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New Tank Cycling
10-10-2014, 07:32 PM,
#1
Dean Offline
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New Tank Cycling
Hey Guys .. I've been going through your forum for ways of doing a fishless cycle and all the links I've checked start with using Pure Ammonia as the first step to getting the good ammonia eating bacteria to grow in the tank. I'm from Singapore and we do not have access to Pure Ammonia here. Was wondering if there is any other product in the market that would help with the cycling. I know of a few products here that help with introducing good bacteria in the tank, but without a good source of Ammonia is it any good to buy these products ?

btw, I plan on making it an only shrimp tank starting with cherry's. Don't plan of getting more than 10 of them. The tank is 2ft x 1ft x 1ft. Not really sure how many liters / gallons that is. Its been running for about a week now and all I've been doing is adding some fish food flakes hoping that that will get the ammonia started in the tank once it decomposes. but it seems to be going very slow as the ammonia level after a week seems to be just 0.5ppm.

Any advice on what i can do to speed this up a little ?

Thanks in advance.
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10-10-2014, 09:50 PM,
#2
Thor Offline
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RE: New Tank Cycling
Hi Dean,
Welcome to our forum. Welcome

There are current several commercially available products for jump start fishless cycling.

They are basically the same product re-branded from Dr. Tim's invention.

Tetra SafeStart
Instant Ocean Bio-spira
One and Only

Note that there are a lot more products out there claim to do the same thing, but many of them don't really work because they have the wrong species of bacteria (land based). The land based bacteria will drown in the water eventually, it will result in the crash of cycle just when it seems to be done, and you'd have to keep dosing more to keep the "cycle". The three I mentioned above are proven working with the correct species of bacteria needed in an aquarium setting.

It seems you have picked the fish food as your source of ammonia. It can be done although it will be a lot slower than using pure ammonia. The live bacteria products can speed this type of fishless cycling too, especially at your current stage when you have only ammonia. Do you have DrTim's Aquatics Ammonium chloride for Aquarium? It is a form of pure ammonia made just for aquarium hobbyists.

As for other tips on speeding up the cycling, you can find most of them in the following article. Tips to speed up Aquarium cycling
To sum it up,
1. Get live bacteria for jump start
2. Raise the water temperature to middle/high 80F.
3. Increase oxygen level in the water by increasing surface water movement. ex: Adding an air stone.

I believe your tank is around 10 (US) gallon. It is a good size for a cherry shrimp tank. 10 of them is also a good number to start with.

If you have any more questions, feel free to keep asking. Wink
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10-13-2014, 12:41 PM,
#3
Dean Offline
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RE: New Tank Cycling
Hi Thor,

Thanks a lot for your reply .. I went to a couple of LFS and a few fish farms but none of them seemed to have any product with Ammonium chloride. Asked them for the one you have suggested (Dr Tim's) and they mentioned that it is not being sold in Singapore.

I did a few readings last night and my nitrites seems to be quite high.
Ammonia : 0.5
Nitrites : 4-8
Ph : 7.4

Didn't test for Nitrates. Will do a complete test for Nitrates and the rest tonight. What i'm scared about is the Nitrites level. Do I do a partial water change (say 30%) to bring down the Nitrites level ? I'm worried that this will also bring down the Ammonia level and its difficult to get ammonia in the tank without dirtying it. I see the gravel has become dirty already because of the fish food.

I'm running an external waterfall filter (Not sure what the technical term for this is) and a sponge filter(connected to an air pump). I have 2 pieces of drift wood with some Java and Christmas moss on them.

Am I going in the right direction ? Do i need to change anything ?

Thanks a lot,
Dean
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10-13-2014, 05:39 PM,
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Thor Offline
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RE: New Tank Cycling
There is no need to bring down nitrite level. Quite the opposite, you need the nitrite to develop the bacteria species feeding on nitrite.
As you know, the whole nitrite cycle is: Ammonia --> Nitrite --> Nitrate

Nitrate is the end product of the cycle, not nitrite. If you remove nitrite, the cycle won't be completed.

You are doing it right so far (if you haven't done any water change to remove the nitrite) and making good progress as well. Thumbsup

The only time you need to do partial water change during a fishless cycling is to bring the PH up in case the PH crashes (sudden large drop) due to too much nitrate was produced. Too low PH can stall the cycle because the bacteria do not like acidic water.

If you have read our article on aquarium nitrogen cycle, you should know that you are at least into the second stage of fishless cycling. It is a good sign that you have nitrite. You should start to test for nitrate.

Once again, do not remove nitrite nor ammonia. They are "raw material" needed to complete the cycling process.
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10-14-2014, 04:39 PM,
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Dean Offline
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RE: New Tank Cycling
Hi Thor,

Checked my levels again last night. Here are the values.

Ammonia : 0 - 0.25 (yellowish green)
Nitrites : 2
Nitrates : 20-40
Ph : 7.4

Do I need to check for the hardness of the water ? I have the test kits. I've read that Shrimp are very sensitive to even the slightest fluctuations in water conditions. I burnt my hands twice with 2 batches of cherry's when I first got the tank without knowing about the nitrogen cycle and I don't want to make that mistake again without being sure that the tank is ready for them.

I added in some fish food again today hoping that would increase the ammonia but the gravel seems to be becoming dirty. Should I leave it as it is or should I use a suction pipe to clean the clean the gravel ?

Thanks a ton
Dean
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10-16-2014, 06:21 PM,
#6
Thor Offline
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RE: New Tank Cycling
Leave them be. You do not need to do any water change at this point.
Yes, making a mess is one of the downsides of using fish food for fishless cycling. Make sure your aquarium do not get a lot of light. It is the best to keep it in the dark. Otherwise all the extra nutrients (ammonia, phosphate, etc.) will cause an algae boom even before you add the fish.

Your PH is not acidic yet. Wait until the PH crashes to 5~6 before there is the need for partial water change to restore the water buffer and PH.

If you have the test kit for water hardness, you might as well get a reading of it. It is always good to know the general hardness of the tap water in your area. So you have a good idea on how easy your water PH will crash. The harder the water is, the more dissolved minerals there are, the more buffer the water has against PH crash. As for the fish, most of them will be able to get used to the new water hardness if you give them time to adapt before let them into your aquarium.
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10-16-2014, 06:51 PM,
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Dean Offline
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RE: New Tank Cycling
Hi Thor .. I left the tank as it is and did a few tests last night.

Ammonia : 0
Nitrite : 0
Nitrate : 40 (dark orange)
Ph : 8

I'll do a test for the water hardness tonight..

How do i go about it now ? Do i continue to put fish food to feed the ammonia and nitrite bacteria or am i ok to get the Cherry Shrimp for the tank ? I read in one of your posts that you should not keep the tank at 0 ammonia and nitrite for too long or else the bacteria will start to die off.

Thanks,
Dean
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10-17-2014, 01:12 AM,
#8
Thor Offline
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RE: New Tank Cycling
To test water hardness, you need to test your tap water (if it is your source of water) right out of the tap.


Normally the fishless cycling is done when both ammonia and nitrite are at 0ppm for a few days straight while you are still adding a source of ammonia. In your case, I am not clear how many days you have gone without adding fish food. There could be a shortage of ammonia produced by the fish food. Keep adding fish food every day for a few more days, if the ammonia and nitrite both stays at 0ppm then your cycle is indeed done.

When the fishless cycling is truly completed, you may do one (or two) large partial water change to lower the nitrate and get rid of the mess the decaying fish food had made before adding the fish. It is the best to add fish within 24 hours after you have stopped adding a source of ammonia to make sure the good bacteria you have worked so hard to obtain not starving to death.
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10-17-2014, 12:49 PM,
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Dean Offline
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RE: New Tank Cycling
Hi Thor,

I've been adding a little fish food on a daily basis for the last week or so. My readings as of last night are

Ammonia : 0
Nitrite : 0
Nitrate : 40
Ph : 8
Kh : 5
Gh : 15

I'm not really sure how to read the Kh and Gh. The readings are from the tank itself . I forgot to test the tap water. Will do that tonight. I'm hoping that my water has stabilized. Like I've mentioned earlier I've killed 20 Cherry's already before i knew about the cycling the water and I don't want to put in anymore without knowing for certain that the tank is cycled completely. What sort of a Bio Load would 10 Cherry's have on the tank ? My Ammonia readings never crossed 1 ppm and I'm not sure if 10 shrimp are going to produce ammonia more than 1 ppm. Any advice on the Shrimp ? I've read that both you and Ram have been keeping shrimp for quite a long time now .


Thanks again,
Dean
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10-18-2014, 04:58 PM,
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Thor Offline
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RE: New Tank Cycling
If you have been adding fish food continuously throughout the cycling, then your fishless cycling is most likely completed.

If you get the same reading for the hardness of your tap water, you have fairly hard water if I am not mistaken. Most test kits should have instructions telling you what range your reading is in. ex: very soft, soft, hard, very hard, etc. Check the box or the bottle of your test kit for details.

Cherry shrimps have very low bio load. As long as you do not overfeed them. Leftover food can produce more ammonia than the shrimps themselves.

Some tips for having a shrimp only tank.
1. It is the best to have some fine leafed real plants in the tank. ex: A big chunk of Java Moss
Your shrimps will love it for hiding and it will provide a food source for them.

2. The best filter for a cherry shrimp tank would be a sponge filter. If you are not using a sponge filter, it is the best to use a fine textured pre-filter on the intake of your filter. So the shrimps won't be sucked into your filter. The baby shrimps are puny.

3. A dozen or so shrimps are a good start. If nothing goes wrong, you will have over 100 of them in 3~4 months.

4. It is the best to feed sinking food. I have tried various fish food, and found that Omega One shrimp sinking pellets work well.
You can also feed Hikari Algae Wafer but not until you have 100+ shrimps since the algae wafer are big.

5. All these dwarf shrimps will eat algae. As long as your tank isn't overrun by algae, leave them to the shrimps as a food source.

6. Once the aquarium is cycled, all you need to do is 20~30% partial water change for a shrimp only tank. They are very sensitive to changes in the environment, so it is the best to avoid larger water change. Be extremely careful when you remove water from the aquarium, or some shrimps might be accidentally removed too.
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