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Thread: Fishless Cycle Barebottom Tank

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    Default Fishless Cycle Barebottom Tank

    Hey there,

    Been trying to cycle a tank for a couple weeks now. I know it can take longer than a couple weeks, but I have never done a fishless or a barebottom for that matter so looking for some advise if I need to change something or stay the course.

    55 gallons
    2x Aquaclear 70's with prefilters, no carbon, and an extra sponge added to each
    Water temp steady 84
    Using Dr Tim's ammonia
    API test kit (making some judgement calls on halfway points between two readings)


    Tap water is: 6 (100) gH, 3 (50) kH, 8.2 pH (drops to 7.4 after 24 hours in tank), 0ppm Am, 0ppm NI, 0ppm NA


    Day 1: Filled tank with tap water, 220 drops Dr Tims Ammonia, Prime, Double dose of Stability as prescribed

    Day 2: Stability, 1.5ppm Am | 0ppm Ni

    Day 3: Stability, 1 ppm Am | 0ppm Ni

    Day 4: Stability, 1 ppm Am | 0ppm Ni

    Day 5: Stability, 1 ppm Am | 0ppm Ni

    Day 6: Stability, 1 ppm Am | 0ppm Ni

    Day 7: Stability, 1 ppm Am | 0ppm Ni

    Day 8: Stability, 1 ppm Am | 0ppm Ni

    Day 9: Stability, 1 ppm Am | 0ppm Ni

    Day 10: Stability, 1 ppm Am | 0ppm Ni | 0ppm Na, 220 drops Dr Tims Ammonia

    Day 11: Stability, 3 ppm Am | 0ppm Ni | 2.5ppm Na

    Day 12: Stability, 3 ppm Am | 0ppm Ni | 2.5ppm Na

    Day 13: Stability, 3 ppm Am | 0ppm Ni | 2.5ppm Na




    I am not adding Prime daily like I have read elsewhere since Prime removes ammonia, which seemed contrary to the whole cycling process.

    I have 2 other tanks I could pull media/substrate from, but I have read that starting clean for discus is recommended.

    I am kind of surprised by the nitrate readings. I was not expecting any, but thought I would test for it on day 11 for the hell of it. Thoughts?

    There is also a dozen crumbs of something on the bottom of the tank, which is surprising since nothing but liquid has been added to this tank. Perhaps it something from the filters? or the stability?

    What are your experiences with a fishless barebottom cycle?

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    Default Re: Fishless Cycle Barebottom Tank

    G'day Lionheart. Prime doesn't actually remove ammonia, it detoxifies it. In this form it is still available to cycle your BB. The benefit of Prime is that in an ammonia spike/crisis situation you can add 5 times the dose of Prime and it will convert toxic ammonia into non-toxic ammonium and allow your filter to remove it slowly without harming your precious cargo.
    Nitrate is often present in municipal water supply. Have you tested your source water for it? If the nitrates present were part of the cycling process you should also be showing nitrite...
    Last edited by danotaylor; 11-05-2018 at 12:53 AM.

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    Default Re: Fishless Cycle Barebottom Tank

    Good advice from Daniel

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    Default Re: Fishless Cycle Barebottom Tank

    So should I be using prime along with stability?

    Tap water is free of nitrates, this is why I am puzzled about why I am not seeing nitrites. The ammonia does go down slowly after a few days as you can see from the records above, so is it possible that only a small bit is getting converted to nitrites and it not yet detectable?

    My API kit is about 1 year old, but used frequently. The ammonia is new as I had to replace it. Could that be a factor?

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    Default Re: Fishless Cycle Barebottom Tank

    Quote Originally Posted by Lionheart View Post
    So should I be using prime along with stability?
    Yes. They are designed to work together.

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    Default Re: Fishless Cycle Barebottom Tank

    so discovered the source of my mystery nitrates: my tap water. I has tested 0 for nitrates for as long as I can remember and now it is reading just shy of 5ppm. Any ideas on why this would change?

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    Default Re: Fishless Cycle Barebottom Tank

    Quote Originally Posted by Lionheart View Post
    so discovered the source of my mystery nitrates: my tap water. I has tested 0 for nitrates for as long as I can remember and now it is reading just shy of 5ppm. Any ideas on why this would change?
    As mentioned above, nitrates unfortunately can be added as a part of the municipal water treatment protocol's...not sure how long you have lived up there, but during the 2014 water crisis when microcystins poisoned the municipal water supply from blue green algae blooms in lake erie, the city radically changed there treatment protocol to try to resolve the issue. I nearly lost all of my fish several times that summer and ended up using 10 x times the Prime dosing and running my water through a carbon filter to make it safe for my fish during water changes. I noticed ever year following, that mid-late summer, when the lake was at it's warmest, I would have issues with the city water supply. Try searching the city water parameters online, the gov't usually has an annual report on the city's water quality.
    I really does suck when the city adds more ppm of nitrates to the "clean" water than our target levels...argghhhh

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    Default Re: Fishless Cycle Barebottom Tank

    If nitrates in the tapwater become an issue you could consider a nitrate filter, I know folk in the UK with similar issue are happy with the performance of this
    https://www.pozzani.co.uk/water-filt...duct_info.html.

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    Default Re: Fishless Cycle Barebottom Tank

    I have tested some of these cycle starter products in carefully controlled conditions, and they don't work very well. The best way I have found to start a cycle, if you don't have some live filter media or don't want the risk, is to use a handful of soil from the garden. It has everything you need and its dirt cheap. Nitrifying bacteria live in soil; they don't do well stored in bottles.

    Bottled bacteria is a complicated subject. I could post the experiments and results, but the overall conclusion is they don't have what you need and when they seem to work its because the tank would have cycled anyway, from nitrifiers entering the tank incidentally.

    If you want to try the soil method, get soil from the same kind of place you would dig for earthworms. Take soil from the top inch of soil in a place where there is some dampness (but not adjacent to an aquatic environment), and where leaves or other plant litter is decomposing. Put some in a jar with water and shake it good. Let settle for a few seconds and pour most of it in the tank. It will be cloudy at first. Every time I have tried this in a sterile tank I had a full cycle in about a week. You still need to feed ammonia to build the bacteria up to match the expected bioload.

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    Default Re: Fishless Cycle Barebottom Tank

    Quote Originally Posted by DJW View Post
    I have tested some of these cycle starter products in carefully controlled conditions, and they don't work very well. The best way I have found to start a cycle, if you don't have some live filter media or don't want the risk, is to use a handful of soil from the garden. It has everything you need and its dirt cheap. Nitrifying bacteria live in soil; they don't do well stored in bottles.

    Bottled bacteria is a complicated subject. I could post the experiments and results, but the overall conclusion is they don't have what you need and when they seem to work its because the tank would have cycled anyway, from nitrifiers entering the tank incidentally.

    If you want to try the soil method, get soil from the same kind of place you would dig for earthworms. Take soil from the top inch of soil in a place where there is some dampness (but not adjacent to an aquatic environment), and where leaves or other plant litter is decomposing. Put some in a jar with water and shake it good. Let settle for a few seconds and pour most of it in the tank. It will be cloudy at first. Every time I have tried this in a sterile tank I had a full cycle in about a week. You still need to feed ammonia to build the bacteria up to match the expected bioload.
    Interesting...will have to try this some time.

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