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Old 06-30-2006, 01:38 PM   #1
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Using fish to cycle a tank.

Ok - I realize that I'm new to this particular site but it has shocked me to see that people very seldom tell newbies that cycling with fish is cruel and shouldn't be done. (It's not Ok to expect fish to die so someone can cycle their tank.) The fish should be taken back to the store and the cycle done without them. Then - after around a month or so when the cycle is 100% completed fish can be added to a ready to live in tank. How can people learn this and spread the word if the experienced aquarists don't come right out and say it? How many fish have to die because people don't know this (the LFS isn't likely to tell them) and we don't explain it to them?
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Old 06-30-2006, 01:40 PM   #2
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Actually, the fishless cycle method is highly pushed on this site. I don't know of anyone who pushes to cycle with fish.
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Old 06-30-2006, 01:47 PM   #3
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And sometimes, people buy fish before they realize what's involved with cycling a tank and by then, it's too late. It's nice to THINK that you can just take a fish back to the store, but there are MANY stores out there that won't take fish back just because of ignorance.

In that case, it is the responsibility of experienced aquarists to help the person get the tank cycled with as little fish death as possible. The world is not perfect and people just have to do the best they can with what they have. JMO.
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Old 06-30-2006, 02:27 PM   #4
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Agreed crazyred - people buy fish because they don't know better. I expect that is usually the case (I was one of them when I started). And, you're right, some fish stores won't take fish back because of ignorance.
However, if you explain to the store that you didn't know about cycling the tank and point out that they didn't tell you many stores will agree to take back the fish knowing that you are going to come back in the future and get more fish. (At least around here that is the case - maybe it's just here.)
So my comment is that when I read threads about people having already bought their fish no one here comes right out and says: "That was not a good idea and can you take them back?" If they have tried to take them back and can't then I totally agree that you guys are great in helping them through a fish cycling process.
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Old 06-30-2006, 02:39 PM   #5
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I cycled with two Rainbow Shark and heavy planting without injury to the fish but, if you have the patience, fishless is the way to go.
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Old 06-30-2006, 02:49 PM   #6
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I agree with FF. We preach and praise fishless cycling here at AA. I think most newbies read over our articles first and know about fishless cycling. If someone does decide to cycle with fish, we try and teach them better ways and help them keep their fish alive.

Welcome to AA, btw Cinder.
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Old 06-30-2006, 02:50 PM   #7
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I agree that if you go through the many threads, fishless cycling is the recommended method. While it is cruel to the fish, I feel it isn't good for the newbies that got the fish before they knew what they were getting into to be made to feel badly. I recommend several extra water changes if the fish can't be returned to the store.
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Old 06-30-2006, 02:51 PM   #8
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I agree Cinder, but to be honest, a lot of people simply don't care. When people come looking for advice, and are told "take back your fish" most don't. In pretty much every thread that get started by a newcomer who doesnt know about the Nitrogen cycle, someone does mention that it would be best to take the fish back and do it fishless. I've only seen one or two people actually do it. Most people start their first tank as a decoration and the realization that they should empty it and wait to add fish for 4-8 weeks doesnt sit well with them. In these situations, many people welcome the advice of checking water and changing it daily if needed, because then they can keep their decoration. Helping people learn and avoid unneccessary deaths is the driving force behind helping people cycle with their existing fish. Many times, people will either get frustrated and refuse to learn, driving them out of the hobby early, or will get seriously interested and will apply knowledge learned to future tanks. Unfortunatly, especially on the internet, you will always get those that come looking for advice and refuse to take it, continually doing whatever they think is right and searching for someone, even a single person, to aknowledge their ways - they usually ignore all of the experienced people and end up losing fish after fish after fish.

I definitly don't want to come across as harsh, because your intent is very well-intended and compassion is very much needed in this hobby -- but know that most of the people here feel the same as you and there is only so much we can do on an internet forum.
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Old 06-30-2006, 03:06 PM   #9
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Thanks guys - it's just good for me to hear you all say this. I am so attached to my fish that it hurts when I see them "used" by others just because they are fish.
And I agree, advice always needs to be given non-judgementally and with only helping in mind.
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Old 06-30-2006, 03:38 PM   #10
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A well planted tank can be cycled with fish.

I wouldn't ever cycle a tank with only a few plants in it though. That's really pushing the limits. I didn't use the fishless cycle and those fish are still alive and kicking. Healthy too. I also have a moderately well planted tank and did every other day water changes of 10%.
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Old 06-30-2006, 04:12 PM   #11
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I forgot to mention this in my earlier post, but I'm a mod on another forum (I spread the help around I'm faithful here too!!) , but in my signature on that forum I have a link to instructions for performing a fishless cycle and I push it whenever I can. 9 times out of 10 though, by the time someone ends up at one of the many forums, they are already in trouble because the tank is cycling and killing the fish that they bought.

The other problem is, a LOT of newbies (myself included) start off by buying fish at coporate chain stores tht provide terrible....if any....information, and they will only refund your money if the fish is dead. Sad, but true.

I'm a huge fan of fishless all the way!
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29 Gal. FW: 2 variatus platies, 6 cherry barbs, 10 harlequin rasboras, 1 opaline gourami, 1 hillstream loach, 1 Rio Jari pleco (L-316), 1 GBR

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Old 06-30-2006, 05:07 PM   #12
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Whenever someone asks advice before buying fish, I always recomend readings on the fishless cycle, but when someone post for the first time that they're having trouble with thier cycle, I don't want to come down hard on them and tell them they're cruel and heartless for starting a cycle with fish. I'd much rather suggest Prime and water changes to get them over thier first challenge with a sense of accomplishment and pride. The "next time..." education can come later, as they learn about the cycle in the process of watching it happen.

Besides, at that point the fish is probably already ammonia scarred. Returning it to the pet store will likely still result in it's death, or a repeat experience. It's not much kinder to the fish to return it than to fix it's enviroment.

My first couple tanks were cycled with fish. I didn't know any better at the time.
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Old 06-30-2006, 05:23 PM   #13
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i always recommend a fishless cycle. i always encourage cycling using bio-spira tho soooooo a months cycle isnt really needed
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Old 06-30-2006, 05:40 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rippin17
i always recommend a fishless cycle. i always encourage cycling using bio-spira tho soooooo a months cycle isnt really needed
I've heard very mixed reviews about bio-spira.
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Old 06-30-2006, 06:31 PM   #15
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Ok - my two cents. I recently set up my tank after a 15 year hiatus. I logged onto AA one day when trying to decide if I wanted Oscars. It was HERE that I found out you can't do 2 oscars in a 29gallon and it was HERE that I learned about fishless cycling .... 15 years ago I don't even think "fishless cycling" was in the vocabulary !
My first posts were all about how to do fishless cycling the right way.
Maybe I just got lucky because I hadn't gone to the store first and I wanted to learn a bit about Oscars before doing it, but I did find out about fishless cycling from this forum.

Re bio-spira , I used it when I got impatient waiting for the nitrite converting bacteria to grow - it worked like a charm for me, but I had a feeling I had gotten a good batch since the store I bought it from wouldn't even bring it out of the fridge to the counter until I was standing right there

My only suggestion would be that someone put a sticky in the "getting started" forum called "READ THIS FIRST - fishless cycling" and then link to the article.
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Old 07-01-2006, 01:41 AM   #16
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I agree with most that after many hours of browsing the forum's that the fishless method is prefered. Most people just don't know any better(I was one to) I am willing to bet that 95% of people do not know what they are putting fish through during the Nitrogen cycle. That's why research is so important.
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Old 07-01-2006, 08:36 AM   #17
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Well, I don't push it, but I realize that a giant square ammonia test tube is not the way to start for everybody. For those that won't do a fishless cycle, you can cycle with fish WITHOUT exposing the fish to detectable ammonia and nitrite. It just takes very few fish and lots of patience. But it is not for the impatient. In fact, neither method is very good for impatient people, since they both take a number of weeks.

The real challenge is getting info to people before they have begun adding fish, so they can plan properly for either way.

http://home.comcast.net/~tomstank/to...s/page0017.htm
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Old 07-01-2006, 11:49 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joannde
My only suggestion would be that someone put a sticky in the "getting started" forum called "READ THIS FIRST - fishless cycling" and then link to the article.
I was surpised to find this is not mentioned in the common newbie mistakes thread. I'm about to add it in.
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