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fishless cycling a 658 litre tank


6ftaquaman
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Hi guys,

I am on day 6 of a fishless cycle and would like some advice from anyone who has done a fishless cycle before. Im not the most patient person in the world and I know you need to be with this sort of thing but I thought I would post the cycle diary here as I have never done a fishless cycle before and Im sure I will have questions to ask during the whole process.

To start with I am using cloudy ammonia as the ammonia source. (the bottle does not foam up when you shake it so I assume it is ok to use) I have 6 prawn tails sitting in a bag at the bottom of the tank, not sure if they are producing ammonia as well but after 6 days I would assume so. The tank seems to be getting cloudier each day which I hope is the good bacteria working and not just from the "cloudy" ammonia. I did not start using the ammonia until day 3.

Anyways here is the diary so far...

Day 1

Ammonia-0.50ppm

PH-7.8

(This is all I tested on the first day)

Day 2

Ammonia-0.50ppm

Nitrite-0.25ppm

Nitrate-5ppm

Day 3

Ammonia-0.50ppm

Nitrite-0.25ppm

Nitrate-5ppm

Day 4

Ammonia-4.0ppm

Nitrite-0.50ppm

Nitrate-5ppm

Day 5

Ammonia-4.0ppm

Nitrite-0.25ppm

Nitrate-5ppm

Day 6

Ammonia-8ppm

Nitrite-0.25ppm

Nitrate-5ppm

Now my understanding of this is that I am starting to see the ammonia spike now on day 6 that should then start to drop away to 0 and then the nitrite spike which in turn will drop away to 0 and then a nitrate spike, is this correct?. The other question I have is should I keep adding the same amount of ammonia to the tank or should I start to reduce the amount now?

Edited by 6ftaquaman
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Just thinking about this - I think you should keep adding the same amount of ammonia to keep that value at a constant. So that if your ammonia starts going dowm, you'll know it's because of the cycle, and not simply because you've stopped adding ammonia.

If your cycle is working, then your ammonia results should keep going down.

Assuming you have adequate filtration, that is.

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Don't let your ammonia get to 8ppm. Then you start developing the wrong kind of bacteria. Ideally you want it to stay around 4-5ppm. I would personally ditch the prawns and just straight out use the ammonia. This will allow you more control over your readings and I am thinking you would be encouraging a lot of untestable nasties into the water if you are leaving seafood to rot in there

There are plenty of fishless cycling guides online that will give you the exact amount of ammonia you are meant to be adding on a day to day basis. The idea is to get your beneficial bacteria to be able to effectively process 4-5ppm of ammonia in a 24 hour period. This is generally as much ammonia as a fully stocked tank will produce.

The nitrite spike can take a while. The general period of time it takes to fishless cycle a brand new tank (without the addition of seeded media) from what I've seen online, is around 4-6 weeks. To speed it up, you can use seeded media, bump your temperature right up and ensure your pH is around 8 as all of this will encourage maximum development.

Have you tested your source water to get an idea of where your readings stand on that?

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Thanks for the advice guys. I removed the prawns and did a 50% water change and got the ammonia level back to 4ppm. The PH of the source water is 7 and the tank has been 7 since the second day. I do not know why it was 7.8 on the first day but it has been stable at 7 ever since. I have the tank temperature at 26 degrees. I was not a fan of having prawns in the tank myself but as I did not have a source of ammonia to start with I had read that is what people were using. It was only by chance I saw the cloudy ammonia sitting in the cleaning isle of my local supermarket after I had exhausted all the hardware stores looking for it. Typical!

I think I may have been alittle over zealous with adding the ammonia last time I added it which resulted in the 8ppm result, I dont think it had much to do with the prawns but I am glad they are out of the tank to be honest. I would not recommend using them. Turns out to be a messy and innacurate way to do it.

I think I am going to wait until I see the ammonia level start dropping before I start adding more, I dont want any more 8ppm results.

Also it can be hard to tell the reading with these test kits if you do not get an exact colour match on the chart. I am using the API master test kit.

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Day 7

Ammonia- 4ppm

Nitrites- 0.25ppm

Nitrates- 5ppm

PH-7.6 (This changed from 7 to 7.6 after 50% wc)

Day 8

Ammonia- 4ppm

Nitrites- 0.25ppm

Nitrates- 5ppm

PH-7.6

Day 9

Ammonia- 4ppm

Nitrites- 1ppm

Nitrates- 5ppm

PH-7.6

The nitrites have gone up slightly on day 9 but all other levels remain constant. I have not added any more ammonia to the tank since the 50% wc on day 6. Last night the tank got extremely cloudy, im hoping that is to do with the nitrite going up.

Edited by 6ftaquaman
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you can really speed up the process by asking one of your friends who also keep fish for some gravel or even better filter media or you can swap them. Say you buy a bag of ceramic noodles for your filter you swap half for half of your friend's ceramic noodles. It sometimes takes less than a week for your tank to be completely cycled.

When I start a new tank with sponge filters I usually swap one sponge (twin sponge sponge filter) from an existing low stocked tank and have one of them new. I can add fish straight away as long as i'm careful with how much fish I put in and water changes

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Rang my lfs today to ask about them having any good bacteria from their tanks and I got told flat out no buy the stuff from off the shelf they sell in bottles. I dont like the people at this store, they come across as arrogant. pity it is the only store close to me.

I have a question with the cycle, should I be worried that I have not seen much of a change in any of the levels? I have not added any ammonia since day 6 and it is now day 10 and my ammonia level is still 4ppm

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Sorry I can't help.

I just wonder why would you go through all this? I would do a massive wc and throw in a dozen decent sized feeder fish for a few weeks. Or just stock tank slowly with what you want. With regular wc and weekly monitoring water conditions, you should be able to seed a new tank safely.

Ps, where are you located?

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The ammonia - nitrite stage can take a while. It is the slowest part of the cycling process I believe. So do not be surprised if it takes a week or two to see some real progress.

I prefer that people do fishless cycling. It ensures you can essentially fully stock the tank from day one, and not have to worry about playing catch-up. You are also not exposing any livestock to constant trace amounts of ammonia and nitrite. Fishless cycling is very popular overseas where it is easier to get your hands on pure ammonia. It does not seem to be all that common here in Australia at least from what I have seen on forums.

Usually the only fishless cycling I see done here is if you are using a substrate that releases large amounts of ammonia in the initial weeks of set-up.

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Yes it is not easy finding a "pure" source of ammonia here in Australia. Apparently from all the research I have done it all refers back to terrorism and the banned substances list as to why it is so hard to find. It was pot luck that I saw the cloudy ammonia in the supermarket just as I was about to give up on the idea. I decided to do it because at the moment I do not have time to do daily water changes if they were required with fish in the tank so if there were to be a spike they would probably die anyway.

Im at day 12 now so 2 days shy of 2 weeks and I have been reading not to expect any changes for 2-3 weeks. I did not realize my patients was going to be tested once the tank was set up. I was ok until the water went in the tank then it was like here fishy fishy! :fish:

I will keep adding the dairy, hopefully I do not stuff it up and it can be a good reference to others once its finished.

Day 11

Ammonia- 4ppm

Nitrites- 0.25ppm

Nitrates- 5ppm

PH-7.6

Day 12

Ammonia- 4ppm

Nitrites- 0.25ppm

Nitrates- 5ppm

PH-7.6

Edited by 6ftaquaman
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Haha yeah I believe that a fishless cycle can take anywhere between 4-6 weeks to finish. If you manage to get seeded media from someone it does speed up the process.

Hang in there :lol: Patience is usually one of the best traits to have in this hobby.

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DAY 13

Ammonia- 4ppm

Nitrites- 0.25ppm

Nitrates- 5ppm

PH-7.6

DAY 14 (2 week mark)

Ammonia- 4ppm

Nitrites- 0.25ppm

Nitrates- 5ppm

PH-7.6

Something I did notice today is the ammonia test kit colour does seem to be fading slightly and the nitrite and nitrate ones are darkening slightly but the change is so tiny that I cannot say the ppm has changed. Back to the waiting game :wacko: One thing I do not like about these test kits is depending on the lighting and angle your looking at it from you can see 2 different colours in the same test tube.

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Day 15

Ammonia- 4ppm

Nitrites- 0.25ppm

Nitrates- 5ppm

PH-7.6

Day 16

Ammonia- 4ppm

Nitrites- 0.25ppm

Nitrates- 5ppm

PH-7.6

I realize now im not the most patient person on the planet. Im so tempted to do a water change and go and get some fish! lol

Also the Nitrates have never been 5ppm, it is somewhere between 0 and 5 but as I have no colour to compare it to it is closer to 5 than 0.

Edited by 6ftaquaman
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Agree with Sarah. Seed my tank and slowly add fish over a 4-6 week period depending on size, filter ect. Most problems can be avoided if you do it slowly, monitor water conditions and weekly wc. :-).

Very confused by the results you are posting. Sorry I can't help.

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