Cycling won't start - advice please

anddak

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Hi All,

I've set up my first tank about 2 weeks ago, but unfortunately, I haven't had the chance to start cycling right after, because I was away and I wanted to monitor it closely, so I started cycling about 4-5 days ago.

I am trying to do a fishless cycle with fish food (flakes). I added a substantial amount every day in the past 4 days, but I haven't had any trace of ammonia yet (I am testing it every 24 hours).

The tank is a 30cm nanocube (27l) with ADA Amazonia Light as substrate, redmoor wood, seiyru stones and the following plants:

montecarlo
java moss
java fern
anubias nana petite
bolbitis
cryptocoryne wendtii green
limnobium

I am running 8-10h a Chihiros led on approx. 900 lumens and have an Eheim classic 250 filter with brand new filter media. I know the filter is overkill, but I received it as a gift, the current is not too bad, it is actually pretty nice and I've heard that there is no such thing as over filtration.

I know cycling takes a long time especially with fish food but should have had an ammonia increase already? Apart from this issue the tank looks healthy, some of the plants - especially the cryptocoryne - were melting away right after I planted them, but they started to recover as well.

Any advice on what might be the problem or what am I doing wrong?

Thank you!
 

Edvet

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If planted densely the plants will use all N sources and you might not see any ammonia. Did you start it with the mentioned plants? Are they growing well?
Are you adding ferts? Got any pics?'
Might be cycled already, plants will add another safetylevel to using N sources ( as compared to plantless tanks) and you can start adding livestock slowly.
 

anddak

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Hi Edvet,

I started with the above plants and are growing like crazy, montecarlo started to carpet, the only struggle is the cryptocoryne which is quite ironic. They had some setback as the timer was broken and they were without lights for 4-5 days.

I added ferts at the beginning and yesterday as I marked the 2 weeks. I am using the Dennerle V30Complete Basic fertilizer, also I am using tap water but it's dechlorinated with an EasyLife solution (Easy Life filter medium Conditioner).

See an image of the tank below, the white bits on the front are the decomposing flakes.

IMG-4590.jpg



 

Mike Moran

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Hi anddak

Nice looking tank.....Congratulations!
Im from Brighton too and also just started my tank 3 weeks ago. Looks like we’re pretty much at the same stage. I’m a bit clueless about the cycling so I’ve been trying to read up hence finding your post. I’ve been testing my water and nitrites are at 0 and nitrates are low. I hope this means I’m doing ok but not really sure how you know when the cycling is done. Hoping to put some cherry shrimp and Rasboras in mine when I’m sure it’s safe. I wonder if if the hardness of our Brighton water might make this unwise as they need soft water? If I find/learn anything that might help you I’ll try and pass it on. Best of luck!
 

anddak

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Hi Mike, nice to see a fellow Brightonian, sorry to hear you're struggling with the same. :)

Yeah, I am pretty clueless as well, but trying and do rigorous research before each step.

I've read quite a lot about the nitrogen cycle, but I have to tell you I still can't interpret my readings...

Basically, the way I understood after the ammonia spikes the nitrites should grow and once that also starts to decline, finally the nitrates. Ammonia and nitrites are poisonous to fish, nitrates not as much but still, that is why a partial water change is required when nitrates exceed 40 ppm. It's a group of bacteria which turns ammonia to nitrites then another group turns nitrites to nitrates. When the cycling is done, this second group is established in the tank so the party is on, fish can be added because this good bacteria will break down nitrites to nitrates as like the other group breaks down ammonia to nitrites. I might be completely off with my science, but this is how I understood.

My ammonia is constant 0.25 since I started measuring, nitrites either 0 or 0.2 and nitrates were around 0.2 yesterday, 0 today. It's weird, every metric is all over the place, I started to think, either I have an issue and can't distinguish the colours on the strip (lol) or there is something with the test kit. Either way, the way I gathered if anything substantial happens or starts to happen, these numbers should raise much higher so I don't give much credit to it.

Regarding the water hardness, it's crazy hard, I mean my wife's constant struggle with the limescale is funny, but I had no idea it's this hard until I first measured it. I will read up on it on how to soften a little bit.

I am thinking of a few red cherry shrimp and a small school (6) of ember tetras. My tank is pretty small and I want to make sure I don't overstock it, I asked quite a lot of people and they all said, it's not great, but acceptable.

Good luck to you, keep an eye on this thread, I am hoping someone Edvet or someone else will have a couple of tips, reddit wasn't too successful either.
 

Edvet

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Just gradualy start with some livestock, i am sure the beneficial microbiology is present in the tank and ready to start breaking down bad stuf, just do waterchanges in the begining to aid in removing toxins, also helpfull for the plants.
 

Jayefc1

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The issue is the strips arnt accurate so are a waste of time and money the plant mass is doing the cycle typically after about 2 to 3 weeks with a good plant mass in a tank you will be able to.start adding slowly working from the bottom up shrimps first as there biological load is minimal hardly anything and that will be easily broken down then give it a couple of weeks and add 5 fish and so on till your up to the stocking levels of your tank size
Cheers
Jay
 

anddak

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Hi Edvet, Jayefc1, thanks for the advice.

I decided to introduce some (red cherry maybe) shrimps this weekend. I let you know how it goes!
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Basically, the way I understood after the ammonia spikes the nitrites should grow and once that also starts to decline, finally the nitrates. Ammonia and nitrites are poisonous to fish, nitrates not as much.
Yes that is it, ammonia (NH3) and nitrite (NO2-) are both toxic to aquatic animals. Ammonia diffuses all the time from the gills of fish & shrimps, and aquatic organisms rely on the dilution effect of the large volume of water to reduce toxicity. It looks likely that <"nitrate itself has fairly low toxicity">, but it is only really aquascapers who add nitrate (NO3-), so normally the NO3 reading is the "smoking gun" from earlier high levels of NH3 & NO2-.
but still, that is why a partial water change is required when nitrates exceed 40 ppm. It's a group of bacteria which turns ammonia to nitrites then another group turns nitrites to nitrates. When the cycling is done, this second group is established in the tank so the party is on, fish can be added because this good bacteria will break down nitrites to nitrates as like the other group breaks down ammonia to nitrites. I might be completely off with my science, but this is how I understood
This bit is the traditional view of cycling, and you still read it on all sorts of forums and articles, but it is based on the science that was known ~40 years ago, and things are <"very different now">.

You can stop adding the fish food. You don't actually need an ammonia source, and it may actually actively delay the formation of <"an appropriate microbial assemblage">.
the plant mass is doing the cycle typically after about 2 to 3 weeks with a good plant mass in a tank you will be able to.start adding slowly working from the bottom up shrimps first
That is the one, plants are just the <"gift that keeps giving">.

cheers Darrel
 

anddak

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Cheers Darrel, very useful tips!

In your opinion which one would be visually more appealig (see my tank -attempt- on the pic above) and a better choice in general with the ember tetras and the greenery: red cherry shrimps or blue velvet?

Thaks! :)
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
red cherry shrimp or blue velvet?s
Entirely up to you.

If you aren't an experienced shrimp keeper, because it is a newish set-up, I'd probably go with "Red". Assuming they are OK, once the tank is fully established and the shrimps are moulting and breeding successfully you could swap them for some other variety.

Cherry Shrimps do well in hard water

We have a member @Steve Buce who may have some Blue Shrimp for sale. Once you've made 25 posts you can see the "for sale" forum

cheers Darrel
 

Mike Moran

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Hi,
So the nice chaps at aquarium gardens where I bought my tank told me not to worry to much about the cycling. They said just letting your plants root and grow in and giving the tank time to settle for a few weeks should be enough to build up the healthy bacteria without having to do anything with fish food etc. As I was a little impatient I popped in a little bacteria Pearl that’s supposed to kick start the biological filtration. I’m not recommending you do this as Im not sure what I’m doing either. However my nitrites are at zero all this week and things seemto be settling in reasonably well. I have a couple left over if you’d like to try them instead of the fish food I’d be happy to post you some. This is what they are....but maybe ask some of the more knowledgable forum members what they reckon first.
73BC003D-C8B5-4655-B936-9DE0F910D5D2.jpeg
 

anddak

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Hi @Mike Moran, thanks for your offer, highly appreciated. After reading the advice of some of the gents at this forum, I went ahead and ordered a few cherry shrimps. They arrived today, got them acclimatised and they're currently in the tank. So far so good, they seem to enjoy it, I will probably won't add anything artificial now.

I will update this thread in about a week. If everything goes well, I will add my ember tetras in a few weeks.

Cheers!
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
As I was a little impatient I popped in a little bacteria Pearl that’s supposed to kick start the biological filtration.
It definitely won't do any harm.

Whether they work or not would depend on the ammonia loading under which the microbial culture was produced. Have a look at <"Dr Tim's comments">, as he is the producer of a similar product.

My suspicion would be that the cultures used are the same ones that they use in <"sludge busters"> etc. mainly because the aquarium market is pretty small.

<"Recent research"> has shown that the microbial assemblage in aquarium filters is totally different from the one you find in sewage treatment etc. where you have much larger ammonia loadings.

cheers Darrel
 

anddak

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Location
Brighton, UK
Hi all,

Just an update as promised. As expected, ammonia and nitrite stayed 0, while nitrates at around 0.1.

I've got the shrimps for a few weeks now and while at the beginning they were shy and hiding, the past few days they were swimming around grabbing food, etc. I feed them fish flakes, tropical tabs for shrimp and planned to give them veggies. Despite they looked used to the environment, today when I came home I found a dead shrimp and I have no idea why as the parameters look good, the other shrimps still look ok, and it wasn't an adult or old shrimp.

I attached an image, can someone please confirm if it's a dead shrimp or just the exoskeleton (it looks like to me it's dead). If it's dead, any ide what could have caused it, considering the above information, also should I remove it from the tank?

70375995-752350615225014-120157542671187968-n.jpg


Thank you everyone!
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
dead shrimp or just the exoskeleton (it looks like to me it's dead). If it's dead, any ide what could have caused it, considering the above information, also should I remove it from the tank?
Definitely dead and I'd remove it from the tank.
I feed them fish flakes, tropical tabs for shrimp and planned to give them veggies.
I don't think that there is any way of knowing what the cause was, but I would definitely start feeding vegetables, too much protein can lead to problems with cherry shrimps.

cheers Darrel
 
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