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Should I Do Filter Or Water Changes During Fishless Cycling?

Author Topic: Should I do Filter or water changes during fishless cycling?  (Read 208 times)

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Offline Joolia

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Should I do Filter or water changes during fishless cycling?
« on: November 08, 2018, 08:24:49 PM »
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I'm setting up a new aquarium with brand new filter media and have just begun a fishless cycle.

Please can someone confirm for me whether I should conduct any filter or water changes whilst the tank is cycling.

It's a 180 litre tank which I've planted quite heavily, otherwise there's nothing in it - apart from ammonia and now some nitrite!

Thank you! :fishy1:

Offline Sue

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Re: Should I do Filter or water changes during fishless cycling?
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2018, 08:33:39 PM »
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Having just read the other thread - do you have any other tanks at the moment? If you do, you can speed up the cycle enormously be stealing some media from a mature tank. It is safe to take up to a third of the media from an established tank.



To answer your question, during a fishless cycle using ammonia solution you do not need to either clean the media or do a water change, with a couple of exceptions.

If the media becomes clogged with something, then yes, clean it. Very carefully as the bacteria will not yet have a fully established biofilm.
If the pH crashes off the bottom of the scale, you will need to do a water change to replenish KH. This only happens with very low KH, which usually goes with very soft water.
If you accidentally overdose ammonia, you will need to do a water change to get it back down to 3 ppm.

Otherwise, you won't need to do water changes or filter cleans until the cycle has finished. Before getting transferring fish from the old tank you will need to do a very large water change to remove all the nitrate you have just been making.




Offline Joolia

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Re: Should I do Filter or water changes during fishless cycling?
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2018, 08:35:30 PM »
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Thanks Sue, that's really helpful.

I daren't use the old media - as the tank is full of all sorts of stuff that I'd rather not transfer to be honest!

Offline Sue

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Re: Should I do Filter or water changes during fishless cycling?
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2018, 08:45:18 PM »
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I see in the other thread that your new tank is a Juwel Rio. Just a heads up on Juwel media:
You don't need the black sponge as carbon is not needed full time.
The green sponge doesn't work at removing nitrate. Treat it like a blue sponge.
The white pads clog quickly as they are first in the direction of water flow to catch the debris. They don't wash well, as they go into holes quickly. Rather than buy expensive Juwel pads, get a length of filter wool/filter floss from a roll and use a white Juwel pad as a template to cut it up.

And ignore what Juwel say about replacing sponges - though you probably already know that  :)

Offline Joolia

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Re: Should I do Filter or water changes during fishless cycling?
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2018, 09:18:00 PM »
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That's brilliant advice! Thank you... I didn't know that already, no, so you've just saved me a fortune!  ;D

Offline Sue

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Re: Should I do Filter or water changes during fishless cycling?
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2018, 10:05:52 PM »
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Most filter manufacturers tell you to change the media every few weeks or months. This only actually applies to carbon, but then you don't need to use that full time anyway. Just keep a carbon sponge or granules in the cupboard to remove medication after treatment has finished if the fish ever get sick.

Sponges should be squeezed in water you take out during a water change until they go into holes or won't go back to shape. Ceramic media should be swooshed in old tank water till it starts to crumble.
They only want you to buy new media so it makes them more money.

Offline Joolia

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Re: Should I do Filter or water changes during fishless cycling?
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2018, 09:19:24 PM »
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Tank update - the cycling's started well, and my ammonia is already down to 0 (day three of 0)... topped back up to 3 ppm with ammonia every day... and now my nitrites are going crazy. I've also tested the nitrate and that's high as well.

However - why is there always a however?  :)) - my tank is now getting algae. Should I just leave it until the tank's finished cycling, or do I need to take action?

The tank's quite heavily planted (which I now understand may not have been such a good idea prior to cycling), but I'm feeding fertiliser and CO2 every day.

I've also tested the nitrate in my tap water and there's barely a trace.

May I trouble my new fishy friends for your thoughts please! I'd rather not finish my cycling with a tank thick with algae!

Offline Sue

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Re: Should I do Filter or water changes during fishless cycling?
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2018, 09:42:17 PM »
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Are the plants growing very well? If they are, I would suggest doing a big water change to get rid of the nitrite and buy the first batch of fish. Monitor both ammonia and nitrite to make sure they stay at zero., and do a water change if they show above zero.

Plants prefer ammonia as their food source. They will use nitrate and also nitrite to some extent, but they have to convert them back to ammonia to assimilate them. If there are plenty well growing plants, they should use most of the ammonia - and they don't turn it into nitrite. This is called a silent cycle. It does, however, mean that you have to add fish in batches, and only add the next once when you are sure that ammonia and nitrite aren't going to show up after the last addition.


The nitrate test also measures nitrite, so if nitrite is high, the nitrate test will show a higher reading than the actual level of nitrate.

Offline Joolia

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Re: Should I do Filter or water changes during fishless cycling?
« Reply #8 on: Yesterday at 08:25:56 PM »
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Yes, the plants seem to be thriving and they've all got new leaves and shoots and roots since I set the tank up two weeks ago.

I shall follow your advice, thank you and add some fish after a big water change over the weekend... I just need to decide who my 'volunteers' are going to be!  ???

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