Fishless Cycle

  • Get the NEW AquariaCentral iOS app --> http://itunes.apple.com/app/id1227181058 // Android version will be out soon!

railer20

AC Members
Oct 15, 2020
20
3
3
37
Kansas
So I am currently going through my fishless cycle. This is the first tank I’ve had in many many years. I used to have a couple Oscars but that was before I knew anything about fish and aquariums so I know they were not treated the way they should have been. and I want to make sure and do this one right. I started on July 27 and I have not finished yet. I didn’t have anybody around me to take established media from so I started from scratch. It is a 55 gallon tank and I am running a cascade 1000 canister filter. I’ve got the sponges plus some bio max in the filter to hopefully help the bacteria have a good place to live. Recently my pH went from 7.8, which it had been steady yet since the beginning and drop down to now around 6.2 or so. Is that stalling or crashing my cycle? What in the world can I do to get this cycle to finish up! I was patient but now getting antsy LOL. I did order some crushed coral that I will add to the tank because my KH is 3 out of the tap and has been 3 in my tank for a while and now it is 0 out of my tank.
 

FreshyFresh

Global Moderator
Staff member
Jan 11, 2013
4,537
506
120
West Falls NY
Real Name
Joel
Welcome and good for you on doing things right. Most of us have been through the same process.

What are you using as your ammonia source? Have you been doing water changes? 10 weeks is a long time, especially on a 55g.

That ammonia reading looks blue to me. It should be yellow to green.
 
Apr 2, 2002
2,461
185
66
New York
In order to determine what colors your sample are you need to place the tubes against the white background next to the bars like this. But the tube must be positioned so the it is adjacent to the most likely color:



The cycle itself creates acids in the water which will lower pH. So does the CO2 narmally dissolved in water. The bacteria will also use the carbonates which are part of KH. Loss of KH allows pH to drop.

We need a lot more info to be of useful help.

1. What are your tap water parameters for hardness-> GH, alkalinity-> KH and pH? (Did you out gas the water before testing for pH?)
2. What is your source of ammonia? How much are you adding and how often?
3. Even with your test tubes placed as they are I can see you likely have over 4 ppm of ammonia, 5 or more ppm of nitrite and in the range of 80 ppm of nitrate. When you held them against the card what do you think they read?
4. What Dechlor do you use?
5. Do you have live plants? If so give a brief description.
6. Are you adding anything else to the water?

The main cause of stalling a cycle is actually too much nitrite. There is no way to know from the API test kit if it is exactly 5 or if it is 25. both will read the same.

My advice is you need to back up a bunch in your cycling. Normally a fishless cycle is done in 5-6 weeks. You do not need to go back to the beginning, but you do need to get the tank under control. To that end, do a 75% water change. Use your normal dechlor following the directions on the label. Do not overdose.

You need to wait about 5-10 minutes ant then test. The more circulation in the tank the the less time needed. Then test first for ammonia (do not delay- your dehlor may be afffecting the ammonia reading. Testing quickly helps avoid this. Next, test for nitrite and finally for nitrate. Come back here and post the answers to the questions and your test results after you do the water change. Do not add ammonia.
 
  • Like
Reactions: FreshyFresh

railer20

AC Members
Oct 15, 2020
20
3
3
37
Kansas
Welcome and good for you on doing things right. Most of us have been through the same process.

What are you using as your ammonia source? Have you been doing water changes? 10 weeks is a long time, especially on a 55g.

That ammonia reading looks blue to me. It should be yellow to green.
I use Fritz ammonia. I just did a water change (50%) last week.
 

railer20

AC Members
Oct 15, 2020
20
3
3
37
Kansas
In order to determine what colors your sample are you need to place the tubes against the white background next to the bars like this. But the tube must be positioned so the it is adjacent to the most likely color:



The cycle itself creates acids in the water which will lower pH. So does the CO2 narmally dissolved in water. The bacteria will also use the carbonates which are part of KH. Loss of KH allows pH to drop.

We need a lot more info to be of useful help.

1. What are your tap water parameters for hardness-> GH, alkalinity-> KH and pH? (Did you out gas the water before testing for pH?)
2. What is your source of ammonia? How much are you adding and how often?
3. Even with your test tubes placed as they are I can see you likely have over 4 ppm of ammonia, 5 or more ppm of nitrite and in the range of 80 ppm of nitrate. When you held them against the card what do you think they read?
4. What Dechlor do you use?
5. Do you have live plants? If so give a brief description.
6. Are you adding anything else to the water?

The main cause of stalling a cycle is actually too much nitrite. There is no way to know from the API test kit if it is exactly 5 or if it is 25. both will read the same.

My advice is you need to back up a bunch in your cycling. Normally a fishless cycle is done in 5-6 weeks. You do not need to go back to the beginning, but you do need to get the tank under control. To that end, do a 75% water change. Use your normal dechlor following the directions on the label. Do not overdose.

You need to wait about 5-10 minutes ant then test. The more circulation in the tank the the less time needed. Then test first for ammonia (do not delay- your dehlor may be afffecting the ammonia reading. Testing quickly helps avoid this. Next, test for nitrite and finally for nitrate. Come back here and post the answers to the questions and your test results after you do the water change. Do not add ammonia.
Appreciate it! I will do a water change Saturday morning. I’m away from the house for the next couple days.

1. What are your tap water parameters for hardness-> GH, alkalinity-> KH and pH? (Did you out gas the water before testing for pH?)
Tap Kh-3, Gh-8, Ph-7.6-7.8 (not sure what you mean by out gas)

2. What is your source of ammonia? How much are you adding and how often?
I use the Fritz ammonia powder. I toasted on July 27 when I started, September 20, and just last weekend when I did that water change. I try to redose to 4ppm, but being partially colorblind it is very possible I misread.

3. Even with your test tubes placed as they are I can see you likely have over 4 ppm of ammonia, 5 or more ppm of nitrite and in the range of 80 ppm of nitrate. When you held them against the card what do you think they read?
I was thinking 4ppm, 1ppm and 20ppm. See note above on my partially colorblind.

4. What Dechlor do you use?
API tap water dechlorinator

5. Do you have live plants? If so give a brief description.
No live plants

6. Are you adding anything else to the water?
Besides ammonia & dechlor I have added probably 1/2 bottle of API quickstart and a 4oz bottle of Fritz Turbostart.
 

FreshyFresh

Global Moderator
Staff member
Jan 11, 2013
4,537
506
120
West Falls NY
Real Name
Joel
I use Fritz ammonia. I just did a water change (50%) last week.
Sounds good on the ammonia.

I'd do what 2 tank suggested above.

I've run into that scenario before when doing (or attempting?) a fishless cycle. I've actually had nitrites so high that the API master test read zero. On the nitrite test, if you're out of range high, the tube will read light blue (zero PPM) Once I did a 2 large back/back water changes, my cycle took right off.

What I would do now is one or more very large water changes, then test. If you show nothing but nitrates at that point, you're probably good to go. If you can zero everything out, dose a few mL of ammonia and nothing but nitrates is produced, you're good to go.
 
  • Like
Reactions: railer20

railer20

AC Members
Oct 15, 2020
20
3
3
37
Kansas
Sounds good on the ammonia.

I'd do what 2 tank suggested above.

I've run into that scenario before when doing (or attempting?) a fishless cycle. I've actually had nitrites so high that the API master test read zero. On the nitrite test, if you're out of range high, the tube will read light blue (zero PPM) Once I did a 2 large back/back water changes, my cycle took right off.

What I would do now is one or more very large water changes, then test. If you show nothing but nitrates at that point, you're probably good to go. If you can zero everything out, dose a few mL of ammonia and nothing but nitrates is produced, you're good to go.
Thank you!
 

FreshyFresh

Global Moderator
Staff member
Jan 11, 2013
4,537
506
120
West Falls NY
Real Name
Joel
Do you know if your municipal water supply uses chlorine or chloramine for a disinfectant?

Chloramine breaks down into ammonia when you use your dechlorinator product. What I'm getting at is, you are getting too much ammonia into that tank.

I know it's a pain, but I would do more like 80-90% water changes and would do another one or two and then measure.

Hopefully you have your tank in a spot where water changes are easy, or use a python water changer.

FWIW, once you run out of your dechlorinator product, get Seachem Prime, or Seachem Safe, the granular form. It's more expensive, but it's a better product and you use less of it per water change.
 
zoomed.com
hikariusa.com
aqaimports.com
Store