Fishless Cycle Help / Advice

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Fishless Cycle Help / Advice

Postby peter212693 » Sat Jul 07, 2012 9:11 pm

Hello all,

Im new to this having never kept fish before. I have a Fluval Roma 200 tank with a AquaManta EFX 400 canister filter. I have been cycling my tank now for 3-4 weeks and getting a bit stuck. Im using pure ammonia to do this and have no plants. Also have a Hydor external heater set to 31oC

I started by dosing up the ammonia to about 4ppm, after a while it dropped to around 1ppm and I got a huge 8+ppm nitrite spike. The ammonia stuck a 1ppm but the nitrite slowly lowered to 0. I left it for a while with 1ppm ammonia and 0 nitrite but not much changed. I then dosed the ammonia back up to around 3ppm. This has now dropped to around 2ppm in about 18 hours but I an now getting 0 nitrite. Nitrate is rising slowly I think its hard to read the result, its up to about 40ppm.

The thing concerning me is that the ammonia has not once gone below 1ppm :( Tap water is 0 on all levels so this isnt effecting it. Is it possible im only seeing the ammonia go straight to nitrate as the nitrite bacteria is converting it really fast having had the spike? My pH has been a steady 7.4 too.

This may be perfectly normal but I really want some fish now and may just be coming impatiet :). Any advise would be much appreciated.

Thanks!
12 Neon Tetras
8 Rummynose Tertas
1 Bristlenose Plec
5 Cherry Barbs (2 Males 3 Females)
6 Five Banded Barbs
6 Zebra Danios
5 Harlequin Rasboras
6 Zebra Loaches
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Re: Fishless Cycle Help / Advice

Postby ItWentWhereverIdidGo » Sun Jul 08, 2012 8:35 am

I'd do a massive water change and then test your water after you've given the water chance to fully mix. Once your tank has cycled you'll sometimes get a bit of ammonia but no nitrite and sometimes you'll get a bit of nitrite without having registered any ammonia.
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Re: Fishless Cycle Help / Advice

Postby san-ho-zay » Sun Jul 08, 2012 9:53 am

Welcome to the forum :)

I'd agree with the idea of resetting everything with an 80-90% water change. I think I'd also take the opportunity to set the temperature to 25*C at this point.

How many doses of ammonia have you added to the tank? I'm getting the impression it was only two. How much ammonia, in teaspoons did you add to get to 4ppm?

Also, how are you testing for ammonia and nitrite? Test strips or liquid kit? Looking at your numbers I'm suspecting strips.
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Re: Fishless Cycle Help / Advice

Postby peter212693 » Sun Jul 08, 2012 1:10 pm

Thanks everyone.

I have been using a API master kit so liquid testing.

Ive dosed ammonia twice now. I did have a bit of a drop of ammonia down to about 1ppm this morning but no nitrites.

I have tested my KH and GH, KH is a bit low at 3oDH it has previously been up to 7oDH. I have been advised to add some bicarbonate of soda to the water to increase the KH (hardness) of the water as if it gets a bit low I can stall the cycle
12 Neon Tetras
8 Rummynose Tertas
1 Bristlenose Plec
5 Cherry Barbs (2 Males 3 Females)
6 Five Banded Barbs
6 Zebra Danios
5 Harlequin Rasboras
6 Zebra Loaches
peter212693
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Re: Fishless Cycle Help / Advice

Postby san-ho-zay » Sun Jul 08, 2012 2:46 pm

That's odd. I prefer the approach you've taken of dosing less ammonia than some recipes suggest, i.e. letting the ammonia hit zero and perhaps stay at zero for a couple of days before adding more, but I'd still expect to dose every three to four days from the start of week two. Usually the consumption of ammonia is the easy part. Nitrites take longer and go higher on the tests because 1mg/l ammonia produces about 2.7mg/l nitrite.

When people run into problems, it's usually adding too much ammonia, which pushes the nitrite sky high, but what you are seeing is odd: Ammonia never hitting zero. Even with the nitrate having climbed and there being no nitrite after your nitrite spike, there still has to be a nagging doubt about whether the tank is cycled if you are recording ammonia. It should be cycled after 3-4 weeks but the number of ammonia doses concerns me.

It is 1mg/l that it's sticking at isn't it, not the very lowest reading, which is usually 0.1mg/l?

Certainly adding KH is a good idea. Your water has similar carbonate hardness to mine and when I've done fishless cycles I had to add bicarbonate. 1 tsp ordinary bicarbonate of soda per 50 litres is fine, which raises the KH by 4dKH.

I think I'd do the massive water change, adjust the temperature and test for ammonia the next day. It should be pretty much zero. Then add 1ml ammonia per 50 litres (assuming it's standard household ~10% solution). Test and it should be around 2mg/l but don't expect too much accuracy. See where it is after 24-48 hours. If it's still sticking at 1mg/l, I'd take a sample to a shop or someone you know who has an ammonia test for a double check.

If you do get a reading of zero and nitrite is also zero, you should be good to add fish but I'd ask the shop to test too.

Then comes the really hard part in some cases -- convincing the shop to sell you a decent sized group of fish. "You've done what? You've added ammonia to your tank?" :shock: There's no point messing about with a couple of danios -- the whole point of fishless cycling is to stock quite solidly from the start.
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Re: Fishless Cycle Help / Advice

Postby peter212693 » Sun Jul 08, 2012 3:42 pm

Thanks for your help.

I do have 2 test kits giving the same results so hoping they are accurate. Ive done a big change this afternoon (80-90%) now getting a reading of 0.25 for ammonia. Ive added 3 good sized teaspoons of Bicarbonate of Soda when adding the water to the tank again so fingers crossed.

I will test for ammonia again tonight and see where its at. If its 0 I will add enough to raise it to 1-2ppm and see what happens.

When you say adjust the temperature do you mean put it around the level it would be when I have fish rather than 30+oC?

Thanks again, hopefully im getting close!
12 Neon Tetras
8 Rummynose Tertas
1 Bristlenose Plec
5 Cherry Barbs (2 Males 3 Females)
6 Five Banded Barbs
6 Zebra Danios
5 Harlequin Rasboras
6 Zebra Loaches
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Re: Fishless Cycle Help / Advice

Postby san-ho-zay » Sun Jul 08, 2012 3:52 pm

peter212693 wrote:When you say adjust the temperature do you mean put it around the level it would be when I have fish rather than 30+oC?

Yes, you look pretty close once you get this ammonia resolved, so you may as well start stabilising the tank for fish.
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Re: Fishless Cycle Help / Advice

Postby peter212693 » Sun Jul 08, 2012 4:01 pm

Thanks again for your help,

I will keep you posted :)
12 Neon Tetras
8 Rummynose Tertas
1 Bristlenose Plec
5 Cherry Barbs (2 Males 3 Females)
6 Five Banded Barbs
6 Zebra Danios
5 Harlequin Rasboras
6 Zebra Loaches
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Re: Fishless Cycle Help / Advice

Postby peter212693 » Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:26 pm

After doing the water change and adding bicarbonate of soda the 0.25ppm ammonia I had disappeared by the time I went to bed. I dosed it back to 1-2ppm and hoping this is nearly gone when I get back from work tonight.
12 Neon Tetras
8 Rummynose Tertas
1 Bristlenose Plec
5 Cherry Barbs (2 Males 3 Females)
6 Five Banded Barbs
6 Zebra Danios
5 Harlequin Rasboras
6 Zebra Loaches
peter212693
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Re: Fishless Cycle Help / Advice

Postby san-ho-zay » Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:45 pm

Good, at least you got it to hit zero. :)

If the ammonia isn't quite zero after 24 hours, maybe one more dose of ammonia to strengthen it up a little, 50% water change to reset again, then the next day you should be good. Assuming nitrite is zero of course and you've got the temperature stabilised around 24-25*C.

Do you have something in mind to add? 200 litres is a nice size -- about 130-140cm fish measured at adult size, which gives you plenty of options. Do ask for advice on compatibility if you aren't sure.

Is it one of the new design Romas by the way? Nice looking tanks.
Richard
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Re: Fishless Cycle Help / Advice

Postby peter212693 » Mon Jul 09, 2012 2:07 pm

Yea its the newer one I think:

Image
Image
Image
Image
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I'm looking at a few neons 15ish, some cherry barbs, bleeding heart tetras, rummynoses too. I really want some tiger barbs but not sure if they will stress the others. I have heard if you get enough they will keep themselves to themselves though ?
12 Neon Tetras
8 Rummynose Tertas
1 Bristlenose Plec
5 Cherry Barbs (2 Males 3 Females)
6 Five Banded Barbs
6 Zebra Danios
5 Harlequin Rasboras
6 Zebra Loaches
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Re: Fishless Cycle Help / Advice

Postby san-ho-zay » Mon Jul 09, 2012 2:34 pm

Yes, that's the newer one. I like the chunky cabinets on those and way they've matched them to the tanks -- good choice. That's a really neat and tidy setup with everything external and the spraybar on the back. I like that a lot.

Tiger barbs can be no end of trouble, even in an active barb tank. I like your other ideas though. Some corydoras would be a nice complement to the tetras and some colourful shrimp would be a good addition when the tank matures a bit, as long as the other fish are smallish. Tempting as it is to add loads of species, groups of 12+ fish look great, especially tetras I think.

You can give your tank an illusion of a bit more depth by having the gravel level higher at the back than the front. Depends how much material you have to play with and whether it stays put if you bank it a little.
Richard
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Re: Fishless Cycle Help / Advice

Postby peter212693 » Mon Jul 09, 2012 3:50 pm

I was thinking of some shrimp but also some zebra loachs will they be OK together?
12 Neon Tetras
8 Rummynose Tertas
1 Bristlenose Plec
5 Cherry Barbs (2 Males 3 Females)
6 Five Banded Barbs
6 Zebra Danios
5 Harlequin Rasboras
6 Zebra Loaches
peter212693
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Re: Fishless Cycle Help / Advice

Postby san-ho-zay » Mon Jul 09, 2012 3:59 pm

I have zebra loaches and Amano shrimp. They are OK, but I know people have different experiences. I'd love to have some of the smaller, more colourful shrimp species but I have a strong suspicion they would end up as loach food so I don't risk it. Baby shrimp wouldn't survive -- Amanos don't breed in fresh water so I don't have that problem.

Zebra loaches do hide a lot when the lights are on too. I see mine everyday, but it's usually a little eye watching me from under something. Sometimes they'll come out at feeding time but they aren't fish that are out and about all the time.
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Re: Fishless Cycle Help / Advice

Postby peter212693 » Mon Jul 09, 2012 4:15 pm

From my pictures do you think I have enough cover for the loachs? I have a bit of bog wood behind the bridge too now, I was thinking they would probably hide behind the plants.
12 Neon Tetras
8 Rummynose Tertas
1 Bristlenose Plec
5 Cherry Barbs (2 Males 3 Females)
6 Five Banded Barbs
6 Zebra Danios
5 Harlequin Rasboras
6 Zebra Loaches
peter212693
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Posts: 96
Joined: Sat Jul 07, 2012 9:01 pm

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