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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Gonna stock my 125G with Oscars and other big guys. Just filled it with fresh city water... haven't even decided on media for my Fluval FX5, let alone turned it on. I'm not in a big hurry to load it with fish. So what do I need to do to get the water ready for my stock? I'm a big fan of natural rather than running out to purchase chemicals just so I can speed things up. New at this so baby steps please. Not even sure what to use to test the water. I'd appreciate a step by step guide on what to do now and how to make sure the water is ready for live stock.
 

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Next step is to "cycle" the tank. You will need to first go to the library section of this site and read one of the articles on cycling, then your next step will be to get your filter media so you can get started. Good luck and enjoy!
 

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I like your natural philosiphy. I use water from the river and grab some rocks to start my bio. It has always worked for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ok, I found the articles on cycling... thx for pointing that out Shellie. I am going shopping for filter media today so I can start running the filter.

So if I want to do fishless cycling, is it possible to do without adding ammonia? I have a couple smaller rocks & driftwood in there that were in previous tanks but that was maybe 15 yrs ago. Everything else, including the silica sand substrate, is new.

Will I need to directly deal with any chlorine or other additives in my municipal water during the cycling process? Which brings up another question... is there a way to test for things like this or do I just need to find out what's in my water? Can this stuff be dealt with without using any de-chlorinating solutions, etc, when refilling after water changes?

When should I fire up the heater. Is it necessary for the cycling process or can it wait until just before fish time?

Any suggestions on test kits is appreciated. That's my next bit of research... how, what & when.
 

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For a kit, I'd recommend the API Master Kit. I just bought one this morning. I was hesitant at first, because it's $33, but it's well worth it. It will last awhile, and it's a great kit. I first bought a Mardel kit for $13 and it was supposed to last a month, but because I'm cycling my tank and testing every day, it only lasted for 4 days.

I'm cycling my tank right now using ammonia. I went to Ace Hardware and bought their brand of ammonia, I think it was 32oz for less than $2.50. You don't have to add very much to the water, we're talking milliliters.
 

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Hi WaWaZat,
WaWaZat said:
Any suggestions on test kits is appreciated.
I use the API liquid master test kit. It has worked well for me and is commonly used in the hobby. It has the main test you need; ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.

WaWaZat said:
So if I want to do fishless cycling, is it possible to do without adding ammonia?.
Ammonia will have to be in the tank somehow to start the development of beneficial bacteria and feed the bacteria until you get fish. Therefore, you or fish will have to add ammonia. If you want to do a fishless cycle, make sure to buy ammonia without other cleaning additives.

WaWaZat said:
... is there a way to test for things like this or do I just need to find out what's in my water? Can this stuff be dealt with without using any de-chlorinating solutions, etc, when refilling after water changes?
You can call the water company to get information about what it is in your water, but most likely you will have to use a quality water conditioner during water changes and during the cycling process to remove chlorine and chloramines. For water changes I use "Prime". Your other option would be to purchase reverse osmosis water (or create it yourself with a system at home); however, this is quite costly.

WaWaZat said:
When should I fire up the heater. Is it necessary for the cycling process or can it wait until just before fish time?
I am not sure about your heater question; however, I run my heater when cycling my tanks.

Keep asking questions and doing research. Your future Oscar(s) should love their new tank, especially if you continue to do research and set it up correctly for them.

Thanks,
Matt
 

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I also like the API kits.
You will need the ammonia, NitrIte, and NitrAte tests for cycling.

Once my tanks are well established I just keep up on regular water changes and hardly ever test. A nitrate test will tell you if you are going too long between water changes. pH and dH/kH kits are useful if you are wanting to keep species who are particular about their water.

If something ever goes wrong in the tank, fish displaying distress etc... it is important to have the test kits to see if water quality might be the problem.

If you are on public water it probably contains chlorine or other chemicals. You don't test for these. Simply use a water conditioner such as Prime to treat any water you add to the tank.

You should run your heater during cycling, I believe it takes longer in lower temperatures.

Do a search for 'fishless cycling'. There is lots of information as well as step by step guides both on this site and elsewhere on the web. You will need to add measured amounts of ammonia to the tank to simulate a bioload, this will get the good bacteria growing in your tank. It takes about a month usually, you will measure the water parameters every couple of days to monitor the progress. When ammonia and nitrite eventually read 0 and nitrates are climbing you will be cycled and ready to add some fish.

Your filter should have come with some media, such as foam pads? The foam will remove solid particles. You will also need to add some biomedia such as ceramic balls to make a home for the bacteria. Add lots, whatever your filter will hold. You will not need carbon in the filter. It is only really useful for removing medications, say after you are finished treating the tank for a disease. The filter must be running during the cycling process as this is where most of the good bacteria will establish themselves, as well as on your substrate and decorations.
 

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You can also try asking your local fish store if they can spare any seeded filter material, tell them you're cycling your tank. It might help if you mentioned that you'll soon be looking to stock 125 gallons ;)
 

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Do you have any friends with some established media? You could use it to get it cycled in a hurry.

I'm too lazy and impatient to do a fishless cycle, so I always use established media from my current tanks.

Edit: GTZ beat me to it.
 

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Not too sure how many Oscars and other big guys you can fit into a 125g. just sayin'.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Why do my LFS insist that fishless cycling won't work? The 2 I've talked to ask where the bio will come from if there aren't fish producing waste. They both say adding ammonia isn't enough. Both say I could add fish, especially Oscars, in 24-48 hrs... the one said that Oscars are a very tough fish.
 

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Many fish can survive the cycling process, tough or not. The point of fishless is to spare them the stress and toxins in the water, the effects of which, some say, can be permanent. Those employees are obviously not as well informed as they should be.
 

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For fishless cycling: yes, ammonia is enough. You must add the right amounts, and often enough.

Yes, you can cycle with fish instead. I'm not familiar with Oscars to know how tough they are, but add fish slowly to give the bacteria time to develop and catch up to the load. New fish every several weeks or so. Going through a cycle is very stressful for the fish, so you might not want to use fish that you are planning on keeping for years. They will be more susceptible to disease during the cycle, may die, and may suffer long term damage. And keep up on water testing and changes before things get too toxic. This method should take longer than the fishless cycling, and is of course less kind to the fish. But you get the instant gratification of having fish in your tank I guess. If you are careful and patient it will work just fine.
 

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WaWaZat said:
Why do my LFS insist that fishless cycling won't work? The 2 I've talked to ask where the bio will come from if there aren't fish producing waste. They both say adding ammonia isn't enough. Both say I could add fish, especially Oscars, in 24-48 hrs... the one said that Oscars are a very tough fish.
I would ask those geniuses at your LFS, what else the fish is producing besides ammonia that is needed?
 

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jason_nj said:
WaWaZat said:
Why do my LFS insist that fishless cycling won't work? The 2 I've talked to ask where the bio will come from if there aren't fish producing waste. They both say adding ammonia isn't enough. Both say I could add fish, especially Oscars, in 24-48 hrs... the one said that Oscars are a very tough fish.
I would ask those geniuses at your LFS, what else the fish is producing besides ammonia that is needed?
+1 to what Jason said. Next time you're in there you can explain that fish waste is ammonia, then never go in there again!

kevin
 

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It's a business. Their goal is to make money. They do that buy selling you fish. If your fish die because you added them before it was cycled, you have to buy more fish...from them. They will blame it on something else you did as the reason they died then sell you more fish. So of course they are telling you fishless cycling won't work...it hurts their business in the short run to believe in it!

I trust the experts here far more than any LFS and/or any Petsmart or whatever else I've ever been to. I never heard of fishless cycling until I found this site and completed mine successfully because of this site.
 
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