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Cycling tank (possibly without tests)

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PygmyPepperJulli

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Hi,

Am wondering about cycling my new 52 gal tank (brand petworx). This tank was the cracked tank that is now unusable. I would like it to be in use as soon as possible, however am wondering the best way to do it.

1. I don't currently have any test strips. I was recommended some, however they're only on amazon.com without the .au, so would have to pay for likely excessive shipping. I was looking at these- https://www.amazon.com.au/Aquarium-Freshwater-Saltwater-Thermometer-Accurate/dp/B0BX6RN8NT/ref=sr_1_7?crid=1QNOPMDUCGLPU&keywords=JNW+aquarium+test+strips&qid=1701388296&sprefix=jnw+aquarium+test+strips,aps,310&sr=8-7&th=1 does anyone have any experience? I know the master test kit is better, but it needs to be cheap. I would love to just not have them, but is there any way to cycle with no test strips?

2. The cracked tank was halfway through cycling when it became unusable (I believe it was nearly there, but I don't actually know because I don't have test strips). I moved the substrate (rock, some sand will be put on top soon) and the filter that was running in there into the new aquarium, so will that kickstart the cycle since some bb would already be in there?

3. I am considering doing a fish-in cycle (the right way, only adding a few fish at a time, doing large water changes, etc. The only things that would be going in to cycle are either some fish from my pond, which are literally invincible, or my tetras, however they are slightly more sensitive). However, I know that there are lots of risks to the fish, so probably not. Maybe a plant cycle? Haven't decided (I have read all the cycling articles).

4. I want to buy as little stuff as possible (or none). This includes bottled bacteria such as Dr Tim's, or bottled ammonia, or (as mentioned earlier) really cheap test strips.


I'm mostly just looking for advice as this is the second tank I have cycled and the first one was ages and ages ago, and was a lot smaller. Thanks.
 
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Hello Pygmy. I fairly recently cycled a 50 gallon tank. I set it up with plants and all and filled it with treated tap water and added API's "Quick Start". Quick Start is just a bottled bacteria. Anyway, I let everything run for a couple of days to establish the water temperature. Then, I acclimated a dozen Buenos Aires Tetras, my personal favorite and just changed half the tank water a couple of times a week and always dosed the bacteria starter according to the instructions and fed the fish a little every other day. I did this for several weeks, just so the water was always pretty much nitrogen free. The large water changes will remove any nitrogen (dissolved fish waste) the bacteria starter can't handle. So, I set that tank up quite a few months ago and now, I just change half the water weekly. I can honestly tell you that all the Tetras are still in the tank and growing nicely. If you'd like to see it, I can provide a photo. Really, the fish are all there.

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I'm currently doing a fishless cycle on a 6 gallon, only 10 days in but am using the API test kit. Even with that, I'm still having a couple of issues, which I suppose isn't totally unexpected. As someone who's only cycled one tank before and classes themselves as a relative newbie, I think I'd be completely stuck without some form of testing, and I personally wouldn't feel confident doing a fish in cycle without a kit (probably not at all tbh, I'm far too anxious!). I'm not sure how you would know the cycle is definitely done without some kind of test kit? If the kit you've linked is all that's available I'd go with that so you have a guideline whether you do fish in or not.
 
just throw a raw shrimp in there...let it rot...write the date down...
add the water from the old cracked tank...and some plants
you don't want to delay/stall the cycle by using tap so "cracked tank's" water is gold xD
---> another way...fill up a few buckets..treat the water wait a few hours and then change the water..
do your weekly water changes wait 3 weeks from the date you wrote down
walk into a fish store and pick the cheapest fish you can find (no deformities/bent spines)
throw it in the tank and just watch...if he lives through the week and has no issues of any kind change the water after 1 week of the 1st fish and add another one
rasboras are perfect for this...if the rasboras lose their red and become somewhat whiter...you know something's up...
 
Get some cheap fast growing floating plants and throw them into the tank (I like amazon frogbit for this). Let them grow for a couple of days to make sure they are showing new growth. Add a few fish. You can use your cheap strips and monitor the nitrite. Don't add any other ammonia sources and feed sparingly (twice a week is enough). If your nitrite stays at zero for a week you can add a few more fish.
 
There is a world of myth and magic in this.

If I were in your shoes, I would transfer hopefully wet substrate and rocks over to the new tank. I would fill it with dechlorinated tap, and after dechlorinating, add whatever plants I could. If I didn't fear snails and were Australian with a pond (!), I would shift over pond plants (or even a little decaying plant matter/mulm), even if they returned to their home after a few weeks. They'll be loaded with beneficial bacteria and archaea.

Effectively, that tank would then be cycled, but only to a degree.

The next question is what you are going to put in it. I think it's bad advice to buy cheap and unlucky fish for the process. Add the fish you want to give homes to, and don't treat fish as disposable. How you add them depends on what they are. So, what are you aiming for?

The myth and magic revolves around the very scientific test kits, oddly enough. The culture around these valid tools can be a little weird. You don't need test kits. Some are reassured by them,and others are very dogmatic about unnecessary (but interesting) fishless cycles. A properly done cycle isn't cruel to fish. Carelessly done, sure, it's bad. Carelessness usually is. But you don't need to do a chemistry experiment, or buy snake oil additives. If you have a pond, you are so far ahead it isn't funny.

In Canada, I'd need an axe to get water from my Daphnia containers today! You're lucky.
 
just throw a raw shrimp in there...let it rot...write the date down...
add the water from the old cracked tank...and some plants
you don't want to delay/stall the cycle by using tap so "cracked tank's" water is gold xD
---> another way...fill up a few buckets..treat the water wait a few hours and then change the water..
do your weekly water changes wait 3 weeks from the date you wrote down
walk into a fish store and pick the cheapest fish you can find (no deformities/bent spines)
throw it in the tank and just watch...if he lives through the week and has no issues of any kind change the water after 1 week of the 1st fish and add another one
rasboras are perfect for this...if the rasboras lose their red and become somewhat whiter...you know something's up...
I feel like this advice is kinda cruel, just pick up a fish, chuck it in and see if it lives or dies... maybe I'm reading it wrong...
 
There is a world of myth and magic in this.

If I were in your shoes, I would transfer hopefully wet substrate and rocks over to the new tank. I would fill it with dechlorinated tap, and after dechlorinating, add whatever plants I could. If I didn't fear snails and were Australian with a pond (!), I would shift over pond plants (or even a little decaying plant matter/mulm), even if they returned to their home after a few weeks. They'll be loaded with beneficial bacteria and archaea.

Effectively, that tank would then be cycled, but only to a degree.

The next question is what you are going to put in it. I think it's bad advice to buy cheap and unlucky fish for the process. Add the fish you want to give homes to, and don't treat fish as disposable. How you add them depends on what they are. So, what are you aiming for?

The myth and magic revolves around the very scientific test kits, oddly enough. The culture around these valid tools can be a little weird. You don't need test kits. Some are reassured by them,and others are very dogmatic about unnecessary (but interesting) fishless cycles. A properly done cycle isn't cruel to fish. Carelessly done, sure, it's bad. Carelessness usually is. But you don't need to do a chemistry experiment, or buy snake oil additives. If you have a pond, you are so far ahead it isn't funny.

In Canada, I'd need an axe to get water from my Daphnia containers today! You're lucky.
Without a test kit, how would you know when a cycle was truly done? (Not disputing just a genuine question). Are there ways of "knowing" more or less when a tank might be ready?
 
Hi,

Am wondering about cycling my new 52 gal tank (brand petworx). This tank was the cracked tank that is now unusable. I would like it to be in use as soon as possible, however am wondering the best way to do it.

1. I don't currently have any test strips. I was recommended some, however they're only on amazon.com without the .au, so would have to pay for likely excessive shipping. I was looking at these- https://www.amazon.com.au/Aquarium-Freshwater-Saltwater-Thermometer-Accurate/dp/B0BX6RN8NT/ref=sr_1_7?crid=1QNOPMDUCGLPU&keywords=JNW+aquarium+test+strips&qid=1701388296&sprefix=jnw+aquarium+test+strips,aps,310&sr=8-7&th=1 does anyone have any experience? I know the master test kit is better, but it needs to be cheap. I would love to just not have them, but is there any way to cycle with no test strips?

2. The cracked tank was halfway through cycling when it became unusable (I believe it was nearly there, but I don't actually know because I don't have test strips). I moved the substrate (rock, some sand will be put on top soon) and the filter that was running in there into the new aquarium, so will that kickstart the cycle since some bb would already be in there?

3. I am considering doing a fish-in cycle (the right way, only adding a few fish at a time, doing large water changes, etc. The only things that would be going in to cycle are either some fish from my pond, which are literally invincible, or my tetras, however they are slightly more sensitive). However, I know that there are lots of risks to the fish, so probably not. Maybe a plant cycle? Haven't decided (I have read all the cycling articles).

4. I want to buy as little stuff as possible (or none). This includes bottled bacteria such as Dr Tim's, or bottled ammonia, or (as mentioned earlier) really cheap test strips.


I'm mostly just looking for advice as this is the second tank I have cycled and the first one was ages and ages ago, and was a lot smaller. Thanks.
1. The cheapest API liquid test kit I can buy costs $65. Plus between $10 - $15 shipping if you can't do the old fashioned pick up from the store.
2 & 3. I responded to these in your other thread, so I'll leave it at that.
4. I'm not aware of anyone in Australia who uses Dr Tim's (I'm not saying that nobody does), and you may have to mail order it in if you wanted to try it. But there's a chance that customs will open it to see that it is what it purports to be. So I personally wouldn't bother with it.
 
The cycle is never done. It's a dynamic process, among many processes in a tank. In a 55, I would do what I said above, and then start with half a dozen small fish, at most. Run it for a week or two more. Do your water changes religiously, as if the tank were fully stocked. In a couple of weeks, I add the next species, if it's a community. Slow but steady wins the race.

If you are pouring ammonia in, then you are pushing the cycle to the level of ammonia deemed appropriate. Unless you are pretty foolish, you'll never put fish in that will produce that level of waste.

I work with assumptions - if you have put a lot of plants, especially outdoor plants in, then you will have good bacteria colonies going. If you stock lightly and build slowly, then the colonies will grow. You can test that if it interests you, but if not, then relax.

A lot of the hand wringing about fish in cycles is a response to active ignorance (I try to be polite). If you dump a huge number of fish into a small tank, and then use a canister of food in 2 weeks, death will result. If you go slowly and surely, feeding lightly, and doing regular as clockwork water changes, it will only happen if you have bought unhealthy stock. I know a lot of pet shop owners and managers, and invariably, over a little beer, they admit that if a tank wipes out from disease in their shops, but a customer comes in saying the fish he bought from that tank died, they'll send him to a test kit. They will blame the cycle, and by extension, blame the customer. They've already lost money on the Singapore/Thailand, Malaysian importation wiping out. Guarantees cost.

If you are intelligent, and the OP clearly is very intelligent and resourceful, then you will seed the tank, go slow and steady, do water changes and succeed.

Apparently in parts of the UK, and certainly in the agricultural heartlands of middle North America, the tap water is polluted water. It often has measurable ammonia. There, to keep fish without a test kit is foolish. The water is bad, and you have to work around it. Personally, I'd move, but most people can't do that. So there, you need to constantly read the water. If, like where I am, you have clean water, then you need no test kits. You can use the freed up time to do water changes. I might see that differently if I had hard water. I have soft, a thing I often take for granted, and ammonium and ammonia are different issues. But this technique worked when I lived elsewhere with alkaline water. I only ever crashed one tank due to the cycle, in close to 60 years, with fishrooms full of tanks for 35 years of that. It was decades back, and it was me being stupid and rushing to create an ideal tank without taking the time to make it possible.
 
Hello again. Just a word from someone who wants fish in the tank after the third day of having the tank set up and running. Here's the 50 gallon I put the Tetras in on the third day and used the water treatment and bacteria starter. I use both additives every time I changed out the water, which was 50 percent twice weekly for several weeks to keep the nitrogen out of the water. Then after a few weeks, I backed off the water changes to half the tank volume weekly. The bacteria colony was established by then, but I always dose both water treatments every time I change the water, just to be safe. By doing this, there's never a problem with a nitrogen build up. The water chemistry is always stable and the water clean. Here's a photo of the tank.

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I feel like this advice is kinda cruel, just pick up a fish, chuck it in and see if it lives or dies... maybe I'm reading it wrong...
It is very cruel, and illegal. I’d only take advice from people who actually care about fish.
 
Hello. Such a nasty thing to say about someone you've never met. I'm an animal person through and through. I've followed this procedure and got it from some tank keepers who were keeping fish since the 1960s. I've used these steps at least a dozen times, with the same successful results. I'd compare the health of my fish to anyone out there. So, let's not snap judge something you've never tried. But, it's going to be alright. I forgive you.

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I cannot believe what I have read in this thread. Much of it is scientifically invalid and factually incorrect.

I am beginning to think I wasted my time writing the three cycling articles on this site. I have cycled about 200 tanks over the years. I run my own bio-farm and cycle filters rather than tanks. Soin about 2 weeks I can make 8 or so tanks instantly safe to be fully stocked. But I guess I must not have a clue what I am doing.

I will never ever help anybody to start a cycle with fish. I will get anybody through fishless cycling who needs help. If one new to the hobby has foolishly tried to cycle a tank using fish without any real in depth knowledge of what is involved, they are going to harm or even kill fish. That is why I wrote two articles on how to deal with things when one does try and fails. I do not like to see fish have to suffer needlessly due to lack of knowledge when it has not been necessary now for over 25 years. The very first fishless cycling article I could find dates back to the last half of the 1990s. I did my first one in very early 2002. Back then we use household ammonia and drops per gallon- very hit or miss.

@PygmyPepperJulli

If you cannot afford to cycle the tank properly, then you should not be keeping fish yet. So I suggest you wait until you can save up enough money to have all of the following:
API tests for ammonia, nitrite and pH. It can be useful to have a test for KH, but not absolutely necessary. Pet/fish stores will often test both GH and KH for you if you shop with them. What contributes to KH in tanks is also use by the bacteria.
A thermometer and likely a heater.

The above items will run you about $50 give or take depending upon what brand and size heater you might need. the heater is for noth the fish and bacteria.

I almost never use a nitrate test. The kits usually expired unused and got replaced a few times. I am not sure I still have one in my test kit box. I do weekly water changes and do large foam filters which give me some denitrification. Nitrate is never an issue for me.

Before you do anything, please read the three cycling articles on the site. These should help you to make more informed decisions. If you can go with a proper fishless cycle, I am willing to work closely with you to get it done right and as quickly as is reasonably possible. Being able to add some good bacteria at the outset is the only way to speed up a cycle. This can be done using the right bottle bacteria or by taking bacteria from a cycle tank and putting it into the ne one.

Live plants use ammonium and will handle some to all of the cycling chores if one has enough plants of the right kinds. But this method still requires that one stock over time rather than the all at once method one can use because they have done a fishless cycle.
 
Poor @PygmyPepperJulli has accidentally kicked over a pail of fish!

There are a lot of articles written by a lot of people in a lot of places, and they are usually unread. What I see here tends to represent different eras in the history of the hobby.

We have one person going full tilt in 3 days, but with massive water changes and the use of bacterial boosters that apparently work short term to bridge the period when bacteria gets established. I can see that working only because of the big water changes.
Another does the 1970s dead shrimp, sacrificial fish approach. I don't like that one at all, as it kills fish. It's on par with the old 'buy some fish you think is garbage and kill it when the cycling hasn't killed it." It works, but the killing should be avoidable.
We have plants adding bacteria since it's a warm climate question and the OP has a pond. One presumes a pond is cycled, and the cycle can be carried over. That isn't broad principles, but a response to a specific situation.
We have the 'proper' fish cycling approach - interesting and with local articles supporting it. It works as well as other systems.
We have forgiveness from under the bridge - a first in one of these debates.

To me, you are on a tight budget. You can easily compensate with a slow, patient cycle with a lot of water changes. No fish will be harmed, no ammonia will be spilled, no short term boosters need be used, no dirty water will pass for gold and your fish, if they arrive healthy, will thrive.

As @TwoTankAmin said "Live plants use ammonium and will handle some to all of the cycling chores if one has enough plants of the right kinds. But this method still requires that one stock over time rather than the all at once method one can use because they have done a fishless cycle." That seems the compromise between sensible ideas. Buying a heater and a test kit in my small market country will cost about $120, and that's a chunk of change. It's worthwhile to go slowly.
 

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