1 Week Fishless Cycle With Mature Media Then Fish-in Recommendations

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Offline Bazza2000

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I've been looking around the forums to try and see if anyone is doing similar, but doesn't appear so.  My plan (not the best I know so please give minimal critcism  :-[ ) is to run my tank for a week with no fish and then get a few as its for the kids birthdays so can't really make them wait the 1-2 months for a full cycle.

I've been chatting with @Littlefish who has kindly agreed to donate some mature media when the time is right and I'm just setting up my plan of attack to start this weekend. I also have a bottle of "Fluval cycle biological enhancer" to put in over the 1st few days (I know these products don't get the best wrap but thought as I have it, it can't do any harm)

Current plan:

Saturday - Wash Substrate, tank decorations etc and setup tank with filter, heater, substrate, decorations, water (with tap safe) and let it run for 24 hours to get water to temp and make sure everything is running as expected.
I'll take  water readings for everything immediately and then after 24 hours and then on a regular frequency as the cycle progresses.

Sunday/Monday - Visit LFS and pick some Elodea plants to help with the cycle and maybe some surface plants - duck weed seems to be recommended although there does appear to be some bad reports too, any advice?  Whilst I'm there, going to have a look at the local stock and based on my community fish selections see whats available and compatible.

At this point I know I need to get some ammonia in the tank so advice on the best course of action here would be appreciated.  I can't get seeded media ( thanks again @Littlefish) until Tuesday due to logistics of not being around to receive and install until then, so at this point I'm a little stuck as to the best way to move forward, do I need to get some ammonia to add during the initial week that I'll have no fish?  or could I just drop in some fish food and let it rot and produce ammonia that way (not too sure how long it takes to rot?)

Tuesday - Friday - Mature media arrives and installed, then looking for advice really on the best course of action from here. Assuming more ammonia at some point + more readings.

2nd Saturday - up to 90% water change and get 3 or 4 of the hardy fish from my Community Selection and then introduce the fish gradually to the tank, allowing time for water temperature to equalise and introduce a bit of tank water to the bag over several minutes to give them time to acclimatise.

2nd Saturday onwards - regular measurements and water changes as required to keep the levels down.

Please feel free to tear my plan apart, that's my reason for putting it up here in the 1st place TBH.  The only part that can't change is adding the fish on the 2nd Saturday, earlier is fine, but can't be any later.  ( I know, hit me with the beating stick  :vcross: for being cruel to fish, but I'll be on the ball with water monitoring and as soon as levels rise I'll be doing immediate water changes to help them along the way.  :fishy1: )

Thanks again for all the advice so far.

Offline Sue

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #50 on: September 08, 2018, 09:24:04 AM »
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Your chart does not show the cycle has been a failure  :) Ammonia hardly rose after the last 3 ppm addition, and nitrite never got very high. Had there been no ammonia eating bacteria, the ammonia reading would have stayed constant, but in fact it did drop to zero albeit in 48 hours rather than 24. Had there been no nitrite eaters, once the ammonia level dropped the nitrite reading would have shot up off the scale and stayed there.
You do have a lot of bacteria, just not enough for a fully stocked tank. Take it slowly, one batch of fish at a time, and test ammonia and nitrite every day. If either show up, do a water change. When you've had 7 days of double zeros, get the next batch of fish.
Maybe you can't have a fully stocked tank right away, but you can have some fish now  :) Just do a big water change to remove all the ammonia and nitrite left in the water.



And ignore nitrate. This tester is the least accurate, and you do have live plants.






The non-aquatic plant will grow nicely as a house plant!

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #51 on: September 08, 2018, 10:26:49 AM »
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Thanks for the info @Matt and @Littlefish , I'll take it back to the shop and let them know, I was planning on buying the Cherry Barb's there tomorrow, so will see what their response is to the non-aquatic plant issue.  Shame, I kind of liked the look of them  ;D

Offline Sue

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #52 on: September 08, 2018, 10:39:58 AM »
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When you get the barbs, get more than 4. Get the total number you want. There should be enough bacteria for a whole shoal of cherry barbs. It's not as if you are doing a fish-in cycle from scratch, you do have a good number of bacteria.
I would be a bit concerned that if you get them in two batches, the first batch may not accept the second. With barbs so many species have a hierarchy within the shoal, and adding more means they have to sort out the hierarchy all over again = more nipping and squabbling.

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #53 on: September 08, 2018, 10:59:27 AM »
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Thanks @Sue, when you say I have enough Bacteria, do you mean because the Ammonia is dropping albeit slowly so therefore, there must be some?  Also, I was basing my figure on the fish stocking calculation of "1 inch of fish for every 5 American gallons (19 litres) of tank water"   Cherry Barb adult size is 50mm = approx 2 inches
So, I have

130L tank / 19 litres = 6.84 inches

With each Cherry Barb at 2 inches approx (adult size) that gives me 3.42 Cherries.  Thought I was pushing it with 4 TBH.

Does this look right, or could I add more?

Offline Sue

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #54 on: September 08, 2018, 11:05:55 AM »
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Yes, because the ammonia dropped, and nitrite did not go off the scale as the ammonia dropped you do have some bacteria. There should be enough to cope with the first shoal. Since you do have some bacteria you can ignore that 1 inch per 5 galls, that is for when the fish are added with no bacteria in the tank.


Wasn't it you who used the Tetra Safe Start? If you did and there's some left it won't hurt to keep on using it. A belt and braces approach   :)

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #55 on: September 08, 2018, 11:17:28 AM »
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Ah, ok, cool.  Yes it was me who used the tetra safe start, and to be honest, I had an increase of nitrite and nitrate immediately after adding, I then added the mature media and took out about 50% of my original media, since then its dropped back to 0, so it definitely did some good and I do have some left, so I'm planning on doing a major water change today, replace my dodgy plant and I'll add in the tap safe and another dose of tetra safe start and leave it until tomorrow afternoon to stabilise until I add the Cherries.
So based on seriouslyfish.com the Cherry Barb recommendation is 6-10 in a shoal, so, as I want to stock with as many varieties as I can over time, would 6 be a better number to start?  Don't want to go the whole 10 or more as that may restrict my total stock further down the line.

Offline Sue

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #56 on: September 08, 2018, 01:20:39 PM »
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6 is the minimum, I would go for either 3 males, 3 females or 2 males, 4 females. 8 would be better, 4/4 or 3/5 males:females.




It is an observation that most people when they first start in the hobby go for minimum numbers of lots of species. Me included. But as the years pass, the tendency is for fewer species, but lots of each species. Again, I did that  :) In 180 litres I have just 2 shoaling species but started with 18 of each.

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #57 on: September 08, 2018, 03:06:50 PM »
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ok, thanks, I'll go with 4/4 or 3/5 M/F, I assume the shop will know which one is which  :yikes:

I've just finished a 90% water change and ammonia has dropped to pretty much 0.  Added in the remains of my Tetra Safe Start 108ml for 130L tank and now letting things stabilise and temperature get back to normal for 24 hours before the hard work begins  :fishy1:

Offline Sue

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #58 on: September 08, 2018, 03:37:00 PM »
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Never trust a shop. Even the best ones can't know everything.

Cherry barb males are red, females are paler, pale orange with dark brown markings. Study the photos here http://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/puntius-titteya/ (ignore the 'super red strain' photos)

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #59 on: September 09, 2018, 03:57:52 PM »
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All clear on the final full suite water sample tests and we now have 8 Cherry Barbs 4M/4F (I think anyway, thanks for the advice @Sue) 30 mins in the bag acclimatising and a futher 10-15 with some tank water and then released to the wild, well ok, my tank which is just as close!  :fishy1:

Seem to be settling in well and surprisingly enjoying swimming against the strong current from the pump.  Few of them having a "sniff" around the ship wreck and a couple on the starfish.  Not going to feed them today, but looking for some advice on the best feeding times, and also how much, I've heard the fishes eye is the same size as its stomach, so only an "eye's" worth for each fish which doesn't really equate to the "pinch" that most sites recommend.  Is this literally an eye's worth of wafer for each fish? By the looks of some of the wafers, that would be about 2 wafers for all of them? Once per day?

Offline Matt

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #60 on: September 09, 2018, 04:22:29 PM »
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You need to imagine the flakes scrunched up into a 3D ball in a 3D eye sized space. I would suggest  2 or 3 flakes per fish per day. The other way I have heard to do it is to time a minute worth of eating and have enough flake so there is none left at the end of the minute.

Smaller fish like more regular smaller feeding so if you can do two feeding a day they would probably appreciate it, especially at this young age. Bare in mind though that the more you feed the fish the more waste they will produce, so if you have any water quality issues, reduce feeding.

Does that sound right to more experienced members?

Offline fcmf

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #61 on: September 09, 2018, 04:24:54 PM »
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Does that sound right to more experienced members?
Yes - spot on.

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #62 on: September 09, 2018, 04:42:33 PM »
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Appreciated @Matt, nice and easy way to understand, many thanks for the confirmation @fcmf

Offline Sue

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #63 on: September 09, 2018, 04:46:37 PM »
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Yes from me too  :)

I try to feed at the same time every day so the fish become 'programmed' to expect food.




On a similar theme, fish have a circadian rhythm and they 'expect' the light to be on at the same time every day for the same length every day. The easiest way for that is a timer, if you don't already have one. The actual time of day doesn't matter, whatever suits you and the children best. But the tank lights should not be turned on or off in a totally dark room.The curtains should be drawn back so there is daylight, or the room lights should be turned on at least half an hour before the lights come on; and similarly at the other end of the tank light time, the room lights should be left on, or the curtains open in daylight for at least half an hour after the tank lights go off.

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #64 on: September 09, 2018, 04:59:33 PM »
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Ok, makes sense, thanks, I have a raspberry pi which runs domoticz to switch electrical sockets, so at the moment I have the lights hooked in to that so they come on 30 mins after sun rise and go off about 30 mins after sunset.
On another note, I've also just hooked up a camera and temperature monitor to store water temp every minute in a database (also displays on the camera stream) and I have a flow meter which I'm looking to put inline with the pump so I then have all of the information I need in case any components fail, which will alert straight to my smartphone.  Don't want to digress too much in this post, but if anyone is interested, I could put a post together detailing my setup, just not too sure which forum section.

Offline Matt

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #65 on: September 09, 2018, 06:34:30 PM »
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@Bazza2000 how many hours are your tank lights on for at the moment then?

Interested to hear about your setup though I'm already wondering if it is beyond my comprehension lol! I would suggest putting it in the "Fish Tanks and Equipment" section.

I can't get my sunrise and sunset thing working properly on my lights so I'm planning on adding a spare led to my tank which will switch on before the main ones and off after them. I barely grew plants in a 60 litre this light so i wont be making any massive adjustments to my main lights, just the smallest adjustment I can manage on the system. I'm hoping I might also be able to use a spare moon light to add some background lighting to the tank so it looks like a sky... seen some great photos of scapes with this type of thing online so thought it worth a go too see if it looks daft or not on my tank! Look up the ADA light screen if you don't know what I mean. I won't be spending that kind of money of course. Lighting the wall behind the aquarium is the cheapo version!!

Offline Sue

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #66 on: September 09, 2018, 06:55:02 PM »
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I have all slow growing plants so I don't need the lights on very long. I have 2 LED tubes and a tiny blue LED tube. And 3 timers.

11:30 - first big LED turns on
12:00 - second big LED turns on
18:30 - first big LED turns off
18:55 - blue LED turns on
19:00 - second big LED turns off
19:30 - blue LED turns off

The main tank is in the dining room so the lights are on when we have lunch and dinner.
Both big LEDs are on for 7 hours each, and there is half an hour at each end with just one on. The blue light is on for half an hour on its own at the end.
At 11:30 the room has been in daylight for a few hours. In the summer, the room is in daylight for a few hours after the tank lights go out but in winter I make sure the room light is on till at least 20:00.

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #67 on: September 09, 2018, 07:04:36 PM »
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Great to hear that your cherry barbs are settling into your tank and exploring the decor.  :)

I hope that we are going to see lots of pics of your barbs over the next few days.  ;D

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #68 on: September 09, 2018, 08:46:33 PM »
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@Bazza2000 how many hours are your tank lights on for at the moment then?

They came on at 07:05am this morning (sunrise + 30m) and they will will go off at about 10pm tonight (15hrs) .  They actual where off for most of the day as I introduced the Barbs so turned them off for a few hours whilst they settled in.

Quote
Interested to hear about your setup though I'm already wondering if it is beyond my comprehension lol! I would suggest putting it in the "Fish Tanks and Equipment" section.

Difficulty levels are as follows:

1) Camera - Beginner
2) Temperature - Medium
3) RF Control of sockets - Medium - High

I'll start pulling together a post/blog entry with what I've done when I get a few minutes, if there is an audience, I'll spend more time and get a few youtube video explaining the setup steps.  The main thing about all my diy/hobby stuff is that its cheap, the setup I have with the camera, temperature sensor and flow meter cost me less than 70.

Quote
I can't get my sunrise and sunset thing working properly on my lights so I'm planning on adding a spare led to my tank which will switch on before the main ones and off after them. I barely grew plants in a 60 litre this light so i wont be making any massive adjustments to my main lights, just the smallest adjustment I can manage on the system. I'm hoping I might also be able to use a spare moon light to add some background lighting to the tank so it looks like a sky... seen some great photos of scapes with this type of thing online so thought it worth a go too see if it looks daft or not on my tank! Look up the ADA light screen if you don't know what I mean. I won't be spending that kind of money of course. Lighting the wall behind the aquarium is the cheapo version!!

Like the looks of that ADA light screen, you'll have to share some photos when you have your equivalent setup running.

Offline Matt

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #69 on: September 09, 2018, 08:52:31 PM »
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You need to reduce the total daily duration of your lighting... a lot. No more than 10 hours. 8 is normally recommended and less for a newly set up tank!  You can see Sues approach below. Mine is unusual on that I have a siesta period on the middle of the day (helps build co2 level back up for better plant growth) but the total duration is 8 hours, split into two 4 hour windows.

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #70 on: September 09, 2018, 08:53:40 PM »
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I have all slow growing plants so I don't need the lights on very long. I have 2 LED tubes and a tiny blue LED tube. And 3 timers.

11:30 - first big LED turns on
12:00 - second big LED turns on
18:30 - first big LED turns off
18:55 - blue LED turns on
19:00 - second big LED turns off
19:30 - blue LED turns off

The main tank is in the dining room so the lights are on when we have lunch and dinner.
Both big LEDs are on for 7 hours each, and there is half an hour at each end with just one on. The blue light is on for half an hour on its own at the end.
At 11:30 the room has been in daylight for a few hours. In the summer, the room is in daylight for a few hours after the tank lights go out but in winter I make sure the room light is on till at least 20:00.

I like the sound of this, so you basically adjust the light intensity by adding additional LED lights on different timers :)   I'm assuming that any waterproof led lights will be okay?  Even better if I can use the relatively cheap multicolour dimmable options that are available.

I appear to have a buildup of algae on the front glass and also building on the gravel, I take it this might be due to my 15hrs of light that I'm currently giving the tank?  Would your 7hrs be a good recommendation for my tank too?

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #71 on: September 09, 2018, 08:55:53 PM »
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You need to reduce the total daily duration of your lighting... a lot. No more than 10 hours. 8 is normally recommended and less for a newly set up tank!  You can see Sues approach below. Mine is unusual on that I have a siesta period on the middle of the day (helps build co2 level back up for better plant growth) but the total duration is 8 hours, split into two 4 hour windows.

Cheers @Matt just modifying my setup now to come on at 4pm and then off at 10pm (6hrs) so we get the best views in the evning out of the tank.  I'll extend after my tank is more mature.

Offline Sue

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #72 on: September 09, 2018, 09:09:37 PM »
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I have two LED tubes that are shaped like and replace T8 fluorescents. They fit into the old T8 clips in the lid. I should explain that this tank was custom built and the builder used a dual external ballast for the fluorescent tubes. They were held in place by a pair of clips fixed to the underside of the fixed part of the lid. All I had to do was remove the tubes and controller, and place the LEDs in the same clips. Each LED tube came with its own transformer.
The small blue LED is different. That claimed to be submersible but the white version I got for my quarantine tank leaked. So the blue one rests on top of the cover glass.

I have seen the flexible LED strips they sell on Ebay and Amazon, but I have never used this type.



I have low light plants attached to wood, and I have hornwort and water sprite floating on the surface. The floating pants cut down the amount of light that the lower plants get but as they are slow growing they seem to do well like this. I also have Espe's rasboras, a close relative of harlequins, and they did not like it before I had the floating plants - they spent all the lights on time huddled in the back corner, only coming out when the tank lights turned off. The floating plants not only make the fish happier they also cut down on the amount of algae growing in the tank.

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #73 on: September 09, 2018, 09:31:07 PM »
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Yeah, algae is starting to be a problem even at this early stage, so need to reduce my light hours.  Sounds like a nice setup you have.  Any chance I could see some photos of your tank with the blue light?  I assume this doesn't cause algae growth but looks nice during the evenings?

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #74 on: September 09, 2018, 09:45:02 PM »
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I'll try and take some tomorrow but since the light is so small there's just a glimmer of blue  :)

Blue light does cause algae but it's only on for 35 minutes a day.


This is the little blue LED https://forums.thinkfish.co.uk/tank-equipment-reviews/arcadia-classica-aqua-brite-led-light/

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #75 on: September 09, 2018, 09:59:12 PM »
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Great to see fish in your tank. I hope the kids are happy with their new fishy friends.  :)

Offline fcmf

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #76 on: September 09, 2018, 10:47:09 PM »
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Lovely to see your fish.  :fishy1:  :fishy1:  :fishy1:

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #77 on: September 09, 2018, 11:08:23 PM »
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Thanks, they seem to be doing really well, exploring the place.  Kids very happy, although the arguments have already started about names for each of them.  Not the kids names that is  :rotfl:

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #78 on: September 10, 2018, 08:07:59 AM »
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I would have thought you'd have already named the kids by now.  ;D

The arguments will get even more complicated the more fish you get.....though it's lovely to hear that the kids are so excited about the fish that they want to name them.


Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #79 on: September 11, 2018, 09:13:35 PM »
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Birthday today and a couple of happy children watching the Barbs which appears to have come out of their shells and are happy swimming round in the top and bottom halves of the tank equally.  They've even come to learn when the top opens its food time  :fishy1:

Couple of days with the Barbs in and water readings are little puzzling.  The PH appears to have stabilised, but I'm getting zero's on all other readings, is this normal?


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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #80 on: September 11, 2018, 09:39:55 PM »
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Great pic, hope the birthday celebrations were fun, and it's lovely to see the fish swimming around the tank.
It doesn't take them long to learn the signals for feeding time.  :)

Zeros for ammonia and nitrite are great, but there is usually some nitrate.
Perhaps the others will be able to shine some light on this.

Offline Sue

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #81 on: September 11, 2018, 10:01:49 PM »
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What is the nitrate level in your tap water? Does your water company give a water quality report on-line? That should confirm if your testing of your tap water is accurate.

The fish you have won't be making that much ammonia to be turned into nitrate compared to the volume of water. But some nitrate is usual especially as it is rare to have zero nitrate in tap water.

The number of plants may be enough to to remove all the ammonia made by these few fish, and plants don't turn it into nitrite or nitrate. As you get more fish, you may see nitrate appearing as there aren't enough plants to remove the ammonia made by a fully stocked tank.




Other possible explanations:
test kit out of date
not shaking bottle #2 or the test tube enough (assuming you are using the API liquid tester).

It might be an idea to take a sample of tank water to a fish shop and ask them to test nitrate to see what they get. Ask them for the number as they might say something like 'low' or a 'a bit high' which is not much use  :)

Offline fcmf

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #82 on: September 11, 2018, 10:24:03 PM »
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Happy birthday!  :cheers:

Great also about the fish's developments and your children's sharing of the enjoyment.  :fishy1:

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #83 on: September 11, 2018, 10:34:10 PM »
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Hi Sue, I have the water company reading as:

Nitrate   MIN 3.06   AVG 9.05   MAX 13.2   mg NO3/l

Yes, I'm using an API kit, expiry 2022.
As for bottle shaking, I can confirm my arm is absolutely aching from the 30 second vigorous shaking of bottle #2 both before adding 10 drops and then the further 1 minute of shaking once #2 10 drops have gone in before leaving for 5 mins to read the value.

I've just done fresh tap water and tank water test, (I'm proper knackered now  ;D ) Photos of both are attached.  As you can see its not exactly 0, but then again its not exactly 5ppm  either, I wasn't too sure if I could read it as 2.5ppm, so as its closer to 0 than 5, I've just logged it as 0.

If it is the plants neutralising the ammonia and the fish not creating enough, dare I say, could I be off for a trip to the local aquarium shop to select my 2nd batch of friends?

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #84 on: September 12, 2018, 07:04:34 AM »
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Happy birthday!  :cheers:

Great also about the fish's developments and your children's sharing of the enjoyment.  :fishy1:

Ha, thanks @fcmf not my birthday though, the little fella on the left in the photo was 8.  Very happy with his new fishes!

Offline Sue

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #85 on: September 12, 2018, 09:59:54 AM »
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Try holding the tube against the card rather than in front of it - you'll find the colour looks a bit deeper.  Based on the photo it looks to be 5 ppm, but I am well aware that laptop screens don't always show accurate colours.

Wait till you've had a week of zero ammonia and nitrite then get the next batch of fish. You do have some bacteria but we don't know how many so take it slow. The children do have fish, so you can afford to be cautious from now on.

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #86 on: September 12, 2018, 12:43:08 PM »
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Yep, makes sense @Sue  thanks.  Happy enough as we are for now anyway, Will keep monitoring the water and see where we are same time next week.  I'll tweak my reading of the Nitrate and potentially the others and see how that effects the readings with the tube pressed against the card.

Offline Sue

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #87 on: September 12, 2018, 01:50:41 PM »
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Just realised I didn't say to hold the tube against the white part of the card  :)

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #88 on: September 12, 2018, 03:53:48 PM »
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 ;D Yeah, kinda guessed that one.

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #89 on: September 14, 2018, 07:30:45 PM »
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Another few days of readings and things haven't really changed much, although as you can see from the photo, the nitrate levels are a more definite 5ppm by the looks of it.  Still 0 on Ammonia and Nitrite which seems consistent with the view that the plants are taking out the small amount that the fish are producing.
Should I be doing a water change over the weekend even with the readings showing no real issues?

Offline Sue

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #90 on: September 14, 2018, 07:47:07 PM »
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With just the few fish you have, I would do a water change but maybe only 20 to 25%. Once the tank is fully stocked you'll need to do 50% a week.

Two reasons - it's not just nitrate we need to remove but everything excreted and secreted by the fish. These are not broken down by bacteria or taken up by plants and they build up in the water. Nitrate is just an indicator that water changes need to be done, but if plants are using the ammonia, you can't use nitrate as a guide.
And it also gets you in the habit of doing weekly water changes  ;D

Don't feed the fish before a water change as it is not good to chase fish with full stomachs round the tank with a siphon tube. Feed them afterwards.

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #91 on: September 14, 2018, 07:55:06 PM »
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Thanks Sue.  Will sort out a 25% water change tomorrow and see what I can scoop up with the syphon  ;D
In terms of my cycle, does it look like its frozen?  i.e. Plants cancelling out the amount of fish I have?

Offline Sue

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #92 on: September 14, 2018, 08:10:32 PM »
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When there are a lot of plants - more than you have looking at your tank photos - there can be enough plants to remove all the ammonia made by a fully stocked tank. In this scenario, a few bacteria grow but not many.
In your case, you don't have enough plants (yet?) to remove all the ammonia that your tank will make when fully stocked, so your tank will grow bacteria and make nitrate as you get more and more fish.
But with just a few cherry barbs you do have enough plants and they use the ammonia faster than the bacteria can take it up. Your plants are beating your bacteria to all the ammonia made by the barbs and there is none left for the bacteria to turn into nitrate. There needs to be more ammonia in the water than the plants can take up before you start growing any more bacteria than the mature media and Tetra Safe Start have already put in your tank.

I would get the next species of fish soon. When the bacteria in the mature media/TSS get starved of ammonia they will start to go dormant, and the longer they are dormant the longer it takes them to 'wake up' again. If left a long time, it can take as long for the bacteria to 'wake up' as it takes for cycling in the first place.  So if you wait too long between batches of fish you risk losing the benefit of the mature media/TSS.

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #93 on: September 14, 2018, 08:52:58 PM »
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Ok, so its looks like I'm better off getting some new fish this weekend. Just need to work out which ones from my list are in stock and how many to add.  Would you recommend I go with double the amount I have now or equivalent based on the adult size of the fish, e.g. Cherries 5cm each x 8 = 40cm current, so go with another 40cm so I'd have 80cm of adult sized fish if that makes sense?  Might help with my aggressive Cherry barb if there is a few bigger fish in there so bring him down a peg or 2 !

Offline Sue

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #94 on: September 14, 2018, 09:10:12 PM »
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Looking at your wish list in your signature, I'd go for a shoal of harlequins next.

You may find it tricky to source headstanders, in which case you'll need a plan B. I would add the gourami and apistos/kribs after the shoaling fish. And neons need a mature tank.

Plan B could be a different shoaling species or bigger shoals of barbs, harlies and neons  :) I must admit that having spent years in the "minimum numbers of lots of species" camp, I'm now in the "larger shoals of a just a few species" camp  ;D

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #95 on: September 14, 2018, 10:31:20 PM »
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Great, thanks for the advice again Sue.

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #96 on: September 17, 2018, 09:43:21 PM »
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Latest update on my cycle.  Not much change to report, I'm still smashing out the shaking on every test I do so I'm pretty sure the measurements are spot on.  8 new Penguin Tetra have now been in for a couple of days too.  Not too sure what to make of the results.


Offline Sue

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #97 on: September 17, 2018, 09:51:47 PM »
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Concentrate on ammonia and nitrite. As long as they stay at zero everything is fine. Nitrate is the least important of the three, and provided you do regular water changes you can ignore it. I don't have a nitrate tester and haven't for years. But I have ammonia, nitrite and pH.

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #98 on: September 23, 2018, 08:24:06 PM »
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Quick update on my readings.  Still no change after adding the 8 penguin tetras last week.  I'm doing 30% water changes each week although it doesn't appear needed.  Based on the results, would it be okay to add more fish next week?

Offline Sue

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #99 on: September 23, 2018, 08:40:43 PM »
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Yes, you can add more fish. As long as ammonia and nitrite stay at zero, you can get another batch of fish a week after this next batch.

You do need to do the water changes. We can measure very few things that end up in the water. Ammonia and nitrite are necessary because any level of those above zero can kill fish. Nitrate needs to be measured because levels above 20 ppm have long term impact on fish health. But there are a lot more things, those things excreted and secreted by the fish, which also build up, and we can't measure them. In a tank with no live plants, nitrate will increase between water changes, and this can be used as an indicator that other things are building up as well. But when there are live plants in a tank, the plants use the ammonia made by the fish; they don't turn ammonia into nitrite or nitrate so nitrate does not build up when the tank is planted. But we still have to do water changes to remove the other, non-measurable chemicals.

Once the tank is fully stocked, you will need to do weekly 50% water changes regardless of the nitrate level.




Once upon a time I worked in a hospital chemical pathology lab. We tested urine for all sorts of things, and fish will excrete similar, if not the same, chemicals. Then there are hormones secreted by the fish to add in to the mix. These all need to be kept to a minimum level.

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