Fishless Cycling Breaking Down - Page 2 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #16 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-01-2020, 01:26 AM
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Yes, no problem with not knowing which way to go for now. I think we all get there sometime! So maybe just some thoughts on the basic what and why may help to ease the worry and get things moving along.
My views and that may not fit all the other thinking the group has.
My view is that fishless came into being when we got around to wanting to get a whole tank of fish shipped in and one way to say on the really expensive shipping is to make one box do the whole job! Cichlids coming from Africa made this important.
So if we are going from no fish to 25, we got to have a BUNCH of those little bacteria to convert from ammonia to nitrite and the other group then grows to convert deadly nitrite to far less dangerous nitrate. To control it and make really sure, we used pure ammonia without surfactants ( form of detergent!) as "food" for the first group. It often takes a couple weeks for this group to really grow in, so we keep testing the ammonia amount to keep it at the ideal level as we wait and hope to eventually test and see nitrite. Then eventually (maybe a month!) we get around to seeing we can add ammonia of a certain amount and see it converts to nitrate the next day, telling us we have the super sized colony of both types and ready to add fish. We do a massive water change to knock the nitrate levels down so we don't harm our terribly expensive fish coming all the way from AFrica!
No big deal to take a month of testing and sweating if they want to protect a couple hundred dollars of fish they may never be able to replace!
But not really what many of us need/want if we are going down to the local shop to buy a handful of fish that may cost $20 and everybody has them, so we have evolved/ changed our thinking and there are dozens of different levels of doing the same idea of getting bacteria to deal with the waste.
Lowest level, is to slowly add a couple small fish ,letting the bacteria grow to meet the new food source, before adding more and getting more ammonia. Not the best as it tends to do some level of damage to the gills of the fish and they do tend to not live as well.
Another way, is to swap or someway get some used filter media as it has the "start" of both types of bacteria and if we keep them fed, they grow pretty quickly, so we can add more fish sooner if we watch the ammonia level carefully and do water changes to keep it down. Works pretty good if we are careful to not damage our fish.
With plants, we get into more where you are now, I think. You will be getting some bacteria growing as it is all over in the air, etc. Got a tank, it shows up to eat! Adding bottle bacteria can speed this but it has doubters as the bacteria dies if the bottle gets shipped and too hot! Some like it, some can't see any benefit.
What complicates your situation is that you may be seeing nitrite and nitrate but it is not likely to be from the bacteria that quickly but from any ferts you are adding?? But plants also use ammonia and ammonium as plant food!
So how to proceed is a personal choice thing and depends on your situation.
I live where the fish mentioned are easy and relatively cheap to acquire, so I would get a few which depends on what size tank and how much work/worry to do water changes. For instance in a 20-30 gallon tank, I might add five small fish like guppy or tetra and not worry much about it, while still doing the careful watching needed for any new tank. I'm from a farm background where we grew up knowing that things have to die at times and it doesn't bother my thinking if I do slip up and damage or kill a few. It happens! After a week or two and all looks okay and the ammonia level is not too high or working me too much changing water, I then add a few more until I get all that I want. I rock the boat but gently until I see how it goes?
On using Prime, I am very much in favor of it as treating water to neutralize the chlorine or chloramine in tap water and it works almost instantly, os I often just drip some in the bucket of new water and pour it in. I'm less inclined to use it as a buffer for ammonia as it tends to mask what problem I may have. If I'm creating situations where I get ammonia readings, I tend to want it to show up so I can fix that problem, not be hidden by using Prime. If I am making a mess, I change water and change what I'm doing and don't want the faults to be hidden.
It is a balancing act and we do each have to get into the flow of things just like riding a bike. Most of us do the best we can but still fall off and skin a knee now and then!
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post #17 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-02-2020, 04:44 PM Thread Starter
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Added 7 Silvertip Tetras to the tank yesterday. They've been in the tank for 24hrs. I've fed them twice now and just took measurements. Same values as before they were added.

74 PH, 0 ammonia, 2-5 nitrite, 20 nitrate.

They seem to split into groups of 3 and 4, one group in the front of the tank and the other in the back. Sometimes they come together as a full group either in the back or front. Look to be happy, swimming around and exploring individually from time to time.

I'm going to keep feeding twice daily and cleaning as needed every 3-4 days or so.
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post #18 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-02-2020, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by outspoken View Post
Thanks for the encouragement. Adding a picture of the driftwood to show what the algae is like at this point.
That is not algae, I beleive its a type of mould and it perfectly normal and healthy thing to see when you put that kind of wood in water. If it bothers you so much you can get otos, or nano plecos to eat it quickly or manually remove it, but it will go away on its own in a week or two.

You are on the right track, but for future reference, I wouldn't add fish until you see no Nitrite readings in the tank, usually that is the final step in the cycling and it shouldn't be more than a few days more for a full cycle once you start seeing nitrite.

I also don't add prime when I am cycling, I don't think it matter much for the cycling bacteria and it might mess up your Ammonia readings. I like to keep my Ammonia levels between 1 - 2ppm, I am not pouring the new water directly into the filter either so by the time it circulates it has minnimal impact on the bacteria in my opinion. If I had a deeper tank I would probably let the water change water sit out a couple days to degas before adding it to the tank so no need for prime.

However I only have Chlorine in my water no Chloramines so YMMV.

Originally Posted by butchblack View Post
A bit of common sense added to the science involved goes a long way. Keeping everything safely within parameters is common sense. I prefer being able to control my parameters, so I use ammonium chloride at about 2-3ppm and keep my ph well above 7.0 when cycling, as well as using a good quality starter bacteria (I use Dr. Tim's). If I have a seeded filter that I can use on the tank, all the better. Usually, when I hear of someone with a stalled cycle, they have missed some aspect of setting up the tank for cycling.
+1 to all of this.

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post #19 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-02-2020, 07:27 PM
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One point to add on how to deal with new tanks may help.
As we get new fish, we often really want to treat them right but that may also make us do bad things!
We may want to see them eat as eating is a good thing but that urge to feed means more waste. Then we want to keep it clean, so we scrape and scrub and clean things, not thinking that some of that is going to either remove a bit of good bacteria (it's often the slimey stuff) or we get too nervous and decide to do things like clean the filter and rearrange the gravel a bit at the same time we wipe everything down.
That urge to really do things right can lead to us killing bacteria at a time when we are short of the good bacteria because it is new tank and then we hurt the situation a bit more when we try to feed new fish who may be too nervous to eat much until they settle down!
How this works out in each case will vary but there are times when we need to fight the urge to do it right!
It takes a really, really, long time for fish to starve as we feed them far more than they are able to find in nature, so going very little the first few days until we actually see them gulping every bit will work better, while at the same time we don't clean the filter or tank nor rearrange as those all do a bit of damage to the bacteria we need so bad. Later, a few months down the road when bacteria is hanging on everything in the tank, in the filter, on the walls and sub, we can be fine knocking down some in each location as the rest is still there and bounce up to take care of the work!
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post #20 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-03-2020, 09:44 PM
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Originally Posted by outspoken View Post
This is an extremely important question that I did not have enough knowledge to answer. I read a few articles on starting a tank with the fishless cycle and the fish-in cycle. Took bits and pieces and tried a process that doesn't exactly fit any of the parameters. Not sure why I thought that was a good idea, but I wanted to get started and I'm here now.

I have been adding Prime to the water before it enters the tank. I wait 24 hours before adding it. This was during a 60% water change and to add some water after taking measurements.

Today the readings were 0 Ammonia, 4-5+ Nitrite (really it was unreadable, a color not on the chart but definitely purple) and 20 Nitrate.

At this point I'm not sure where to go.

My goal is to get some fish in the tank. I'm looking at some loaches, angelfish and guppy/tetra.
If your ammonia had spiked then dropped to zero, you're where you want to be. The nitrite spike lasts about a week then drops quickly. You do not want to do water changes when doing a fishless cycle as it removes the ammonia the bacteria feed on.

I found this article helpful
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post #21 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-12-2020, 02:11 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks to everyone on this thread for helping me out with my questions and in my time of uncertainty. My tank is up and thriving. Cycle complete and I've now got 3 Julii Cory's, 5 guppies and 7 Silvertip tetras.

Looking forward to many years of enjoyment.
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fishless cycle, newbie, question

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