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Old 07-25-2014, 08:40 PM   #1
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Mid fishless cycle, no sign of nitrites.

Hey all,

I'm about a week into cycling using cured live rock, live sand, and a half inch of shrimp body.

I've been getting ammonia readings since day two(shrimp was put in day 3 or so), but no nitrites. Had a small amount of nitrate yesterday, and today I'm up to about 1ppm ammonia and about 5-10ppm nitrate, but still no sign of nitrites.

I've rushed this process before and failed miserably about ten years back, and am uninterested in repeating that failure so I'm being extra cautious and asking lots of questions(sometimes twice!).

Is this normal to not see nitrite being that I started with 30lbs live rock and 20lbs live sand? Tank is a 29g. If so when do I know when the cycle is done and when should I remove said piece of shrimp?

Thanks much for your help,


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Old 07-25-2014, 10:15 PM   #2
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Just keep waiting, it will happen. I had the same problem and rushed it. Killed two fish then recycled the tank. Usually takes 5-6 weeks from what I understand.


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Old 08-02-2014, 05:10 PM   #3
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Alright guys, really could use some input. Tank is now on its second week, shrimp has total dissolved and disappeared, ammonia dropped to .25 and nitrates at around 5ppm(hard to tell). No sign of nitrite what so ever so far.

I bought some fish food and put a healthy pinch in the tank and will do that daily for the next two weeks.

In the mean time I've got some healthy coralline algae growing as well as some worm tubes, and two white whiskers that I can't figure out what they are. I also have one brown spot that looks like it could be a sponge? Not sure.

Should I be doing anything else? My lack of nitrite is concerning me....


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Old 08-02-2014, 06:49 PM   #4
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Alright guys, really could use some input. Tank is now on its second week, shrimp has total dissolved and disappeared, ammonia dropped to .25 and nitrates at around 5ppm(hard to tell). No sign of nitrite what so ever so far.

I bought some fish food and put a healthy pinch in the tank and will do that daily for the next two weeks.

In the mean time I've got some healthy coralline algae growing as well as some worm tubes, and two white whiskers that I can't figure out what they are. I also have one brown spot that looks like it could be a sponge? Not sure.

Should I be doing anything else? My lack of nitrite is concerning me....


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It shouldn't concern you.
Ideally the BB should be working efficiently enough that you are never able to get a reading of ammo or nitrite once established.
Theoretically if you are getting readings on nitrate, then there was nitrite present.
If you are seeing invertebrate life, then it is most likely safe to start introducing fish into the tank...slowly.
Maybe 1-2 fish to start.

Personally I have always have had great luck with fish-in cycling and in about 30 years have only lost one damsel during cycling. The tank I have going now is the same size as yours and cycled with 3 damsels and a coral banded shrimp, all managed fine and are still alive no worse for wear.

But if I were to do a fishless cycling I would initially dump so much crap in there that the first ammonia readings would be at the top of the scale, off the chart.
Why you ask, because by overloading it initially you develop a larger/stronger bacterial colony.
To me using a minimal organic waste source, ie: half a shrimp, is just teasing the system and the reason for so many "false starts" that I read about.
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Old 08-02-2014, 07:44 PM   #5
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I'm almost in to my 4th week with my first SW tank (36g bow front, eshoppes psk-100h hob skimmer, sicce voyager 2 power head (800gph) and a agua clear filter, 36lbs live Florida rock, 20lbs live sand) I my self never had any nitrite levels that I could tell when I did my own tests, my ammonia spike in the second week, and now just getting nitrate readings, added a few cleaners but no fish yet! Still kinda hesitant with adding fish although all the hitchhiker so have are doing very well!

I'm still very very green with this but from the help I have received on here and from friends all is not to worry from what I gather if you don't see and nitrite, as long as the ammonia levels are zero and you nitrate levels are with in reason, your on the rite path?

Please anyone correct me if I'm wrong, like I said I'm very green with this and still learning, so if I'm off please correct me!


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Old 08-02-2014, 07:53 PM   #6
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I'm still very very green with this but from the help I have received on here and from friends all is not to worry from what I gather if you don't see and nitrite, as long as the ammonia levels are zero and you nitrate levels are with in reason, your on the right path?
Correct. Sometimes the nitrite chunk of the phase can go through while you are at work, or asleep. It varies from tank to tank. It is important to make sure you continue to provide an ammonia source to your tank as you are cycling. This is easiest when you use something like a cocktail shrimp, but you can also use pure ammonia and dose to 4ppm as you go. When your ammonia levels test at 0 after 24 hours when you dose you are ready for a fish.
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Old 08-02-2014, 08:12 PM   #7
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Maybe I caught some luck but I never used the shrimp technique nor the adding of ammonia, my live rock came covered in all sorts of stuff, and I used a jug of the live water and then used tap to initially start up my tank, so I'm thinking that the tap water killed some stuff to give me my ammonia spikes. Sense then it's been Strictly ro water, my cycle took about 2 1/2-3 weeks. I'm guessing it was just dumb luck the way I did it?Click image for larger version

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First pic is initial set up
Second is today's


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Old 08-02-2014, 09:09 PM   #8
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Well, there is no such thing as 'live water'. The bacteria for your nitrate cycle is on the surface area of your rocks and sand.
There could have been ammonia in your tap water, as you never really know what is in it unless you work for the water company.
The die off from your live rock could have supplied enough of an ammonia source to build up enough beneficial bacteria to support your first fish...though it is normally highly unlikely and not enough die off on the rock to do so.
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Old 08-02-2014, 09:26 PM   #9
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By live water I mean the jugs of ocean water or whatever it's called!




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Old 08-02-2014, 09:57 PM   #10
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So no nitrite is okay as long as I get to zero ammonia and am showing nitrate?

I do not have strait ammonia would it be safe to say if I can add a pinch of food and not see any spikes over the next 24-48 hrs I am clear to add a shrimp, couple of snails and one small fish?

What level should I get my nitrates down to prior? I assume several pwcs should do the trick?

Also, I have not done a water change yet during the cycle should I have?

Thanks!!!


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Old 08-02-2014, 10:01 PM   #11
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Nitrate levels from what I gather will depend on what kinda tank your looking for.


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Old 08-02-2014, 10:02 PM   #12
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Mid fishless cycle, no sign of nitrites.

As far as ammonia goes most use a cocktail shrimp and just place it in the tank and wait for it to decay for the ammonia to spike.

Every tank is different though for the cycle to be complete.

Patients is key!!!!



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Old 08-02-2014, 10:25 PM   #13
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If you really want to know, sniperhank already gave you the answer. Get ammonia, dose it up to about 4 ppm and see how long it takes to be broken down. If it clears it up within 24 hours, you are good to go.
When you are ready to start adding fish, I would suggest a big water change, 75%, to bring the nitrates down first.
from then on it will be a matter of stocking, feeding and filtration to keep it in check.
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Old 08-03-2014, 12:16 AM   #14
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If you really want to know, sniperhank already gave you the answer. Get ammonia, dose it up to about 4 ppm and see how long it takes to be broken down. If it clears it up within 24 hours, you are good to go.
When you are ready to start adding fish, I would suggest a big water change, 75%, to bring the nitrates down first.
from then on it will be a matter of stocking, feeding and filtration to keep it in check.

I don't have strait ammonia . Can I use a pinch of fish food for a similar experiment?


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Old 08-03-2014, 12:39 AM   #15
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Anything that will decay will work, but if you use fish food it will require a ton to get what you are looking for and crank your phosphates through the roof.
Go to the grocery store and get an uncooked cocktail shrimp. Toss it in some panty hose, to keep things from getting messy, and tie it off. Toss it inside and you're cycling.


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Old 08-03-2014, 11:46 AM   #16
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Anything that will decay will work, but if you use fish food it will require a ton to get what you are looking for and crank your phosphates through the roof.
Go to the grocery store and get an uncooked cocktail shrimp. Toss it in some panty hose, to keep things from getting messy, and tie it off. Toss it inside and you're cycling.


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Already did that once, first one is totally dissolved now.


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Old 08-03-2014, 01:34 PM   #17
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So you've already cycled.


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Old 08-03-2014, 08:09 PM   #18
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So you've already cycled.


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10 4. Diatoms just showed up about 3 hours ago in force, majority of rocks are now covered in orange. Could have been since I switched the powerhead to airate the water instead of blowing on the rocks.

I'm going to grab 2-3 snails and 1 shrimp next weekend, then the first fish a couple weeks after that.


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Old 08-03-2014, 08:12 PM   #19
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If you have to choose between movement of water on the surface and around in the tank, you need another powerhead.
The orange is cyanobacteria, which points out a nutrient issue in the water column. It thrives in low flow areas.
Since you just finished cycling, you would be able to add a fish depending on what your parameters currently say...but most likely a large water change and you are good to go.
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Old 08-03-2014, 08:22 PM   #20
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Another powerhead is already on order, definitely want that before fish come in. When you say a nutrient issue, should I be adding something to the tank? Using instant ocean with rodi water and other than live rock a shrimp and some fish food haven't really added anything....


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