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To cycle of not to cycle.. that is the question

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Hello everyone !
I set up a ''regular'' fish tank recently and added three fish at the beginning of the month. Unfortunately, I did not cycle it correctly (too many water changes according to an employee at the local fish store) and they all died within three weeks. In an attempt to save the last one, I re-started the cycling process using a biological supplement. But yeah, I still lost the fish and now I have a partly cycled tank (ammonia dropped and nitrite peaked). I wanted to set it up again but this time making it a planted tank, but I don't know where to go from here :(

Should I empty my tank and use new water, restart the whole cycle with plants;
Can I empty my tank into a bucket, add the soil, the gravel, plants, and refill with the same water (that has nitrite !); or
Should I wait for the cycle to finish, so my nitrite drops and nitrate peaks before setting up?

Thank you ! :)
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Hello everyone !

I set up a ''regular'' fish tank recently and added three fish at the beginning of the month. Unfortunately, I did not cycle it correctly (too many water changes according to an employee at the local fish store) and they all died within three weeks. In an attempt to save the last one, I re-started the cycling process using a biological supplement. But yeah, I still lost the fish and now I have a partly cycled tank (ammonia dropped and nitrite peaked). I wanted to set it up again but this time making it a planted tank, but I don't know where to go from here :(



Should I empty my tank and use new water, restart the whole cycle with plants;

Can I empty my tank into a bucket, add the soil, the gravel, plants, and refill with the same water (that has nitrite !); or

Should I wait for the cycle to finish, so my nitrite drops and nitrate peaks before setting up?



Thank you ! :)
Never follow pet stores advices, THEY DONT KNOW [censored][censored][censored][censored]

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Sorry you lost your fishies.

I’m in the process of cycling my tank now (fishless) and I’d give a pinky for my ammonia to drop lol

Keep your tank going would be my gut reaction.

Keep everything running.

Get some ammonia from a hardware store (pure stuff with no additives - shouldn’t foam if you shake it) - google how much to dose

You have to keep feeding bacteria for them to keep going. Now that fishes are gone, ammonia source will be gone.

Sounds like you’re half way there.

Dose the ammonia to about 2-4 ppm as the bacteria consume it.

At some point your Nitrites will drop and Nitrates will go up.

THEN you do a water change. And add more ammonia. If ammonia and nitrites are at 0 - you can go get more fish 🙂

You can get plants during this tine too.
As long as the ammonia is not TOOOO high many plants are gonna be ok 🙂
It will be a minute for the plants to root in too, before fish start picking and digging at them.

Your water doesn’t have the bacteria. It’s in your filter and surfaces.

So you can take a bunch of water out, put in your substrate and decorations. And plants.
Refill, just remember to condition the water. If you are on city water, the chlorine will hurt your bacteria.

Just remember to unplug your heater and other stuff if you’re taking A LOT of water out

*this advice is based on my research not personal experience. This is just what I’m doing myself right now
 

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How to do the cycle will vary with each of us, depending on what we want. Fishless cycle is great but only for some needs!
I feel it came about when folks started shipping in fish. When fish were only bought down at the corner store, not shipped, the standard was to slowly stock the tank with a few fish at a time, letting the bacteria grow as the bio load grew. Works fine but not if we want to avoid extreme shipping charges from multiple shipments!
The "cycle" is actually not used in nature as that does it with large amounts of water and often doing frequent water changes.
So there is a spot somewhere along the line between no cycle and fishless cycle which works best for each situation.
Want/ need to have a tub full of fish arrive at one time? You need to do a fishless cycle so that the tank and bacteria have built up a tub full to handle a sudden load. You stop adding ammonia to simulate the load and instead add the fish!
In between fishless cycle is to use used media from a working tank as a "jumpstart on getting both groups of bacteria started as it cuts the time and testing way down.
But if you are mentally set for waiting a bit to add ALL the fish, you can cut the work and testing way down by just adding a few or smallish fish, whatever makes a low bio load, to a tank and then watching to avoid a big enough ammonia or nitrite spike to matter. Holding with natures practice, we can do this with more frequent water changes.
Frequent large water changes will not kill fish but it has to be done right! Right is to keep the water from doing abrupt changes in things like the GH and KH with PH being in the mix but I don't find it a prime concern. Temperature is very important to maintain! Size of tank, ease of changing water, type of fish and how well matched the fish is to your tap water are all factors but the basic idea is that we want to remove enough of the toxic stuff that it never builds too high but also do the water in gradual steps to avoid sudden abrupt changes which stress the fish.
What fits your personal situation depends on many things in how your life runs. If you are sheltering in place so that you have lots of time, doing the water changes is likely to be better and quicker than doing the testing and waiting for fishless cycle.
 
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