Cycling a new tank. Your suggestions? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-06-2012, 06:54 PM Thread Starter
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Cycling a new tank. Your suggestions?

I'm cycling a 40g tank. This is the largest tank I've ever had, and cycling is obviously taking a little longer.

My setup:

- 40g 36 Lx 18W x 16H
- Eheim 2213, running
- AquariumPlants.com's own substrate, 5 gallon worth (3-5" in depth all over)
- One manzanita branch
- pH is about 6.5 or possibly 6.0
- Temp is about 75F right now, as I don't have the heater running

About a week ago, I added a few plants. Three amazon swords (only 2" right now), 3 anubias swords (about 5"), 1 anubias nana petite, and some Christmas moss.

It's been showing 1-2 ppm of ammonia for the last week, and no nitrites. I have not tested for nitrates yet, due to no nitrites ever being present.

Should I:

- Add a pH changer to make it neutral at 7.0?
- Take the carbon out of the filter?
- Add a bacteria starter? (which one?)
- Turn on the heater?
- Test for nitrates?
- Stop worrying and just be more patient?

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Last edited by slidewithme; 07-06-2012 at 06:56 PM. Reason: Accidentally a letter
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-06-2012, 07:10 PM
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-I wold say don't use pH adjusters, they aren't needed and just seem to make things more difficult.

- There are a few bacteria starter things you can buy, but I just do it the slow way. Add a little little bit of fish food every few days to help get the bacteria started.

- Yes you can test for nitrates, it'll help you get an idea of how for along in the cycle you are.

- And stop worrying and be more patient lol.

- Have you read up on how the cycle works, that way you'll know how it looks when it's finished?

Edit: Oh and I would say leave the carbon in for now, it helps with the initial cycle. You can replace with other media later.

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-06-2012, 07:12 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, but all my other tanks are rather small, and cycling only took a week at most. It's been a week and.. nothing.. is happening! gah!

I'm just impatient. I want fish, but I'm not going to add them if they're just going to die.

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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-06-2012, 07:55 PM
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I think you should test Nitrates, just so you know forsure how far along the process you are. I've cycled and never had nitrites show up on the readings, but due to the nitrate reading, I knew it was because there was good bacteria multiplying/growing in.

You can run the heater to a bit of a higher temp (80-85F) since higher temp means faster bacterial production, right?

You can use a bacterial additive, (i've used tetra safestart multiple times with success), but it's never bad to go the old fashioned way. Thing with these is that you typically have to add fish right after you dose the tank because without an ammonia source, the bacteria will die.

Don't mess with the pH, it should be fine where it is.

&Yes, be patient. It'll take time, but it'll be worth it in the end.


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Last edited by mjbn; 07-06-2012 at 07:56 PM. Reason: Clarifying a bit
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-06-2012, 11:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slidewithme View Post
Yeah, but all my other tanks are rather small, and cycling only took a week at most. It's been a week and.. nothing.. is happening! gah!

I'm just impatient. I want fish, but I'm not going to add them if they're just going to die.

A tank your size will take about a month. I like to add fish food every few days so when it breaks down it will help create the ammonia. I don't like to put fish in when there is ammonia in the water as it will damage their gills and it's visible damage I don't want to look at.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-07-2012, 12:23 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mjbn View Post
You can use a bacterial additive, (i've used tetra safestart multiple times with success), but it's never bad to go the old fashioned way. Thing with these is that you typically have to add fish right after you dose the tank because without an ammonia source, the bacteria will die.
How much live stock would I need to add to a 40g to keep the bacteria alive? Anyone know?

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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-07-2012, 01:54 AM
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If you add a lot more plants, especially cheap stem plants, you shouldn't have to worry about the ammonia. The plants will use it as fertilizer to grow. After a couple of weeks, you should have enough bacteria going to be able to add a few, like 3-5, small fish, perhaps otos, so they will generate enough more ammonia to help the bacteria build up more. Then add a few more the next week, and the week after that. By then you can add whatever fish you want, to complete your stocking. I do this every time I start a tank.

After you get it all going you can replace some or all of the stem plants with other plants you want to keep in the tank.

I never claim that this is the only way to start a tank, nor even the best way, just one way that works fine for me.

Hoppy

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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-07-2012, 02:28 AM
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I take a spare filter sponge that I always keep in one of my running filters and put it into the new filter. Even then it takes about a week to cycle a 50 gallon tank since the sponge is usually not that big.
You'll get there soon don't worry I'd continue to keep testing the water and not worry about the pH.


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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-07-2012, 05:25 AM
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How much live stock would I need to add to a 40g to keep the bacteria alive? Anyone know?
If you were to do this process, people would suggest a couple HARDY fish, and by hardy, I mean fish that can handle the cycle process. It definitely is NOT the best way to do this, as you are basically putting the fish in an unnatural water parameter that may cause stress/etc. So if you do have another tank running, try grabbing some filter material to help seed your 40G filter, perhaps and just letting some fish food or raw shrimp decompose to be your ammonia source. You have many options to assist in the cycle, you just gotta find them out


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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-07-2012, 05:52 AM
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Fishless cycle takes about 3 weeks unless you started with a larger population of bacteria. Your small tanks may be able to donate enough to jump start the cycle, but do not take so much from them that they have a mini-cycle. You can add bacterial additives, but look for Nitrospiros species. That is the only one with the right species of bacteria. There are several brands that contain the right bacteria, and a lot with the wrong species.

Your pH is too low, suggesting the water may lack the minerals that the bacteria need.
Test the GH and KH, and make sure these stay above 3 German degrees of hardness. This usually means the pH will be in the upper 6s or higher.
Do not use a pH adjusting chemical. You must make sure the right minerals are there for the bacteria.

Fishless Cycle
You too can boast that "No fish were harmed in the cycling of your new tank"
Cycling a tank means to grow the beneficial bacteria that will help to decompose the fish waste (especially ammonia). These bacteria need ammonia to grow. There are 3 sources of ammonia that work to do this. One is fish. Unfortunately, the process exposes the fish to ammonia, which burns their gills, and nitrite, which makes their blood unable to carry oxygen. This often kills the fish.

Another source is decomposing protein. You could cycle your tank by adding fish food or a dead fish or shellfish. You do not know how much beneficial bacteria you are growing, though.

The best source of ammonia is... Ammonia. In a bottle.

Using fish is a delicate balance of water changes to keep the toxins low (try not to hurt the fish) but keep feeding the bacteria. It can take 4 to 8 weeks to cycle a tank this way, and can cost the lives of several fish. When you are done you have grown a small bacteria population that still needs to be nurtured to increase its population. You cannot, at the end of a fish-in cycle, fully stock your tank.

The fishless/ammonia cycle takes as little as 3 weeks, and can be even faster, grows a BIG bacteria population, and does not harm fish in any way.

Both methods give you plenty of practice using your test kit.

How to cycle a tank the fishless way:

1) Make sure all equipment is working, fill with water that has all the stuff you will need for the fish you intend to keep. Dechlorinator, minerals for GH or KH adjustments, the proper salt mix, if you are creating a brackish or marine tank. These bacteria require a few minerals, so make sure the GH and KH is at least 3 German degrees of hardness. They grow best when the pH is in the 7s. Good water movement, fairly warm (mid to upper 70sF), no antibiotics or other toxins.

2) (Optional)Add some source of the bacteria. Used filter media from a cycled tank is best, gravel or some decorations or a few plants... even some water, though this is the poorest source of the beneficial bacteria.
Bacteria in a bottle can be a source of these bacteria, but make sure you are getting Nitrospiros spp of bacteria. All other ‘bacteria in a bottle’ products have the wrong bacteria. (This step is optional. The proper bacteria will find the tank even if you make no effort to add them). Live plants may bring in these bacteria on their leaves and stems.

3) Add ammonia until the test reads 5 ppm. This is the non-sudsing, no surfactants, no-fragrance-added ammonia that is often found in a hardware store, discount stores, and sometimes in a grocery store. The concentration of ammonia may not be the same in all bottles. Try adding 5 drops per 10 gallons, then allowing the filter to circulate for about an hour, then test. If the reading isn't up to 5 ppm, add a few more drops and test again. (Example, if your test reads only 2 ppm, then add another 5 drops) Some ammonia is such a weak dilution you may need to add several ounces to get a reading.

4) Test for ammonia daily, and add enough to keep the reading at 5 ppm. You probably will not have to add much, if any, in the first few days, unless you added a good amount of bacteria to jump start the cycle.

5) Several days after you start, begin testing for nitrites. When the nitrites show up, reduce the amount of ammonia you add so the test shows 3ppm. (Add only half as much ammonia as you were adding in part 4) Add this reduced amount daily from now until the tank is cycled.
If the nitrites get too high (over 5 ppm), do a water change. The bacteria growth is slowed because of the high nitrites. Reducing the level of ammonia to 3 ppm should prevent the nitrite from getting over 5 ppm.

6) Continue testing, and adding ammonia daily. The nitrates will likely show up about 2 weeks after you started. Keep monitoring, and watch for 0 ppm ammonia, 0 ppm nitrite and rising nitrates.

7) Once the 0 ppm ammonia and nitrites shows up it may bounce around a little bit for a day or two. Be patient. Keep adding the ammonia; keep testing ammonia, nitrite and nitrate.
When it seems done you can challenge the system by adding more than a regular dose of ammonia, and the bacteria should be able to remove the ammonia and nitrite by the next day.
If you will not be adding fish right away continue to add the ammonia to keep the bacteria fed.

8) When you are ready to add the fish, do at least one water change, and it may take a couple of them, to reduce the nitrate to safe levels (as low as possible, certainly below 10 ppm) I have seen nitrate approaching 200 ppm by the end of this fishless cycle in a non-planted tank.

9) You can plant a tank that is being cycled this way at any point during the process. If you plant early, the plants will be well rooted, and better able to handle the disruption of the water change.
Yes, the plants will use some of the ammonia and the nitrates. They are part of the nitrogen handling system, part of the biofilter, they are working for you. Some plants do not like high ammonia, though. If a certain plant dies, remove it, and only replace it after the cycle is done.

10) The fishless cycle can also be used when you are still working out the details of lighting, plants and other things. If you change the filter, make sure you keep the old media for several weeks or a month. Most of the bacteria have been growing in this media (sponges, floss etc).
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