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How to speed up fishless cycling?
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platylover
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Joined: 15 Apr 2005

PostPosted: 2005.04.15(Fri)16:05    Post subject: How to speed up fishless cycling? Reply with quote

Hi,

Question I'm fishless cycling (just started midnight April 13th) and I'm looking to see if anybody has any tips or hints to speed the process up. Here's what I have set up:

20 gal. long tank w/ 2" med/fine gravel
AquaClear 30 filter (sponge, carbon and biomax ceramic noodles)
I've added 2 teaspoons of Biozyme

Since nitrosomas like oxygen, I'm planning on adding a 5" airstone.

Below is the method I used the last time I cycled the tank (using a different kind of filter.) It took me a month to cycle using this method, but I'm hoping to somehow speed this process up as living in a bucket (no matter how often I change/filter the water) is stressful on the fish. Also, my plants are living in another bucket (with fert. & light), so the sooner I can get them back in the big tank, the better, too.

Any & all hints and suggestions for speeding this process up would be appreciated.

Arrow "Here is what I have found to work in both freshwater and marine fishless aquarium break-ins:

Day 1:} Set up your tank and filter. Let run until tank is clear. Add ammonia source until you get a reading of approx. 3-5 ppm. (count the drops it took to reach this) At this time you can also add some disease-free active seed media (sponge filter, piece of floss, cup of gravel if you are using a UGF, etc.).

Day 2: Test for ammonia. Check to see if it is at same level as day 1. If slightly below or above mark, don't worry about it. If ammonia is somehow now reading several points above orignal mark, then think about getting a new test kit.

Day 3: Add another dose of ammonia source to bring up to 3-5 ppm test level.

Day 4: Relax and don't do anything to the tank (unless its leaking)

Day 5: Test ammonia. Add another dose of ammonia source if levels fall below 2ppm. Do'n't dose anymore at this time if you are unable to perform the test.

Day 6: Same as day 4.

Day 7: Add another dose of your ammonia source if test results are below 2ppm. Begin to start testing for nitrite.

Day 8 & 9: Same as day 4 and 6. Go see a movie, treat your parents to a dinner out, explore Badmans site

Day 10: Fun part should now begin. Nitrite levels should begin to show somewhere between 5-10ppm. Lets just say they should be showing something now that can register on a test kit. Add half dose of your ammonia source. (I hope you remembered to count your drops on day 1) Start making plans to check your nitrite levels every other day until it peaks and starts to drop at about 3ppms.

Days 11 - 15: More relaxing except for a couple of nitrite tests every other day.

Day 15: Nitrite may still be climbing. If it appears to level out since the last test, don't worry. Add another half dose of your ammonia source. (If you forgot your count at this time, I regret to inform you that I did also) Just kidding. Everyone's count will probably not be the same when starting out.

Days 16 - 20:In 9 out 10 folks, boredom will start to set in. Hang in there, because you should now be well past the halfway point! (or at least half way if you did not add any bioseed media when starting) Oh, the other 1 out 10 persons? Well they really got bored and started adding fish, neon pink plants, bubble decorations, an extra 5# bag of rainbow gravel, and a gallon of various medications trying to keep more fish from going belly up.

Day 20: Nitrite should begin to peak. Start testing nitrites each day so you will be able to tell when they are dropping.

Days 21 - 25:Could be another ho-hum few days. Don't forget that you should be testing nitrites every day in order to trak this progress.

Day 25: Nitrite levels should start to fall. It is also possible that they may stay peaked for a couple more days. Don't worry, they will go down. Have you noticed that you haven't changed any water yet? You shouldn't have unless you were testing above 5ppms of ammonia when you first set up. (I threw this little point in just now to make sure everyone was reading this up til this part)

Days 26 - 30: Nitrite levels should have peaked and fallen to at least 2-3 ppms or below. If they haven't droped to at least that level by now, not to worry too much. Just wait a little longer. They will drop. If your tank water is on the cool side, say 75F or below, try warming it up it about 80F.

Day 30 - 40 give or take several days in between). Usually by this time nitrite is measuring quite low and nitrate is at a measurable level. This can also be a time where nitrifying bacteria are at a point to be able to effectively handle an addition of ammonia source. Guess what that source is? Yep, fish. Its also time for that long awaited first (or second if you goofed on day one) water change. I usually change between 25 - 50% at this time, depending on visibale and testable conditions of the water and tank. Since you have been doing a fishless break-in to this point, livestock planning should also have been considered by this time. Add a few at a time over the course of several weeks. This will give the nitrifying bacteria established in the filter meadia time to adjust to that new ammonia source. Depending on the species, this adjustment may be unnoticeable or quickly spiked and squelched.

Days 40 and Beyond: Enjoy and keep us posted"
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anonapersona
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Joined: 06 Feb 2003
Location: Houston, Texas

PostPosted: 2005.04.15(Fri)16:17    Post subject: You got fish, don't do the fishless then! Reply with quote

No, if you have fish, just let them have the tank and change as much water as you need to to keep them confortable.

Use Prime, get either a Sechem Ammonia Alert which will read theough the Prime for a true reading as it affects your fish, or get a two bottle ammonia test kit that will read correctly.

Your plants are the best thing you have going... plant them and treat them right, they are the key to making this work. Forget about a fishless cycle, do a silent cycle!
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touie
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Joined: 12 Jul 2004

PostPosted: 2005.04.16(Sat)3:14    Post subject: Reply with quote

Id pop into your LFS or ask a friend for some old filter material boost the bacteria!!!
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LunarFlame
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Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada

PostPosted: 2005.04.16(Sat)9:32    Post subject: Reply with quote

All I can suggest is being patient and making sure that you read the following articals:
http://www.aquahobby.com/articles/e_ciclo.php
http://www.aquahobby.com/articles/e_fishless.php


When I fishless cycled my 10 gallon, it took 3 weeks and 3 days.

Here is what I did:

-Set up all aquarium decorations, gravel, heater, filter etc. Fill tank with water which has been treated to remove chlorine.

-allow water to warm up.

-Plant my plants (I had real ones)

- Add enough ammonia to have a reading of 3-5ppm

-Added some gravel from my mother's already established tank, to seed the good bacteria (I put it in some panty-hose to keep it seperate from my gravel which was a diff. colour)

-wait. Now.. I checked my readings each day. I didn't add any more ammonia after the initial dose until later on in the process.

- Once my ammonia spiked, and nitrites began to show up, I got excited Very Happy After this, the process went very quickly.

-Only when my ammonia went to 0, did I add more. Only a few drops each day, not enough to show a reading though.
This was in order to keep the nitrifying bacteria fed.

-Not long after this, my cycle was complete..



Now, the things which I did that can speed up a cycle was, increase the temperature.. but not so high that it would kill my plants. I also added the live plants, which also speed up the process. Adding some gravel that is from and established tank can also speed up the process.

But mostly, you need patients Smile

good luck!
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anonapersona
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Joined: 06 Feb 2003
Location: Houston, Texas

PostPosted: 2005.04.17(Sun)9:10    Post subject: crazy Reply with quote

It is crazy to keep your fish in a bucket while you fishlessly cycle the tank! You'll have to do 100% water changes on the bucket daily or more -- why not just put the fish in the tank and do large partial waterchanges there??

Fishlessly cycling is fine -- IF YOU HAVEN"T GOT FISH
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LunarFlame
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Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada

PostPosted: 2005.04.17(Sun)9:34    Post subject: Re: crazy Reply with quote

anonapersona wrote:
It is crazy to keep your fish in a bucket while you fishlessly cycle the tank! You'll have to do 100% water changes on the bucket daily or more -- why not just put the fish in the tank and do large partial waterchanges there??

Fishlessly cycling is fine -- IF YOU HAVEN"T GOT FISH



Does this person have fish? I must have missed that.. um.. I would personally take the fish back, cycle, and then get them again. It's gonna be pretty harmful for the fish to go through the cycling process, even with large water changes.
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copperwolf
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Joined: 24 Apr 2005
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: 2005.05.11(Wed)21:06    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm looking for a time scale reference for fishless cycling, or maybe just some reassurance.

Two Sundays ago, that is ten days ago, I dropped one microwave-cooked shrimp into my 15 gallon tank. At day 4, Wednesday, ammonia was about .5 ppm. After 7 days, ammonia was between .5 and 1 ppm. Yesterday (day 9), I put in a small piece of raw salmon wrapped in aluminum foil. Today the level seems to be between 1 and 2 ppm. Isn't this awfully slow?

Meanwhile, I appear to have a minor amount of nitrAte, less than 20 ppm. I don't know where this is coming from: nitrIte reads 0 (I think), and in tap water both read 0.

The pet store owner said to double the bottle-recommended dosage of Amquel, which is 1 teaspoon per 10 gallons, so when I filled the tank I put in 1 teaspoon per 5 gallons, I.e. 3 teaspoons. I thought this might be inhibiting the cycle, but according to an article here http://faq.thekrib.com/begin-cycling.html the bacteria can still feed on the neutralized ammonia.

The ammonia test I am using made by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and has two bottles of chemicals. My other, misnamed "all in one" test kit is a bottle of dip sticks made by Jungle Laboratories Corp. If I am reading it correctly, it says my water hardness is between 75 and 150 ppm, pH is around 7.8, and alkalinity is between 80 and 120 ppm. The water temperature is 78F.

So... am I doing this right?
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Serena
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Shelzbells
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Joined: 07 Apr 2005

PostPosted: 2005.05.12(Thu)18:57    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am also doing a fishless cycle on a 29 gal....I'm about 2 weeks into it and still not showing much progress. Does a tank cycle faster in warmer water or cold?Or does it matter? I have no heater in the tank at this time, but I can add one if needed.
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Laskey
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Joined: 27 Nov 2004
Location: Northern Germany

PostPosted: 2005.05.13(Fri)2:54    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shelzbells wrote:
I am also doing a fishless cycle on a 29 gal....I'm about 2 weeks into it and still not showing much progress. Does a tank cycle faster in warmer water or cold?Or does it matter? I have no heater in the tank at this time, but I can add one if needed.


I think more warmth CAN speed up bacteria. To exactly what extent and whether you'd notice something dramatic, I don't really know. Laskey
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benedictj
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Joined: 05 Dec 2004
Location: new york, ny

PostPosted: 2005.05.13(Fri)10:32    Post subject: Reply with quote

copperwolf wrote:
So... am I doing this right?


It sounds to me as if you are, though I would personally be really hesitant to use salmon instead of shrimp as an ammonia source. While it certainly will provide the ammonia to cycle your tank, salmon is usually choker block full of fat and oils which may or may not rise to the surface and scuzz up your tank (this would be my conclusion anyway). But heck, if it works without getting gross, let us know- I can say I'm interested in what kind of results you get with it.

I'm not sure if I'm reading you right, so please correct me if I'm wrong. Are you saying that your tap has zero nitrates but your tank has 20 ppm? (Tap water having nitrates isn't entirely uncommon).

Also, for everyone else, another key factor that hasn't been touched on is the role of pH in cycling. It isn't out of the ordinary for pH to drop as a tank cycles. There is a huge disparity in cycling time between a tank with a pH in the 6.5 to 7 range and a tank with a pH of 6. Actually, at 5.5 nitrifying bacteria cease consumption.

And in terms of temperature, anywhere between 24 and 30C is fine. All the studies I have read say that the metabolic change due to temp, within the range that we keep tropical fish at, is virtually immesurable (though one would naturally conclude that at higher temps metabolism would rise, as would consumption of ammo and nitrites as well as oxygen). It's worthy to note that the safe range for nitrifying bact. is from approx 16 to approx 35 Celsius.

Here's a link I feel has some good info on the physiology and biology of nitrifying bact.
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