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Old 09-25-2011, 11:43 AM   #1
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Cycling IMO

I know everybody is yelling "FISHLESS!" But I say "Fish in". It can be done just as safely and harmlessly to the fish. BUt not the way some people do it. Or the way stores tell you to do it. I did fish in cycling (had never heard of fishless and my LFS said I was fine to add fish since I used Seachem Stability) I did have one fish that got sick but I believe it was the LFS fault.
How I would suggest a person do fish in cycling:
1) set up tank and let set for i week with no fish. This just lets everything settle down and the cloudiness go away.
2) Add about 3 fish. The number isnt exact but a guideline.
3) immediately add Seachem stability or a suitable replacement (there is one everyone says is better but I dont know it) THIS DOES NOT CYCLE YOU TANK! This needs to be added everyday at first. From what I can gather this is essentially an artificial temperary cycle but it keeps your fish safe until the bacteria you will grow naturally (not bottled) can establish themselves.
4) in about a 1/2 a week to a whole week add 3 or 4 more fish. Adding fish slowly reduces the risk of biooverload because remember you dont have a fully established bacteria colony.
5) in about another week you can add more fish. The number is up to you at this point just be sure to continue using the (bottled bacteria) for a week or two after you add your last fish. I probably wouldnt add full stocking of the tank yet.

Additional notes:
Keep using bottled bacteria through the whole process.
Add fish a little slower than you normally would.
Keep an eye on water parameters (I wish I had) and do water changes accordingly. After each water change use your bottled bateria.
DO NOT ADD ANY INVERTS OR SENSITIVE FISH UNTIL AFTER THE CYCLE IS COMPLETE!!!!!!!

Personal note:
I am not an expert. I have been doing this a pretty short time but I have done my research. This is my personal opinion. I could be completely off but it worked all right for me (luck?) Anyway feel free to post your thoughts. If someone knows a better method feel free to share it here!
God bless and thanks for reading!
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Old 09-25-2011, 12:33 PM   #2
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This is much more difficult and time consuming than fishless. Some people get impatient and want fish right away though. If you're doing a cycle with fish, test ammonia EVERY DAY. You should get nothing at first, then it will be high, change as much water as you need to to get ammonia under 0.25ppm. (your tank cycles fastest at 4 ppm, but this will kill your fish.) When you finally get a test that says you don't need to change water because of ammonia, start testing nitrite EVERY DAY and keep that under 0.25 ppm. After both reach 0, test every other day for a week, then twice a week, then before each maintenance water change until the tank is a few months old and very stable. This is a LOT of work, and in my opinion not worth it.

A second way to get fish faster is with a plant cycle. The bacteria in a bottle don't work quite as advertised, but live plants do start working immediately. Get bunches of the cheapest weediest stem plants you can find, the ones that the store warns you will take over the tank, and pack them in. If you have enough plants, and enough lighting, the plants will instantly start uptaking all the ammonia in the water. The downside of plant cycling is that your tank is very light dependent, and the plants need regular trimming. If you forget the lights or have a power outage, you will have an ammonia spike. If you don't want to remain on a plant based ecology, you can slowly remove the plants over eight weeks and let the bacterial ecology take over. Or if you're interested in slow growing plants, you can slowly replace the fast growers with slow growers and have a mixed plant and bacteria ecology.
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Old 09-25-2011, 12:41 PM   #3
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I agree with you on one thing: Fish-in cycles CAN be done.
However, I don't think that bottled bacteria, and these other chemicals do anything to help a cycle along. I've actually heard that it hurt some peoples cycle.

The best way to fish in, IMO is:
Setup the tank and let the aquarium temperature stabilize. Then, do what dskidmore said and add plenty plants as they will have beneficial bacteria and help keep the ammonia/nitirite spike from being quiet as high. Adding filter media from a well established tank will make the cycle even faster and safer. Add one fish in smaller tanks or more in larger ones. A test kit is very important, in order to keep the ammonia and nitrites below .5ppm. Do tests every day or so and change the water as needed. This type of cycling is a little more work intensive, but you don't have to sit around with an empty tank. I would not reccommend this for someone that is not devoted enough to keep up PWC's and watch params though.

I have fish in some of my tanks and the only problem I had was some fin rot on my male betta. However that was due to the death of a snail which casued an ammonia spike when my cycle was almost finished. This type of cycling is underrated because a lot of people think "Fishless cycle or you are a fish abuser!" This is a good point to post though.
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Old 09-25-2011, 12:50 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by adadkins1 View Post
I agree with you on one thing: Fish-in cycles CAN be done.
However, I don't think that bottled bacteria, and these other chemicals do anything to help a cycle along. I've actually heard that it hurt some peoples cycle.
Ammonia detoxifiers can help the survival rate if ammonia spikes. I recommend using prime with every water change if you're not available to change water a couple times a day. (If it's not time for a more precise test, just smelling the tank may tell you that it is time for an extra change today.) It will slow your cycle down, but why cycle with fish if you're going to let it die?
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Old 09-25-2011, 12:52 PM   #5
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Thanks for the input yall. I am unfortunatley one of the impatiants who cannot wait for a fishless cycle lol That is why I like fish in cycling. I never lost a single fish during the cycling but Im not sure how lol I still havent got a test kit..... Expensive and I dont know what is good...
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Old 09-25-2011, 12:57 PM   #6
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If you can't buy a kit, the sniff test will keep things in the right ballpark. If the water smells fishy, change it. This is more risky than working with concrete numbers though.

I don't think you need a really high quality kit for cycling with hardy fish. I've used *gasp* test strips before.
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Old 09-25-2011, 01:00 PM   #7
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API test kit

I have read several people comment that the API test kit is very good. I need one too and will probably go this route.

Cheers.
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Old 09-25-2011, 01:23 PM   #8
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I used to be all about fishless cycling... thought cycling with fish was cruel, etc. Found out that most of it was just bogus info being passed around. It really all comes down to the knowledge of the person doing it. IMO, fishless cycling is the safest bet for those new to the hobby that don't understand how everything works. You can make mistakes and it doesn't harm the fish. I don't cycle tanks anymore though. I just keep extra filters running so that I can instantly cycle the new tanks I set up.

jetajockey has a great signature. It says "Uncycled tanks do not kill fish, unprepared aquarists do."... couldn't be more true.
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Old 09-25-2011, 02:37 PM   #9
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I have had luck with bottled bacteria but only with Tetra Safe Start. The employee at my lfs gave me some tips on how to use it that makes it work much better. First add the recommended amount of Tetra Safe Start. Then turn off the light. DO NOT feed your fish or turn the light on for 3 days! Basically don't even touch the tank for 3 days. After 3 days, test your water. In my case, I was totally cycled. Wait at least a week before adding new fish, not too many at once though.
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Old 09-25-2011, 03:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfdrookie516
It really all comes down to the knowledge of the person doing it. IMO, fishless cycling is the safest bet for those new to the hobby that don't understand how everything works. You can make mistakes and it doesn't harm the fish. I don't cycle tanks anymore though. I just keep extra filters running so that I can instantly cycle the new tanks I set up.

jetajockey has a great signature. It says "Uncycled tanks do not kill fish, unprepared aquarists do."... couldn't be more true.
I totally agree with that. If someone is dedicated and informed...it isn't a big deal. Especially if you start out with seeded media it's a piece of cake as long as you stock the tank responsibly. Unfortunately most fish-in cycling stories you see on here start off badly, and it's more of a crisis management situation as opposed to a planned and controlled situation.

And yeah, I vote no on the cycling products unless you do your research and use one of the few brands which contain the proper strains of bacteria. Even then it's not a guarantee...and you should rely on your test kit instead simply throwing your faith into a product.
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Old 09-25-2011, 03:27 PM   #11
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I do fish in cycling without the bottled bacteria or additives. I test the water twice a day and do water changes based on the parameters. The last tank I did was a 55 gal and it took 7 weeks to cycle. If anyone is interested, I can post the record of the tests and the corrective action I took. I monitor and graph it to see the comparative results. Now, like Jonathan, I use bio media transfer to instantly cycle newer tanks.

There are two different types of "bacteria in a bottle". Inert and active. Anything on the shelf that can sit there for periods of time is inert. Active bacteria can be found in the refrigerated section of the fish store, where they keep their live foods (worms and such).

There are also chemicals to change the NH3 ammonia to less harmful NH4, but most tests will not test them individually and will show results for both combined. Another way to minimize ammonia poisoning is to artificially change the pH, which affects the NH3 turning into NH4, but playing with your pH is fairly tricky.

The active bacteria works great. But, you need to have something to feed the bacteria after you seed with it. You can use fish, but a dead shrimp is very common as well. As long as it produces ammonia so the bacteria can stay alive until you start adding fish.

In general, I'm very much against additives and chemicals. They definitely have their place, especially in diseases. But, when there is a natural course of action I will always try it first.

Picking the correct fish for cycling is important. Some fish are not affected by minor swings in parameters, which would kill others. Generally, if you are keeping an eye on them, you can tell when a fish is uncomfortable by coloration, swimming activity, hunger, etc.

The fish I cycle with are not what I like in a tank. So, I purchase them, use them for cycling, and either give them away or take them back to the LFS and allow them to re-sell. Yes, I lose a little money. However, allowing the LFS to make money on the inexpensive fish can save you larger dollars in the long run by the good will relationship you build.

Once the bacteria is established, adding fish slowly and still monitoring the parameters is a must. You can enter mini-cycles by adding more bio-load than what your bacteria count can handle.

I fully agree with mfdrookie526/eco23... most in fish cycling is done ill informed and unprepared suggested by people that don't know what they are doing without understanding the relationship of the cycle.
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Old 09-25-2011, 03:50 PM   #12
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The fastest way to cycle a tank is with a seeded/active filter.

When I first started keeping a fish when I was a kid, I always kept a little 5 gallon tank, never really changed the water, and I had a goldfish that lived for about 5 years until I graduated high school and put it in someones outdoor fish pond.

Then I got my first big tank, a 55 gallon about 7 years ago, and I fought with cycling it for weeks until I found this site and was able to get some gravel and filter media from a lfs and BAM, finally my tank cycled overnight. From that point on, I have never started a tank without a seeded filter. Being out of the loop for a few years and setting up this 29 gallon, I was disappointed that management at the lfs that I used to love has changed, and they no longer give out gravel or filter media. I even offered to pay for it, but no. So as I was setting up my tank, I bought this 'active sand' substrate for about $20, but was still very hesitant to add fish, until someone recommended buying a seeded filter from a website. When I got the filters in, my husband text messaged me while I was at work, I stop and bought fish right away and I tested my water parameters every single day and on day 4 I had nitrAtes! I never detected ammonia or nitrItes.

Unfortunately I am now dealing with ICH, which I think came from one of the fish stores that I bought from (there are 3 pet stores in my area that sell fish). Up until this point I had not lost one fish. I lost one cory and my apple snail. However I am still testing parameters daily and still have steady nitrAtes and no ammonia or nitrite issues. So I know it is the ich that must've killed the snail and cory.

I am a firm believer that getting a seeded filter is the safest and most satisfying means of starting a new tank. I will always keep extra filter media in my tank for this very reason.


oh and if you do detect any ammonia, nitrite, or minicycles from adding fish, you can start doing daily water changes and use PRIME to dose with each water change, to temporarily neutralize the ammonia and nitrite.
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Old 09-25-2011, 03:59 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ashleynicole
The fastest way to cycle a tank is with a seeded/active filter.

When I first started keeping a fish when I was a kid, I always kept a little 5 gallon tank, never really changed the water, and I had a goldfish that lived for about 5 years until I graduated high school and put it in someones outdoor fish pond.

Then I got my first big tank, a 55 gallon about 7 years ago, and I fought with cycling it for weeks until I found this site and was able to get some gravel and filter media from a lfs and BAM, finally my tank cycled overnight. From that point on, I have never started a tank without a seeded filter. Being out of the loop for a few years and setting up this 29 gallon, I was disappointed that management at the lfs that I used to love has changed, and they no longer give out gravel or filter media. I even offered to pay for it, but no. So as I was setting up my tank, I bought this 'active sand' substrate for about $20, but was still very hesitant to add fish, until someone recommended buying a seeded filter from a website. When I got the filters in, my husband text messaged me while I was at work, I stop and bought fish right away and I tested my water parameters every single day and on day 4 I had nitrAtes! I never detected ammonia or nitrItes.

Unfortunately I am now dealing with ICH, which I think came from one of the fish stores that I bought from (there are 3 pet stores in my area that sell fish). Up until this point I had not lost one fish. I lost one cory and my apple snail. However I am still testing parameters daily and still have steady nitrAtes and no ammonia or nitrite issues. So I know it is the ich that must've killed the snail and cory.

I am a firm believer that getting a seeded filter is the safest and most satisfying means of starting a new tank. I will always keep extra filter media in my tank for this very reason.
Pardon my ignorance, what does ICH stand for and where can I get good info about it in case I will deal with it? (very good info in this thread, for a newbie like me. Ty)
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Old 09-25-2011, 05:17 PM   #14
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Pardon my ignorance, what does ICH stand for and where can I get good info about it in case I will deal with it? (very good info in this thread, for a newbie like me. Ty)
ICH is a parasite, a protozoan to be exact. Ichthyophthiriuse
Freshwater Ich? Yuck!
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Old 09-25-2011, 05:43 PM   #15
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I know everybody is yelling "FISHLESS!" But I say "Fish in". It can be done just as safely and harmlessly to the fish. BUt not the way some people do it. Or the way stores tell you to do it. I did fish in cycling (had never heard of fishless and my LFS said I was fine to add fish since I used Seachem Stability) I did have one fish that got sick but I believe it was the LFS fault.
How I would suggest a person do fish in cycling:
1) set up tank and let set for i week with no fish. This just lets everything settle down and the cloudiness go away.
2) Add about 3 fish. The number isnt exact but a guideline.
3) immediately add Seachem stability or a suitable replacement (there is one everyone says is better but I dont know it) THIS DOES NOT CYCLE YOU TANK! This needs to be added everyday at first. From what I can gather this is essentially an artificial temperary cycle but it keeps your fish safe until the bacteria you will grow naturally (not bottled) can establish themselves.
4) in about a 1/2 a week to a whole week add 3 or 4 more fish. Adding fish slowly reduces the risk of biooverload because remember you dont have a fully established bacteria colony.
5) in about another week you can add more fish. The number is up to you at this point just be sure to continue using the (bottled bacteria) for a week or two after you add your last fish. I probably wouldnt add full stocking of the tank yet.

Additional notes:
Keep using bottled bacteria through the whole process.
Add fish a little slower than you normally would.
Keep an eye on water parameters (I wish I had) and do water changes accordingly. After each water change use your bottled bateria.
DO NOT ADD ANY INVERTS OR SENSITIVE FISH UNTIL AFTER THE CYCLE IS COMPLETE!!!!!!!

Personal note:
I am not an expert. I have been doing this a pretty short time but I have done my research. This is my personal opinion. I could be completely off but it worked all right for me (luck?) Anyway feel free to post your thoughts. If someone knows a better method feel free to share it here!
God bless and thanks for reading!
I've been working on a writeup on this very subject, although I don't think I'm going to publish it here as an article.

I agree with you on the general topic, fish-in cycling can be done safely, and it's not as hard as it's often made out to be. I have a different opinion on the bacteria products, but that's just something I've learned through my testing of a few of them.

I'm totally on board with the active sponge filter/seeded media thing, if you happen to scroll down here Sponge Filters for aquariums , they even linked a test that I did on another forum last year with it. I've been promoting it ever since.

I don't really understand the reasoning of letting the tank sit for a week as you suggested in #1, and the initial bioload given in #2 should be a variable based on tank volume rather than a fixed number.

Finally the other thing I would do is lag between the initial stocking and additional stocking till the tank is reading constant 0's for ammonia and nitrites for at least a week.
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Old 09-25-2011, 06:40 PM   #16
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Good points JetaJockeye. I said the 1 week wait because of the cloudy water and for some reason I have a hard time putting fish in first day lol Im wierd. And yesn the #2 should be based on tank volume. I think the best way to do it is to instant cycle with media from an established tank though.
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Old 09-25-2011, 07:22 PM   #17
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One more thing I might add. Cycling with pure ammonia or even a rotting shrimp, does not give you the same biological benefit as fish waist. Fish waist contains so many more things besides ammonia. Their poop has bacteria as well that can help establish the tank. I see how doing a fishless cycle can help get things started, but just like bacterial additives, you are still at risk for swings in water parameters as the bacteria try to balance out. Real fish, real fish waist, and a good active filter are the most natural way to go.
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Old 09-25-2011, 07:43 PM   #18
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I use dead feeders or frozen shrimp and Stability to cycle a tank.

First week I follow the directions on the Stability

Second week I do water tests and small water changes (if needed) and refresh the dead carcases (if needed), still using Stability

Third week I start removing the dead things, check the water, do a change if needed, add seeded material, still use Stability

Fourth week water test, water change, add live fish slowly.
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