Fishless Cycle

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railer20

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Oct 15, 2020
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It's odd to me you've been at this fishless cycle for this long and you're still showing all 3 components you're testing for. Generally, if you see an on scale amount of nitrate, you shouldn't see nitrite or ammonia. Again, I know water changes are a pain, but I think you have to keep at it, or add nothing to the tank and keep measuring daily.

Are you still adding things to the tank? I didn't mention it earlier, but don't add any ammonia source. Nothing but fresh, dechlorinated water at this point.
not adding anything but the API dechlorinator and I add it as the tank is filling. I add 5 mL for 30 gallons per the chloramine instructions. Should I try the 1 mL per 20 gal for chlorine instructions?
 

railer20

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The Fritz is actually ammonium chloride. That is good for cycling. However, I do not agree with their dosing. There is never a need to dose beyond 3 ppm. You need a copy of my fishless cycling article. If you follow it you will get your tank cycled with few of no issues at all and do so in the time frame I mentioned. You should go faster as you are part way there.
is that the one you messaged to me?
 
Apr 2, 2002
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OK- Here is what I see now from your test kit pics:
Ammonia 1 ppm
Nitrite 0.50 ppm
Nitrate between 5 and 10 ppm. (Nitrate readings from 1-20 ppm are the least accurate for this test kit)

Now comes the boring part. Do nothing for the next 24 hours and then retest and report the readings. Do not add any ammonium chloride. What we are looking for here is any change in readings. Here is what I would expect to see when you test again: Ammonia lower, Nitrite higher or the same but not lower and Nitrate higher.

Here is your "homework." Using the volume for your tank adjusted for non-water contents if you do not know the actual volume. Then figure out what it takes in terms of ammonium chloride to produce maximum of 3 ppm of ammonia in your tank. If you are not certain, it is better to be adding too little ammonia rather than too much. It;s like salting your food, if you add to little you can add more, if you over salt you are not able to unsalt. Over dosing ammonia mean oops big water change again.

Bear in mind when cycling a few things are happening. Different bacteria thrive of different levels of ammonia. If one raises ammonia levels to high in a cycle, you attract the bacteria that thrive on level much higher than a going tank produces. When the tank gets stocked there will will too little ammonia for those bacteria and there will not be anywhere near enough of the bacteria that thrive on tank ammonia levels and you get a spike. The same thing applies to the nitrite bacteria. And not only is this true in terms of ammonia levels, but it also applies for salt water vs fresh. The ammonia bacteria are not the same in these different types of water.

Where you appear to be now is at least half way, and likely more, through the cycle. If you had a chance to read the article to which I linked you in the PM, you should see that it takes only about 5 additions of ammonia to cycle a tank and that one of those is a smaller snack dose. Even a stubborn cycle should not need more than another one or two additions of ammonia. Moreover, the maximum ammonia level one reaches during a fishless cycle should never exceed 3 ppm. There is no reason for this.

There is a difference in how a fully stocked tank creates ammonia and how it is added in a fishless cycle. In a fishless cycle we raise ammonia levels in a single big dose. Basically, a tank goes from 0 ppm to 3 ppm in a matter of minutes. In a going stocked tank it takes a many hours to produce the equivalent of that much ammonia. The bacteria will handle that ammonia and nitrite as it is being created. Moreover, the amount of bacteria in any tank will always size to the level needed to handle that level of ammonia/nitrite. Add more sources of ammonoa and the bacteria will multiply. Remove some of the ammonia sources and the amount of bacteria will decrease. In a fishless cycle we are actually producing more bacteria than will be needed when the tank is fully operational. Better safe than sorry :)
 
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railer20

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My tank is 54 gallon so I figure around 50 gallon taking out the substrate, driftwood and few other small items.

Here is what Fritz emailed me for dosing:

You'll need about 1.69 grams of powder for 50 gallons which translates into about 1/3 teaspoon. It doesn't need to be exactly 4 ppm in order to work, it's just a suggestion/target. This dose should get you close!
 
Apr 2, 2002
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Do not get old :rolleyes:

I forgot that I have the Fritz ammonium chloride. I had been using Dr. Tim's and dosing in ml or 4 drops/gal. which is a PITA. So the last time I ordered a load of frozen food from Jehmco a couple of months ago, I had them add the 500 gm can of NH4CL. DOH! (In my defense, I have not used it yet.)

Once you report the next set of readings taken from 24 hours after your most recent post water change tests, I should know where in the cycle your tank is. If you read the article, you are either about to do the "snack" dose or else you are going to be doing dose #4.
 
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railer20

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T TwoTankAmin FreshyFresh FreshyFresh
Here are this mornings readings...my Ph is back to where is was for a long time before dropping like crazy. And the picture on my ammonia is weird, to me it looked close to .5 but picture looks like 1ppm

45911FBD-6471-40C3-9E82-DD58DB6E76DA.jpeg

EB6028CE-49B6-4CAF-B504-0E85BDE9ACCA.jpeg

BE6C6F33-4033-4E23-8145-E65AE04DABA7.jpeg

627AFADC-97DB-4E87-9569-BE7144F46F85.jpeg
 
Apr 2, 2002
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New York
Unless I missed your answer, I am assuming the plants in your tank picture are all fake and not live. This matters in terms of cycling and the expected test results.

It is hard for me to tell from your pictures what the readings are. You can probably see better where you are. It looks as if the ammonia is still about 1.0. But what you think you see at .5 is more in line with what I expected. The nitrite does not appear to match any color but, if I have to choose, it looks like it might be 2 ppm. Nitrate appears in a similar range as yesterday. Is it possible you see it as being higher?

Finally, have you done a pH test using the normal instead of the high range test? If not I suggest you do so. The color i am seeing looks to be the 7.4 lowest reading. When using the two pH kits it is important if you get the lowest reading on the high range or the highest reading on the normal test that you do the other test to see what they say. If I am seeing right on the high range it might be 7.4 or it might be lower. the only way to know is by doing the normal range test to see what it says.

He is what I am thinking. Your cycle is waiting for the numbers to be between the ammonia Dose #3 (snack) and the next full Dose #4. You should test again tonight (at least 12 hours after this mornings testing) and post the numbers. I do not need the pictures as what you see in person is likely more accurate than what we can see in the pictures.. What I am looking for is for ammonia to go down and nitrite not to go up. You do not need to do the nitrate test.

Tonight's reading should make things clear.
- If the ammonia is under .75 ppm and the nitrite is over 2 ppm, then you are at the time for the 1/3 snack dose.
- If the ammonia drops to .25 or lower and the nitrite drops clearly to under 1 ppm, then you are at the time for Dose #4.
- If the numbers are unchanged, then do nothing and test again tomorrow morning and report the numbers.

To do the 1/3 snack dose you need to do the following:

1. Into an 8 ounce measuring cup, put in 6 ounces of tank water (i.e. 3/4 full).
2. Add 1/4 teaspoon of ammonium chloride and mix until it dissolves.
3. Add only 2 ounces (1/4 cup) of the 6 ounces (3/4 cup) to the tank and throw out the other 4 ounces (1/2 cup).

Yes, you could cut the ounces above in half, but this would make things harder to read on the cup and then mean that a slight over or under dose would have more impact if you use 3 rather than 6 ounces.

To do Dose #4 you would use the whole 1/4 teaspoon of ammonium chloride dissolved in a cup of tank water which you should pour across the top of the tank water.

Needless to say, make sure the measuring cup is clean before using it. I have a set of measuring cups and measuring spoons dedicated for tank use only.

Finally, you are definitely getting the tank cycled. My gut feeling is you are likely a week or two from being able to add fish.
 

railer20

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Oct 15, 2020
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Unless I missed your answer, I am assuming the plants in your tank picture are all fake and not live. This matters in terms of cycling and the expected test results.

It is hard for me to tell from your pictures what the readings are. You can probably see better where you are. It looks as if the ammonia is still about 1.0. But what you think you see at .5 is more in line with what I expected. The nitrite does not appear to match any color but, if I have to choose, it looks like it might be 2 ppm. Nitrate appears in a similar range as yesterday. Is it possible you see it as being higher?

Finally, have you done a pH test using the normal instead of the high range test? If not I suggest you do so. The color i am seeing looks to be the 7.4 lowest reading. When using the two pH kits it is important if you get the lowest reading on the high range or the highest reading on the normal test that you do the other test to see what they say. If I am seeing right on the high range it might be 7.4 or it might be lower. the only way to know is by doing the normal range test to see what it says.

He is what I am thinking. Your cycle is waiting for the numbers to be between the ammonia Dose #3 (snack) and the next full Dose #4. You should test again tonight (at least 12 hours after this mornings testing) and post the numbers. I do not need the pictures as what you see in person is likely more accurate than what we can see in the pictures.. What I am looking for is for ammonia to go down and nitrite not to go up. You do not need to do the nitrate test.

Tonight's reading should make things clear.
- If the ammonia is under .75 ppm and the nitrite is over 2 ppm, then you are at the time for the 1/3 snack dose.
- If the ammonia drops to .25 or lower and the nitrite drops clearly to under 1 ppm, then you are at the time for Dose #4.
- If the numbers are unchanged, then do nothing and test again tomorrow morning and report the numbers.

To do the 1/3 snack dose you need to do the following:

1. Into an 8 ounce measuring cup, put in 6 ounces of tank water (i.e. 3/4 full).
2. Add 1/4 teaspoon of ammonium chloride and mix until it dissolves.
3. Add only 2 ounces (1/4 cup) of the 6 ounces (3/4 cup) to the tank and throw out the other 4 ounces (1/2 cup).

Yes, you could cut the ounces above in half, but this would make things harder to read on the cup and then mean that a slight over or under dose would have more impact if you use 3 rather than 6 ounces.

To do Dose #4 you would use the whole 1/4 teaspoon of ammonium chloride dissolved in a cup of tank water which you should pour across the top of the tank water.

Needless to say, make sure the measuring cup is clean before using it. I have a set of measuring cups and measuring spoons dedicated for tank use only.

Finally, you are definitely getting the tank cycled. My gut feeling is you are likely a week or two from being able to add fish.
To me my ammonia looked like .5, Nitrite looked like 1 ppm and Ph looked like 7.8. But I will test this evening and make my wife look at the readings to confirm for me :)
 
Apr 2, 2002
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New York
This is the drawback with hobby kits. They rely on our vision to interpret the colors. In ;ab grade tests the human eye is removed and they read the actual wavelength of the color. This makes the test pretty dang accurate.

If those are the correct levels for ammonia and nitrite, I would extpect both to appear lower to you this evening than this morning, If so you are ready for Dose #4. If so, dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of the ammonium chloride in some tank water and add it to the tank.

You can test in 12 hours if you are anxious. But normally this wait would be 24 hours. If after 12 hours you have 0/0, the tank is cycled. This is also true if it takes the full 24 hours to get to 0/0.

Then comes the harder part stocking. At the end of a proper fishless cycle one can fully stock a tank in one go. This is not required. However, if one chooses to stock over time, then one is effectively reverting to a fish in cycle and future additions must be done gradually (based in the stocking of the tank when one is ready to add more fish). It is all about the bio-load in the tank. The smaller the load with which one starts, the smaller the next addition should be to avoid an ammonia spike.

My rule of thumb for this is never increase the bio-load by more than 1/4 to 1/3 of what it already is. Optimally, the bacteria will double for ammonia in about 8 hours and those for nitrite in about 12. However, they are also able to increase the amount of ammonia they process before they need to multiply. This works in the other direction. They can maintain their levels if ammonia levels decrease a bit. They will reproduce more slowly. However, there is a limit to how much they adjust before they will multiply or die back some. All of this is going on out of sight. The only way we have any idea if what is likely going on in a tank in terms of the cycle is what we can determine from test results.

There is one other advantage to fully stocking a tank as soon as a fishless cycle is finished. All of the fish are new, therefore they can all quarantine together. The tank serves as both the Q tank and the Home tank. This is especially true of one gets all the fish from the same source.
 
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fishorama

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TTA, this is a different take on your usual cycling "thing" & I like this, maybe better, but I liked your "old" explanations too.. Might be the ammonium chloride vs NH3 (vastly different pH numbers)? My chemist husband thinks so, although he hates to offer any water or tank opinions any more...lets not go there...

As for test results, my husband & I see color differently (mostly reagents), as do my sister & I (fabric, food etc.), there is a subjective element to color perception (& maybe a gender 1). railer, do you have another house member that could look at your test colors & give an opinion? It's hard to say with pics on a computer...

I too think you are getting very, very close to being done!
 
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