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Has Anyone Tried The Fishless Cycle?


Guest DeAnna

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I was just starting to set up my new 35g. tank, and was following the guidelines under the fishless cycle page on this site. I was just wondering if anyone had used this method before and had any comments, suggestions or problems with it? Just curious :)

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I did a fishless cycle on my tank. I used pure ammonia and didn't seed it with any filter media. After 18 days, I still didn't have any nitrites, much less nitrates. Then, I added a used filter cartridge from a coworker's tank. Within a week, my tank was fully cycled. I took the cartridge out after a few days, and kept "feeding" the cycle with ammonia for a couple of weeks to make sure that any parasites that might have come with the cartridge had died off. Then, I did a huge water change, and added fish, one at a time.

The nice thing about a fishless cycle is that you are building a really strong colony of beneficial bacteria since you put more ammonia in the tank than an actual fish would produce, plus you don't have to keep the ammonia levels low through water changes.

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Hi DeAnna,

I used ammonium chloride (NH4Cl) to cycle my 125-gallon tank 1 1/2 years ago.

The advantage of ammonium chloride is that your tank won't experience high nitrate like liquid ammonia. When your tank is completely cycled, you can put all of your goldies in at once. Nitrate level in my tank is always between 5 & 7 ppm.

I ordered two bottles of ammonium chloride from sciencelab.com. Ammonium chloride is white powder.

I learned how to use NH4CL from the website below:

http://badmanstropicalfish.com/articles/article14.html

it will take 2-4 weeks to cycle your tank. During this time, you have to test your water everyday.

Good luck and have fun.

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The key seems to be to make sure you feed the BB's everyday, and the proper amount. After getting nitrites, you have to feed 2ppm ammonia per day until it's cycled.

Good luck! I'm cycling a 5 gallon right now, and it seems to be taking forever. I am only checking it every couple days though (although feeding it regularly), trying to keep the KH close to 100 during the process.

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I just started tonight, and only added a little ammonia. When I tested to see where the ammonia level was at, it was still 0? I think I might retest in the morning, or wait and check out that ammonium chloride site. Thanks David for the suggestion!! I just want to verify though...I know it will take a while to see any nitrites, but once I do I readd ammonia so that it stays at a 2 ppm level until nitrates show up?

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Hi DeAnna :)

I'm doing a fishless cycle on my 55 gallon now, and it's almost done.

What are you using to add the ammonia? You need to reach 4ppm - no more than 5. I bought a medicine dropper from the baby section of the grocery store. It has ml/tsp markings on it. It took 8 ml of ammonia to reach 4ppm in the 55 gallon - but ammonia strengths are all different. Keep track of how much you add, so you know the strength. (For me, 1ml = .5ppm ammonia)

The ammonia needs to be at 4ppm each day until you see nitrites.

I tested the water every other day at first, and the third test had a drop in ammonia and a nitrite reading. (I had put a filter cartridge from the cycled filter into the new filter, a few handfuls of gravel and ornaments in to seed the new tank)

This is where (I think) I messed up, and why it has taken so long to finish. Once you see nitrites, you need to cut back on the ammonia by half, to have 2ppm - 3ppm each day. This is where it's also helpful to know your ammonia strength, since you may have 0 ammonia - you won't have to keep testing to be sure it's at 2ppm.

Your nitrites will spike to 5ppm before they drop. Keep adding ammonia daily until the readings show 0 ammonia and 0 nitrites. Don't forget the water change when it's done... and be sure your pH has been stable for 3 days before adding fish.

I'm not the greatest at explaining things.. but I hope it helps. (I tend to jump around from one thing to the next - and back again :rolleyes: )

Good luck with your tank!!!! :goodluck

Debbie

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I realize you can get ammonium chloride from a lab store - but it is not the easiest thing for many to access. If you are trying to cycle a tank - fishless - it is a reasonable thing to use the ammonium chloride in place of the ammonium hydroxide, but they are basically interchangable.

I do not see the advantage to using the ammonium chloride over the ammonium hydroxide. He states that he is avoiding the pH spike that is caused by the use of a base in cycling - the base being ammonium hydroxide. Yup - it is a base - but since you are only using 2-4 ppm in a tank, the amount that it will raise your pH is really not applicable. There is simply too little effect there to worry about.

If your kH is so low that 2ppm ammonium hydroxide affects the pH detrimentally, then you need more kH! A goldfish tank should have between 80-100 reading for kH - and at that, the ammonium hydroxide will not affect it.

I have used fishless cycling many times - successfully. I wrote the fishless section here on Koko's and will be happy to answer any questions you have. In a nutshell, you add in ammonia to take it up to a reasonable amount....2-4 ppm. Once there, it simply sits. When you develop a sufficiant colony of the first type of beneficial bacteria that they consume all the ammonia (taking the reading down towards zero) you will have to add in a bit of ammonia each day to "feed" the bacteria colony. This will be happening while you wait for the second type of beneficial bacteria to grow. When they do, they start to process the nitrite - taking the nitrite readings down towards zero as the nitrate readings climb.

If your ammonia is too concentrated (much over 4ppm) you may slow your bacterial colony's growth. IF you fail to add more AFTER it has gone to zero, you will starve out your beginning colony. Bacteria like ph of 8.2ish the best - and 72-78F best. Temps and pH of these readings will encourage the colonies to grow well and quickly. There is no need to change out the water until you have accomplished the cycle - for there are no fish to protect.

Ammonia that is sold as cleaner - CLEAR - may be weak, but it is very easy to calculate the amount needed to bring your readings to where you wish them. If you do not wish to calculate, simply add in a bit and test - then add in more until you get your reading to between 2 and 4ppm. I used 1 gallon, adding in a measured amount andt ook the reading. I could then determine what was needed in the volume of the tank for the proper readings.

:)

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Guest DeAnna

Thank you for your help everyone, and all the details Daryl! :D I decided to stick with the regular clear store bought ammonia. At first I wasn't getting any readings of ammonia ( I was afraid to add more to the tank). Then, I added too much, and my ammonia level was well at 8.0 ppm!!!! :o I had to drain the whole tank and start over. That was probably Sunday, and I just retested my water again last night, and already my ammonia has gond from 3-4ppm to 2ppm. And I did a Nitrite test just for the heck of it, and it's already showing a high reading of nitrites!!!!!YIPPEEEE!!!!

I am going follow your directions and wait a little longer for my ammonia level to get closer to 0 before I do my daily small additions of ammonia. I am so excited though!!!!!I've also decided to use my old filter from my 20g. tank along with my new filter once I get my guys into their new home.

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Thank you for your help everyone, and all the details Daryl! :D I decided to stick with the regular clear store bought ammonia. At first I wasn't getting any readings of ammonia ( I was afraid to add more to the tank). Then, I added too much, and my ammonia level was well at 8.0 ppm!!!! :o I had to drain the whole tank and start over. That was probably Sunday, and I just retested my water again last night, and already my ammonia has gond from 3-4ppm to 2ppm. And I did a Nitrite test just for the heck of it, and it's already showing a high reading of nitrites!!!!!YIPPEEEE!!!!

I am going follow your directions and wait a little longer for my ammonia level to get closer to 0 before I do my daily small additions of ammonia. I am so excited though!!!!!I've also decided to use my old filter from my 20g. tank along with my new filter once I get my guys into their new home.

My 5 gallon tank is nearly cycled. Might even be done tonight! I like feeding it 4ppm p/day because I'm trying to overload the media in there to use in another tank. It's taking it from 4ppm to zero ammonia in 24 hours, so it's worked!

Now if the 45 will follow suit..and then the 55, and then the 125....I'll be golden. :rofl

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Guest DeAnna

Wow Lolafish!!! You must have a really good cycle going for it to go from 4ppm to 0ppm in 24 hrs!!!!Good Job! :bingo:

I woke up this morning and my ammonia is down to 0ppm, so I'm going to start adding some more. I also did a nitrate test last night and it was showing some good amounts! I'm so excited. I thought that I would have to wait at least two or three weeks to see any results. I can't wait to get my guys into their new home!!!Good luck with your 5gallon Lolafish (but from the sounds of it, you're already on a role! :D ).

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