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Discussion Starter #1
I'm wanting to do a fishless cycle and I keep adding ammonia (10% ammonium hydroxide, passes the shake/foam test) but am still getting a reading of zero when I take a water sample in to the local pet store for testing. (I'm over budget already on this tank by about double, so can't get my own test kit yet.)

Someone who's done this before, help me sanity check. In a 10 gallon tank, if I've added 10 ml of 10% strength ammonia, I should at least be getting a reading right?

I'm thinking the pet store is giving bad readings, but I've not done this before so it is possible I've just grossly misjudged how much ammonia I should be adding. I've got some bottled bacteria in there, so I don't want to overdose to the extent of killing the bottled bacteria. I am NOT getting a nitrite or nitrate spike, so that's it's not just that it has already cycled.

I'm getting PH readings of around 7.5-8, barely detectable nitrite and no nitrate. The tank is not heated (yet) as (see again budget) but my tank water is fairly consistently about 74 degrees. (Will have heater before betta)

I've got a sponge filter going but no other filtration. I will have a heater and can get a test kit in a couple weeks, but I really don't want this time to be a complete waste in the mean time. I don't want to kill the culture that is in there either by adding too much, or not enough ammonia.
 

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Not sure why you're getting a zero reading after dosing the ammonia, according to the calculator, you're using quite a bit of it, according to the calculator for 10 ml of a 10% solution, you should be reading 22ppm, not sure what the ammonia test looks like at this level.

Also, do you have any plants in the tank, although, even with plants you should still be reading something.

Try dosing at the 2 ml level and see what you get.
 

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Are they using a liquid test or strips?

A 10% ammonia sounds like Ace Hardware? Though ammonia can lose some potency over time, Veloran is right, sounds like a large dose.

How log have you been running the thank and what brand of bottled bacteria are you using/ When did you dose the bacteria and how much?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I want to point out that the 10 ml is total. I dosed 2 ml 5 times now waiting for the reading to register. Tests were one day apart, as I only drive into the town with the pet store once a day. I made the mistake of adding a bottled biological culture, so it is possible that the low ammonia readings are because it actually worked like it said it would on the bottle (3 day cycle) but I really doubt that, especially since I don't think I have enough nitrite or nitrate for that to be the cause.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Just turned on the light in the tank (mostly have been having it off) and have noticed a white coating on the inside tank walls. I'm taking that this is either an algae bloom or a bacterial bloom, either way it gives me hope that things are going well.

Am I right?
 

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Cloudy water indicates a bacterial growth. White fuzz may be Saprolegnia fungus --easy to wipe off, but not usual in a pure ammonia activated tank. Again --- what brand of bacteria are you using, how much and how long?

It's really difficult fishless cycling without a test kit. What species is the tank for? What level of stocking are you planning?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I'm using Fluval Biological enhancer. It's a 10 gallon tank that I'm planning on keeping a pet store betta in, along with ghost shrimp (to start out with) or dwarf corys (if the betta eats the shrimp).

I did not do a full starting dose of the Fluval, as I wanted to make sure if the cycle failed miserably I still had enough left, so I just did a 15ml dose of the fluval, then a ten. I dosed ammonia a bit less than 2ml of 10 % (should be about 3ppm) on day one, then since I got no response to an ammonia reading, dosed the next day another 2ml, still no result to ammonia, nitrate or nitrite when I took the water to the fish store for testing. I continued dosing 2ml ammonia twice/day trying to get a reading, then decided that not getting a reading was absurd, posted here.

THEN I noticed the white coating on the tank the day after. If it is a fungal bloom, does that perclude the possibility that I have ammonia at > 5 ppm? Would > 5ppm kill the fungus, algae bacteria etc.? My assumption right now is that if something is growing, I at least don't have the 22ppm that I could have.

Honestly, I didn't expect the fluval to make any real difference and thought it was a gimmick that I added just in case it sped up the cycle a bit. I'm not thinking that by doing it wrong I might be doing it right.
 

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The Fluval bacteria is not the kind of bacteria that does the nitrogen cycle. Those would be the "live" bacteria nitrosomonas and nitrospira -- and it would say so on the bottle. Fluval is one of a number of "spore" bacteria which dissolves sludge, detoxifies ammonia and helps establish the bio-film where the live bacteria live.

For a single Betta in a 10g tank, fishless cycling is kind of overkill. Fishless is recommended for heavily-stocked community tanks, and when you plan to stock shoals of many fish or a few large fish. They produce a lot of ammonia, so it is important in those cases to cycle the tank for a large bioload of as much as 4.0ppm.

(Edit: I just saw your line about the dwarf Cory. That would be a reason to fishless cycle. But you'd want to stock them first, then the Betta, then the shrimp.)

For one Betta and a few shrimp, it's easier, in my opinion, to do a fish-in cycle. One Betta produces so little ammonia that you can safely -- and conveniently -- use the fish as the ammonia source. Change half the water once per week dosing Prime @ 2-drops/gal of tank size. Dose 1-drop/gal every other day for added security. Test the water as often as you can conveniently.

Don't stock the shrimp until the cycle has been established (cycled for a month or so). They're very picky about water quality.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
The Fluval bacteria is not the kind of bacteria that does the nitrogen cycle. Those would be the "live" bacteria nitrosomonas and nitrospira -- and it would say so on the bottle. Fluval is one of a number of "spore" bacteria which dissolves sludge, detoxifies ammonia and helps establish the bio-film where the live bacteria live.
Didn't know this, but am not terribly surprised. The bottle does not say what bacteria it contains, but it does claim it allows immediate introduction of fish, so I assumed that it would work like safe start.

For a single Betta in a 10g tank, fishless cycling is kind of overkill. Fishless is recommended for heavily-stocked community tanks, and when you plan to stock shoals of many fish or a few large fish. They produce a lot of ammonia, so it is important in those cases to cycle the tank for a large bioload of as much as 4.0ppm.

(Edit: I just saw your line about the dwarf Cory. That would be a reason to fishless cycle. But you'd want to stock them first, then the Betta, then the shrimp.)

For one Betta and a few shrimp, it's easier, in my opinion, to do a fish-in cycle. One Betta produces so little ammonia that you can safely -- and conveniently -- use the fish as the ammonia source. Change half the water once per week dosing Prime @ 2-drops/gal of tank size. Dose 1-drop/gal every other day for added security. Test the water as often as you can conveniently.

Don't stock the shrimp until the cycle has been established (cycled for a month or so). They're very picky about water quality.
I'm going to risk adding the shrimp first, which is why I was doing a fishless cycle. I realize that even that is risking it, but there are enough people who have successfully done a shrimp-only tank that I thought I'd probably be okay. I'll be adding the shrimp first for budget reasons, then save to get the corys, then add the betta. Hopefully, by the time I add the betta the shrimp will be close to full adult size and thus less likely to end up snacks.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
UPDATE: The test was flawed, found out that the fish store was using the strips which did nothing. The fish store has switched to using drops and I got a reading off the chart. Did two 80% water changes and got a reading that was on the chart. Did another 50% water change and I'm now between 3 and 4 ppm.

So this is pretty much day one. About two weeks from what day one cold have been.

Bother.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Ghost shrimp are $0.37 at my local pet store, so if you can find betta for less PLEASE let me know! (There are other shrimp that are more, but ghosties are often used as feeder shrimp)
 
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