Tropical Fish Forum

Tropical Fish Keeping Help and Advice => Fishtank Filtration and Cycling => Topic started by: Wild Rover on September 25, 2013, 11:08:53 PM

Title: CYCLING WITH FISH discussion thread
Post by: Wild Rover on September 25, 2013, 11:08:53 PM
Moderator notice:


This thread is a discussion thread of the following cycling with fish method (https://forums.thinkfish.co.uk/fishtank-filtration-and-cycling/fish-in-cycling-with-fish-how-to-do-it/). Please feel free to read it before contributing or asking in this discussion. Thanks!





Just joined the forum but been following the site for a while. It's been very helpful setting up my first Tropical Aquarium  :)
I'm nearly three weeks into my fish in cycle and I have three questions if you would be so kind..

1) As I said, I am three weeks into my cycling and am still getting ammonia readings of between .5 and 1.0 ppm but no sign of any nitrites. Is this normal? I have been doing a daily change of about 15%.

2) Is Tap Safe chlorine remover safe to fish? It is hard to measure the correct dosage for smaller water volumes so I am erring on the side of caution and probably putting in a bit more than necessary.

3) Should I rinse the filters during cycling or will this lose too much bacteria?

I have a Love Fish Panorama 64L Aquarium with 4 Dwarf Neon Rainbows who seem very happy and content.

Many thanks
Title: Re: CYCLING WITH FISH discussion thread
Post by: Sue on September 26, 2013, 08:21:02 AM
Hi Wild Rover.

1) It can be normal. I've come across a comment by an American recently which said that all the slow cycling he'd come across was in the UK. He suspected that our water companies are good at killing bacteria, including the ones we want to grow in the filter. And of course, fish-in cycling does take longer than fishless because of having to do keep the ammonia, and then nitrite levels very low.
Do the water changes get your ammonia down from your 0.5/1.0ppm to undectable (or at the very least, well under 0.25)? At levels above 0.25, long term damage can be done to the fish. The same applies to nitrite as well when you get some.
Do you have a pH for your tank? Ammonia is less toxic below 7.0, the lower the better; and nitrite is more toxic at lower pH.

2) Tap Safe is fine, but if it is bioactive tap safe, ignore the part about it boosting filter performance. According to Interpet's on-line catalogue, it does not contain anything to detoxify ammonia. Some of these products interfere with the ammonia tester, but tap safe won't so your readings are accurate.
Overdosing to 1.5 or possibly 2x the dose is usually OK. You can buy syringes from a pharmacy to dose small amounts. I have a 1ml syringe which is graduated to hundredths of a ml. They sell larger ones too. But ask for a babies medicine dosing syringe or you'll get funny looks if you ask for just a syringe. Or look on ebay/amazon.

3) Unless your filter media is extremely mucky, don't touch the filter. The bacteria grow in the biofilm attached to surfaces and it does take a while for the biofilm to grow and become firmly attached. Don't do anything to disturb the biofilm just yet, and be very gentle cleaning the filter for a few months when it needs to be done.
Title: Re: CYCLING WITH FISH discusion thread
Post by: Wild Rover on September 26, 2013, 08:04:12 PM
Thanks for the reply Sue, much appreciated.

My water has a ph of 7.32 according to the water authority website although tests seem to show it is a little lower. The water is very soft.

I have just done a 25% change and suprisingly the ammonia results were still very similar to before the change, about 1ppm.  ??? Still no nitrites. I guess you will suggest a bigger water change as the levels are still so high? Seems the logical thing to do as levels are too high even after the change but this will presumably not help the cycling process in the short term?

Thanks again

Update... I have just done a second water change (about 60%) and the level is now .25% so I'll leave if for tonight and maybe repeat tomorrow?
Title: Re: CYCLING WITH FISH discussion thread
Post by: Sue on September 27, 2013, 08:57:35 AM
Strictly speaking, you should do another water change to get it below 0.25, but as you posted this last evening, it is a bit to late to say that now  :D [I usually turn my laptop off at 7.45]

The aim is to do a water change as often and as big as necessary to stop the ammonia (and later nitrite) ever getting as high as 0.25. If it is at 0.25 after a water change, it will only go over that before you test again. With a 64 litre tank, it isn't that hard to do big water changes. I have a 125, a 50 and a 30 litre tanks, so I know how much effort a 64 litre would be  ;D
Ammonia burns fish's skin and gills - and that makes it harder for them to absorb oxygen from the water. Nitrite binds to the red blood cells stopping them carrying oxygen round the body, the same way that carbon monoxide kills us.

Your pH is at a level where any ammonia in the water will be quite toxic, so those water changes are more important. Ammonia and ammonium are in an equilibrium. The higher the pH, the more that is in the ammonia form. At lower pH, more is in the less toxic ammonium form. Your pH isn't as bad as the 8 that some regions have, but it is still a bit too high for having ammonia in the water.
With soft water, it is possible you have a low KH (carbonate hardness). You can buy testers for that but it would be cheaper if you asked a fish shop to test a sample of your tap water for KH. The filter bacteria need a source of inorganic carbon - ie carbonate - in the water in order to multiply quickly. If your KH is low, that could be slowing them down. If you do get it tested and find that it is below 5, the best thing to do would be to add some coral or limestone to the tank - a piece of coral, a bag of crushed coral, a limestone rock - as they would slowly dissolve putting carbonate in the water. With fish in the tank, the method for raising carbonate in a fishless cycle can't be used.
Title: Re: CYCLING WITH FISH discusion thread
Post by: Wild Rover on September 29, 2013, 06:45:35 PM
Cheers Sue, I'm doing two smaller (20% ish) changes a day and that is keeping the ammonia count down. Still no sign of any nitrites, looks like I'm going to have a busy few weeks  :)
Title: Re: CYCLING WITH FISH discussion thread
Post by: Wild Rover on October 13, 2013, 01:59:40 PM
At last! Five weeks into the cycle and I have my first Nitrites. Some just take longer than others I guess.  :)
Title: Re: CYCLING WITH FISH discussion thread
Post by: Sue on October 13, 2013, 02:41:55 PM
Cycling with fish can take longer than fishless because of having to do water changes to keep the fish safe and the necessarily low levels of ammonia and later nitrite they create. Keep on as you have been to keep the nitrite level low as well, you'll get there and the fish should come though OK as well.
Title: Re: CYCLING WITH FISH discussion thread
Post by: Wild Rover on October 30, 2013, 07:35:51 PM
Me again  :)

It's now 8 weeks in. After 6 weeks I was reading 0 Ammonia and .25 Nitrites. Nitrites then also unexpectedly dropped to 0 and stayed 0 for a few days which suprised me as you said that it takes longer for Nitrites to be converted than for Ammonia. I added two more Dwarf Rainbow. Nitrates was about 20/30 ppm.
I have added 4 Cardinals and two Rams since then so I now have 6 Dwarf Rainbow, 2 Rams and 4 Cardinal Tetra's. The strange thing is I am now getting zero readings for everything including nitrates!  ??? PH is around 6.5

I have been doing almost daily 10% water changes but have left it for a few days to see if there was any change but still all nil tonight. Still using the same API kit in the same way. The only live plants I have are three moss balls and some Java moss which I have attatched to my bogwood. All fish seem very happy and eating well. Can these readings be right?

Thanks
Title: Re: CYCLING WITH FISH discusion thread
Post by: Sue on October 30, 2013, 07:43:18 PM
Do you mean it took 6 weeks for the ammonia to drop to zero?

The usual comment with fish-in cycling is that people worry their cycle has stalled because the nitrite stage is taking far longer than the ammonia stage. I put that bit about the second stage taking longer to reassure people that it is common. You are one of the lucky ones  ;D


These bacteria are biological entities. They never do things the way they are supposed to  ;D I have done research in both chemistry and biochemistry. If you plot the course of a reaction in chemistry, the points sit on or very near a line; it is easy to draw the line through the points. In biochemistry any individual point can be way off the line; there are times in biochemistry where you have to guess where the line should be  :-\
Title: Re: CYCLING WITH FISH discusion thread
Post by: Wild Rover on October 30, 2013, 08:32:01 PM
Thanks Sue

It took 5 weeks to get my first Nitrite reading (see earlier comment) and I still had Ammonia. By week 6 Ammonia was zero and by week seven, so was Nitrites. I guess my main query is whether it could be right to have zero Nitrates as well, with 12 fish in the tank and not done a water change for a few days?

What water changing regime would you suggest from here on?
Title: Re: CYCLING WITH FISH discussion thread
Post by: Sue on October 30, 2013, 08:46:55 PM
With the water changes you have been doing, your nitrate reading should be pretty much the same as what comes out of the tap. But having said that there are two things about the nitrate tester. First, it is difficult to make a really accurate one for use in the home. They can only really give us ballpark results and are best used to follow a trend, usually rising. Secondly, they can give way off results if the instructions are not followed to the letter. All the shaking is necessary to redissolve one of the reagents in one bottle (with the API tester it is bottle 2) and also in the test tube. You'd be surprised how many people don't bother with the shaking (not that I'm accusing you  ;D )

Have you got all the fish you want yet? Once your ammonia and nitrite are staying at zero by themselves, you can add more; up to a third of the fish already there in one go. And monitor your levels for several days afterwards just in case.
Assuming you don't see any reading for ammonia/nitrite, you should do weekly water changes, with gravel vacuuming at the same time (if that's what you have on the bottom). Once the tank is fully stocked, aim for weekly 25 to 30% changes. While it's less than fully stocked you can get away with smaller water changes, but doing the fully-stocked amount is still good paractice.
Title: Re: CYCLING WITH FISH discussion thread
Post by: Wild Rover on October 31, 2013, 12:03:02 AM
I shake it with the best of them!  ;)

Unfortunately the stocking calculator on here only allows me four more Cardinals... :(

So despite only having my first tank for two months I have just bought a second hand Jewel Rio 180!! Can't wait  8)

I bet many do this right?
Title: Re: CYCLING WITH FISH discussion thread
Post by: Sue on October 31, 2013, 08:18:19 AM
Everyone always want bigger tanks, and more of them. It is a recognised condition of fish keepers, it's called MTS; multiple tank syndrome  ;D
Title: Re: CYCLING WITH FISH discussion thread
Post by: Sue on April 13, 2018, 01:33:32 PM
Thread bumped to keep it at the top of the section  :)