Question About Fishless Cycle - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-24-2014, 02:18 AM Thread Starter
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Question Question About Fishless Cycle

I am working on a fishless cycle on my 5 gallon tank. The tank has gotten to the point where ammonia disappears in less than 8 hours. Nitrates are sitting between 5 and 2 parts per million (the master kit jumps that much, so it's hard to pinpoint exactly), and nitrates are slowly (very slowly) increasing.

My question is this: Since the bacteria/plants are able to uptake the ammonia in less than 8 hours, should I be adding ammonia to the tank every 8 hours or so? Or should I only add once every 24 hours?

My simple logic says that I should add ammonia anytime I test and find the levels have dropped down to zero or close to it. But, I don't want to do anything stupid and stall my cycle due to adding ammonia to often.

Last edited by Niyona; 02-24-2014 at 02:41 AM. Reason: Stupid Mac Autocorrect...
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-24-2014, 02:25 PM
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How long have you been cycling, how much ammonia are you dosing, and where is your ammonia source coming from?

You have nitrates showing up which is good. This usually takes the longest. I had a problem where I let my nitrites get too high and had to do a few 90% water changes. As soon as I got my nitrites to a testable level I continued to dose to 2-3ppm of ammonia every other day and watched my nitrites making sure they didn't go over a testable level and before I knew it, I was cycled with everything at 0 except for nitrates which is ok to have a little. You can do water changes to bring nitrates down. I cycled in less than 3 weeks.

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...26&postcount=7

There is some nice cycling information here.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-24-2014, 06:55 PM Thread Starter
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I am using a product called AquaLife Ammo - it is Ammonia bottled specifically for fishless cycling.

I've been cycling since 2-12. I'm dosing to between 3ppm and 4ppm

The question still remains, now that my bacteria are eating all of that ammonia in less than 8 hours, should I bumping the levels back up to 4ppm twice a day, or just once a day?
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-24-2014, 07:27 PM
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have you had a nitrite spike?

I used ammonia from ace hardware, kept the ammonia at 8ppm until they dropped. I kept the ammonia levels at 3ppm until I had a nitrite spike. Once that happened, I added ammonia again one time to reach 8ppm . Within 2 days the ammonia levels fell, nitrite went up and crashed and left me with 10-20ppm nitrate. It took 9 days to cycle my 10g. I let it run another 3-4 weeks before putting fish in.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-24-2014, 07:54 PM
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For the most part in planted aquaria you never really have to worry about a full cycle (FC). If you add plants the bacteria on them will get things started. Let the plants grow a bit (2 weeks) and do 50% water changes weekly and add fish. The water changes act as a security blanket to keep the water within acceptable ranges. Adding ammonia or these bacteria starters just a waste IMO. Doing regular water changes are easy and probably the best thing you could do for fish and plants during start-up and long-term.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-24-2014, 08:56 PM
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You need to add the ammonia to the tank to get the bacterial population to increase to where it can handle the bioload once you add fish.

If you are doing a heavily planted, lightly stocked tank, whatever dormant bacteria are in there, combined with the plants may be enough to handle the meager bioload. But there is no real way to test this.

Dosing ammonia and testing for NH4, NO2, NO3 lets you observe what is happening, and you can tell when the bacterial population is established and functioning. It's a lot more then most of us need, but it's a pretty easy, cheap, and certain method for preparing your tank for fish.

Anyways, as to the ammonia/nitrite levels, I've heard some debate and such about this. When I cycled my tank, I dosed ammonia at 3ppm, and did a water change whenever nitrites crept up over 5ppm. Only had to do a few, after that they settled in at ~2ppm for another couple days.

I've also skipped a day or two in the cycle without noticing any harm/slowdown, so skipping a dose when the nitrite creeps up may work, but I imagine if you do that too often, it will take much longer to cycle.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-24-2014, 10:10 PM
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You don't need to add anything other than your plants and water. The cycle water start slowly. There is ammonia from decaying plant leaves, fish food and other organic decay. The 'cycle' will start regardless it's fullness is kinda irrevelant since the water changes keep everything within range. If you add fish in a sensible way in a few weeks and your plants are growing the cycle is meaningless. I've done this for over 10 years and never loss fish. The tank doesn't have to be densely planted either. I also add carbon and other organic removal media to keep things pristine.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-25-2014, 09:16 PM
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so, lets take two hypothetical tanks (or the same tank during setup and when it's been fully stocked and established for a while).

tank A: just some plants, no livestock. The only source of ammonia is a bit of decaying plant matter.

tank B: plants, and livestock. The decaying plant matter is still a source of ammonia, but in addition, you have ammonia from fish/livestock excretion.

The bacterial population that will establish itself in tank A is nowhere near adequate to handle the filtration needs of tank B, and without adding extra ammonia, it won't grow to the levels needed for B. That's why most people do a fishless cycle, so that they can get the population needed for tank B, without stressing the fish.

I assume what you mean by 'add fish in a sensible way' is along the old manner of fish-in cycling, where you add a fish here, and then a week later add another fish or two, etc. until you reach the desired level. I've done that before, and it worked fine, but there are a lot of benefits to doing a fishless cycle, especially if one is dealing with mail order, or expensive/rare fish.

I'm not doubting your skills or experience, but I think it's too easy for an unexperienced person to read your post, set up their tank with a few plants, wait a couple weeks, and then fully stock it and end up with fish dying due to stress and ammonia.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-25-2014, 11:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lochaber View Post
...unexperienced person to read your post, set up their tank with a few plants, wait a couple weeks, and then fully stock it and end up with fish dying due to stress and ammonia.
To be fair if you read my post I've said many times:

Quote:
Originally Posted by houseofcards View Post
... The 'cycle' will start regardless it's fullness is kinda irrevelant since the water changes keep everything within range. If you add fish in a sensible way in a few weeks and your plants are growing the cycle is meaningless. I've done this for over 10 years and never loss fish. The tank doesn't have to be densely planted either. I also add carbon and other organic removal media to keep things pristine.
The one thing your forgetting to mention is the WC. It's pretty much the backbone to most planted aquaria in terms of fish health. All the things I mentioned you should be doing anyway which is why I know the FC is not necessary. To not do these things and rely on adding ammonia and/or bio-starters and then think your tank is safe to dump in a ton of fish is far worse.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-26-2014, 03:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by houseofcards View Post
The one thing your forgetting to mention is the WC. It's pretty much the backbone to most planted aquaria in terms of fish health. All the things I mentioned you should be doing anyway which is why I know the FC is not necessary. To not do these things and rely on adding ammonia and/or bio-starters and then think your tank is safe to dump in a ton of fish is far worse.
Well said. The whole fish less cycling is pointless in a planted tank and I don't even care for it in any tank for that matter. Impatience will lead to a headache in this hobby. It may take a little longer if using a tank with Aquasoil but if you plant fairly heavy from the get go and do regular water changes you will not only cycle your tank faster but you will also help keep algae at bay. I also don't understand why people keep using the excuse of if you order fish online or expensive fish fish less cycling is a better option. I disagree with this completely. How many discus keepers or any of the other rare/expensive fish keepers use fish less cycling before adding their livestock? I can almost guarantee that if you are keeping any of these types of fish you will wait until your tank is mature not just recently cycled before adding these fish. If the people that are pro- fish less cycling are so adamant that it's such a great way to start a tank I dare you to go out and buy some zebra plecos and add them to your newly cycled tank.

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Last edited by ua hua; 02-26-2014 at 01:05 PM. Reason: Spelling
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-26-2014, 05:16 AM
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You can add ammonia twice a day, but only to 1 ppm. If you add more the bacteria will make too much NO2 so you will end up doing water changes to keep the NO2 lower.
(keep NO2 under 5 ppm)

You can add ammonia once a day, but add more, to 3 ppm. The plants may not like this. 3 ppm (once a day) is fine for a non-planted tank. If your plants are not showing ammonia burn, then keep on doing it this way.

It is OK if the ammonia hits zero. The bacteria won't starve in a few hours.
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-26-2014, 12:51 PM
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Let's cut to the chase. Who are you gonna believe me and some of the very experienced planted aquaria experts here or this full cycle expert:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhBHxzV1jqI
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-26-2014, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by houseofcards View Post
Let's cut to the chase. Who are you gonna believe me and some of the very experienced planted aquaria experts here or this full cycle expert:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhBHxzV1jqI

Guy's a dweeb.
Couldn't get past the first thirty second's.
Just wish he was close, so I could slap him.
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-26-2014, 02:45 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
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You can add ammonia twice a day, but only to 1 ppm. If you add more the bacteria will make too much NO2 so you will end up doing water changes to keep the NO2 lower.
(keep NO2 under 5 ppm)

You can add ammonia once a day, but add more, to 3 ppm. The plants may not like this. 3 ppm (once a day) is fine for a non-planted tank. If your plants are not showing ammonia burn, then keep on doing it this way.

It is OK if the ammonia hits zero. The bacteria won't starve in a few hours.
Thanks Diana, this was what I was looking for.

I know you can sometimes skip the FC if you are doing a planted tank (which I am)... however, I am planning on ordering a "nice" betta when the weather warms up and would really just like to cover all my bases and go ahead and FC this tank in preparation
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-27-2014, 03:45 AM
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You could skip the whole wait for the tank cycling things and get some bb in a bottle. A product like Dr Tim's One and Only and Tetra Safe Start+ will effective cycle a tank in days. No need to wait.

Father of the Princess Zelda.
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