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I’m starting a fish in cycle and I want to make sure that I do it properly. Is this the correct way to do it?

1. Wait until there’s sign of ammonia and start changing 25-50% of the water everyday

2. After a couple weeks nitrite will show up and continue to change 25-50% of the water daily.

3. Nitrates will show up and that’s when your cycle is half way there

4. Continue to test water and replace 25-50% water everyday

5. Once ammonia and nitrite levels are constantly at 0, start to change the water 25-30% once a week.

Also, what do I do with the gravel and the decorations? Do I ever wash them throughout the cycle or should I wait until after the cycle to clean them? And also will the water get foggy or dirty since I’m not changing all of the tank water? Thank you
 

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So my first question is why are you doing a fish in cycle? The time frames that you are listing could be spot on, slightly off or even completely wrong. There are so many variables that the chances of hurting the creatures in your tank far outweighs the need to do a fish in cycle in most cases. That is not to say that you can't do it but if there is any way to do it without fish then that is the way I would go, in fact, it is the way I did my cycle. If you have access to pure ammonia from your local hardware store then it is a pretty easy process but takes about 6 weeks. Things will move faster if you use higher temps (82 to 84deg) and higher pH (7 to 7.5)as those are the best conditions for bacterial colonization.

If you absolutely have to do fish in cycling then you just have to watch parameters daily and change water as needed. Trying to keep ammonia around 1 to 1.5, nitrites below 0.5. The other thing to remember is that at higher pH levels the ammonia will be more toxic.
 

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Hi Fishyfriendzz. Having done this unintentionally once, I can tell you there is only one thing that's guaranteed: trouble. Too many variables. The timeline and the volume/frequency of water changes will depend on the volume of the tank, filter and substrate, temperature, water hardness and your bioload. If this is absolutely necessary, you may use Prime to help handling spikes, but nitrite spike may happen suddenly and quickly kill your fish overnight or when you are at work. Have you got anywhere to seed your filter from? Friend's tank or LFS? Seeding will speed things up.
Anyway, if you have a choice don't do fish in cycle.
And yes, the water will get foggy and there will be yucky slime and what not during cycling, fish or no fish. Read about nitrogen cycle and fishless cycling. This forum has enormous archive, very useful.
 

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If your doing a fish-in-cycle you do not want to expose your fish to any ammonia at any time. You must be proactive- change the water before ammonia becomes present.

That is why it is so difficult ( or, rather, time-consuming, really not difficult). You just resign yourself that you will be changing water everyday. The smaller the tank is, the larger your water changes will be.

Fish-in cycles do not have to be impossible or inhumane. I actually have done them many times with discus with no exposure to ammonia or nitrites to the fish by changing 75 percent of volume daily. When you get a new group of discus you do not want "seeded media" from another established tank that may be harboring bacteria that the discus has never been exposed to. Juvenile discus have near zero immune system- their environments must be sterile.

Do not wash any of your decorations while cycling, nor do anything but wash your sponge material as needed in dechlorinated water in order to not reduce flow if have HOB filter. Do not change your sponge out in filter until tank is well established- 3 months. But, do keep clean- like I said. You can vacuum uneaten food and waste from gravel- you should, in fact.
 

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Fishyfriendz, it's strange that you start a new thread every time someone suggests you do a fishless cycle. I'm pretty sure I've answered your questions at least twice now.

Please see my previous response:
"Have you bought the fish yet? If not, I wouldn't recommend a fish-in cycle at all as you're putting them through a lot of stress when you can simply wait 4-6 weeks and give them a much kinder life.

If you absolutely *need* to do one though, I'd do at least 25% water change every single day and test the water every single day, using dechlorinator for the new water and making sure it's the same temperature as the tank. It could still take a few weeks and is a lot more effort than a fishless cycle. If you miss a water change you run the very real risk of losing your fish.

Is there anywhere you could get mature filter media from? This will kick-start your cycle and could have your tank ready for fish in a matter of days. Sand, wood, or other ornaments from a mature tank will help too. I'd also recommend putting in some live plants - they won't particularly help with ammonia or nitrite, but they will make a difference to your nitrates once you start getting them. "

Further info:
Do not clean your ornaments during cycle, these will help house the good bacteria necessary for the tank to cycle

Yes, your tank will almost certainly get cloudy due to bacterial blooms during the cycle. This will not be nice for your fish.
 

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There's not "correct" way to cycle with fish but you seem like you want to.

Here's how you should properly cycle your aquarium https://freshwatercentral.com/2018/07/13/how-to-cycle-an-aquarium/


However, if you want to cycle with fish in I recommend starting by making a stocking list for your tank. Then put in a single fish like a zebra danio. Test ammonia levels twice per day and anytime you see any ammonia at all (anything above 0 ppm) do a 50% water change. Some products from Seachem can remove ammonia so I'd recommend using those when you do the 50% water change. Then every 2 weeks or so add a fish until you reach your full stocked aquarium.
 

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There's not "correct" way to cycle with fish but you seem like you want to.

Here's how you should properly cycle your aquarium https://freshwatercentral.com/2018/07/13/how-to-cycle-an-aquarium/


However, if you want to cycle with fish in I recommend starting by making a stocking list for your tank. Then put in a single fish like a zebra danio. Test ammonia levels twice per day and anytime you see any ammonia at all (anything above 0 ppm) do a 50% water change. Some products from Seachem can remove ammonia so I'd recommend using those when you do the 50% water change. Then every 2 weeks or so add a fish until you reach your full stocked aquarium.
The equally problematic issue with this method, one fish every couple weeks or so, is the risk of cross-contamination. The more you add one fish at a time, the higher the risk of introducing a pathogen that will wipe out your aquarium. I would rather minimize the risk of pathogens by buying fish all at once ( if there are pathogens present, they will all share them) from one vendor and then safe-guarding (quarantining before introduction of new fish) from this point on.



What the fish are exposed to once in my tank is controllable. Water changes daily ensures no ammonia or nitrIte exposure, cycled media quickly cycles my tank if I choose that route, no further risk of pathogens beyond what was introduced initially.
 

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I'd totally agree with you, Discusluv, if I thought that the OP would stick to the strict routine of testing and changing water every day and was doing it for reasons other than impatience. However, I doubt that's the case and I'm sure they're doing whatever they want right now.

Ah well.
 

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Yes, but it's useful for certain fish (like discus) who are very prone to disease and need to be kept in sterile tanks.

The best thing to do for the normal tank is to cycle and then add fish in groups and then make sure to keep up with regular testing & maintenance. Any new fish should be quarantined for a couple of weeks in a separate tank, or at the very least, make sure that the fish shop has quarantined the fish after receiving them.
 

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The equally problematic issue with this method, one fish every couple weeks or so, is the risk of cross-contamination. The more you add one fish at a time, the higher the risk of introducing a pathogen that will wipe out your aquarium. I would rather minimize the risk of pathogens by buying fish all at once ( if there are pathogens present, they will all share them) from one vendor and then safe-guarding (quarantining before introduction of new fish) from this point on.



What the fish are exposed to once in my tank is controllable. Water changes daily ensures no ammonia or nitrIte exposure, cycled media quickly cycles my tank if I choose that route, no further risk of pathogens beyond what was introduced initially.
If OP wants to add all their fish at once then they should properly cycle their aquarium with liquid ammonia. I understand that cross-contamination is a risk you want to avoid but tossing a full stocking of fish in a fully cycled aquarium means that chances are something's going to happen and one of them is going to die. If that death happens and you don't notice it, it'll cause an ammonia spike and you could quickly lose half your fish. That doesn't even account for the fact that the ammonia spike can happen without any fish dying.

Not properly cycling your aquarium just stresses out your fish, harms them, and increases the chance of them dying. And while you could get around that with 30-40% daily water changes for the first few weeks and constant prime dosing it's easier to go to the store buy a bottle of ammonia and build up a filter.

More so the cycled media speeds up both processes; using either liquid ammonia or putting the fish straight in. Just one of those methods doesn't harm the fish.
 

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If OP wants to add all their fish at once then they should properly cycle their aquarium with liquid ammonia. I understand that cross-contamination is a risk you want to avoid but tossing a full stocking of fish in a fully cycled aquarium means that chances are something's going to happen and one of them is going to die. If that death happens and you don't notice it, it'll cause an ammonia spike and you could quickly lose half your fish. That doesn't even account for the fact that the ammonia spike can happen without any fish dying.

Not properly cycling your aquarium just stresses out your fish, harms them, and increases the chance of them dying. And while you could get around that with 30-40% daily water changes for the first few weeks and constant prime dosing it's easier to go to the store buy a bottle of ammonia and build up a filter.

More so the cycled media speeds up both processes; using either liquid ammonia or putting the fish straight in. Just one of those methods doesn't harm the fish.
I see you believe your way "is proper" and my way "is improper" but that is a judgement on your part that has nothing to do with actual results. Of course, this method is not my own, it was the proper method when I began keeping fish 29 years ago. And, it is also a method that I have not lost a fish to to ammonia exposure/ poisoning since my first group of fish (what a disaster) that many years ago. Done properly, the rate of exposure to ammonia is no higher than a fish-less method.



I do use the fish-less method when I cycle bigger tanks. My 180 gallon was done this way because it is too hard to change that much water. Much easier in this particular case, like you mentioned, to dose ammonia and use cycled media sans fish. Next week I am taking a discus pair and putting them in a new tank, a breeder. I will use cycled media from the tank they are in and do water changes daily. The tank will most likely be cycled in 5-7 days ( especially since the tank will be at 86 degrees). Why do I choose this method? ---Because it is best in this particular case--- The large daily water changes are beneficial to get them conditioned to breed. Many breeders do this with fish of all kinds- not just discus. Do I worry that I will expose them to ammonia?- um, no- why would I worry any more than you do by your chosen method.


Instead of making one method "proper" and the other "improper" -- a good/bad judgement, why not stress that one method may be easier than the other- less-time-consuming ( didn't I stress that in my previous post?). But "easier" doesn't equate with "more effective" or "safer ";as both methods --when done properly--- are equally safe and effective.
 
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