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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have read the fishes cycling guide on this forum, and many many others. Wanted to get some experienced aquarium hobbyists input. I am using Dr. Tim's fishes cycling ammonia. I have been adding ammonia every morning, and testing it the next morning around the same time. Ammonia always reads 0, and Nitrite always reads 1ppm. It has not changed. PH is stable at 8.0, and I have used Tetra Safe Start plus.

My question is, I have read that you need to continue adding ammonia everyday because if you don't you will starve your bacteria colonies, is this true? The thread I just read on the forum states that once your aquarium begins cycling ammonia within 24 hours, you need to focus on getting nitrites down, not on adding ammonia.

Also, I have heard much conflicting advice about water changes. This forum says to do them, and many others say not to. I am also about to run out of the Dr. Tim's ammonium and the next bottle won't be here until the beginning of November, will that stall my cycle as well?

I have also read that taking the "squeezing" from my established tropical fish aquarium will help significantly with the production of beneficial bacteria, has anyone done this?

Thanks for all the help!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Great advice from both. I have some questions -

Do you test your water before or after you add ammonia? What is your ammonia reading directly after adding it?
What test kit are you using?
What are your nitrates?

I do not do water changes when cycling, unless the cycle stops or slows down. This generally only happens when the nitrates get too high and create nitric acid and drop your pH below what the bacteria can function well at. This is not happening in your case as you say your pH is a solid 8.

You want to keep adding ammonia, because you're trying to grow a big colony of bacteria. To do this, you need to feed them. If you stop feeding them, they stop growing. They don't die if you stop feeding them. You will not lose your cycle. I would purchase some Fritz Aquatics Powdered Ammonium Chloride. $12, next day Prime delivery. It will last you literally the rest of your life if you're using it to cycle tanks.

The seeded media trick is good too. I've used tetra safe start and found it to be ineffective. The media trick is the best thing you can do. I do the "innoculate with squeezins" method. I figure this leaves little suspended particles of biofloc to stick to any surface they can and cycle the whole system.

I added the ammonia (Dr. Tim's), each day I test it at the same time, 24 hours after adding the ammonia the ammonia reading is always 0. I use the API freshwater master test kit. I have also tested it after adding the ammonia to the tank, and it read 2ppm. I tested for nitrates a couple days ago and got a reading of 5ppm, I haven't tested them since just because I have read that sometimes it can read high due to the presence of Nitrite.

I thought the same about the ammonia, and that's why I was confused. A lot of forums say the same thing you are (hence the reason I continued adding ammonia everyday, I mean if I were doing a fish in cycle, the fish wouldn't stop peeing). I didn't put any in this morning after watching Dr. Tim's video saying not to but I think I will now.

If I am continuing to add ammonia everyday, and my Nitrites don't fluctuate at all, is this a good sign? They've remained at 1.0ppm for a week now despite the daily addition of ammonia.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
That's what I would do. I would add ammonia every day until nitrites also read zero the next day.
You should probably check nitrates and do a water change at this point though... they are probably off the charts high...

Fun fact! Although fish do poo, and they do have kidneys, ammonia is excreted constantly from the gills, actually. This fact adds nothing to the conversation whatsoever, I just find it entertaining. :ROFLMAO:
I definitely appreciate that fun fact! 😂
Also all the help! Thank you
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
One more question for you guys. I skipped adding the ammonia for one day. I tested my water parameters last night at 10pm, Nitrite and ammonia were both 0. I then added another dose of ammonia (2ppm). Woke up this morning and the ammonia was 0, nitrite was 1ppm. I have tested my nitrite again just now and it's all the way down to .25ppm. At this rate I am going to assume it will probably be back to 0 by 10pm. If it is, does this mean my tank is fully cycled?

I am honestly only wondering because I only started dosing ammonia 2 weeks ago, though I did place two large bags of substrate into the tank a week before this from an established tank (I started the fishless cycling with ammonia with Nitrites already present because of this). Also, if the tank is cycled, I have read that when adding cichlids its better to add them altogether for a "pecking order" but I am afraid to overload the tank.

I have rainbowfish in my established tank that I've done research on and they say they can acclimate well to a PH of 8.0. Should I place those fish into the tank for a while to continue making sure the tank can handle the bio load? Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
1. Yes, I believe your tank is perfectly cycled.
a. This was quick because you added a bunch of seed bacteria in the substrate.
2. You can add anything to this tank now that the tank could legitimately hold.
3. No need to do that with the rainbows, unless you want to. The tank will hold now. If you're concerned, you should probably just continue dosing ammonia.

Do remember this though - 1ppm of ammonia measured using API master kit will produce about 20ppm nitrate measured with the same kit. Your nitrates are probably off the charts at this point, so remember to do a huge water change or two before you get stocking.

Yes, they were! I did an 80% water change and it brought them down to 10-20ppm (it was so close I couldn't tell which one). I then tested my PH, and it was holding steady at 8.0 prior to the water change. Went down to 7.6 with the water change. Is there any advice on how to keep the PH up through water changes?

I have the cichlid substrate, and the bottom of the tank are water buffering rocks. Not sure if the PH fluctuated so much because it was such a massive water change, or to expect this each time I do smaller water changes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Why is pH going down with water changes? Your tank started at pH=8 and your tap is pH=8?

When I set up the tank, I have the cichlid substrate, and rocks I purchased to keep the PH higher. my current established tank the PH is 7.6, I did the 80% water change yesterday, added my cichlid lake salt and immediately tested the water. It read 7.4 directly after the water change. Today it's reading 8.2.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
You need to either treat the water whenever you do a change, or do more frequent, smaller water changes. You don't want the pH changing more than 0.2 for any reason.
What would be the best way to do this? Treat it with the cichlid salt prior to putting it back into the tank?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
You haven't said how large this aquarium is you are working with. But if it is anything much bigger than 30 gallons? Sustaining the required water changes needed to properly dilute those nitrates and organic toxins produced as waste materials by your fish, will be almost impossible to maintain by using buckets for those water changes.



View attachment 139812

- Python siphon/water changing system -

I have this water changing system, and use it for my 65 gallon aquarium. It is much closer to the sink than the 75 gallon I am talking about. The buckets work fine for the Nitrates, Nitrites, etc. The problem I am inquiring about is this is a cichlid tank with cichlid substrate, and rocks that buffer the water to raise the PH. When I test the water prior to a water change, the PH is 8.0. After completing a water change, the PH always drops to 7.4. I don't know how to keep the PH stable after completing a water change as I know it's not supposed to fluctuate that much because it could lead to fish deaths in the aquarium.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I have this water changing system, and use it for my 65 gallon aquarium. It is much closer to the sink than the 75 gallon I am talking about. The buckets work fine for the Nitrates, Nitrites, etc. The problem I am inquiring about is this is a cichlid tank with cichlid substrate, and rocks that buffer the water to raise the PH. When I test the water prior to a water change, the PH is 8.0. After completing a water change, the PH always drops to 7.4. I don't know how to keep the PH stable after completing a water change as I know it's not supposed to fluctuate that much because it could lead to fish deaths in the aquarium.
Not sure if you were inquiring about the original post, or the post I made about keeping the PH stable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
@awesomismmama , which brand/type cichlid substrate do you have and which rocks are you using? Also which cichlid salt are you using and how much are you adding before or after a water change?

Sorry to derail your thread when I asked how you do water changes.

It sounds like your older tank has a steady 7.6 pH and your planned new cichlid tank varies in pH when you add new water, correct?
Thats quite alright! It's going to sound terrible, but I am not sure what the rocks are called. Bought them from a reputable fish store approximately an hour and a half from where I live (the only fish store around). The substrate is Carib-Sea substrate. I added a photo of the tank below to show the rocks. Each time I perform a water change the PH falls to 7.4, and approximately 24 hours later it goes right back up to 8.0. The tank is fully cycled with fish on the way, I am unsure of how to rectify this, because I know my fish won't appreciate the constant change in PH.
Water Blue Fish supply Pet supply Coastal and oceanic landforms
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Your parameters are almost exactly what mine are.
Tap water - 7.6
Tank water - 8.0 (Aragonite substrate and basaltic lava rocks)

Do you have to worry about pH at all in your tank? My answer is no. In normal ranges (6.7 to 8), the changes in pH don't actually mean much is changing in the water.
Boring math answer - Because of the logarithmic scale pH is based on, the difference in hydrogen activity is 10 times greater from pH 7 to pH 8. The hydrogen activity from pH 8 to pH 9 is also 10x difference. So, going from a pH of 7 to a pH of 9 is 100x different, in terms of the potential for hydrogen to do things.

To apply this to fish keeping: A change of pH from 7.0 to 7.5 means almost nothing. A change from 7.5 to 8 will not be noticed by your fish. I do this weekly. A change from 8 to 8.5 is a very large swing and should be done slowly. 8.5 to 9 takes you out of the acceptable range for most fish, and the swing is drastic.

You are still within the range of where the pH swing means almost nothing to your fish. Even if you could swing this pH instantly (you can't with buckets. I mean literally within seconds) you really wouldn't be able to hurt cichlids.

The CO2 in your room almost certainly has a bigger effect on your pH than does any water or rock chemistry at this point. Please feel free to carry on.

Logarithmic pH scale referrence
Thank you so much! I didn't see your comment before posting my last one! Great to know it's nothing to worry about! :)
 
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