Quick help with aquasoil - let it soak?
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:30 AM   #1
glassguppy
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Quick help with aquasoil - let it soak?


Hello everyone, I just recently got a 9 liter bag of amazonia and some decorative sand, nile and some congo. I have an idea for a layout...I have not yet tested the tank for any leaks so I will consider doing that soon...but what I want to know... is if I should rinse the aquasoil or just put it in my 'tank which is an eheim aquastyle 9... and let it soak for about two weeks as I vaguely remember reading on here some time ago. I'm a bit strapped for time so I can't do much research right now. Would it be a good idea to let the amazonia aquasoil sit in water for about two weeks to get the ammonia or whatever to leech OUT of it and then perhaps drain most of the water out when I get some plants? I was thinking around when it's time to put in the plants I can then add in the sands...I'm still not sure if I'm going to be using any rocks yet.. I know I won't have any fish in the tank until after the tank has had some time to adapt to the plants... What would you do?
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Old 12-31-2012, 04:38 PM   #2
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Don't soak it. The ammonia released is used to help cycle your tank.
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Old 12-31-2012, 05:04 PM   #3
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Just set up my 10g 4 days ago with aqual soil II. I've been doing 80% of wc everyday, so far my hg and blyxa japonica are very healthy. Let it cycle for about 6 weeks and you should be good to go.
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Old 12-31-2012, 06:04 PM   #4
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Set it up, no pre-soaking.

Do the fishless cycle, using the ammonia production from the soil as the initial source of ammonia for the bacteria. Keep up the water changes to keep the ammonia not higher than about 3 ppm. Toward the end the soil might not be releasing a lot of ammonia so you might need to add some to finish out the cycle.

Plant during the fishless cycle. Some plants do not like that much ammonia, so you might need to do even more water changes to keep it lower.
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Old 12-31-2012, 08:17 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Monster Fish View Post
Don't soak it. The ammonia released is used to help cycle your tank.
So, should I just wait until I get some plants to put the soil in? - what would you do?
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Old 12-31-2012, 08:18 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by izit View Post
Just set up my 10g 4 days ago with aqual soil II. I've been doing 80% of wc everyday, so far my hg and blyxa japonica are very healthy. Let it cycle for about 6 weeks and you should be good to go.
Okay when you say "cycle" what exactly does that mean?
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:05 PM   #7
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It refers to the nitrogen cycle.
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Old 01-01-2013, 06:45 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
Set it up, no pre-soaking.

Do the fishless cycle, using the ammonia production from the soil as the initial source of ammonia for the bacteria. Keep up the water changes to keep the ammonia not higher than about 3 ppm. Toward the end the soil might not be releasing a lot of ammonia so you might need to add some to finish out the cycle.

Plant during the fishless cycle. Some plants do not like that much ammonia, so you might need to do even more water changes to keep it lower.
Wait, am I going to need some kind of water test kit or something for this? I'm an extreme noob.
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Old 01-01-2013, 06:50 AM   #9
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So, could anybody list me a step by step guide or direct me to one? I only have the decorative sand and amazonia and wont' get the plants or wood/rocks let alone fish - until later.. is it okay to go ahead and get the amazonia going? - do I just put the amazonia in the tank, a little bit "or alot" of water? do I put in the sand NOW or later?... do I keep the water level low? Do I just remove the water, keep it in a bucket, put in the plants, rocks/wood and then replace the water I removed AFTER I get the plants in? Does anyone know what I'm trying to say? lol -- thanks
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Old 01-01-2013, 03:14 PM   #10
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Several people will chime in with details about how to cycle your tank with Amazonia.

Your best bet will be to take that advice and to also check out the dozens of threads here on the forum about cycling with Amazonia. There's a plethora of information about the frequency of water changes and such throughout the month or so it will take you to cycle.

You'll need a test kit. Get a liquid "master" kit. The one from API is usually about $15 and will work fine for your needs.

Also a good idea to read up on the fishless cycle here on the forum, as well. You won't need to add ammonia - the soil adds it for you - but it will help you fully understand the process your tank is going through.
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Old 01-02-2013, 12:20 AM   #11
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OK, here it is, one byte at a time.

Set up stand, make sure it is level.
Put a cushion material on the stand. I use styrofoam, not really pretty, you could use some other material.
Put tank on the stand and test fit the filter and anything else that goes behind the tank. Is it far enough from the wall? See if it is level.
Install the rest of the equipment but do not plug it in.
Start filling it with water and keep on checking if it is level. When it is full enough plug in the equipment and be sure it all works.
Run it for 24 hours. Watching for leaks, making sure the heater maintains the right temperature.

Turn off, unplug the equipment.
Drain the water.
Add substrate, make hills and valleys, add rock, driftwood...
Dampen the substrate, but not enough water to show up even in the low spots.
Plant, misting the plants.
Put a plate or plastic bag over the substrate and fill the tank slowly. Make sure this water has dechlorinator as needed for the water you are adding. If you need to adjust the mineral levels do that, too. By running the water in slowly over the plastic bag and allowing it to seep into the substrate you are minimizing cloudy water.
Plug in, turn on the equipment. Make sure it is all running.

Next day: test the ammonia. Do a water change if it is over 5 ppm.
This is straight math: if the ammonia level is twice as high as you want change 50% of the water.
Test daily and do water changes as needed.
A beneficial bacteria is growing in the filter media and on all the surfaces of the tank. This bacteria uses ammonia as a source of energy, and uses a few minerals to grow. When you add fish to the tank the fish will produce ammonia, which is toxic to them. You are using the ammonia produced by the soil to grow a big enough population of the beneficial bacteria so that when you add fish their ammonia is immediately removed from the water. These bacteria produce nitrite as a waste product.
About the 3rd or 4th day test for nitrite.
There is a second species of bacteria called Nitrospira that remove nitrite. They are slow growing.
Do enough water changes to keep the ammonia about 3 ppm, certainly under 5 ppm, and the nitrite under 5 ppm.

Even if you start with no added bacteria to jump start things the fishless cycle takes about 3 weeks to grow enough bacteria to handle all the waste produced by a pretty good sized fish load.
In the mean time your soil is producing less and less ammonia each week.
Toward the end of the fishless cycle there might not be enough ammonia to keep feeding the bacteria.
If your tests are showing that there is very low to no ammonia most of the time, then add ammonia once a day until it reads 3 ppm. This is non-sudsing, no perfume, pure ammonia.

Finally when you can add the ammonia one day, and 24 hours later both ammonia and nitrite test zero, the tank is cycled.
You will probably need to do a really big water change. These bacteria turn ammonia and nitrite into nitrate. You want the nitrate level to be really low for the fish (not higher than about 10-20 ppm). Lower is just fine!
Plants remove nitrogen from the water in all three forms: Ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. They are also part of the bio filter.

If you are not ready to stock the tank right away, keep on feeding the bacteria with ammonia. Then do a water change right before you add the fish.
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Old 01-02-2013, 12:28 AM   #12
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Default Fishless Cycle

Here is the original fishless cycle. Note that things do run a little differently when the substrate is the source of the ammonia, less under your control.

Cycle: To grow the beneficial bacteria that remove ammonia and nitrite from the aquarium.

Fish-In Cycle: To expose fish to toxins while using them as the source of ammonia to grow nitrogen cycle bacteria. Exposure to ammonia burns the gills and other soft tissue, stresses the fish and lowers their immunity. Exposure to nitrite makes the blood unable to carry oxygen. Research methemglobinemia for details.

Fishless Cycle: The safe way to grow more bacteria, faster, in an aquarium, pond or riparium.

The method I give here was developed by 2 scientists who wanted to quickly grow enough bacteria to fully stock a tank all at one time, with no plants helping, and overstock it as is common with Rift Lake Cichlid tanks.

1) Set up the tank and all the equipment. You can plant if you want. Include the proper dose of dechlorinator with the water.
Optimum water chemistry:
GH and KH above 3 German degrees of hardness. A lot harder is just fine.
pH above 7, and into the mid 8s is just fine.
Temperature in the upper 70s F (mid 20s C) is good. Higher is OK if the water is well aerated.
A trace of other minerals may help. Usually this comes in with the water, but if you have a pinch of KH2PO4, that may be helpful.
High oxygen level. Make sure the filter and power heads are running well. Plenty of water circulation.
No toxins in the tank. If you washed the tank, or any part of the system with any sort of cleanser, soap, detergent, bleach or anything else make sure it is well rinsed. Do not put your hands in the tank when you are wearing any sort of cosmetics, perfume or hand lotion. No fish medicines of any sort.
A trace of salt (sodium chloride) is OK, but not required.
This method of growing bacteria will work in a marine system, too. The species of bacteria are different.

1a) Optional: Add any source of the bacteria that you are growing to seed the tank. Cycled media from a healthy tank is good. Decor or some gravel from a cycled tank is OK. Live plants or plastic are OK. Bottled bacteria is great, but only if it contains Nitrospira species of bacteria. Read the label and do not waste your money on anything else.
At the time this was written the right species could be found in:
Dr. Tims One and Only
Tetra Safe Start
Microbe Lift Nite Out II
...and perhaps others.
You do not have to jump start the cycle. The right species of bacteria are all around, and will find the tank pretty fast.

2) Add ammonia until the test reads 5 ppm. This ammonia is the cheapest you can find. No surfactants, no perfumes. Read the fine print. This is often found at discount stores like Dollar Tree, or hardware stores like Ace. You could also use a dead shrimp form the grocery store, or fish food. Protein breaks down to become ammonia. You do not have good control over the ammonia level, though.

3) Test daily. For the first few days not much will happen, but the bacteria that remove ammonia are getting started. Finally the ammonia starts to drop. Add a little more, once a day, to test 5 ppm.

4) Test for nitrite. A day or so after the ammonia starts to drop the nitrite will show up. When it does allow the ammonia to drop to 3 ppm.

5) Test daily. Add ammonia to 3 ppm once a day. If the nitrite or ammonia go to 5 ppm do a water change to get these lower. The ammonia removing species and the nitrite removing species (Nitrospira) do not do well when the ammonia or nitrite are over 5 ppm.

6) When the ammonia and nitrite both hit zero 24 hours after you have added the ammonia the cycle is done. You can challenge the bacteria by adding a bit more than 3 ppm ammonia, and it should be able to handle that, too, within 24 hours.

7) Now test the nitrate. Probably sky high!
Do as big a water change as needed to lower the nitrate until it is safe for fish. Certainly well under 20, and a lot lower is better. This may call for more than one water change, and up to 100% water change is not a problem. Remember the dechlor!
If you will be stocking right away (within 24 hours) no need to add more ammonia. If stocking will be delayed keep feeding the bacteria by adding ammonia to 3 ppm once a day. You will need to do another water change right before adding the fish.
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Helpful hints:

A) You can run a fishless cycle in a bucket to grow bacteria on almost any filter media like bio balls, sponges, ceramic bio noodles, lava rock or Matala mats. Simply set up any sort of water circulation such as a fountain pump or air bubbler and add the media to the bucket. Follow the directions for the fishless cycle. When the cycle is done add the media to the filter. I have run a canister filter in a bucket and done the fishless cycle.

B) The nitrogen cycle bacteria will live under a wide range of conditions and bounce back from minor set backs. By following the set up suggestions in part 1) you are setting up optimum conditions for fastest reproduction and growth.
GH and KH can be as low as 1 degree, but watch it! These bacteria use the carbon in carbonates, and if it is all used up (KH = 0) the bacteria may die off.
pH as low as 6.5 is OK, but by 6.0 the bacteria are not going to be doing very well. They are still there, and will recover pretty well when conditions get better.
Temperature almost to freezing is OK, but they must not freeze, and they are not very active at all. They do survive in a pond, but they are slow to warm up and get going in the spring. This is where you might need to grow some in a bucket in a warm place and supplement the pond population. Too warm is not good, either. Topical or room temperature tank temperatures are best. (68 to 85*F or 20 to 28*C)
Moderate oxygen can be tolerated for a while. However, to remove lots of ammonia and nitrite these bacteria must have oxygen. They turn one into the other by adding oxygen. If you must stop running the filter for an hour or so, no problem. If longer, remove the media and keep it where it will get more oxygen.
Once the bacteria are established they can tolerate some fish medicines. This is because they live in a complex film called Bio film on all the surfaces in the filter and the tank. Medicines do not enter the bio film well.
These bacteria do not need to live under water. They do just fine in a humid location. They live in healthy garden soil, as well as wet locations.

C) Planted tanks may not tolerate 3 ppm or 5 ppm ammonia. It is possible to cycle the tank at lower levels of ammonia so the plants do not get ammonia burn. Add ammonia to only 1 ppm, but test twice a day, and add ammonia as needed to keep it at 1 ppm. The plants are also part of the bio filter, and you may be able to add the fish sooner, if the plants are thriving.
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Old 04-21-2013, 11:09 PM   #13
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Wow there's alot here to soak in, I've just read over it - what I'd like to say is that I have already put in the aquasoil, rocks and decorative sand... and there's no water in my' tank right now... and I'm not sure if that's a bad thing or not... I put a little water in it to dampen the substrate and some mold grew on the rocks but has since then stopped...a very light gray film... Soon I will be buying some plants... I want to get this right... did I make a mistake by scaping so early without the plants and with dried out substrate?... I had posted about this before and someone said someting about the bacteria not surviving... what would you do from my' positiion? - I apologize if all of this is quite redundant...I' am so new to this... it's a bit overhwelming to learn so much in so little time.
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Old 04-22-2013, 12:16 PM   #14
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Just go ahead and buy plants, put them in your tank and start it up.
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