The Planted Tank Forum - Reply to Topic
Thread: Fishless cycle help Reply to Thread
Send Trackbacks to (Separate multiple URLs with spaces) :
Post Icons
You may choose an icon for your message from the following list:

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Planted Tank Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

  Additional Options
Miscellaneous Options

  Topic Review (Newest First)
12-07-2012 06:29 AM
m00se I was assuming that well water contained adequate carbon content either in the form of CO2 or organic matter. The softener would be removing calcium therefore replacing the calcium would be desirable. I recommended calcium chloride because it is stable, dissolves instantly, is easily available, and something she is going to need to replenish with every water change.
12-07-2012 06:08 AM
Diana But the bacteria use the carbon from the carbonates. With the KH testing zero, that is what I would add. Carbonates (or bicarbonates). Add what is known to be missing.
12-07-2012 06:02 AM
m00se Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, not calcium bicarbonate. My original advice stands. GH could be 180 from magnesium. Water softeners remove calcium by replacing the calcium ion with sodium.
12-07-2012 06:01 AM
KH is 0 and GH is around 180
Add carbonates. Baking soda is fine. If you want a non-sodium carbonate look for the food grade of potassium bicarbonate. The garden grade (sold for fungicide) may have surfactants.

GH of 180 ppm suggests there is probably plenty of Ca and Mg.
12-07-2012 05:56 AM
Diana "KH is 0 and GH is around 180"

You do not need to add calcium to this tank. (GH)

Add carbonates. (KH)
Potassium bicarbonate is a source of carbonates that does not add more sodium to the water.

You could just add baking soda. Go for it.
You will be doing a water change before adding fish, so I would not worry about the sodium level while cycling.
12-07-2012 02:12 AM
somewhatshocked You can still easily cycle low pH, low hardness tanks. Just takes a while longer.

Sometimes takes two months to cycle some of my shrimp tanks that hover below 6 pH with no KH and a GH of 4-5. Patience is key.
12-07-2012 01:05 AM
m00se But you still have zero (or darn close) calcium. You're going to have to manage that. GH Boosters are $$ in the long run. Heat is cheep by comparison.
12-07-2012 12:44 AM
Bolsen27 Unfortunately when they installed the water softener system they installed it in a way that all the water gets treated even our outside faucets. It's horrible. We don't have the money to fix it right now.

Once I get the tanks cycled and I do a big water change my ph should settle in at 7.4ish, which is the ph out of the faucet.
12-07-2012 12:33 AM
m00se Bolsen, are you SURE that ALL the water you use goes through the softener? Lots of times the kitchen sink is bypassed for health reasons. Outside faucet?

Just thinking out loud here. It's generally not a good idea to use softener water in aquariums.

Baking soda would add MORE sodium, so I would look for a calcium substitute, which would raise alkalinity and pH. Try Prestone Heat Driveway Melt (yes I'm serious - it's pure calcium chloride). Google for instructions in aquarium use.

12-07-2012 12:26 AM
Bolsen27 There is no way for me to bypass the softener without rerouting a lot of plumbing which isn't gonna happen. Tap water ph is 7.4. KH is 0 and GH is around 180

Since tanks are cycling should I avoid the water change and add baking soda to bring ph up?

Or do a water change and then redose with ammonia?
12-06-2012 11:47 PM
m00se Water softeners exchange calcium for sodium to "soften" the water. I bet you a dollar that you have very little calcium. You need to bypass that softener.
12-06-2012 11:43 PM
Bolsen27 Scratch that about my ph.. I assumed because my 1 tank has 7.6 ph ta all my tanks would. In reality my 2 cycling tanks have very low (around 6)ph. Guess I need to bring it up
12-06-2012 11:19 PM
Bolsen27 I know we have soft water because we have well water and its run through a water softener. I will test to get the actual levels.

PH is 7.6-7.8

Temp in the tank is 85

I should have plenty of water movement. I have 2 AC 70's running and a bubble wall.
12-06-2012 11:12 PM
BriDroid Don't worry, it can take a long time! Mine went on for over a month. I finally ended up asking for some used media for my filters on our local fish forums. Once I got that, it cycled in 2 days.

I was always told not to change the water until it's cycled, then do a large >50% water change and add fish.

But listen to Diana, she forgets more than I will ever know! But yes, it can take a long time.
12-06-2012 09:19 PM
Diana Test some of the other parameters and adjust as needed. Here are some of the things these bacteria prefer so they will grow at the maximum rate:

Make sure the KH is at least 3 German degrees of hardness. These bacteria use the carbon from carbonates. Higher is just fine.

Make sure the GH is at least 3 degrees. I am not sure if they need these minerals, but maybe. For sure the plants and fish will.

If the pH is too low they grow slowly. I am not sure if this is because the carbonates are too low, or if there is a real link to the pH. Optimum pH is over 7, and closer to 8 seems to work well. On the other hand I have cycled a tank when the pH was closer to 7 and it did fine. I see too many posts about nitrogen problems when the pH is 6.5 or less. When I was cycling a tank where the pH dropped the bacteria seemed to slow down. pH was dropping because the carbonates were getting soaked up by the substrate.

High oxygen. Lots of water movement, good flow through the filter media.

Warm. These bacteria will grow fast when the temps are in the upper 70s, and higher, as long as there is enough water movement for the oxygen to stay up there. Warmer water holds less oxygen.

No toxins. That you have some growth started suggests this is OK, still...
Watch out for things that might be in the air (air freshener, spray-on cleaner like glass cleaner) in the water (When you do water changes use the right dose of dechlor) and on your hands (Soap, cosmetics, perfume)

5 ppm ammonia is a good starting amount, but allow it to drop to 3 ppm when the nitrites show up. These bacteria do not grow so well when the ammonia or nitrite are over 5 ppm.
This thread has more than 15 replies. Click here to review the whole thread.

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome