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rhymon78 03-17-2012 05:31 AM

new tank cycled after 3 weeks, is it possible??
Hey, I am a little confused... My tank is now 3 weeks old, and seems to be fully cycled. I wasn't sure this was possible but I have been testing and testing the water with my API freshwater master test kit and the results have been steady.

This is what I did..

First 3 days no fish, no plants, just added substrate and rocks. the place I got the tank from suggested this new product called API quick start which is supposed to contain beneficial bacteria?? I have heard all sorts of mixed reviews on this stuff, but hey I used it.

Mid week I added around 10 live plants, various types. I have a 110L /29g Juwel Rekord tank. left the tank cycling fish less for one week. Took water to be tested at fish shop and was showing levels but they said it would be ok to add 6/7 hardy fish. I got 7 glow light tetras and took my time adding them to the tank, floated them for an hour adding an egg cup of tank water every 5 mins or so. they took to the tank within an hour or so and were very happy!

Around the middle of the 2nd week I noticed the nitrites spiked right up into the the danger zone (I only had a nitrite test then, so couldn't check the ammonia) so I did around a 15% water change, which brought the nitrite level right down from then on. that weekend I purchased the API master test kit and started testing all the parameters. they were all showing very low levels so at the end of the 2nd week I took more water to the fish shop for testing to see if we could add more fish.

Water was fine so I got 7 Danios, 5 leopard and 2 zebras and added them in the same way. They were round the tank as if they had always been there, absolutely insane fish!! so by the end of week 2 I had 14 fish in my tank.

Been keeping a very close eye on all levels this 3rd week as I couldn't believe I could have so many fish so quick, and I really don't want the fish to suffer etc, but to my astonishment I'm reading 0ppm ammonia, 0ppm nitrites and low levels of nitrate, but there is a reading. I am going to leave the tank a couple weeks now before adding any more fish, but from what the tests are showing it seems as if my tank has cycled??? and to be honest, it probably happened less than 3 weeks, more like 2 1/2 weeks? it sounds ridiculous I know, but if thats what the chemistry shows, it must be right?

The only other thing I used was API stress zyme + a few times, which is supposed to help the bacterial growth etc. I am a little skeptical about these products though, so who knows if they helped or not?? seems coincidental that the tank seems to be cycled after a couple weeks.


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Tazman 03-17-2012 07:56 AM

Yes it is quite possible to cycle a tank within 3 weeks with the addition of live plants. Live plants are great at sucking up the ammonia and nitrite. Nitrate is removed during your water changes.

Please bare in mind, your LFS (Local fish store) will more than likely tell you your water is fine even though it is showing ammonia, nitrite. They are after your money at the end of the day and a lot of the time want to make a sale. The only safe reading for ammonia and nitrite is ZERO, nothing else should be "safe". Nitrate, you want to keep as low as possible, certainly below 40ppm, 20ppm or lower being better.

The API master test kit Nitrate test, vigorously shake the second bottle for 2 MINUTES and NOT the 30 seconds shown in the instructions, this will give you a more accurate result. Instead of taking your water to be verified at your LFS, have a friend, wife, girlfriend, partner, compare the color charts.

Keep monitoring your water and add fish slowly...PATIENCE is a virtue in this hobby.

AbbeysDad 03-17-2012 10:07 AM

First, cycling is almost moot if/when there's enough beneficial bacteria (nitrosomonas and nitrobacter) to handle the bio-load. In theory, we could have instant cycle if we have a new tank and completely seed with plenty of bacteria...OR if we start a new tank with enough living plants, cycling is also moot - because plants use the ammonia, so nitrites and subsequent nitrates are never created.
So, you used bio-seed in a bottle AND had living plants. With a small bio-load, plants used much of the ammonia and the bacteria supplied in the API Quick Start were able to handle any left overs.
Game over.

Many people are skeptical of these bacteria supplements, however they can work as successfully as seed from an established aquarium, in some cases better. But of course, they have to be handled and installed properly. ( for example, one fellow called it snake oil, but when you dig deeper, you realize he added the supplement to the new tank water BEFORE adding dechlorinator - doh ).

I just recently used Seachem Stability. I believe they can work to our advantage and one day, cycling as done today, will most likely be a thing of the past. Oh there will be old timers that don't understand or trust that beneficial bacteria can come in a bottle (just like there are those convinced that activated carbon doesn't purify water). But the mainstream will use these products with amazing success with far less fish loss from new tank syndrome! I think the really great thing is that newbies getting into the hobby can start a tank with fish and not have to worry about the N2 cycle - how many children have started a tank and been so sad when their fish died? How many fish have been unnecessarily sacrificed to the cycle gods? It all ends with the successful use of beneficial bacteria in a bottle!

rhymon78 03-17-2012 10:56 AM

thanks for your replies guys,

first of all the guys at my LFS are super nice experienced people who actually keep fish themselves, and they certainly are not out to kill fish and make money, having said that I totally agree with you Tazman that there are places like that out there... this place I go is a specialist aquatic centre, not just an add on to a pet store.

And as far as bacteria in a bottle is concerned, it seems to have had some effect because other than my nitrite spike at about 10 days all my paremeters have been extremely low to non existent. and this is with 14 fish (albeit small ones) and the tank is only 20 days old. The fish are happy, the plants are doing REALLY well.

Sooooo, I take it my tank is cycled then? I am going to leave the tank now for a week or two before adding any more fish and will continue to monitor the water just incase something drastic happens.

thanks again for your advice!

Byron 03-17-2012 12:37 PM

You should be fine, and I agree with what the other members have posted.

This topic of bacterial supplements came up in another thread, so youmight want to read that; I posted therein, so I won't repeat that here.

On the API product, I've no idea what it contains [see my coments in that linked thread to follow this point] but even one like Cycle which does not contain the live nitrifying bacteria needed will quicken the cycling. Dr. Hovanec tested it and found it took several days off the cycling period even though it contained nothing but dead bacteria and the wrong type. It is however better to use the live supplements.

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