Questions on Fishless Cycling
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Questions on Fishless Cycling

This is a discussion on Questions on Fishless Cycling within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> I am going to cycle my new 55 gallon tank without fish. I have never done this before but I remember when I last ...

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Questions on Fishless Cycling
Old 01-07-2010, 07:49 PM   #1
 
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Questions on Fishless Cycling

I am going to cycle my new 55 gallon tank without fish. I have never done this before but I remember when I last had fish and tried a saltwater aquarium, I told myself I would never cycle a saltwater tank ever again with fish. I have never really had trouble cycling freshwater tanks with fish (not that I recall anyway) but if I can help it, I prefer not to worry over fish.

My daughter's tank (new) tricked me a bit. I thought it was cycled...went up just a bit in ammonia and then dropped back down to zero. I could not remember how far the ammonia level usually goes up. It has been awhile since I cycled a tank. I went in to get one more fish and ended up bringing three more home. I normally would only have brought one fish home (one platty) but he said it is best to get three fish if they are schooling type fish. I should have been thinking better. I should have gotten one and then when the tank was more mature, I could have gone back for two more. What was I thinking? Da! I should have stuck with my original plan. I know better. I guess since I do not recall any horrible deaths before when cycling my freshwater tanks, I was not overaly concerned. Anyway, my ammonia went a little higher than .25 which it had not done so before so I got worried and put in Ammo Lock. I do remember using this before when I cycled a tank and all went well. I did a small water change after the ammomia higher than .25. Well, the next day or two days after (can't remember now), the ammonia was the highest it has ever been. 5+. I have a feeling my tank had never been completely cycled and now there is an overload. I just hate this part. I did a 35% water change today, but the ammonia shortly thereafter looked just about the same. I have not yet tested it tonight. The fish seem fine....3 platties and 3 Black Phontom Tetras. They are all eating and I have reduced the food. The platties act the best to me....busy and happy looking. Tetras are hard to read for me. They seem to swim the most when there is food and when I turn the lights off. They have never been real active swimmers to me compared to a lot of fish. They kind of flit around. I have read that some tetras prefer a darker environment. Hopefully, the Ammo Lock is keeping them alive.

Anyway, I am getting a little off topic from my original thread. I want to go fishless to cycle the big tank and what to go the ammonia route. Here are my questions.

If you use ammonia, is it necessary to add food as well? I was thinking not

Is it best to leave the light on 24 hours? I read somewhere that this helps the process but then I thought I read somewhere else where it is best to turn the lights off.

How much should I add and how often? I do have an article saved that indicates this but thought I would ask here

My husband is picking up Ammonia tonight....straight ammonia with no additives other than maybe water or ammonium.

I think that is it. Thanks for any suggestions.

~Holly

Last edited by HollyinWA; 01-07-2010 at 08:09 PM..
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Old 01-07-2010, 08:08 PM   #2
 
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Well, it is my typical luck these days. Safeway does not carry straight ammonia...only with scent. Do you think Ace Hardware would carry it?

Also, I forgot a question. Is it ok to have plants in a tank that is being cycled with ammonia? I have read that too much ammonia can be hard on plants. Even though I do not have the perfect lighting yet, I have three batches up young plants and I thought it would be better for them in a tank with not the greatest lighting until I get it than being in those containers.
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Old 01-07-2010, 08:38 PM   #3
 
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I cycled with fish food (a whopping pinch daily and nightly) and the ammonia reading came up with in a couple of days. I also put the tank's temp at 82'. The thought of adding ammonia doesn't sit well with me. And fish food is already here so that's why i did that!
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Old 01-07-2010, 09:49 PM   #4
 
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I have heard that Ace Hardware does carry straight ammonia.

However, if you ask me, the easiest way to do a fishless cycle is with shrimp (the kind you'd eat). For a 55g you'd probably want 3 or so medium sized shrimp. Just put them in a pair of pantyhose or a filter media bag and drop them in the tank. They'll decay over time, providing a steady supply of ammonia to the tank. If you ask me, that's a lot better than worrying about dosing the tank with ammonia everyday or risking accidentally using non-pure ammonia. When compared to fish food, it seems like a cheaper and less messy option. I've used this method on all of my tanks since going fishless and it works wonders.
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Old 01-07-2010, 11:17 PM   #5
 
I was not able to find pure ammonia anywhere including Ace. Everything had a surfactant in it or some other chem. I tried but just had to go with fish.
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Old 01-07-2010, 11:45 PM   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iamntbatman View Post
I have heard that Ace Hardware does carry straight ammonia.

However, if you ask me, the easiest way to do a fishless cycle is with shrimp (the kind you'd eat). For a 55g you'd probably want 3 or so medium sized shrimp. Just put them in a pair of pantyhose or a filter media bag and drop them in the tank. They'll decay over time, providing a steady supply of ammonia to the tank. If you ask me, that's a lot better than worrying about dosing the tank with ammonia everyday or risking accidentally using non-pure ammonia. When compared to fish food, it seems like a cheaper and less messy option. I've used this method on all of my tanks since going fishless and it works wonders.
Thanks for rhe suggestion and the answer on Ace Hardware. :) I may try the shrimp. I don't have any though, so that means a trip to the store. I don't really like the thought of so much uneaten food getting trapped in the canister filter so soon. I could maybe put a sponge filter on the intake.
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Old 01-07-2010, 11:46 PM   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rsheets View Post
I was not able to find pure ammonia anywhere including Ace. Everything had a surfactant in it or some other chem. I tried but just had to go with fish.

Good to know. I probably won't find it either. I wonder why so many on here can find things but some of us others cannot.

Have you tried the fish food route? That is what I am doing now since I do not have ammonia.
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Old 01-08-2010, 12:02 AM   #8
 
i have heard of people using food while doing ammonia.

want the ppm of ammonia to hit around 5 -6 the first time and record the amount of drops you put in your tank. then add that amount of ammonia daily until readings go to 0. :)

cranking the heat helps is what i have read too.

ive read about the fishless cycling so much i actually know it now lol. i cant wait to start cycling MY tank next week!
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Old 01-08-2010, 02:56 AM   #9
 
for me i just dump some $0.25 feeder gold fish in the tank, and wait for a week. although this is about fishless, but i think that if you would buy ammonia, why not just use some feeder gold fish? is cheaper too.
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Old 01-08-2010, 04:36 AM   #10
 
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Four reasons (although people could probably think of more):

1) When you cycle with fish, the beneficial bacteria colonies you build during the cycle are only able to handle the bioload of the fish you currently have in the tank (i.e. the feeder goldfish, in your case). So, when you go to add more fish to the tank, there's still a period of time where the bacteria are playing catch-up with the newly increased bioload, which could cause ammonia/nitrite spikes that could be dangerous.

2) If you don't want to keep those fish in the long term, you need to catch them and move them to another tank or return them. Sometimes this is a huge pain.

3) If you're cycling with fish, you have to do water changes during the cycle in order to keep those fish alive. This is time consuming and costs money.

4) Most importantly, subjecting fish to the rigors of living in a tank full of toxic water is something every fishkeeper should be discouraged from doing. Even if your fish survive the cycling process, there are health risks associated with long-term ammonia exposure. Long story short: fish-in cycles are unnecessarily cruel.
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