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Old 08-12-2013, 07:54 PM   #1 
bambijarvis's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: California, LA area
"fishless" cycling question(s)

I've always just done water changes instead of cycling(as most of the time my fish are in smaller tanks) but since my 20long is empty for a while i'm thinking of cycling it.

I don't want to do a fish-in cycle and risk the health of the fish, and I know I can add pure ammonia(if I can find it).

But can I add water from my water changes(poop/uneaten food) instead? So that it's essentially a fish-in without the fish?

Also, would adding 'gravel' and decoration /after/ it's cycled effect it/make it start over?

And, most filter cartridges have charcoal in them. I have a few old cartridges without the charcoal. I'm assuming the bacteria just need a place to grow, so instead of adding more coal can I leave them empty or fill them with say tank gravel or bundled up cheese cloth?


On a semi-related note, had anyone here used the Seachem alert devices for ammonia/PH? Are they reliable/accurate?
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Old 08-12-2013, 08:34 PM   #2 
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Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Rhode Island
Yes you can add water from other tanks, mostly you'll want the poop and food and possibly some gravel or ornaments but it will take as long as a Fish-In cycle. And no adding addition ornaments and whatnot will not effect the cycle afterwards, the only thing that can kill a cycle is if you let the tank/filter dry out. Or if you take out the filter media of which your Bacteria has colonized, you just took out most of the population of BB so that's why it's recommended to stuff two in there (old and new) for a week or two if you can, otherwise just take some foam from the old media and stick it to the new one on the backside and hope you don't get a mini-cycle.

As for the cartridges itself, you can always customize it and buy AquaClear foam and bio-max if you don't want the charcoal in there. Yes the bacteria need a place to grow on and that's what they grow on, tank gravel would be okay but they grow on the substrate anyway. The reason mostly for the foam in the filter is because that provides both an inside and an outside surface area for BB to grow where gravel only has the outside to offer. So that means foam has more surface area which allows for more bacteria. But wouldn't you want a filter that also cleans as well as holds bacteria?

Have you thought about sponge filters?

And I've heard about the ammonia alert and many who have had them say they don't work or they are simply not reliable so I wouldn't waste your money, just use the API Master kit instead every now and then.
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