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Fishless cycling using Dr Tim's One & Only live bacterial product
03-25-2015, 01:54 AM,
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svbriggs Offline
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Fishless cycling using Dr Tim's One & Only live bacterial product
Hi, I need your input again.
I am on day 3 of cycling my 5 gallon freshwater aquarium with Dr. Tim's One & Only live bacterial product.
I added 5 drops of ammonia chloride plus whole 2 oz bottle of nitrifying bacteria on day 1.
According to directions, I waited until today (day 3) to test for ammonia and nitrite, which were both zero. Today I added 5 more drops of ammonia chloride. I am to retest tomorrow for ammonia and nitrite.
Shouldn't I see a trace of nitrite by today? Gen068 Dr. Tim said on his video it was normal not to see ammonia but nitrates should start to appear. My tank pH is 6.8 and temp is 80 degrees. My power filter has API bio chem stars (their bio filtration media for housing the beneficial bacteria). As per your suggestion on other threads I removed the carbon filter as water is clear.
How long does it take to start seeing nitrates?
Should I add a sponge to the power filter to remove gunk before it hits the bio chem stars since I'm not using the carbon filter?
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03-25-2015, 04:22 PM,
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Thor Online
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RE: Fishless cycling using Dr Tim's One & Only live bacterial product
"5 drops of ammonia" is not very clear about the exactly amount you added.
Did you test for ammonia right after you add it? It is important to know how much ammonia you have added in term of ppm. We usually aim for minimal 2ppm ammonia for fishless cycling. I personally made sure the ammonia level was at 5~6ppm after I added it each time. Without minimal amount, you might not get any reading at all after it has all been converted.

The time takes to see nitrate is not fixed. Without heavy seeding, it can take several weeks. With heavy seeding such as live bacteria products, you might see it in a few days or even see it the very next day. It is important to get a reading on ammonia after you have added it (but you need to give it at least 15~20 minutes for it to settle to get a more accurate reading).

You may add sponge into your filter to increase filtration. I did the same with my canister filter. Replaced the carbon pad with more sponge pads after the carbon pads came with the filter expired.
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03-25-2015, 09:21 PM, (This post was last modified: 03-25-2015, 10:14 PM by svbriggs.)
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RE: Fishless cycling using Dr Tim's One & Only live bacterial product
I added the recommended amount according to Dr. Tim, 1 drop per gallon to bring level to 2 ppm. I will follow you suggestion and test for ammonia when I add it again. Thanks! A double dose would bring me up to 4 ppm, which should be ok as he stated not to exceed 5 ppm (and you didn't have a problem with those levels). Thanks!!!

I am having a new problem suddenly with my betta's holding tank. I have been testing ammonia all along and just recently got a nitrite and nitrate test kit for my tank that's cycling. Sunday, I tested the betta's holding tank and both ammonia and nitrite were 0. I did my biweekly 25% water change Monday night. Last night I checked my levels and ammonia was 0 but nitrates were around 0.5. I seem to have trouble deciphering the color chart but the sample in the test tube was blue violet which looked closer to 0.5 than 0.25. I did a 25% water change last night and again this morning and level is down to 0.25. I added a small amount of aquarium salt to my bucket that I store water for water changes (1/4 tsp per gallon) and I upped the prime to recommended dose of 10 drops per gallon. SeaChem's web site said that tank may still test positive for nitrite but that it is bound nitrite and not toxic (?). I did not feed this morning and so far my betta seems fine, he is active and respiration is normal.
It appears that my holding tank is going through its own mini cycle (it is about 6 weeks old). Any suggestions on how to manage the nitrite problem. I am nervous about using large doses of prime for an extended period but the water changes aren't totally eliminating the nitrites. It may be awhile before my cycling tank is ready.
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03-26-2015, 03:25 PM,
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RE: Fishless cycling using Dr Tim's One & Only live bacterial product
For the amount of ammonia to use, you should use the actual readings to judge. It is more accurate this way.

Yes, when ammonia is way too high (off the chart), it can be too toxic even for the bacteria feed on them, and it can stall the fishless cycling. But we are talking about at least 7~8ppm or higher. I completed my fishless cycling with 5~6ppm ammonia added daily toward the end without incident. It all depends on how heavy of fish load you plan to have once the cycling is done. I fully stocked my aquarium with 30+ fish in a 40 gallon tank, thus I needed my aquarium to be able to take on heavy bioload.

Your case is different. You only plan to add a single betta fish to a 5 gallon tank, so lower ammonia level should be sufficient, but I still would aim for 2ppm at least. Make sure you use the readings from your actual test result to judge the ammonia concentration instead of the "theoretical" readings on the bottle.


(03-25-2015, 09:21 PM)svbriggs Wrote: but nitrates were around 0.5. I seem to have trouble deciphering the color chart but the sample in the test tube was blue violet which looked closer to 0.5 than 0.25.

Do you mean nitrite?

Nitrite is more toxic than ammonia. Any trace amount is not good for fish.
Nitrate is relatively harmless. Even at 40ppm it will not cause any immediate harm.

Just do daily partial water change of up to 50% with Prime as your water conditioner, or you may do it twice a day. It should keep nitrite level at minimal.

Cut back on feeding will also help. Fish can survive for 2 to 3 weeks without any food at all. You can stop feeding for a day or two, or simply feed every other day from now on. The amount of food you feed during each meal can also be reduced. Less feeding will translate to less waste produced by the fish and thus less ammonia and less nitrite.
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03-27-2015, 11:55 PM, (This post was last modified: 03-28-2015, 01:21 AM by svbriggs.)
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RE: Fishless cycling using Dr Tim's One & Only live bacterial product
Thanks Thor!
I did a 25% water change Wednesday morning (I hadn't gotten your reply back yet on the 50% water change) but when I got home from work that evening the nitrites were very high, at least .5 ppm (at the top of my color chart). I made the decision to do a 100% water change and get rid of the substrate that has been causing my pH drift. I followed your instructions on acclimating a fish to a new tank and moved him to a clean gallon tank with no substrate (just 1 silk plant) over a 3 1/2 hour period (I floated him first to acclimate him to temp of new tank for 30 minutes). I put him in a small container that held 2 cups of his old tank water and switched out the old water with the new tank water, every 20 minutes by 1/8 th of a cup. He came through it great and he looks great, is active and eating normally. Since the new tank's water minus the substrate now is matched in pH and hardness to my RO water plus Equilibrium, it's faster and safer to do water changes, as long as I match water temperature. Long term exposure to even low level of nitrite had me concerned as I didn't know how long it would take me to get him into my 5 gallon tank that is not yet cycled.
I will follow your advice and add more ammonia to my new tank that is going thru the fishless cycle. I did check the ammonia level last night 25 minutes after adding the recommended amount to bring it up to 2 ppm and it read zero. Customer service at Dr. Tim's said it's because their bacterial product is so efficient, but I have concerns as there is still no nitrite. I'll try your method and see what happens.

On the last post, I meant 5 ppm of nitrite, not 0.5 ppm, which is why I decided to replace all the water in his tank. I'm dealing with fish and tank emergencies and mild case of food poisoning all in same week. Sad

Update on cycling tank. I increased ammonia to 7 drops on Wednesday night (tested zero on ammonia 25 minutes later). I just retested the cycling tank this morning and finally getting reading of 0.25 ppm on nitrite. Yeah!
I will add more ammonia this morning (I'll do the 7 drops again). It looks like I'm finally cycling (the correct tank this time!) LOL!

I will follow your feeding guidelines for my betta. Without the substrate in his holding tank it's easier to symphony out unbeaten food and waste. I noticed a slight pH drift down over 24 hours of 0.2 ppm, so I am doing daily water changes to keep the holding tank stable and ammonia at zero.

One observation before I noticed rising nitrite level in my betta's tank, he started with a new behavior, full face flaring. I read it was normal, but the new behavior sent up a red flag. The behavior has stopped now that nitrite is now at zero.[/u]
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03-28-2015, 01:45 AM,
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RE: Fishless cycling using Dr Tim's One & Only live bacterial product
I think you need to add a lot more than just 7 drops. Even a fully cycled aquarium won't be able to convert 2ppm ammonia in just 25 minutes (more like in 12 hours). I have read customer reviews saying Dr. Tim's ammonium product need way higher than recommended amount to achieve the desired ammonia concentration. If you keep dropping so little, your tank isn't going to cycle properly simply because there is too little ammonia.

If you are aiming for 2ppm ammonia, then you should drop enough to get a reading of 2ppm 25min later.
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03-29-2015, 07:38 AM,
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RE: Fishless cycling using Dr Tim's One & Only live bacterial product
Hi again Thor!
I just doubled the amount of ammonia that I add to my cycling tank. I initially seeded with enough bacterial product for a 30 gallon tank ~ my tank is 5 gallon, could this be why the ammonia is disappearing so quickly? Late this afternoon I tested for nitrates and was surprised to see some elevation from 0 to around 2.5 ppm (dark amber, not quite 5 ppm). I'm interested in seeing what the additional ammonia does. PH is still steady at 6.8.
My betta Kenji is still doing great in his holding tank, feeding lightly and watching for any signs of illness from his exposure to the one day of high nitrite. Hopefully the Prime did it's job and prevented any long term damage.
If I ever get through this, I would love to graduate to a 20 gallon community tank. The video of Ram's planted tank made me swoon.
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03-29-2015, 02:57 PM,
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RE: Fishless cycling using Dr Tim's One & Only live bacterial product
I don't think the extra One and Only you used would cause ammonia all disappear in 25 minutes. It is simply due to there was too little ammonia to begin with.

Double, triple, etc. drop whatever you need to achieve minimal 2ppm. It isn't going to harm anything since it is a fishless cycling. Without reaching at least 2ppm ammonia concentration, it might not be able to keep ammonia/nitrite free once you move your betta there. The goal is to make sure the aquarium can convert enough ammonia daily (more ammonia than the fish can produce). 2ppm ammonia daily is considered lightly stocked, 5~6ppm ammonia daily is for a heavily stocked fish tank. Always aim for higher if you don't want accidental mini cycle later on.

Toward the end of fishless cycling, the nitrate should go up really quick with little to no sign of ammonia and nitrite at the end of each day (before you drop new ammonia). It is a good sign you have nitrite now, but you really need to start dropping at least 2ppm ammonia to let it cycle as quick as possible. With heavy seeding from bacteria products, your cycle should be finished within days. So far I believe the lack of food source (ammonia) is holding back your cycling progress.


Yeah, community tank is fun with more activities and more variety of fish species. A betta tank is also cool. Planted aquarium is troublesome to take care of though, it will also cost extra money for the proper lights, etc. equipments. Research well before you get started. Smile
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04-09-2015, 09:38 AM,
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RE: Fishless cycling using Dr Tim's One & Only live bacterial product
I'm still in the high nitrite phase and it's day 18 and my ammonia is zero (trace total ammonia) and nitrate level got to 10 ppm on Sunday and then stalled. I have only done two partial water changes due to high nitrite over 5 ppm.

I just removed my carbon filter today because I discovered it had zeolite in it. Is it true that zeolite can absorb ammonia and delay cycling?

I reached out to Dr Tim's customer service and first they blamed the Prime I used to originally condition my water. They also said not to add electrolytes into my water (my tap water is RO water) because I'm just creating chemical soup. They got "testy" when I asked about adding ammonia until it reads 2 ppm. They continue to claim that their product will instantly convert ammonia which is why I continue to get zero readings. They basically told me to bugger off if I dare listen to anyone's advice other than their own! Mad
I think that their product is good but their customer service (or the particular rep that I had the misfortune to get) is probably the worst that I have ever dealt with. They didn't make one decent suggestion.

Wondering what to do next. Continue to add ammonia. Reseed with more bacteria? Huh Any suggestions would be appreciated.
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04-09-2015, 06:48 PM,
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RE: Fishless cycling using Dr Tim's One & Only live bacterial product
No need to add more bacteria. You are already seeing nitrate, which is in the final phase of your fishless cycling.

There is no such thing as "instant". Bacteria don't just magically eat up all the ammonia you toss into your fish tank "instantly". They convert it over time of many hours. The rep you talked about sound like he/she knows little about fishless cycling and was poorly trained.

You do not need to do partial water changes to lower nitrite. The nitrite is needed for the bacteria to multiply.

I am unfamiliar with zeolite, but from past experience my activated carbon pad in my canister filter didn't affect the ammonia readings during fishless cycling. If it can absorb all ammonia, then there is no need for fishless cycling at all. Isn't that right?

Seachem Prime can temporarily turn the toxic ammonia into relatively harmless ammonium, but isn't Dr. Tim's product is ammonium to begin with? So it doesn't really matter here.

What you need to do is to keep dosing ammonia/ammonium every day while keep eyes on the readings. Make sure you add more ammonia than you have used. No need to do partial water change until the PH start to crash. The fishless cycling should be completed pretty soon since you have already had nitrate.

When I used Tetra SafeStart, basically the rebranded product of Dr. Tim's, the fishless cycling was done a lot quicker.
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