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Old 07-17-2009, 04:14 PM   #1
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Help and advice on fishless cycling?

My 20 gallon has been cycling for 6 days (tomorrow will be a week) and i have been adding 16 drops of pure ammonia a day which makes the ammonia level from 3-6 ppm. The ammonia hasn't dropped yet...am I doing something wrong? How long should it take until the ammonia drops and nitrite rises? I'm not sure if i'm doing something wrong or if it is supposed to take this long. I also have some filter media from another tank and also some gravel.
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Old 07-17-2009, 08:52 PM   #2
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If you're testing and the ammonia levels are consistently 3-6 ppm, then that's fine. It takes a bit of time to get things started. Personally I'd aim for closer to 3-4 ppm, as too high an ammonia level can slow the process. One week before seeing nitrite is perfectly reasonable, I wouldn't worry for another week. The ammonia cycle does take a long time to really get going. Always plan on the complete cycle taking at least a month, up to two months. You know something is happening at this point, because you keep adding your ammonia source and the ammonia level does not keep going up. The bacteria is using up that ammonia, just not fast enough for you to see much nitrite yet.
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Old 07-17-2009, 08:56 PM   #3
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Here's a cool chart on the timeline one person experienced. His cycle took about 40 days.
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Old 07-23-2009, 03:23 AM   #4
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I cycled a 20 gallon tank in 11 days (and a 10 gallon in 10 days). I used an existing filter, a few handfuls of existing substrate, and a couple small pieces of aged driftwood from an existing tank. I didn't use ammonia, instead I added a tiny bit of fish food each day, increasing the amount slowly daily until I reached the amount I would be feeding my target number of fish. I also used a nitrifying bacteria product (I used Super-Bac). Instead of following the instructions and adding "capfuls" and dragging it out for weeks, I did what most people do, I added about 1/2 to 2/3 of the bottle on day one and the rest of the bottle the next day.

I tested every day and I watched the tank cycle as it should and on day 11 I had 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and 10 nitrate. I was able to add all of my target fish at once with no problems. (These were docile fish with no aggression problems to plan for.)
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Old 07-23-2009, 09:03 AM   #5
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I do planted aquariums and rarely even have a cycle, as the starting biomass of the plant filter is way higher than even an established tank's bacterial filter. It's not a route I'd recommend for newbies though. Your cycle time depends on your starting biomass, water chemistry, temperature, air supply... It's going to be different for everyone.
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