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Old 10-15-2008, 05:21 AM   #1
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Question Helping friend cycle tank...

I am helping a friend of mine with cycling her tank. She has owned fw fish in the past, but had never heard of fishless cycling before, so I am introducing her to it. She fell in love with my new dwarf puffer this past week and decided she wanted one, but I told her ONLY if she did a cycle of the tank first, would I help her order one....LOL!! So, she went out bought tank and all the trimmings. She got a 20g long. I took out three good sized pieces of filter pad from two of my existing tanks and one ornament (kept them wet) and took them over to her house as she was setting up her tank. My question is this......with using this filter media how long will it take before she starts to see nitrites? I gave her some of my ammonia also since I have more than enough to spare. We set up the tank on Sunday. I went over to her house yesterday and took the filter pads out of her filter and squeezed them in her tank, as I had forgotten to do that on Sunday. She does still need to cycle with the ammonia, correct? even though she has my used filter media? It is still okay to be using the ammonia right?
Any insight into this would be appreciated. As I told my friend yesterday, I have experience with the fishless cycling, but I never was fortunate enough to have used filter media to get from anyone, so I have never cycled that way before. So, I am not completely sure on when she will start seeing nitrites this way.
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Old 10-15-2008, 08:35 AM   #2
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Yes still dose with ammonia like you would without the filter seed. I would assume you'll see nitrItes pretty fast because the bacteria already exist in the filter pads you gave her. But you have to dose with ammonia or the bacteria will die off.
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Old 10-15-2008, 08:36 AM   #3
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Yes still dose with ammonia like you would without the filter seed. I would assume you'll see nitrItes pretty fast because the bacteria already exist in the filter pads you gave her. But you have to dose with ammonia or the bacteria will die off.
Yep she is still dosing with ammonia....by fast, how fast do you mean....days or weeks?
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Old 10-15-2008, 08:45 AM   #4
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Yep she is still dosing with ammonia....by fast, how fast do you mean....days or weeks?
Not sure. There's not a specific time. I saw nitrItes the 4th day of my cycle, but my ammonia didn't go down for a couple weeks. My nitrItes started dropping after 8 weeks. I started with some gravel from an established tank. It's really hard to quantify the cycle.

You should see nitrItes faster than you would have if you didn't add the filter media. IMO, now or in a couple days, but that is what it is, My Opinion.
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Old 10-15-2008, 09:29 AM   #5
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Thanks Alaris...that is what I was thinking that we might see it in a couple of days. But, after the nitrites spike does that mean the cycle is done....if the nitrites spike and then ammonia is used in less than 24 hours time, right?
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Old 10-15-2008, 10:33 AM   #6
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If you're adding Ammonia on a daily basis, the Ammonia and Nitrite readings are zero, and the Nitrates are rising, then the aquarium is cycling. With filter material to seed the aquarium it could be anywhere from instantly cycled to a normal cycle. It just depends on how well the filter material was handled and how much time there was between adding it and starting to dose the Ammonia. On average it takes less than two weeks to cycle when the aquarium is well seeded.
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Old 10-15-2008, 11:02 AM   #7
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If you're adding Ammonia on a daily basis, the Ammonia and Nitrite readings are zero, and the Nitrates are rising, then the aquarium is cycling. With filter material to seed the aquarium it could be anywhere from instantly cycled to a normal cycle. It just depends on how well the filter material was handled and how much time there was between adding it and starting to dose the Ammonia. On average it takes less than two weeks to cycle when the aquarium is well seeded.
The filter media was kept completely submerged in my tank until I added it to her tank. I drove it over in a 2.5g tank with tank water in it. She started dosing with ammonia immediately after putting the seed material in and has been doing so for the past three days....she has also been checking her nitrites and ammonia....nitrites are still at 0 and ammonia is around 2-3 ppm from what she could tell.
I will check her nitrates this afternoon.
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Old 10-15-2008, 11:33 AM   #8
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She just tested her parameters for me and read them over the phone....her nitrItes are still reading 0. Her ammonia has come down from a reading yesterday of around 2-3 to a clear 1 today and her nitrAte reading is a 5. So, it sounds like something good is going on, just not sure how long it might take. She went ahead and dosed in more ammonia while we were talking.
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Old 10-15-2008, 12:27 PM   #9
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It sounds like she may not even have a Niitrite spike, they just get used up as fast as they are produced.

I would give it at least a week or so, even if things are looking good, just to be sure. She needs to learn a little patience(lol), just not as much as she normally would b/c you were grateful enough to give her a head start.
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Old 10-15-2008, 12:37 PM   #10
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Yeah...this is what I told her...lol....that cycling a tank was an exercise in patience. I told her how lucky she was to have someone with seed material as I never had that help...lol. Anyway, she is getting to learn something new with the fishless cycling and is enjoying it, but just wants to see something "alive" in there. I keep telling her THERE IS something alive in there....good bacteria!! lol How much ammonia should she be dosing up to every day? That is one area I was confused about with a seeded cycle. Does she just need it above 1ppm or is 3ppm better?
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Old 10-15-2008, 01:03 PM   #11
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As you know I have never done a fishless cycle, but after seeing multiple people that were dosing 4-5ppm of ammonia and then having "stalling" issues.

I would tend to think that with any fishless cycle 2-3ppm is better ammonia target. For your friends/your case I would suggest 2ppm as you have a head start.

BTW how are your Angels doing Dottie?
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Old 10-15-2008, 01:14 PM   #12
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This is exactly the advice I have been giving my friend. I told her to just make sure it was around 2-3. I didn't feel it was necessary to get it up to 5 since she had the seed material to help her along.

My angels are doing fine! They are beautiful little guys/girls....however I have noticed that one of them (the darker one) has started nipping very slightly at the tail fin of the lighter one. It isn't bad...yet...and it may not get bad as Bryan (bs6749)has told me. It may just be early spawning behavior or it may be aggression. I am going to watch it for now. It isn't bad and the lighter one isn't injured at all, I just noticed the darker one nipping at her a bit yesterday. But they are beautiful little fish and seem very intelligent, kinda like my new little puffer who is training ME to hand feed her....lol!
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Old 10-16-2008, 05:01 AM   #13
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Last night she texted me her latest results because she had dosed ammonia back up to around 2 in the afternoon and at 9 pm her results were:
Ammonia - back down to a 1
NitrItes - still 0
NitrAtes - 10
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Old 10-16-2008, 05:53 PM   #14
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sounds like you gave her good cycled media
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Old 10-28-2008, 05:19 AM   #15
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Okay---update....not sure what is going on. My friend went through her "nitrite phase" this past week and her nitrites finally got down to 0 on Sunday. She dosed her tank up to about 4 ppm of ammonia to see if she could drop it down to 0 in a 24 hour period at 1 pm Sunday afternoon. Yesterday (Monday) at 1 pm we checked her water and she still had about 1 ppm of ammonia in there. If she has the nitrites then why didn't she convert the ammonia in a 24 hour period? I was very confused and wasn't sure what to tell her as I have not had this happen to me in the past. She always had ammonia in her tank so it couldn't be that she is starting another cycle, so I am just confused. We checked her tank out and the plants and nothing is rotting to cause the ammonia to be in there naturally....so, any ideas?
PS - she did do a 50% water change about a week into the cycle before any nitrites started showing up. Could that have screwed things up?
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Old 10-28-2008, 10:45 AM   #16
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In my opinion, depedning on the size of the seeded filter that was added, the tank would have been instantly cycled and she could have added several small fish right away. I wouldn't have dosed with ammonia and I never have. I've always cycled my tank with fish in there. I do water changes regularly until it is cycled. But, now I am smart enough to have an extra sponge filter or two in my tanks. That way when I set up a new tank I take one of the established filters and the tank is instantly cycled.

She doesn't need to add any ammonia as the fish would have done that in the first place. Also, rotting food would also add ammonia so I'd make sure that the fish get nice and fat and it'd be okay if there is a little food left to rot. It looks like there was enough bacteria to convert ammonia to nitrites. I wouldn't worry about the 1ppm of ammonia showing. This could simply be from misreading the test kit. The important thing is that the ammonia has been converted to nitrites and those are being converted to nitrates. Worst case scenario is that she goes out and fully stocks her tank and the bioload is too much and she will most likely see a mini spike for a week. All of this can be prevented by dosing with SeaChem's Prime which will neutralize the ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates so that they aren't harmful to the fish but the bacteria can still consume them. She may have to dose for up to two weeks at most but you can't really tell how much of the ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates are not neutralized and can harm the fish as the nonharmful levels still add to the total on the test kits. It'd be perfectly fine to change out 5 gallons of water every 2nd or 3rd day and dose with Prime for the volume of the entire tank. I think she'd good to go with adding livestock to her setup as long as she can do the small PWC's that often.
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Old 10-28-2008, 11:04 AM   #17
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Her readings as of now is that ammonia is down to 0-.25 ppm, nitrites are now reading a .25, nitrates 30-40. She is very worried about adding fish because she wants two dwarf puffers and they are very sensitive to any ammonia at all and so are shrimp. She is worried that she might have another mini spike that could possibly hurt them even with changing her water every 2-3 days. She had been able to fully convert her ammonia in a 24 hour period, but now that the nitrites are reading 0 she can't convert it in a 24 hour time period....almost like 48 hours. So, should she just plan on doing a huge water change, ordering her fish tomorrow in hopes of getting them on Thursday....and then what about an ammonia source. She has to keep ammonia in there for 24 hours before her fish get there.....so confusing.....she is completely new to fishless cycling and I was trying to help her through it, but feel like I have confused her even more.
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Old 10-28-2008, 11:25 AM   #18
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This confirms exactly what I just wrote to you in a PM. She had far less nitrates initially and wasn't able to convert all of the ammonia into nitrites in 24 hours. What does this mean? It means that she added too much ammonia either accidentally or on purpose(get her to admit it and she'll probably tell you she thought it would speed up the cycle). There wasn't sufficient bacteria to convert the ammonia into nitrites but a vast majority of the ammonia WAS consumed. Then, nearly immediately the nitrates rose drastically. This means that she has a sufficient load of bacteria that convert nitrites to nitrates, but the population needed to convert ALL of the nitrites into nitrates (from the recent over dosing of ammonia) wasn't there to start with. Tell her to change out 10g of water now and 10g later tonight (or just 15g at once) to get her nitrates down.

I don't think that she will need to add any more ammonia until the fish get there. If she wants, have her put in half of what she should have dosed to be around 1-2ppm ammonia in the tank or simply put food in the tank. Dosing may be better...her call.
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Old 10-28-2008, 11:31 AM   #19
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This makes perfect sense Bryan and I was trying to explain it to my friend this way, except that I was the one that messed up with telling her to add too much ammonia and now they are trying to catch back up. I just thought she had to always have ammonia in there for the bacteria to stay alive. So, that was my fault and not hers....lol......but she is going to follow this advice and hopefully have fish later this week.
Thanks for all of your help and advice!!
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Old 10-28-2008, 11:39 AM   #20
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No problem, glad things are working out for her tank!
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