why not cicle a tank "fishless"? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-29-2006, 10:04 PM Thread Starter
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why not cicle a tank "fishless"?

why not cicle a tank "fishless"? I saw this in rexgrigg's signature and I don't get it. Could you explain please?
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-29-2006, 10:10 PM
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Ah....a HIM fan. Welcome to the forum, brother. Using plants to absorb ammonia/nitrite etc. is inherently superior to any fishless cycling imaginable. Not only do plants provide a ton of surface area for bacteria, they will take in nitrogen through ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, free nitrogen, etc. as part of their growth.

In college....so no aquariums for a while.....
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-29-2006, 11:03 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks 4 the welcoming brother,
and ya H.I.M. ruls like no other...! (kinda rhymes huh?! )

Now on topic, I still don't get it. What you said is 100% true, but when it says: "don't cycle you tank fishless" I understand that it is better to have some fish during the cycling period than with no fish at all, without refering to the plants.We already know that in a new tank we are not allowed to put all the fish in one day, but slowly add them during a period of time because of the bacteria sudden bloom. now maybe it's my fault. i don't understand english perfectly.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-30-2006, 12:41 AM
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"fishless" cycling means using ammonia added to the tank to start the cycle.

Using the "silent cycle" allows you to add a pretty large fish load right from the start.

Adding ammonia to a planted tank is almost a sure to create a disaster.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-30-2006, 09:59 AM Thread Starter
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Got it. thanks
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-30-2006, 10:25 AM
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Yeh.. i normally just find that if you setup your tank and add plants, then after a week buy a couple of fish to test it through, then slowly adding fish from there works a charm with no problems.

Its when everyone starts adding fancy chemicals etc. that it all goes wrong.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-30-2006, 04:40 PM
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If you want to cycle a tank, add mulm, the dirt from an established tank's substrate, and or/filter sponge squeezings.

Add this live bacteria and organic matter to a filter and the substrate.
Why add NH4? Why test and wait 3 weeks?

Fishless cycling is simply a very poorly thought out method. It's not to cycle the tank, it's design to force the owner to use test kits, and monitor the tank, that's all nice a furry and fuzzy, but we all know folks are not going use the test kit much later. A new person that uses FC is not going to be saved either if they add high fish loads, they might get a few weeks before the fish die, but this is due much more to neglect and lack of water changes.

A smart person would suggest consistent weekly water changes except for a non CO2 planted tank.

In extremely rare cases where folks have to by everything mail order, the ability to get some fresh might be an issue(but it can be sent via the mail also...........)

This not only applies to planted tank, it applies to any tank.
Adding mulm adds precisely what is missing from a new tank: organic matter(for the bacteria and fungi to eat till the new tank starts producing this) and live thriving bacteria(not that dormant junk they sell/hock in bottles).

It does not get any better than that.
Many folks run and filter on an established tank a few weeks prior.
This does the same basic thing right away.

Plants stop the traditional cycling with bacteria.
Plants remove the NH4 directly. Adding high levels of NH4 is toxic to both plants, and fish and is a good way to induce algae.

The small amount of NH4 produce by a reasonable fish load is removed rapidly from the plants. There is no significant build up nor issue with cycling in planted tanks. The plants stop the NH4 from the start, then no NO2, NO3 is produced. If you add too many fish etc, then the build up will occur, but that is true no matter what, reasonable fish loads/feeding, that is the key there.
FC will never save anyone from that error.

The other issues that FC fails terribly to mention: the bacteria that process the NH4=? NO2=> NO3, see all those O atoms being added to each transformation? These bacteria use a lot of O2 and that drains the tank of O2 when you add too many fish/lots of NH4.

Plants? They a net producers of O2.

You can see which method is better for the fish and for you and why wait?

Did you get into this hobby to test the water, raise/farm bacteria?

I doubt it.

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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-03-2006, 04:11 AM
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As this is the plantedtank.com, the answers above are pretty good.

However, for the sake of the fish, if you are planning a sparsely planted tank, or no live plants at all, you should be familiar with the fishless cycle and/or biospira.

Even with a planted tank, knowing about the fishless cycle can help the average person who isn't going to stick to the 1 or two fish at a time addition to the tank, either because he's going to order them, and doesn't want to pay 10 times the price of the fish in shippping, or because he sees a good deal and wants to buy a bunch of fish at the same time, that may not be available again soon.

Addition of a bunch of new fish can cause a mini-cycle, even in a well planted tank, and can make the fish sick or kill the fish.

Also, what about those who have no access to cycled media, and are ordering fish, and don't trust the diseased fish at the lfs so don't want to ask for cycled media there?

My solution is to cycle a filter, or filter media in a bucket or waste basket using the fishless method with clear ammonia. I can beef up filter media before adding new fish to any level needed for the new bioload, then just add the filter/filter media to the fish tank filter when the new fish are added. Absolutely no cycling. No ammonia, or nitrite. It's amazing how many people think that ick came from the pet shop, or from something else they did, when it is almost always actually caused by ammonia or nitrite build up from a cycle or mini-cycle.

The other option is Biospira. Unlike all the rest of the products that claim to have nitrifying bacteria, this one actually does. All of the rest really don't. The problem is that the correct nitrifying bacteria was not known until recently. One of them isn't nitrosomonas like everyone thought. It's nitrospira. Check it out at pubmed if you don't believe me.

As to Tom assertion that rotting organic matter helps the cycle--well, partly. The part that helps the plants is the heterotrophic bacteria that breaks down organic matter to ammonia and other products. And rotting organic matter, by definition, contains these bacteria. It doesn't, however, necessarily contain the bacteria that will convert ammonia to nitrites and nitrites to nitrates. So if you don't have a bunch of plants, you could still be in trouble.

While the heterotrophic bacteria multiply quickly, the nitrifying bacteria are agonizingly slow, doubling after 24 hours or more. These bacteria also like lots of oxygen, and don't do that well in oxygen poor environments like in rotting leaves, and such at the bottom of your tank. They do much better in the rapid water movement areas of your filter.

OK, so first choice, lots of plants to start with, introduce fish slowly in a well planted tank.

If your tank is going to be sparsely planted, or not planted, cycle your filter with clear ammonia in a bucket, and if you don't want to wait for the free bacteria (which can take 5 weeks) get some biospira and fishless cycle with the addition of this stuff in the bucket, and add some to your tank when you add your fish.

As to the uselessness of test kits, I've found that they can very quickly help you diagnose a situation, even after the initial cycle. Several medications can reduce or kill your biofilter, and this can also kill your fish. I can't tell you how many times someone has told me about a mildy ill fish that they treated in the tank, then all of the fish got sick and died. Had they had an ammonia and nitrite test kit, they would have seen that they killed the biofilter and the fish died not from some disease, but from ammonia and nitrite poisoning. I've managed to help friends save their fish by having them test after the medication and then do massive water changes to reduce the ammonia and nitrites.

I rarely use my test kit, except in my quarantine tank, which is not kept planted. I treat all new incoming fish for specific parasites that could cause problems with my discus, and some of these medications do reduce the biofiltration.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-03-2006, 04:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alight
As this is the plantedtank.com, the answers above are pretty good.

However, for the sake of the fish, if you are planning a sparsely planted tank, or no live plants at all, you should be familiar with the fishless cycle and/or biospira.
Even with a planted tank, knowing about the fishless cycle can help the average person who isn't going to stick to the 1 or two fish at a time addition to the tank, either because he's going to order them, and doesn't want to pay 10 times the price of the fish in shippping, or because he sees a good deal and wants to buy a bunch of fish at the same time, that may not be available again soon. Addition of a bunch of new fish can cause a mini-cycle, even in a well planted tank, and can make the fish sick or kill the fish.
Then do a water change and add mulm.
I can tell you it's better than any bacteria in a bottle, biosopira you name it.
Those are all dormant bacterial cultures(to be active, they require large amounts of a food source as well as O2, something that a bottle cannot supply) the mulm? It's not dormant, it's live actively growing and also provides some carbon sources for the bacteria so they can better utilize the NH4 waste. Bacteria in a bottle, it requires a carbon source, the NO2, NH4 are just electron acceptors that get oxidized. Like us, the bacteria need their carbs so to speak(the carbon source/OM).

We somehow managed to squeek by decades ago at the LFS, we had no FC, we had no Biospira, bacteria in a bottle etc.

There was no issue.
This is issue is artifical and created, it's not real.
If folks do a simple thing at the start and do routine large water changes, you never have an issue and the overall health, no matter if it's a planted tank or not, is greatly improved.

That includes folks that over feed, add too many fish all at once etc, large frequent water changes are the single best solution to overstocking, providing long term stability.

FC will not save folks from other issues like the water changes and mulm additions will.

FC, biosopira offers nothing for that.
Once the NH4 has cycled through, you still are left with some extra bacteria that removes a large fraction of O2, oxidizing all the NH4 waste.

What is better, doing water changes which adds both O2 and removed the NH4, the NO2 and the NO3?
Or just leaving it in there for the bacteria to grow?

Once the bacteria grows, it'll level off to whatever the fish loading and O2 levels are.

So if you do not want to do some water changes, you can wait 3 weeks I suppose. But you can also just simply do a few extra water changes till the tank stabilizes in the first month. You are not going to get out of water changes unless you go to a balanced non CO2 planted tank or do a lot of fiddling with test kits and waste a lot of time to accomplish that.
Still easier and simpler if you are trying to help a newbie, why explain all the chemistry, sell them test kits, etc?

They get into the hobby to test water or to keep fish?
Which method would ensure a wider range of successes?
I help many newbies here and have at aquarium societies, LFS's etc.
You start talking NH4, NO2, bacteria, their eyes glaze over...........no amount of talking will get them to do it.

Test kits are often poor in their accuracy.

Quote:
Also, what about those who have no access to cycled media, and are ordering fish, and don't trust the diseased fish at the lfs so don't want to ask for cycled media there?
I've never had an issue, worked at a LFS for several years, we used mulm for all tanks. That issue of trust etc, I'd have to say it's also precieved and created. Good health of the fish and a good home with reasonable stocking levels and high quality foods plays a much larger role.

Who does not have access to cycled media?
If you own and fish tank, you must have gotten it somewhere...........
A fellow hobbyists can mail you a bottle, or a piece of sponge etc for free/mail cost.
There are no LFS's in your area?
Perhaps........but very rare.
Hard to get things unless there's one around.
Newbies don't do all MO as a rule.
More experienced aquarist that live a good distance often know others, or have another tank etc.
There are a very few cases where this issue would apply.
But everyone tends to have a mail box at the very least.

Quote:
My solution is to cycle a filter, or filter media in a bucket or waste basket using the fishless method with clear ammonia. I can beef up filter media before adding new fish to any level needed for the new bioload, then just add the filter/filter media to the fish tank filter when the new fish are added. Absolutely no cycling. No ammonia, or nitrite.
I can say the same thing about plants, fish only tanks that get regular large water changes and have added mulm.
But the idea of doing it outside and away from the tank is a good , a better idea.

Quote:
It's amazing how many people think that ick came from the pet shop, or from something else they did, when it is almost always actually caused by ammonia or nitrite build up from a cycle or mini-cycle.
Wait a minute here, you said you might not trust the LFS then you say it's the aquarist neglect.......

Quote:
don't trust the diseased fish at the lfs so don't want to ask for cycled media there?
So is it the LFS poor quality or is it the cycle that killed or caused their fish to be diseased?

This is a precieved notion.........folks often do not know, especially new folks.
So adding mulm and doing large water changes takes care of this better than a well cycled filter using FC would alone.

Over time the well cycled filter has limits, the water changes will always save you. Bacteria populations can and do vary over time, but the export is large and rapid via water changes.

That's a much better habit for a newbie than doing the test and being complacent later as they add too many fish and not do enough water changes. Many test to avoid water changes. That's a bad habit for a newbie.

I think it tough to know where a disease came from, rather than doing that, watch the fish for 2-4 weeks at the LFS etc, then if they do well there, take them home, give them a nice place to stay, nice food etc.

That ensures the best change of survival. FC will require the folks to wait 3 weeks, mulm does not nor test. Do a weekly water change, which is a habit they ought to get into anyhow.
Doing 50% or high % weekly changes for the first couple of weeks is not much tougher than doing 25% etc.
I always suggested do 50% weekly water changes, and you will likely never have any disease unless the fish where weak from the LFS to begin with.

This is true for the most part, much more than FC can claim as that merely addresses and start up phase.
Water changes and zeolite alone as well as adding mulm, can address that.

Quote:
The other option is Biospira. Unlike all the rest of the products that claim to have nitrifying bacteria, this one actually does.
Except mulm, it does not get any better than mulm. It's also free.
How can you possibly beat Free?
How can mulm which is exposed to far more O2 and is actively growing
and being supplied a renewed source of carbon be worse?

What precisely is in a well cycled filter?
Mulm can be taken from the filter as well if you feel it matters.
How can Biospira be better than the very thing you are trying to replicate?

Quote:
As to Tom assertion that rotting organic matter helps the cycle--well, partly. The part that helps the plants is the heterotrophic bacteria that breaks down organic matter to ammonia and other products. And rotting organic matter, by definition, contains these bacteria. It doesn't, however, necessarily contain the bacteria that will convert ammonia to nitrites and nitrites to nitrates. So if you don't have a bunch of plants, you could still be in trouble.
My assetrtion is not a partly, it's a defintiely.
Bacteria in new tanks are often carbon limited, even if there is ample NH4+, they still need a carbon source.

FC can be amplified and speed up by adding a carbon source, sugar even.

And you are sure it does not contain the nitrifying bacteria how precisely? What do you think is present in a well established filter?

Are you saying that biospospira is better than an established filter?
Isn't the idea to get an established filter colony? That is the goal, is it not?
Go back and think about this..............

The organic matter is a carbon source, not a source really for organic N, but there is some of that in there as well, but it's not the main role.
Bacteria are made out of a lot more carbon than they are the Nitrogen and the N is just a terminal acceptor used to oxidize the carbon.

Have you tried the mulm method?

Quote:
While the heterotrophic bacteria multiply quickly, the nitrifying bacteria are agonizingly slow, doubling after 24 hours or more. These bacteria also like lots of oxygen, and don't do that well in oxygen poor environments like in rotting leaves, and such at the bottom of your tank. They do much better in the rapid water movement areas of your filter.
So rotting leaves........ are we talking about about a planted tank or a fish only tank now?

In fish only tanks, the much larger grain sizing, as well as the use of UG filters etc makes this a non issue, there's plenty O2 down there, but this is also addressed easily, a filter sponge squeezing will supply all any one needs if you think and believe this to be true.
I don't.

Quote:
OK, so first choice, lots of plants to start with, introduce fish slowly in a well planted tank.
So we are back to a planted tank now?
No one has ever measured NH4, NO2 after adding plenty of plants from day one + mulm.

I've never lost a fish in decades. Neither did the LFS.
Many folks have been doing this, FC just has no place in a planted tank and except with the filter only cycling method outside the tank, I see little use for it.

Quote:
If your tank is going to be sparsely planted, or not planted, cycle your filter with clear ammonia in a bucket, and if you don't want to wait for the free bacteria (which can take 5 weeks) get some biospira and fishless cycle with the addition of this stuff in the bucket, and add some to your tank when you add your fish.
This I could stand behind.
This is a good idea versus the other stuff.
Still, adding mature sponge from another filter, or adding say 1/2 of the media from a established filter into a new one will help if available.
That is one of the older tricks, the mulm and old water from established tanks etc, these are all along the lines of mulm additions.

Quote:
As to the uselessness of test kits, I've found that they can very quickly help you diagnose a situation, even after the initial cycle. Several medications can reduce or kill your biofilter, and this can also kill your fish. I can't tell you how many times someone has told me about a mildy ill fish that they treated in the tank, then all of the fish got sick and died. Had they had an ammonia and nitrite test kit, they would have seen that they killed the biofilter and the fish died not from some disease, but from ammonia and nitrite poisoning. I've managed to help friends save their fish by having them test after the medication and then do massive water changes to reduce the ammonia and nitrites.
It's even quicker to do the water change when in doubt.
And that is why a simple one step habit, the large weekly water change is wiser. You cannot test away neglect, if they neglect the water changes, test will only confirm that, it will not get them to actually do the water changes.

Why are they using medications to begin with?
Neglect/lack of knowledge perhaps. Poor stocking levels, poor feeding/food, imcompadible fish etc.

If they had been doing large frequent water changes, these issues are mitagated.

This is not common just in new tanks, it's common in most all tanks.
Folks negelct things and then wonder why their fish are dying, it's the NH4/NO3/NO2 etc, but the real reason why their fish are dying is the negelect.

A pro active solution is the large water change, not a bacteria issue.
So with that mind set, why not simply apply a simple, easy to understand method that any one can do?

That is a better habit than testing.
It's easier to explain also.

Quote:
I rarely use my test kit, except in my quarantine tank, which is not kept planted. I treat all new incoming fish for specific parasites that could cause problems with my discus, and some of these medications do reduce the biofiltration.
So is the success it due to FC and testing, or good habits and frequent water changes?

Few discus folks neglect their water changes.
You sort support my case here, you yourself don't test much.

How might you rapidly add bacteria to a medicated tank that had it's bacteria killed off using FC? Takes 3 weeks. You might be able to use the biospiro, I'd just grab a filter sponge from a non treated tank, do a few water changes for a couple of weeks and that would be it.

Isn't that easier to tell a newbie?
Aren't water changes a better habit than test kits?
Doesn't this apply to all tanks except non CO2 planted tanks?
Won't this save more folk's fish over time?
Isn't mulm cheaper(sediment or filter)?

As a newbie gets more familar and at ease with things, they can get into the testing etc if they chose............I know many aquarist who have never touched a test kit nor ever will.

Many old timers seldom touch a test kit, yourself included.
So how is it we can do that?

Simple habits(water changes) and methods(add estbalished bacteria from one place to another-mulm)=> we all avoid testing to large degree.

Now when I tell newbies how and why to do water changes, I tell them this: admittedly, there is a little fear mongering, but it works well:

"Imagine 10 people in a small bathroom. Now imagine flushing the toilet only once a month!? Better to flush it often and do large water changes for your fish, as they are swimming around in the waste, freshing things up for them and let them have a nice clean home. This will save you from many deaths over the years if you do this one simple routine. Python water changers etc make quick and easy work of water changes. Squirt some dechlor in there and adjusts the temp and you are done in a few minutes."

The thought of packed bathroom with an unflushed toilet is vivid. It helps to get them doing it, the python makes it easier and less work. End result is better fish health. Add some mulm to start, that's it.




Regards,
Tom Barr




Regards,
Tom Barr
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-03-2006, 11:02 PM
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Actually, Tom, I think we agree on almost everything. Water changes are also my first recommendation for almost any problem people have, and frequent at least weekly water changes of 50% or more are also my recommendation for keeping fish of any variety--more changes for Discus.

I guess I'm just a bit older and more forgiving of the lazy among us (me included).

Your advice is the best for planted tanks.

Just in case some lazy non-planted tank people happen by here, though,

I'm just giving people a way to make sure they have a cycled filter, and recommending test kits to show them that even though their water looks clear and clean, it's actually toxic which is a kick in the behind so they actually have to do the water changes.

Sure mulm is great to help cycle a new tank, and kick start fishless cycling, too.

It takes a bit longer than you might think, though, even with mulm thanks to the very slow growth of nitrifying bacteria.
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-04-2006, 01:39 AM
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No, don't get me wrong, I too agree with most of the ideas of testing and paying attention is some form or another, both methods are better than nothing!

If I get a hold on any fishy only keeper, they walk away with plants.
Water sprite, Chaetomorpha etc

There are no tanks that cannot use a plant.
You can add them in the filter if need be etc.

Regards,
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-04-2006, 08:03 PM
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There are no tanks that cannot use a plant.
You can add them in the filter if need be etc.


Except for my Discus breeding tank, I totally agree! I have potted plants in my juvie grow out tank, and even my quarantine tank for example. Lots of them. They really look nice and the fish love them. I just pot plants from my show tank trimmings in pure flourite in the pots. They grow slowly, but surely.

The breeding tank just doesn't have enough light to support plants well. I tried to put bunches of low light tolerant stem plants in there, but they just couldn't handle it. Probably at least partly because of the very low nutrients from the very frequent, large water changes, and the very, very soft water I use for the fertilization and hatching stages.
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-04-2006, 09:07 PM
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I am using duckweed in my breeding tank. Frequent WC keeps it slow. Let the nitrates (etc) build up and it goes nuts! thus indicating that I need to move faster...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alight
The breeding tank just doesn't have enough light to support plants well. I tried to put bunches of low light tolerant stem plants in there, but they just couldn't handle it. Probably at least partly because of the very low nutrients from the very frequent, large water changes, and the very, very soft water I use for the fertilization and hatching stages.

Moved to Tucson.
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