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Fishless Cycling

Author Topic: Fishless cycling  (Read 2559 times)

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Offline Sanjo

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Fishless cycling
« on: January 02, 2015, 07:09:27 PM »
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Hello again.
I know my question is probably going to make the experts groan since you must all be constantly repeating yourselves and probably I should be able to work it out myself but I would just like somebody to run their eye over the following for me please.

As I have already had a disaster with the amount of ammonia I put in (1 teaspoon to 22 litres) I don't trust myself anymore!

We bailed the tank out as much as we could, down to the last 1/2inch or so, rinsed the ornament but not the gravel. No extra ammonia has yet been put back in as we assumed there would still be some in the filter pads.

My Interpet Easy Test Kit arrived today so having refilled the tank I have used the test to get a base line for when things start happening. Results as follows:

Tank Temperature was around 22c
PH                    was 7.5
Ammonia           was 0.4m/l
Nitrite                was  0.1m/l
Nitrate               was between 0-10

It's a tablet kit and I don't find it particularly easy to read the results. Didn't help that I used a lamp as it as getting dark by the time I had finished fannying around. Next time it will be daylight.

Bearing in mind no added ammonia, these readings must mean that some was still left in the tank?

What do I do next please?

I have planted it up with a moss ball and two other plants. Was there likely to be beneficial bacteria on the plants? They didn't come out of the fish tank but a separate one.

Many thanks once again for any answers. Much appreciated

Offline Sue

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Re: Fishless cycling
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2015, 07:33:00 PM »
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I too found the tablet kits hard to use, I had one way back in the 1990s and it took so long for the tablet to dissolve that I didn't know when i was supposed to start the clock for the timing  :-\
If the tablet kits are the same as liquid reagent ones, lighting can affect the colour in the test tube. Daylight is the best for reading the test, and old fashioned incandescent bulbs if you still have any. Fluorescent and compact fluorescent (energy saving) can distort the colour in the tube. Halogen bulbs are usually fine, though I don't know about LED bulbs.

It looks as though you did have some ammonia left behind. The thing to do now is add some more, enough to get the reading to 3.0ppm. It will be a bit of a fiddle but add it a bit at a time and wait 30 mins before testing to allow it to mix in. With the amount of ammonia you will need to add it may well be worth spending a or two on a 1ml babies medicine dosing syringe (from a pharmacy, the babies medicine bit is very important as you could get the third degree if you ask for just a syringe!). I have a couple of these syringes, they are graduated in hundredths of a ml and are very useful for small tanks for dosing everything from ammonia to medication.
Try adding 0.4ml ammonia and see what reading that gives, then add a bit more if necessary. Add up the total amount you add, that will be the volume of ammonia needed for 2.6ppm (since there is already 0.4 in there). Then you'll be able to work out how much would be needed for 3ppm and 1ppm as you'll need to add those amounts later in the cycle.

If you test your tap water as well as the tank, you will get a base line for the tank readings. Leave a glass of water to stand for 24 hours then test the pH - you will probably find it is different from freshly run tap water. It may also be different from the tank pH as adding ammonia does mess with the pH reading.
Your tap water may well contain some nitrate - the UK allows up to 50ppm. That way you'll know how much nitrate came from the tap and how much is made by the bacteria.


It is possible that the plants had some bacteria on them, a lot of people reckon that is a part of speeding up the cycle with plants. The plants may also use some ammonia as food, they prefer it to nitrate. If they do use a fair bit of the ammonia you add you won't see quite as high a nitrite reading as if you didn't have any plants. But the end result is the same whether the plants help or not - the cycle is finished when there is no ammonia or nitrite in the water 24 hours after adding a 3ppm dose (at steps 10 to 12 of the method in that link)

Offline Sanjo

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Re: Fishless cycling
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2015, 07:53:00 PM »
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Thanks for the comprehensive advice Sue.
My husband is stunned. He said he just wanted to keep a few fish and now he's got to help me be all scientific!!

Offline Sue

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Re: Fishless cycling
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2015, 09:07:19 PM »
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It has been said that fishkeeping is about keeping water. If that is right, the fish will look after themselves  ;)

Offline Sanjo

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Re: Fishless cycling
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2015, 10:50:17 PM »
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Thank you  ;D   :o  :D  :o  ;D

Offline Richard W

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Re: Fishless cycling
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2015, 08:05:30 AM »
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Getting started properly is very important, once you have everything up and running correctly you only have to follow a few basic rules and everything should go smoothly. But if you get off on the wrong foot, it's much harder to correct later, when you have fish in the tank. Like most things, planning and preparation make life easier in the long run.

Offline Sanjo

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Re: Fishless cycling
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2015, 11:17:18 AM »
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Thanks Richard. That's exactly what I was telling him this morning. It's only complicated now because we need to do it properly and then it's just a question of checks and minor adjustments. (I hope).

Thanks for your input. Just about to increase the ammonia a per Sue's suggestion yesterday

Sandra

Offline Sanjo

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Re: Fishless cycling
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2015, 01:36:15 PM »
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Me again, I'm afraid.

Following Sues advice, on 3rd January I brought the ammonia level up to 3pmm, having mucked up the original start and having to bail out the tank.
3rd Jan (evening)     The tank started blooming
4th Jan                    Tank had mainly cleared

6th Jan tested for Ammonia level = 1.2
            tested for Nitrite             = 1.5

9th Jan  tested for Ammonia level = 0.8
             tested for Nitrite             = 1.5

Tank lovely and clear, looks good in fact.

I am trying to make sense of it all.  I have looked at the cycling article (Honestly!) but I am just concerned that my nitrite level doesn't seem to have increased although the ammonia has gone down.

I was going to leave it until Sunday/Monday now to see if there is a change and nitrites go up.
Is that the correct thing to do please?

Sorry for the probably obvious answer.  Other half already sniffy because I mucked up the first time ! I don't think he trusts me to get it right but wont get involved himself.

He just wants to see fish in there. (worse than a child eh)

Offline Sue

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Re: Fishless cycling
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2015, 01:46:06 PM »
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Bacteria are biological entities so they never behave in a totally predictable manner!

I would wait till Sunday (11th)and test again. I know you are supposed to wait till 12th (ie 3 more days) but you need to see where your ammonia is going. If you find your ammonia is below 0.75, I would add another 3ppm dose of ammonia regardless of what the nitrite level is. Test half an hour after adding the ammonia to make sure it is 3ppm.
Then start testing every 2 days for both ammonia and nitrite. You are looking for 2 consecutive tests where ammonia is zero. That is, test and find zero ammonia then test 2 days later and have zero ammonia again.

Offline Sanjo

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Re: Fishless cycling
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2015, 03:23:18 PM »
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Ah thank you Sue.
My problem is that I find numbers very hard.  The colour chart throws me because I can't make sense of it.
You said 0.75 but I couldn't see anything like that on the card.
Had to ask the other half and now I can see where you mean. Mine just reads 0.8ml. Idiot that I am I didn't realise they just leave the last zero off, so I got in a panic.

So, I shall check again on Sunday and do as you suggest.
I am sure that at some stage we will be looking at a few beautiful fish in the tank but it seems a long way off yet.
Thanks again

Offline Sue

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Re: Fishless cycling
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2015, 05:02:08 PM »
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The problem with all test kits is that the colours go up in jumps and very often there isn't a colour for the level you want. You have to estimate what colour of the value you want should be between the colours the kit does give.

Offline Sanjo

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Re: Fishless cycling
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2015, 05:33:07 PM »
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I know what you mean Sue.
It didn't help that the test sample is translucent and the chart is opaque so I am guesstimating a lot of the time anyway.

As long as I'm not going backwards. That's the main thing.  ;D

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