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Old 02-25-2020, 03:22 PM   #1
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Unhappy Fishless cycle for betta - totally lost!

Hi there



I've been attempting to fishless cycle a 5 gallon tank before getting a betta fish for over 6 weeks now, and was wondering if someone could take a look at my notes below and tell me if there's anything I should be doing, or if it's just a matter of waiting longer?



I was originally using testing strips and fish food, but wasn't seeing any movement in the ammonia levels. I now believe I was misreading the strips in bad lighting, and out of frustration, ended up starting over from scratch (dumped everything out and washed everything with tap water). I then started using the liquid test with pure ammonia, but I only have notes starting from Feb 11th:



Tues 11th Feb:



Plain tap water:



pH: 6.7

Ammonia: 0 - dosed to 4

Nitrite: 0

Nitrate: 0

Temp: Kept at 28 degrees celcius throughout

Added some gravel from a cycled aquarium



Wed 12th Feb:



Ammonia: 1 - dosed back up to 4

Nitrite: 3

Nitrate: 5

pH: 7.4 - stays roughly 7.4 throughout



Thurs 13th Feb:



Ammonia: 3

Nitrite: 2

Nitrate: 3



Fri 14th Feb:



Ammonia: 3

Nitrite: 2

Nitrate: 2



- Did a 60% water change in case I had been overdoing the Ammonia/in an attempt to bring down Nitrites



Ammonia: 1 - dosed up to 2

Nitrite: 2

Nitrate 7



Sat 15th Feb:



Ammonia: 1.5

Nitrite: 2

Nitrate: 3



- didn't add any Ammonia



Sun 16th Feb:



Ammonia: 1 - dosed up to 2

Nitrite: 2

Nitrate: 6



Mon 17th Feb:



Ammonia: 0.50 - dosed up to 2

Nitrite: 2

Nitrate: 2



Tues 18th Feb:



Ammonia: 0.50 - dosed up to 2

Nitrite: 2

Nitrate: 2



Wed 19th Feb:



Ammonia: 0.50

Nitrite: 4

Nitrate: 4



- didn't add any more ammonia

- added few tiny floating plants from a cycled aquarium



Thurs 20th Feb:



Ammonia: 0.25 - dosed up to 2

Nitrite: 2

Nitrate: 3



Friday 21st Feb:



Ammonia: 0.50 - dosed up to 2

Nitrite: 2

Nitrate: 3



Sat 22nd Feb:



Ammonia: 0.25 - dosed up to 2

Nitrite: 2

Nitrate: 3



- removed all tank decorations just in case they were affecting anything



Sun 23rd Feb



Ammonia: 1

Nitrite: 2

Nitrate: 3



- Did a 90% water change in an attempt to bring Nitrites near 0



Ammonia: 0.25 - dosed to 1

Nitrite: 1

Nitrate: 4



Mon 24th:



Ammonia: 0.25

Nitrite: 2

Nitrate: 5



- didn't add any more ammonia



Tues 25th:



Ammonia: 0.25

Nitrite: 2

Nitrate: 5



Basically, the Nitrite tests have been bright purple throughout, exept for directly after the 90% water change, and I've never had Ammonia at exactly 0 - it's always had a slight green tinge at 0.25 at its lowest.



What should I be doing from here on out? It's been aaaages and I'm reading so much conflicting info online and am close to giving up altogether Should I not add ANY Ammonia from now on until I get a definite yellow 0 reading, and then continue to dose to 1 daily and wait for the Ammonia and Nitrites to disappear to 0 suddenly? Is there something I'm missing? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 02-25-2020, 04:01 PM   #2
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Firstly check that you are reading the ammonia correctly. If the solution isnt against a white background a 0.0ppm reading can look like a 0.25ppm reading. Test your tap water to see what a 0.0ppm reading looks like (presuming your water is ammonia free).

Just keep going. Your fishless cycle is going pretty much the same as my last one did. Took about 2 weeks before ammonia started reading 0.0ppm and 4 weeks before the nitrites really started dropping and 5 or 6 weeks before the tank was cycled.
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Old 02-25-2020, 04:52 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aiken Drum View Post
Firstly check that you are reading the ammonia correctly. If the solution isnt against a white background a 0.0ppm reading can look like a 0.25ppm reading. Test your tap water to see what a 0.0ppm reading looks like (presuming your water is ammonia free).

Just keep going. Your fishless cycle is going pretty much the same as my last one did. Took about 2 weeks before ammonia started reading 0.0ppm and 4 weeks before the nitrites really started dropping and 5 or 6 weeks before the tank was cycled.
Thanks for much for your reply! And wow, I'm glad you suggested I test the tank water against my tap water for ammonia - the results are exactly the same colour. I then tested a bottle of Evian and it comes out the exact same shade, too. Although all three look to my eye to be slightly closer to the 0.25 colour on the chart, it could just be the lighting in my room? I assume I'm safe to consider this a 0 ammonia reading from now on going forward, and that this is what a 0 reading looks like?

So glad to hear I'm at least on a similar trajectory to you and that you ended up successfully cycled If I could bother you with another question - when you eventually saw your nitrites changing, did the purple gradually get lighter over time, or did it suddenly overnight change to a much different shade? I guess one of my biggest concerns is that except for the massive water change, the nitrite's purple colour hasn't changed in weeks.
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Old 02-25-2020, 05:19 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by veryspeshul View Post
Thanks for much for your reply! And wow, I'm glad you suggested I test the tank water against my tap water for ammonia - the results are exactly the same colour. I then tested a bottle of Evian and it comes out the exact same shade, too. Although all three look to my eye to be slightly closer to the 0.25 colour on the chart, it could just be the lighting in my room? I assume I'm safe to consider this a 0 ammonia reading from now on going forward, and that this is what a 0 reading looks like?

So glad to hear I'm at least on a similar trajectory to you and that you ended up successfully cycled If I could bother you with another question - when you eventually saw your nitrites changing, did the purple gradually get lighter over time, or did it suddenly overnight change to a much different shade? I guess one of my biggest concerns is that except for the massive water change, the nitrite's purple colour hasn't changed in weeks.
I think you are on track. Every cycle is a little different. For me i think i went a couple of weeks with little noticeable reduction in nitrites and once they started dropping and i was getting nitrates it was a week or 2 before i was able cycle out 2.0ppm ammonia into 0.0ppm ammonia and nitrites in 24 hours. From recollection my cycle took 5 or 6 weeks beginning to end.

Good luck with your cycle and post some pics when you get your betta.
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Old 02-29-2020, 02:35 PM   #5
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An update!

So on Tuesday 25th, after realising my 0.25 ammonia readings were actually 0, I dosed the ammonia to 1, and then:

Wed 26th:

Did an 80% water change to get the nitrites to a readable level (they've been solid dark purple for weeks)

pH: 7.4
Ammonia: 0
nitrite: 1 (lowest/lightest shade it has ever been!)
nitrates: 5

I didn't add any extra ammonia

Thurs 27th:

pH: 7.4
Ammonia: 0
Nitrites: 0.25 (yay! by far the lightest/lowest it's been - first time I've seen this very light purple/blue colour)
Nitrates: 5

I dosed ammonia to 1

Fri 28th:

pH: 7.4
Ammonia: 1
Nitrite: 1
Nitrate: 0

I didn't add any more ammonia

Today (Sat 29th):

pH: 7.4
Ammonia: 0
Nitrites: 0.25
Nitrates: 5

So at this stage, I'm definitely converting 1 of ammonia to 0 in 24 hours and my nitrites are definitely going down.

My questions now are:

As I'm only planning on getting one betta fish when the tank is cycled, is it OK that I'm only coverting 1 ammonia in 24 hours, or should it be cycled to convert more than this?

My nitrites still haven't ever come out at 0 - should I hold off on dosing ammonia to 1 again until nitrites reach 0? I've read conflicting info on this - some say that you need to add ammonia every day so as not to starve the bacteria or you will have to start the cycle all over again (!), some say you only need to do it every OTHER day, some say the baterial will be fine for 3+ days without starving, so I'm confused!

Maybe I should just dose ammonia to 0.50 or 0.25 every other day and wait it out until nitrites convert to 0? Does this seem a sensible plan? If anyone could advise on what I should do from here on out, that would be much appreciated
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Old 02-29-2020, 03:02 PM   #6
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Firstly, make sure that ammonia and nitrites are zero before adding fish. So at least continue dosing until the nitrites are 0 as well. After all your good work, whats a few more days?

A single betta in a 5g? Thats probably going to produce 1 to 2ppm of ammonia in 24 hours. Try checking 12 hours after dosing to see where your parameters are. I would be happier if they where at 0.0 after 12 hours rather than 24 hours. To be honest i lightly stocked my last tank at the same stage without issues, but it was 50g not 5g. If you do put in your betta, check water parameters everyday and be prepared to do water changes.
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Old 02-29-2020, 03:24 PM   #7
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Yep I definitely plan to wait until I get 0 ammonia 0 nitrites before getting my fish! I think I'll just dose 1 ammonia every other day from now on, and wait for 0 ammonia 0 nitrites to just suddenly happen 24 hours max after dosing ammonia?

And yes I'll test for ammonia 12 hours after I next dose, thank you for the tip, this makes sense!
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Old 02-29-2020, 08:21 PM   #8
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Color Reading Advice

Hi! I'm a complete newb with a 5 gallon spec that tooks weeks and weeks to cycle so I feel your pain. I can't advise you on cycling but I share your frustration with reading test strips and tested water. I got an A+ in color at design school so you think I could tell yellow from green right? Part of the problem is the LED lights we all have now (though they are much better than before). I try to read in natural light and that helps. I also found an App called Aquarium Note that I use to record my water chemistry and it has an added feature of reading the color if I take a photo of my color chart with my water reading. It will show how close your water is between two color scales. It's helped my a lot with the ammonia test because sometimes the water does look a little green but not green enough to be .25ppm. Good luck with your tank and future critters.
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Old 03-03-2020, 02:38 PM   #9
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Sooo...



I finally got 0 nitrites, but seem to be going backwards again!?



So following on from the dates I posted above:



Sun 1st



10:30am - tested only nitrites - 0 nitrites!!!

Dosed ammonia to 1



10:30pm:



pH: 7.4

Ammonia: 0.25

Nitrites: 0.50

Nitrates: 10



Mon 2nd:



6:30pm



pH: 7.4

Ammonia: 0

Nitrites: 0

Nitrates: 10



So obviously I was over the moon at this, as it was the first time ever I'd had 0 nitrites (even though it was actually achieved 32 hours after dosing ammonia to 1, but this was fine as I was intentionally not doing every 24 hours to allow my high nitrites to catch up with the ammonia levels, which I thought these readings showed had now eventually happened).



So Mon 2nd at 6:30pm after getting this reading, I dosed to 1 ammonia, assuming 24 hours later I would get 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites (or very close to it) and slightly higher nitrates. I also got the tank ready for a fish which I was hoping to get in a few days: I turned the temp down from 28 degrees celcius to 26, turned the filter to the lower setting, put the filter sponge back on over the spout, and put the decorations back in (I had read someone somewhere saying that ornaments etc could slow down the process, so I took them out several weeks ago).



The unfortunately, just now, I tested again:



Tues 3rd 6:30pm



pH: 7.4 (as always)

Ammonia: 0.50 (the darkest it's been in a while)

Nitrites: 2

Nitrates: 10



Could the adjustments I made last night in preparation for getting a fish have really caused this? I've upped the temperature again, put the filter up to the higher setting again and taken off the filter sponge, but still have the silk plants/ornaments in (mainly because it took so long yesterday to get them all looking nice!) But surely the tank can't be ready if it's only cycled when all these things are removed!? I can't have a betta fish with a really high temp, high power filter and no decoration in the tanks. Should I do a water change? I feel I've taken several giant steps back and am really disappointed and confused Can anyone identify where I went wrong and what I should do?
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Old 03-04-2020, 01:13 PM   #10
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So I have an update:

Wed 4th 6pm

pH: 7.4 (as always)
Ammonia: 0.25
Nitrites: 0.50
Nitrates: 10

So thankfully things are going back down, though not as quickly as I'd have liked. My questions now are:

1. I haven't dosed any ammonia since Monday at 6:30pm - should I wait now until I get 0 ammonia 0 nitrites again before dosing again, or should I be continually dosing ammonia to 1 on a daily basis?

2. If I wait until getting 0 ammonia 0 nitrites until dosing with ammonia again, and it doesn't cycle back to 0 ammonia 0 nitrites within 24 hours like I hope it does, do I then keep doing ammonia to 1 on a daily basis? Because that's the aim of this whole thing right? To get the tank cyclying ammonia to nitrites to nitrates within 24 hours? I feel like if I hold off until I get 0 ammonia 0 nitrites before dosing ammonia, I'm not doing this properly, and am just letting the nitrites catch up on the ammonia levels, rather than getting the nitrites to cycle the ammonia to nitrates properly.

As always, any and all help much appreciated, I could have cried yesterday when I saw the ammonia and nitrites were darker coloured again
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Old 03-05-2020, 12:38 AM   #11
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Not sure if you had seen this yet but might be worth checking to see if you are still on track.

https://www.aquariumadvice.com/tips-...ishless-cycle/

My last SW tank took FOREVER to cycle. But it finally did!
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