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

Author Topic: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations  (Read 4600 times)

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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 Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #100 on: September 23, 2018, 08:43:26 PM »
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Thanks for the extra info Sue :)  Just need to work out which fish to get next.  Will pick up on the other thread.

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #101 on: September 24, 2018, 10:17:48 PM »
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Quick question, I've not cleaned my filter as yet and I'm 3 weeks in.  At which point should I clean the filter media etc.  Noted that I need to clean in the water I've siphoned out.

Offline Matt

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #102 on: September 25, 2018, 05:02:12 AM »
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You only really need to clean it when it becomes clogged to the point that flow is reduced or when there is significant levels of "crud" trapped which could increase nitrates in the tank through its decomposition. Whilst you have low fish load and are expanding your stocking, I would leave it well alone to be honest.

Offline Sue

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #103 on: September 25, 2018, 08:24:03 AM »
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I agree. Wait till six weeks then look at the media during a water change. If it is covered in brown slime, gently wash it off in the water you've removed. If it's not covered in brown slime, don't clean it but check next water change. The medium first in the direction of water flow will be messiest.

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #104 on: October 16, 2018, 08:07:21 PM »
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been a while since I posted an update, so thought I'd drop in.  Tank is still fantastic, no more fish lost which the kids are happy about  ;D I did a media clean last weekend in water I'd taken out during the water change.  Media didn't look too bad if I'm honest, however, water looked pretty dirty once I'd finished so I'm assuming it needed it.  No Honey Gourami's in the LFS so as the tank is now 46 days in, I decided it was safe enough to add some cardinal tetras (x8).  They appear to have settled in well.
I just wanted to check my readings, I'm still taking them now every other day as they are always the same (see graph).  Is this normal?  I'm thinking that the Elodia which I have to trim every week because it grows so fast is just absorbing all of the ammonia so my tank never gets to start the cycle?

Offline Sue

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #105 on: October 16, 2018, 08:21:11 PM »
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The tank will cycle even with plants. It's called a silent cycle. Bacteria will grow but not in the amount as in a non-planted tank. Once the tank is full stocked, the fish will make more ammonia than the plants can use, but you will gradually have grown more and more bacteria as you add more fish. This is one reason for taking it slowly, so that the fish don't increase the amount of ammonia going into the tank by very much at one go.

As long as your ammonia and nitrite stay at zero for a week, you can get more fish. But if you ever have even a tiny blip in the readings, do water changes while they last and take a break of a few weeks before getting the next fish.





If you ever take the plants out, watch your readings for a few days to make sure the bacteria you do have will cope.

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #106 on: October 16, 2018, 08:31:25 PM »
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Great, thanks Sue.

Offline Littlefish

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #107 on: October 16, 2018, 09:07:57 PM »
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Great to see your tank and hear that things are going well.  :)

Offline Matt

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #108 on: October 16, 2018, 09:19:40 PM »
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Thats a nice clean looking tank!  :cheers:

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #109 on: October 16, 2018, 09:33:58 PM »
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Thanks, getting the hang of things now with weekly 30-40% water changes.  Got my trusty flipper algae scraper to clean the glass and then I take the plants out get rid of the tatty stems/leaves, re-bunch and re-plant.  Tank lights are on 6pm to 10pm every day and a little more over the weekend which keeps the algae growth to a minimum.  Feeding twice a day 7am and 7pm, wafer mostly with a blood worm sachet every few days.  Fish seem happy and active, little bit of nipping from the penguins, but they all seem to be getting along well which is great and in no small part to the advice I've received from you lovely lot!!, many thanks again.  :cheers:  :fishy1: :fishy1: :fishy1:

Offline Matt

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #110 on: October 17, 2018, 06:38:03 AM »
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Yo may well have these things covered... but... worth checking so you get off to a flying start  ;)

What plants do you have? Are you getting a lot of die off each week?

Are you vacuuming the gravel as part of your water change?

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #111 on: October 17, 2018, 07:40:51 AM »
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Hi Matt, I have 2 clumps of the elodia you recommended and 2 of another but not sure, but its in the photo in the previous post. That gets nipped by the fish a lot so just tidy the odd leaves up. The elodia just grows rapid so I just cut them in half and get rid of the odd brown stem and replant.  Yep hoover the gravel each week, amazing how much crap comes out of that.

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #112 on: November 09, 2018, 07:04:17 PM »
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Hi everyone, hope you are all still doing well, along with your fish!! Just wanted to give a quick update and ask a couple of questions about my tank.  I'm now 70 days into my cycle and not much has changed on my measurements as you can see from the graph, however, during the past week or 2, I've noticed a quick buildup of dark green algae on the tank, both on the glass, filter and more pronounced on the gravel as you can see from the photos.  I lost 1 of my cardinal tetras a week after they arrived which I put down to the usual stresses of new fish, but now I've also lost 2 more,  1 yesterday and now another 1 today.

I'm still replacing about 30-40% water every week, vacuuming the tank and cleaning the glass, so nothing has changed in my weekly water changes, and I've not added fish since 13/Oct as shown in my profile.  I've just taken fresh water tests today and they are the same as they always are, just wondered if its just one of those things with the cardinals, or if there could be something more sinister related to the algae buildup?


Offline Sue

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #113 on: November 09, 2018, 07:13:48 PM »
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The algae is due to an imbalance between light duration/intensity, carbon dioxide and plant food (both ammonia/nitrate and fertiliser).

How long do you have the lights on for? The most common cause of algae is lights on too long.
You don't have many plants so if you've been adding fertiliser it is probably too much for the amount of plants.


One comment I would make is that the tank looks very bright. Floating plants would help enormously especially with fish like cardinal tetras which come from rivers and streams with a lot of overhanging vegetation so they are conditioned to expect shade over their heads.

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #114 on: November 09, 2018, 07:28:08 PM »
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Hi Sue, thanks for the quick response.  The lights are on a timer and come on at 5pm and off at 10pm every day.  I'm not using plant fertiliser at all.  The elodia still grows like wild fire and I have to regularly remove stems and chuck a load away and then replant to keep it under control.  The plant on the right (I'm not too sure of its name) doesn't seem to grow at all and I was going to take it out and replace with another type.
The light is just the standard one which arrived with the tank, but I had considered running some waterproof LED lights around the internal edge of the tank to introduce a dimmed light levels during certain times of the day, so I may explore that to see if it controls the algae a bit more.
I think you'd mentioned floating plants before, could you suggest any that will go with my current setup and won't look out of place.  Also, could I go for a bottom dweller which might keep control of the algae a bit more, any suggestions on that would be much appreciated too, was thinking of a pleccy, catfish or snail?

Offline Sue

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #115 on: November 09, 2018, 07:37:37 PM »
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The lighting duration is fine.

The only creature I would recommend is a nerite snail or two, though even they don't eat every type of algae.
The only suitable plec is a bristlenose, or a shoal of otocinclus. Both would take a big chunk out of your stocking allowance, and bristlenoses in particular poo a huge amount.

Google salvinia, water lettuce and Amazon frogbit. But if you decide to get a nerite snail, make sure any plants are shrimp and snail safe. Plants imported from outside the EU must be treated with a chemical to kill snails which will also harm any snails in your tank. I get most of my plants from Ebay and look for sellers stating they are shrimp safe. Or get plants from somewhere like ProShrimp.

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #116 on: November 09, 2018, 08:18:14 PM »
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Great, thanks Sue, will take a look and get some of the plants and visit LFS to see what they have in stock.

Offline Littlefish

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #117 on: November 10, 2018, 08:36:07 AM »
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I agree with Sue, the tank is quite bright. Don't get fish to deal with algae (seriously, I have BN's, as well as some other algae eaters, and you would not believe the amount of waste they produce), and it would also mess up your stock plans.
You have quite a lot of light for a tank with a small number of plants, and fish waste will fall between the gravel and provide extra nutrients, which all provides a nice home for algae.
A bit of extra cleaning, more plants, and a snail would be helpful. Perhaps even reduce the light for a few days, while dealing with the majority of the algae.
When you syphon the gravel give it a really good clean. Perhaps do a quarter of the tank really thoroughly each day to get rid of as much waste as possible. It may also be worth taking some gravel out and giving it a clean in tap water/hot water to kill off the algae. Wipe the tank glass in one movement from bottom to top, and each time take the sponge/pad out and rinse - this should help to remove the algae, rather than releasing it into the water to resettle elsewhere.
Get some more plants to use up excess nutrients & use the light. Stem plants, such as your egeria densa, are reasonably cheap, can just be stuck in the gravel, and use lots of nutrients. Floating plants look great too. Most fish also appreciate some plants to potter around.  :)
Snails are surprisingly interesting in a tank (less so in the garden  ::) ). There is a great choice of nerites, with really attractive shapes & patterns. These do quite tiny (but numerous) poohs, so you would either need to keep on top of the very thorough gravel syphoning, or have quite a few plants to use it.
Make sure that any food you put into the tank is being eaten, and not falling to the substrate and between thee gravel.

It will take a while to get everything in balance (light/nutrients/etc.) to reduce the amount of algae in your tank. It will take a while, but it will be worth it in the long run.   :)

Offline Bazza2000

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #118 on: November 10, 2018, 06:28:35 PM »
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Thanks @Littlefish, visited LFS today, no frogbit so just place an order on ebay, also picked up some new plants (think they are Cabomba) Also did a 50% water change today, cleaned filter, took out all the ornaments and cleaned them too along with the algae clean you'd already suggested.  LFS finally had some Yellow Honey Gourami's so maanged to pick up 6 which are settling in well.  Will be keeping the light to a minimum for the next few days to see if it makes any difference.   My other theory was that the kitchen LED lights are causing the additional algae growth, with the clocks going back end of October, we have the kitchen lights on a lot more now and the algae appears to be growing around the front of the tank only where the kitchen lights hit, around the back and behind the ship wreck its not too bad.  No Nerites in the LFS today, but hopefully some next week so will pick up a couple then to see if they help.  Thanks again for the info.

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Re: 1 week Fishless cycle with mature media then Fish-in recommendations
« Reply #119 on: November 10, 2018, 07:46:58 PM »
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Ambient light can become a problem.
One of my tanks tends to get hit by the setting sun, but that's great as there are a lot of algae eaters in that tank. I rarely have ceiling lights on in the living/dining room, as I have enough tanks to keep the room lit, even if it is blue light towards the end of the evening.
Wiping the ornaments & glass, doing water changes, adding plants, etc. should all have a positive impact on reducing the algae.
Best of luck and let us know how you get on.  :)

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