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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I cycled a 10 gallon tank with 2 internal filters. The tank cycled using ammonia in 3 weeks. Yes it cycled, I checked all levels & the tank became stable. I was doing weekly or bi weekly water changes to bring down nitrates which were always high. I was dosing 10 drops a day. 5 in the morning than 5 at night.Yes it was digesting it. A week before adding fish I cut to just 2 drops a day. I used 100% r/o water the whole time since I wanted accurate ammonia readings. 5 days before bringing fish in The nitrates well over 120 ppms of nitrate. So I began doing 50% water changes daily. My Lfs said I do not have to add ammonia for at least 3 days or more. So I stopped dosing ammonia for about 3 days. The day before the fish came in I had to do 6 50% water changes just to get the nitrates to 30ppms! My advice to anyone trying fishless cycling is to do the same except dose less & keep on top of nitrates. Also, dose po4 with kh if using r/o & I would still add some gh back as well besides the ammonia. To my surprise my tank is getting a mini spike or I lost my bacteria nearly to zero, since my fish are getting stressed now. I am doing 30% water change daily. They came from water from of kh7 & gh17. I drip acclimated them to the same water I made myself with 80% r/o 20% tape. However the Prime water conditioners kills my ammonia readings so I never Know how much NH3 I have present now. I want to condition my new Amber Tetras to go in my cycled 10 gallon planted tank of kh4 & Gh8. That tank needs another week of Q.T do to parasite problem that should be clearing up by now or soon. Any ideas on how I can speed their acclimation up so I can get them into the planted tank to ease their pain. I am gradually cutting down the Kh & Gh , planned on taking 30 days to do so. Thanks
 

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10 drops of ammonia per day seem's a bit(a lot) much. What ppm ammonia reading did this produce in ten gal?Did you reduce the ammonia by half when nitrites appeared?
Can't imagine needing six 50% water changes in one day to reduce nitrates no matter how high when two 50 % water changes would lower them to near zero.
We know the nitrates did not eminate from tap for you state that you used R/O.
Yes,,is possible to dose too much ammonia and stall the process to point where nitrites never seem to lower.but this usually mean's no nitrates develop or in very small quantity.
Me think's , Adding a lot of fast growing plant's initially,and stocking few fishes at once,slowly, is much better method than ammonia dosing.
No daily dosing,,no testing, few water changes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
This is a Q.T Tank. It is not meant to grow plants . It is was supposed to be a tank to acclimate new fish & to see if the new livestock has any issues so not to introduce disease into my planted tank. Yes 10 drops is a lot but was not my initial dose. I dosed to about 3ppm early on , then the tank became hungry so I kept adding enough amonia to keep at 3ppm early on. Then 2 weeks before fish were supposed to come in I dosed to only .25ppm just to keep it going. Nitrites were zero except the first 10 15 days they went sky high then 2 weeks later dropped to zero indicating cycled tank. Nitrite never showed up again on test kits, only ammonia right after dosing. 12 hours later ammonia fell to zero. It became predictable. That went on for many many weeks. I know I should have reduced the ammonia sooner & kept up with water changes. I was only doing 1 50% every 2 weeks. The nitrates are probably bound up in the substrate being released to the water. My tap contains 5ppm which I recently started to add back say 20% with 80% r/o but I should have added more po4 to help the bacteria as well.
 

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Well a QT tank is going to have a hard time maintain bacteria colonies since it wont be 'fed' constantly. Not to mention different bio loads depending on the fish you are QTing.

My QT tanks don't have filters. I have air stones for water movement and I change 10% of the water daily, unless medication direction say otherwise. I feed light also so that nitrates, etc dont build up. I also try to use floating plants or hygro to help the fish feel comfortable, as well as added natural filtration.
 

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I would have used seed material from your planted tank (sustrate,filter material) and not bothered with trying to cycle OT tank.
Could be med that was used for parasite problem messed up the process.
I normally don't bother with cycling QT but rather change water each day or portion depending on number's of fish .
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
My 10 gallon planted tank has a good bacteria population . The water in that tank is crystal clear & the plants look great. There are no meds in the tank. I did treat the tank with metrodozole a week ago than did a 50% water change on that tank + I cleaned the filter & the tank has never looked better. However I want to make sure any parasites are dead in that tank. its been nearly 2 weeks since pulling my last fish. The tank still has snails & shrimp. The 3 ppms rule was only at first & also if I dosed 20-30 drops in that tank without water conditioner in my r/o water the ammonia would rise to well off the scale. You should make sure you are not using any water cond. because that will always yield high or low & give false readings anyway. I guess I am looking at regular water changes & looking out for fish stress as a gauge. I feel in the dark. This is not the way I planned it to be. I will try & gradually bring down the gh & kh to match tha planted tank & get them the hell out of there because there is a storm on the way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I did seed the tank originally with some biomedia that I placed in 1 of the filters. Problem is You still have to feed the bacteria. The tank still has to cycle, period. Or run a stress tank with lots of water changes, Thats what this has turned into. I should have dosed some ammonia while doing big water changes.I listened to LFS & others about not worrying about losing bacteria & I ended up killing off most anyway!
 

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The nitrifying bacteria can handle a wide range of conditions once they are established, but when you are trying to get the maximum growth out of them it is best to stick to a narrower range of conditions.
Once the colony is established you can alter the water parameters to match the water the new fish are in, then change it again (over time) to acclimate the fish to the main tank while they are still in the quarantine tank.

RO water: Not good. These organisms need more minerals than are in RO water.
I would keep the GH and KH at least 3 German degrees of hardness, and harder is just fine. Since the fish are in harder water, I would set up the tank to cycle with those parameters. Good to add KH2PO4, too. I do not remember where I read that, but it goes along with the idea that these organisms do need a few minerals.

Amount of ammonia you add directly affects how much nitrite it turns into.
Lets say a fish load would add 2 ppm ammonia equally spread out over 24 hours. You would not see that ammonia when you tested a cycled tank.
You could try to match that by dosing a little bit of ammonia every hour or two. If you dosed it all at once then the test would read 2 ppm, or even 3 ppm (to be sure you are growing enough bacteria). But when you spread out the dosing the level will never get that high. The test might only show 1 ppm, but you are raising it that high twice a day.
Anyway, if you add lots of ammonia it will turn into lots of nitrite, followed by lots of nitrate. It does not matter if you add it a little bit every few hours, or once a day. However much (total) you add will turn into that much nitrite then nitrate.

These bacteria do not do too well when the ammonia or nitrite get over 5 ppm.
It is fine to do 100% water changes while doing the fishless cycle. Do the change, then test and dose enough ammonia to keep things going. If the nitrite seems to spike too high, then dose less ammonia (try half) until the bacteria catch up. Then dose a bit more ammonia until you are back up. You want to be dosing enough so that when you add the fish the bacteria are enough to handle the amount of waste the fish produce. You can only grow that much bacteria by dosing that much ammonia.

Different bottles of ammonia may be different strength. Dose a small amount let it circulate, test. Dose a little more... until you get the level you want.

When things seem to be going haywire it might be best to do a big water change (100%) and start over. The substrate will have a film of water around each particle, so even a 100% water change is not really 100%, but is close. It should really drop the parameters back down pretty close to 0.
Make sure the refill water has the right GH, KH, TDS and anything else that it needs.

Ammonia tests and dechlor sure can be odd. Best is to use the kit and dechlor from the same company, and make sure you know how that kit is reporting the ammonia.
NH3 (ammonia)
NH4+ (ammonium)
Locked up by the dechlor
Free
Total
The bacteria can use it all. Test kits may be geared to fish keeping, and show you the dangerous ammonia or might show any combination of those.

Using tap water is fine, but you should know how much ammonia it is adding to the system.

Once you have added the fish be more cautious about water changes. Make sure the GH, KH, TDS are the same as the fish are used to, or, if different these levels are close. You can make water changes that gradually acclimate the fish to harder or softer water than they were in at the store. But let it take time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I realize everything you are saying & I used a lot of it to cycle this Q .T. tank. However I fell behind in water changes. The whole time I used 100% r/o water because it gave me complete control over what I was doing & not to get false readings because of using conditioners. The tank ran great & was working fine & I added gh & kh as stated above as well as po4. The tank crashed once I started using prime & part regular water. I do not like using water conditioners but have no choice since the tap has high chlorine. Not even sure if chloramines are in the tap. My fish sometimes scratch after water changes , not sure why , chlorine in tape? parasites? too much gh & kh change. I see it in fish stores as well. Makes me think its water quality not parasites & we subject the fish to meds for no reason because the tape water is bad! I am out of time must go thanks for all help. I will check back to see if anybody else has anything to add.
 

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Should never need to "cycle" another tank, once you have an established ,"cycled'' tank with healthy bacterial population.Can simply borrow seed material and thus no need for ammonia used for fishless cycling.
To set up quarantine tank when you have existing tank with healthy biological filter,simply fill empty tank 50% with water from existing tank, and fill the rest of the way with treated tapwater. Then move borrowed material from healthy tank to QT tank. and your set.
Feed fish sparingly,don't place too many fish at once in QT tank,monitor the water in QT tank for any abnormal reading's for ammonia and perform water changes as needed.
Is wise to leave QT tank's bare bottom, (creates no place for parasites to hide) with maybe some fake decor for fishes to rest,hide near, (bring's comfort).
 

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My 10 gallon planted tank has a good bacteria population . The water in that tank is crystal clear & the plants look great. There are no meds in the tank. I did treat the tank with metrodozole a week ago than did a 50% water change on that tank + I cleaned the filter & the tank has never looked better. However I want to make sure any parasites are dead in that tank. its been nearly 2 weeks since pulling my last fish. The tank still has snails & shrimp. The 3 ppms rule was only at first & also if I dosed 20-30 drops in that tank without water conditioner in my r/o water the ammonia would rise to well off the scale. You should make sure you are not using any water cond. because that will always yield high or low & give false readings anyway. I guess I am looking at regular water changes & looking out for fish stress as a gauge. I feel in the dark. This is not the way I planned it to be. I will try & gradually bring down the gh & kh to match tha planted tank & get them the hell out of there because there is a storm on the way.
20 to 30 drops of ammonia you mention above, is likely source of the problem.
Should have taken much less than this to produce 3 pppm ammonia in ten gallons'.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I disagree. Because you never know for sure unless you have a microscope & the tank you are going to seed from is trusted & running a (long time). In my case I made some early mistakes in not q.t fish properly in my planted tank. The tank had lots of problems. I still may have trichadina , but not sure. Otherwise my seed tank or my planted tank is doing great now with zero algae & is balanced. I could not ask for more. That being said it still could have issues that I am working on as far as the trichadina which anyone can get. I did seed the q.t tank from my planted tank regardless but I still think its not the way to go unless as stated above. As far as transfer water from good tank. I would not trust that & it is the lazy way of doing it. The tank was only 2 months old which is not reliable. I know about cycling & nutrient loads. I am on the fence about glass bottom q.t. tanks because If you have parasites that get in you have to treat the tank anyway. Also the substrate helps make a stronger bio system. Another advantage is its a more natural setting for the fish & should match the tank they are going into to help minimize stress. Glass bottom tanks are good for breeding only where large quantities of food are used. As far as my current problem of the tank crashing, the q.t. tank in question is showing lowering levels of ammonia with zero nitrite. My best guess is by doing all those water changes + removing 1 internal filter caused a brief reduction in bacteria, which caused a mini cycle! The next couple of days will tell the whole story. If I had to do it again the same way I would, except keep up with water changes better. As far as 30 drops. I only did that at set up because of false readings from using prime & test kits not designed for ammonium readings. I stated all this from the start of this thread. Thats why I used 100% r/o water so I would not need water conditioner. Also as stated earlier in this thread I remineralized + added PO4 & kh which I have noted speeds up bacteria growth in fishless cycling.Thanks anyway for the tips, these are just my opinions. What ever works best for you ,you should keep doing it but keep an open mind. I still feel true fishless cycling is the way to go. There are many tricks that need to be remembered. But the + is if you get it done right you will have a fully cycled tank with (NO Parasites) or disease to start out with + it is more human for your fish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
That is a bad idea. Why, because if the main tank has any issues you will transport them to quarantine , pointless. The point of having a quarantine is to have a semi sterile tank besides good bacteria to start with. It is possible that there could be underlaying problems in known system especially filters. If current system has been running for say a year or more with no negative history. Then you COULD be safe. Since I posted this thread my Q.T. tank has stabilized. All levels have come down. Actually just ammonia spiked not nitrite. The spike was low say below .5ppm. But I will never know how high it got because of the prime. The tank is crystal clear & the fish are fine now. No signs of stress. I never lost all my bacteria. I just set it back a little . It took 72 to build back up again. I would do it the same way again for my next q.t. tank & would recommend everybody doing a fishless cycle. Now I did cheat a little & took some bacteria media from planted tank from the start 3 months ago, but I knew it would be months before fish would go in so NO PARASITES could survive that long without organics to feed on. That being said I would still recommend non seeding for fishless tank cycling to rule out any possibility of contamination. Thanks for the replies.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Case & point. I just took a closer look at quarantine tank & sure enough, Planaria on glass. Not harmful to fish but hard to get rid of. Where do you think the Planaria came from. You guessed it , your seed method from planted tank. Which could come from non planted tanks as well. Since I know I have, had Planaria in the planted tank that would be the source. It was my miss call & lack of understanding at the time. I know better now. It is better not to be lazy in this hobby & just educate yourself & do the right thing from the start in order to be human to fish & enjoy it better yourself as well.
 

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This might be semantics, but I don't think a QT tank is intended to provide refuge when your main tank is infected with something. A QT tank is where you put livestock you're bringing in from other sources to ensure they're healthy before you put them in your healthy show tank.

Now, a hospital tank is something else entirely, but if your main tank is infected with something, I think that's where you should start. If your main/show tank is not healthy and ready to accept QT'd livestock, then what's the point? Running an extra filter on your main tank is an excellent way to quickly cycle a QT tank by simply moving the filter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I agree mostly. But from what I can see from this hobby you can never be sure about anything. Although my tank MAY be ready to except restocking I feel starting with a clean slate to rule out most possibilities of problems a non seeded q.t. tank fully cycled without seed from the start is the way to go no matter how you cut it. For those of you which will make the majority go right a head & seed but you will not be 100% confident in most cases you are good to go. If you are willing to take the chance go for it, but its the lazy way in my opinion.
 

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I think I see where the initial problem is; the problem in the title.

For a couple of weeks you were cycling the tank by adding enough ammonia to test 3 ppm. This is good. It will grow plenty of bacteria. I am not clear if you were doing this more often than once a day. More than once a day is too much ammonia, and leads to exactly the problem you are describing with excess nitrite and nitrate.

Then for a week or more you used a lot less ammonia, only enough to test .25 ppm.
This feeds a lot less bacteria. I think your bacteria population crashed before you added the livestock. You almost starved them for a week. That is a bit too long on such reduced rations. Then, when you added fish they were capable of producing more ammonia than you had been feeding the bacteria.

I see you were using RO water, but adding minerals. Good.

Bacteria were growing really well, and very busily turning ammonia into nitrite and nitrate.

As for the controversy about where to get the nitrifying bacteria and other things.

1) If you take something from a tank with a disease or parasite that disease or parasite can be transferred to the new tank. Without a host for 3 weeks many diseases and parasites die, so do not infect the fish you add when the tank is cycled. Those fish can bring in their own crop of diseases or parasites, which is exactly why you are running a quarantine tank. It might be a coincidence that the new fish catch the same disease as the fish in the established tank, but not THAT great a coincidence.

2) You do not have to jump start the new tank with nitrifying bacteria. They are all around and will find the tank on their own. The cycle can go faster if you start with a generous starter population. But it will still cycle just fine, starting with nothing. It is impossible to run an aquarium that is sterile, but if the only source of bacteria is another tank that may have a disease or parasite, better just to do the fishless cycle without any seeded media.

3) The difference between a Q-tank and H-tank is negligible. It is an isolation tank where fish can be treated for diseases or parasites, monitored, and is kept isolated from the other tanks (no shared equipment, wash hands between tanks...)
Run them bare bottom if you want. I usually put a very thin layer, not even 1 rock deep on the floor of the tank. I find that debris gets stirred up into the water pretty easily, and the fine gravel seems to keep it down, stop it swirling around while I clean it.

To find out how much fish-mass a tank will handle, add ammonia. If the ammonia is gone in 24 hours, and nitrite is zero then, too, then the tank will handle the amount of fish that will produce that much ammonia.
Will the tank handle 3 ppm ammonia? This is the amount of ammonia produced by overstocking an African Rift Lake tank, with a full compliment of Cichlids, and no plants.
Will the tank handle only .25ppm ammonia? This might be the equivalent of only 1/4 or 1/8 of a tank of smaller fish. So if the normal stocking level is 16 fish, but you have only been feeding the bacteria .25 ppm ammonia, then you could only put 2-4 of those fish in there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
O.K , thanks for the long post Diana. Everything said makes sense. Much I have learned from you. I feel the high nitrates issue is pretty cut & dry. Not enough water changes & not enough testing for nitrates. I tested ammonia 2 times daily, but allowed nitrates to climb to high. I dosed ammonia 2 times a day. Once in late morning 3 or 4 drops than again 3 or 4 drops late night. The tests most of the time would register 0 both times but would double check after dosing to make sure ammonia would get to .5ppm or so. It became predictable. The tank was digesting 8-10 drops per day. After the nitrites fell after about 15 days or so they always registered 0.
The tank is doing better now. Ammonia less than 0.10 & 0 nitrites, nitrates less than 10-15ppm. All levels are coming down now. The water is very clear & the fish look good.
To recap the whole thing: Not sufficient water changes from the start. Over dose maybe from start up, because of bad water conditioner readings. Last but not least taking 50% of filtration from the system 10 days before fish stocking. That all & said, the tank bounced back about 72 hours later. That sure beats constant stress on fish & doing lots of water changes. I will be doing 1 30% a week for a while & see where that goes with the nitrate levels. On a closing note , when I do water changes sucking from the bottom of the tank solid clear ish particles rise up into siphon which was starting to happen even before fish stocking but now is starting to decrease in quantity. My best guess is solid nitrates.
I feel confident enough that I would try this fishless cycling without seeding next time. I think fish stores & everybody in the hobby should PROMOTE FISHLESS CYCLING to prevent TORTURE TO THEIR FISH. Thanks
 
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