Why Are Fish-in-cycles Frowned Upon So Much?

Cori Elizabeth

Member
By the time you learn of the nitrogen cycle, you also understand the safe levels of ammonia, nitrite and nitrate, but people still think a fish-in-cycle is too dangerous. If the levels are monitored and the tank is maintained then what can the harm be?
 

Dave125g

Member
Agree. I do fish in cycle as well. The problem is most people don't stay on point with testing and water changes. They end up harming or killing there fish.
 
  • Thread Starter

Cori Elizabeth

Member
Dave125g said:
Agree. I do fish in cycle as well. The problem is most people don't stay on point with testing and water changes. They end up harming or killing there fish.
Honestly I test every week even if my tank is cycled because I get scared the levels are too high ops: you can't be lazy with fish keeping, that's something I believe every hobbyist learns very quickly.

It just kinda annoys me that I feel like I'm being judged or looked down upon for doing a fish-in-cycle, in my opinion its perfectly safe when its monitored.
 

BeanFish

Member
I don't think its cruel but I don't really see why one would do a fish in cycle instead of a fishless cycle when possible.
 

Dave125g

Member
Agree with everything you said. Remember this opinions are like butts. We all got 1 and most stink. Some more then others.lol
 

Discusluv

Member
I always do a fish-in cycle with Prime and Stability. I test daily, change water, and (for many years) have never lost a fish.
I think it is discouraged more for those new to fish-keeping because you are not adept enough to anticipate all the variables involved in keeping your fish safe.
Someone judges you for it? Why? Anyways, if they do, who cares. they are your fish. As long as you are not exposing them to stressful levels of ammonia or nitrIte, your method is just as humane as a fish-less cycle.
 

clk89

Member
I think it's just a personal choice that people make, like what they eat for dinner. For me as a beginner it was easier to do a fishless cycle, and I like knowing that I don't harm fish at all during the cycle. When I first started out I knew nothing about the nitrogen cycle, that took research and a bit of confusion on my part. It took hands on experience for me to really get it, and I had to go through the process a couple times to get comfortable with it. It's not that I was being lazy, I was simply learning and didn't want to learn and harm fish at the same time.

I don't judge others for doing fish-in cycle, and many on here don't nor do they "look down upon" someone who does either. I have found most people on fishlore are rather open minded.
 

BettaPonic

Member
I prefer to add media from a cycled tank and heavily plant it. I also add only a few fish and let them breed.
 

BeanFish

Member
Completely forgot about Prime since it is not common here and I don't even need dechlorinators. I was thinking about the typical fish in cycle when you choose a hardy fish and expose them to something like 0.25 ammonia. If you are doing Stability and Prime I would probably even prefer fish in cycles over fishless ones as you get fish faster!
 

OnTheFly

Member
I've done a few fish in cycles. I couldn't keep up with the WCs on larger tanks when nitrites spiked for a week and multiple larger WCs were needed every day. Not a big deal in a tiny tank but is is in a 55G or larger. Though most of them lived, my fish took a beating that wasn't at all necessary. IMO 90% of the time the real reason to do a fish in cycle is simply because the aquarist just wants to buy some fish before they know they should. A fishless cycle is too easy for any other explanation.
 
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Cori Elizabeth

Member
If anything a fish-less cycle confuses me more than a fish-in-cycle I guess maybe that's why I'm for fish-in-cycles more
 

OnTheFly

Member
CorI Elizabeth said:
If anything a fish-less cycle confuses me more than a fish-in-cycle I guess maybe that's why I'm for fish-in-cycles more
Having done many of both, that makes no sense at all to me, please explain what is hard to understand about a fishless cycle.
 

Discusluv

Member
OnTheFly said:
I've done a few fish in cycles. I couldn't keep up with the WCs on larger tanks when nitrites spiked for a week and multiple larger WCs were needed every day. Though most of them lived, my fish took a beating that wasn't at all necessary. IMO 90% of the time the real reason to do a fish in cycle is because the aquarist just wants to buy some fish before they know they should.
Not me, right OnTheFly ? I am that 10% person - the patient one? .
No, I have done it this way from the beginning- 27 years ago- and I am old and its hard to teach an old dog new tricks. And you know I have no problem with water changes. I like them. Sure, the other way may be the modern way, but iI know what I am doing.
 

Dave125g

Member
BettaPonic said:
I prefer to add media from a cycled tank and heavily plant it. I also add only a few fish and let them breed.
That's the way to do it. But it only works if you or a friend have a cycled tank.

CorI Elizabeth said:
If anything a fish-less cycle confuses me more than a fish-in-cycle I guess maybe that's why I'm for fish-in-cycles more
Its actually far less work to do a fishless cycle.
 

toolman

Member
Just fish-in cycled my new 40b in a week with seeded mefia and Fluval bacteria. Wasn't planning on a fish in cycle but had a leak in my 75,so moved all fish and did fish-in.
 
  • Thread Starter

Cori Elizabeth

Member
OnTheFly said:
Having done many of both, that makes no sense at all to me, please explain what is hard to understand about a fishless cycle.
I guess it's the finding another ammonia source part, I know there are chemicals and I know there is fish and invertebrate matter you can get. But I don't understand how much to put in, when to put it in. I guess you just judge when all that depending on your levels right?
 

OnTheFly

Member
Discusluv

It's very rare that we disagree young lady. OK, maybe you are almost as old as I am lol.
 

Discusluv

Member
I am intimidated by adding ammonia and all that stuff too, I get what the OP is saying....

OnTheFly said:
Discusluv

It's very rare that we disagree young lady. OK, maybe you are almost as old as I am lol.
The big 50 in March of next year. I am ancient.
 

Dave125g

Member
CorI Elizabeth said:
I guess it's the finding another ammonia source part, I know there are chemicals and I know there is fish and invertebrate matter you can get. But I don't understand how much to put in, when to put it in. I guess you just judge when all that depending on your levels right?
Dose up to 2ppm and that's it. When it drops re-dose to 2 ppm. Until its cycled. That's it in a nutshell.
 

OnTheFly

Member
CorI Elizabeth said:
I guess it's the finding another ammonia source part, I know there are chemicals and I know there is fish and invertebrate matter you can get. But I don't understand how much to put in, when to put it in. I guess you just judge when all that depending on your levels right?
Yes I just drop 2ml in my 10-20G tanks and see where it tests an hour later. My water cycles pretty easy and I target 4ppm ammonia a couple times so I have a good BB colony. But mostly I shoot for 2ppm for the cycle. After a couple days I know to give it **** ammonia daily to put it at about 2ppm. I don't even test much for the first week during a fishless cycle.

It is possible to do a safe fish-in cycle, but you have to be willing to do the WC work, and not just claI'm success because you didn't happen to kill your fish today. My water is just impossible to keep up with when the nitrite party starts which only takes a few days.
 

BettaPonic

Member
Dave125g said:
That's the way to do it. But it only works if you or a friend have a cycled tank.
My Brackish tank I am planning it kind of seems pointless to do a fishless cycle. The fish I am using have almost no bio load. It will be planted too. I am so excited. I am not sure how far in the future though.
Thank you.
 

clk89

Member
CorI Elizabeth said:
I guess it's the finding another ammonia source part, I know there are chemicals and I know there is fish and invertebrate matter you can get. But I don't understand how much to put in, when to put it in. I guess you just judge when all that depending on your levels right?
I just used pure ammonia from ACE called Janitorial Strength Pure Ammonia. I used this calculator to determine how much to put in : Ammonia Cycling Calculator
 

toolman

Member
As long as you take the time to test and do water changes an experienced aquarists can do a fish-in very humanly with prime and stability. I'm gonna set up and replant my soon to be resealed 75, then just enjoy the plants while doing a fishless cycle though. Just easier without the water changes in a 75.
 

OnTheFly

Member
CorI Elizabeth Yes I just drop 2ml in my 10-20G tanks and see where it tests an hour later. My water cycles pretty easy and I target 4ppm ammonia a couple times so I have a good BB colony. But mostly I shoot for 2ppm for the cycle. After a couple days I know to give it **** ammonia daily to put it at about 2ppm. I don't even test much for the first week during a fishless cycle.

It is possible to do a safe fish-in cycle, but you have to be willing to do the WC work, and not just claI'm success because you didn't happen to kill your fish today. My water is just impossible to keep up with when the nitrite party starts which only takes a few days. With a fish in cycle you fight to keep the ammonia down to protect your fish, and ammonia is exactly what you actually need to grow a colony. I use no chemicals during cycle except ammonia dosing. A near lifetime supply was $3 USD.
 

Discusluv

Member
OnTheFly said:
Yes I just drop 2ml in my 10-20G tanks and see where it tests an hour later. My water cycles pretty easy and I target 4ppm ammonia a couple times so I have a good BB colony. But mostly I shoot for 2ppm for the cycle. After a couple days I know to give it **** ammonia daily to put it at about 2ppm. I don't even test much for the first week during a fishless cycle.

It is possible to do a safe fish-in cycle, but you have to be willing to do the WC work, and not just claI'm success because you didn't happen to kill your fish today. My water is just impossible to keep up with when the nitrite party starts which only takes a few days.
When I set the 180 gallon up soon, my normal fish-in cycle is going to be too tough to do- I know that and it is making me a little anxious. I was planning on transferring media from my 60 and 30 gallon to aid in the build-up of bacteria and thinking of using that TSS stuff that they have at my local fish store. So, actually, I will be doing a fish-less cycle for this big tank.

I just bookmarked this page so I have some helpful tips when I cycle the big tank, thank you guys.
 

toolman

Member
Definitely not a right or wrong ,just personal preference depending on your situation. BettaPonic has a totally different situation from mine, but before my leak was gonna do same thing in the 40b with a small group of nano fish.

Discusluv we'll be here every step, you help everyone else so now it's payback time. If you need it, :wink: you got this.
 

OnTheFly

Member
Discusluv said:
When I set the 180 gallon up soon, my normal fish-in cycle is going to be too tough to do- I know that and it is making me a little anxious. I was planning on transferring media from my 60 and 30 gallon to aid in the build-up of bacteria and thinking of using that TSS stuff that they have at my local fish store. So, actually, I will be doing a fish-less cycle for this big tank.
I am mostly just making conversation. Anyone who as been at this game a while knows to plan ahead and put your new filter in an established tank a few weeks ahead of time. My new tanks are cycled enough in a couple days to safely keep a few fish. I always have at least an extra sponge filter in a tank so I don't have to play the long cycling game anymore. I'm not as patient as I pretend to be lol. I've just learned how to easily avoid the wait lol. It doesn't have to be complicated once you have one tank fully cycled.
 

Discusluv

Member
OnTheFly said:
I am mostly just making conversation. Anyone who as been at this game a while knows to plan ahead and put your new filter in an established tank a few weeks ahead of time. My new tanks are cycled enough in a couple days to safely keep a few fish. I always have at least an extra sponge filter in a tank so I don't have to play the lomg cycling game anymore. I'm not as patient as I pretend to be lol. I've just learned how to easily avoid to wait lol.
Do you think I could just transfer media and use the ammonia and not use the TSS or equivalent. That it isn't really necessary?
 

OnTheFly

Member
Discusluv said:
Do you think I could just transfer media and use the ammonia and not use the TSS or equivalent. That it isn't really necessary?
It would need to be substantial amount of media for a big tank like that. I don't know your water Amy. My water is stupid hard but if it has an upside it cycles easy. I have never used a bacteria starter even once. I have cycled 11 tanks in 2017. It is probably necessary, or at least helpful for some water but I am just speculating. Grab a large sponge filter and get it cycling. Yeah I know they are ugly but they are so handy for a new tank or a QT. It's a huge amount of media sponge and it will keep a brand new tank from being overly toxic from day one. You can lose it later when the main filter is good.
 

NavigatorBlack

Member
I see a lot of righteous posting at times, saying a fish in cycle is cruel. Done intelligently, it isn't in the least.

The fishless cycle is a chemistry experiment a lot of people can really learn from. It's for the new fishkeeper, not the fish. On one level, it can have negative effects, in the opinion of water changers like myself who think there is a lot more to dirty water than any test kit shows. They create an over-reliance on the readable kits - ammonia goggles. But you learn a big part of the game - the cycle.

I've never done a fishless cycle - doesn't interest me and I have been doing this since pterodactyls had pee in them. I just plan ahead and cycle filters, with the luxury of a lot of tanks. Sometimes I start tanks cold when there is a sudden need, and I never have problems with a fish in cycle and light stocking.

Fish in or fishless, we all have to learn it's a slower process than we'd like it to be.
 

clk89

Member
Discusluv said:
Do you think I could just transfer media and use the ammonia and not use the TSS or equivalent. That it isn't really necessary?
TSS or any bacteria supplement isn't really necessary for fishless cycles. I only strongly recommend for fish-in cycles as to make it easier on the fish. I only used stability once in an emergency situation when my cycle went bye bye due to medication.....lack of research on my part lol. My fishless cycles only took two weeks using pure ammonia at 2PPM, and I put my temp up to 80 F.
 

Discusluv

Member
toolman said:
Discusluv we'll be here every step, you help everyone else so now it's payback time. If you need it, :wink: you got this.
Thank you, your the best!

NavigatorBlack said:
I have been doing this since pterodactyls had pee in them
Lol! That gave me a full belly-laugh!

OnTheFly said:
It would need to be substantial amount of media for a big tank like that. I don't know your water Amy. My water is stupid hard but if it has an upside it cycles easy. I have never used a bacteria starter even once. I have cycled 11 tanks in 2017. It is probably necessary, or at least helpful for some water but I am just speculating. Grab a large sponge filter and get it cycling. Yeah I know they are ugly but they are so handy for a new tank or a QT. It's a huge amount of media sponge and it will keep a brand new tank from being overly toxic from day one. You can lose it later when the main filter is good.
Thank you, ill do that!
 
  • Thread Starter

Cori Elizabeth

Member
OnTheFly said:
CorI Elizabeth Yes I just drop 2ml in my 10-20G tanks and see where it tests an hour later. My water cycles pretty easy and I target 4ppm ammonia a couple times so I have a good BB colony. But mostly I shoot for 2ppm for the cycle. After a couple days I know to give it **** ammonia daily to put it at about 2ppm. I don't even test much for the first week during a fishless cycle.

It is possible to do a safe fish-in cycle, but you have to be willing to do the WC work, and not just claI'm success because you didn't happen to kill your fish today. My water is just impossible to keep up with when the nitrite party starts which only takes a few days. With a fish in cycle you fight to keep the ammonia down to protect your fish, and ammonia is exactly what you actually need to grow a colony. I use no chemicals during cycle except ammonia dosing. A near lifetime supply was $3 USD.
Dave125g said:
Dose up to 2ppm and that's it. When it drops re-dose to 2 ppm. Until its cycled. That's it in a nutshell.
If its that simple I might try a fishless cycle with my next tank.
 

Kellye8498

Member
I turn my heater to 82°, add TSS+ 24 hours after dechlorinator and add 1-2 fish to produce ammonia. Have never had a cycle that isn't complete in 6-7 days max. I also have added things to my filter to house bacteria since I'm cheap and buying TSS+ for every tank would be cost prohibitive. I even used media to cycle my axolotl tank. I don't see any reason why a fish in cycle is bad if you do it right. I haven't and probably never will do a fishless cycle.
 

OnTheFly

Member
CorI Elizabeth said:
If its that simple I might try a fishless cycle with my next tank.
Try it once, you can always go back to fish-in. I have done many cycles with fish over the decades but I can't think of a single valid reason to return to that method.
 
  • Thread Starter

Cori Elizabeth

Member
OnTheFly said:
Try it once, you can always go back to fish-in. I have done many cycles with fish over the decades but I can't think of a single valid reason to return to that method.
the only issue will be the ammonia source, I wounldnt have any where to get any
 

Dave125g

Member
CorI Elizabeth said:
If its that simple I might try a fishless cycle with my next tank.
Your next tank can be instantly cycled using media from your established tank. Its easier that way.
 
  • Thread Starter

Cori Elizabeth

Member
Dave125g said:
Your next tank can be instantly cycled using media from your established tank. Its easier that way.
I would but I don't have extra filter media floating around in my tanks :/
 

Kellye8498

Member
CorI Elizabeth said:
I would but I don't have extra filter media floating around in my tanks :/
Just throw some in. I always try to have a sponge in my filter along with the filter media or some bio balls or bio rings. Then I can just remove the baggy and throw them into a new filter with a clean filter cartridge and they seed the cartridge and the tank is cycled right away. I am also starting to run sponge filters in my established tanks to get them seeded for the same purpose. It will make starting new tanks or fixing an ammonia spike in a tank much easier in the long run and sponge filters are super cheap.
 
  • Thread Starter

Cori Elizabeth

Member
Kellye8498 said:
Just throw some in. I always try to have a sponge in my filter along with the filter media or some bio balls or bio rings. Then I can just remove the baggy and throw them into a new filter with a clean filter cartridge and they seed the cartridge and the tank is cycled right away. I am also starting to run sponge filters in my established tanks to get them seeded for the same purpose. It will make starting new tanks or fixing an ammonia spike in a tank much easier in the long run and sponge filters are super cheap.
I use HOB filters and it's hard to fit extra media in there
 

Kellye8498

Member
CorI Elizabeth said:
I use HOB filters and it's hard to fit extra media in there
I do too. I have aqueon QuietFlow filters. You would be shocked what you can stuff into one of them, lol. I managed to stuff a large size filter media bag with a good amount of bio rings into mine behind the filter cartridge by carefully filling the bag after placing it where I wanted it. One ring at a time xD It can be done. It's even easier to get a flat filter sponge or floss and put it right up against the filter cartridge. You get double filtration this way which can only benefit the fish and you also get something seeded for new tanks.

If you can't or don't want to do this then I would recommend sponge filters. You can run the sponge filters at the same time as the HOB filter which is what I do. Double filtration again which the fish will enjoy and it doesn't take long to get the filter properly seeded and ready to cycle a new tank.
 

Kellye8498

Member
This was in my Aqueon QuietFlow 30 and used to seed my axolotl tank.


f0e45327a013f7fba6c11da68af26205.jpg
 
  • Thread Starter

Cori Elizabeth

Member
Kellye8498 said:
I do too. I have aqueon QuietFlow filters. You would be shocked what you can stuff into one of them, lol. I managed to stuff a large size filter media bag with a good amount of bio rings into mine behind the filter cartridge by carefully filling the bag after placing it where I wanted it. One ring at a time xD It can be done. It's even easier to get a flat filter sponge or floss and put it right up against the filter cartridge. You get double filtration this way which can only benefit the fish and you also get something seeded for new tanks.

If you can't or don't want to do this then I would recommend sponge filters. You can run the sponge filters at the same time as the HOB filter which is what I do. Double filtration again which the fish will enjoy and it doesn't take long to get the filter properly seeded and ready to cycle a new tank.
I'll try adding some bio rings I have then
 

Dave125g

Member
CorI Elizabeth said:
I would but I don't have extra filter media floating around in my tanks :/
I cut a 1inch ×1 inch square of established media from my 125 gallon, and that enough to instantly cycle a 29 gallon.
 

OnTheFly

Member
Dave125g said:
I cut a 1inch ×1 inch square of established media from my 125 gallon, and that enough to instantly cycle a 29 gallon.
That's impressive. Your 125 has a very healthy colony.
 

Dave125g

Member
OnTheFly said:
That's impressive. Your 125 has a very healthy colony.
It does, but BB grow fast in my PH of 8.2. Its a pain trying to breed certain fish or acclimate wild caught fish, but a high PH does have its benefits. Lol
 

dansamy

Member
I remember 20 years ago I knew very little about the nitrogen cycle and the internet was just taking off. As in I knew a few people who had internet access and the library did, but we didn't have a home PC yet. My husband's brother was building us one though. I checked out a book from the library, bought an (at the time recommended) undergravel filter, and subjected some poor fish to that. Including a poor pleco in a 10 gallon tank. Even though I'm a beginner again, there's so much more information available so quickly now.
 
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smee82

Moderator
Member
Ive always done a fish in cycle and always will.

A fishless cycle is in no way better if you do it properly and take.care of your fish when you do it.
 

OnTheFly

Member
A fishless cycle is only better if you happen to be a fish. Little difference to the aquarist. There is only one way to build a bacteria colony that I am aware of, and that requires ammonia in the tank for an extended period of time. Evidence suggests ammonia is not healthy for fish.

I'll concede one fact to the other side of the argument. I can cycle a tank in the same amount of time with or without fish. The BB colony is just much larger dosing ammonia.
 

shiv234

Member
I just tank a little bit seeded ammonia from all my tank and replace it and add the cycled one to the new aquarium and continue the cycle from there
 

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