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Old 10-28-2004, 11:16 AM   #1
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Questions about fishless cycling

I am in the process of setting up a 38 gallon planted tank and having been reading up over the past few weeks on this site and others. I am a newbie to all of this having a basic 20 gallon tank for the last several year. I'm interested in the whole fishless cycling approach...

1. Where do you get this pure amononia??? I have been looking around here in the Chicago area and can't seem to find it.

2. Regarding adding bacteria-I read about adding gravel, filter sponge, etc from existing tanks or from LFS. Any idea how much to add?? I have a Magnum hang on back for the 20 gallon that has something I could squeeze into the 38. Is that enough? If adding some gravel, how much and what do you put it in? Just a little foggy on all of this.

3. Before becoming enlightened, I made some major mistakes...Like moving the 20 gallon into the my basement office and decided I wanted new gravel. I just tossed out the old stuff and poured in some new stuff. ( I didn't know that there was good bacteria in there-that's how clueless I was) So, that gravel in the 20 has only been in there a month-worthless for the cycling of the 38, right?.

4. Any fish ideas for a community tank with a couple of Angels as the centerpiece? I have an XP2 cannister.


Thanks for listening!
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Old 10-28-2004, 12:08 PM   #2
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1. Where do you get this pure amononia??? I have been looking around here in the Chicago area and can't seem to find it.
Try checking your local hardware stores, such as Home Depot. I found mine in a 99cent store. I did a search, and found these 2 for you that is worth checking out.
Just 99 Cents Store
(312) 563-1525 1518 W 18th St
Chicago, IL Map

Lawrence 99 Cents Plus
(773) 279-1849 3244 W Lawrence Ave
Chicago, IL Map


2. Regarding adding bacteria-I read about adding gravel, filter sponge, etc from existing tanks or from LFS. Any idea how much to add?? I have a Magnum hang on back for the 20 gallon that has something I could squeeze into the 38. Is that enough? If adding some gravel, how much and what do you put it in? Just a little foggy on all of this.
I personally feel that you would need to add a large amount of your gravel, decor, plants, etc. to really cut your cycling time down. By adding seasoned items to your new tank, all your really doing is just jumpstarting your bacterial growth and your still looking at a cycling time of 4-6 weeks. Unless of course you have an extra filter sponge from your 20 gallon you can run and leave in your new 38 gallon and you would more then likely be compeletely cycled.

3. Before becoming enlightened, I made some major mistakes...Like moving the 20 gallon into the my basement office and decided I wanted new gravel. I just tossed out the old stuff and poured in some new stuff. ( I didn't know that there was good bacteria in there-that's how clueless I was) So, that gravel in the 20 has only been in there a month-worthless for the cycling of the 38, right?.
Again, I personally feel there isn't a significant amount of bacteria in your gravel bed to make a huge difference. Just to give you an idea, I set up my 26 gallon with brand new sand, added my 10 gallon established filtration system and was completely cycled in 2 days.

4. Any fish ideas for a community tank with a couple of Angels as the centerpiece? I have an XP2 cannister.
I have no experience with Angels, so I can't help you there. But I'm sure everyone else has tons of suggestions for you.
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Old 10-28-2004, 03:48 PM   #3
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I will say that the gravel does contain a serious amount of bacteria, because I have caused a tank to cycle by removing it all at once and replacing it with new. However, I have not seen a very drastic reduction in the cycle when I added a couple of cups of established gravel to a new tank - I see much more drastic results when I just toss an established biowheel in the new tank, just floating.

You still need to add ammonia but I would squeeze the media from the Magnum, or just use the media from the Magnum in the new filter. Decorations are a good source of biomedia as well.

I get ammonia at the grocery store in the cleaning aisle. Get non-sudsing, no perfumes.

There are lots of fish you could put with the pair of angels. A school of serpae tetras (or any tetra larger than a neon), harlequin rasboras, or really any schooling fish that is more than about 1.5" long. A group of 3-5 cory cats for the bottom and you will be set. I would avoid gouramis, "sharks" or other cichlids.
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Old 10-28-2004, 08:58 PM   #4
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Thanks for the help-you guys are the best. I found the plain ammonia at Home Depot for a buck and a half a gallon. Looks good-no bubbling, colors, etc. Just doesn't give the the strength on the packaging so I need to watch that when adding. OK, so adding the bacteria is not absolutely required, right? Just will speed things along. The more I can get in, the faster potentially it will cycle,right? I will get going on this and see how things go.

Thanks for the fish recommendations-I will look em up in my trusty book tonight.
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Old 10-28-2004, 10:23 PM   #5
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Add the ammonia until you achieve 5ppm in the aquarium water, and add that same amount every day until you start to show nitrites, should take a week or ten days without seed material. After that you can back off to about 3ppm ammonia for the duration. The bacteria is present everywhere so it will grow in the aquarium whether you seed or not. Kindof a cool process if you are patient!
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Old 10-29-2004, 01:51 AM   #6
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Acutally, I would not take your ammonia up that high. If the ammonia is too high it will make it harder and take a lot longer for the bacteria to grow and break down the ammonia.

When your adding ammonia, I would add a little at a time, test about an hour after adding to see what your ammonia reading is at. I would highly recommend that you don't take it up any higher then 4ppm.

Once you have it at 4ppm, test after 2-3 days and DON'T add any more ammonia until it lowers to 2ppm. Once it hits 2ppm, then add just enough to bring it back up to 4ppm. Keep on repeating those steps and within 1 1/2 weeks to 2 weeks, your ammonia should zero out. Once your ammonia zero's out, continue to test often and never let your ammonia level fall below 2ppm. From my exerperince, once you have a nitrite spike, from there it will tank about 1 1/2 weeks before that also zero's out too.

Too aid in the bacterial growth, I would lower your water level to add a bigger splash to the surface, add an airstone and crank the heat up to 80 degrees F. HTH.
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Old 10-29-2004, 10:00 AM   #7
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I have never had a bit of trouble cycling with 5ppm, but have had a stall when I did not measure and went higher. I don't think if you maintain 4ppm you will cycle and 5ppm you won't, but if you can run a successful fishless cycle with 4ppm then that's a more efficient use of ammonia. I'll try 4ppm next time as a comparison and see what kind of difference it makes compared with what I usually do.

One thing that I have seen help a cycle is raising the temp, but I raised it to 85F.
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Old 10-29-2004, 11:48 AM   #8
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Definitely no disrespect to you Tankgirl and your experience. I was just speaking out of my personal experience during my fishless cycling.

I made tons of mistakes on my first fishless cycle by bringing it up to high and had such a mess. It got to the point that I had to do a water change during my cycle to bring it back down to adequate levels.
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Old 10-29-2004, 11:59 AM   #9
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Quote:
Once your ammonia zero's out, continue to test often and never let your ammonia level fall below 2ppm. From my exerperince, once you have a nitrite spike, from there it will tank about 1 1/2 weeks before that also zero's out too.
Little confused here. Once the ammonia zero's out, you say to never let the ammonia level fall below 2ppm. So once it zero's out, you add more ammonia to get it to 2ppm, correct? And then leave it at that level until the nitrite spike. So after the nitrite spike, just wait until everything is zero?

I started the process last night and patiently started adding the ammonia...It took a long time & a lot of it to even get it into the 4 range-must have been pretty weak stuff (the bottle wouldn't tell me the %). Plus, my test kit takes 20 minutes to give the true reading so I was getting pretty sleepy by midnight. I was shooting for 5 but I'm glad I saw your posting this AM regarding the 4ppm approach. That's where it's at right now so I'll just let it sit for a few days and work it's magic.


Looking forward to seeing the results!
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Old 10-29-2004, 12:26 PM   #10
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Ok let me explain this a little better.

Once your ammonia begins to fall, and reaches 2ppm, thats when I would add more to bring it back up to 4ppm. Repeat until your ammonia zero's out.

Once your ammonia hits 0, I would continue to bring it back up to only 2ppm, because you still need to feed your bacteria throughout this cycling.

By this time you you should be detecting nitrites. Because what you are seeing is that the ammonia is being converted to nitrites, which in the end gets converted to Nitrates.

Just a tip: Keep your testing times and when you add ammonia the same time everyday.

Does that make sense? Just keep us posted throughout your process.
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Old 10-29-2004, 01:15 PM   #11
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Sounds good-I'll report back in. Just one more question, if you don't mind


Quote:
Just a tip: Keep your testing times and when you add ammonia the same time everyday.
So do I leave it for 2 or three days w/o touching it or do I add the same amount it took to get it to 4ppm last night everyday? I know all the articles I read said to add the same amount every day but you seemed to have a slightly different take-or perhaps I misread.
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Old 10-29-2004, 02:00 PM   #12
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When I said 2-3 days it was for the very first testing, because it will take awhile before you see it lower.

It all depends on you. I personally got impatient and tested everyother day from day one, but I did test at the same time everynight (usually around 8pm). And when I needed to add ammonia it would always be around that time too.

I believe it helped me get a better understanding of how long it took for everything. That's just my opinion.
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Old 10-29-2004, 02:22 PM   #13
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Just keep track of how much ammonia it takes (teaspoon, tablespoon, 10 drops, whatever it might be) to get to the desired ppm and continue to add that exact amount every day, so you don't have to test each time. Once you are showing nitrite and the ammonia zeros out you won't actually be able to show any ammonia on your test kit even though you are adding it (unless you test immediately after adding it), since the bacteria is consuming it.

FawnN - no offense taken It is important that all this gets discussed and everyone reports their experience so the next guy will have a smoother time of it, hopefully. There are a lot of ways to accomplish one thing in this hobby.

I have been there doing water changes to get my ammonia down during a fishless, so it is important that people keep that in mind. It's not always mentioned in instructions for fishless cycling, nor is raising the temp, but I've definitely seen a decrease in the time it takes when I get the temp above 77-78 or so that most people maintain their tanks, then back the temp back down where I want it after the cycle is over.
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Old 10-29-2004, 02:57 PM   #14
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There are a lot of ways to accomplish one thing in this hobby.
That is so very true Tankgirl.

I wish there was info like this on fishless cycling when I first got into this hobby.

Just keep us posted on your progress JHawk and we all would love to help you get through it and answer any questions.
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Old 10-31-2004, 11:06 PM   #15
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we had a busy weekend and I let it sit after putting in the ammonia on thursday night. At that point, it was at 4ppm. I just tested the water on Sunday night and and the Ammonia was 0 and the NO2 was off the charts at 3.3mg/l. I'm thinking that was a good thing but not letting the ammonia fall to nothing. I'm going to add half of what it took on the first night to get it to 4 ppm.
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Old 11-01-2004, 11:46 AM   #16
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Keep in mind that once you have bacteria consuming ammonia you will have a hard time detecting it, even though you continue to add it to the tank. It is used up as food, so keep adding the same amount that it took to raise the level in the very beginning.
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Old 11-15-2004, 12:00 PM   #17
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Well, the fishless cycle went well and I believe I am good to go...My ammonia and nitrites have zeroed out and my nitrates are very high (50). I'm getting ready to do a massive water change to reduce those. My question is: until I add a fishload, should I still feed the tank with the ammonia to keep the bacteria alive? And if so, how much? Just a smaller amount? Also, have you guys had good luck order fish& plants online?
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Old 11-15-2004, 12:15 PM   #18
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Yes, continue to add the same amount of ammonia you have been adding to keep things as is. Then when you have your fish go ahead and do another massive water change.

Fish online will depend on what kind of fish you are looking for. Plants can be had from:
azgardens.com, aquabotanic.com, aquatic-store.com, aquarimplant.com,
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Old 11-15-2004, 02:00 PM   #19
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Since you don't have any fish in your tank, I wouldn't bother with the water change yet.

Just continue feeding your bacteria with ammonia and when your ready to add fish, do your 50% water change and then add your fish.

Good Job!!!
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Old 11-15-2004, 10:15 PM   #20
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Fish online will depend on what kind of fish you are looking for. Plants can be had from:
azgardens.com, aquabotanic.com, aquatic-store.com, aquarimplant.com,
Azgardens was outstanding...Talked at length with Peter over there who helped out immensely...Bought my plants & fish from him. I will let you know how things turn out later in the week.
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