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Old 08-30-2011, 10:49 AM   #1 
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Fishless Ammonia Tank Cycling Question

Last week on the 22nd I started my ammonia tank cycling. I have a 5 gallon and I did about 3 drops ammonia to get my tank 4-5ppm.

Now, today (the 30th) I checked the ammonia again and it's still 4-5ppm. The water in my tank is starting to evaporate, I'm not sure if the water level decreasing is throwing off the measurements but I was expecting at least a little bit of a color change in my kit. But nope.

I'm not in a rush, but I'm just wondering if it takes longer than 7 days to start noticing a decrease. It's the very first step and I have no "seeding" media in my tank, starting from scratch, so perhaps that's why it's taking longer.

Basically I just want to know if this sounds normal, or if there's something I'm missing. I currently don't have a heater in the tank, my apt has been pretty warm and the water stays at about 75. I was going to wait until it was time to put a betta in before I got the heater, though I understand that it can help bacteria growth.
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Old 09-05-2011, 02:10 PM   #2 
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I don't know much about cycling so I don't know what to tell you. I do know that the entire process can take about a month. I'm going to bump this to get you some answers.
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Old 09-05-2011, 03:58 PM   #3 
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Warm water will definitely help jump start your cycle. If you can get a heater now, I would do it. 80 degrees or a bit higher is ideal for bacteria growth.

I know there are many people who think it is cruel to cycle a tank with fish in it, but I have had good luck with it the times i've done it. Bettas are hardy, and as long as you make sure to see the cycle through until the end they can usually withstand it without it being too hard on them. But like I said, there are many people who think this is cruel to the fish and it definitely can be, if you use sensitive fish and are lazy about the maintenance and testing.

What I know about fishless cycling is that it's usually recommended that no water changes be done for 2 weeks. This leads me to believe that it could take up to 2 weeks for the bacteria to begin to develop, or else you should be able to start doing water changes sooner.

I have never cycled betta tanks, only community tanks (one of which has a betta in it, but she was added last after the tank had been cycled for months). Bravo to you for doing this, I've also preferred to just do frequent water changes since betta tanks are small and it doesn't take much work or time to change 25-30% of the water daily.

Good luck!
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Old 09-05-2011, 04:17 PM   #4 
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Kudos on the fishless cycle. It's my preferred method, and worthwhile not putting fish through the cycling process.

4-5 ppm is pretty high so it's going to take time to develop the beneficial bacteria needed to begin to process the ammonia into nitrite. You're right on track. It won't hurt to add more water to "top off" the tank. As the above poster said, the warmer the better when developing bb. It wouldn't hurt to add the heater now and help speed up the process.

Do you have a filter going? Aerating the water is necessary for the promotion of bb and the filter media will allow an ideal breading ground for the bb to build up in.

Keep us posted on your progress!
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Old 10-04-2011, 11:48 AM   #5 
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Bumping this thread up, since I have an update on my fishless ammonia cycle.

iloveengl seemed to be on the nose with the idea that 4-5ppm for a 5 gallon tank was going to take awhile to go down. I added the ammonia on August 21st, and I checked it today on October 4th and it was down to 1ppm.

The water had evaporated about 20-25%, so I topped off the tank with Prime'd water and let it run through the filter overnight and took my readings this morning. Here is what they are.

Ammonia: 1.0 ppm
Nitrite: 5.0 ppm
Nitrate: 80 ppm

I feel like at this point I should re-dose Ammonia so I can see how fast it drops. I feel like the Nitrite is high for as much Nitrate that's in the water, but maybe someone can help me out with my readings!

Thanks guys. :)
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Old 10-04-2011, 04:56 PM   #6 
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Never exceed 0.8ppm ammonia doing fishless cycles. The bacteria cannot reproduce above 1.2~1.3ppm.

Its pointless to use ammonia accelerants when cycling a tank, the bacteria that actually converts the fish waste into ammonia will not colonize and you will have a sudden massive spike of conversion of waste into ammonia.

Just clear the tank out of everything but water, heater and the biological media in your filter and feed your imaginary fish regularly using the food you will feed the live fish. This will colonize the tank with the bacteria necessary to convert uneaten food, fish waste, shed scales and any biological dirt or dust that enter the environment as well as produce a slowly rising source of ammonia to colonize the filter. Don't be afraid of the bacterial cultures, the Mardel and TLC packages are very reliable and I've had good luck with the Hagan brand as well. The TLC bottle is more likely only at a LFS but includes the full range of water bacteria.

If you wish to continue trying to cycle the tank you have set up, drain it to the bottom then put in fresh treated water and leave it alone for 3 days.
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Old 10-04-2011, 07:29 PM   #7 
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I did a lot of research before I started, I thought 4ppm was what you should start at?

It seems like a lot of people use ammonia to start the cycle, am I mistaken somehow?

I've never heard of Mardel or TLC, I guess I'll look them up.
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Old 10-05-2011, 05:10 PM   #8 
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i also don't like using the ammonia drops way to start a cycle .. the food method is kinda messy .. but a good way to start the cycle .. also raw shrimp method is good .. or .. if you already have a betta .. poo method is good too =)

i agree with thunders method of draining and starting over
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