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Thread: Scratching my head during a fishless cycle

  1. #16
    Administrator jeep's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scratching my head during a fishless cycle

    Quote Originally Posted by Tikitank View Post
    How do you all put another posters questions in those blue boxes when you answer their questions? I copied and pasted on an above reply and it didn’t show up in a blue box. ????
    At the bottom right of the post you wish to quote you will see "Reply With Quote". This will copy the entire post and you can edit from there as you wish.

    Or, at the top of your reply field you will see 7 icons to the right of the font section. Hover on each and it will display the meaning. The far right icon is "quote". this will insert [QUOTE ][ /QUOTE] into the body of your text field. Paste the words you want in between them. When you post, this will highlight the words inside the blue box but [QUOTE ] XXXXX [ /QUOTE] will not appear. I changed the format so the example will be shown.

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    Default Re: Scratching my head during a fishless cycle

    Instead of hitting reply, hit reply with quote. Usually done when you are addressing a question or comment higher up the page than the last comment on the thread. Kathy, have a look around at other discus tanks. As fantastic as Discus are, having a little contrast is often a good option...and incrementally corys, some small schooling fish like cardinals and maybe a pleco or 2 (I personally prefer other options like hillstream loaches or oto's to address algae) and maybe some loaches all of whom make good tankmates, add very little to tank maintenance chores. If you do that then you can stop the ammonia, and do that one big water change to drop your NO3 just prior to adding any fish. OTOH using the KISS principle early on makes abundant sense as well. You can always add tank mates later once you are more familiar with your discus.

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    Default Re: Scratching my head during a fishless cycle

    Quote Originally Posted by jeep View Post
    At the bottom right of the post you wish to quote you will see "Reply With Quote". This will copy the entire post and you can edit from there as you wish.

    Or, at the top of your reply field you will see 7 icons to the right of the font section. Hover on each and it will display the meaning. The far right icon is "quote". this will insert [QUOTE ][ /QUOTE] into the body of your text field. Paste the words you want in between them. When you post, this will highlight the words inside the blue box but [QUOTE ] XXXXX [ /QUOTE] will not appear. I changed the format so the example will be shown.
    Thanks Brian, I am a very slow typist

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    Default Re: Scratching my head during a fishless cycle

    Quote Originally Posted by dspeers View Post
    Instead of hitting reply, hit reply with quote. Usually done when you are addressing a question or comment higher up the page than the last comment on the thread. Kathy, have a look around at other discus tanks. As fantastic as Discus are, having a little contrast is often a good option...and incrementally corys, some small schooling fish like cardinals and maybe a pleco or 2 (I personally prefer other options like hillstream loaches or oto's to address algae) and maybe some loaches all of whom make good tankmates, add very little to tank maintenance chores. If you do that then you can stop the ammonia, and do that one big water change to drop your NO3 just prior to adding any fish. OTOH using the KISS principle early on makes abundant sense as well. You can always add tank mates later once you are more familiar with your discus.


    I’m trying the “reply with quote” for the first time. Hope this works.

    I’m not planning on tankmates because I’m afraid of transferring disease. I know I sound a bit paranoid but I’ve had discus before ( back in the Jurassic period) and they were difficult. My son once said “discus should come with defibrillators “. Lol. I’d rather grow them out alone and once bigger add some driftwood with attached plants and perhaps some potted plants.

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    Default Re: Scratching my head during a fishless cycle

    Difficult doesn't come close. I tried discus some 40 years ago. All were wilds and the only resource I had was the pet shop owner who was an expert in managing African Cichlids but thought that South Americans should be treated the same. As a poor pre-med student I could only afford 2 40 gallon tanks. One was African Cichlid which was quite successful and the other a community with a whole variety of bad decisions including never having more than 3 discus, always having Bala sharks, under gravel filter, supplemental CaCO3 just like the African tank, and frequent live tubifex feedings. Depending on tips sometimes the fish ate better than I did. Regardless, my experience with Discus was less than positive, think my longest survivor lasted about 12 months. Should have asked if you were buying adults or juveniles. Since this is a grow out tank, best decision is discus only. Good luck, seems you are on top of things.

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    Default Re: Scratching my head during a fishless cycle

    Kathy, I caught your thread tonight because I am also cycling a quarantine tank for new arrivals. When I read your note to Liz that you had your water already aging in a barrel for your new arrivals on the 22nd I had to respond. I am not sure you should do that. I had a mass casualty in my tank on Thanksgiving day when I refilled my tank with water that was aged more than a week. The aged water was depleted of any oxygen which contributed to a series of other things that went wrong during and after the water change. I think others on this feed would agree that you might want to fill your aging barrel a day or two before you need to do your first water change, make sure you have an air stone or surface aeration in the tank. Everything else you are doing looks like you are on the right track.
    Pet Detective

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    Default Re: Scratching my head during a fishless cycle

    Quote Originally Posted by Pet Detective View Post
    Kathy, I caught your thread tonight because I am also cycling a quarantine tank for new arrivals. When I read your note to Liz that you had your water already aging in a barrel for your new arrivals on the 22nd I had to respond. I am not sure you should do that. I had a mass casualty in my tank on Thanksgiving day when I refilled my tank with water that was aged more than a week. The aged water was depleted of any oxygen which contributed to a series of other things that went wrong during and after the water change. I think others on this feed would agree that you might want to fill your aging barrel a day or two before you need to do your first water change, make sure you have an air stone or surface aeration in the tank. Everything else you are doing looks like you are on the right track.



    Hmmmm…good advice. I filled the barrel thinking I’d need to do a water change well before the discus arrived because, as I continue to add ammonia to keep all the bacteria alive till the 22nd, the nitrates would build. I have filters and 2 sponge filters in the tank and an air stone in the barrel. Should I use the barrel water now for a 50 gallon water change? I’ll do a water change the day before the discus arrive too. I didn’t know how long the fishless cycle would take and now I have to keep that bacteria going by adding ammonia. Good grief, this is complicated BEFORE the discus arrive!!! Lol

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    Default Re: Scratching my head during a fishless cycle

    Quote Originally Posted by dspeers View Post
    Difficult doesn't come close. I tried discus some 40 years ago. All were wilds and the only resource I had was the pet shop owner who was an expert in managing African Cichlids but thought that South Americans should be treated the same. As a poor pre-med student I could only afford 2 40 gallon tanks. One was African Cichlid which was quite successful and the other a community with a whole variety of bad decisions including never having more than 3 discus, always having Bala sharks, under gravel filter, supplemental CaCO3 just like the African tank, and frequent live tubifex feedings. Depending on tips sometimes the fish ate better than I did. Regardless, my experience with Discus was less than positive, think my longest survivor lasted about 12 months. Should have asked if you were buying adults or juveniles. Since this is a grow out tank, best decision is discus only. Good luck, seems you are on top of things.


    I thought long & hard before deciding on trying these fish again. Over the years I’d see discus somewhere and think to myself, “ Don’t buy them. Let them live”. Lol. Back then, like you stated, there wasn’t a lot of good information easily accessible. Probably 25 years ago I met a discus breeder in New Hampshire named Bob Lipmyer (sp?) and he was kind enough to talk to me on the phone when I was desperate enough to bother him. Always felt guilty bothering him. Once I met him I had better success so I’m hoping that with Simply at my fingertips, the fish have a fighting chance at survival at my house. My husband has a 300 gallon tank with Africans and yes, they are much easier. He doesn’t even have a ulcer yet!

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    Default Re: Scratching my head during a fishless cycle

    Let's go back to the breathing exercises, remember this is fun!!!
    First, my understanding is that you have a 160 DT and 50 gallon aging barrel, correct? Assuming that is so a couple of things
    1. Your big water change prior to the fish arriving does not go into the aging barrel first, it can age in the tank. Make sure the temp of the water coming in is close enough to your target that it will be at target when the fish arrive, which depends on how big a heater you have. You can determine your heater efficiency for future reference by setting it about 6 degrees hotter than current and then see how long it takes for the temp to go up 4 degrees. Temp change with the heater fully on is fairly linear no matter what the starting point is up to about 88-90 degrees. I think most folks keep grow out tanks at 84-86.
    2. What is your nitrate level now? Also what is your water source?
    3 Remember that your system as designed will only drop any unwanted solute in your water by ~ 33% Meaning if your NO3 value was 60 then after a water change it would be ~ 40.
    4. Did you treat your aging barrel with a dechlorinator when you added the water. In general, especially if your water source contains chloramines you want to treat within 24 hours of use. Longer than that and stuff can start to grow in tap water and the dechlorinator (if Seachem at least) only detoxes ammonia for 48 hours, after that your tank bacteria has to handle. I believe you indicated your tap was + for ammonia which implies that your water supplier is using chloramine.
    5. What would I do with the 50 gallons that has been sitting around for several days? Donate it to the sewer system. Alternatively go ahead and exchange it with 50 gal currently in the DT to drop your NO3 somewhat.
    6. Finally with juveniles you may find that you cannot keep your nitrates at your target even changing water daily with only 1/3 your DT volume. Next question is how long should water be aged. Answer is till it is at or near DT temp and pH has stabilized. So warm it and aerate it and track pH and once stable the water is ready for use.

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    Default Re: Scratching my head during a fishless cycle

    Quote Originally Posted by dspeers View Post
    Let's go back to the breathing exercises, remember this is fun!!!
    First, my understanding is that you have a 160 DT and 50 gallon aging barrel, correct? Assuming that is so a couple of things
    1. Your big water change prior to the fish arriving does not go into the aging barrel first, it can age in the tank. Make sure the temp of the water coming in is close enough to your target that it will be at target when the fish arrive, which depends on how big a heater you have. You can determine your heater efficiency for future reference by setting it about 6 degrees hotter than current and then see how long it takes for the temp to go up 4 degrees. Temp change with the heater fully on is fairly linear no matter what the starting point is up to about 88-90 degrees. I think most folks keep grow out tanks at 84-86.
    2. What is your nitrate level now? Also what is your water source?
    3 Remember that your system as designed will only drop any unwanted solute in your water by ~ 33% Meaning if your NO3 value was 60 then after a water change it would be ~ 40.
    4. Did you treat your aging barrel with a dechlorinator when you added the water. In general, especially if your water source contains chloramines you want to treat within 24 hours of use. Longer than that and stuff can start to grow in tap water and the dechlorinator (if Seachem at least) only detoxes ammonia for 48 hours, after that your tank bacteria has to handle. I believe you indicated your tap was + for ammonia which implies that your water supplier is using chloramine.
    5. What would I do with the 50 gallons that has been sitting around for several days? Donate it to the sewer system. Alternatively go ahead and exchange it with 50 gal currently in the DT to drop your NO3 somewhat.
    6. Finally with juveniles you may find that you cannot keep your nitrates at your target even changing water daily with only 1/3 your DT volume. Next question is how long should water be aged. Answer is till it is at or near DT temp and pH has stabilized. So warm it and aerate it and track pH and once stable the water is ready for use.



    Since I have had an air stone in the barrel since day one, I’ll donate the water to my husbands 300 gal African tank. I have 2 55 gal barrels for WC. My DT has been “cycling” since Dec 30. I’ve followed directions on the bottles carefully. Yesterday I tested zero ammonia, zero nitrites ( I’ve never gotten any nitrite reading during this cycling) and nitrate - 5ppm. After testing, I added enough ammonia to get 2ppm. Twenty four hours later I tested. Ammonia 1ppm, zero nitrites and nitrates 5ppm. Obviously, it’s not cycled yet but I don’t get why I never get any nitrites and my nitrates aren’t going up. So weird to me. I haven’t done a single water change during this cycle.

    My water source is city water and we are within a half mile of the treatment plant, which means we get hit HARD. Had issues with the Africans until we figured it out. We send the water through a 4 foot carbon filter and then it goes to the aging barrels. Then use SAFE before we pump it into tanks for water changes. So far, so good for raising Africans but it makes me nervous with discus. Ordering testing meters tonight because this “color chart” crap is annoying. It’s too much of a grey area for me.

    I plan on buying six 4-5 inch discus.

    I’ll do whatever I need to do to keep nitrates below 10. If that means more barrels….I’ll get more. Not a problem.

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    Default Re: Scratching my head during a fishless cycle

    The water in your aging barrel should be ok to leave there for weeks. Just as long as you have aeration. I've done it many times. Just don't put dechlor conditioner in it and let it set in there, especially if chloramine is in your water source. There will be ammonia in it 24-48 after you add it, then becomes toxic. And also can cause a slime build up on the walls of the aging barrel. I use no conditioners because my water source only uses chlorine and it airs off in a day, by using aeration.

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    Default Re: Scratching my head during a fishless cycle

    When the tests do not make sense time for new tests. Just for fun test the African tank for nitrates. The ammonia has to go somewhere, it does not appreciably evaporate. How much total ammonia have you added?
    I agree with Mervin, if you did not treat the water days ago with a dechlorinator it is still good. I Recommended discard primarily due to not knowing if already treated and 110 gallons is basically a couple of baths or 5-6 showers
    As an aside if you ordered Hanna checkers for NH3 and NO2 your units change as these measure Nitrogen only whereas API and SERA to my understanding test the concentration of the molecule of NH3 or NO2. Hanna does not make a checker for freshwater NO3. They do have a meter for that but it is 4x more expensive than a checker. They also have a marine NO3 checker and informally I have heard that if you add an appropriate amount of salt it will accurately measure NO3. Intend to play with that in time. No big just need to know what units you are dealing with. Right now all my stuff is on hold due to my parents' precarious medical conditions. One in TX and one in FL and both octogenarians.

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    Default Re: Scratching my head during a fishless cycle

    Quote Originally Posted by dspeers View Post
    When the tests do not make sense time for new tests. Just for fun test the African tank for nitrates. The ammonia has to go somewhere, it does not appreciably evaporate. How much total ammonia have you added?
    I agree with Mervin, if you did not treat the water days ago with a dechlorinator it is still good. I Recommended discard primarily due to not knowing if already treated and 110 gallons is basically a couple of baths or 5-6 showers
    As an aside if you ordered Hanna checkers for NH3 and NO2 your units change as these measure Nitrogen only whereas API and SERA to my understanding test the concentration of the molecule of NH3 or NO2. Hanna does not make a checker for freshwater NO3. They do have a meter for that but it is 4x more expensive than a checker. They also have a marine NO3 checker and informally I have heard that if you add an appropriate amount of salt it will accurately measure NO3. Intend to play with that in time. No big just need to know what units you are dealing with. Right now all my stuff is on hold due to my parents' precarious medical conditions. One in TX and one in FL and both octogenarians.



    Took your advice.

    Brought my water to 2 different pet stores and each used a different brand of dip stick tests. None did ammonia Both sticks should a good amount of nitrites & nitrates. Water change day today. I added 4 drops per gallon of Dr Tims ammonia per instructions on bottle. Tested at 4ppm. When ammonia went down to zero, I added 2 drops per gallon to feed the bacteria and get it to 2 ppm. Did not go down to zero in 24 hours so waited a few days till it went down to close to zero ( hard to tell as it is color and individual interpretation ) and added only 50 drops this time. ( 160 gallon tank ) Just tested this morning at zero. Will do that first water change this morning. Yikes, this isn’t fun at all.

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