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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 20 gallon long that is about 65-75% planted with lots of stems and some crypts, all low light. I started a fishless cycle on 1/23/16 and used Dr. Tim's Aquatic Ammonia and Dr. Tim's one and only live nitrifying bacteria. I measured ammonia every other day (or sometimes every day) and dosed back up to 2ppm as needed. On 1/31 I started dosing some seachem potassium and phosphorus. When I tested the water on 2/3, I had a reading of .5 Ammonia, Nitrate 5 and Nitrite of 2. I added some more ammonia to get it back up to 2ppm. On 2/5 it was .25 ammonia, Nitrite between 2 and 5 and Nitrate 5. Again I added more ammonia. I then started testing every day and since 2/7 I have 0 ammonia, Nitrate between 5 and 10 and Nitrites around .25. I keep adding enough ammonia to get back to 2ppm, and the next day it measures at 0 but I always have some Nitrite around .25. On 2/7 I also started to dose seachem equilibrum. I am using the API test kit and occasionally the nutrafin test kit for ammonia.

I assume my cycle is complete, but what about the .25 reading on the Nitrites every day since the 7th? Also, I expected my Nitrates to have been higher, but this whole time they have not gotten any more than 10. Is this because of the plants?

Finally, do I need to do a water change before adding fish? How long can I go after the water change before the fish have to be added? I have not done any water changes and have only needed to top of the tank (less than a gallon each time) two to three times during this process.
 

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IMO the API Nitrite test is really accurate.
Way more accurate than the NH3 & NO3.
All of my cycled tanks always show zero NO2.
 

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The nitrite part of the cycle can take longer. Keep up your routine, and you will find that soon you will have 0 nitrite. I know how frustrating it can be, but worth it in the end.

What are your stocking plans?
 

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I might reduce ammonia dose by 1/2 and see if nitrites aren't zero after 12 hour's.
Reason your nitrate reading is not higher is because the plant's are using it.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks, I will start dosing half the amount of ammonia. As for stocking, I would like to do some tetras, probably neon or rummy nose, but not sure how many would be appropriate. Also plan on adding some snails and if possible some RCS (after the tank has been up for awhile).
 

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Thanks, I will start dosing half the amount of ammonia. As for stocking, I would like to do some tetras, probably neon or rummy nose, but not sure how many would be appropriate. Also plan on adding some snails and if possible some RCS (after the tank has been up for awhile).
Couple dozen neon's or rummy nose would be fine for 20 gal long.
Still leaves room for some shrimp or snail's.
 

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I have a 20 gallon long that is about 65-75% planted ... used Dr. Tim's Aquatic Ammonia and Dr. Tim's one and only live nitrifying bacteria. I measured ammonia ... dosed back up to 2ppm ... dosing some seachem potassium and phosphorus. ... reading of .5 Ammonia, Nitrate 5 and Nitrite of 2. I added some more ammonia to get it back up to 2ppm. On 2/5 it was .25 ammonia, Nitrite between 2 and 5 and Nitrate 5. Again I added more ammonia. I then started testing every day and since 2/7 I have 0 ammonia, Nitrate between 5 and 10 and Nitrites around .25. I keep adding enough ammonia to get back to 2ppm, and the next day it measures at 0 but I always have some Nitrite around .25. On 2/7 I also started to dose seachem equilibrum. I am using the API test kit and occasionally the nutrafin test kit for ammonia. ...
Sounds like a chemist lab. I just got back from Walmart and saw a quart bottle of "Conditioned Betta Water" for the low, low price of only $3.00 USD

The 75% planted 20g should have been filled with real water, meaning free rainwater or free snow (melted of course and brought to desired temp) or distilled water. Then add fish. What's with all the chemistry?

Don't know much about history, Don't know much biology, Don't know much about a science book (including the chemistry one) Don't know much about the French I took. But I do know that a lot of people like Dr. Tim are laughing all the way to the bank. And I do know that fish have been thriving in dinosaur footprints runneth over with rainwater since, well, since dinosaur footprints were runneth over with rainwater. Water gets all the cycling it needs up in the clouds. Seriously.
 
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Discussion Starter #9
Nitrites and ammonia were both 0 today. Did a 25% water change and I am in the process of acclimating 3 rummy nose tetras now. Plan to add more in a week or so (thinking 6-7 total).
 

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3 tetras won't keep the bacteria fed. Better to add all of them now before some of the bacteria you just went to the effort of growing, die.
 

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Audionut is exactly right- you have grown enough bacteria to get rid of at least 1ppm ammonia every day. Now stock enough fish to produce that much, or else the bacteria will slowly die back to the amount needed to handle the ammonia from just a few fish.

Or do you have some Dr. Tim's One and Only left over? If so, add the fish as slowly or fast as you like, and dose some One and Only with each addition of fish.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Acclimating another 4 now and will pick up some more dr Tim one and only. Will use it before adding some neons next week. Appreciate all the help so far.
 

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You've grown enough bacteria to support of large supply of ammonia, so you should be looking at stocking the tank with the fish that you want. When you have fish in there, you can't really breed more bacteria with ammonia dosing you like have been.

So adding 3 tetras in and of itself isn't a problem, the bacteria in there will be very plentiful, and you won't have to worry about the ammonia problems. But after a week or so, whatever excess bacteria are in the tank that cannot be supported by the ammonia output of the 3 tetras will die.

So when you then go and add more fish at some later time, you have to allow for the bacteria to grow again with the increased ammonia supply. If you went and put another 4 tetras in, you've more then doubled the bioload and you're likely to suffer a mini-cycle.

TLDR: Add whatever fish you want in there, now. Leave it to long and you'll have to grow bacteria the old fashioned way again.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks audionut, that makes sense. how would you go about adding at a later date? Just 1 or 2 at a time slowly with some bacteria in a bottle? Neither of my local stores have neons at the moment.
 

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I wouldn't be surprised if you lose most of those Rummy's....Rummy Nose are not a hardy Tetra, very sensitive, really need a stable established tank with soft water. Neons are not very hardy either. I would have gone with some Phantoms. Check your parameters daily, water changes if needed and I would dose with MicrobeLift Nite Out or Seachem Stability daily. Good luck!
 

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It wouldn't be good news if the tank wasn't cycled, but you've just finished doing that. :wink:

There's a couple of ways to cycle a tank with fish, but my preferred method is to gradually overfeed the current fish for a week or so before you plant to add other fish. This will slowly increase the ammonia levels in the tank and encourage the bacteria to multiply.

Only add some percentage of fish based on the current level of fish. You only have three tetras in there now, so I wouldn't add anymore then two more tetras. Before going to the shop to get more fish, 50% water change on the tank and vacuum any excess food and fish waste.

Acclimatize the fish and add them. If you're worried about fish health, now is the time to feed them sparingly.

The fish are the bio-load on the bacteria, but this is directly controlled by the level of food. By adding more food, you increase the bio-load and increase reproduction of the bacteria. Once the fish are in, you can reduce the feeding to help maintain the same bio-load, even though there are more fish in the water. Heck, don't even feed the day, or the day after you add the fish. You'll be doing more good then harm by doing so.

A snail helps, because it will break down any excess food at a faster rate then microbes alone. But a good vacuum and water change will ensure excess is removed.

I don't have any experience with bacteria in a bottle, but providing it's the right species, and they're alive in the bottle, it will help.
 
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