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Old 06-22-2010, 12:22 PM   #1 
BeccBecc
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Cycling: Fishless vs Fish

I'm just wondering how many people do fishless cycling vs using actual fish. I know the one if more humane (fishless) but I've heard the using fish is quicker and there are some fish that are able to withstand the "process". My sister has got a established tank so I'm planning on taking some water from there to help it along. So which do you prefer: Fishless or Fish?
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Old 06-22-2010, 01:02 PM   #2 
Adastra
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Fishless is the only way to do it as far as I'm concerned, and I feel very strongly about it. How long the cycling process takes varies extremely widely and depends on a LOT of variables--people may think that it takes longer to cycle without fish because they don't feel the need to heat or aerate when fish are not in the tank, and forget that bacteria need heat and aeration to grow and thrive. Also, when people transfer fish into larger aquariums they bring decor and plants that already carry some beneficial bacteria, and for that reason the process would go faster.

Basically, I'm saying the process will go as fast as you let it, fish-in or fishless--however, because you don't have to worry about the welfare of the fish during the fishless cycle, you can add more aeration than you normally would and jack up the heat higher than you normally would to encourage the bacteria to grow faster. You can also add mature filter media or gravel mulm to speed up the process immensely, if you add enough you can complete the cycle in just a few days.

You also get a much better yield of bacteria from a fishless cycle, because instead of keeping your ammonia low, to about .25ppm, for fear of hurting your fish, you can keep the ammonia at 4ppm, so much much more bacteria is produced in order to consume this high amount of ammonia. This will make the bacteria colony more stable when you add fish, and you will be able to add more fish at the same time, ideal if you need to cycle the tank for schools of fish like pygmy cories and whatnot.

You also don't have to do as much work in order to cycle a tank fishlessly. Simply add 4ppm of ammonia to the tank, and test until the nitrite begins to spike. Then replace the ammonia that has been consumed until the ammonia and nitrite levels are 0 and the nitrate level has spiked. All you have to do is test, add ammonia, and providing you don't overdose your tank on ammonia (if you OD, you could kill the bacteria. In that case you would need to change some water to lower the ammonia level.), you will only have to do one water change at the end to get the nitrate level into a safe range.

Simple, easy, safe for fish, and you get a much better yield of bacteria. And I don't know, in my mind its just wrong to expose your fish to toxins when you could avoid it--if you've ever smelled ammonia, you know that it is not a pleasant thing to be around. I can't imagine constantly having to breathe in, drink in, and swim through ammonia water all at once. Yuck. Don't put your fish through that please, even if they don't get sick from it, it's just not a nice thing to do.

Last edited by Adastra; 06-22-2010 at 01:08 PM.
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Old 06-23-2010, 06:13 AM   #3 
dipsydoodlenoodle
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In the past I've always done fish-in cycles; because I've been clueless. I'm actually doing my first ever fishless cycle at the moment. It's taking forever but I want to do it right this time around.
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Old 06-23-2010, 07:25 AM   #4 
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Cycling with fish can be done with no dangerous levels of ammonia or nitrites recorded but it takes a working knowledge of the nitrification process,very few,small fish, and very careful feeding of these few small fish while stocking at proper intervals.
Work for school dist.and have set up numerous class room aquariums over the years for students and instructors who were not at all willing to watch empty tank.
Problem is that the majority of people stock too many fish from the outset or too large of fish,and they overfeed the fish.
Safest way to cycle with fish is to seed the new tank with filter material, decorations,and or a cup or two of gravel from a disease free existing tank. Simply borrowing water from a (cycled) tank while it will provide a small amount of bacteria for the new tank, it is miniscule compared to that bacteria which will be found in the filter of esablished tank where oxygen rich water is able to provide it with steady source of food.
When seeding a tank, tank must also have some form of ammonia to keep the bacteria borrowed fed either by placing a few fish in the tank, or by tossing some fish food in dailyuntil fish are placed in the tank.
I have used the ammonia method and found it to be a pain in the @#%& .Daily testing,dosing may be needed and it was no quicker than simply tossing a couple small , uncooked frozen shrimp into the toe section of a pair of nylons with a rock to hold it down , and then tossing the shrimp into the tank and wait.
Have also heard of those who had violent reaction after being exposed to fumes, and or spills of ammonia. Do not believe it to be predictable or reliable way ,to judge how much bacteria or at what rate it will be developing due to variables mentioned above (ie) pH ,temp,and or dissolved oxygen levels but this applys to all methods as well.
For example. i believe bacteria will develop much more readily in hang on back type filters than in sealed cannister filter due to more oxygen being available but this is only my opinion and I have no scientific proof to support it.
In summary,,Cycling with fish results in very good chance that you ultimately wind up with a cycling tank full of sick fish. This is quite frustrating (trust me). You have to dispose of fish ,or treat the fish with meds while at the same time,change water to keep ammonia levels in check which in turn,results in re-medicating after each water change. It is not the way you would like to begin in the hobby.
]All of the above is based on my expierience and opinions vary.

Last edited by 1077; 06-23-2010 at 07:28 AM.
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Old 06-24-2010, 12:48 AM   #5 
Phoxly
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Next time your sister does a 50% change of water, take all of that, put it in your tank, and you pretty much just insta-cycled it... The only problem is your filter will clean it and you will still end up needing to cycle til you get bacteria growing in the filter.

I would cycle with fish if you do this method of the 50% change and take half her tank basically, but not with a betta... I was told to use a betta as my cycler swimmer fish and I was very sad when he died and its too much maintenance to keep it livable for a fish like a betta.
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Old 06-24-2010, 02:21 AM   #6 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phoxly View Post
Next time your sister does a 50% change of water, take all of that, put it in your tank, and you pretty much just insta-cycled it... The only problem is your filter will clean it and you will still end up needing to cycle til you get bacteria growing in the filter.

I would cycle with fish if you do this method of the 50% change and take half her tank basically, but not with a betta... I was told to use a betta as my cycler swimmer fish and I was very sad when he died and its too much maintenance to keep it livable for a fish like a betta.
Incorrect, the beneficial bacteria does not live in the aquarium water it attaches itself to things like filter media and substrate. taking the water from 1 aquarium to another won't help with anything aside from bringing nitrates (no3) from the cycled aquarium into the uncycled aquarium. edit: also bettas are a very hardy fish and my experience with fish-in cycling with them was very good and easy
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Old 06-24-2010, 03:05 PM   #7 
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I have never done a fishless cycle. Years ago when I first started I was lucky enough to get excellent advise & started keeping extra filter media of varying sizes in my filters. Always use that to cycle any new tanks I set up. Gave my daughter-in-law a couple cycled AC sponges last year when she set up her 38 gal. She didn't lose a single fish. :)
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Old 06-24-2010, 09:53 PM   #8 
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I always do a fish in cycle. The pet store even told me step by step how to do it and every fish lived! (the fish guy at my LFS is very nice and very knowledgable.He helps me tons) Here are the steps I took:
Step 1: Set up your new tank and fill it with water (use conditioner and some good ol' nutrafin cycle)
Step 2: Turn on the filter,heater, the whole shebang.
Step 3: Add some starter fish.Make sure they are (i used 1 platy and 3 harlequin rasboras in my 20 gallon tank) And check the water perimeters once a week. (Be aware of new tank syndrome!)
Step 4: Once the nitrites drop then ammonia rises then drops to zero (and i mean ZERO when i say zero!) then that is your ok to add the desired fish! (you can keep the starters in if you want.)
He also told me to take some of my other tanks water and put it in the new tank. And to do the same with the other tanks gravel.
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Old 07-04-2010, 04:35 PM   #9 
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I am currently still trying to complete a cycle of my tank. I have had the tank set up for 7 weeks now. I have had spikes of Ammonia but have never had Nitrite or Nitrate. I did the fish in cycle as that is what I was told was necessary from the fish store lady. I set the tank up let it run for 3 days, added a few Tiger Barbs, got Ammonia, did partial water changes daily because of the Ammonia, tested water daily etc...

The fish seem to be doing fine now but if I ever set up another tank, I will be cycling without fish. I am learning as I go. It is amazing to me how much wrong information is being tossed around out there.
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Old 07-04-2010, 10:21 PM   #10 
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Here's a thread on fishlore with information of fish-in cycling with Tetra SafeStart. On down it talks about how the ammonia level in the tank would be enough to stress the fish but not enough to hurt it.

http://www.fishlore.com/fishforum/aq...safestart.html

I'll probably start a cycling thread with this link included in case someone else decides to use TSS. =]
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