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Fishless cycling?
07-23-2014, 03:54 AM,
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Lorraine Smith Offline
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Fishless cycling?
Lorraine Smith on July 22, 2014 at 1:09 am said:


Hello,
I am doing a fishless cycle for my 20 gal fresh water tank. I used Dr. Tim’s One and Only nitrifying bacteria and his ammonia to start the cycle. I am on day 7 into the cycle and my API freshwater Master test kit reads….. Ammonia
.50ppm, Nitrite 5.0ppm and Nitrate 20ppm. My question is…. do I wait till I get a 0ppm reading of both ammonia and nitrite before adding more ammonia? Or do I add more ammonia when just the ammonia reading is 0ppm. I know that my nitrites are high and I don’t want to make it worse by adding more ammonia to soon. Or does it matter? Also when I add more ammonia do I dose it 20 drops again (1 drop per gallon) like Dr. Tim’s recommends at the beginning of the cycle? That brought it to a 2.0 ppm reading when I started.
My nitrites have been at this 5.0 ppm level for 3 days now but my ammonia has been dropping slowly. Any advise would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Lorraine Banghead
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07-23-2014, 04:15 AM,
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Thor Offline
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RE: Fishless cycling?
Hello Lorraine,

I have seen your comment under our article Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle and Fishless Cycling. I am glad you have come here for help. The forum is a lot easier for back and forth chatting.

You need to add ammonia when the ammonia reading is at 0ppm. Otherwise the bacteria feed on the ammonia will be out of food and stop multiplying due to starvation. Smile

For the fastest fishless cycling, you need to keep both species of bacteria well fed. Since nitrite is from the ammonia you added, just make sure there is always ammonia in the water will ensure the food source for them both.

The amount of ammonia to add isn't all that strictly important. I have kept adding ammonia to get readings of 5~6ppm during my fishless cycling. So a little more drops won't hurt.

Nitrite at 5ppm is high enough to kill some fish really quick, but it is perfectly normal during a fishless cycling. Since you already have a reading of nitrate, it means nitrite is being converted too.

According to the readings, you now have both nitrite and nitrate on just day 7. You are doing really good. It wouldn't be possible if you haven't used the heavy bacteria seeding product. Nice choice, isn't it? Tongue

My first ever fishless cycling without heavy bacteria seeding took me more than 3 weeks just to see... nothing had changed at all! Haha!
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07-23-2014, 05:14 AM,
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RE: Fishless cycling?
Thor,
Thanks for answering so quickly! I will add more ammonia when it gets to 0 ppm. I thought I was at a stall because the nitrites haven't moved in 4 days. I know they say that it takes a while, but since I was making nitrate I figured that the nitrites would be less by now. Thanks for setting me straight! I had to chuckle when I saw your name because I
Have a Male Betta named Thor, and another one named Nitro. I'm a fan of the Thor movies. Would it speed things up if I used some filter media from my neighbors established tank? I think she has cichlid's in her tank. Or, am I far enough along that I might as well wait it out.
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07-23-2014, 10:52 PM,
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RE: Fishless cycling?
No problem. Actually you may even add ammonia before it is 0ppm to make sure the bacteria won't starve for too long by the time you notice it is at 0ppm.

There is no need to get filter media from your neighbor's tank at this point. You have already developed both species of bacteria in your aquarium. A jump start is no longer needed. The biggest benefits of a bacteria seeding or transferring is to get both types of bacteria species at the very beginning. Without bacteria seeding, you will have to wait for the ammonia eating bacteria to develop first before there is nitrite for developing nitrite eating bacteria. By seeding both types of bacteria at the start, you skip the most time consuming part of fishless cycling.


I am a big fan of Thor too. Would you like to share some photos of your existing aquarium and fish? I want to take a look at your Thor haha!
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07-25-2014, 04:45 AM,
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RE: Fishless cycling?
Hello Thor,
So I added ammonia yesterday........about 23 drops. Checked my ammonia reading about 1 hour later and it read 2.0 ppm. Waited 24 hours and checked it today and the ammonia reading is .25ppm. My nitrites are still at 5.0ppm and nitrates is still reading 20ppm. Should I add more ammonia? Or wait a day?
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07-25-2014, 12:58 PM, (This post was last modified: 07-25-2014, 12:59 PM by Ram.)
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RE: Fishless cycling?
In my opinion, you can keep adding ammonia when it is close to 0ppm. Anywhere around 0.5ppm could be considered as near zero.

What test kit are you using? API Freshwater master kit is sometimes tricky to use. The nitrate test requires extensively shaking of the bottle before using, and more shaking is needed after you have mixed the two liquids up. Otherwise you might get a false reading.
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07-26-2014, 01:30 AM,
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RE: Fishless cycling?
Hello Ram,
I wanted to test my water this morning so I could tell you my numbers, and when I did I was pleasantly surprised!! After 6 days of my nitrite level being 5.0 it has finally dropped
to between 1.0 - 2.0 ppm. I am on day 11 of my cycle using Dr. Tim's One and Only and his ammonia, doing the fishless cycle. Not until two days ago ( day 9 of the cycle) was I able to dose for the second time with ammonia. I brought the ammonia back up to 2.0ppm. Checked it 24 hours later ( yesterday) and the ammonia was down to 0.25 again. So....I added more ammonia yesterday and brought it back up to 2.0ppm. Checked it this morning and the ammonia is between 0.50 and 0.25.

So my readings as of today are ~~~~~Ammonia between 0.50ppm to 0.25ppm
Nitrite between 2.0ppm to 1.0ppm
Nitrate between 20ppm to 40ppm
PH 7.6
Yes, I do have an API freshwater test kit, and I am aware of shaking the #2 bottle for 30 seconds like the book says and the test tube for a minute. But thanks for reminding me.

Should I go ahead and add more ammonia today and bring it up to 2.0ppm? If the ammonia goes down again tomorrow should I add it again tomorrow too?
I guess these are my questions for today.
Best Regards,
Lorraine
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07-26-2014, 12:30 PM,
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RE: Fishless cycling?
If you only add ammonia once a day, you might as well bring it back to 2.0ppm.
It is obviously at this stage, your tank will run out of ammonia before it run out of nitrite. Nitrite reading will also be affected if ammonia is at zero for a while since nitrite is from ammonia.

We all must be patient during fishless cycling. Your jump start is very successful. Many of us had to cycle our aquarium for up to two months in the old days. Today, all these live bacteria products make fishless cycling so much faster than it used to be.
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07-26-2014, 02:24 PM,
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RE: Fishless cycling?
Ram is right.

You might also want to keep eyes on the water PH as well. When there is too much nitrate produced, eventually the PH will crash. Too low PH will affect the bacteria growth and stall the fishless cycling. You can prevent this from happening by doing a 50~70% water change when you see the PH is dropping fast. Make sure you use the water conditioner on the new water before you put it into the fish tank. Chlorine in the tap water can kill the bacteria. Wink

By the way, what is your water temperature? Are you using an air pump?
Raise water temperature to middle 80s and increase oxygen supply to the water can both shorten the time required for fishless cycling to complete.
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07-27-2014, 01:33 AM,
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RE: Fishless cycling?
Hello Thor,
Thanks for fixing my pictures. They look great! I will send you info on the tanks too!

My PH is a steady 7.6. After adding ammonia two days in a row my readings as of today are........Ammonia ~ .25ppm Nitrite ~ Between 0.25 and 0ppm, Nitrate ~ 40ppm

Am I suppose to add more Ammonia tomorrow if the readings are 0 for Ammonia and Nitrite? If you could let me know that would be great!!!

My water temperature is set to 82 degrees and I have an air pump going full force. Water level is below the filter output so it creates a nice ripple effect on the surface of the water.

I'm hoping that I am nearing the end of my cycle. I will use API Stress coat to treat the water before I add it to the tank when I get ready for my water change.

Best Regards,
Lorraine
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07-27-2014, 06:23 AM,
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RE: Fishless cycling?
I waited 6 hours from my last check this morning and now my ammonia reading is between .25ppm to 0ppm, and my Nitrite is 0ppm Should I dose one more time or am I done! This is the first time I have had a 0 reading in nitrites!!!!!! YAY!!!! My plan is to change water and add fish on Monday 7/28/2014. So maybe bring up the ammonia to 2.0ppm one more time so I keep ammonia in the tank till Monday? Let me know your thoughts and expert advise!
Lorraine
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07-28-2014, 11:22 AM,
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RE: Fishless cycling?
The fishless cycling is not done until you get 0ppm for both ammonia and nitrite readings for several days straight. Of course, during these several days you need to add ammonia as usual.

The whole point of fishless cycling is to get to the point you won't see any trace of ammonia or nitrite after you have added fish.

To get there, your aquarium must be able to convert all (100%) of the daily ammonia to nitrate. Since both ammonia and nitrite are toxic, you want to see 0ppm ammonia and 0ppm nitrite at the end of every day. Then you can proudly say your aquarium can take care of 2ppm of ammonia daily. Smile

If you plan to add full stock of fish at once, then you might want to aim for higher. For example, my community aquarium was able to convert 5~6ppm of ammonia to nitrate every day without leaving a trace of ammonia or nitrite. It handled a tank full of fish as soon as the fishless cycle was done. I tested the water every day afterward and I never got a reading of ammonia or nitrite.
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07-29-2014, 01:44 AM,
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RE: Fishless cycling?
Thank You, I will do that. I tested my tap water from the faucet yesterday and the ammonia reading was 2.0ppm Isn't that going to be bad when I do my water change at the end to reduce my nitrate level? Won't that bring my ammonia up again and not be safe for fish? Should I use Reverse Osmosis water instead or spring water? Or should I just use the tap water and wait again till the ammonia reading goes down.
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07-30-2014, 12:43 PM,
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RE: Fishless cycling?
This is your first time mentioned you get ammonia reading fro your tap water. Could you double check to make sure of it?

The ammonia in your tap water is more than likely ammonium. Ammonium is relatively harmless to the fish. To make sure it stay as ammonium, it is the best you use SeaChem Prime as your water conditioner. Prime can turn ammonia into ammonium for up to 48 hours. By then, your cycled filter system should have taken care of it.

Do not use RO water. It will cause more problem such as PH crash due to there is zero buffer.
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07-31-2014, 11:54 PM,
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RE: Fishless cycling?
Yes, I checked my tap water with my API kit and the ammonia reading was 2.0ppm. I went ahead and did a partial water change with the treated tap water to get the nitrates down, and waited a day and the ammonia reading went down to 0. I added 3 Phantom Tetras yesterday, and so far everything is in order. I will be adding my other fish in about 4 days if my ammonia stays 0.Thank You for all your patients and knowledge on helping me get this 20 gal tank cycled.
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08-02-2014, 10:14 PM,
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RE: Fishless cycling?
No problem. Glad I am able to help. All of us fish keepers have to go through this part of the learning curve in order to be truly more experienced with fish keeping. Smile


Just make sure the nitrite is also at 0ppm all the time. Nitrite is more toxic than ammonia.
It is recommended to keep nitrate below 40ppm, and it can be done by weekly partial water change of 30~50%. Too much water change can shock the fish with all the fluctuations in water temperature, PH, etc.

Please keep us updated, and I am looking forward to see your 20-gallon aquarium when it is fully stocked. Thumbsup
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08-28-2014, 11:55 AM,
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RE: Fishless cycling?
Dear Thor,
I have been pulling my hair out with this fishless cycling!!! After 19 days of cycling and finally being able to add fish, one week later my 3 new fish got ick. So....I had to treat with meds, and after the treatment did a 50% water change. In doing so, it raised my nitrite levels off the chart. So I took the fish out and put them in my 5 gal hex that i use in emergencies. I figured the meds did a number on my bacteria so I did another partial water change and added more bacteria and started my ammonia drops again always bringing them up around .2ppm to .4ppm.
My nitrites finally went down to 0 after 4 days and my nitrates were off the chart and my PH was 6.4. So I figured my nitrates caused the PH to drop so I did a 50% water change yesterday. after the water change my Ammonia was .25ppm 0 nitrites and my nitates between 10 to 20ppm. PH was 7.2 to 7.6 So I added ammonia yesterday back up to 4.0ppm and this morning my readings were ammonia .25ppm nitrite 0 and nitrate 20 to 40ppm and PH was 6.4.
My question is... what is causing my PH to drop so quickly???? Is this going to effect my cycle???? Do I need to do another partial water change to get the PH up again? Or do I just wait one more day if the ammonia level remains 0 and nitrites remain 0 after adding one more dose of ammonia. I was hoping I was nearing the end of my cycle but the ph has me puzzled!
Any advise you can give me would be helpful.
Kindest Regards
Lorraine Smith
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08-29-2014, 12:30 AM,
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RE: Fishless cycling?
Hello Lorraine,
First, you shouldn't have used meds. Medications should always be the last thing you try to solve problems. Many medications are hard on the fish, and a lot of them can crush the already established cycle by killing off the good bacteria in your filter. If you must use meds, you could have used it in your backup tank.

PH dropped quickly because a lot of nitrate was formed in short amount of time. The production process of nitrate is acidic.

If you still haven't put your fish back into your main tank, you may do large partial water change as many times as you wish to bring the PH back. Acidic water isn't ideal condition for bacteria to multiply.

By the way, I also thought you have rushed it by getting fish too early. We always kept dosing ammonia for at least a few more days after both ammonia and nitrite are at 0ppm just to make sure the cycle is well established before adding any fish at all. Wink

The next time if your fish is sick, you might as well bring the issue here to ask for help. Smile We will try our best to give suggestions. A lot of problems can be solved by methods other than using medications.
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08-29-2014, 02:38 AM,
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RE: Fishless cycling?
I did try turning the heat up and adding aquarium salt for about a week or so with no results. And after the 3 new fish died from ick and my neon tetras where starting to get effected, that's when I decided to use meds. I really didn't want my older fish (Neons) that I have had for 2 years to die too! (I panicked) Anyway, the ick is gone now and I'm trying to cycle the tank again.
So last night after writing you I went to check my PH before going to bed and it was between 6.0 and 6.4 so I did a partial water change (around 40 to 50%) That brought the readings as follows: PH 6.8 to 7.0 ~ Nitrite 0 ~ Ammonia 1.0ppm ~ Nitrate 20ppm. I added more ammonia last night bringing it up to between 2.0 to 4.0ppm. This morning, 12 hours later my readings are: Ammonia .25ppm ~ Nitrite .25ppm ~ PH 6.6 ~ Nitrate ~ is not quite 40ppm. Should I do another water change today? Or wait another day..... Will it cause harm to my cycle to do such frequent water changes? Also should I add bacteria with every water change like the Tetra Safe Start recommends for healthy maintenance? My other fish are doing fine in my 5 gal, waiting patiently for their new home. Hopefully it won't be much longer.
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08-29-2014, 12:15 PM,
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RE: Fishless cycling?
Aquarium salt won't do anything against ich/ick until the concentration is too high for the freshwater fish to handle.

Heat treatment requires high 80s. Slowly turn the heat up to at least 86F and let it stay there for at least a week. Most strains of ick won't be able to reproduce at such temperature, and once they complete their life cycle they will fall off the fish and die.

It is a good idea to use a quarantine tank for new fish. Wait for at least two weeks to see if there is any sign of disease and parasites before move them to your established tank. It can avoid spread the disease and parasites to your old fish.

To use Tetra SafeStart, just dump the whole bottle into the tank at once. Do not do "doses". Once the bottle is opened, the bacteria spores in there will become useless pretty soon. You need to use the whole bottle immediately after opened it. There is also no point doing "doses" from the point view of getting your tank established. Once the tank is established, it is established and no longer need any more "doses". All it needs is one big dose to get it to establish as soon as possible. In case you still have any Tetra SafeStart left in your unsealed bottle, I suggest you use it all in your tank immediately. If it is the same bottle you have used since weeks ago, I'd think it is already quite useless by now.

As for water changes, it will not affect the bacteria as long as the filter media stays in the water all the time. These bacteria are waterborne, and they must stay wet to survive.
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08-31-2014, 01:57 AM,
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RE: Fishless cycling?
Hello Thor,
First of all I want to thank you for all your suggestions and knowledge about fishless cycling and being able to use your forum. I have a few more questions that I need answered.

Why is my PH crashing within 2 days? Is it because of the amount of ammonia I'm adding (between 2.0 ~4.0ppm) every 12 hours now?
For 2 days now I am able to convert Ammonia and Nitrite to 0, but I'm ready to do another water change this morning because my PH is between 6.0 ~6.4 and my nitrates are 40ppm. Am I nearing the end of my cycle? Is this normal for the PH to crash like this so quickly? Once I put fish in the tank will the PH be more stable since the ammonia amount won't be so drastic at the beginning? I'm just trying to understand the whole PH thing! I hope doing water changes every two days is normal because that's what I'm having to do to keep my PH up. Anxiously waiting for your response!
Lorraine Smile
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09-01-2014, 01:50 PM,
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RE: Fishless cycling?
It depends on the hardness of your water.

If you have really soft water, then PH is likely to crash easily since there is next to no buffer. When the water is hard with lots of dissolved minerals, it is more stable PH wise.
The only way to find out is to get a test kit for water hardness.
I have fairly soft tap water in my area. Near the end of my fishless cycling, my water PH also crashed on daily basis while I was doing daily partial water change during the final days.


Fish can handle slow change in water PH even if the change is large. Since you have no trace of ammonia nor nitrite for two days straight, the fishless cycle is completed. Go ahead do a large partial water change before move your fish in. The nitrate needs to be lower. While nitrate is relatively harmless to the fish, high concentration is said to weaken their immune system in the long run. Aim for 20ppm or 10ppm, the lower the better.

On a daily basis, it is unlikely the ammonia produced by your fish will match the amount of pure ammonia you add to your aquarium during the fishless cycling . The PH won't crash that easily once you stop adding ammonia and put the fish in. Weekly partial water change is all you need to lower the nitrate and restore the water buffer.
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09-02-2014, 03:44 AM,
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RE: Fishless cycling?
I did a big water change yesterday. My nitrates are between 5 ~10ppm. PH is 7.0 . Everything else is 0. Time to put fish in the tank.Clap

My fish and I thank you for all your help!

LCS
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09-03-2014, 12:38 PM,
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RE: Fishless cycling?
No problem. Gladly we can help.
If you have any other question or problem, just come to the forum.

Do not forget to post some pictures or videos of your newest aquarium after it is fully stocked. Wink
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