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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So... I have come across a conflict between the fishless cycle article and what I have seen many people advising to do...

The article says that you add X number of drops of pure ammonia to reach 5 ppm and add that X number daily until you get a Nitrite spike.

However, I see a lot of people insisting that you add ammonia daily to keep it steady at 5ppm until the nitrite spike so logically that would mean that you are not adding the original amount of drops on day 2, 3, 4, etc. but very possibly not adding any at all or very little to bring it back to 5ppm.

So... which is right? Obviously if I add X number of drops on day 1 to bring it to 5ppm, and add x number of drops on day 2 (when chances are there is little or no beneficial bacteria yet and ammonia is still at or close to 5ppm) that ammonia is going to go to rise to 10 ppm... is this necessarily bad?

It makes sense to me that if you were not doing a fishless cycle but rather put a huge load of fish in a non-cycled tank... the fish are not going to reduce their amount of ammonia production on day 2 to make sure that it stays at 5 ppm... but rather will continue the same amount of ammonia production until they… well… we all know the end result of that sad story…

After thinking about this logically... the article method makes a lot more sense to me... but I had to ask because I have seen so many people on this site suggesting that you simply maintain a 5 ppm ammonia level. Any insight?
 

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In my case, I found that 10 ml gave me the desired reading on the first day and I added 10 ml per day until nitrite spiked and then zeroed (close to 4 weeks total).

The fact that this is what I did IN NO WAY makes it the definitive correct method... but it did work. As soon as the nitrite came down to 0, I did a 50% WC and stocked right away. They've been healthy and active and breeding like aquatic rabbits ever since (about 5 months now).

I hope that helps.
 

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What I did, and from what I understand, the correct method, is to add ammonia to about 5ppm on day one. You will have to measure the level about 20 mins after adding ammonia to see where your at.
The next day, measure your ammonia level again, if it is still at 5ppm, leave it alone, don't add any more ammonia, if it is lower, say 2ppm, add enough ammonia to bring it back up to 5ppm.

Do this every day until your nitrite spikes. Then all I did was add a capful or two of ammonia (5 to 10 mL in a 55 gallon tank) every day until the nitrite dropped and nitrate spiked. Once nitrite is at zero, do a large water change to lower the nitrate, and add fish!

Your logic is, well, logical, but you gotta remember that when doing a cycle with fish, the fish are not gonna necessarily produce 5ppm ammonia on day one, and then keep adding more via poo on the following days. They may only poo enough to have 1 or 2 or 3 ppm ammonia in the first week! Of course depending on the size and amout of fish you have, and how much they eat.
So don't keep adding an aditional 5ppm per day, to have 10ppm on day 2, 15ppm on day 3, etc. Yes this is Bad! You have to give the tank time to build up the bacteria to consume the ammonia. That is they point of the cycle.

Boomr
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
this is exactly my point... there seems to be two different methods that people use... and I have no idea which one is better...
 

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edouthirt said:
this is exactly my point... there seems to be two different methods that people use... and I have no idea which one is better...
I honestly don't think it really matters. I've done two fishless cycles recently and started both at 3PPM. I added daily to reach that point again each day. Early on a would regularly skip a day and not add as the ammonia had not dropped. I did this until the cycle was complete. I never varied my level once the nitrites had started and don't see why you would need to. I don't see what it would hurt either.

At any rate, after using this method on my 75G I added 30+ juvenille fish and never did not have any type of ammonia spike. I'm happy with the way I did it, but definitely believe that more than one method works. to each his own! :)
 

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Take a step back and ask yourself what the ammonia is for. It is supposed to serve as food for bacteria which will multiply wildly once they realize that there is plenty of food for them in your tank. Do the bacteria care if there are 3ppm, 5ppm, or 10ppm of ammonia in the tank? Very unlikely, because they don't have a test kit :lol:

Choose whichever method you prefer. Some people like to play around with the test kit and top off ammonia to 5ppm every day. Other people can't be bothered taking a reading every day, and just add a certain amount of drops. Both methods work.

Frank
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks fmueller! You're right, there is no possible way that a tank wouldn't cycle regardless of the exact technique being used... I was just trying to figure out if one way is better than the other... and get this...

Dr. Chris Cow, the guy who came up with fishless cycling recommends adding the same amount everyday (which means in the beginning you would be doing 5ppm, then 10ppm on day 2, and so on...). Then later in the article he says that it is possible to add too much ammonia at which point bacteria growth would be hindered and you'd end up with a "seemingly endless" nitrite spike and he says that a level of ammonia much higher than the suggested recipe (5ppm) would do this... he sorta contradicts himself... erggh....

whatever... I'm gonna do the "keep steady at 5ppm" method... and I picked this by flipping a coin... ha!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
edit: Dr. Chris Cow wasn't the first to fishless cycle (as many had done it before by simply feeding the tank fish food without any fish in it)... but I'm fairly certain he is the chemist that figured out that pure ammonia works just as well and you don't need all the other byproducts that you get from rotting fish food, a dead fish, shrimp peels... or any of the other possible ways to fishless cycle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Ok... so since my last post the cycle was going fine... ammonia was at 0 ppm daily adding to about 2 ppm 24 hours later back at zero... and I was anxiously awaiting the dreaded nitrite spike to fall.

All of the sudden I check my ammonia reading yesterday just before I was about to add the 2 ppm again and I still have ammonia in the tank... about 1 ppm!!! What happened? Out of nowhere?!!! I thought about it and thought about it... and I cannot come up with any reasonable explanation... well I didn't add any last night... and checked again this morning and still at 1 ppm ammonia!!! Frustrating!!!

Does anyone have any ideas as to why this would happen...

Oh... by the way... I added a bit more ammonia this morning just in case I'm getting false readings (but that seems very unlikely that all of the sudden my test kit went bad... it's not that old at all)

Any insight would be greatly appreciated!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Alright... this is just getting crazy... as of yesterday I had a sudden drop in my nitrites (back down to 0 ppm) but the ammonia still won't go away...

Does anyone know how a colony of ammonia eating bacteria can die off and the nitrite eating bacteria still flourish?

This is very frustrating...

Because now... if I had to put money on it... all the nitrite eating bacteria are going to die off since the ammonia eating bacteria are lacking... and I will be essentially starting over...
 

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Understand your frustration. I had HUGE problems when I tried to follow the fishless cycle as described...adding "X" each day, trying to maintain an ammonia level of 5ppm. I ended up with so much ammonia, that yes, I ended up with the required Nitrites/Nitrates...but on such a MASSIVE scale, that they completely overwhelmed my test kits - gave totally false readings and totally screwed me up. On top of this, I discovered that one of my test kits (yes, a new one) was faulty. If you're in the mood for a long saga, you can search for my post - back around Feb. 06). I'm no expert on this for sure...but I'll tell you what (a very knowlegeable) guy at my LFS told me at the time:

First, if you've been doing the ammonia thing for about a month, which the dates of your posts indicate you have, chances are your tank is cycled (as mine was, but I didn't know it). Have some of your water tested at your LFS to check all three levels (Amm/Nitrite/Nitrate)...perhaps your (ammonia) kit is faulty. If you have 0 Nitrites and a reading of Nitrates, your tank is cycled.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks Questor, It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who ever experienced a frustrating fishless cycle.

I checked my ammonia test kit by using it on my other established tank and it gave a correct reading... so I know that there is in fact ammonia in my tank that isn't going away. I think I'm just gonna do a massive water change when I get home to get nitrates down and most of the ammonia out... add bio spira and a few fish and hope for the best.
 

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What are your nitrite and nitrate readings?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
nitrite came down to zero ppm after a very long spike and nitrates were high
 

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What are your actual readings for today?
Amm?
Nitrite?
Nitrate?

And, how many days has it been since you've actually added any ammonia?
 

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It is possible that you had too muh ammonia. The bacteria that comvert Nirtite to nitrate are very sensitice to ammonia. In the Library section article on fishless cycling states this:

2nd method. This one is used by probably 99% of hobbyists. Addition of X amount of NH3 drops until Ammonia level of 5ppm is achieved. This X amount of drops has to be added daily until NO2 spike. Afterwards follow up with ½ X (from previous step) amount of NH3 drops daily until NO2 is 0ppm causing NO3 peak. ~50% water change should follow -> cycled tank. (this recipe uses regular Pure Ammonia 4-15%)
If you kept adding the ammonia at full dose, its possible that your nitrite easting bacteria got burned out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Well I did what I said I was gonna do and bought the bio-spira and such... but before the massive water change I took a reading.

amm: .5 ppm
nitrite: 0 ppm
nitrate: off the charts high

I think it was 4 days prior I had added a bit of ammonia to bring it up to 1 ppm and so it did slowly decline a bit, but a week ago it would be "eating" 2-3ppm every day consistently then all of the sudden it stopped.

After the massive 80-90% water change (before adding bio-spira and 4 sub-adult mbuna last night):

amm: I'm sure there is a tiny bit in there (logically) but it read as 0 ppm
nitrite: 0 ppm
nitrate: 20 ppm

At this point, I'm just going to watch parameters closely and hope that the bio-spira does it's job if needed... I have used it before and I definitely would not consider it a reliable method of cycling a tank at all... It has only worked sometimes for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
If you kept adding the ammonia at full dose, its possible that your nitrite easting bacteria got burned out.
I kept this in mind and never went above 5 ppm in the beginning and then once there was a nitrite spike... I never went above 3ppm...

It is possible that you had too muh ammonia. The bacteria that comvert Nirtite to nitrate are very sensitice to ammonia.
The nitrite to nitrate reaction was never the issue... the issue is that all of the sudden the ammonia was not being broken down after 3-4 weeks of everything running smoothly.

IMO this is just a classic case of "we don't know everything." I'm sure there is an external variable that caused this... I just can't think of it...

The only thing I noticed is that the first day ammonia was no longer being broken down with great speed, I noticed that my C-360 intake had slid down the back wall of the tank a bit and "luckily" was stopped by my heater before running right into my sand. Could it be possible that the water then coming into the filter was "super heated" (since the intake was litterally touching the heater) or something and killed off the beneficial bacteria? That is my only very uneducated guess at this point... and if it did kill off the ammonia eating bacteria how come it left the nitrite eating bacteria alone?

I will be very impressed if someone can figure this one out!!! Any takers?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
haha... no kidding... if I get fired, I'm blaming this forum lol!!
 
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