🌟 Exclusive 2024 Prime Day Deals! 🌟

Unlock unbeatable offers today. Shop here: https://amzn.to/3LmzcqW 🎁

Fishless cycling and fish brainstorming

rebe

Fishaholic
Tank of the Month 🏆
Joined
Aug 6, 2023
Messages
452
Reaction score
361
Location
Ireland
Hi again everyone!
First of all thank you so much for all of your help and advice in my last thread. I am so grateful, especially since I don't know of any aquarium hobbyists or groups irl. For this thread I'd like to hear your opinions/advice for fishless cycling. Last year I first attempted to keep an aquarium, and it was a bit of a disaster. Had only gravel, drift wood and stones. Some java ferns and moss. Even though I had done a lot of research, there were a few things I missed. Java moss dissolved into the gravel and my PH wasn't right for guppies apparently (I had asked for help in a small petshop in a neighbouring town). I was trying to do a fish-in cycle and when the ammonia spiked I panicked and did way too much water changing and shocked the guppies. I actually lost all three of the guppies and I was so upset with myself. (Image of my old/first aquarium attached)

In the last few weeks I have set up my second attempt at keeping an aquarium. Through research and watching aquarium based content I have learned a lot over the last year and I'm taking the journey slow this time. Starting with a fishless cycle.


Tank:
  • Aquael Leddy 75
  • 105 L
  • 75x35x40 cm
  • Filter: Aquael ASAP 500
  • Heater (with guard): Bonlux 100W
  • Air pump: Zacro dual outlet (one airstone bar and one outlet split into two regular airstones)
  • Lighting: Retrofit Day & Night
  • Substrate: 5L lava gravel at the back, layer of Rotala Malflora Light Aquarium Soil and Ada La Plata sand.
  • Hardscape: Seiryu stone and mangle wood
  • Mix of aquarium plants
Water (readings from test strip, so might be a tiny bit off):
  • GH of 75
  • KH of 0 (or just very low) (see image on test strip)
  • PH: 6.8
  • Dechlorinated with Seachem Prime
Last night I added some Vitalis tropical flakes to hopefully get some ammonia going for the fishless cycle. (A generous pinch, tried measuring in a bowl with digital scales but the scales didn't pick it up). I also added the initial dose of Fluval Cycle, though in hindsight I could have waited for ammonia first. That was 25ml of Fluval Biological Enhancer per 40 litres.

Before I had set up my tank, I was thinking of using liquid ammonia to cycle the tank but I had read that fish food has other nutrients that are also important. Now I'm reconsidering, because the liquid ammonia seems far easier to control. Especially because I have to guess with the fish food. The issue is that liquid ammonia (specifically Dr. Tims) seems really difficult to find here in Ireland. I can't find anywhere cheaper than €30 on Ebay with shipping for a 2oz bottle. I'm a little reluctant to try and find ammonia in household cleaning supplies, which some say can be fine and others are horrified. Honestly, I really don't want to be waiting a long time for shipping and pay insane prices for Dr. Tims on Ebay. So I don't know how to proceed.

It's personally important to me to plan ahead quite far in advance, so I'm doing my best to research potential fish for after the tank is cycled. So far I am considering/researching a community tank with Ember tetras, or just tiger barbs. Maybe some other bottom feeders or something with the tiger barbs, though I know that tiger barbs are pretty notorious fin nippers. I do love angel fish but my tank is too small. I'm not set on those ideas, but since there are so many species of tropical fish I just chose to research the first pretty ones I found LOL

Below I'll attach pictures of my old aquarium, then of the water test strip and lastly my new tank! I'm quite proud of my tank, I think it looks good for a second attempt!

In conclusion, the topics I would really like feedback or advice on are:
1. Fishless cycling
2. Fish/tank inhabitants

I'd really appreciate any help you can offer, have a great day! :D
 

Attachments

  • IMG20220816122456-1.jpg
    IMG20220816122456-1.jpg
    168.7 KB · Views: 33
  • IMG_20230811_181029.jpg
    IMG_20230811_181029.jpg
    168.4 KB · Views: 19
  • IMG20230811063523.jpg
    IMG20230811063523.jpg
    284.5 KB · Views: 16
I'm not sure you had the right advice and conclusions about your issues with your first tank. But you are in the right place now and I'm sure you'll have more success. Your plants and aquascape already look great!
I have not done a fishless cycle but people here say pure ammonia (cleaning products may not be pure) is best. Whilst you keep looking, the fish food method might get things going.
I tried ten (the minimum shoal size) tiger barbs in a 125l and it just wasn't big enough to keep the aggression under control. They picked on the corydoras I had in there, once the cories were removed they picked on each other and I lost them one by one. I now have embers in that tank and it's a lot more peaceful. I have the contrasting colour of green neon tetras (Paracheirodon simulans) which I recommend. I also have pygmy cories but do not recommend these with your substrate - they need soft sand to reduce the risk of bacterial infections. I also have red cherry shrimp and a nerite but your lovely soft water may not sustain those (or might, just be cautious) as they need some minerals for moulting and shell health respectively.

Others will suggest different species...there are many fish suited to your tank and water.
 
I'm not sure you had the right advice and conclusions about your issues with your first tank. But you are in the right place now and I'm sure you'll have more success. Your plants and aquascape already look great!
I have not done a fishless cycle but people here say pure ammonia (cleaning products may not be pure) is best. Whilst you keep looking, the fish food method might get things going.
I tried ten (the minimum shoal size) tiger barbs in a 125l and it just wasn't big enough to keep the aggression under control. They picked on the corydoras I had in there, once the cories were removed they picked on each other and I lost them one by one. I now have embers in that tank and it's a lot more peaceful. I have the contrasting colour of green neon tetras (Paracheirodon simulans) which I recommend. I also have pygmy cories but do not recommend these with your substrate - they need soft sand to reduce the risk of bacterial infections. I also have red cherry shrimp and a nerite but your lovely soft water may not sustain those (or might, just be cautious) as they need some minerals for moulting and shell health respectively.

Others will suggest different species...there are many fish suited to your tank and water.
Thank you for the feedback, it's really good to hear about your experience with tiger barbs especially since my tank is 20L smaller than yours. I hear your point with pygmy cories too, out of curiosity is soft sand a special type of sand? Or do you just mean sand over gravel because it's soft? Because all of the lava rocks and plant soil are burryed under a good layer of sand.
 
Thank you for the feedback, it's really good to hear about your experience with tiger barbs especially since my tank is 20L smaller than yours. I hear your point with pygmy cories too, out of curiosity is soft sand a special type of sand? Or do you just mean sand over gravel because it's soft? Because all of the lava rocks and plant soil are burryed under a good layer of sand.
*buried
 
A GH of 75 presumably is ppm, so that is very soft water. And the low KH and slightly acidic pH matches this for fish suited to soft water. No problems here. BTW, the pH will undoubtedly lower as the aquarium establishes, that is not a problem. The pH of the tap water for water changes will not be a problem at the numbers given.

A 109 liter is the standard 29g judging by the dimensions. A nice sized tank, I had two of these in my fish room and found them very useful. You want to stay with small (nano) type fish, for more variety, or you could go with fewer slightly larger. You could have say groups (I am thinking around 10 of a species here) of cardinal tetras, black phantom tetra, red phantom tetra, hatchetfish (those in the genus Carnegiella, like the Marble), some of the pencilfishes, and a small loricariid or two for interest, and a group of cories maybe. Some of these will be better with a few more than 10, and obviously not all of these together. Just ideas.

The substrate is a bit of an issue. If you can ensure there is an area of just sand, with no other substrate under it right to the tank bottom, it can work. But cories dig, and the plant substrates are bacterial concerns, and possibly roughness. Substrate material will mix over time, so be careful. If this were me, and assuming the underlying substrate is throughout the tank, I would remove as much of the overlying sand in the front as possible, remove all the underlying material from that area, then replace with just sand. So the underlying lava rock/plant stuff is basically in the back and rear corners. They won't mix as quickly horizontally as they will vertically. And these things are a problem for substrate fish, esp cories (and loaches).
 
A GH of 75 presumably is ppm, so that is very soft water. And the low KH and slightly acidic pH matches this for fish suited to soft water. No problems here. BTW, the pH will undoubtedly lower as the aquarium establishes, that is not a problem. The pH of the tap water for water changes will not be a problem at the numbers given.

A 109 liter is the standard 29g judging by the dimensions. A nice sized tank, I had two of these in my fish room and found them very useful. You want to stay with small (nano) type fish, for more variety, or you could go with fewer slightly larger. You could have say groups (I am thinking around 10 of a species here) of cardinal tetras, black phantom tetra, red phantom tetra, hatchetfish (those in the genus Carnegiella, like the Marble), some of the pencilfishes, and a small loricariid or two for interest, and a group of cories maybe. Some of these will be better with a few more than 10, and obviously not all of these together. Just ideas.

The substrate is a bit of an issue. If you can ensure there is an area of just sand, with no other substrate under it right to the tank bottom, it can work. But cories dig, and the plant substrates are bacterial concerns, and possibly roughness. Substrate material will mix over time, so be careful. If this were me, and assuming the underlying substrate is throughout the tank, I would remove as much of the overlying sand in the front as possible, remove all the underlying material from that area, then replace with just sand. So the underlying lava rock/plant stuff is basically in the back and rear corners. They won't mix as quickly horizontally as they will vertically. And these things are a problem for substrate fish, esp cories (and loaches).
Would the substrate still be an issue if I avoided substrate fish like the ones you suggested? I agree with the nano fish idea. Apart from the tiger barbs (which I am not getting) I have only considered small shoaling fish. Are there any cleaner fish that aren't also substrate fish?
 
Would the substrate still be an issue if I avoided substrate fish like the ones you suggested? I agree with the nano fish idea. Apart from the tiger barbs (which I am not getting) I have only considered small shoaling fish. Are there any cleaner fish that aren't also substrate fish?

Not so much. Corydoras must sift the sand through their gills, that is how they are genetically programmed to find food. In doing this, they dig down, and that is where the trouble starts. Plant substrates apparently have bacterial issues. Regular gravel can have this too, if food is able to get down among larger grains, which sand prevents.

I do not know how much this can affect other fish, I wouldn't keep small loaches over this but larger species come from habitats of fine gravel but these species are much too large for this tank anyway.

The loricariids I assume are OK. Just stay with small species, some get very large. The common Whiptail Catfish, Rineloricaria parva, I always found a nice addition for a prehistoric look, and at a maximum length of under five inches, and being so thin, it is almost not even noticed. It could be a nice edition here. There is also the brick red variety, Rineloricaria sp. L010a common name often Red Lizard Whiptail, which is unique. Some belive it is a natural species, but most accept it was developed by hobbyists in Germany though the original parent species are unknown.

Then another small unique loricariid is the Twig Catfish, but make sure you get the small species Farlowella vitatta; the larger "royal" species get huge by comparison. Both the common whiptail and the Farlowella are very good at eating common algae and diatoms. Neither will touch "problem" algae.

It is nice to have some activity on the substrate. You don't want all the fish to live in the same level of the water.
 
Hi, I have not read everyone's reply, so sorry if I am repeating anything. Since I came to this forum a couple of weeks back, I would now never do a fish-in cycle, and I would do a fishless cycle each time, every time. This what I've done and this is what I would advise you to do. Although I got a bit greedy and starting adding plants as well, which complicates the model I am linking you into. You just need to buy the Dr Tims All In One and Dr Tims Ammonia, and follow his instructions to the letter.

My tank is a 110 L btw, very similar to yours.
Sorry, just seen you got an issue getting Dr Tim's at a decent price. You can use his ammonia though if you can afford it. I will have a look for you at the prices.


And this video of him is very good
 
Have you already set up the tank with the soil? Is the pictures of the old tank, or the new tank? Sorry... it's been a long day if I am not reading well
 
This is "the" fishless cycle method, no doubt. But, if live plants are present, it is a risk because the ammonia can be detrimental to some plant, and kill others. With live plants, you forget the ammonia and frankly forget cycling period. But there are some caveats, the "silent" plant method is also explained in our cycling section.

I have never "cycled" an aquarium in my 30 years, and I have never had ammonia or nitrite above zero. Just use plants, including floating (substantial, not just duckweed). It does work. But having said that, there is no harm in being cautious, just keep the plants out. Some are harmed by 1 ppm ammonia.
 
I got mine from here about 10 days ago, but looks like they sold out. Maybe contact them?
I'm not sure how that converts to your currency? I'm English, so I only deal in £ (pounds) and I expect everyone else all over the world to deal in £ (pounds) LOL.
 
This is "the" fishless cycle method, no doubt. But, if live plants are present, it is a risk because the ammonia can be detrimental to some plant, and kill others. With live plants, you forget the ammonia and frankly forget cycling period. But there are some caveats, the "silent" plant method is also explained in our cycling section.

I have never "cycled" an aquarium in my 30 years, and I have never had ammonia or nitrite above zero. Just use plants, including floating (substantial, not just duckweed). It does work. But having said that, there is no harm in being cautious, just keep the plants out. Some are harmed by 1 ppm ammonia.
Yeh, I ended up adding Elodea Densa (a good few), and Willow Moss (loads) from over enthusiasm and impulsivity (cheap plants I might throw away later if they died, but they did well) After that, my ammonia did not get above 1ppm anyway, maybe because the plants started thriving from day 1. Obviously, it delayed my cycle and led to extended period of nitrite about 3 ppm.
 
Not so much. Corydoras must sift the sand through their gills, that is how they are genetically programmed to find food. In doing this, they dig down, and that is where the trouble starts. Plant substrates apparently have bacterial issues. Regular gravel can have this too, if food is able to get down among larger grains, which sand prevents.

I do not know how much this can affect other fish, I wouldn't keep small loaches over this but larger species come from habitats of fine gravel but these species are much too large for this tank anyway.

The loricariids I assume are OK. Just stay with small species, some get very large. The common Whiptail Catfish, Rineloricaria parva, I always found a nice addition for a prehistoric look, and at a maximum length of under five inches, and being so thin, it is almost not even noticed. It could be a nice edition here. There is also the brick red variety, Rineloricaria sp. L010a common name often Red Lizard Whiptail, which is unique. Some belive it is a natural species, but most accept it was developed by hobbyists in Germany though the original parent species are unknown.

Then another small unique loricariid is the Twig Catfish, but make sure you get the small species Farlowella vitatta; the larger "royal" species get huge by comparison. Both the common whiptail and the Farlowella are very good at eating common algae and diatoms. Neither will touch "problem" algae.

It is nice to have some activity on the substrate. You don't want all the fish to live in the same level of the water.
Thanks! I'll definitely look into those species. The Whiptail catfish sounds really nice!
 
I got mine from here about 10 days ago, but looks like they sold out. Maybe contact them?
I'm not sure how that converts to your currency? I'm English, so I only deal in £ (pounds) and I expect everyone else all over the world to deal in £ (pounds) LOL.
No international shipping, which sucks! The best thing I can find is a tub of pure ammonium chloride powder on amazon, which is the ingredient in Dr. Tim's. €55 though
 
This is "the" fishless cycle method, no doubt. But, if live plants are present, it is a risk because the ammonia can be detrimental to some plant, and kill others. With live plants, you forget the ammonia and frankly forget cycling period. But there are some caveats, the "silent" plant method is also explained in our cycling section.

I have never "cycled" an aquarium in my 30 years, and I have never had ammonia or nitrite above zero. Just use plants, including floating (substantial, not just duckweed). It does work. But having said that, there is no harm in being cautious, just keep the plants out. Some are harmed by 1 ppm ammonia.
What do you think I should do then? My tank is fully planted and set up, just needs to be cycled. I'm not feeling thrilled at the prospect of removing them all and keeping them in a bucket or something.
 

Most reactions

Back
Top