Fishless cycle with "Nutrafin Cycle" - Am I doing anything wrong? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 45 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 05:30 PM Thread Starter
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Fishless cycle with "Nutrafin Cycle" - Am I doing anything wrong?

I started cycling my 6 Gal Fluval Edge on March 1st. Using the "Nutrafin Cycle" supplied with the tank and following the instructions in the owners manual.

Having done some more research, I fear that this cycle stuff may be s**t.

Anyway, the free ammonia levels in the tank shot up to 0.261ppm (According to my Seneye Reef), and over the past few days have been dropping slowly - currently at 0.230.

I have not changed any water yet, should I have?

So far I have nothing in the tank bar some Tahitian Moon Sand, but plan on getting some bogwood planted with Anubias barteri "Nana"

What else should I do? Or am I worrying over nothing and everything is fine and I should just be more patient?

If I should do a water change, how much do you recommend? 25%? 50%?

Should I put the planted bogwood in now, or should I wait?

Cheers for your help, and sorry for the stupid questions.

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post #2 of 45 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 06:10 PM
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i use nutrafin cycle on almost every tank i've ever setup. and on maintenance accounts. its a wonderful product if used within date
make sure ur shaking it well.

dosed properly and with a working filter. ammonia should be gone by day 3-4
look at the date on the bottom of the cycle bottle

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post #3 of 45 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 06:13 PM
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Shake it like it is - um, a polaroid? No, more intense shaking. Shake it like if you shake it hard enough a million bucks will fly out. It's really hard to shake some of these products well enough, honestly.
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post #4 of 45 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 06:15 PM
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Shake it like it is - um, a polaroid? No, more intense shaking. Shake it like if you shake it hard enough a million bucks will fly out. It's really hard to shake some of these products well enough, honestly.
Nitrate tests if not shaken according to the directions can give anywhere from 0ppm to 80ppm for example.

20g platy, , 2 x 10g shrimp, 3 x 20g shrimp, 7.5g shrimp and 1 great dane/mastiff puppy.

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post #5 of 45 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 06:36 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, point taken.

But I have already dosed with NC according to instructions - should I just throw the rest of the bottle in?

What about a water change?

And what about adding plants?

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post #6 of 45 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 07:42 PM
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lol DON'T POUR THE WHOLE DOTTLE IN

have u added any ammonia sources. decaying food/ plants, fish poop? straight ammonia?

if not it'll never change. the bacteria has to have food to grow. and will die without it
at this point if the answer is no. ur seneye is probably not reading correctly

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post #7 of 45 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 08:59 PM Thread Starter
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OK - its a 30ml bottle.

No I haven't added any sources (but I did clean a load of cat hairs off the filter - I thought that might have been the source).

So what do you recommend then, I obviously need a source. I'm not sure what bottles of household chemicals are suitable for fish tanks (in the UK). So fish food? How much? How often?

Should I do a water change now? And should I add any more Nutrafin Cycle?

So far I have added (approximately) 15ml on day 1 and 7.5ml on days 2 and 3. I should have about half a bottle left.

And should i add any plants?

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post #8 of 45 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 09:37 PM
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You can use like, a shrimp in some pantyhose (from the fish section in the supermarket. Be sure it's not treated with anything), some fish food or pure and I mean PURE ammonia with no surfactants, perfumes, etc.

And you can definitely add plants.
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post #9 of 45 (permalink) Old 03-14-2012, 11:46 PM Thread Starter
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lol DON'T POUR THE WHOLE DOTTLE IN

have u added any ammonia sources. decaying food/ plants, fish poop? straight ammonia?

if not it'll never change. the bacteria has to have food to grow. and will die without it
at this point if the answer is no. ur seneye is probably not reading correctly
Just to respond to that last bit, I am fairly sure my seneye is reading correctly as I also have a Seachem Ammonia Alert in the tank, which is agreeing with the seneye.

Anyway

Moving on.

My free ammonia levels had been slowly dropping from their peak of 0.26 to about 0.20

Tonight I took out some water, added 2 lots of Microsorum pteropus "Narrow" on bogwood and an Anubias barteri var. nana and a Cryptocoryne wendtii "Tropica", both on lava rock.

I also stirred up the Tahitian Moon Sand a fair bit (dunno if this released any gases).

I then refilled the tank with the water I had taken out.

Since then my seneye tells me my Free ammonia (NH3) has plummeted to 0.093. The bit I don't get is why my Total ammonia (NH4) is rocketing - it's gone from 10.5 to 18.8.

Mind you, the pH has also dropped from 8.5 to 8.0, dunno if that will affect it.


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post #10 of 45 (permalink) Old 03-15-2012, 02:32 AM
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Here is the fishless cycle.
1) Does the product you are using have Nitrospira? These are the proper cycle bacteria. (You do not really need any cycle bacteria to get a fishless cycle started)
2) It sounds like you are not feeding the bacteria.

Fishless Cycle
You too can boast that "No fish were harmed in the cycling of your new tank"
Cycling a tank means to grow the beneficial bacteria that will help to decompose the fish waste (especially ammonia). These bacteria need ammonia to grow. There are 3 sources of ammonia that work to do this. One is fish. Unfortunately, the process exposes the fish to ammonia , which burns their gills, and nitrite, which makes their blood unable to carry oxygen. This often kills the fish.

Another source is decomposing protein. You could cycle your tank by adding fish food or a dead fish or shellfish. You do not know how much beneficial bacteria you are growing, though.

The best source of ammonia is... Ammonia. In a bottle.

Using fish is a delicate balance of water changes to keep the toxins low (try not to hurt the fish) but keep feeding the bacteria. It can take 4 to 8 weeks to cycle a tank this way, and can cost the lives of several fish. When you are done you have grown a small bacteria population that still needs to be nurtured to increase its population. You cannot, at the end of a fish-in cycle, fully stock your tank.

The fishless/ammonia cycle takes as little as 3 weeks, and can be even faster, grows a BIG bacteria population, and does not harm fish in any way.

Both methods give you plenty of practice using your test kit.

How to cycle a tank the fishless way:

1) Make sure all equipment is working, fill with water that has all the stuff you will need for the fish you intend to keep. Dechlorinator, minerals for GH or KH adjustments, the proper salt mix, if you are creating a brackish or marine tank...

2) Add some source of the bacteria. Used filter media from a cycled tank is best, gravel or some decorations or a few plants... even some water, though this is the poorest source of the beneficial bacteria.
Bacteria in a bottle can be a source of these bacteria, but make sure you are getting Nitrospiros spp of bacteria. All other ‘bacteria in a bottle’ products have the wrong bacteria. (This step is optional. The proper bacteria will find the tank even if you make no effort to add them). Live plants may bring in these bacteria on their leaves and stems.

3) Add ammonia until the test reads 5 ppm. This is the non-sudsing, no surfactants, no-fragrance-added ammonia that is often found in a hardware store, discount stores, and sometimes in a grocery store. The concentration of ammonia may not be the same in all bottles. Try adding 5 drops per 10 gallons, then allowing the filter to circulate for about an hour, then test. If the reading isn't up to 5 ppm, add a few more drops and test again. (Example, if your test reads only 2 ppm, then add another 5 drops) Some ammonia is such a weak dilution you may need to add several ounces to get a reading.

4) Test for ammonia daily, and add enough to keep the reading at 5 ppm.

5) Several days after you start, begin testing for nitrites. When the nitrites show up, reduce the amount of ammonia you add so the test shows 3ppm. (Add only half as much ammonia as you were adding in part 4) Add this reduced amount daily from now until the tank is cycled.

If the nitrites get too high (over 5 ppm), do a water change. The bacteria growth is slowed because of the high nitrites. Reducing the level of ammonia to 3 ppm should prevent the nitrite from getting over 5 ppm.

6) Continue testing, and adding ammonia daily. The nitrates will likely show up about 2 weeks after you started. Keep monitoring, and watch for 0 ppm ammonia, 0 ppm nitrite and rising nitrates.

7) Once the 0 ppm ammonia and nitrites shows up it may bounce around a little bit for a day or two. Be patient. Keep adding the ammonia, keep testing ammonia, nitrite and nitrate.
When it seems done you can challenge the system by adding more than a regular dose of ammonia, and the bacteria should be able to remove the ammonia and nitrite by the next day.
If you will not be adding fish right away continue to add the ammonia to keep the bacteria fed.

8) When you are ready to add the fish, do at least one water change, and it may take a couple of them, to reduce the nitrate to safe levels (as low as possible, certainly below 10 ppm) I have seen nitrate approaching 200 ppm by the end of this fishless cycle in a non-planted tank.

9) You can plant a tank that is being cycled this way at any point during the process. If you plant early, the plants will be well rooted, and better able to handle the disruption of the water change.
Yes, the plants will use some of the ammonia and the nitrates. They are part of the nitrogen handling system, part of the biofilter, they are working for you. Some plants do not like high ammonia, though. If a certain plant dies, remove it, and only replace it after the cycle is done.

10) The fishless cycle can also be used when you are still working out the details of lighting, plants and other things. If you change the filter, make sure you keep the old media for several weeks or a month. Most of the bacteria have been growing in this media (sponges, floss etc).
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post #11 of 45 (permalink) Old 03-15-2012, 11:00 AM Thread Starter
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Cheers Diana.

looks like a trip to the hardware store is in order.

I have no idea what is in "Nutrafin Cycle" - it doesn't say on the bottle.

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post #12 of 45 (permalink) Old 03-15-2012, 11:36 AM
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I'll say this straight up - I think Nutrafin Cycle is crap. I'm pretty sure it has been tested in proper scientific trials and does nothing good. This matches my personal experience - I have never had or heard of this particular product working in a properly controlled test.

If you want to know whats in it, I quote from a scientific paper that went ahead to test this product (Nowak et al 2008, Canadian Journal of Microbiology):
Quote:
Two sequences were identified to the genus or species level: Sporocytophaga genus [...], Nitrosomonas europaea or Nitrosomonas sp. [...]. The remaining 3 sequences were identified to the order or genus level and were affiliated with the Acidobacterium genus [...], Leifsonia genus [...], and Clostridiales order [...]. Only Nitrosomonas species were listed by the manufacturer.
Quote:
Forty-two different bacterial isolates were obtained from Cycle through nonspecific plating. FAA identified 21 different isolates (Table 3), including 7 Bacillus species, 3 Mycobacterium species, 5 Pseudomonas species, Anthrobacter viscosus, Brevibacillus parabrevis/B. megaterium, Panibacillus macerans, Rhodococcus sp., Rhodobacter sphaeroides, Sphyngopyxis macrogoltabida, Variovax paradoxus, and Xanthobacter flavus. All of bacterial species identified in Cycle were not listed by the manufacturer. Bacteria such as Nitrosomonas species were not detected due to the unsuitable culturing conditions used. Mycobacterium fortuitum, Mycobacterium chelonea, Mycobacterium smegmatis, B. cereus, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa identified in Cycle are considered opportunistic pathogens.
Quote:
Fungal isolates were successfully cultured on RBC plates for all batches of Cycle. These isolates were identified as Rhizopus sp. and Aspergillus sp. The fungal and opportunistic pathogenic bacterial species identified in Cycle may have been contaminants based on the product’s label, claiming it contained only nonpathogenic bacteria. These species could have resulted from either impure product starter cultures, contamination in the manufacturing process, or nondefinitive taxonomic identifications.
So, whos eager to buy it based on that content list?
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post #13 of 45 (permalink) Old 03-15-2012, 01:44 PM
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well the free ammonia does not bother me.. its the 10 and higher NH3 that u should be worried about.

again check the date on the botle
it does go bad after time
i've used it. it does work, i've been through mutliple bottles on multiple tanks
anyways, at that lvl of ammonia. your bacteria will eventually settle in and take care of it.. when it hits zero u will need to add fish food to keep it going and preferable a fish as well

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post #14 of 45 (permalink) Old 03-15-2012, 05:13 PM Thread Starter
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well the free ammonia does not bother me.. its the 10 and higher NH3 that u should be worried about.

again check the date on the botle
it does go bad after time
i've used it. it does work, i've been through mutliple bottles on multiple tanks
anyways, at that lvl of ammonia. your bacteria will eventually settle in and take care of it.. when it hits zero u will need to add fish food to keep it going and preferable a fish as well
The Free Ammonia is the NH3, the Total Ammonia is the NH4.

NH3 was 0.26, dropped to 0.08 and is now back up to 0.1

The NH4 over the same period jumped from 10 to 40 and has now fallen down to 25.

I still haven't added anything else yet (barring the 4 plants and their hitch hikers)


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post #15 of 45 (permalink) Old 03-15-2012, 05:29 PM
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must cycle products are BS. there are 2 that work: seachem stability and dr tims one and only.
but you dont need them. you just need an innoculation and source of NH4+. for the bacterial innoculation, gravel or filter media from any tank that has already cycled works. often there will even be some bacteria in the water from your tap (just less, so it takes longer). for ammonium (the bacteria break down ammonium, not ammonia, but fortunately NH3 + H2O -> NH4+ + OH-), you can add cleaning ammonia (if its a PURE solution of water and ammonium), or feed the tank with high protein food (as the bacteria catabolize the amino acids, they will cleave off the amino group, making ammonium).

basically, dont worry about the product, your tank should be able to cycle anyway. if you've added plants, then bacteria DEFINATELY road over on them.
test total ammonia, and if it gets really high (>6 ppm), do a 50% WC, because too much ammonia will inhibit the bacteria (not really kill them, just hurt them enough to slow their growth).
once your ammonia reaches 0, then you get to the annoying part, nitrite. nitrite usualy doesnt peak, it plateaus and takes a while to go down. once it does drop to 0, add fish, just slowly and in increments.

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