Setting up my 180L, stocking, plants, cycling? Help!

Discussion in 'Tropical Aquarium Advice' started by milliemouse, Mar 29, 2017.


  1. milliemouse

    milliemouse PetForums Junior

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    11
    Oh that's good. I'm not too sure what I want so that sounds like a good idea :) thank you!
     
  2. milliemouse

    milliemouse PetForums Junior

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    11
    So I've been doing a fishless cycle now for a week, using pure ammonia as well as squeezing my filter media from my other tank into the water. After testing yesterday my Ammonia level had dropped from 4 to 1/2 (hard to tell) so I added more Ammonia to bring it back up to 4. Up until today I hadn't been testing my nitrite levels but after testing it just now it is showing a reading of 5 (really really dark purple on the API test kit)..

    So how far through the cycle would you think I am? It seems like its happening quite quickly and it's my first time doing a fishless cycle so I'm not sure if I'm doing it correctly..

    Another thing is, I'm going away for four days (thursday to monday) and I'm not sure how this will affect the cycle.. A relative will be feeding my fish whilst away so I can always ask them to add ammonia if needed?
     
  3. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2014
    Messages:
    1,924
    Likes Received:
    2,070
    Sounds like it is going well. The addition of the filter bacteria from the other tank in will really speed things up.

    The following link
    http://www.drtimsaquatics.com/resources/how-to-start

    shows a graph of relative concentrations of ammonia, nitrite and nitrate over time. However as you have added bacteria you are probably starting much further along the time line as you wouldn't have had to wait for the very few bacteria normally found in tap water to multiply to the levels you have added from the other filter. It might give you an idea of where you are though.

    Re the holiday I personally would decant the volumes you normally add into small containers or if you have a reliable caretaker then tell them the measurements needed. Get them to add it once every 24 hours. If you lose a few bacteria over this period then it won't matter, it might add a day or two to your overall cycle but that won't matter. You can always add another dose of bacteria from your existing g tank. Just make sure they don't turn your filter off :)
     
  4. milliemouse

    milliemouse PetForums Junior

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    11
    So I'm back off my holiday now and have been adding ammonia everyday because overnight it drops from 4ppm to 0ppm! However, Nitrites are sky high and I'm not sure what I can do to bring them down other than water changes? I just done a 50% water change and its still showing at around 4 or 5 ppm.

    Before going away I added filter media from another tank and I don't know if thats done anything to help at all? I thought that would of created a more of an 'instant cycle'.

    @kittih whilst away my relative didn't add any ammonia so I'm surprised the bacteria survived for 4 days! :)
     
  5. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2014
    Messages:
    1,924
    Likes Received:
    2,070
    Nitrites rising is a good thing. There are bacteria that break down ammonia to nitrites and different bacteria that break down nitrites to nitrates. Looks like you have a healthy population of the ammonia breaking down bacteria but still need to grow enough nitrite breaking down bacteria. They will start to grow, they can be a little slower than the ammonia ones so be patient. If you have existing filter media squeeze some more of that in to give the nitrite bacteria population a bit of a boost. It is possible that not so many ammonia bacteria were lost through lack of feeding when you were away or the population was big enough to survive a loss of population but as the nitrite one s are just starting out they may take a little longer to start growing.

    Bacteria from another tank should help the process but there are lots of variables and it is possible that there were not enough viable bacteria surviving, who knows. Adding these bacteria will help but just might not give you instant results. :)
     
  6. milliemouse

    milliemouse PetForums Junior

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    11
    Ahh okay I see, thank you for that! So I'll just continue to add the ammonia daily once it reaches 0ppm, and just let the nitrites run their course.. Will I need to do any regular water changes? I'm not sure if that would slow down the process..
     
  7. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2014
    Messages:
    1,924
    Likes Received:
    2,070
    You don't need to do water changes as that just slows the process as it just dilutes everything. In a normal balanced system the reason for doing water changes is to remove excess nitrates (plants can utilize nitrates but in a fish heavy IE usual aquarium they cannot keep up with the amount of nitrates produced) and also to top up essential elements for the plants and fish.

    Dutch aquariums, a style with lots of lush plant growth and only a few fish can happily be maintained with minimal water changes if balanced correctly. Just plant fertilisers, Co2 injection and lighting. However most fish keepers keep far more fish than plants so excess nitrate which isn't very toxic except at high levels needs to be removed. In nature there are bacteria that do break down the nitrate too but as they are anaerobic (don't like oxygen) most aquarium set ups can't cater for them. While there are no fish in your aquarium you don't need to worry about nitrate build up as it won't be harming anything. Once cycled give the tank a nice large water change to bring the nitrate back to acceptable levels.

    The only downside of letting the nitrate (and phosphate) rise is that it can encourage algal growth.


    Have you got any live plants in there ? If so the plants can feed directly on the nitrites and this can skew the cycling process
     
  8. milliemouse

    milliemouse PetForums Junior

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    11
    Okay thats what I thought, however, I had seen somewhere that said you need to do a water change when the Nitrite levels become unreadable on the test kit.. Unsure as to if this is true or not.
    Yes, I have lots of live plants at the moment and was thinking of adding even more! They are all easy, low light plants though like Anubias, Amazon sword, Java fern etc..

    So does this mean that having live plants can potentially prolong the cycle as it takes the filter longer to establish the bacteria if the plants are consuming the Nitrites?
     
  9. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2014
    Messages:
    1,924
    Likes Received:
    2,070
    There is no harm in a water change if nitrates get really high though if you have lots of plants particularly fast growers then they will use up quite a bit.

    Re the plants and the cycle it's a tricky one. Essentially the plants will be utilising some if the nitrite so there is less for the bacteria so the bacteria colony won't (need to) grow as large as it would if there were no plants using up the nitrite.

    So for example if there were 10 "units" if nitrite" going into the tank (IE from the ammonia producing bacteria) and the bacteria had access to all of it then their colony would grow to a size that was sufficient to use all 10 units. If the plants are using say 3 units then the bacteria colony would grow big enough to use up the 7 units available. Either way it's all being used up so not a danger to the fish. The issue comes that if you have a mass die off if plants say or they stop growing as rapidly then the plants may stop using some or all of their 3 units for example so there would be a short time before the bacteria colony grows to take up the shortfall.

    However in any tank with plants this is always potentially an issue. Plants dieing adds to the bioload as well. If you are planning on having that many plants then I wouldn't worry. It's more if a concern if you add a lot of fast growing plants, then take them out or they all quickly die but don't keep an eye on the water parameters.
     
    milliemouse likes this.
  10. NaomiM

    NaomiM PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2012
    Messages:
    1,477
    Likes Received:
    434
    Now you're in the nitrite stage of the cycle, I'd reduce the ammonia dosing to 1ppm per day (assuming you're starting from 0 each day, of course). That's still more than the fish will be producing, so more than enough to maintain your ammonia munching bacteria, but will stop the nitrite going too high, as crazy amounts of nitrite can stall the cycle.

    If nitrites are already sky high and you haven't done a water change since starting the cycle, 1 x 50% water change can bring them down enough to prevent the cycle stalling, and won't harm the ammonia munchers as long as you leave the filter media alone. As kittih says, there's no need for regular water changes, though.

    Other than that, yep, it's just a case of being patient :)
     
    kittih likes this.
  11. NaomiM

    NaomiM PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2012
    Messages:
    1,477
    Likes Received:
    434
    By the way, each 1ppm of ammonia converts to roughly 4ppm of nitrite, which is why your nitrites are so high!
     
    kittih likes this.