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Old 08-17-2022, 04:56 PM   #1
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Cycling one of my 55 gallon tanks

I am new to this hobby and new to this forum. And this post is probably going to be very long, because I want to tell you everything that I have done and what information that I have received from my FB groups.

We have 2 55 gallon tanks.. the first one we set up I am not too worried about, I think I just need to let it do it’s thing….

The 2nd 55 gallon tank is where I want to make sure I am going down the right path. Now mind you I have a notebook and i have kept track of everything that I have done.
Aug. 4 - my boyfriend suggested that we just put water in the tank and let it sit for 24 hours. So that’s what we did, we put in the gravel and we added the water and let it sit…
Aug. 5 - tested the water parameters, no water conditioner, I didn’t put anything in it. pH 7.6, ammonia 1.0, nitrite and nitrate 0 of course. I started the filter.
Aug. 6 - did not test the water, just left it alone, no water conditioner
Aug. 7 - started Seachum Stability (following directions on the back of the bottle) 5.5 capfuls
Aug. 8 and 9th - added in 2.5 capfuls of Stability along with a couple of pinches of fish food. Water parameters for both days: ammonia 1.0 nitrites and nitrates 0
Aug. 10 - day 4 2.5 capful of stability plus fish food, ammonia 1.0, nitrites .25, nitrates 0
Aug. 11 day 5 2.5 capfuls plus fish food
Ammonia 2.0, nitrites .25, nitrates 0
Aug. 12 day 6 2.5 capful of Dtability plus fish food
Ammonia 2.0, nitrites 2.0 nitrates 10
Aug 13 day 7 the last day of Stability 2.5 capful and fish food
Ammonia 1.0, nitrites 2.0, and nitrates 20
Aug 14 did not test…. Added fish food
Aug 15 fish food
Ammonia .25, nitrites 2.0 and nitrates 40
Aug 16 ammonia 0, nitrites 2.0 and nitrates 40

My question to my FB group was is this tank on the right track, a couple of members said yes leave it alone.. continue doing what you are doing (which is basically nothing) and then they said continue feeding it fish food…. So here is my confusion if my ammonia is at 0 currently then why add more fish food which will cause my ammonia to spike. One member explain it that each time the ammonia drops I need to push it back up or I will starve the bacteria, she advise that I keep pushing the ammonia until it reaches 2.0 and it tests 0 24 hrs later, push it again test it again etc…. She said that if takes it days to drop or nitrites are still present it’s not cycled….

Which I understand you have to get the ammonia high some say at least to 2.0 others say 4.0, that way the nitrites can grow then the nitrates grow…. Then once the nitrates grow then the nitrites and ammonia can start dropping? Right?

So can some one tell me guide me down the right path….
Do I continue dosing the tank with stability and giving fish food until the ammonia and nitrites drop with in 24 hours?

If you have read this whole thing I am thankful to you, and thank you for any advice you can give. I am about ready to just give up!

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Old 08-17-2022, 05:15 PM   #2
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You need to keep dosing ammonia. In your case you are doing this by letting fish food decompose in the water. Ill come onto this more later.

You need to be able to cycle out 2ppm of ammonia to zero ammonia and nitrite in 24 hours. This ensures there is enough beneficial bacteria to cycle out the ammonia a moderately stocked fish tank produces quickly. Dosing up ammonia once, letting it drop over a number of days isnt the same as dosing it up daily until it drops over the next 24 hours. Typically it takes 6 to 8 weeks for you to cycle a tank.

Fish food IMO is a really bad way of dosing ammonia. It took you 4 days of adding fishfood to get to 2ppm, so you really have no idea how much food you need to add to get that 2ppm everyday. Possibly you need to be adding as much in 1 day as you added over the whole 4 days. Fish food decomposes and tends to go mouldy, and the couple of months it takes to get cycled thats a lot of food thats going to get mouldy over the next number of weeks. Much better to get an aquarium specific ammonium chloride product like Dr Tims Ammonia Chloride so you can dose your 2ppm accurately.

Stability probably isnt helping at all. These bottled bacteria products are hit and miss whether they work. At best they will speed up the time it takes to cycle a tank from several months to several weeks. If you have access to a cycled tank its much better to get hold of a little cycled filter media from an established filter, add it into your filter to give it a headstart.
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Old 08-17-2022, 05:38 PM   #3
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Would just regular ammonia work from the grocery store as long as it doesn’t have any additives added to it?
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Old 08-17-2022, 05:39 PM   #4
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You need to keep dosing ammonia. In your case you are doing this by letting fish food decompose in the water. Ill come onto this more later.

You need to be able to cycle out 2ppm of ammonia to zero ammonia and nitrite in 24 hours. This ensures there is enough beneficial bacteria to cycle out the ammonia a moderately stocked fish tank produces quickly. Dosing up ammonia once, letting it drop over a number of days isnt the same as dosing it up daily until it drops over the next 24 hours. Typically it takes 6 to 8 weeks for you to cycle a tank.

Fish food IMO is a really bad way of dosing ammonia. It took you 4 days of adding fishfood to get to 2ppm, so you really have no idea how much food you need to add to get that 2ppm everyday. Possibly you need to be adding as much in 1 day as you added over the whole 4 days. Fish food decomposes and tends to go mouldy, and the couple of months it takes to get cycled thats a lot of food thats going to get mouldy over the next number of weeks. Much better to get an aquarium specific ammonium chloride product like Dr Tims Ammonia Chloride so you can dose your 2ppm accurately.

Stability probably isnt helping at all. These bottled bacteria products are hit and miss whether they work. At best they will speed up the time it takes to cycle a tank from several months to several weeks. If you have access to a cycled tank its much better to get hold of a little cycled filter media from an established filter, add it into your filter to give it a headstart.
So if Stability doesn’t help (seem to from the numbers I was getting from testing the water) what do you recommend?
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Old 08-17-2022, 05:56 PM   #5
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You have no way of knowing if stability is working or not. You may have seen the same results without the stability. We dont have a time machine and cant compare what would have happened in your tank with stability and without.

What these products contain is bacteria that is good at consuming ammonia while suspended in the water, but are less good at establishing on filter media. If it doesn't establish on filter media it will die, and to keep seeing similar results you have to keep adding more. This wont help your tank cycle as you are relying on continously adding product to deal with ammonia. Its very common to see good progress at the beginning of cycling a tank and see things apparently go backwards after a week or so because not much bacteria is establishing in the filter. Things then gradually improve as the bacteria that did establish starts to grow and populate your filter media.

What to do? As suggested some established filter media from a cycled filter is the best option to give things a headstart. Otherwise just have patience. Your tank will cycle if you keep the bacteria fed with enough ammonia.
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Old 08-17-2022, 06:00 PM   #6
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Would just regular ammonia work from the grocery store as long as it doesn’t have any additives added to it?
Yes. As long as it has no perfumes or surfactants. The really cheap stuff. Shake the bottle, make sure it doesn't bubble.
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Old 08-17-2022, 07:38 PM   #7
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Ok so now I am at a complete loss on what to do and who to believe. Because all the videos say live bacteria from Seachem, or API QuickStart, Fritz work like a charm….

If I go the ammonia route from the grocery store how much do I add to the tank.

And I really don’t have another 55 that I have been trying to cycle for for 6 weeks….

I am ready to drain and throw everything away at this point. Because I have no clue what I am doing now…. Which I thought t I did before.

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Old 08-17-2022, 07:39 PM   #8
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Yes. As long as it has no perfumes or surfactants. The really cheap stuff. Shake the bottle, make sure it doesn't bubble.
How much do I put in?
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Old 08-18-2022, 03:01 AM   #9
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You will have to calculate the amount needed to raise to 2ppm based on the % of ammonia in the solution you buy and the volume of tank you have.

An aquarium specific ammonium chloride product is easier. You will know its suitable to use and the dosage will be printed on the bottle.
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Old 08-18-2022, 03:20 AM   #10
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Ok so now I am at a complete loss on what to do and who to believe. Because all the videos say live bacteria from Seachem, or API QuickStart, Fritz work like a charm….

If I go the ammonia route from the grocery store how much do I add to the tank.

And I really don’t have another 55 that I have been trying to cycle for for 6 weeks….

I am ready to drain and throw everything away at this point. Because I have no clue what I am doing now…. Which I thought t I did before.

All the videos are being paid to make recommendations. These products never work as well as they claim if they work at all. The aquarium industry is based on getting you to part company with money buying products you dont need that often dont do anything useful.

Cycling a tank takes time. You can make it as simple or complex as you wish. If you stock lightly, change water regularly, add new fish gradually, your tank will cycle without you knowing anything about cycling or whats going on. Or you can go down the route of a fishless cycle, that people have an unrealistic expectation of how to do, how long it takes etc, and they get frustrated about it not running to a timetable based on unrealistic claims from manufacturers and paid recommendations from youtubers.

I have no doubts these products help on occasion, but not to the effect of cycling a tank in a matter of days. The people on youtube may well have cycled a tank in a few weeks, but they are only showing you the time it worked to good effect and discounts the majority of times it didnt. These people on youtube have numerous tanks and can easily move cycled media from 1 tank to another to speed things up which they may or may not show you. The quickest ive seen someone on this forum cycle a tank without using established media is 3 weeks. Ive just cycled a tank in 3 weeks using established media.

We get a lot of traffic on this site from people steuggling with cycling tanks. By far more people have issues with fishless cycles than fish in cycles. Almost without fail switching to fish in cycling resolves their issues. But you have only been going at it for a week really and you are progressing as expected. It will likely be another 5 or 6 weeks though to cycle your tank.

I will post a thorough method of doing a fishless cycle, but consider a 100% water change and getting a handful of fish and doing a fish in cycle.
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Old 08-18-2022, 03:23 AM   #11
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To cycle a tank you need to grow denitrifying bacteria to consume ammonia and nitrite that your tank produces. The bacteria needs an ammonia source to grow colonies sufficient in size to consume all the ammonia and resultant nitrite and turn it into nitrate which typically you remove through your regular water changes.

A fishless cycle uses an ammonia source to replicate the fish waste that a tank of fish would produce. This ammonia source can be pure ammonia, an aquarium specific ammonium chloride product like Dr Tims Ammonium Chloride, a cocktail shrimp or fish food.

Ill assume we are using an ammonium chloride product.

Set up your tank. Make sure everything is running smoothly. Make sure you have used a water conditioner product with any tap water you have put in your tank. If you have an adjustable heater raise the temperature to 28c/82.5f.

You should have a test kit. Preferably a liquid test kit. It should test for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.

Dose the ammonia chloride to approx 4ppm and start testing daily for ammonia. Once your ammonia drops below 1ppm redose it back to 2ppm. This may take a couple of weeks.

Start to test daily for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Whenever your ammonia drops below 1ppm redose it back to 2ppm.

You should start to see nitrite and possibly nitrate in your daily tests. Over time your nitrite should start to rise and the amount of ammonia should start to drop further. Your ammonia may start to not be detectable in your daily tests. Keep redosing ammonia daily if you see it below 1ppm. Your nitrite may rise off the testing chart. I prefer to keep nitrite within measurable levels so it shouldn’t hurt to do a water change to keep readings on the chart. Remember to add water conditioner whenever you put tap water in the tank. Nitrate should appear in your water test at some point too.

Over time your nitrite should level off and begin to fall in a similar manner to what your ammonia tests did. When you are able to dose ammonia to 2ppm and 24 hours later see 0 ammonia and nitrite you are cycled. At this point you have enough denitrifying bacteria to consume all the ammonia and nitrite of a moderately stocked tank. You may want to continue dosing ammonia for a few days to make sure it continues to consume all the ammonia and nitrite and be sure your cycle has properly established before proceeding.

Your nitrate will likely be very high. Do a big water change to get nitrate down. Preferably below 10ppm. Adjust your temperature to the needs of your fish. Get your fish, acclimate and add to your tank. I would advise stocking lightly to start with and slowly adding fish until fully stocked.

A fishless cycle typically takes 6 to 8 weeks.

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 08-20-2022, 10:28 AM   #12
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All the videos are being paid to make recommendations. These products never work as well as they claim if they work at all. The aquarium industry is based on getting you to part company with money buying products you dont need that often dont do anything useful.

Cycling a tank takes time. You can make it as simple or complex as you wish. If you stock lightly, change water regularly, add new fish gradually, your tank will cycle without you knowing anything about cycling or whats going on. Or you can go down the route of a fishless cycle, that people have an unrealistic expectation of how to do, how long it takes etc, and they get frustrated about it not running to a timetable based on unrealistic claims from manufacturers and paid recommendations from youtubers.

I have no doubts these products help on occasion, but not to the effect of cycling a tank in a matter of days. The people on youtube may well have cycled a tank in a few weeks, but they are only showing you the time it worked to good effect and discounts the majority of times it didnt. These people on youtube have numerous tanks and can easily move cycled media from 1 tank to another to speed things up which they may or may not show you. The quickest ive seen someone on this forum cycle a tank without using established media is 3 weeks. Ive just cycled a tank in 3 weeks using established media.

We get a lot of traffic on this site from people steuggling with cycling tanks. By far more people have issues with fishless cycles than fish in cycles. Almost without fail switching to fish in cycling resolves their issues. But you have only been going at it for a week really and you are progressing as expected. It will likely be another 5 or 6 weeks though to cycle your tank.

I will post a thorough method of doing a fishless cycle, but consider a 100% water change and getting a handful of fish and doing a fish in cycle.
Ok. So yesterday we went to Petco and got some Mollies for the 55 gallon bow front tank. While I was letting acclimate to the water I filled a 5 gallon bucket and put prime in it and let it set while I tested the water parameters.
If I remember correct the ammonia was at 0, nitrites were 2.0 and nitrates were 5.0. I poured the water in and then added a heater and let the fish go.

And restarted Stability.

Any tips on how to cycle a tank with fish in.
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Old 08-20-2022, 10:35 AM   #13
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You let the bucket sit to test your tap water? 2 things.

- Seachem quite readily admit that Prime will affect liquid tests for a while. Possibly 48 hours. Dont add prime if you are trying to see what your tap water parameters are.
- You need to let the water sit for at least 12 hours so the disolved gases have chance to equalise with atmospheric gases to get a correct test result for tap water.

Ill post a thorough method to cycle a tank with fish.
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Old 08-20-2022, 10:36 AM   #14
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To cycle a tank you need to grow denitrifying bacteria to consume ammonia and nitrite that your tank produces. The bacteria needs an ammonia source to grow colonies sufficient in size to consume all the ammonia and resultant nitrite and turn it into nitrate which typically you remove through your regular water changes.

A fish in cycle uses fish waste as an ammonia source and regular water changes are undertaken to ensure that water parameters are maintained at relatively non toxic levels.

Set up your tank. Make sure everything is running smoothly. Make sure you have used a water conditioner product with any tap water you have put in your tank. Seachem Prime is a water conditioner that will also detoxify some ammonia for a day or two, so is a good choice for a water conditioner while cycling a tank with fish.

You should have a test kit. Preferably a liquid test kit. It should test for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.

In ideal circumstances you should be starting a fishless cycle with a low bioload (number of fish). 1 small fish per 10 gallons/40 litres is a good number of fish, but this can be tweaked a little for fish that are social and don’t do well on their own. Ideally a hardy type of fish. You may have fully stocked (or overstocked) your tank before you knew about cycling. In these circumstances, if its not possible to return fish, you will have to make the best of it.

If you haven’t already done so, add your fish. Acclimate them to the water in your tank before doing so.

Feed lightly to start with. Daily as much as is eaten in 2 minutes, or as much as is eaten in 3 minutes every 2 days. You can increase to full feedings if you are confident your parameters aren’t getting too elevated too quickly and water changes don’t become a daily thing.

Start to regularly test the water for ammonia and nitrite. At least daily. Depending on your bioload you could start to see ammonia quite quickly. Nitrite will likely take a little longer to appear.

Your target should be to keep ammonia + nitrite combined no higher than 0.5ppm by changing water whenever your water parameters exceed this target. 0.5ppm combined is a level of waste that is sufficient for your cycle to establish but relatively safe for your fish.

If you see 0.5ppm ammonia and 0.0ppm nitrite (0.5ppm combined) then leave things be. If you see 0.5ppm ammonia and 0.25ppm nitrite (0.75ppm combined) then change 1/3 of the water. If you see 0.25ppm ammonia and 0.75ppm nitrite (1.0ppm combined) then change 1/2 the water. If water parameters get worse than these levels it may require multiple daily 50% water changes to maintain safe water conditions. This is more likely to happen with a fully stocked tank.

Remember to add water conditioner whenever you put tap water in the tank.

Over time the frequency of water changes and amount you need to change to maintain your ammonia + nitrite combined target will reduce. You can also start testing for nitrate and should see this rising. If you are finding the ammonia and nitrite in your tests are consistently low, and you aren’t already fully stocked, you can add a few more fish. It may take a few weeks to get to this point.

Once you add a few more fish, continue to regularly test the water and continue to change water if you exceed the 0.5ppm combined ammonia + nitrite target. With added bioload the frequency of water changes and amount you need to change may increase again until your cycle has caught up. Again once you are consistently seeing low ammonia and nitrite you can add some more fish. Rinse and repeat with testing, water changes, and adding fish when safe to do so until you are fully stocked.

You can then cut back on water changes to control nitrate only. Typically you want to keep nitrate no higher than 40ppm, but I would recommend changing some water every 2 weeks even if your water test says you don’t need to.

A fish in cycle from an empty tank to fully stocked can take several months.

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 08-20-2022, 02:14 PM   #15
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You let the bucket sit to test your tap water? 2 things.

- Seachem quite readily admit that Prime will affect liquid tests for a while. Possibly 48 hours. Dont add prime if you are trying to see what your tap water parameters are.
- You need to let the water sit for at least 12 hours so the disolved gases have chance to equalise with atmospheric gases to get a correct test result for tap water.

Ill post a thorough method to cycle a tank with fish.
No I filled a 5 gallon bucket and let sit after adding Prime. While I tested the water from my 55 gallon tank.
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Old 08-20-2022, 02:21 PM   #16
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If the nitrite is at 2ppm in your tank you need to do 2 x 50% water changes. Do them an hour or 2 apart.
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