Fishless Cycle

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Apr 2, 2002
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You are pretty much done, I would expect 0/0 in 24 or less.

As for cleaning the canister, or most filters for that matter, you know they need to be cleaned when you notice the return flow is slowing down. When this happens depends on the specific media one has chosen to use. This method will not work for stand alone sponge/foam based filtration. You should not need to clean your canister for some time since it is not processing much solid/dissolved solid waste yet.

I have generally cleaned my canisters twice a year- June and December. This year I had to clean two weeks ago for the first time in 18 years. It is on a pleco breeding tank that is about as well stocked as it could be and is a poop factory.

As for nitrate and water changes. This is an area of many myths in the hobby. Of the three nitrogen components, nitrate is considered to be the least harmful. It has also been the least researched of them as well. For the most part the sort of damage done by nitrate is not fatal unless the level is nuts. However, extended exposure to lower levels can do harm. The most damaging kind is the harm it can do over time to reproduction. A good rule of thumb is that one try to hold nitrate to 20 ppm or less. At much higher levels it can cause the same kind of harm as nitrite.

Before you stock, do as big a water change as you can. Water changes perform a number of functions. The most obvious is they remove "bad" things which might otherwise accumulate. But water changes also add things back to the tank that get use up. The carbonates making up KH are a perfect example. It is as important to do weekly water changes in a heavily planted tank as it is in a bare bottom tank with no plants. After 20 years in the hobby I have still never heard of fish dying because their water was too clean (this does not mean pure).
 
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railer20

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Oct 15, 2020
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Great you jinxed me saying I was basically done 😆. Hoping for 0/0 tomorrow, big water change and some fishies! I meed to message the fish guy to make sure he is stocked because I would like to do it all in one or two days.
 

railer20

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Wasn’t 0/0 this morning. Ammonia was basically 0, maybe .25. And nitrite was .25. Guess I will test tomorrow (knowing should be 0/0 long before) and redose again.
 
Apr 2, 2002
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I assume the "dose again" was made this morning soon after you posted if not before? Your numbers were where another dose was due.

So close. The odds are you could already be 0/0 as of my making this post. The process rolls on but a slight bit slower than hoped. Your numbers are now so low in 24 hours that they are functionally 0/0. Certainly ammonia is no longer an issue as it is right on the edge and there still may be something that works to give a tiny reading that is not actually there. At your 7.8 pH and a water temp of 80F, that .25 ppm ammonia reading would mean there is 0.01 ppm of the toxic NH3 form of ammonia present. 0.05 ppm is the red line for this.

At .25 ppm nitrite is almost gone as well. This is what I love about the "process." We know that 3 ppm of TA (Total Ammonia), if it is 100% processed to nitrite can only create a maximum of about 7.65 ppm of this. However, in fishless the ammonia is created all at once but in going tanks it takes a day to produce this much. That is why one waits 24 hours to test.

Your tank is essentially cycled even if you get a .25 ppm reading for either tomorrow as far as o am concerned.
 

Jspigs

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I've been following this thread but haven't had anything meaningful to contribute that hasn't already been said, but I do want to commend you for sticking with this process. Many prospective fishkeepers would have unfortunately given up and either added fish despite the tank not being cycled or just abandoned the project altogether. I would also second what TwoTankAmin said about your tank being for all intents and purposes cycled by now. I might just recommend stocking a little slower than you planned just to give a little bit of a buffer for any bacteria that still need to catch up. Also I may have missed it, but do you have any live plants in the tank? I'm a firm believer in live plants and they will also help with ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate reduction. Even just some java moss, java ferns, and/or anubias would be very beneficial to your tank in a number of ways, and are very hardy and low light tolerant.
 

railer20

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I’m going to respond to both in one post because I’m lazy!

T TwoTankAmin - I did not redose. I was actually going to wait until around noon and test again to see if it was at zero by then. But if you think I should now I will do that now. And then check in the morning.

Jspigs Jspigs I don’t have live plants. I like the looks of a “carpet” so I dont have to gravel vac but wasn’t sure how or if it would grow in gravel substrate with no CO2 and a standard LED light.
 

Jspigs

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A few ideas in no particular order:
  • Java moss carpet: tie java moss to flat mesh, place so mesh is covered by gravel with moss sticking out above. Probably the best option if you're worried about lighting etc. as Java moss will pretty much grow in any tank, any lighting, and any co2 level. I've even heard of it coming back to life from being dried onto driftwood and stored dry for months, though I have not personally attempted such.
  • Dwarf sagittaria carpet: You'll probably need to upgrade your light for this one, but it should grow without co2 added if you do.
  • Dwarf hairgrass carpet: Again, probably best to get a brighter light, but it should do ok if you do. This is the most likely one to need added co2.
You could also do a mix of all three, if you want to hedge your bets, but I'd start them in different parts of the tank so their roots don't compete too much while they are establishing (in the case of the latter two, java moss lacks roots) plus it would probably look nicer, but that's subjective. You could also start with easier plants now, and upgrade lighting and co2 at a later date before you add your carpet.
 
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Apr 2, 2002
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I had meant dose when the conditions were met which have been ammonia .25 or lower and nitrite clearly under 1 ppm. That is why I assumed you had added ammonia since you reported 0/.25.

Dwarf hairgrass will not thrive without higher light and added CO2. I ran a high light, pressurizedCO2 added tank for about a decade. I finally gave it up as it was to much work on plants rather than on fish. I do still have 7/20 tanks planted. That is down from 14. As I began working with more Xingu river plecos, I also began keeping fewer plants.

I can also say that a planted substrate is the best filter one can have, assuming it is feasible with the fish one keeps. After that I would say it is a Hamburg Mattenfilter.
 
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Apr 2, 2002
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OK- I assume when I log on to this site, all the post times are stated in my time zone (EST). Here is what I see now:

Yesterday at 8:09 AM
You posted:
Wasn’t 0/0 this morning. Ammonia was basically 0, maybe .25. And nitrite was .25. Guess I will test tomorrow (knowing should be 0/0 long before) and redose again.

Yesterday at 10:39 AM
I posted:
I assume the "dose again" was made this morning soon after you posted if not before? Your numbers were where another dose was due.

Yesterday at 10:51 AM
Jspigs posted

Yesterday at 11:22 AM
You posted:
I’m going to respond to both in one post because I’m lazy!

T TwoTankAmin - I did not redose. I was actually going to wait until around noon and test again to see if it was at zero by then. But if you think I should now I will do that now. And then check in the morning.

Yesterday at 3:53 PM
Jspigs posted again

Yesterday at 4:12 PM
I posted:
I had meant dose when the conditions were met which have been ammonia .25 or lower and nitrite clearly under 1 ppm. That is why I assumed you had added ammonia since you reported 0/.25.

Yesterday at 4:17 PM
You posted
I redosed after I read your message at 10:00 my time


I pretty much show you as posting your test results in the morning at about 8:30 a.m.

At any rate, I am really curious to see what this morning's readings will be. 🐠 🐟 🐠 🐟 🐠
 
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