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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, im new to this hobby and im trying to start the nitrogen cycle in my first attempt at an aquarium. I decided to do it without fish because I didnt like the "hardy" fish the store told me I could use. I was recomended to use API Stress Zyme to start the cycle. I filled the tank with the recomended ammount of conditioner and Stress Zyme 4 days ago and its been fitering since then.

This might be a dumb question but how will I know when the Nitrogen cycle has started and its safe to put fish in? I only have these 5 in 1 testing strips that test for nitrate, nitrate, hardness, alkalinity and pH. Do I need something else? I really have no clue about any of this stuff and would appriciate anyones advice. Thanks.
 

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Hi there! Welcome to the forum. I've got a tank cycling right now too.

Strips are notorious for being faulty. Invest in the API master test kit. It's expensive, but very worth it for accurate readings and it's a lot of fun to play with too.

Here's a really good article on fishless cycling and how to help it along:

Fishless Cycling - Article at The Age of Aquariums - Tropical Fish

To help it along, scavenger hunt for these items:

- Pure 10% diluted Ammonia. The stuff that has no surfactants, perfumes, or dyes in it. The way you can tell is to shake the bottle. If it looks like water and does NOT foam, it's the right stuff. Ammonia with surfactants in it foams up. Folks have had luck looking into Ace Hardware and Meijers.

- The Stress Zyme may well work, but if you can, try to get some gravel from an established tank. If you have a friend with an established tank, ask them if you can have some of their gravel or even borrow an ornament from their tank for a while. This will "seed" your tank with the good bacteria you need. You could even ask your LFS or Petco if you can have some. Be sure not to let it get dry when transporting or the bacteria will die!

- Turn the heat up in the tank to 85 degrees F. The bacteria love warmth!

When Ammonia readings are zero, NitrIte readings are zero (these two should ALWAYS be at zero when you have fish), and you have NitrAte readings, you are ready for fish. Do a final large water change and you can add fish and plants. Just start off with a few of each, don't stock the tank completely immediately.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply. That article helped a lot and answered most of my questions. Im gonna go find some ammonia, I haven't added any of that yet and it sounds like it wont work without it. Thanks for the tips and the answer to my question longtail, im sure ill have a lot more soon. :)
 

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I use live plants and let them condition the tank for a week. Then add one fish and not add food for a week.

the plants cosnume ammonia directly allowing the tank to safely support fish.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So its been about a month now and Im still not ready for fish. 3 days ago I took some of the water into PetSmart for them to test it and the results came back as:
Ammonia: 1.0 mg/L
Nitrite & Nitrate: 0
pH: 7.0
Alkalinity: 80 mg/L
Hardness: 50 mg/L
Chlorine & Chloramine: 0
Salinity: 0

They told me to leave the hoods open because the bacteria come from the air. Up to this point the water had been crystal clear but after leaving the hoods open the water turned cloudy. My question is, is this supposed to happen? Does the cloudy water mean the bacteria is growing or did something go wrong? I would appricate anyones advice, thanks.
 

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Your tank looks like its in the beginning of cycling, like it just started, or didnt even start yet. You said you were going to cycle with fish but changed it to fishless cycling? If you are doing fishless cycling, you need to add straight ammonia to 5 or 6ppm. Your results show only 1ppm. Without the adequate ammonia, it wont provide enough food for the bacteria to grow. In order to test your water chemistry parameters you need a liquid test kit. When stores test your water they use strips and its inaccurate. When a tank goes cloudy, it means you have a bacteria bloom. It will go away after a few days.

Heres what i posted earlier on someone elses thread.
For the cycling, you need to grow 2 sets of bacteria. One is ammonia-to-nitrite converting bacteria and the other is nitrite-to-nitrate converting bacteria. One cycling is done, and you test the water. It should read 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and some readings of nitrate.
For Ex.If you have high ammonia levels, with 0 nitrite and 0 nitrate, it means you have not grown the 1st set yet nor the 2nd set. And this usually occurs in the beginning of cycles.
Another Ex. If you have 0 ammonia, high nitrite, 0 nitrate, it means you have successfully grown the 1st set which converts ammonia to nitrite, but not the 2nd set, kinda get it? This usually happens midway along the cycle
Last Ex. If you read 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and some readings of nitrate. It means you have grown both sets and you tank is cycled.
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the reply. I went and bought a water testing kit and the ammonia is actually closer to 4 ppm. It sounds like I just wasted a month with the hoods being closed lol. Ill probably be posting more questions in here soon, thanks again.
 

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If you are cycling with fish, you need to do about 70% water change right away, 4ppm is very high. But if you are doing fishless then its ok... even better if its 5ppm or 6ppm :)
 
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here is a graph of a planted tank I started. Notice how ammonia had a minor spike only lasting a day after adding a fish. also the pH here is the max of the api test kit (7.6) and actually was measured at 8+ with the high range test kit.

Stop doing whatever you are doing and let the ammonia drop down to 0.

with my planted tank there is no ammonia and the fish are never stressed.




my .02
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The tank is still cloudy, it has been for over a week now. The ammonia is at about 6 or 7 ppm and still zero nitrite or nitrate. Im just wondering if its normal to be cloudy this long since NursePlaty said it should go away in a few days?

Also, do the lights being on or off have any effect on the cycling?

Thanks again.
 

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Lights on will afffect cycling levels due to plant action. Lights can also create cloudiness.
 
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It could last up to a week or a tad bit longer, it just means a bacterial bloom and means your tank is currently cycling. Continue to keep Ammonia at 5 or 6ppm and you will eventually see nitrites.
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Its still cloudy and still no nitrate or nitrite with the ammonia now off the charts (8.0+). *frown

Im starting to think im not meant to have an aquarium... lol
 

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Stay with it, when your ready to add fish you will love it. Nothing is harder in this hobby then waiting for a cycle to complete.. It will! Some take longer than others, but it must finish or you will loose fish if you try to rush.
Keep track of your tests, you will learn a lot doing this and it makes you feel a part of your tanks progress. The advice you have received is top notch, just follow it and keep us posted of whats happening. If something is not right the experts here (not me) can guide you through it.
 
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Should I buy another bottle of Stress Zyme or something like that? The tank has been filled for about 6 weeks, Its been about 3 weeks since it turned cloudy (it still is cloudy) and I still have zero nitrate and nitrite with 8.0+ ammonia.

Is there anything I can add to help the first set of bacteria grow? Would turning the lights on help them grow? Thanks.
 

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Should I buy another bottle of Stress Zyme or something like that? The tank has been filled for about 6 weeks, Its been about 3 weeks since it turned cloudy (it still is cloudy) and I still have zero nitrate and nitrite with 8.0+ ammonia.

Is there anything I can add to help the first set of bacteria grow? Would turning the lights on help them grow? Thanks.
I would test the ammonia to see if the ammonia you have is locked or the dangerous free ammonia. Seachem has an ammonia multitest that tests for both kinds.

Forget adding chemicals. I would do nothing and just let the ammonia drop down and tank clear up.

Well I would add lotsa anacharis also.

but that's just me.

and my .02
 
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
So the tank is not cycling (about 2 months now) so I just bought 5 feeder fish and im going to see what happens. Ill let you guys know if they stay alive. Thanks for all the help so far BTW.
 

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They all died, im about to give up.
sorry to hear and I had your experiences at first until I started a planted tank.

So let me give you the short instructions.

empty tank

add 1" peat moss (from big bale not small packages)
add water to top of moss
level and clean
add 1" play sand
add water to top of sand
level and clean
add 1" pc select (or aquarium gravel)
add water to top of gravel
level and clean

(10g tank) add 4-6 bunches of anacharis, 4-6 vals, 4-6 small potted plants, and a single amazon sword.

fill tank to top pouring water over a saucer.

wait one week
add 1 male platy
wait 1 week with no food added
add 2 female plattys
start feeding 1 flake per day.


no filter, no air stone, no water changes just replace evaporative water with straight unteated tap water from a commonly used cold faucet.

Give that a try.

my .02
 
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