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Fishless cycle

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Looking for some advice as im on my third week of fishless cycle on my 20gallon tank, ive been testing my water levels with Api master test kit

I've added media from my established tank to help speed up the cycle. First week ammonia spiked and then has constantly stayed at .5-1ppm since. Last week up untill today my nitrites and nitrates was off the charts but just tested today ane both have drop to 0..

My readings now are

Ammonia .5ppm

Nitrite 0

Nitrate 0ppm


I am trying to dose ammonia levels up with small amount of fish flakes as i cant seem to find household ammonia anywhere but doesnt seem to budge from .5-1ppm. I have a few mimmows in another tank, if my nitrites and nitrates stay at 0 should i use them too increase ammonia levels or just leave the tank for another week?



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Your nitrites and nitrates were off the charts and now they're 0? That seems weird, although I am not a cycling expert and half the time don't even test (I don't necessarily recommend my methods lol).  Did you start with live rock or dry rock or something like Real Reef Rock?  Fish flakes can work fine (may add phosphates though), although if you want pure ammonia and can't find locally, Dr. Tim's makes some for cycling, I got it from Amazon when I was cycling a dry rock tank.  Have you tried adding a bacteria supplement like Microbacter7 or Biospira?  If you started with dry rock, it can take a good while to get the cycle completed. I used two types of bottled bacteria, some rock bits from my other tank, and it still took 3 weeks to complete.  @seabass taught me that nitrites over 5 (I think?) can potentially stall the cycle out.  Mostly you just have to be patient.  If I understand your last bit correctly, you have minnows that you are thinking of adding? Please don't, especially if they are freshwater fish.  Just be patient.

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^ +1


I'm not a fan of ghost feeding.  It works, but it adds organics and nutrients that might cause issues down the road.  Lula_Mae is correct, the cycle can slow when either ammonia or nitrite approach 5 ppm.  If it does get high, a large water change can get things going again.


For an ammonia source, some people use Ace Ammonia; but I usually recommend DrTim's Ammonium Chloride like recommended above.


I also agree that adding a bacteria culture can speed the process up.  Adding anything besides bacteria while ammonia is present is hard on the livestock and typically frowned upon.

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I agree with seabass. 

dr Tims ammonia and fritz bacteria worked for me many times. cycled in 12-14 days. 


but if you had the ammonia spike

had the nitrite spike

had the nitrate spike

and started with established media


you might be in the clear. I do think you should add a bottle of bacteria to the tank though. 


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Weird that the nitrates dropped to 0.



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