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Old 07-05-2022, 11:19 AM   #1
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New freshwater fishless cycle trouble

Hello all! im having some trouble starting my new 20 gal freshwater aquarium, Started with a 4.0ppm dose of ammonia, over the course of 18 days, it has gone down to 1.3ppm. However no spike in nitrites or nitrates. Tetra safe start was added in the beginning with no positive results. All water parameters are in range for the nitrogen cycle. No water changes have been made, only top offs due to evaporation, any help would be appreciated, Thanks.

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Old 07-05-2022, 11:40 AM   #2
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hello,

when i had to first cycle my tank it took 3 weeks for the ammonia to lower and the nitrites to start become present. another 2 weeks before the nitrates. remember, tanks sometimes take a LONG time to fully cycle. don't be discouraged. mine took a total of over 3 months (i ran into a lot of problems since it was my very first tank.)
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Old 07-05-2022, 11:41 AM   #3
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i started with putting a bunch of fish food into the tank.
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Old 07-05-2022, 11:45 AM   #4
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You are seeing normal progress for a fishless cycle.

A good way to speed up this process would be to put a small amount of filter media from an established filter into your filter, or get a sponge from an established filter and squeeze it into your tank water. Perhaps you have a friend who keeps fish who could let you have some? This will seed your filter with the bacteria you are trying to grow and speed up the process.

Another option is bottled bacteria like Dr Tims One + Only or Tetra Safestart. These products wont instantly cycle a tank as they claim but in a similar manner to adding established filter media they can seed your filter with the bacteria you are trying to grow to establish your cycle. These products are hit and miss as to whether they work at all, but are an option if established filter media isnt obtainable and may speed up the process from several months to several weeks.
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Old 07-05-2022, 12:48 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryanl View Post
Hello all! im having some trouble starting my new 20 gal freshwater aquarium, Started with a 4.0ppm dose of ammonia, over the course of 18 days, it has gone down to 1.3ppm. However no spike in nitrites or nitrates. Tetra safe start was added in the beginning with no positive results. All water parameters are in range for the nitrogen cycle. No water changes have been made, only top offs due to evaporation, any help would be appreciated, Thanks.

Just wanted to confirm, you are dosing pure ammonia (ammonium chloride or something similar) and not using fish food or whatever, right?


Do you have any plants? Any algae or the likes growing? Any bacterial blooms?
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Old 07-05-2022, 01:03 PM   #6
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Azedenkae, dosing pure ammonia, fritz fish fuel. No algae present, no live plants. Tank has had 2 "cloudy" appearances since startup which im taking as a bacteriological bloom.
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Old 07-05-2022, 08:13 PM   #7
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Azedenkae, dosing pure ammonia, fritz fish fuel. No algae present, no live plants. Tank has had 2 "cloudy" appearances since startup which im taking as a bacteriological bloom.
Yes, very much likely bacterial blooms, and likely the reason why you see no nitrite or nitrate.

Ammonia can be consumed via multiple methods, one of them being as a nitrogen source for growth by microorganisms. In the presence of organic compounds, heterotrophic microorganisms can rapidly multiply, depleting ammonia along the way. It is not too important what any of these specific terminologies mean if they are not familiar to you, because long story short bacterial blooms can consume ammonia.

However, this is not nitrification, the process we try to establish via the cycle. That's why bacterial blooms are not really good or bad per se, just... different.

There are two options going on from here, depending on how you define cycling.

The broader definition just requires ammonia to somehow be processed, whether by nitrification or otherwise. This is not the preferred definition, as it can result in constant bacterial blooms in the future. And also can be pretty slow, being dependent on organic sources being present. Which is what you are probably seeing now.

The preferred definition requires that ammonia must be consumed via nitrification. This is preferred as well, nitrification is a never-ending process. Once a robust colony of nitrifiers (the 'beneficial bacteria') are established, they will continuously consume ammonia, and does not result in bacterial blooms.


Likely right now your tank does not have many nitrifiers, hence why it is rather slow. No worries, all you need to do is keep on waiting, re-dosing ammonia when both ammonia and nitrite reads zero. Of course this takes a very long time, as your nitrifiers need to take time to establish naturally.


You can of course try bottled bac products to speed up the process, but you already tried TSS, so hmmm.


What's the pH?
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Old 07-07-2022, 09:29 AM   #8
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Azedenkae, I ordered a bottle of dr tims one and only yesterday, the ph of this well water is 7.75, alkalinity is 325. thanks.
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Old 07-07-2022, 12:03 PM   #9
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Azedenkae, I ordered a bottle of dr tims one and only yesterday, the ph of this well water is 7.75, alkalinity is 325. thanks.

Dr. Tim's One and Only is not known to work very well recently, over the last two years I have only gotten one report that it worked. I'd suggest FritzZyme TurboStart 700, or at least the less concentrated version, FritzZyme 7. Of course, that's if bottled bac products may work at all.


The reason why I ask about pH is that a lot of bottled bac products contain nitrifiers adapted to higher pH, so if the pH in your tank is lower (less than 7), then it can work far more slowly or not at all.


Yeah just make sure the pH of your tank is similar to your well water and not wayyyy lower.
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