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Old 03-02-2017, 10:14 AM   #1
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Fishless cycling with raw shrimp and live plants

I'm setting up a new 20 gallon aquarium and I'm doing a fishless cycle. I filled the aquarium 4 days ago with gravel, bubble stone, filter and heater and some stones from the bottom of an existing Betta fish bowl as starter bacteria. Then in two days the water got cloudy, yesterday I added about 4 bunches or 20 individual plants and one raw shrimp too because I read you should add raw shrimp and live plants to kick start the cycle. I know I need to have patience, but my concern is the cloudy water is that normal and did I do anything wrong?
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Old 03-02-2017, 11:39 AM   #2
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I'm setting up a new 20 gallon aquarium and I'm doing a fishless cycle. I filled the aquarium 4 days ago with gravel, bubble stone, filter and heater and some stones from the bottom of an existing Betta fish bowl as starter bacteria. Then in two days the water got cloudy, yesterday I added about 4 bunches or 20 individual plants and one raw shrimp too because I read you should add raw shrimp and live plants to kick start the cycle. I know I need to have patience, but my concern is the cloudy water is that normal and did I do anything wrong?
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Since you just set everything up the cloudiness could be anything from dust/particulate matter from the substrate to a bacterial bloom. What are your current water parameters?
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Old 03-02-2017, 11:43 AM   #3
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Thought the raw shrimp was more of a sw thing?? I suppose.. cloudiness could be a bacterial bloom or the shrimp fouling up the water? You testing?

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Old 03-02-2017, 11:48 AM   #4
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I haven't tested them yet. I need to buy a kit I am going to pick up the "API Freshwater Aquarium Master Test Kit" and test the water once I get it. I know I'm a little out of order by not having the test kit already, is it to late to test the water now or do I have to start this process over?
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Old 03-02-2017, 05:11 PM   #5
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No need to start over, but I'd recommend against the raw shrimp. Good way to get mold and fungus.

They sell pure ammonia by Dr.Tims on Amazon for $6.99.
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Old 03-02-2017, 06:51 PM   #6
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Thats good news. I have removed the srimp and tested the water. PH 7.6. Ammonia 0.5, Nitrite and Nitrate both 0, water temp 76 degrees F.
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Old 03-02-2017, 06:58 PM   #7
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Cool. I just cycled a 22 long in about 4-5 days by buying a couple "active" sponge filters from Angels Plus (I chopped them up and put them in my canister filter) along with the Dr. Tims ammonia from Amazon....you might be able to find it cheaper elsewhere.

Within a few days it was taking 3ppm of ammonia down to 0/0 within 24 hours and producing a ton of nitrates.

The rocks from the Betta tank will help to a tiny degree...but really it will just introduce the bacteria and get the party started, not really enough bio-load to put a cycle into turbo mode.
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Old 03-02-2017, 11:31 PM   #8
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I just went to Ace Hardware for ammonia and added it. The level spiked to about 8 PPM so I did a 25% water change now the ammonia is between 4 and 6 PPM. So correct me if I'm wrong, now I just check the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels every day and wait.
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Old 03-02-2017, 11:37 PM   #9
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I wrote an article a while back called "The (almost) complete guide and FAQ to fishless cycling".

It might still be a sticky here, otherwise you can find it on google. Should cover everything for you
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Old 03-03-2017, 02:07 AM   #10
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Old 03-06-2017, 09:35 AM   #11
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8 days in ammonia levels holding at 4 PPM

Okay I'm 8 days into my fishless cycle. I am now using pure ammonia from ACE hardware. At first I put in too much over 6 PPM so I did partial water changes until I got it down to 4 PPM. Now for the last 5 day my ammonia levels are still holding at 4 PPM do I need to continue with PWC or should I just let the cycle go on it's own?
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Old 03-06-2017, 11:20 AM   #12
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Okay I'm 8 days into my fishless cycle. I am now using pure ammonia from ACE hardware. At first I put in too much over 6 PPM so I did partial water changes until I got it down to 4 PPM. Now for the last 5 day my ammonia levels are still holding at 4 PPM do I need to continue with PWC or should I just let the cycle go on it's own?


I'm not 100% but according to my understanding of the cycle( I've never done fishless) you should be able to leave it. In a fish in cycle, ammonia is released from fish waste breaking down. It then causes the bacteria to grow that converts it from their food to nitrite waste, nitrites spike, a new bacteria grows that turns the nitrites into nitrate waste. Then WC's will help reduce nitrates. Once you have enough of all the bacteria you need to do all that converting it balances and you add fish and continue WC's to keep the levels in balance. I think water changes are mostly for fish and nitrate reduction, it will also reduce ammonia and nitrites but with no fish it's not an issue?

Please someone correct me or explain better where needed. Much like my tests in biology and chemistry I'm 100% sure that I'm 60% correct.
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Old 03-06-2017, 12:19 PM   #13
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Time to wait it out....no need to do a water change unless you see the PH starting to crash (which really isn't an issue until near the end of cycling).

To really speed things along, go on the hunt for some filter media from an established, healthy tank. This will introduce a ton of the bacteria you're looking for and will truly accelerate things.
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Old 03-06-2017, 01:03 PM   #14
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Time to wait it out....no need to do a water change unless you see the PH starting to crash (which really isn't an issue until near the end of cycling).

To really speed things along, go on the hunt for some filter media from an established, healthy tank. This will introduce a ton of the bacteria you're looking for and will truly accelerate things.


Yep, established media would pretty much take care of the cycling depending on how much you can find and what type, after you add said media you could just do WCs daily to get readings in line and after your ready for fish. Then, assuming you don't overstock fish for your size tank you're good to go and can cut back WC's to 25-50% once or twice a week. Check around the forum or your local fish clubs there are usually people offering established mat filter or sponge media for free if you can find someone nearby.
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Old 03-12-2017, 01:15 PM   #15
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14 days into fishless cycle and nitrites show up at 1 ppm. However my ammonia is still at 4 ppm is this normal? Do I need to do anything other than test water? According to "The (almost) Complete Guide and FAQ to Fishless Cycling" the ammonia should drop 1st then nitrites show up. The PH is at 7.6 so I think everything is okay.
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Old 03-12-2017, 01:26 PM   #16
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14 days into fishless cycle and nitrites show up at 1 ppm. However my ammonia is still at 4 ppm is this normal? Do I need to do anything other than test water? According to "The (almost) Complete Guide and FAQ to Fishless Cycling" the ammonia should drop 1st then nitrites show up. The PH is at 7.6 so I think everything is okay.


No your good, sounds like your on schedule. Normally at least 30 days to fully cycle. Nitrites showing up is good, basically you've started growing the first bacteria you need to consume ammonia but you don't have enough yet to bring ammonia to zero. Over the next few days you should see nitrites go way up and ammonia will come down, then same will happen down the road with the nitrites turning to nitrates. After which nitrates will balance and your done.
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Old 03-12-2017, 01:45 PM   #17
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That is very good news, my wife is getting restless looking at an Aquarium with no fish in it.
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Old 03-13-2017, 02:36 PM   #18
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I was wondering if adding water during the cycle would have any negative effect on it. I added about a gallon of water last night due to evaporation. I did use prime in the new water to make sure I removed the chlorine.
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Old 03-13-2017, 03:28 PM   #19
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Won't hurt a thing. Water changes are actually very helpful speeding along a cycle when you get to the point that nitrites and nitrates are through the roof.

Feel free to top off / do water changes as often as you'd like as long as you keep dosing the ammonia to the correct level afterwards.
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Old 03-15-2017, 11:55 PM   #20
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Now I am two and a half weeks into the cycle and things are starting to happen. Ammonia level drooped to about 0.25 PPM, nitrites are at least 5.0 PPM, nitrates have shown up and are about 20-30 PPM and the PH is dropping it was down to 6.4 so I did a PWC and now it's right back up to 7.4-7.6. I'm just waiting for the ammonia and nitrites to zero out. I know I have to keep dosing the ammonia up to about 4PPM once it drops to under 1 PPM. I do have a few questions though. Should I test the water every few days or do I start testing everyday and how low is too low for the PH before you need to do a PWC?
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