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Fishless Tank Cycling question


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I have started up a 3FT (115-130L) tank for my dad and have began a 4-week preparation to get the tank cycled biologically, without fish.

Initially I transferred an internal canister filter and about 1-2kg of gravel from an established tank. The filter has the basic wool-fibre mat as media. I have also thrown in some small pieces of java fern.

To keep it cycling I wanted to ensure the nitrosomonas bacteria is well fed initially, and have read you can add pure ammonia to do this.

So my question is: how much ammonia should add to help this process? I was thinking a couple of drops a week but have no idea if this is too little or too much. Or should I instead just throw a pinch of fish food in once a day as organic waste?

If anyone has done fishless cycling before, your advice is much appreciated.

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From what I understood from your post, you

transferred an internal canister filter and about 1-2kg of gravel from an established tank
. Does this have some sort of specialised biological media section? If so, your tank was fully cycled the moment you turned this pre-established filter on in your new tank. Even without this biological media section, you tank should be okay, dependant on how you clean your filter media, or if you cleaned it in a hose just prior to putting it in your new tank

The easiest, safest and cheapest way to cycle a tank in my opinion is to take a filter (that is its biological media section at the least) from another tank, and put it on the new one. Provided pH and temperature are okay in new tank, you can add fish pretty much straight away. Don’t fully stock the tank though.

If all you did was add the gravel, then yes you would need to wait for the tank to cycle.

In regards to your adding ammonia question, you can work this out yourself by using your ammonia test kit. But like I said, if you have only just added your pre-established filter (provided you didn’t’ wash is all out in a hose) you should be okay with your ammonia levels when you put fish in.


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There are a few websites regarding Fishless Tank Cycling. Basically it operates by adding ammonia to the tank initially to obtain a reading on your ammonia kit of ~5 ppm. Record the amount of ammonia that this took, then add that amount daily until the nitrite spikes. Once the nitrite spikes, cut back the daily dose of ammonia to half the original volume that was being added. Some methods discuss using a certain number of drops of ammonia to the tank each day. The problem with this is that you can buy ammonia at different concentrations and the above method alleviates this problem.

A great site for further information is

Fishless Cycling

I would recommend further reading.


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ive used a couple of small prawns and left them to rot and break up , pioneer marine aquarists used to swear by urinating in the tank , might get a strange look from your dad though LOL.gif


It would probably work though, that's the scary thing! rolleyes.gif

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