Fishless cycling question - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-08-2009, 06:29 AM Thread Starter
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Fishless cycling question

Anyone has experience with fishless cycling?
Any idea how long the process would take without any established media?

I.e. just plain water + clear ammonia + filter

I have ammonia at 4-8 ppm for about a week...and nothing seem to have changed, wondering if i am doing anything wrong..

And would adding product like nutrafin cycle helps?
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-08-2009, 06:33 AM
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That's it basically, dechlorinated water, some ammonia, and wait. It takes a bit longer than a week though, in my experience. Once the bacteria starts growing the process picks up steam. I wouldn't bother with those cycling products, most are a waste of money. You can speed things up a little bit with some used filter media, gravel, etc, from an established tank.

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-08-2009, 06:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Choco View Post
Anyone has experience with fishless cycling?
Any idea how long the process would take without any established media?

I.e. just plain water + clear ammonia + filter

I have ammonia at 4-8 ppm for about a week...and nothing seem to have changed, wondering if i am doing anything wrong..

And would adding product like nutrafin cycle helps?
Things to help your cycling:

1. Bunch of stemmed plants. You can go to the SNS (Swap n Shop) and ask if someone can hook you up with a bunch of stemmed plants to help you cycle your tank. You'll want low light, fast and easy growing stemmed plants.

2. Mulm from another tank. Mulm is the gunk in your substrate and the stuff that your filter collects. When you do another water change, swoosh up some mulm and transport it over to your new tank. That'll help speed it up.

Cycling takes a long time, you'll just have to be patient. What kinda substrate are you using? ADA AquaSoil leaches ammonia. Just keep testing your water till it shows 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and X nitrate. X being a number. After the readings show that, test it again over the course of a few days (2-3). If the readings are constant, then congrats, your tank is cycled. You can test the quality of your test kits by testing it on bottled or RO water. Should show zero on almost all, at least for nitrite and ammonia.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-08-2009, 07:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Choco View Post
I have ammonia at 4-8 ppm for about a week...and nothing seem to have changed, wondering if i am doing anything wrong..
You aren't doing anything wrong. I did a fishless cycle and it took a while. After a week of nothing changing I got impatient and decided to change my substrate to speed things up. I added topsoil and then topped that with gravel. The topsoil (non-mineralized) had bacteria naturally occurring in it. Two days after changing the substrate the nitrites started showing up. Two days after that the nitrates showed up. Ammonia dropped to zero three days later. About a week later the nitrites were at zero. Total cycle time (from date of substrate change) was about 18 days.

I've seen other people's logs on how long it took them to fishless cycle, and it seems that 30-45 days is about average, without adding mulm, dirt, etc.

Good luck being patient.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-08-2009, 07:45 AM
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In my experience, the absolute fastest way to cycle a tank is(as already mentioned by Natty) is to use some substrate from a pre-existing established tank(including as much mulm as possible), filter media from an established tank, and a bunch of fast growing stem plants and floating plants(water lettuce, cardamine, etc.,). I have pretty much tried all methods of cycling including using a hardy fish to cycle the tank and fishless cycling using ammonia to establish nitrifying bacterial colonies. The method with the least wait time(I would say 2 weeks less or even more) was the silent cycle using mulm/substrate, established filter media, and jam packing the tank with fast growing stem plants and floating plants.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-09-2009, 10:02 PM
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I'm a noob and a bit confused. My situation is similar to Choco with ammonia 4-8ppm after a week. My question is that I thought you should be trying to get your ammonia down to 0 so how is adding ammonia helping? When does your ammonia go down if you never add fish during it's cycle stage?
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-09-2009, 10:34 PM
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It's a totally different ballgame when you have fish in the tank.

4-8ppm of ammonia with fish is horrible and needs to be dealt with immediately via water changes, etc.

4-8ppm ammonia in an empty cycling tank is fine, it takes a while for the bacteria to grow to a large enough colony to deal with it and start converting to nitrite and eventually nitrate.

In fishless cycling you want that ammonia, with fish in the tank you don't.

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