Is there a time limit to artificially prolonging the nitrogen cycle?
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Old 04-04-2013, 04:26 AM   #1
Smeagol
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Is there a time limit to artificially prolonging the nitrogen cycle?


I just completed a fishless nitrogen cycle.... YAY! I can convert 5ppm of ammonia>nitrite>nitrate in 24 hours. The problem is that I'm not ready to add fish yet. I ordered some new plants, and they aren't going to arrive for another week or so. I want to have the new plants in place before I add fish. I don't want to add fish and then traumatize them by introducing a bunch of new plants. So, is it safe to keep feeding the bacteria ammonia for another week while I wait for my plants to arrive? Or do I have to add fish right now? What if I add just a couple fish; will they be enough to maintain the bacterial filter until I'm ready to add the full bio-load? Or am I better off to just keep feeding with ammonia until I'm ready to add the full bio-load of fish?
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Old 04-04-2013, 06:20 AM   #2
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You can keep doing what you're doing until you're ready to add fish.

Not sure what you mean by adding full load, though - IME, It's always a good idea to go slow when adding fish to a new tank, even a fully cycled one. Many fish really don't like being put in a "fresh" tank (see otos, rams, etc.). Nitrifying bacteria, once present in sufficient numbers, can reproduce rapidly to adjust to increased stocking over time. You shouldn't see a significant ammonia or nitrite spike when you add a few fish at a time.
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Old 04-04-2013, 06:21 AM   #3
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You can just keep adding ammonia on a daily basis. Plant the plants whenever you feel like it, and then introduce your fish afterwards (I would recommend a quarantine first).
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Old 04-04-2013, 12:17 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishermike View Post
Not sure what you mean by adding full load, though - IME, It's always a good idea to go slow when adding fish to a new tank, even a fully cycled one. Many fish really don't like being put in a "fresh" tank (see otos, rams, etc.). Nitrifying bacteria, once present in sufficient numbers, can reproduce rapidly to adjust to increased stocking over time. You shouldn't see a significant ammonia or nitrite spike when you add a few fish at a time.
This. Never make a sweeping drastic change to a system. Slowly ramp up the bioload.
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Old 04-04-2013, 11:09 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishermike View Post
It's always a good idea to go slow when adding fish to a new tank, even a fully cycled one.
Quote:
Originally Posted by gSTiTcH View Post
Never make a sweeping drastic change to a system. Slowly ramp up the bioload.
I knew that. What was I thinking when I said add full bio-load? Must've just been so excited about finally having a cycled tank that I forgot the basic rules.
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Old 04-05-2013, 06:29 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Smeagol View Post
I knew that. What was I thinking when I said add full bio-load? Must've just been so excited about finally having a cycled tank that I forgot the basic rules.
Phew. You are forgiven. :P
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Old 04-06-2013, 03:34 AM   #7
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When your fishless cycle is complete you can fully stock the tank. The fishless cycle was developed by African Cichlid keepers. They want to fully stock, and slightly over stock their tanks, and they do not normally keep plants in their tanks.

You have grown enough bacteria to fully handle up to 5 ppm ammonia per day. Unless you are really seriously overstocking (Way more than the typical overstocking of a Rift Lake Tank) there is no way fish could produce that much ammonia.

If you do not fully stock the tank, then the bacteria will die off to match the bio load.

Plants may not like 5 ppm ammonia. I would suggest cutting this down a lot, but adding it several times per day.
Example: Your tank is now going from 5 ppm to 0 ppm in 24 hours. This is an average of about .2 ppm per hour. So, if you add just that much, you are still feeding the full bacteria population.
Since most plants will handle 1 ppm ammonia just fine, can you add enough ammonia to bring it up to 1 ppm every 5 hours? Or any similar variation?
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Old 04-06-2013, 05:43 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smeagol View Post
I knew that. What was I thinking when I said add full bio-load? Must've just been so excited about finally having a cycled tank that I forgot the basic rules.
Been there, we all know the feeling

Congrats on the cycled tank! Hope it goes smoothly for you.
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Old 04-07-2013, 06:26 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
When your fishless cycle is complete you can fully stock the tank.
This. A tank that has been cycled this way will certainly never actually see a bioload as high as it has seen during the cycle unless you WAY overstock or have some pretty nasty fish. So really, the last thing you need to worry about is your biofiltration at this point not being up to the task. That is of course as long as you are feeding it. Now like stated, not all fish/inverts will like going into a new tank, but they won't suffer from lack of biofiltration.
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