SUPER slow fishless cycle... Any thoughts??

PizzaStina

Member
Hi everyone!

I am a newbie to aquariums and bought a 10 gallon tank on January 30th.

I stupidly did what the people at Petco tell you to do - which is to simply set it up, add dechlorinator and bottled bacteria, wait a week, and come back for your fish.

During that week I started reading about the nitrogen cycle and got a little nervous. I ordered the API Master Test Kit and got readings of .25 ammonia, 0 nitrites, and 0 nitrates, and soon found out that without an ammonia source, the cycle will not start.

But then I read about Seachem Prime and fish-in cycling and figured, well, maybe I can try a fish-in cycle with three small fish to start, so I ordered Prime, put some in the tank, and got 3 GloFish from Petco. I acclimated them for a pretty long time (maybe close to 2 hours) and they all seemed to be doing well at first.... until slowly one by one they all died. They lasted about 8 hours. I was very bummed!

So I decided I should give this fishless cycle thing a shot and I put pure ammonia in my tank on February 7th. I dosed it up to 4ppm, and waited and waited....a week an a half later there were no changes, so I did some more reading. I added an airstone (already had a filter of course), cranked my heater up to 84F, left the tank lid open, and also dumped in a bottle of TSS+ to see if I could get the right type of bacteria started up quicker.

Finally, a week after adding the TSS+, I start to get a slightly lower ammonia reading, around 2ppm (on February 24th). I have zero nitrites still, but now what seems to be a very slight nitrate reading (just a hint of orange).

The next day the ammonia looks to be closer to 1ppm, but the other readings are still the same. I read that for a 10 gallon tank its wise to try to keep your ammonia at around 2ppm, as to keep providing the food source for bacteria. So I dose just a teeny pinch.

Today my readings are about 2ppm, 0 nitrite, MAYBE 5ppm nitrate.

In a couple days it will have been three weeks since dosing my tank with ammonia and this just seems like a really long time for the cycle to hardly be doing anything?? I had read usually it takes 7-12 days for ammonia to drop, and while it seemed to have started dropping, it wasn't by that much, and due to evaporation I had topped off the tank a couple of times with dechlorinated water, could just that alone have dropped the ammonia? Just wondering if this is normal to take so long to see any significant change, and if not, what am I doing wrong?
 

Salem

Member
Sometimes if the ammonia is too high it can stall a cycle. However if you're seeing nitrates you're already most of the way there. In general with TSS+ you have to follow the instructions to the letter otherwise it doesn't always work.

This is actually a very normal amount of time for a tank to cycle. On average it takes about 3 weeks but for some tanks it can take months.
 
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PizzaStina

Member
The thing is that my nitrate levels seem to be barely there.... like really just the slightest hint of that orange tint. I feel like with the amount of ammonia it should be more that that, right? Then again, maybe not enough of the ammonia has processed yet? Is it worth it to even test again tomorrow or should I wait a few days?

I have read also that adding TSS+ can cause a kind of skip in the nitrite spike... I've never read anything besides 0 for those... so is this what could be happening?

All I really did was shake the TSS+ bottle, dumped it all in and just left it for a while...
 

emmykenzie

Member
Do you know what the pH of your water is? The closer your pH gets to 6 the longer it can take to cycle.
 
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PizzaStina

Member
Yep, I tested it just yesterday, it's steadily been at 7.6. Maybe I just gotta be more patient? Just gets tiring testing every other day and feeling like not much is happening! Especially the zero nitrites... seems odd but I guess its possible to skip them?
 

Cherryshrimp420

Member
PizzaStina said:
The thing is that my nitrate levels seem to be barely there.... like really just the slightest hint of that orange tint. I feel like with the amount of ammonia it should be more that that, right? Then again, maybe not enough of the ammonia has processed yet? Is it worth it to even test again tomorrow or should I wait a few days?

I have read also that adding TSS+ can cause a kind of skip in the nitrite spike... I've never read anything besides 0 for those... so is this what could be happening?

All I really did was shake the TSS+ bottle, dumped it all in and just left it for a while...
Your ammonia should go to 0 once you stop adding ammonia. Is that happening with your tank? How much substrate, filter media do you have?
 

Salem

Member
PizzaStina said:
Yep, I tested it just yesterday, it's steadily been at 7.6. Maybe I just gotta be more patient? Just gets tiring testing every other day and feeling like not much is happening! Especially the zero nitrites... seems odd but I guess its possible to skip them?
Yes, I find in my own tanks I often miss the nitrite readings. You just have to wait a bit longer. Maybe do a water change to bring the ammonia down a bit. In the future if you're going to use TSS+ make sure to read the instructions
 

emmykenzie

Member
PizzaStina said:
Yep, I tested it just yesterday, it's steadily been at 7.6. Maybe I just gotta be more patient? Just gets tiring testing every other day and feeling like not much is happening! Especially the zero nitrites... seems odd but I guess its possible to skip them?
Oh and Welcome to Fishlore! I know how frustrating it can be! TRUST ME lol! It's a waiting game. If it makes your feel any better my tank with transferred established filter media is still not showing signs of ammonia/nitrites/ or nitrates after almost 40 days. I've read the cycle can take up to 3 months-/+ in some rare cases. Don't get discouraged! If you have a local fish store (not petco or maybe petco but I don't have any experience with them) that could provide you with established filter media or something with established beneficial bacteria it could help the cycle along greatly. I wouldn't worry too much about not physically seeing nitrites they may have appeared on a day you didn't test or only for a short amount of time before being overpowered by nitrates. That's whats so difficult about the cycle is its not visible. Sorry youre having difficulties and do not get discouraged! I hope this helps!
Emily

Edit: Also another very important thing to make note of is the ALL specs of your tap water (ph,gh,kh,ammonia). Try to test this regularly and run a true pH test - Test your pH straight from the tap, and mark down the pH. Then fill a cup with tap water and run an airstone in the cup for 24 hours, this helps along the gas exchange and gives you your true tap pH (I learned this from mattgirl our resident cycle expert)
 
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PizzaStina

Member
Cherryshrimp420 said:
Your ammonia should go to 0 once you stop adding ammonia. Is that happening with your tank? How much substrate, filter media do you have?
I have not yet gotten an ammonia reading of 0 since dosing with ammonia on Feb 7th. It started at 4ppm and the lowest it got was close to 1ppm, from which I dosed just a little pinch, so now its at 2ppm... should I have not done that? Is it better to only re-dose once it gets to zero or close to it? I have gravel substrate and an Aqueon 10 QuitFlow filter with a Medium filter inside.

emmykenzie said:
Oh and Welcome to Fishlore! I know how frustrating it can be! TRUST ME lol! It's a waiting game. If it makes your feel any better my tank with transferred established filter media is still not showing signs of ammonia/nitrites/ or nitrates after almost 40 days. I've read the cycle can take up to 3 months-/+ in some rare cases. Don't get discouraged! If you have a local fish store (not petco or maybe petco but I don't have any experience with them) that could provide you with established filter media or something with established beneficial bacteria it could help the cycle along greatly. I wouldn't worry too much about not physically seeing nitrites they may have appeared on a day you didn't test or only for a short amount of time before being overpowered by nitrates. That's whats so difficult about the cycle is its not visible. Sorry youre having difficulties and do not get discouraged! I hope this helps!
Emily

Edit: Also another very important thing to make note of is the ALL specs of your tap water (ph,gh,kh,ammonia). Try to test this regularly and run a true pH test - Test your pH straight from the tap, and mark down the pH. Then fill a cup with tap water and run an airstone in the cup for 24 hours, this helps along the gas exchange and gives you your true tap pH (I learned this from mattgirl our resident cycle expert)
3 months?! Woof. Lol

I am not familiar with gh and kh readings, actually. Is there a different test kit I can use for these? What should the parameters be?


Also, I'm kind of surprised that even when using Prime right before adding my fish, that they still died so quick and seemed to show signs of ammonia poisoning. I figured the Prime would protect them during the cycle... When my tank is actually ready for fish, should I ask the store about pH and temperature? Could they have just gotten shocked from differing parameter? I feel like I know so many people who don't even research this stuff and just throw some fish in a tank and they live for a while! So annoying! Ha.
 

Cherryshrimp420

Member
PizzaStina said:
I have not yet gotten an ammonia reading of 0 since dosing with ammonia on Feb 7th. It started at 4ppm and the lowest it got was close to 1ppm, from which I dosed just a little pinch, so now its at 2ppm... should I have not done that? Is it better to only re-dose once it gets to zero or close to it? I have gravel substrate and an Aqueon 10 QuitFlow filter with a Medium filter inside.



3 months?! Woof. Lol

I am not familiar with gh and kh readings, actually. Is there a different test kit I can use for these? What should the parameters be?


Also, I'm kind of surprised that even when using Prime right before adding my fish, that they still died so quick and seemed to show signs of ammonia poisoning. I figured the Prime would protect them during the cycle... When my tank is actually ready for fish, should I ask the store about pH and temperature? Could they have just gotten shocked from differing parameter? I feel like I know so many people who don't even research this stuff and just throw some fish in a tank and they live for a while! So annoying! Ha.
Ah okay so your ammonia is being processed. In that case you are on the right track and probably close to finishing the cycle.
 
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PizzaStina

Member
Cherryshrimp420 said:
Ah okay so your ammonia is being processed. In that case you are on the right track and probably close to finishing the cycle.
I hope! My 2ppm reading was 24 hours after I dosed it with a pinch, though, so I'm not sure it processed anything in that time? Maybe it's processing slowly still?
 

Cherryshrimp420

Member
PizzaStina said:
I hope! My 2ppm reading was 24 hours after I dosed it with a pinch, though, so I'm not sure it processed anything in that time? Maybe it's processing slowly still?
Do you mean a "pinch" of fish food? Fish food does not turn into ammonia immediately, there is some delay before it gets decomposed. So the 2ppm ammonia in your tank is coming from previous fish food that have decomposed.
 

emmykenzie

Member
PizzaStina said:
I have not yet gotten an ammonia reading of 0 since dosing with ammonia on Feb 7th. It started at 4ppm and the lowest it got was close to 1ppm, from which I dosed just a little pinch, so now its at 2ppm... should I have not done that? Is it better to only re-dose once it gets to zero or close to it? I have gravel substrate and an Aqueon 10 QuitFlow filter with a Medium filter inside.



3 months?! Woof. Lol

I am not familiar with gh and kh readings, actually. Is there a different test kit I can use for these? What should the parameters be?


Also, I'm kind of surprised that even when using Prime right before adding my fish, that they still died so quick and seemed to show signs of ammonia poisoning. I figured the Prime would protect them during the cycle... When my tank is actually ready for fish, should I ask the store about pH and temperature? Could they have just gotten shocked from differing parameter? I feel like I know so many people who don't even research this stuff and just throw some fish in a tank and they live for a while! So annoying! Ha.
SCROLL FOR TLDR
So gH & kH refer to water hardness, General Hardness & Carbonate Hardness. It's measured in ppm (parts per million) or degree of hardness (dgH/dkH) I'll shorten this up as best as possible but I get a little wordy some times so excuse me. General Hardness refers to the minerals in the water, specifically Calcium & Magnesium, while kH refers to your buffering capacity (how resilient your water is to pH fluctuations)
It's always good to know these numbers as some fish are more sensitive than others. It's especially important if you are keeping plants.
Hardness is a different test kit, I believe its around $15 for both tests.
As far as what ideal parameters look like gH matters slightly less than kH, ideally you want your kH to be greater than 2. When your kH drops below 2 your buffering capacity becomes very weak and you are highly susceptible to pH swings.

That is definitely strange about Prime, though its possible the ammonia was too strong in the tank for the prime to control. The API test kit only goes between 4 ppm and 8 ppm so you could have had 5 or 6 ppm of ammonia and there's no real definite way of knowing.
It's possible you are onto something about shocking the fish. pH is VERY important when introducing a new fish into a tank. As an example: An increase or decrease of 1 ppm is HUGE for a fish. The equation uses 10 as a multiplier so while a pH of 6 is 10x weaker than a pH of 7, its 100x weaker than a pH of 8.

TLDR: Yes, I would definitely try to see if the store knows the parameters of their water, if they don't that's not a generally good sign. Any fish you are planning on keeping try to research up on and know for yourself what the responsible parameters are. People at petco or like places are going to tell you whatever they can to make a sale and get you out of their face unfortunately. So let us know about your decisions so we can help you! My DMs are always open!
Do you drip acclimate?

Best,
Emily

Edit: I have these on my cycling tanks https://www.amazon.com/Alerts-Combo...&keywords=seachem+alert&qid=1614390878&sr=8-1 Might help to give you piece of mind
 
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PizzaStina

Member
emmykenzie said:
SCROLL FOR TLDR
So gH & kH refer to water hardness, General Hardness & Carbonate Hardness. It's measured in ppm (parts per million) or degree of hardness (dgH/dkH) I'll shorten this up as best as possible but I get a little wordy some times so excuse me. General Hardness refers to the minerals in the water, specifically Calcium & Magnesium, while kH refers to your buffering capacity (how resilient your water is to pH fluctuations)
It's always good to know these numbers as some fish are more sensitive than others. It's especially important if you are keeping plants.
Hardness is a different test kit, I believe its around $15 for both tests.
As far as what ideal parameters look like gH matters slightly less than kH, ideally you want your kH to be greater than 2. When your kH drops below 2 your buffering capacity becomes very weak and you are highly susceptible to pH swings.

That is definitely strange about Prime, though its possible the ammonia was too strong in the tank for the prime to control. The API test kit only goes between 4 ppm and 8 ppm so you could have had 5 or 6 ppm of ammonia and there's no real definite way of knowing.
It's possible you are onto something about shocking the fish. pH is VERY important when introducing a new fish into a tank. As an example: An increase or decrease of 1 ppm is HUGE for a fish. The equation uses 10 as a multiplier so while a pH of 6 is 10x weaker than a pH of 7, its 100x weaker than a pH of 8.

TLDR: Yes, I would definitely try to see if the store knows the parameters of their water, if they don't that's not a generally good sign. Any fish you are planning on keeping try to research up on and know for yourself what the responsible parameters are. People at petco or like places are going to tell you whatever they can to make a sale and get you out of their face unfortunately. So let us know about your decisions so we can help you! My DMs are always open!
Do you drip acclimate?

Best,
Emily

Edit: I have these on my cycling tanks https://www.amazon.com/Alerts-Combo...&keywords=seachem+alert&qid=1614390878&sr=8-1 Might help to give you piece of mind
Thank you for the explanation!

Regarding the ammonia... I was only getting a reading of .25ppm before putting in the fish. My API Test kit tests from 0-8ppm. So I really thought the Prime would work. We fed the fish a few hours after getting them in the tank and I wonder if that could have caused too much of an ammonia spike for them?

I did not drip acclimate, but did a slow process with the floating bag.

I feel like I was very set on GloFish Tetras, but read a lot of stories of them dying quickly... hoping it wouldn't be the case once the tank is actually cycled? Maybe I need to match pH and temperature to a store's tank?
Cherryshrimp420 said:
Do you mean a "pinch" of fish food? Fish food does not turn into ammonia immediately, there is some delay before it gets decomposed. So the 2ppm ammonia in your tank is coming from previous fish food that have decomposed.
No no, I mean a pinch of pure ammonia - Frtiz Pro Aquatics brand. a tiny amount of that stuff goes a long way in a 10 gallon.
 

Cherryshrimp420

Member
I cycled my 75 gal with 3 minnows just to give you an idea of how many fish are needed for in-fish cycling.
 

emmykenzie

Member
PizzaStina said:
Thank you for the explanation!

Regarding the ammonia... I was only getting a reading of .25ppm before putting in the fish. My API Test kit tests from 0-8ppm. So I really thought the Prime would work. We fed the fish a few hours after getting them in the tank and I wonder if that could have caused too much of an ammonia spike for them?

I did not drip acclimate, but did a slow process with the floating bag.

I feel like I was very set on GloFish Tetras, but read a lot of stories of them dying quickly... hoping it wouldn't be the case once the tank is actually cycled? Maybe I need to match pH and temperature to a store's tank?
Ah yes sorry I misread that. I'm not sure feeding them was what necessarily did it. The fact they died off so quickly is what leads to me to believe it was just shock or possibly unhealthy fish from the get. I have heard that Glofish Tetras can be very finnicky. If I were you, I wouldn't take it in that direction but if you are set on them, don't let me tell you otherwise. I would very patiently await the finish of your cycle. If you are worried about your ammonia levels do a 30% water change and see what happens.
The reason I ask about your tap water specs, is that I was curious if you have city or well water. Some city water contains ammonia so I wasn't sure if there was additional ammonia being added to your water.
Cherryshrimp420 said:
I cycled my 75 gal with 3 minnows just to give you an idea of how many fish are needed for in-fish cycling.
How long did it take? Did you move filter media over?
 
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PizzaStina

Member
emmykenzie said:
Ah yes sorry I misread that. I'm not sure feeding them was what necessarily did it. The fact they died off so quickly is what leads to me to believe it was just shock or possibly unhealthy fish from the get. I have heard that Glofish Tetras can be very finnicky. If I were you, I wouldn't take it in that direction but if you are set on them, don't let me tell you otherwise. I would very patiently await the finish of your cycle. If you are worried about your ammonia levels do a 30% water change and see what happens.
The reason I ask about your tap water specs, is that I was curious if you have city or well water. Some city water contains ammonia so I wasn't sure if there was additional ammonia being added to your water.

How long did it take? Did you move filter media over?
Ah I see. I'm in LA so it's city tap water. My initial readings after first setting up my tank were .25ppm ammonia, 0 nitrite 0 nitrate, so I guess that means theres probably a small amount of ammonia in the tap?

It was really weird, the fish seemed very happy and active for a while, then we fed them but honestly, I think we overdid it because they didn't eat it all very fast. Then they started hanging out at the surface a lot (gasping for air maybe??) Then two of them began to float and swim sideways and upside down... I noticed one of them sort of lost its color, then they basically sat at the bottom and struggled to breathe til they passed The smallest of the bunch actually made it the longest... Sounds like all the symptoms of ammonia poisoning, right? I really thought the Prime would prevent that, though....
 

Dechi

Member
PizzaStina said:
Also, I'm kind of surprised that even when using Prime right before adding my fish, that they still died so quick and seemed to show signs of ammonia poisoning.
You left the fish 2 hours in the bag before putting them in the tank. Add to that whatever time it took you to bring them home, they were in a small bag with their own poop a long time. Poop = ammonia.

30 minutes of acclimation is enough. And when fish have been in a bag too long, it’s best to skip acclimation, because the shock from PH and temperature is not as deadly as ammonia poisoning.
 
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PizzaStina

Member
Dechi said:
You left the fish 2 hours in the bag before putting them in the tank. Add to that whatever time it took you to bring them home, they were in a small bag with their own poop a long time. Poop = ammonia.

30 minutes of acclimation is enough. And when fish have been in a bag too long, it’s best to skip acclimation, because the shock from PH and temperature is not as deadly as ammonia poisoning.
Oh jeez. Well this is good to know. I wrongly assumed a slower acclimation would be better!
 

Cherryshrimp420

Member
emmykenzie said:
Ah yes sorry I misread that. I'm not sure feeding them was what necessarily did it. The fact they died off so quickly is what leads to me to believe it was just shock or possibly unhealthy fish from the get. I have heard that Glofish Tetras can be very finnicky. If I were you, I wouldn't take it in that direction but if you are set on them, don't let me tell you otherwise. I would very patiently await the finish of your cycle. If you are worried about your ammonia levels do a 30% water change and see what happens.
The reason I ask about your tap water specs, is that I was curious if you have city or well water. Some city water contains ammonia so I wasn't sure if there was additional ammonia being added to your water.

How long did it take? Did you move filter media over?
This was years ago when I first started the tank so it had nothing from previous tanks. It took about 4 weeks+
 

emmykenzie

Member
Dechi said:
You left the fish 2 hours in the bag before putting them in the tank. Add to that whatever time it took you to bring them home, they were in a small bag with their own poop a long time. Poop = ammonia.

30 minutes of acclimation is enough. And when fish have been in a bag too long, it’s best to skip acclimation, because the shock from PH and temperature is not as deadly as ammonia poisoning.
Hm good thinking and fair points. Learn something new every day.
 
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PizzaStina

Member
Hey all,

These are my test results today - they look exactly the same as 48 hours ago :/


IMG_20210228_120005608_HDR~2.jpg


I'm also now thinking the nitrate reading is really zero. I can hardly tell if it has orange in it...? It doesn't look like the bright yellow at zero, but appears more gold... Any thoughts on this?

I started at 4ppm ammonia three weeks ago. Now that my ammonia seems to be a little less... Maybe trying another bottle of TSS+ would get things actually going? Any advice? Thanks!
 

emmykenzie

Member
PizzaStina said:
Hey all,

These are my test results today - they look exactly the same as 48 hours ago :/


IMG_20210228_120005608_HDR~2.jpg


I'm also now thinking the nitrate reading is really zero. I can hardly tell if it has orange in it...? It doesn't look like the bright yellow at zero, but appears more gold... Any thoughts on this?

I started at 4ppm ammonia three weeks ago. Now that my ammonia seems to be a little less... Maybe trying another bottle of TSS+ would get things actually going? Any advice? Thanks!
I’m reading that as 5ppm of nitrate.
Do you have live plants in your tank? They could help to soak up some ammonia.
I forget if you mentioned what your ammonia levels are in your tap water?
I’m going to wait for someone else to chime in with another solution because my guess right now would be a water change to help with ammonia levels.
 
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PizzaStina

Member
emmykenzie said:
I’m reading that as 5ppm of nitrate.
Do you have live plants in your tank? They could help to soak up some ammonia.
I forget if you mentioned what your ammonia levels are in your tap water?
I’m going to wait for someone else to chime in with another solution because my guess right now would be a water change to help with ammonia levels.
Ok, thank you!

I don't have any live plants, just a few fake ones and a couple of ornaments.

When I first set up my tank, I had an ammonia reading of .25ppm so thats probably what my tap water is at.

I put the TSS+ in about a week and a half ago. My fiance is running to Petco today so I'm gonna have him grab another to have on hand. How much of a water change do you think I should do? And after doing it, should I dose more ammonia so it's at about 2ppm? (This current reading to me looks like somewhere between 1-2ppm). Should I bother with more TSS+ after doing that?
 

emmykenzie

Member
PizzaStina said:
Ok, thank you!

I don't have any live plants, just a few fake ones and a couple of ornaments.

When I first set up my tank, I had an ammonia reading of .25ppm so thats probably what my tap water is at.

I put the TSS+ in about a week and a half ago. My fiance is running to Petco today so I'm gonna have him grab another to have on hand. How much of a water change do you think I should do? And after doing it, should I dose more ammonia so it's at about 2ppm? (This current reading to me looks like somewhere between 1-2ppm). Should I bother with more TSS+ after doing that?
So if there is ammonia in your tap water every time you do a water change you are adding additional ammonia unless you add prime to water before it goes in the tank. If this is the case ideally you should be adding prime & a water dechlorinator every time you add water to the tank. I don’t have first hand experience here so if someone else can chime in here I’d appreciate it.
 

AngelfishDude722

Member
PizzaStina said:
Yep, I tested it just yesterday, it's steadily been at 7.6. Maybe I just gotta be more patient? Just gets tiring testing every other day and feeling like not much is happening! Especially the zero nitrites... seems odd but I guess its possible to skip them?
Well don’t worry it will pay off when your fish are healthy and not dying from any cycled tank.
 

mattgirl

Member
Even when adding bottled bacteria it often still takes time for a tank to cycle. When I got back into the hobby after being out of it for a while I had to start over from a dry tank. Unlike you I did a fish in cycle and didn't add any kind of bottled bacteria. It took a full 3 weeks before nitrites showed up. If I were in your shoes I would just be patient and give the bacteria time to grow. Since this is a fish less cycle I don't think you need to do a water change right now. I know it can get frustrating when it seems nothing is happening but this is a time we have to dig deep for a boatload of patience.
emmykenzie said:
So if there is ammonia in your tap water every time you do a water change you are adding additional ammonia unless you add prime to water before it goes in the tank. If this is the case ideally you should be adding prime & a water dechlorinator every time you add water to the tank. I don’t have first hand experience here so if someone else can chime in here I’d appreciate it.
I do want to point out, Prime is a water conditioner so there is no need at all to add both it and another water conditioner. Since this is a fishless cycle Prime really isn't necessary. Any of the many water conditioners will work just fine. I also want to point out, Prime doesn't remove ammonia. It just temporarily detoxes it. You don't need the ammonia detoxed when doing a fishless cycle.
 
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PizzaStina

Member
mattgirl said:
Even when adding bottled bacteria it often still takes time for a tank to cycle. When I got back into the hobby after being out of it for a while I had to start over from a dry tank. Unlike you I did a fish in cycle and didn't add any kind of bottled bacteria. It took a full 3 weeks before nitrites showed up. If I were in your shoes I would just be patient and give the bacteria time to grow. Since this is a fish less cycle I don't think you need to do a water change right now. I know it can get frustrating when it seems nothing is happening but this is a time we have to dig deep for a boatload of patience.

I do want to point out, Prime is a water conditioner so there is no need at all to add both it and another water conditioner. Since this is a fishless cycle Prime really isn't necessary. Any of the many water conditioners will work just fine. I also want to point out, Prime doesn't remove ammonia. It just temporarily detoxes it. You don't need the ammonia detoxed when doing a fishless cycle.
Thank you!

I have another bottle of TSS+ on hand now. Do you think maybe I should check my parameters again today... and if still the same... give it another shot?

My ammonia started out so high 3 weeks ago at 4ppm (which I kind of realized later was maybe too much for a 10 gallon tank) so I'm wondering if now that its down some to around 2ppm will the bottled bacteria potentially kick start it quicker?
 

mattgirl

Member
PizzaStina said:
Thank you!

I have another bottle of TSS+ on hand now. Do you think maybe I should check my parameters again today... and if still the same... give it another shot?

My ammonia started out so high 3 weeks ago at 4ppm (which I kind of realized later was maybe too much for a 10 gallon tank) so I'm wondering if now that its down some to around 2ppm will the bottled bacteria potentially kick start it quicker?
To be perfectly honest I will have to admit I just don't know. TSS+ works for some folks and not so well for others. If you are one of the lucky ones it might help. The one thing I can say is it shouldn't hurt to add it.
 
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PizzaStina

Member
Hi all...

Good news is my ammonia seems to be consistently dropping, just slowly.

Today is 4 weeks and 1 day since first dosing to 4ppm ammonia, I've used TSS+ a couple of times and my readings today were close to .5ppm ammonia and getting closer to 10ppm nitrates! (Still no nitrites ever but I guess that can happen with the TSS+).

So now I'm wondering - should I wait until my ammonia is 0 before re-dosing, probably just up to 2ppm? (Its a 10 gallon tank so I think initially doing 4ppm was too much and partly why it took so long to get going). I figure waiting til I get 0 will give me a better idea of how long its taking to actually process that amount now, right? But I also don't want to starve the bacteria.

Thanks!!!
 

mattgirl

Member
If the water in the tank is the same water you started with I will recommend you do a 50% water change and once done go ahead and get the ammonia back up to 2ppm. If you only ammonia source is liquid ammonia I am going to recommend you start also ghost feeding this tank. This thread will explain why I am recommending this. PSA: Something I am seeing more and more often, fishless cycling.... | Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle Forum | 477380

Since your ammonia has started going down just add a tiny pinch of crushed fish flakes every third day. Don't be surprised if after a few days you do start seeing some nitrites. Don't worry, seeing them when fishless cycling is a good thing and will tell you the bacteria is doing what it is supposed to do. It is much better for this to happen now instead of possibly happening after you add fish.
 
  • Thread Starter

PizzaStina

Member
mattgirl said:
If the water in the tank is the same water you started with I will recommend you do a 50% water change and once done go ahead and get the ammonia back up to 2ppm. If you only ammonia source is liquid ammonia I am going to recommend you start also ghost feeding this tank. This thread will explain why I am recommending this. PSA: Something I am seeing more and more often, fishless cycling.... | Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle Forum | 477380

Since your ammonia has started going down just add a tiny pinch of crushed fish flakes every third day. Don't be surprised if after a few days you do start seeing some nitrites. Don't worry, seeing them when fishless cycling is a good thing and will tell you the bacteria is doing what it is supposed to do. It is much better for this to happen now instead of possibly happening after you add fish.
Ok, interesting. I do suppose using something more "natural" could help.

I have not changed the water, just been topping it off every 2-3 days due to evaporation (heat is cranked and top is off).

Also, I'm using the powdered Fritz Ammonia. I do have plenty of fish food on me though.

So should I do the 50% change today, dose up to 2ppm with the Fritz, and THEN add pinches of fish food every 3 days...? Or do you mean I should try to get it back up to 2ppm using just the fish food?

Thanks!
 

mattgirl

Member
PizzaStina said:
Ok, interesting. I do suppose using something more "natural" could help.

I have not changed the water, just been topping it off every 2-3 days due to evaporation (heat is cranked and top is off).

Also, I'm using the powdered Fritz Ammonia. I do have plenty of fish food on me though.

So should I do the 50% change today, dose up to 2ppm with the Fritz, and THEN add pinches of fish food every 3 days...? Or do you mean I should try to get it back up to 2ppm using just the fish food?

Thanks!
Yes, I would go ahead and do the water change. The reason for the water change is to replenish the minerals normally in our tap water that can get depleted during the cycling process.

Use your fritz to get the ammonia up to 2ppm and again each time it drops down close to zero. By using it you can control the amount the tank is processing. The fish food is just mimicking what will happen once the cycle is done and fish are added. It should prevent the cycle glitch some folks experience in what should be a cycled tank. .
 
  • Thread Starter

PizzaStina

Member
mattgirl said:
Yes, I would go ahead and do the water change. The reason for the water change is to replenish the minerals normally in our tap water that can get depleted during the cycling process.

Use your fritz to get the ammonia up to 2ppm and again each time it drops down close to zero. By using it you can control the amount the tank is processing. The fish food is just mimicking what will happen once the cycle is done and fish are added. It should prevent the cycle glitch some folks experience in what should be a cycled tank. .
Got it.

So it really should just be a tiny pinch of food after adding the Fritz? I assume the food really doesn't bring ammonia up all that much, right? Don't want to overdo it!
 

mattgirl

Member
PizzaStina said:
Got it.

So it really should just be a tiny pinch of food after adding the Fritz? I assume the food really doesn't bring ammonia up all that much, right? Don't want to overdo it!
Exactly. Just a tiny pinch should be plenty. We aren't depending on it as our ammonia source.
 
  • Thread Starter

PizzaStina

Member
Well, on Tuesday I did the 50% water change, dosed the Fritz to close to 2ppm, and added a pinch of food. Added another pinch on Thursday. Today my parameters were ammonia getting close to what looks like .5ppm, but still zero nitrites and still only around 5ppm of nitrates. I added another pinch of food after testing. I would think at least the nitrates would keep increasing.... but also it seems like its processing ammonia very slowly still after all this time. I guess I just need to keep being patient? It just seems like I've never tested ammonia lower than .5 and no more than 5 nitrates the whole time.... I'm thinking wait til about a zero ammonia reading to re-dose at this point?
 

mattgirl

Member
Yes, wait until the ammonia drops to or close to zero before adding more. Continue adding the tiny pinch of fish food and then just practice using that boat load of patience.
 
  • Thread Starter

PizzaStina

Member
My ammonia dropped down to 0 for the FIRST TIME EVER today!! And my nitrates are definitely growing!

I'm still getting a 0 reading on nitrites though. I re-dosed up to 2ppm today and added more fish food. Should I really be concerned if I never see any nitrites? It's possible they're getting processed too quickly for me to see them, right? Now I just gotta get this ammonia processing within 24 hours and I'm good to add fish?!
 

mattgirl

Member
PizzaStina said:
My ammonia dropped down to 0 for the FIRST TIME EVER today!! And my nitrates are definitely growing!

I'm still getting a 0 reading on nitrites though. I re-dosed up to 2ppm today and added more fish food. Should I really be concerned if I never see any nitrites? It's possible they're getting processed too quickly for me to see them, right? Now I just gotta get this ammonia processing within 24 hours and I'm good to add fish?!
With ammonia going down and nitrates gradually going up I wouldn't be stressing about not seeing nitrites. It is unusual not to see them but yes, for some reason you may already have nitrite eating bacteria. Quite often folks do report not seeing nitrites when they have added TSS so I wouldn't worry about what you are seeing or in this case not seeing. It is just going to take a bit more of that endless supply of patience.

Have you tested your pH level? Cycling works best if we keep the pH up close to 7. Higher isn't a problem. Lower can slow the process down.
 
  • Thread Starter

PizzaStina

Member
mattgirl said:
With ammonia going down and nitrates gradually going up I wouldn't be stressing about not seeing nitrites. It is unusual not to see them but yes, for some reason you may already have nitrite eating bacteria. Quite often folks do report not seeing nitrites when they have added TSS so I wouldn't worry about what you are seeing or in this case not seeing. It is just going to take a bit more of that endless supply of patience.

Have you tested your pH level? Cycling works best if we keep the pH up close to 7. Higher isn't a problem. Lower can slow the process down.
Ok, awesome!

Yes, my pH has been consistently staying at 7.6
 
  • Thread Starter

PizzaStina

Member
Well, its been a week since the first ammonia drop to zero and re-dose up to 2ppm. For days now my ammonia seems to be hovering close to 1ppm, still 0 nitrites, and a solid 10ppm nitrates. Ugh, I feel like I am so close, but this is a very long time for it to still be processing 2ppm ammonia!!

It's only a 10 gallon tank and I think I'm planning to get 5 GloFish Tetras once it's fully cycled and ready. Do you guys think maybe only re-dosing it up to about 1ppm once it does drop to zero again would be enough for that size tank and # of fish to be healthy? Just thinking maybe I can at least get 1ppm to process in 24 hours... such a waiting game!!!

Also, been noticing some cloudiness in the tank this last week.... that normal?
 

mattgirl

Member
Have you done any water changes since starting this cycle? If you have, how long ago did you do one? Quite often a simple water change can get things moving forward. If not then I recommend you change out at least 75% of the water. Vacuum out any build up of food if you feel it is necessary. Be sure you temp match and dechlorinate the fresh water before pouring it in there. I know you don't have fish yet but I consider bacteria a living thing thus the reason for temp matching the water.

Once you do the water change add enough ammonia to get it up to no more than 1ppm. That will be enough for now 'specially with the tiny pinch of fish food you are adding every third day.

Instead of me re-reading this whole thread I will just ask. What kind of filter are you running on this tank? Sometimes this happens when there isn't quite enough filtration.
 
  • Thread Starter

PizzaStina

Member
mattgirl said:
Have you done any water changes since starting this cycle? If you have, how long ago did you do one? Quite often a simple water change can get things moving forward. If not then I recommend you change out at least 75% of the water. Vacuum out any build up of food if you feel it is necessary. Be sure you temp match and dechlorinate the fresh water before pouring it in there. I know you don't have fish yet but I consider bacteria a living thing thus the reason for temp matching the water.

Once you do the water change add enough ammonia to get it up to no more than 1ppm. That will be enough for now 'specially with the tiny pinch of fish food you are adding every third day.

Instead of me re-reading this whole thread I will just ask. What kind of filter are you running on this tank? Sometimes this happens when there isn't quite enough filtration.
I did a 50% water change just over two weeks ago. About a week after that I got my first complete drop to 0 ammonia. Beyond that, I do top-offs every 2-3 days when I test my parameters as my heat is cranked and top is off so it evaporates a lot.

I haven't been doing exact water temp matches with a thermometer but just kind of guessing by feeling it out with my finger... for water changes and top-offs. I guess it would be wise to buy a second thermometer to do that?

I have an Aqueon QuietFlow 10 filter as well as an air stone.
 

mattgirl

Member
Let's slowly lower the heat in the tank to what you plan on having it once you put fish in there. Temp matching with your hand is probably close enough.

Since this tank is producing nitrates and you have no nitrites I have to think this cycle is close enough to reach out and touch. Go ahead and do the big water change. If you still have an ammonia reading after the water change don't add any more. I am hoping you will see 0 ammonia after 24 hours. If you do get it back up to no more than 1ppm. Let me know how it goes.
 
  • Thread Starter

PizzaStina

Member
mattgirl said:
Let's slowly lower the heat in the tank to what you plan on having it once you put fish in there. Temp matching with your hand is probably close enough.

Since this tank is producing nitrates and you have no nitrites I have to think this cycle is close enough to reach out and touch. Go ahead and do the big water change. If you still have an ammonia reading after the water change don't add any more. I am hoping you will see 0 ammonia after 24 hours. If you do get it back up to no more than 1ppm. Let me know how it goes.
Sounds like a good plan... Thanks!
Actually, one question... If I do the water change and whatever ammonia is left drops to zero by tomorrow... Am I good to add fish?! Would love to get them this weekend if possible! Or should I wait to process a full 1ppm ammonia in a day?


UPDATE
Well, here's an interesting development...

As I started to change the water, I decided to take a look at my filter, as I haven't at all in these past 7 weeks... and it was absolutely COVERED in some kind of orange-y brown goo. Even at the bottom of the siphon and all. So I basically took every piece of the filter I could and rinsed it out in a bowl of tank water (as I've heard you don't want to rinse under tap water as it will kill the bacteria.) After doing that, I finished changing the water about 75% and replaced it, but there's still a really good amount of just..... junk floating around in my tank now. Explains why my tank had been looking clouding lately, but is this anything to be concerned about? I'm not sure if it's algae, it doesn't look green and is just kind of floating in bits....
PizzaStina said:
Sounds like a good plan... Thanks!
Actually, one question... If I do the water change and whatever ammonia is left drops to zero by tomorrow... Am I good to add fish?! Would love to get them this weekend if possible! Or should I wait to process a full 1ppm ammonia in a day?


UPDATE
Well, here's an interesting development...

As I started to change the water, I decided to take a look at my filter, as I haven't at all in these past 7 weeks... and it was absolutely COVERED in some kind of orange-y brown goo. Even at the bottom of the siphon and all. So I basically took every piece of the filter I could and rinsed it out in a bowl of tank water (as I've heard you don't want to rinse under tap water as it will kill the bacteria.) After doing that, I finished changing the water about 75% and replaced it, but there's still a really good amount of just..... junk floating around in my tank now. Explains why my tank had been looking clouding lately, but is this anything to be concerned about? I'm not sure if it's algae, it doesn't look green and is just kind of floating in bits....

After some research, I'm thinking I definitely have brown algae. Which is.... a good sign, I think, right?

After the water change, my ammonia was still sitting somewhere seemingly between .5 and 1.... hoping it goes down!
 
  • Thread Starter

PizzaStina

Member
Well, still not zero 24 hours later. But it's a solid .5 ammonia. So it's still going down.... but agonizingly slowly. Ha. I want my fish!!!!
 

mattgirl

Member
Sorry. I wasn't avoiding your other post. Looks like it got merged and in that case I wasn't notified.

The brown goo isn't really a sign if cycling progress. It is good that you cleaned it out. I have to think it might have been affecting the flow of your filter though. If there is still a bunch of it floating around in the tank maybe you could run some pol-fill in your filter. Yep, that same stuff we use to stuff pillows or soft stuffed toys. Since we aren't depending on it for actual filter media we can just remove and replace as it gets dirty. It will help polish the water.

This probably won't speed up the cycle but will help keep your tank looking better and cleaner as the cycle finishes up. Hopefully now that you have done the water change it will finally happen.

I applaud your patience. If it were me I would have already changed out most of the water, got the ammonia down to almost nothing and added fish. I don't think I have the patience it takes to do a fishless cycle.
 
  • Thread Starter

PizzaStina

Member
mattgirl said:
Sorry. I wasn't avoiding your other post. Looks like it got merged and in that case I wasn't notified.

The brown goo isn't really a sign if cycling progress. It is good that you cleaned it out. I have to think it might have been affecting the flow of your filter though. If there is still a bunch of it floating around in the tank maybe you could run some pol-fill in your filter. Yep, that same stuff we use to stuff pillows or soft stuffed toys. Since we aren't depending on it for actual filter media we can just remove and replace as it gets dirty. It will help polish the water.

This probably won't speed up the cycle but will help keep your tank looking better and cleaner as the cycle finishes up. Hopefully now that you have done the water change it will finally happen.

I applaud your patience. If it were me I would have already changed out most of the water, got the ammonia down to almost nothing and added fish. I don't think I have the patience it takes to do a fishless cycle.
Oh, interesting tip. Right now the water looks pretty good after settling for a day.... I did order a gravel vac that will also probably help clean up some of the extra gunk that got out. I guess keeping an eye on the filter and cleaning it in tank water every couple of weeks might be a good idea?

And yeah.... I would love fish but having three die in 8 hours on the first try was traumatic, so I'm determined to get this cycle going correctly. Haha.

Also, whats very strange is that when I did the 75% water change yesterday, my ammonia was still at almost the same level it was pre-water change. I suspect there may be some ammonia in my tap water? When I first set up the tank it read at around .25. And even with Prime that level apparently killed my fish.... gah!
 

mattgirl

Member
PizzaStina said:
Oh, interesting tip. Right now the water looks pretty good after settling for a day.... I did order a gravel vac that will also probably help clean up some of the extra gunk that got out. I guess keeping an eye on the filter and cleaning it in tank water every couple of weeks might be a good idea?

And yeah.... I would love fish but having three die in 8 hours on the first try was traumatic, so I'm determined to get this cycle going correctly. Haha.

Also, whats very strange is that when I did the 75% water change yesterday, my ammonia was still at almost the same level it was pre-water change. I suspect there may be some ammonia in my tap water? When I first set up the tank it read at around .25. And even with Prime that level apparently killed my fish.... gah!
It may not have been the ammonia that killed your original fish. Sadly this happens way to often. The fish may not have been as healthy as we would like to begin with or could have been way over stressed. .

I always think about all they go through before they end up in our tanks and am frankly amazed that any of them survive. First most of them are bred in great numbers. Most of the time they really are too young to be sold but the sooner they are out the door the less the breeder has to feed them.

To start the journey to us they are netted and bagged up, stuck in a dark box and often stay in that box for some amount of time. Could be a day, could be longer. Now they get to the store. In most cases they are then poured through a net and dumped into a tank. If the store that received them doesn't quarantine them the little guys are sold right away. They aren't given time to get past the stress of getting to the stores tanks.

Again they are netted and bagged up. Once we get them home we normally float the bag to temp acclimate. Once up to temp some folks pour them through another net and dump them in the tank. Others open the bag and gradually add tank water to acclimate them to the parameters of the tanks water and then pour them through the net.

Sad but true, sometimes no matter how we do it the little guys just don't make it. At that point we blame ourselves and think we had to have done something wrong. Sometimes we have but I have to think more often than not no matter how we do it the little ones still don't survive.

Run the ammonia test on your tap water again. Be sure you shake both bottles of ammonia testing solutions before running the test. It is possible you do have ammonia in your tap water but once this cycle is complete it isn't going to be a problem. If you are seeing even up to .5 ammonia in your tap water a 50% water change would only raise the ammonia up to .25 Prime will detox it and the bacteria will clear it out quickly.

edited to add: Yes, it would be a good idea to keep an eye on the filter media and rinse as needed.
 
  • Thread Starter

PizzaStina

Member
I guess you have a point... They are going thru a lot that isn't natural for them and who knows how Petco is caring for them.

I found a reputable independent aquarium that I'd love to buy from next and hopefully they are healthier fish.

It's just weird because the fish I had at first were indeed dosed with Prime, but after feeding them (which we probably shouldn't have done so quickly and I think we overfed) they all started to show what looked like signs of ammonia poisoning... Swimming/floating sideways, reddish gills, one even seemed to lose its color.... So frustrating but hoping for better luck next time!!

I may give this tank a couple more weeks max and just go get fish regardless of how it's cycle seems to be doing...
 

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