hours of lights out in the tank, it should lower due to the plants respiring CO2)

Did your pH rise after you added the plant or before? Also have you checked your waters hardness? Just curious if you have fairly soft water then pH changes will be easy to come by (i.e. some sort of buffer might help).
HI Luniyn
My PH was at an elevated reading ( which was higher than the tap test) before I added the plants. After I added the sword plant, it went down a little bit. I did find that great article here on fishlore on PH. It was very enlightening. We do have 'soft' water here. The reading went from 7.0 to 6.8 within a few days.
thanks ~ kate
 
  • #40
Re: Starting fishless cycle day by day....

My PH was at an elevated reading ( which was higher than the tap test) before I added the plants. After I added the sword plant, it went down a little bit. I did find that great article here on fishlore on PH. It was very enlightening. We do have 'soft' water here. The reading went from 7.0 to 6.8 within a few days.
Ok if you are changing pH like that over the course of days, really keep an eye on it. If it keeps fluctuation up and down drastically over the span of days, this could cause a pretty big problem in the health of your fish. It might be necessary to add some buffer to help harden it a little bit, but that's one of those 'cross that bridge when you come to it' kind of things. So just keep testing pH to see how much it changes.

So is it better to do a small pinch (amount I would feed if there were actually fish in my tank) or a large pinch, say 5 times the amount I would normally feed my fish? Or does it not matter?
You want to do a bit more then what you would feed the fish. The best thing to do is start adding the "pinch" of food every 12 hours and then after a few days do an ammonia test. If you are under 1ppm then double the size of your "pinch" give or take. Keep that up for at least 3 days and see what your ammonia is at. At that point you should have a fairly nice level of ammonia after which you will start to get good bacteria growing in your tank and eating it. So it may fall (i.e. it's being eaten by the good ammonia) but just keep up the level of food till you hit the nitrite part of the cycle. At that point you can go back to your initial level of food used in your "pinch" and keep that up (still every 12 hours) until the cycle is finished.
 
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  • #41
Re: Starting fishless cycle day by day....

My PH was at an elevated reading ( which was higher than the tap test) before I added the plants. After I added the sword plant, it went down a little bit. I did find that great article here on fishlore on PH. It was very enlightening. We do have 'soft' water here. The reading went from 7.0 to 6.8 within a few days.
Ok if you are changing pH like that over the course of days, really keep an eye on it. If it keeps fluctuation up and down drastically over the span of days, this could cause a pretty big problem in the health of your fish. It might be necessary to add some buffer to help harden it a little bit, but that's one of those 'cross that bridge when you come to it' kind of things. So just keep testing pH to see how much it changes.

So is it better to do a small pinch (amount I would feed if there were actually fish in my tank) or a large pinch, say 5 times the amount I would normally feed my fish? Or does it not matter?
You want to do a bit more then what you would feed the fish. The best thing to do is start adding the "pinch" of food every 12 hours and then after a few days do an ammonia test. If you are under 1ppm then double the size of your "pinch" give or take. Keep that up for at least 3 days and see what your ammonia is at. At that point you should have a fairly nice level of ammonia after which you will start to get good bacteria growing in your tank and eating it. So it may fall (i.e. it's being eaten by the good ammonia) but just keep up the level of food till you hit the nitrite part of the cycle. At that point you can go back to your initial level of food used in your "pinch" and keep that up (still every 12 hours) until the cycle is finished.
HI Luniyn~
It is strange about the PH readings. Tho I have read them at different times of the day ( like day or nighttime). Also all my other tanks do not have that flucuation in PH readings as this large tank does. I will continue to do a daily reading of PH if nothing else to see if there are any more changes.
I will add a better amount of fish food to the tank then, as I'm probably not adding enough. I take readings about every three days. Maybe I should do it on a daily basis?
Thanks so much for your help.. I look forward to your advice in the cycling of this tank! ;D

Re: Starting fishless cycle day by day....

DAY EIGHT
AMMONIA : .25
NITRATE: 10 (BETWEEN 10 & 20) a little darker than the 10 now.
NITRITE : 0
PH : 7.0
Well not much of a change in eight days. So I think that I'm just not adding enough fish food to the tank and will start to double up on what I was doing. I won the auction for a real nice piece of driftwood and can't wait to be able to add that to the tank, along with another large sword plant and maybe some mondo grass around the driftwood. Ive researched my LFS and petsmart does not carry Discus fish. There is another LFS near by that does sell them for 24.99 a piece. My husband was quite surprised at the price and I told him well.. we can always go with our backup plan of a cichlid tank. He reminded me that I had my heart set on the Discus, so will have to wait and see what happens after the tank is cycled. I can save up the money for that purchase....
I can't believe the Patience I have on this tank.. ( usually I want it done, yesterday!)must be because I have others to keep me busy.
~ kate

Re: Starting fishless cycle day by day....

Here is the work in progress, from an empty tank to one with one large Amazon Sword plant, a few plastic plants ( for now), natural gravel and a long bubble wand. Waiting on more plants, like another sword for the oppsite side of the tank and the driftwood for the middle area in front of the wand.
 
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  • Thread Starter
  • #43
Re: Starting fishless cycle day by day....

Looking good!
Thank you! ;D btw.. Id love to see a photo of your own 55 gallon set up. Do you have one uploaded already?
~ kate
 
  • #44
Re: Starting fishless cycle day by day....

Did the pH change before or after you started using that bubble wand? That much aeration could definitely cause your rise in pH. The driftwood will also eventually cause the pH to drop, so it might actually be a good balance with them both in there. But again, keep an eye on that. As to the fish food, yeah add more but understand that soon the good bacteria will grow enough to eat a lot of the ammonia you produce. So your levels might actually be higher then the tests show (i.e. you are adding say 2ppm but by the time you test it only shows 0.5ppm because the good bacteria is eating most of it (just an example)). Of course at that point you would also see some nitrite show up (the waste the good bacteria make from eating ammonia) so that would be an indication of you adding enough food to the water.

As for Discus, I love them too and want to start a 75 Gal tank with them in it eventually. But I can't even get my 10 Gal tank started for the dwarf puffers I want let alone a 75 Gal with $30 Discus (cheapest I could find them for locally, at least from a store that I would actually buy some from that is). The good thing is that with good care they will live for a long time making the investment worth it. Even if you have to add a pair at a time, I say go for the Discus
 
  • #45
Re: Starting fishless cycle day by day....

I'm on day 6, my readings were:
ammonia- 1 ppm
nitrite - .25 ppm
nitrate 5 ppm

I am getting impatient! but I leave for vacation for 12 days on thursday, maybe it will magically cycle by then! (can always hope, right?)

How many discus were you planning on getting? I wish I could afford to spend that much on a fish...I'm still a little leery of spending $10 or so on the cichlids. I just keep reminding myself that these are my pets and I can't get a dog or cat or anything else so its ok to spend money on them.
let me know how the cycling process is going, its nice to have someone basically at the same stage as I am to compare numbers!
 
  • Thread Starter
  • #46
Re: Starting fishless cycle day by day....

Did the pH change before or after you started using that bubble wand? That much aeration could definitely cause your rise in pH. The driftwood will also eventually cause the pH to drop, so it might actually be a good balance with them both in there. But again, keep an eye on that. As to the fish food, yeah add more but understand that soon the good bacteria will grow enough to eat a lot of the ammonia you produce. So your levels might actually be higher then the tests show (i.e. you are adding say 2ppm but by the time you test it only shows 0.5ppm because the good bacteria is eating most of it (just an example)). Of course at that point you would also see some nitrite show up (the waste the good bacteria make from eating ammonia) so that would be an indication of you adding enough food to the water.

As for Discus, I love them too and want to start a 75 Gal tank with them in it eventually. But I can't even get my 10 Gal tank started for the dwarf puffers I want let alone a 75 Gal with $30 Discus (cheapest I could find them for locally, at least from a store that I would actually buy some from that is). The good thing is that with good care they will live for a long time making the investment worth it. Even if you have to add a pair at a time, I say go for the Discus
HI Luniyn~
On 6/18 I started the tank without taking a reading. On 6/21 readings were; ammonia 0 nitrate 10 and nitrite 0, PH 7.0 On 6/23 I added the sword plant and wand, readings on 6/24 were; ammonia .25, nitrate 10, nitrite 0, PH 6.8. On 6/25 PH was 7.2. On 6/26 ammonia .25, nitrate 10-15, nitrite 0, PH 7.0 tank temp is 82*.
I do love the Discus and hope that we will be able to go with them. ;D I like the look of the different cichlids and the jack dempsey as well. BUT... they are soo mean to each other!! id rather go with the peaceful Discus and a few silver dollars and a school of cardinal tetras. That's the plan so far! I plan on taking good care of them as I do all the tanks and spend do a lot of time maintaining them.

Re: Starting fishless cycle day by day....

I'm on day 6, my readings were:
ammonia- 1 ppm
nitrite - .25 ppm
nitrate 5 ppm

I am getting impatient! but I leave for vacation for 12 days on thursday, maybe it will magically cycle by then! (can always hope, right?)

How many discus were you planning on getting? I wish I could afford to spend that much on a fish...I'm still a little leery of spending $10 or so on the cichlids. I just keep reminding myself that these are my pets and I can't get a dog or cat or anything else so its ok to spend money on them.
let me know how the cycling process is going, its nice to have someone basically at the same stage as I am to compare numbers!
HI there and good luck on your own tank cycling! ;D Your right, maybe it will cycle by the time you get back from vaca. Do you have someone 'feeding' the tank for you well you go? On how many Discus I would like to get, well I would like to have at least six. But will have to start off with a pair at first. Id like to also add to the tank at least 3 silver dollars as well. and a school of cardinal tetras, maybe at least 8 of them, maybe ten. Then the tank will definitely be filled with fish and probably a little over stocked at that point. But will see...
 
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  • #47
Re: Starting fishless cycle day by day....

Well keep testing the pH as you add things to the tank, and I would definitely try to get it all in there and sitting for a few days to see how things react before adding any fish. It might stablize nicely once you move the temp back to normal and have the driftwood in there (higher temp water tends to be more acidic (i.e. lowers the pH) but usually we are talking higher then just 82oF so I don't really think that's a problem).

One thing I wanted to mention about Discus and faster swimming fish (like tetras though the small cardinals might not be an issue) is that Discus like to take it slow when they eat. So fish that zoom around eating all the food you drop might make it hard for the Discus to get the amount they need. They might be fine, but just something to keep an eye on if you do decide to go that route.

Re: Starting fishless cycle day by day....

Discus I would like to get, well I would like to have at least six. But will have to start off with a pair at first. Id like to also add to the tank at least 3 silver dollars as well. and a school of cardinal tetras, maybe at least 8 of them, maybe ten. Then the tank will definitely be filled with fish and probably a little over stocked at that point. But will see...
10 tetras = 15" of fish, 3 Silver Dollars = 15" of fish, so you could fit 4 Discus at 6" each and not be overstocked.
 
  • Thread Starter
  • #48
Re: Starting fishless cycle day by day....

Discus I would like to get, well I would like to have at least six. But will have to start off with a pair at first. Id like to also add to the tank at least 3 silver dollars as well. and a school of cardinal tetras, maybe at least 8 of them, maybe ten. Then the tank will definitely be filled with fish and probably a little over stocked at that point. But will see...
10 tetras = 15" of fish, 3 Silver Dollars = 15" of fish, so you could fit 4 Discus at 6" each and not be overstocked.
That sounds good to me... and affordable! lol..Thanks for figuring that out for me. Four discus would be very nice.
about the cardinal tetras and Discus, I read on a lot of sites on the Discus fish that they do very well with cardinal tetras, and is why I decided to have them. Also saw a very nice youtube video with the Discus and the cardinal tetras, it was beautiful an they looked great! I won the auction on the driftwood and will be getting that shipped to me using parcel post so that can take up to 6-9 days. Next saturday I will get the rest of the plants that I want in the tank. I know its going to be probably at least another three weeks or so before this tank cycles right and that's on the short side, so I will have time to get the tank ready for fish!
Also will get a gang valve, as I forgot that when I bought the areation wand and really need that to slow down these bubbles lol...
;D

Re: Starting fishless cycle day by day....

DAY TEN
Well, I did a water test this am and it seems that the ammonia has at least gone from a .25 to a .50. All the other results are the same so far.
AMMONIA : .50
NITRATE : 10
NITRITE : 0
I added an Amazon Sword plant on 6/23 and it is immediately starting to die. The leaves are turning brown one by one and now I have three brown leaves that are sure to die off soon. Its too bad, it was a beautiful plant. I researched the water temp for these plants and they said they worked well in a Discus tank, as it didn't mind the higher temps. Its also a low light plant when it is full grown as this one is. The only thing I can think of is that on the drive home we had the a/c on in the truck and it may have damaged the plant. So other than that,still feeding the tank food and hope for a cycle to be complete in another three weeks or so.

Re: Starting fishless cycle day by day....

DAY 14

AMMONIA : 1.0
NITRATE : 10
NITRITE : almost at the .25ppm. but above the 0ppm.
PH : 7.0

Still feeding the tank frozen bloodworms or brineshrimp. I added a piece of skin off of a smoked bluefish yesterday. Seems that the ammonia level has gone up finally and I'm seeing a trace of nitrite showing now s well. Hope this is an indication that the cycle is coming along well for 2 weeks in progress.
Thursday my husband and I are going to a fish store that sells Discus and go take a peek at these wonderful fish in anticipation of the good things to come when the tank is finally cycled! ;D

Re: Starting fishless cycle day by day....

DAY 17
AMMONIA : 1.5
NITRATE : 20
NITRITE : 1.0
PH : 7.0
Well it looks like this fishless cycle is on its way to becoming cycled. ;D Finally a good reading on nitrites and a spike in the nitrates. So today I will be adding the sponge that Ive had soaking in the filter of the cycled tank for two weeks. It is already getting pretty full of benifical bacteria. And I think with the readings now, I can add the sponge. So will do that.. Then wait and do some readings for another week and hopefully the ammonia and nitrite will go to zero and I can start to stock some fish in a week from this saturday. ;D

Re: Starting fishless cycle day by day....

Hello ;D
well I went and bought three pink quartz rocks to hold down the driftwood. It all looks good. I'm keeping this tank slightly plain. Not heavy planted like my 29 gallon tank. What do you think so far?
;D

Re: Starting fishless cycle day by day....

Its hard to see the nice stripes of pink going through the rocks with the light on. And the shape of the driftwood is nice, but not really great at the angle I have it on with the rocks. Will have to play around with placement at some point and see what else I can come up with.
;D Next saturday if the readings are right, I will add about 15 cardinal tetras. then wait a week or so before I add 2 Discus fish. That is the plan IF the sponge Ive just put in will start to bring the ammonia levels down etc etc.
thanks for looking, kate

Re: Starting fishless cycle day by day....

DAY 18
Nitrites seem to be spiking at this point. and it seems that the ammonia level has dropped just a teeny bit. My PH has also dropped and wondering if its from adding the driftwood to the tank on monday. After reading posts in the nitrogen cyle Ive decided that the best thing to do is keep the piece of blue fish (that I'm using to produce ammonia) in the tank. After adding the sponge from the cycled tank into the filter yesterday I'm hoping that the benificial bacteria will start to grow and eat the ammonia. and then see a decrease in the nitrate and nitrite readings soon.
AMMONIA : 1.0
NITRATE : 20
NITRITE : 2.0
PH : 6.8

Also yesterday my husband and I went to a LFS and checked out the three Discus fish that they had there. This shop is the only one locally for Discus. we put two of them on hold for pick up a week from saturday. IF the tank is cycled by then and all is well with the readings. They are really nice Discus and we are excited at the prospect of bringing them home. One looked very dark as if red, but I was told that it is a tourquise one. and the other which looked like the body was a very pale lavender/white had dark colored fins. Very pretty fish. I was so excited when on one of the tanks was an advertisement for BIO SPIRA!! it said that it was located in the refrigeration section. I was beside myself with glee at the thought I can buy some ... BUT as my luck would have it.. she said, ohh we are out of it right now, the expiration date was outdated and we got rid of it. I asked when the next shipment would be and she said they decided not to get anymore since what they had didnt sell. I was like whaattt? anyway.. what a shame, had my hopes up high for some and then dashed. figures... :-\
So cycling continues in our house the old fashion way!

Re: Starting fishless cycle ..(Please help..)

Hello everyone, and g'morning!
I have been cycling and recording the readings since june 18th. Today I did another water test and have a few questions if anyone can help with?
At this point of the cycle, is there anything I should be doing different, than just feeding the tank.. and taking readings? And can anyone tell me where in the cycle I am at this point? My nitrates are sky high and so are the nitrites and yet the ammonia went to zero for the first time since I started getting readings on it.
AMMONIA : 0
NITRATE : 40
NITRITE : 2.0+
PH 6.8
Thanks so much for any help or suggestions at this point in the cycle~

Re: Starting fishless cycle ..(Please help..)

Well it seems that there just isn't any help out there with this cycling question. I just gave it more thought and realized that if the ammonia was a zero, an the rest of the readings were high, that I needed to add some ammonia. As the benificial bacteria needs ammonia to feed on. With no more readings of ammonia that wasn't going to help in my cycle.
I'm so glad there are a lot of posts in the nitrogen cycle that I can depend on .. to come up with the answers I need!
 
  • #49
Re: Starting fishless cycle ..(Please help..)

Sorry, I've been busy lately and not responding to posts like I used to (i.e. within minutes of their posting). In answer to your question, you are right on track with the cycle. The ammonia being 0 is not because you don't have any ammonia in your tank, it is because you have sufficient good bacteria in the tank that can eat all you are feeding it and convert it to nitrite. Now the next set of good bacteria are growing because they now have nitrite to eat and turn it to nitrate. So just keep feeding the same amount of ammonia you have been feeding them all along. Also you must continue to feed the tank with ammonia until you are ready to add fish, otherwise the good bacteria you built up to eat the ammonia will starve and die off (i.e. you would have to start the cycle over again). As to where you are in the cycle, well you are near the end (provided you've been feeding the tank with ammonia) and will be done soon. As to how soon, well that's hard to tell as it varies in each tank.
 
  • Thread Starter
  • #50
Re: Starting fishless cycle ..(Please help..)

Sorry, I've been busy lately and not responding to posts like I used to (i.e. within minutes of their posting). In answer to your question, you are right on track with the cycle. The ammonia being 0 is not because you don't have any ammonia in your tank, it is because you have sufficient good bacteria in the tank that can eat all you are feeding it and convert it to nitrite. Now the next set of good bacteria are growing because they now have nitrite to eat and turn it to nitrate. So just keep feeding the same amount of ammonia you have been feeding them all along. Also you must continue to feed the tank with ammonia until you are ready to add fish, otherwise the good bacteria you built up to eat the ammonia will starve and die off (i.e. you would have to start the cycle over again). As to where you are in the cycle, well you are near the end (provided you've been feeding the tank with ammonia) and will be done soon. As to how soon, well that's hard to tell as it varies in each tank.
good morning Luniyn~
thanks so much for getting back to me with my questions. Having been cycling since june 18th, I was afraid that I had done something wrong to cause the ammonia to drop to zero. I did continue to feed the tank so hopefully the cycle is continueing. I did another test yesterday and the readings were still the same. I will do another one today. I'm hoping the cycle will be complete by saturday that's when I am supposed to pick up the two discus fish that are on hold at the LFS. They did tell me that if the tank hasnt cycled by then, to just let them know and they will continue to hold them for me. I put in a 4 inch strip of blue fish in the tank about 2 weeks ago and was wondering if all the ammonia was gone from it at this point. It is now all white fuzzy mold on it an didnt know if I should take it out and continue feeding the tank with the frozen brine shrimp. So I did decide to continue with the frozen BS daily. the piece of fish is still in the tank tho.
thanks again.. its good to hear that I am at the end of the cycle.... ;D
 

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