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New tank fishless cycling...when will the ammonia spike?


bodotdot
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I just started a new 40gal tank five days ago. I put some hob filter media from my other tank next to the sponge filter and am ghostfeeding every evening. When can I expect to see the ammonia spike? It's still at zero, after five days. I'm using a good two pinches of food. Is it possible I'm ready to add fish because the used gunky filter media is stopping the ammonia spike?
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Yes if you used ore-cycled media it absolutely is. That is how I start all my new tanks by moving some media or a sponge filter over. 
 

I would vac up the food you have been using first so the fish do not eat already decaying food. 
 

Start slow by adding only a few fish at a time. You will still need to grow more bacteria to meet the fish load. 
 

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On 11/9/2023 at 7:40 PM, Galabar said:

Add some ammonia directly.  Either from the grocery story or something like Dr Tim's: https://www.drtimsaquatics.com/products/ammonium-chloride/

Get a reading and then wait for it to hit zero.  I'm not sure I'd trust things just from adding a few pinches of food...

I’ve been cycling tanks this way since 1975.  There didn’t used to be a chart to tell you how much water to change, or anybody even using the terms “fishless’ or “fish-in” cycling.  This was how it was done.  Nobody tested back then.  I don’t remember test strips at all and didn’t get test kits until the mid 80’s(?) or so.  We were the only people we knew that had a test kit when we got ours.

Mind you, we know a lot more now and I’m definitely not disagreeing with doing a chalkenge with ammonia, that’s an excellent suggestion.  I’m saying cycling with food works just fine, especially if you’re using pre-cycled media from another tank, or used some filter sludge / squeezin’s, or appropriate bottled bacteria.  🤷🏻‍♀️ 

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I am testing for all. I see zero ammonia and zero nitrite. Even though I moved a gunky pad of used filter media into the tank I'm concerned that after just six days it's too soon to say the tank is cycled. I never saw the ammonia spike.  I am only moving one eight-inch goldfish (11 years old), so maybe the tank is ready right now?

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On 11/10/2023 at 2:29 AM, bodotdot said:

I am testing for all. I see zero ammonia and zero nitrite. Even though I moved a gunky pad of used filter media into the tank I'm concerned that after just six days it's too soon to say the tank is cycled. I never saw the ammonia spike.  I am only moving one eight-inch goldfish (11 years old), so maybe the tank is ready right now?

That's why I recommend adding some ammonia directly until you get 1 ppm - 2ppm reading.  Then you'll be sure... 🙂

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On 11/11/2023 at 6:45 PM, Odd Duck said:

@bodotdot Since you moved a nice gunky pad, you may not see an ammonia or nitrite spike.  I agree with @Galabar, try adding ammonia to about 2 ppm and test every 12 hours to see if you can catch a rise in nitrites, then nitrates.  If the ammonia and nitrites clear in 24 hours, you should be ready to go.

I really just want to take the guess work out of it.  If I see ammonia to start with and then I don't see ammonia, I can be pretty confident that the tank is nitrifying properly. 🙂

Edited by Galabar
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Here's where things stand. Two days ago my LFS gave me aquarium ammonia and the level spiked to 2.0.  The next day I poured in a 16oz bottle of Fritz StressZyme 7 and now I'll wait a couple of days to do another reading. I'll continue to wait, and once the ammonia and Nitrites read zero I'll wait a few more days to see if the zero readings stay there. At that point I'll move my goldfish. I just need this new 40-gal tank to be cycled and seasoned enough for one fish.  A seven-inch, eleven year old goldfish.

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