cycling fishlessly - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-01-2012, 09:04 AM Thread Starter
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cycling fishlessly

i was wondering if this idea would work. i recently crashed my tank on accident doing several careless things but anyways. im doing a whole new cycle to restart but im scared my shrimp are way too stressed atm given that i have no other tank for them. anyways i was wondering if i could just start off dosing the tank with 1 ppm of ammonia instead of going all the way up to 5. is 5 ppm totally necessary? i was thinking i could just do the small ppm and then work it up to establish things. what do you guys think?
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-01-2012, 09:33 AM
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Whatever you do, should take everything out. What are your parameters now? And are you using any active buffering soil?


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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-01-2012, 12:26 PM
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You can't add ammonia to your tank with shrimp and they cannot remain in your tank during any sort of nitrogen "cycling." Remove them immediately to a bucket with an air stone or sponge filter.

Since you're new to the forum, I recommend you search around for information about both the fishless cycle and shrimp care.


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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-01-2012, 02:37 PM
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Here is what I would do:
Keep the shrimp in the tank, add plants, and do enough water changes to keep the ammonia barely reading at all. As close to 0 ppm as possible.

In a separate container do the fishless cycle.
For example, in a 5 gallon bucket, put whatever filter media will fit in your filter, and a small fountain pump or a bubbler or anything that will keep the water moving really well. I would keep the media in the current filter running on the tank, hoping for any sort of recovery that will help the tank. If the media in the current filter has any bacteria at all the shrimp will need it.
Follow the fishless cycle in that container, not the tank.
Start with 5 ppm ammonia until the nitrite shows up, then allow it to drop to 3 ppm until the cycle is done.

For the tank, go get a bottle that contains Nitrospira species of bacteria. This is the exact species that you need to repopulate the tank. Use it according to the label directions for the tank, and if you have some left over you can jump start the fishless cycle that is going on in the bucket. That way you are hopefully growing the bacteria in 2 ways, in 2 places. If there is a 'crop failure' in the tank, you have the back up of more bacteria growing in the bucket.
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-01-2012, 07:47 PM Thread Starter
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i know to take the shrimp out. thanks. i have them in a separate containter but moving them and redoing their water seems to stress them out a lot. but thanks @diana. i just found out my dad had an old 10 gallon tank stocked with a air pump and light so i think i might try and use that one to get a cycle going and just do water changes on my current tank i have set up.
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-02-2012, 02:38 PM
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Good to hear you moved the shrimp from the tank. Unlike most fish, dwarf shrimp can't tolerate ammonia. Though they're stressed from the move, they'll probably be okay now that you've moved them.


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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-02-2012, 04:30 PM Thread Starter
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yea so the shrimp are in a 5 gal (their original tank) with an aquaclear and some plants and a heater. ill just do water changes on that one. right now my 10 gallon is cycling but i just did a water test oto find i had nitrites over 5 ppm. but i also have very high levels of ammonia. should i do a water change on this tank? also i was thinking of buying an extra bag of biomax and dump it in the 10 gal as its cycling and then swap it for the one on my 5 to get that one cycled and then move the shrimp to the 10 onces its done cycling.
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-02-2012, 09:10 PM Thread Starter
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so this is what my tank's parameters are currently. as you can see i have high ammonia and a little bit of nitrite. but i also have nitrate. so should i do a water change. i dont really know what to do. does this mean its cycled?
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Last edited by inthepacific; 11-02-2012 at 09:11 PM. Reason: adding details
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-02-2012, 09:35 PM
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It isn't cycled until the ammonia and nitrite are both at zero. The nitrite part of the cycle is the longest. I am starting up a new 10 gallon for my senior betta and even though I filled the new canister filter with a ton of media from my 50 I'm still having to go through the nitrite phase. It could take a week or more depending on how much bacteria you started with. Hang in there!
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-02-2012, 09:53 PM Thread Starter
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thanks for the reply. i think the nitrates are coming from the root tabs i put in there. but i took it out to make things less confusing. now my tank is just substrate and a big rock. but the nitrate appeared sooner than i expected so im pretty excited to get it ready. cycling a tank is fun imo to see the parameters change everyday. its just the waiting that kills me.
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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-02-2012, 10:54 PM
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One option on the fishless cycle is to buy an already active sponge filter from Angles Plus, at least 4 weeks running in one of their disease and pathogen free tanks. It's like $8 and all you do is put a(supplied) lift tube in the filter with your airline and air pump, pour the leftover water from the shipping bag in the tank and your good to go. It would be good to obtain the knowledge to cycle yourself, but I get lazy sometimes and this was right up my alley. Snuffy317
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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-03-2012, 03:13 AM
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The N-cycle bacteria do not do so well when the ammonia or nitrite are over 5 ppm. Do a water change, enough to drop the NO2 well below 5 ppm, and then dose BARELY enough ammonia to reach 3 ppm, maybe a bit less. Too much ammonia can lead to too high nitrite.
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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-04-2012, 09:30 PM Thread Starter
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so i tested the water today. the ammonia was at 0 or .5 but the nitrites were really high still. is it completely necessary to dose more ammonia? just wondering.
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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-04-2012, 11:44 PM
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Just dose it in smaller amounts. You still want to make sure the bacteria that is converting ammonia to nitrite is getting "fed" so it stays alive.

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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-06-2012, 07:34 AM Thread Starter
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ok. so im dosing the ammonia. but it drops clear to zero within the day while the nitrites are still really high. hopefully these nitrites drop soon
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