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Is My Tank Cycling? Noob To The Hobby - I've Also Read The "re

Discussion in 'Cycle your Tank' started by marnold00, Aug 7, 2016.

  1. marnold00

    marnold00 Member

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    Hey all,
     
    So a bit of background first... I decided to get a fish tank, and I'd seen quite a few articles online about fishless cycling etc, but not this forum. I went to the store, bought the tank, and got some advice from a couple of the guys working there (lets call them bill and ben) - I understand advice from a fish store isn't great, but too late now! Also being someone who works with salesmen, these guys seemed far too naturally enthusiastic, and didn't seem too slimey a character - so either they're really good salesmen, or they were actually being honest.
     
    I also bought water conditioner, and a bottle of "bio-boost" to introduce the yummy bacteria that we all seem to love.
     
    fast forward several hours of painful stand building, sand washing and tank moving, I now have a tank full of water. Hooray. I now add the first dose of bacteria and water conditioner, along with the filter and heater and a few pieces of food (as per suggestions from monsieurs Bill and Ben) - They're also catfish pellets if it makes any difference. I want to start with a school of corys. Hooray.
     
    Oh, I forgot to buy the water testing kit and I won't have a chance to get one for a few days. OK.
     
    A few days later, the tank is at the right temperature, the water is clear following poor sand washing and I do a quick test... Ammonia comes back negligible. Me being rather lazy at times - OK well it obviously hasn't started cycling yet - lets not bother doing the other tests. For the record I'd gone for tests you do one by one... not ones which test everything in one go.
     
    The next day I get some plants and plant them - I was going to keep the tank entirely empty but i could not stand looking at it like that.
     
    Two more days later (we're on day 6 here) and I do another ammonia test... still negligible. I also decide some rocks and wood would be great, so off I pop to get some rocks to clean and add to the tank, and start soaking some wood. I mention the ammonia situ and the same guys who I bought the tank from suggested running a nitrite and nitrate test and compare them to my tap water.
     
    I go home and do the above. Tap water had zero nitrite, but my sample of tank water has turned a lovely shade of pink indicating 0.25mg/L. And the nitrate tests? Inconclusive. I broke both plastic vials by putting the lids on too forcefully and now I can't shake the tablet about in the water without it leaking everywhere.
     
     
    So my question is this... Does it seem like my ammonia will have spiked already and is under control and the nitrites are getting worked on?
     
     
    Unfortunately I'm not good enough at questions to only ask 1, so here is some more...
     
    I'm adding the dosage of bacteria that the bottle recommends.... Do I need to 'feed' them at all whilst I don't have fish pooping and breathing? If so, how? Do I add ammonia? Or are the little catfish pellets doing the job? 
     
    Does the 'Adding of ammonia' section only apply if you cannot produce a source of bacteria?
     
     
    I understand the food will rot which isn't great for the fish. I don't plan on adding fish for another 4 weeks anyway as I will not have the hours in the day to give them a regular feeding regime... I will be doing a 50%+ water change a few days before adding 4-5 corys ( don't worry I shall add the water conditioner).
     
    Whilst we're on the subject of water, my pH is around 8-8.5 according to the rubbish tests I bought. I also live in an area of hard water. My store have said that I can buy a 25l water tub from them for £5, and I can top up the tub for £2 a pop whenever I choose. This water has not had any fish in it. This is water which they have neutralised. They also have not added any buffers or anything to it. Basically pure distilled water. They said if I'm having issues with my 60l tank, then at my next water change introduce 10l of this neutral water. What are your thoughts on this?
     
    I will save my fish stocking questions for a more appropriate section of the forum.
     
    Thank you all in advance [​IMG]
     
    My tasty new shiny 6 in 1 water testing strips shall hopefully arrive tomorrow or Tuesday. I shall comment below with the figures obtained from those tests.
     
     
    Edit: I meant to say that I've read the 'read me first' bit of this cycling forum. I didn't proof read this... apologies!
     
  2. Akasha72

    Akasha72 Warning - Mad Cory Woman

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    okay .... so the 'rubbish' test you bought? Was it the API masterkit? Some other kind of liquid drop test? If so not rubbish. The rubbish is the test strips that are arriving in a few days. These strips are notoriously inaccurate where as the liquid drop testers are the best on the market. These are the one's we all use and all the professionals too. The best thing you can do when the strip testers arrive is not open them, return to sender and ask for a refund.
     
    In terms of ammonia production. You can use food but these days fish food is so advanced it's actually produced now not to foul water and so any ammonia it will be producing will be tiny. 
     
    The best way to get this tank cycling properly is to follow the instructions for a 'fishless cycle' in the beginners section .... alternatively go back and ask Bill and Ben (that made me chuckle lol) if they'll give you a squeeze of some gunk from an established filter.
     
    I've already been on your other thread and made comments about the fish choices. Cories are soft water fish and won't thrive in hard water
     
  3. marnold00

    marnold00 Member

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    Firstly thank you for your fast responses to both. The strips that have been ordered have now been un-ordered... The test kit was a very cheap 'easy' test kit which involved shaking a tablet in the water until it dissolved and then trying to compare the colour to a colour chart, which myself and friends found very difficult to do. Also the colours indicated very broad ranges, and won't give me the GH or KH either. just pH, ammonia, nitrites and nitrates.
     
    With regards to my post, will a squeeze from one of their filters give similar results to the bacteria that I introduced from the bottle? As I said, the nitrites do appear to have increased, so is this indicative of a cycle starting? Would you still recommend that I add further ammonia? To save muddying the two topics, the hard water and pH issues will be discussed on the fish choice topic :) thanks
     
  4. Akasha72

    Akasha72 Warning - Mad Cory Woman

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    generally we have a problem on this forum with the claims made by these 'bacteria in a bottle' products. Very few work, most are little more than an expensive gimmick. I've heard good things about one by Dr Tim (I think it's called 'one and only') and I have heard some good things about one by Tetra (safe start or something similar) 
     
    There are two ways to get a tank to cycle. One is to use household ammonia to kick start the bacteria and there are full instructions on how to do this in the beginners section. The second option is to get hold of some bacteria from an established tank. If you know someone with an established tank you could ask if they have room to fit your sponges into their filter for a couple of weeks to get it colonised. The alternative to this is to ask for the gunk from the bottom of an external canister filter and smear that over your sponges. This is known as 'seeding'. It means you are taking the bacteria and giving it a new home on your brand new media. To do this the sponges need to be wet so adding the gunk to a bucket and chucking the sponges in and smearing them around in the gunk before adding to the filter straight away is the best option.
     
    If you use the seeding option you can go ahead and stock lightly straight away keeping an eye of ammonia and nitrite all the while. By stock lightly I mean adding 3 or 4 small fish. Once you have the bacteria it's a case then of keeping it alive and without an ammonia source it will die and by stocking lightly you are providing the ammonia source from the fish to keep it alive. Then it's just a case of going slowly and allowing it to replicate in time.
     
  5. Byron

    Byron Member

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    I concur with Akash'a post except for the filter "gunk" from the fish store.  This is an extremely dangerous practice, even worse than not quarantining fish.  You've no idea what pathogens are living in the fish store tanks, and you would not want these in your tank anyway.  Fish can build an immunity to various pathogens, but your fish may not have this advantage.  And there are many pretty terrible fish ailments out there, that you do not want introduced to your new tank.  Same thing holds for anyone else's tank.
     
    I would continue as you have begun.  Do not add "ammonia" at this stage, it could kill everything.  You have nitrites showing so that is fine.  The bottled "bio-boost" probably helped.  Even when these products are not the right bacteria, they do help (according to scientific tests).  You have live plants, and these take up ammonia/ammonium.  I would add the first few fish once you have zero nitrite, and monitor ammonia/nitrite (both should remain zero now).
     
    Byron.
     
  6. marnold00

    marnold00 Member

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    OK thank you. This has been very informative. I will take the attitude that it has not started at all, and I will follow the instructions with household ammonia found on the starter page.


    Out of curiosity, what do you think has caused the increase in nitrites?
     
  7. Akasha72

    Akasha72 Warning - Mad Cory Woman

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    sorry ... I forget that not everyone has an excellent, trustworthy lfs like mine. In general though the small family run lfs's in this country are great at what they do
     
  8. marnold00

    marnold00 Member

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    Sorry didn't see your post Byron!

    Is there anything I can do to 'feed' the ammonia 'eating' bacteria?
     
  9. Akasha72

    Akasha72 Warning - Mad Cory Woman

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    household ammonia/fishless cycle really is the best way to go. Just follow the instructions in the beginners section and you'll be fine :)
     
  10. marnold00

    marnold00 Member

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    OK thank you for your help! I'm sure I'll be back if I don't see any changes, but I guess if I'm seeing nitrites, and if my nitrates are there and increasing (tbc) then the instructions should be fine :)

    Part of me wishes I'd found this before I had started. I almost feel like I'm on a rescue mission... Either way I won't give in. I want fish. Haha

    Thanks you both for your help :)
     
  11. Akasha72

    Akasha72 Warning - Mad Cory Woman

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    patience is the key. This is a hobby to test the patience but it is worth it :) 

    and your not on a rescue mission at all. No fish yet so no rescuing needed :)
     
  12. Byron

    Byron Member

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    It is not a case of the fish store, as no matter how "good" the store, it is still a risk.  Fish are coming in to the store all the time, and they may (or may not) do any quarantining or treatment, but they cannot possibly "treat" for all the possible issues these fish might be carrying.  And pathogens spread from tank to tank easily, especially with multiple tank water flow filtration which most stores probably have.  Some of these pathogens will never be seen by any test (unless you are a microbiologist with a lab).
     
    There are aquarists who will not even move stuff from one tank to another in their own fish room.  And while I do not follow this, I cannot argue against the logic.
     
    Each aquarium is a very unique biological system.  What may exist in one and be safe, can be deadly in another.

     
    No.  There is no need now that you are where you are, with plants.
     
  13. marnold00

    marnold00 Member

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    So, nitrite has gone from a very obvious 0.25ppm to a shade of colour indicating something between 0.1 and 0.25. Nitrates are at about 50 - tap water is about 20ppm (is this too high?)
    So to me I see this as it's definitely cycling :) ammonia still at 0.1

    How long would you expect it to take from here, or is it completely unpredictable? This is probably a stupid question...

    I have what I can only describe as a very fine film on the top of the water - almost oily looking, only without the rainbow light diffraction. Is this the bacteria?

    Edit:
    Say this finishes cycling before I can put fish in, what should I do and what's the longest I can leave it?

    Also how many days before I put the fish in shall I do a water change? And how much? 50%?
     
  14. Byron

    Byron Member

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    Once you have zero nitrite, for a couple days, do water changes to reduce the nitrates.  Having nitrate in your tap water is another issue I won't get into here, but it needs dealing with.
     
    Each aquarium is a unique biological system so there is no guaranteed periods of time for things to happen.  We are using nature here.
     
    The surface film is likely a protein film, remove it at water changes if it continues.  Bacteria live on surfaces in what are called bio-films.  Every surface covered by water develops a bio-film, and microscopic organisms, algae and all kinds of bacteria will colonize the bio-film.
     
    You have live plants, and provided they show signs of growth, you will not have issues with ammonia/nitrite.  Some fish are better in established tanks than others, so the first fish you add are important.  "Established" means the tank is cycled and has run for a few months with fish.  Post the fish you intend and we can sort this out if needed.
     
  15. marnold00

    marnold00 Member

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    Thanks Byron :) from your help in the other topic I'll most likely be starting with a few white clouds, and then a week or two turn that into a small shoal of 6 or so. The plan is to then put all of my effort in to these. Get used to keeping the water stable whilst there are fish in it etc. Only then will I start looking for some hard water fish to live on the bottom.

    It might even be 2017 before another species is added, but I'd rather err on the side of caution. I do also have some plants to get looking lush. I definitely don't have enough in at the moment. Need one or two more background plants
     

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