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Old 12-01-2022, 03:32 PM   #1
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Cycling Questions, Newbie First Time

Hi I am a complete newbie in the fish owning world. Real quick rewinding to last week. I went to my first fresh water store to get some advice on starting a shrimp tank. Horrible experience for a newbie and just straight up confusing. I had to get most my information online or YouTube after that visit to the store. Theres so much detail I will be leaving out but pretty much before I left the store... I had a 3 Gallon Nano tank, fresh plants, a filter , substrate, chlorine remover and fritz turbo 700 bacteria. I was told I should not use tap and then told I can( I used filtered when I got home). I was told to put in the chlorine remover and then put 1/3 bottle of fritz and my cycle should be done in a week. I had no idea what cycling was still at that time. I started trying to do a fishless cycle 11/21. I did pour the chlorine remover and fritz turbo like the store told me too but I felt something was just plain wrong and was not confident what I was doing was right. Anyways after lots of more research at home, I bought a kit for testing(was not even told about this). I also bought ammonia cause I read that with it being a fishless cycle you need ammonia to jump start cycle. Ya'll.... I'm trying to understand the process. When I started to test the water 11/28 I was at 7ph, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites , 0 nitrates . So I had put ammonia in it and it was like literally dark 8ppm, so I did a 50% water change and waited 24 hours to test again. 11/29 it read between 4ppm and 2ppm. Fast forward, Today 12/1 I can tell the ammonia has slightly changed to a lesser green. more at the 2ppm. 0 Nitrites but now 5ppm Nitrates. Am I not supposed to see Nitrites spike before Nitrates? I'm confused can someone explain to me

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Old 12-01-2022, 03:52 PM   #2
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Ill post a thorough method of doing a fishless cycle next post, but you arent doing anything wrong, but there will probably be some bits in there that will help.

Yes, you should see nitrite before nitrate. But testing isnt all that accurate, its a home test kit not laboratory testing. All sorts of things can cause false readings (especially when testing nitrate) and these false readings will just confuse you. One thing that causes false nitrate readings is nitrite. I wouldnt even check nitrate until you are cycled.

Generally tap water is fine unless there is something unusual with your tap water. If you have very hard or soft water for instance it might be out of ideal range for whatever you are keeping. Filtered water might be just as bad, or worse. Some filtration methods completely strip out all the minerals your shrimp will need and you would need to remineralise the water. What kind of filter do you have?
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Old 12-01-2022, 03:52 PM   #3
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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 12-01-2022, 04:03 PM   #4
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Thumbs up

Thanks so much for your reply and advice this is exactly the type of information and help I needed I bought a Aqueon Frameless Cube Aquarium, 3 Gallon, it came with its own filter so I am not sure of the brand and type. I also do not have an adjustable heater but that was one of things I thought I should get as well.
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Old 12-01-2022, 04:09 PM   #5
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I think you misunderstood what i meant when i asked what type of filter you have.

You said you used filtered water. What kind of filtered water is it?

RO water will have had all the mineral content removed, this isnt good for fish. Water thats gone through a softener will have had all the calcium removed and replaced with sodium. Again, not good for some fish. If its just a basic charcoal filter like a brita filter that wont take out anything you need.
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Old 12-01-2022, 04:11 PM   #6
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Never get your fish education from a pet shop, especially a big chain store. Many of their employees are part-timers with little or no experience. If you’re fortunate, a small honest mom & pop could help, but always learn what you can yourself first. There’s a wealth of basic info online, but even there view enough to get a consensus of basic practices.

I did a fishless cycle the Dr. Tim way. He has his own video up, not very detailed, but you can find written instructions, including a summary of the steps. I used his ammonia and nitrifying bacteria, One & Only. I think Fritz is the same stuff.

I add API tap water conditioner to the water before filling the tank. It’s very concentrated & 1 ml dechlorinates 20 G. There are many dechorinators out there. You will see a small pets section at Walmart that has them.

If you graduate up to bigger tanks, Amazon has good prices on filters, chemicals, air pumps, fake plants etc. if you get into really big tanks, go used to save tons of money.

Good luck! BTW, YouTube has good videos on how to use the test kits. Pay attention to really really shaking nitrate # 2.
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Old 12-01-2022, 04:14 PM   #7
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You’ll do fine, Newbie. All this stuff can be confusing at tge beginning.
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Old 12-01-2022, 04:27 PM   #8
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I think you misunderstood what i meant when i asked what type of filter you have.

You said you used filtered water. What kind of filtered water is it?

RO water will have had all the mineral content removed, this isnt good for fish. Water thats gone through a softener will have had all the calcium removed and replaced with sodium. Again, not good for some fish. If its just a basic charcoal filter like a brita filter that wont take out anything you need.
Oop I sure did misunderstood. I used our own refrigerator water filtration system at our home. We use "Everydrop" water filter. Thank you for the info on the RO water Ill definitely keep that in mind!!
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Old 12-01-2022, 04:33 PM   #9
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Newbie, what Aiken says! He’s a master.
Thank you Jacky! What is sad is that I went to an actual fresh / salt water store! I have researched another location farther away from me that seems to be much better lol but I am so glad there is such a great fish community to help each other out! Haha, and about that Nitrate, I had to redo the test again because I misread the whole shaking of the bottle before putting it in the test tube.
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Old 12-01-2022, 04:34 PM   #10
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Its probably just a simple charcoal filter then. Charcoal will remove chlorine, and if it does its job you might not need a water conditioner. But charcoal only lasts 2 to 4 weeks before it needs replacing, so i wouldnt risk not using a conditioner because you really have no idea if the filter is still active or not and removing all the chlorine.
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Old 12-01-2022, 04:38 PM   #11
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Its probably just a simple charcoal filter then. Charcoal will remove chlorine, and if it does its job you might not need a water conditioner. But charcoal only lasts 2 to 4 weeks before it needs replacing, so i wouldnt risk not using a conditioner because you really have no idea if the filter is still active or not and removing all the chlorine.
Thank you so much Aiken You are amazing!
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Old 12-01-2022, 06:07 PM   #12
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Thank you for the info on the RO water Ill definitely keep that in mind!!
RO is good to use to dilute down high concentrations of disolved substances. For example it can bring down water hardness or pH if its too high from your tap. Or RO can be used as a blank piece of paper, and remineralised to specific levels should a fish have a particular need.

On its own it lacks essential minerals for healthy growth of whatever you are keeping. It has no carbonate hardness (KH). KH is essential for a couple of reasons.

- It absorbs acidity and keeps your pH stable. The natural processes that happen in the tank tend to acidify the water. Without KH your water pH will quickly crash.
- KH is used up through the nitrogen cycle. Without KH your beneficial bacteria cant convert ammonia into nitrate and waste will quickly build up.
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Old 12-04-2022, 05:34 PM   #13
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RO is good to use to dilute down high concentrations of disolved substances. For example it can bring down water hardness or pH if its too high from your tap. Or RO can be used as a blank piece of paper, and remineralised to specific levels should a fish have a particular need.

On its own it lacks essential minerals for healthy growth of whatever you are keeping. It has no carbonate hardness (KH). KH is essential for a couple of reasons.

- It absorbs acidity and keeps your pH stable. The natural processes that happen in the tank tend to acidify the water. Without KH your water pH will quickly crash.
- KH is used up through the nitrogen cycle. Without KH your beneficial bacteria cant convert ammonia into nitrate and waste will quickly build up.

Thank you Aiken for all of your recommendations! I wanted to update you on my tank situation! I immediately got a mini heater and put it on 82.5f in 24 hours I started to finally see + Nitrites .25ppm yesterday. My concern was that I was seeing Nitrates without Nitrites.
Today Ammonia: 1 PPM - Decreased from 2ppm(12/01)
Nitrite: 1 PPM - Increased from .25ppm(12/3)
Nitrate: 10ppm - Increased from 5ppm(12/01)

I'm excited to see some changes
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Old 12-04-2022, 05:49 PM   #14
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As per post #2 there is no point testing for nitrate while you have nitrite in the water. The nitrite will give you a false test result for nitrate. All it is doing is confusing you when the test results don't come out as you expect.
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Old 12-04-2022, 06:50 PM   #15
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As per post #2 there is no point testing for nitrate while you have nitrite in the water. The nitrite will give you a false test result for nitrate. All it is doing is confusing you when the test results don't come out as you expect.
Oop that is right wait till cycled thanks:
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