What I wish people had told me about fishless cycling

MrMuggles

1. Throwing food in for ammonia production is the most insanely unscientific way you can possibly start the process. Don't do it. There is no guideline for how much food to throw in, there's no way to calculate how much or when you'll get ammonia from it. It is silly.

2. Instead you should add pure ammonia intended for fishless cycling. No good reason not to - if in a hurry you can sometimes order it for same day delivery on amazon!

3. Throwing "seed" media in a new filter will very likely just nuke your seed bacteria within 3 days unless you have ample PPM of Ammonia and other conditions (Ph, etc) are correct. Don't bother seeding until your parameters are correct, whether using cycled media or "starter" bottled product. I can't believe nobody told me this!

4. I wish someone had told me to consider cycling with Fish in, because honestly i'm here all the time for water tests, working from home can do water changes whenever, and it just seems easier. The fish come with all the correct bacteria and ammonia onboard: how novel!

5. I wish someone had told me to remove sock filters! This is nowhere to be found in any of the "how to fishless cycle" guides, can only be found by searching the topic specifically. I wasted several bottles of starter bacteria before learning about this. I was excited the tank looked "crystal clear" and thought it meant bio filtration was up and running, then I found the clogged filter socks and overflowing sump compartment lol
 

mattgirl

There are hundreds upon hundreds if not thousands of threads here in this forum that explain this very thing. We can't tell them until they ask. All anyone really has to do is read the threads stuck at the top of each section of the forum and all the questions will be answered. This is 'specially true when it comes to the nitrogen cycle.
 

CMT

The #1 ingredient usually missing with fishless cycling is time/patience.

Buy a $2 bottle of ammonia, get a bottle of starter BB (optional, really), and let nature take it's course.

Fish in cycling is perfectly fine as well, it just requires the right fish and a much more hands on approach, and again, time/patience.

As is posted above...there are so many great threads explaining either method. Usually where people go wrong is, you guessed it, the time/patience :).
 

MrMuggles

yeah my complaint was about the humans I talked to live, they're all incompetent. This is where I learned the right way!
 

Azedenkae

1. Throwing food in for ammonia production is the most insanely unscientific way you can possibly start the process. Don't do it. There is no guideline for how much food to throw in, there's no way to calculate how much or when you'll get ammonia from it. It is silly.

2. Instead you should add pure ammonia intended for fishless cycling. No good reason not to - if in a hurry you can sometimes order it for same day delivery on amazon!
Yep. XD I was resistant to ammonia-dosing until I actually tried it, then was like, this is so easy, and also far better to get the right microorganisms growing.
3. Throwing "seed" media in a new filter will very likely just nuke your seed bacteria within 3 days unless you have ample PPM of Ammonia and other conditions (Ph, etc) are correct. Don't bother seeding until your parameters are correct, whether using cycled media or "starter" bottled product. I can't believe nobody told me this!
Just fyi, the nitrifiers can easily survive without ammonia for prolonged periods, like weeks, so it does take a bit more time to truly nuke the seed bacteria. But yes, parameters absolutely need to be correct.
4. I wish someone had told me to consider cycling with Fish in, because honestly i'm here all the time for water tests, working from home can do water changes whenever, and it just seems easier. The fish come with all the correct bacteria and ammonia onboard: how novel!
Absolutely! I personally prefer fishless cycling because I am busy and can't have time to deal with something going significantly wrong. I can't be spending most of my days doing water changes for example. But otherwise yeah, fishless, fish-in cycling, both works and it really is fine either way.

Congrats on the findings! :D Unfortunately it is not only a matter of people not knowing or somehow can't be bothered to tell ya, but some are also really resistant to learning new information.

Like about this time last year, someone posted on Reddit that most nitrate test kit is affected by the presence of nitrite. I was like whatttttttttttt but decided to ask for sources, and also googled myself. Turned out it was true.

I also learnt around the same time that nitrite has to get to really, really, REALLY high concentrations (like 100+ppm at least) to maybe start being lethal to marine fish. Same reaction.

It's hard sometimes to accept a 'new truth', but well... yeah. Gotta do it in this hobby, because it's not just about learning it for oneself, but to also be able to pass the truth to others too.
 

mattgirl

I also learnt around the same time that nitrite has to get to really, really, REALLY high concentrations (like 100+ppm at least) to maybe start being lethal to marine fish. Same reaction.
Did you mean to say nitrates or are you saying nitrites aren't dangerous until they get astronomically high?
 

WRWAquarium

Did you mean to say nitrates or are you saying nitrites aren't dangerous until they get astronomically high?

In saltwater, nitrite is not toxic unless in astronomically high levels.
 

mattgirl

In saltwater, nitrite is not toxic unless in astronomically high levels.
I didn't know that but I will admit I know nothing about salt water tanks. Since we are in the freshwater part of the forum I asked for clarification.
 

Kassh4815

yeah my complaint was about the humans I talked to live, they're all incompetent. This is where I learned the right way!
I was in my local pet store picking up a few things and heard somebody say “oh your first tank and awesome if it’s been a week you should be fine to add fish.” I waited until the conversation was over and had my own talk with them and gave them a brief rundown of a fish in and fish less cycle.

They opted to wait since they can’t do water changes that frequently and understood what to look for. Got a test kit, and said their many thanks understanding it took some time to make sure it cycled. I was quite happy with myself lol.
 

Azedenkae

I was in my local pet store picking up a few things and heard somebody say “oh your first tank and awesome if it’s been a week you should be fine to add fish.” I waited until the conversation was over and had my own talk with them and gave them a brief rundown of a fish in and fish less cycle.

They opted to wait since they can’t do water changes that frequently and understood what to look for. Got a test kit, and said their many thanks understanding it took some time to make sure it cycled. I was quite happy with myself lol.
What is ironic is that a lot of LFS wants to make a lot of profit, but is sacrificing a lot of long term earnings just for a quick buck.

And I mean, selling test kits, bottled bac products, ammonium chloride, all these are good money anyways, not like they are losing out on THAT much when getting customers to well, set up their tank properly.

Plus, the time it takes to run a customer through the cycle is probably far less than dealing with a disgruntled customer a few days later when fish die.

Anyways, I have more to say but don't want to turn this into a rant lol. I used to work for a LFS, and absolutely, we cared about profit. It was a business after all. But it was just... so easy to make a lot of profit AND put customers down the right path at the same time... not to mention other perks too.
 

JeremyW

Either method seems easy if you've struggled with the other. But the truth is that both can be a challenge.

A fish-in cycle is work. It's easy to say you'll do all the water changes. Its another to actually do it. And to do it on the tank's schedule, not yours.

A fishless cycle is patience. And patience is hard. People get anxious when things don't happen right away. They start dosing more than they should, using products they don't understand, and tinkering with parameters best left alone.

Both methods are deceptively simple. Just add a fish, and do the water changes. Or just add ammonia, and wait.

But simple is not equivalent to easy. Keeping fish is tricky no matter how you do it. It only seems easy after you've developed the skillset to do it. And the only way to develop the skillset is to do it.
 

kansas

I'm surprised no one ever talks about adding a bunch of plants and waiting two months. I did this, and when I added fish one or two at a time, I never got any ammonia or nitrites on my API test.
 

MasterPython

I'm surprised no one ever talks about adding a bunch of plants and waiting two months. I did this, and when I added fish one or two at a time, I never got any ammonia or nitrites on my API test.

If you only ad one or two small fish and feed lightly you don't need to wait.
 

MrMuggles

If you only ad one or two small fish and feed lightly you don't need to wait.
This is underrated advice - I'm running 120 gallons + 25 gallon sump and adding a couple tiny juvenile cichlids can't possibly make the tank toxic over night!

#5 - I wish someone had told me to remove sock filters for cycling!! This is nowhere to be found in any of the "how to fishless cycle" guides, can only be found by searching the topic specifically. I wasted several bottles of starter bacteria before learning about this. I was excited the tank looked "crystal clear" and thought it meant bio filtration was up and running, then I found the clogged filter socks and overflowing sump compartment lol
 

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