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Help With Fishless Cycling- First Attempt

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Offline heather62

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Help with fishless cycling- first attempt
« on: January 14, 2017, 04:48:43 PM »
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Hi everyone! (I'm sorry to be nagging for your help again!)

This is my first tank and my first go at cycling. I am a bit stuck as it hasn't seemed to flow as per instructions, and I think I have either done something very wrong, or should be on step 8/9 of Sue's instructions but feel like its skipped to step 10. Please help!

Temperature 28 degrees, 54 litre tank (but treating it as 50 litre), few plants, sand substrate with small amount tropica substrate underneath, few rocks and small piece of bonsai wood. Everything cleaned before putting into tank, except the bonsai wood, but this was bought from maidenhead aquatics..... and has turned the water yellow. I did add tetra safe start at the beginning (guilty as an excited new fish keeper).
I have been using the API master kit for testing- I have looked at the colour chart in daylight for every test and also used two different windows (a bit crazy I know!).

Tap water:
pH-7.6
High range pH- 7.4
Ammonia 0.25
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 0
KH 2 degrees
GH 4 degrees

Tap water stood for 24hrs:
pH- 7.6
High range pH- 7.4
Ammonia 1
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 0
KH 3 degrees
GH 4 degrees

Day 1- Filled tank with dechlorinated water, set temperature. Added 1ml ammonia, waited 30 minutes and tested water- Ammonia 3ppm so stopped there.
Day 4- Ammonia 4ppm, Nitrite 5ppm
Day 7- Ammonia 0, Nitrite 5 - Added 1ml ammonia
Day 9- Ammonia 0.25, Nitrite >5
Day 11- Ammonia 0, Nitrrite >5
Day 13- Ammonia 0, Nirite 0.5- Added 0.33ml ammonia
Day 15 (Today)- Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0



Step 9 mentions 'Whenever the tests show zero ammonia on two consecutive tests but the nitrite is over 1.0ppm, add the one-third dose of ammonia' ....... does this mean BOTH ammonia is 0ppm AND nitrite >1ppm on two separate occasions?
Looking at my ammonia 0, nitrite 0 reading today (I tested twice, two windows and got my partner to look), I am assuming my nitrite level won't be increasing if there is no ammonia in my tank. Do I add a full dose ammonia today and test tomorrow? Or have I gone wrong somewhere? ......... have I jumped to step 10 (fingers crossed?!)

Another question I have...... I have successfully managed to grow every type of algae possible in the tank. I have had a good read through the forums and am under the impression that this is common in a new cycling tank- is this right? Should I be cleaning it?..... as I have left it alone to deal with at the full water change at the end of the cycle. Also it has spread like wild fire on the moss I planted in the bonsai- to the point where I don't know if there is any hope of it leaving- should I remove and replace the moss when I do my full water change, or is there hope yet?
I do have a CO2 diffuser, I initially was doing a half dose as I don't have many plants, then stopped. When I had a lot of algae I read that CO2 can help and using a graph I found on here using  pH and KH (I can't remember which post) I found the CO2 level in the tank was very low, so started using it again. I have the lights on for 6 hours in total but with a 2 hour period of darkness in the middle. I have full spectrum LED lighting. I also dose the tank weekly with fertiliser. My pH today has gone up to 8 (from sitting between the 7.4-7.6 mark, but my GH (7 degrees) and KH (3 degrees) has remained constant.... thoughts?

Sorry for the barrage of questions, I felt a bit lost not getting the results I anticipated and it feels a bit quick, so again I look to your experienced minds for help.
Thanks!


Offline Sue

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Re: Help with fishless cycling- first attempt
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2017, 05:10:01 PM »
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I'll start with the cycle.

Looking at your results, you added 3 ppm ammonia; as soon as ammonia fell to below .75 and nitrite above 2 on day 7 you were at stage 6 so you added the second 3 ppm dose. You ammonia was above zero on day 9, but zero on days 11 and 13 - stage 8 - so you added a 1 ppm dose of ammonia.
All good so far  :)

Today, day 15, you have ammonia below .25 and nitrite below 1.0 so you are indeed at stage 10.

Add another 3 ppm dose and test tomorrow. If you have two zeros, the cycle has finished. But if one or both are above zero, add another 3 ppm dose and test after another 24 hours.

It looks as though the Tetra Safe Start has helped your cycle, you'll be finished in a fraction of the time it took my cycle  ;D



On the algae and plant issue, I'm not the best person to talk about plants, and CO2 etc as I have only slow growing low light plants.
But I do know that if you have brown dusty algae it goes away by itself once the tank is cycled as the cause is all that ammonia you've been adding.

Offline Paddyc

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Re: Help with fishless cycling- first attempt
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2017, 08:41:06 PM »
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Sounds like your cycle is moving along very nicely, well done on deciphering the stages, you obviously weren't sure but I agree you are definitely at stage ten... You just need two results of 0ppm Ammonia and Nitrite in 24 hours with a 3ppm ammonia dose in the middle then it's fishy time!!!!

Brown algae hit my tank and it did start to clear on its own. I can't say it went of its own accord because I introduced Malaysian Trumpet Snails and they quickly munched on the rest, they honestly keep my tank crystal clean, ornaments and all. Their numbers multiply at astonishing rates though, just something to bear in mind if you like the sound of using them yourself. Incidentally just say the word and I'll post you a dozen once you get going with fish.

Offline Matt

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Re: Help with fishless cycling- first attempt
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2017, 08:57:06 PM »
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Offline heather62

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Re: Help with fishless cycling- first attempt
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2017, 04:30:49 PM »
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Thank you all- I feel better now I know where I stand.
I've done a test today and ammonia 0.25, nitrite >5, so not there yet but will keep testing daily.

Thanks for that great link, I think it is a combination of high nitrates, low co2 and poor water circulation (my filter wasn't in place properly for about 4 days, and even though it was flowing it was not at maximum)- this was about the point I had a big bloom. Filter is up and running, and I have an air stone I have started to put on periodically to try and combat this for now. I think the bonsai tree is going to have to be re-done and will hopefully have less algae problems when cycled!

Thanks again- great help as always!

Offline Sue

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Re: Help with fishless cycling- first attempt
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2017, 09:01:23 PM »
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If your ammonia nitrite is over 5, it is quite possible that you aren't actually at stage 10, and that the previous readings were out somehow.

I would go back to testing every 2 days, and if nitrite does not fall below 1 ppm quickly, continue from stage 8 - that is testing every 2 days and when you have the second zero ammonia add a 1 ppm dose of ammonia till you get back to ammonia below 0.25 and nitrite below 1 - stage 10 again.

Offline Paddyc

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Re: Help with fishless cycling- first attempt
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2017, 09:37:16 PM »
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If your ammonia is over 5, it is quite possible that you aren't actually at stage 10, and that the previous readings were out somehow.

I would go back to testing every 2 days, and if nitrite does not fall below 1 ppm quickly, continue from stage 8 - that is testing every 2 days and when you have the second zero ammonia add a 1 ppm dose of ammonia till you get back to ammonia below 0.25 and nitrite below 1 - stage 10 again.

Think u mean Nitrite there Sue but yeah the reading is still high for stage ten...  ;)

Offline Sue

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Re: Help with fishless cycling- first attempt
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2017, 09:56:40 AM »
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Well spotted Paddy  :-[  I have now amended the post.

Offline heather62

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Re: Help with fishless cycling- first attempt
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2017, 05:12:52 PM »
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I don't think my cycle is listening to the instructions  :(
I have another ammonia 0, nitrite 0 again today. - The ammonia was tricky to read at 4.30 on a cloudy welsh day, but I am 90% sure its fairly bright yellow- I have attached a pic (natural light through window and a normal light bulb on).
Should I add another full dose and check tomorrow? Or add a third of a dose? ..... Or just stop being impatient!  :rotfl:

Thanks again!


Offline Sue

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Re: Help with fishless cycling- first attempt
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2017, 06:51:47 PM »
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This 2 days after adding the last 3 ppm dose of ammonia? If it is, add another 3 ppm and test again tomorrow.

Bacteria, being biological entities, never follow nice straight lines (or even nice smooth curves)  ;D

Offline Paddyc

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Re: Help with fishless cycling- first attempt
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2017, 09:06:03 PM »
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Always a lovely sight having the pale blue and pale yellow test tubes... I could recognise a double zero from 200 yards 

Hoping you get this again same time tomorrow after the 3ppm dose 8)

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