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My experience establishing a Nitrogen cycle.

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My experience establishing a Nitrogen cycle.

Post by l_l_l on Mon Jul 14, 2014 11:34 am

I have cycled aquariums many different ways.
Like most people, my first aquarium was cycled without me knowing anything about Ammonia, Nitrites or Nitrates.

I got a few goldfish for that 20 gallon aquarium I had purchased for 15$ and called it a day.
When I noticed that my fish were becoming sick and lethargic, I started to purchase medication for them, I thought it was just part of the game.. The infections were then becoming more and more frequent, until the day I stopped asking advice to my LFS and finally made my own research. I was overstocked.
This led me to get rid of my goldfish, fortunately, I knew someone who had a pond and was willing to take my fish in.

I then started reading and reading some more about how I would set my empty tank and stumbled upon a lot of articles stating that you need to be cycled to add fish in an aquarium. I purchased a test kit and checked this for myself. I was definitely cycled, as I was reading nitrate levels as high as 120ppm, with no ammonia or nitrites. I removed all water from the tank, removed the ugly multi colored substrate as well and laid out a nice new patch of substrate and lots of plants, driftwood, etc. I put in conditioned water (dechlorinated with PRIME) and then added a few neon tetras and some Nerite snails.

My girlfriend eventually found a free 46gallon aquarium, complete with HOB filter and all.
I cleaned it, and it sat on the floor for a few days. I wondered how I would cycle this aquarium.
I’ve did some more research and found a really nice way to do this and it was called a “fishless” cycle. I would need to add 3ppm of household (unsented, no sufractant) Ammonia in water, slap the HOB filter on there and wait for the 3ppm Ammonia to read 0ppm. This would take me about 4 weeks.

At the 4 week mark, I read 0 ppm Ammonia on my test kit, 0 ppm Nitrites, and I don’t remember how much Nitrates. I put in another 3ppm Ammonia in, and tested 48 hours later, still 0,0, and high number of nitrates. I was cycled. I removed all water, and put in fresh dechlorinated water in. The same day I bought all my fish: 1 Pearl Gourami, 13 Celestial Pearl Danios, 13 Rummy Nose tetras, 8 Pygmy Corydoras, 5 Ammano Shrimp and 4 Nerite Snails.

I only lost 2 Rummy Nose tetras, and not likely due to Ammonia or Nitrite spikes. Most people will agree that Rummynose tetras don’t like being transferred from tank to tank.  These are the only deaths I had in this tank.

Meanwhile, I had purchased a nice Betta for the 20 Gallon tank, and soon realized how nippy Neon Tetras were. They tore his fins to shred and something had to be done about this. It was time to purchase a third aquarium. This time I purchased a 10 Gallon and cycled it a different way.  I was ready to try the “seeding” method.

This method is actually pretty simple and the fastest by far. It was actually instant. I grabbed media from my already established tank, put it in the filter that came with this one, and added ammonia in the tank to make sure I was cycled. Two days later, 0,0 and some number of nitrates. I was cycled, in went the Betta.

I then managed to sneak in another tank, this time a 5 gallon tank, which is going to be used to grow Peacock Gudgeon fry to adulthood. The filter I am going to use this time is an air driven sponge filter. I have never cycled this type of filter before and will try a combination of what I have learned in the past.

First thing I will do is fill the tank with conditioned water. I will then add Ammonia and squeeze one of my filter media in the aquarium. This way some bacteria should be released and eventually find it’s way on the sponge. I will also combine this with a bottle of product I have left from my early days, which is said to help cycle a tank (Nutrafin Cycle). I will dose as per the bottle.

Today I added the first 25ml to the tank, and I read 3ppm of Ammonia just before adding the product. I will also be cutting part of an established filter media and tie it around the sponge filter. This should help colonize the sponge under this one.

I will test again tomorrow and post the results.


Last edited by l_l_l on Mon Jul 14, 2014 12:28 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Re: My experience establishing a Nitrogen cycle.

Post by Sbenson11 on Mon Jul 14, 2014 12:10 pm

Nice write up,

What do you mean by "conditioned water"

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Re: My experience establishing a Nitrogen cycle.

Post by l_l_l on Mon Jul 14, 2014 12:24 pm

Thank you!

I edited my text and added that I treated it with prime.

However, you can dechlorinate your water however you like Wink

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Re: My experience establishing a Nitrogen cycle.

Post by Sbenson11 on Mon Jul 14, 2014 1:02 pm

Thanks for the clarification, Prime is probably the only water treatment that I can say I have faith in.

Everyone has there own method for cycling their tanks and you should go with what works for you. Personally I am a firm believer in the mentioned sponge from an existing tank method.

I may offend some Nutrafin users by this but, in my opinion Nutrafin Cycle is just snake oil. But then I'm a goldfish guy so I throw in a couple of small goldfish do a few water changes and I'm done.

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