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FISHLESS CYCLING - HOW TO DO IT

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Offline Littlefish

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Re: FISHLESS CYCLING - HOW TO DO IT
« Reply #50 on: March 06, 2016, 06:44:59 PM »
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Hi Cornish Bayguy  :wave:

Welcome to the forum, best of luck with getting hold of the ammonia and doing your fishless cycle.

 :)

Offline Littlefish

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Re: FISHLESS CYCLING - HOW TO DO IT
« Reply #51 on: April 10, 2016, 10:24:00 PM »
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I have a confession to make.........I have shared a link to this fishless cycle method with people on the caudate forum that I joined when I got my axolotls. I hope that you don't mind.
As it happens, it's not just LFS that give poor advice or sell pets on the same day as a tank. Quite a few of the axolotl keepers have also fallen foul of this. In fact, the place in Essex where I bought my first 3 told me just to let the water stand for a few days then it would be fine. God bless my already cycled tanks, as well as those that were almost complete.
Quite a few axolotl keepers also weren't aware of the nitrogen cycle.
All of those that I have sent links to have all said that this is a very good method, written well, easy to understand, and gave much more detail than any other information they had managed to find.
So, on behalf of the global axolotl keepers, and their axolotls, I'd just like to thank Sue for writing and posting this method here.  :)
If anyone is unhappy about me sharing this information on another forum, then I apologise, or deny all responsibility, whichever one will work.  ;)

Offline Extreme_One

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Re: FISHLESS CYCLING - HOW TO DO IT
« Reply #52 on: April 10, 2016, 10:39:26 PM »
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I have a confession to make.........I have shared a link to this fishless cycle method with people on the caudate forum that I joined when I got my axolotls. I hope that you don't mind.

Sharing a link is the correct thing to do.  :cheers:

If you had simply copied and pasted the guide that would have been bad form.  ;)

I tend to copy and paste a short relevant section, to illustrate a point I'm trying to make, and then include the link to the whole guide.  :isay:

Offline Sue

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Re: FISHLESS CYCLING - HOW TO DO IT
« Reply #53 on: April 11, 2016, 09:57:26 AM »
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The more people know about cycling methods the better for the fish - and axolotls.

Linking is fine; as Extreme says, it's copying without acknowledging the source that is bad form.

Offline Littlefish

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Re: FISHLESS CYCLING - HOW TO DO IT
« Reply #54 on: April 11, 2016, 10:49:25 AM »
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Sharing the link is the only way to reference the information correctly and in context. It is also useful for people to see the rest of the thread, as it may answer further questions. It also makes them aware of the site, articles and the rest of the forum, because you never know which piece of information is going to be critical to those with aquatic pets.
I just wanted Sue to be aware of the positive feedback I'd had about the fishless cycling sticky and also know how helpful it has been to others.  :)

Offline Sue

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Re: FISHLESS CYCLING - HOW TO DO IT
« Reply #55 on: April 11, 2016, 10:55:51 AM »
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I do appreciate the feedback  :)
I have to admit that it never occurred to me that axolotl keepers would face the same problems with shops as fish keepers. When I think about it, it's obvious they would  :)

Offline FoundNemo

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Re: FISHLESS CYCLING - HOW TO DO IT
« Reply #56 on: June 13, 2017, 05:16:44 PM »
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Ok I'm hoping I'm not being daft here.

I've just started my fishless cycle. I've purchased the api freshwater master test kit as well as Kleen off household ammonia. I added 1.10ml of the ammonia to the 54l of water in my tank, waited 30mins and have added the ammonia drops as per the api test kit. Now depending on how I hold up the test vial to the api chart I see different shades of green. if I hold the vial right up against the chart it's a dark green but if I hold it slightly away from the chart it's a lighter green. 1 tells me it's sitting between 2 & 4 ppm while the other tells me it's between 1 & 2 ppm.

I'm not sure if i need to add more anmonia or if I'm fine with the 1.10ml dose

Offline Sue

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Re: FISHLESS CYCLING - HOW TO DO IT
« Reply #57 on: June 13, 2017, 05:26:16 PM »
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The vial should be held against the chart. It will appear paler if it is held away from the chart.

I know it is not always possible, but it is the shade of green rather than the depth of colour. The ammonia tester starts at yellow for zero then goes yellowy green to green to bluish green. You need to try and see how yellowy or how bluey the green is. I do know that is virtually impossible to do  :)


If it is any help, the calculator on the site I "pinched" the method from says that 54 litres will need 1.71 ml of 9.5% ammonia to get a reading of 3 ppm. Did you measure the amount of water you put in the tank for that 54 litres?

Pinched = rewrote it in my own words, not copy it  ;D

Offline FoundNemo

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Re: FISHLESS CYCLING - HOW TO DO IT
« Reply #58 on: June 13, 2017, 05:41:53 PM »
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Ok thanks sue.

I don't see yellow or blue green just green lol. It doesnt make it easy. I can see different shades of green depending on how I hold the vial against the chart.

The 54 litres is the amount of water I measured when I filled the tank. The bottle of ammonia doesn't tell me the ammonia % Do you think I should just add the extra 0.6ml? I've had a quick look on jeyes.com but couldn't find any info on the %

Thanks again

Offline Sue

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Re: FISHLESS CYCLING - HOW TO DO IT
« Reply #59 on: June 13, 2017, 06:40:16 PM »
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When I bought my first bottle of Kleen Off ammonia several years ago, I emailed them to ask both the % and whether it contained anything else. Their reply was
"Our Kleenoff Ammonia is 9.5% Ammonia & the rest is water."
I kept the email for future reference  :)

I think I'd split the difference and add another 0.3 ml, then see what the reading is. If it still shows less than 4 ppm, use 1.4ml as the 3 ppm dose for future doses. If it is definitely 4, then use your initial 1.1 ml dose as 3 ppm. The extra 1 ppm right at the beginning won't do any harm.

Offline FoundNemo

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Re: FISHLESS CYCLING - HOW TO DO IT
« Reply #60 on: June 13, 2017, 07:24:44 PM »
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Yeah I found out that it was 9.5% from a google search. You'd think that they would have the % on the bottle?? The brand isn't even listed on jeyes.com But that would be too easy for us lol So I went ahead and added the additional 0.6ml dose :-[ I thought if the worst comes to the worst I could flush the tank and start the cycle over with fresh water  ::) I can now see that it's reading between 2 & 4ppm more clearly. I also see what you mean now by the blueish green colour. My 1st vial is a yellowy green when I sit the 2 next to each other. I'm already not liking apis colour scheme. But it's probably just because I'm not used to seeing the colour variations.

Thanks again for your help sue  :cheers:

Offline Sue

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Re: FISHLESS CYCLING - HOW TO DO IT
« Reply #61 on: June 13, 2017, 07:41:28 PM »
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This is where I found the ammonia http://www.ukconsumerinfo.com/productdetails.aspx?prod=417
There is a 'contact us' at the top of the page, which is how I emailed them.


Unfortunately, most home ammonia testers are the salicylate test, and they are all the same colour change.

Offline FoundNemo

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Re: FISHLESS CYCLING - HOW TO DO IT
« Reply #62 on: June 13, 2017, 08:00:39 PM »
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it is what it is I suppose. My cycle has started so I'm happy :D

I will email jeyes though just to see

Thanks again sue

I'll no doubt be asking more later down the line

Offline Sue

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Re: FISHLESS CYCLING - HOW TO DO IT
« Reply #63 on: June 13, 2017, 08:06:23 PM »
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How much chemistry have you studied? At the risk of saying what you already know (and in case anyone else reading this wonders) the link gives the contents as ammonium hydroxide. This is formed when ammonia dissolves in water, so ammonia solution is ammonium hydroxide.

Offline FoundNemo

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Re: FISHLESS CYCLING - HOW TO DO IT
« Reply #64 on: June 13, 2017, 08:21:54 PM »
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I never studied chemistry at school only physics.
So there's no risk of you saying what I already know. I'm sure I'll know a lot more about it with this venture though

Offline FoundNemo

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Re: FISHLESS CYCLING - HOW TO DO IT
« Reply #65 on: June 16, 2017, 06:42:51 PM »
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Ok so today is my 3rd day into my cycle and I've just tested my water for ammonia and nitrite. I believe that my ammonia lvl is the same as day 1 around 3ppm and that my nitrite lvls are about 0.75ppm. I've attached a couple of photos showing the vials. I'd appreciate if somebody could confirm this. I need to get my head round these colours.

Thanks in the advance

Offline Sue

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Re: FISHLESS CYCLING - HOW TO DO IT
« Reply #66 on: June 16, 2017, 07:31:57 PM »
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To my mind the nitrite shows that you already have some ammonia eating bacteria at work turning ammonia into nitrite. But because 1 ppm ammonia is turned into 2.7 ppm nitrite, it doesn't take much of a reduction in ammonia to show a reading for nitrite. I know that screen settings can make the colours look different, but your nitrite looks around 0.25, which means you've lost 0.1 ppm ammonia - and this is hardly detectable.

Be prepared for the nitrite colour to shoot up to the highest on the chart. Our kits don't measure very high (the API nitrite tester only goes up to 5 ppm) and nitrite will get higher. As long as it remains under 15 ppm, that's fine.

Offline FoundNemo

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Re: FISHLESS CYCLING - HOW TO DO IT
« Reply #67 on: June 16, 2017, 07:54:30 PM »
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When I tested my plain tap water for nitrite it was blue. So I'm on my way to seeding my filter 😀

How would I know that my nitrite lvls are below 15ppm if the kit only measures up to 5ppm?

But all I'm looking for right now is my ammonia to be less than 0.75 and nitrite to be over 2 at which point I add another full dose of ammonia. And start testing every 2 days instead of 3

Offline Sue

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Re: FISHLESS CYCLING - HOW TO DO IT
« Reply #68 on: June 16, 2017, 09:01:08 PM »
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The method was written so that , if followed properly, nitrite can never get over 15. But you can always mix some tank water with tap water and test that. 1 part tank to 3 parts tap should get the reading somewhere on the scale. It won't be terribly accurate without very precise measuring equipment but it will give a rough idea of how high it is.

Offline FoundNemo

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Re: FISHLESS CYCLING - HOW TO DO IT
« Reply #69 on: June 16, 2017, 09:09:37 PM »
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Right ok.  I won't be straying away from your guide anyway. I will do the 3/1 testing though when my nitrite test reads 5+ppm. Let's me see the colour variations as well. Thanks again sue

Offline FoundNemo

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Re: FISHLESS CYCLING - HOW TO DO IT
« Reply #70 on: June 23, 2017, 12:27:25 PM »
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Ok so I'm on my 3rd test day for ammonia and nitrite after adding my initial dose of ammonia. I'm still struggling with the colour chart which is really beginning to annoy me as it shouldn't be this difficult. So today I tested the ammonia in my tank water, 3/1 ratio of tap/tank water and straight tap water. I'd appreciate people's comments on this please. Straight tap water is definitely yellow. 3/1 ratio to me looks like it's between 0.5 & 1ppm which would put my tank water between 1.5 & 3ppm

Thanks in advance

Offline FoundNemo

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Re: FISHLESS CYCLING - HOW TO DO IT
« Reply #71 on: June 23, 2017, 01:05:05 PM »
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Here is my nitrite test vials
Tank water, 3/1 ratio tap/tank water and straight tap water

Again straight tap water is definitely zero
3/1 ratio looks to be between 0 and 0.25ppm maybe even 0.5ppm
Which puts my tank result at 0.75 & 1.5ppm

Offline adenann

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Re: FISHLESS CYCLING - HOW TO DO IT
« Reply #72 on: June 23, 2017, 02:36:56 PM »
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 :wave:
@FoundNemo
Here's my take on your readings:-

    NH3
    I agree with your interpretation of colours.
    Tank I see closer to 1ppm than 2ppm
    3:1 mix nearer 0.50ppm
    Tap zero

    NO2
    Tank, I think, is spot on 2.0ppm
    3:1 mix spot on 0.25ppm
    Tap zero

The problem is that printed colours never come out as natural, yellow in particular.  There's a technical term for it that I can't recall for the moment.  I have the same problem with my NT Labs tests where my NH3 always comes out a light straw colour but the card shows a deep yellow.  Your API tests also have a lot of blues and greens.  You're not colourblind by any chance?

Unless you use some fancy, i.e. expensive, kit, whatever measure you get is going to be an approximation and also bear in mind that we're dealing in very small concentrations, parts per million.
 :cheers:

Offline Sue

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Re: FISHLESS CYCLING - HOW TO DO IT
« Reply #73 on: June 23, 2017, 02:51:15 PM »
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I had just finished typing when Adenann posted, but I'll post what I'd written anyway.....


It can be difficult comparing colours on a computer screen, but your readings look to me:

Ammonia -
Tap - zero
Pure tank - slightly less than 2 but not nearly as low as 1
Diluted - 0.5


Nitrite -
Tap - zero
Pure tank -  the 2 and 5 colours look the same on my screen, so your vial could be either  :-\
Diluted - 0.25



It is quite difficult to make really accurate testers for use in the home. People's eyesight varies which adds in other inaccuracy factor. Labs use colour sensing equipment to get accurate results, which is impractical and unaffordable for home use, so we are stuck with our test kits - unless you want to buy a colorimeter.





Have you seen the progress of my fishless cycle at the bottom of the actual method? That should give an idea of what to expect.

Offline FoundNemo

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Re: FISHLESS CYCLING - HOW TO DO IT
« Reply #74 on: June 23, 2017, 03:45:55 PM »
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Thank you adenann and sue.

@adenann I'm not coloured blind. I would have said if I was as that's a bit of critical info.

I only came to my tank water conclusions after testing both the 3/1 and tap for a comparison, so I think I may just carry on doing it that way.

@Sue  I have read through your guide several times. It's probably just my 1st time jitters.

Thanks again

Offline Sue

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Re: FISHLESS CYCLING - HOW TO DO IT
« Reply #75 on: June 23, 2017, 04:02:26 PM »
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I have only actually done 2 fishless cycles, one in 2016 using this method and one in 2013 using the older fishless method. But I had tested my tank on countless occasions before I did the two cycles, so I was very familiar with the testers.

All sorts of things can affect the way we see colours. I have a yellow cataract developing in my right eye (apparently there are several types of cataract and my optician says I have a yellow one). If I look at white typing on a black screen and close one eye, the text looks pale yellow with my right eye and bluish with my left eye. This probably distorts the way I see colours, and once the cataract gets to a certain stage and it is replaced, I'll probably have trouble seeing true colours again till my brain adapts.

Offline Littlefish

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Re: FISHLESS CYCLING - HOW TO DO IT
« Reply #76 on: June 23, 2017, 07:55:41 PM »
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Nothing wrong with first time jitters.
I still get a bit twitchy with cycling tanks and I've done quite a few in the past 18 months, seeded with mature media from other tanks.  :)
We all want the best for our fishy friends and want to create a great environment that they will be happy in.
Keep at it, it will all work out in the end.  :cheers:

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