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Old 10-16-2003, 12:34 PM   #1
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Cycling questions - I know nothing!

After checking out people's opinions on Cycle, and that it does not actually do it's job, I'm worried about my tanks. Currently I have two tanks - one is 8 months old, and one is 2 months old. To start-up, I treat the water with Aqua Plus tap water conditioner, put in the recommended amount of Cycle, waited a week, and then started adding fish. Then, I follow the weekly doses on the bottle. I've been using Hagen vial testers 1-2 times/week and have never found ammonia/nitrate/nitrites (makes me wonder if they're defective. Maybe I should test less often, I feel like I'm wasting the stuff).

Anyway, if Cycle doesn't do it's job, and I've never found ammonia/nitrate/nitrites, does this mean my tanks aren't cycled? How long does it take? Are my fish in danger? What do I need to do?
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Old 10-16-2003, 12:48 PM   #2
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Interesting. So you have never seen any detectable levels of Nitrates?

How about some tank and fish specs? Do you have live plants? How often do you perform water changes and how much do you change? Do you use Nitra-Zorb or some other Nitrate absorbing product?
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Old 10-16-2003, 12:57 PM   #3
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10 gal tank currently with 3 platies - have gone through a few fish (running for 8 months).
29 gal tank with 2 platies, 2 guppies, a rosy barb and a baby snail (which I can't find) This tank has a big rock with a bubble-blower in it.

No live plants. All the silk kind. Aquarium gravel. AquaClear filters. I have no idea what Nitra-Zorb is. I used Waste Control (by Nutrafin) for a bit, but stopped because my tanks don't get that dirty. I have been doing 25-30% water changes weekly for about 2 months now.
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Old 10-16-2003, 02:00 PM   #4
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The 29 gal is pretty lightly stocked. If you are performing weekly 25-30% water changes and using Cycle I guess I'm not surprised you don't have any "detectable" readings. I say detectable cuz there are Nitrates in there but its in such low quantities that your test kit doesn't register it.

The 10 gal should have shown something by now though imho if its been 8 months but again it would be rather small due to the large frequent water changes you are performing.

To answer your question directly, I suspect that your tank has cycled but your bio filter is exceptionally weak right now. The reason is the use of Cycle. That product puts other bacteria in the aquarium that compete for food with the beneficial bacteria. With less food your bio filter is smaller than it should be. As such when you stop using Cycle (which you should cuz its a waste of money in the long run) you might experience a mini cycle. But honestly your tanks are so lightly stocked that you probably won't even notice it.

My suggestion would be to stop using cycle, continue water changes (could change less if you want.. maybe only 15-20%), and monitor your tank readings. You may have to pick up the water changes if you see a mini cycle but I doubt you will given the age of the tanks.

Hope that helps.
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Old 10-16-2003, 02:57 PM   #5
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PlatyLady,

What is Cycle? Is that the stuff that is supposed to create the good bacteria in the tank, which you add in on the 1st, 7th, and 14th days of your new tank, then with each water change? I have heard from a few people here that that doesn't actually work, because it's the wrong kind of bacteria (if Allyvimar pops in here, she has a better explanation of it). Bio-Spira is the only one with the right bacteria because it's live stuff. I didn't use Bio-Spira...I used something similar to your Cycle. By the time I found out about Bio-Spira on this forum, my tank was already cycling so I didn't want to mess with it.

I did continue adding my bacteria stuff as per the instructions, along with my usual weekly water testing and water vac/change. I figured, what the heck. So far, my almost 2 month-old 20G is doing alright, as per the water parameters. I have it heavily plastic-planted, have gravel, and 10 small fish.
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Old 10-16-2003, 03:21 PM   #6
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PlatyLady,

You aren't, by chance, using an ammonia *absorbing* substance in your filter or elsewhere? Examples are AmRid (the Hagen product for AquaClear filters) or other Zeolite-based "ammonia chips".

Such substances can suck up all the ammonia as it's produced, and really slow down or completely stop production of the bacteria that would otherwise live off that ammonia.

If you are using such products ... so long as the chips are working, I suppose your fish are safe. But your tank might take nearly forever to cycle, and so you'd need to keep using those products.

Please note: this is different than ammonia *binding* products such as AmQuel or Prime. Those products detoxify the ammonia, but it's still available to the nitrifying bacteria (or at least the manufacturers make that claim).

Kinketsu
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Old 10-16-2003, 03:42 PM   #7
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Playlady:

Long story short, what you did is exactly what I used to do back in the old days, when I just listened to lfs folks and a friend of mine. Only test I had for years was a ph test! Your tanks are cycled, the old-fashioned way.
Quote:
Are my fish in danger? What do I need to do?
Your fish are not in danger, and what you need to do is continue on as you have been, just stop wasting test materials!
Only time you want to do much is if you decide to get more fish, then get back to testing.

Oh yeah, 1 more thing you MUST do, sit back and watch your fish for 1-2 hours every evening, sounds like you are stressing out, watching fish will cure that!

Peace,

CC
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Old 10-16-2003, 03:57 PM   #8
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LOL - thanks cc! I do find it relaxing to watch them (when I'm not wondering if there's anything wrong with them!!!)

I just checked and I have been using AmRid - but only in my 10 gal tank (bought it months before I'd ever heard of cycling, and hadn't thought much of it). When I bought the filter for the 29 gal, it didn't come with it and the lfs said it already had everything I needed. It sounds like the absorbing stuff isn't very popular. Any thoughts on keeping it/tossing it?

I will keep an eye on my 29 gal though - I've been slowly adding fish, and want to move my 3 platies from the 10 gal soon.

Myriam - you're exactly right - cycle's supposed to put in good bacteria when you use it weekly.

Thanks all!
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Old 10-16-2003, 07:11 PM   #9
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*wanders in*

My ears were ringing ;)

Ahh Cycle. When I first did a fishless cycle (I wanted to see how it would go) someone recommended "New Improved Cycle". So I figured I'd give it a go. The first time I tested my water (the 2nd day) I was getting readings of nitrates! Pretty unusual for an uncycled tank eh? This went on for a couple of days, then I decided to test the Cycle itself. I stopped reading the test when it hit 80ppm nitrates after 3 mins (its a 5 min test)! Obviously something 'taint right here, so I dumped it. Did a little more research, and came across a few posts at fishgeeks.com on Bio-Spira. I discovered the only product on the market with the correct nitrifying bacteria is Bio-Spira (nitrosomonas, nitrospira, nitrosospira). I gave it a go, and it cycled the tank overnight. There is now one other product I heard of (saw an ad in an aquarium magazine) but I forget the name; it also claims to use nitrospira. If you want to read the tech aspects on nitrifying bacteria, theres some articles here on the Marineland site: http://www.marineland.com/science/nspira.asp

As for Cycle, its mostly contains heterotrophic bacteria. This is bacteria which is also found in fishtanks. It will eat ammonia, but only if there is NO organic debris in the tank (organic debris being its preferred diet). As its pretty hard to have a tank with live creatures and no organic debris, Cycle does very little to remove ammonia and nitrite from the tank IMHO.
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Old 10-16-2003, 07:55 PM   #10
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Quote:
Please note: this is different than ammonia *binding* products such as AmQuel or Prime. Those products detoxify the ammonia, but it's still available to the nitrifying bacteria (or at least the manufacturers make that claim)
They make that claim...but the bacterial oxidation of ammonia to nitrite is a very specific and complex reaction involving 2 enzymes, so personally, I wouldn't rely on the claim.
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Old 10-16-2003, 07:58 PM   #11
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Go sweets! I love it when you talk technical *grin*
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Old 10-16-2003, 08:27 PM   #12
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...heck, i can't let the education go to waste!

I very clearly remember how baffling it was to me that the little critters could take advantage of moving a few electrons around in such a big way...really designed to do a specific job, ya know?

I'm a geek, i know
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