Welcome to Our Community

Wanting to join the rest of our members? Feel free to sign up today.

My Fish Less Cycle

Discussion in 'New to the Hobby Questions and Answers' started by David J, Dec 30, 2012.

  1. David J

    David J Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2012
    Messages:
    420
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    East Lothian, Scotland
    Hi

    I've started my fish less cycle and I'm now on day 5. I decided to post what I've done and observed so far and will continue to do so until the cycle is complete. You never know, it may help others and more experienced members might be able to give me some tips.

    I have a new 90L tank with sand, bogwood and a couple of small Amethyst Crystal Rocks. I intend on adding more rock and will add live plants once the cycle is finished.

    Before starting the cycle, using an API freshwater test kit I tested the water supply straight from the tap for ammonia and PH.
    ------------------------------
    Results: Water supply

    Ph: 7.6 - 7.8
    Ammonia: 0.25
    ------------------------------
    I then heated the tank to 27 degrees Celsius and got the filter running near the surface to get some surface agitation. I then decided to test the tank water which had been present for about 2 days in the tank while heating upto 27 degrees.

    ----------------------------------------
    Results: Tank water (1st test)

    Ph: 6.8
    Ammonia: 0.25
    ----------------------------------------

    So, my first observation here is that the PH is lower. In the tank water than the water straight from the tap. The only difference in conditions is the rock which I am assuming must've lowered the PH. What do you all think?

    I have a bottle of pure ammonia and a bottle of nutrafin cycle which came with the tank. I know that the product cycle doesn't receive a lot of confidence amongst the more experienced keepers but I figured I would add it aswell as the ammonia, assuming it won't do any harm. Hopefully I'm correct in that assumption.

    After doing the first tank water test, I have done the following:
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    26/12: tested: ammonia 0.25ppm. Added: 20ml of Cycle, 5ml of ammonia. Tested: Ammonia 2.0 ppm.
    27/12: tested: Ammonia 1.0 Added: 20ml cycle & 15ml ammonia. Tested: Ammonia 8.0
    28/12: tested: Ammonia 8.0 Added: 20ml cycle. Tested: Ammonia 8:0
    29/12: tested: Ammonia 8.0 Added: none
    30/12: tested: Ammonia 8:0, Nitrite 0.0. Added: none
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Having now used the test kit several times, I believe that my interpretation of the colour chart was probably wrong on the first and second day because i am certain there is no way the ammonia dropped a point after the first day. Whilst I have noted the last few days of ammonia as 8.0, this is the highest reading on the colour chart. I accept it may be higher than 8.0. The test shows dark green very similar to the highest reading on the colour chart. Today, I decided to check for nitrite as I figured that if anything was happening, nitrite would be present but the ammonia reading may not be coming down because it might be off the chart.

    Another observation is that there are hundreds/thousands of tiny particles circulating around the tank. I don't think it's sand as The sand was settled in the tank for a few days before doing anything and I remember what the sand floating around was like before it settled. I think it might be bacteria but don't know.

    Does anyone have any feedback for me on the above? I am not expecting miracles and by no means expecting there to be any real change at such an early stage. I will continue to test daily and will post my results and any comments/observations as I go.

    Many thanks,

    David

     
  2. essjay

    essjay Member

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2006
    Messages:
    3,657
    Likes Received:
    270
    Location:
    UK
    The first thing you need to do is a water change to lower your ammonia level. At 8ppm or higher the wrong species of bacteria will grow so you need to get it down to somewhere around 4 to 5ppm. You could try removing a litre or so and diluting it with an equal volume of tapwater, then test it. If the ammonia reading is then where you need it, you'll know you need to do a 50% water change. If it's still too high, you need to change a lot more than 50%.

    Regarding the pH, I suggest you run a glass of tapwater, test it immediately then let it stand for 24 and test again. The pH of tapwater often changes on standing. If yours drops to 6.8, you'll know what's causing the pH of the tank to be lower. If it is something in your tank causing the pH to drop, my bet is the bogwood.

    The particles in your tank - are they like a white mist? If they are, that's a bacterial bloom which is common in new tanks. Unfortunately, these bacteria are not the ones you need in the filter.
    http://www.fishforum...ooms-explained/
     
  3. David J

    David J Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2012
    Messages:
    420
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    East Lothian, Scotland
    Hi

    Thanks for the reply.

    Regarding your suggestion to do a water change to lower the ammonia levels, if a high level of ammonia results in the wrong species of bacteria, how does the 'add daily' method work successfully as that method raises the ammonia level much higher than mine is currently?

    I will do as you suggest with the tap water and will post the result.

    Regarding the particles, I wouldn't describe them as a mist as I can see the individual parts. The best comparison I can come up with is it looks the same as dust does in a sun beam. The particles are of similar size to dust also.

    Thanks,

    David
     
  4. daizeUK

    daizeUK Fish Botherer

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2012
    Messages:
    2,685
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    GB
    Hi David, just for your information I also noticed drops in my ammonia readings for the first few days of cycling. I attributed this to either my inability to read the colours or the tank 'settling in' in some way.

    I also have the tiny particles that you mention. I took them either for tiny air bubbles or fragments of algae (they do look a bit biological).

    Don't keep adding your ammonia daily, as essjay says you need to add until you reach 4ppm-5ppm and then stop and wait for it to return to 0ppm. Then add 1ppm weekly to keep the bacteria fed until the cycle is complete.
     
  5. David J

    David J Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2012
    Messages:
    420
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    East Lothian, Scotland
    Hi

    I've not added anything for 3 days now. Will do another test tonight. Looking closer at the particles they could be air bubbles but I really don't know. I guess the only way I could be sure is to turn my filter off for a while to see if they disappear but given that I want the water pumping through the filter I won't.

    Can anyone confirm if the 8.0 ppm of ammonia will produce the wrong type of bacteria? The reason I ask is that wouldn't this contradict the 'add daily' method in the stickies?

    Thanks

    David m
     
  6. David J

    David J Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2012
    Messages:
    420
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    East Lothian, Scotland
    Hi,

    Quick update.

    31/12: Tested: Ammonia definitely less than 8.0 but don't think it's is as little as 4.0. Again, hard to differentiate between the colours on the chart. Added: none.
    1/1: Tested: same as yesterday.

    Also, I have cranked the heater up. The temp was sitting around 26 and have raised it to about 29/30. I also turned off the bubbles on the filter to see if it was indeed tiny bubbles instead of particles of something else. I switched it to the middle bar setting and within 10 minutes the particles are gone with the exception of a few bits flowing around. Now that the bubbles are gone I can see that the water is indeed ever so slightly milky. I might do what essjay suggested and take a sample of water out, dilute it with an equivalent amount and test the ammonia again and then do a water change on the tank depending on the results.

    I have a glass of tap water sitting out and will test the pH on that tomorrow night.

    Again, any further suggestions or feedback is most welcome as other than what I've read on here, I am very much clueless on this.

    Many thanks

    David
     
  7. daizeUK

    daizeUK Fish Botherer

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2012
    Messages:
    2,685
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    GB
    I see what you mean, you're doing the Add Daily method from this sticky. I'd never even heard of it before, most guides I've read advise the "Add and Wait" method, where you stop at 4-5ppm. I've seen plenty of warnings that the bacteria can't form above 8ppm ammonia, so I'm a bit surprised to see that this Add Daily method exists. Perhaps somebody has tried it successfully and can advise.
     
  8. David J

    David J Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2012
    Messages:
    420
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    East Lothian, Scotland
    Hi Daize

    It was my intention to do the 'add and wait' method but after adding the first dose of ammonia, it tested as 2.0. The next day it tested as 1.0 so I added more to try and raise it to 4-5ppm. In hindsight I think I read the results wrong and probably should've left it after day one but what's done is done. So I guess now I have started a bit of an 'add daily/add and wait' hybrid cycle lol.

    David
     
  9. David J

    David J Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2012
    Messages:
    420
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    East Lothian, Scotland
    Hi again,

    I decided to do the test essjay suggested and took a sample of water from the tank and doubled it with tap water. It was 2.5L from the tank and added 2.5L from the tap. I didn't bother dechlorinating the tap water as this sample won't be going back in the tank.

    Prior to taking the sample I tested the tank water for ammonia. It was the same as it has been since 28/12 and as I've said before, it's hard to tell with the colour chart. It might be as high as 8.0 but might be as low as 4.0.

    I then tested the diluted sample for ammonia and the colour matches 2.0 exactly. I have no doubt that the colour is matching 2.0.

    So, I now don't know what to do because the result of 2.0 means it must've been 4.0 before diluting, it was just that I found it hard to match the colours. Therefore I don't think I should do a water change as I'm being told 4-5ppm is perfect. Does that mean that I just need to give it more time?

    I don't know if this is related but in my original post I stated that the pH of my tap water (tested straight from the tap and not left for 24 hours) was 7.6-7.8 and that the pH for the tank water which had been in there for a few days was 6.8. I tested the tank water for pH today, a week later and it was 7.6-7.8, exactly as the 1st test of the unsettled tap water. Does the ammonia raise the pH? That would make sense because the first time I tested the pH of the tank water, I hadn't introduced any ammonia yet.

    What should I do people? I am thinking I should do nothing and continue with my daily ammonia tests until I see them drop to 1ppm then add ammonia back upto 4-5ppm and so on.

    Thanks in advance?

    David.
     
  10. eaglesaquarium

    eaglesaquarium Life, Liberty & Pursuit of the perfect fish tank
    Staff Member Moderator Global Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2011
    Messages:
    12,815
    Likes Received:
    355
    Location:
    US
    First, the "Add Daily" method is outdated. More recent research has pointed out the concentration needs to remain lower to get the proper type of bacteria growing.

    I'd also suggest that 2-4 ppm should be the aim for the concentration. 5ppm is a but high according to current understanding.

    Patience in a cycle is the key. You should wait this out. I also wouldn't recommend boosting the ammonia when it reaches 1ppm, but instead wait until it drops BELOW 1ppm, hopefully 0.00 or 0.25 ppm. Then boost it back to 3ppm.


    This process takes time.
     
  11. David J

    David J Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2012
    Messages:
    420
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    East Lothian, Scotland
    Hi

    I had always intended on doing the add and wait method, bringing the ammonium upto 4-5ppm and waiting until it dropped to 1ppm before bringing it back up. The issue was that after adding ammonia and testing, I read the colour chart as being at about 2ppm therefore I added more the next day to try and get it upto 4-5ppm and ive obviously added too much, I think. I now know that I probably read the results wrong and should've just left it. I find the colours quite difficult to read.

    I will now leave it as is, because I am confident it is at around 4.0ppm. I'll wait until it drops below 1ppm and then add upto 3ppm as you suggested. I appreciate that it takes tIme and its not going to happen overnight. How long do you think it'll be until I notice a drop of any kind? I only ask because I don't know when to start getting concerned that nothing is happening. I mean are we talking a couple of weeks or a couple of months. I just don't want to be sitting for 2 months with nothing happening just for someone to ask me why I didn't do something about it because it shouldn't take that long.

    Do you have any idea what's going on with the pH level?

    Thanks for your reply. Much appreciated. Good to know that I should leave well,alone for now.

    David.
     
  12. daizeUK

    daizeUK Fish Botherer

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2012
    Messages:
    2,685
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    GB
    My nitrites became noticeable at around 3 weeks, although they had been slowly creeping up since the first week or so, if I had sharper eyes I might have noticed sooner, however at three weeks my nitrites have not yet reached 0.25 ppm and my ammonia has yet to drop below 4ppm. I understand my cycle is probably quite slow, hopefully yours may be faster!

    It seems that everyone's cycles progress at different rates and some may start seeing results after a week, others may take three or maybe longer.

    My advice would be to check your ammonia and nitrites every two days and don't worry too much, and keep a photo record of your test results. This can help you determine if a colour is changing if you have a photo to compare it to.
     
  13. eaglesaquarium

    eaglesaquarium Life, Liberty & Pursuit of the perfect fish tank
    Staff Member Moderator Global Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2011
    Messages:
    12,815
    Likes Received:
    355
    Location:
    US
    Daize is correct, it is a highly variable thing. The water conditions are really VERY different. Some places use more chlorine than others, some use well water, etc. The amount of the right bacteria present is the key at the very beginning is so different and it starts so slowly that it can be quite maddening at times. Patience is the most important thing.

    In terms of how long it will take for a noticeable drop, anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks. In general though, I'd say that each phase of the cycle takes, on average 2 weeks. So, you should see a nitrite spike somewhere in the next 10 days, but it could be longer.


    Phase one: Ammonia spike (well, since you are dosing with ammonia, this could be called ammonia drop). The goal here is to get the ammonia to process 24 hours.

    Phase two: Nitrite spike. As the ammonia drops off, the nitrite will start to build up. 1ppm of NH3 (ammonia) will convert to about 2.7ppm NO2 (nitrite). This takes a little while sometimes, especially in very slow cycles. Generally because all the dosing of the ammonia creates a HUGE build up of nitrite. I always suggest a water change during this section to "rezero" the nitrite. This is a spot where it makes a lot of sense to dilute your tank water from time to time to get a sense for where the nitrite values are. Once again, lower levels are preferred as the bacteria you are trying to culture grow at their best at about 0.14ppm NO2. If it starts to get too high, the cycle can stall.

    Phase three: 12 hour drop. One day, the nitrite will FINALLY hit zero. Then, you start testing every 12 hours (still only dosing once a day). When the nitrite and ammonia hit zero in 12 hours, you are considered cycled and ready to go.

    Phase four (optional): qualifying week. Sometimes a blip can happen after the "end" of the cycle. Doing a 5-7 day qualifying week, will ensure that you don't get a spike once you add the fish. You can also slowly increase the dose during this time to enable a bigger initial stock, although I prefer to start smaller and with the hardiest species first, and the most sensitive species after a few months. This helps with your learning curve as a new fishkeeper too.



    I'd just post my log here every so often, and folks will help you out if a question comes up. We love talking about bacteria! ;-)
     
  14. David J

    David J Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2012
    Messages:
    420
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    East Lothian, Scotland
    Hi Daize

    Good idea about keeping a photo log of the tests. They are very difficult to tell anything between them but comparing today's test against a test from a couple of days ago just might be easier. Thanks.

    Eaglesaquarium/Daize, thanks for your post. After reading it last night I felt a lot more confident that I'm doing fine. I genuinely was starting to think I might have to start over.

    Today, as if by magic, things have changed.

    3/1.
    Ammonia: between 1-2ppm
    Nitrite: 4-5ppm
    Nitrate: between 10-20ppm (colour chart for 10 & 20 is almost exactly the same but the test looked like both of them)
    Added: nothing.

    So my ammonia has dropped by at least 50% and I see Nitrite for the 1st time. Eaglesaquarium said that 1ppm of Ammonia produces around 2.7ppm of Nitrite. As the reading for Nitrite is about 4-5ppm that seems pretty much spot on. Once I saw Nitrite I decided to test for Nitrate and really didn't expect to see any but hey presto, at least 10ppm and maybe as much as 20ppm.

    I haven't added anything. I will test again tea time tomorrow and expect the ammonia will have dropped to less than 1ppm in which case I will dose back upto about 3ppm. I will do some more reading on how to figure out the correct dose to achieve this as this is where I think I went wrong at the beginning.

    Any feedback or suggestions etc are welcome.

    Thanks for the advice.

    David.
     
  15. daizeUK

    daizeUK Fish Botherer

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2012
    Messages:
    2,685
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    GB
    You must be doing something right! [​IMG]

    Can't help but be a little jealous lol, my nitrites were barely touching 0.25 today after 25 days in cycle.
     

Share This Page