Nitro fixation process - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-11-2014, 08:27 PM Thread Starter
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Nitro fixation process

Cycling a tank fish in or fish less takes a good solid two months even with chemicals or powders n the market, I've achieved a full cycle in three weeks in my own method.

But I just found this I wonder is it could be used to instantly cycle the tank

must....have.....more....moss n shrimp!!!!!!!!!!

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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-11-2014, 08:43 PM
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I'm not familiar with that one, but I've used Tetra Safestart with great results in 4 tanks now.

I didn't do a full stock with it, but a nice lighter stocking with it has worked great. I'm two months into my latest shell dweller tank and the water has been solid, I never even saw nitrites.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-11-2014, 11:55 PM
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In fresh water tanks there was a lot of work done in the 1990s (papers published 1998 & 2001) by Dr. Tim Havonec and others.

The correct species of bacteria that turn NO2 into NO3 will be called Nitrospira on the label. Seems most closely related to Nitrospira moscoviensis or Nitrospira marina per Dr. Tim Havonek, 1998.

The votes are still out about the ammonia > NO2 species, but it is thought to be a bacteria similar to Nitrosomonas marina per Dr. Tim Havonek, 2001.

Anything still boasting about Nitrobacter is way behind the times.

For the fastest fishless cycle, here is what I found several years ago, then continued working out over several years. The site I found it at originally is no longer up. This cycle can be done in 3 weeks with NO starter culture, or a lot faster depending on how much starter culture you use. (And if you start with the right bacteria!)

Fishless Cycle

Set up tank and equipment.
Fill with water, including dechlor.
Optimum conditions to grow these bacteria the fastest:
GH and KH at least 3 German degrees of hardness, and higher is just fine.
Add some other minerals, for example plant fertilizers: KH2PO4, trace minerals.
High oxygen levels.
Good water movement.
A place to grow. They grow on surfaces, not drifting free in the water. Filter media is great. Sponges, floss, bio-media are all good places for these bacteria.
You can add a starter culture of the right bacteria if you want. It is optional. The cycle can go faster if you add something. Media from a cycled, healthy filter. Bottled bacteria containing Nitrospira species of bacteria. Do not waste money on anything else.

Add ammonia (no surfactants, no perfumes) to test 5 ppm.
Test daily. Add more ammonia to keep the test at 5 ppm through the first few days.
Test for nitrite. When nitrite shows up allow the ammonia to drop to 3 ppm.
Test daily, adding enough ammonia to bring the test to 3 ppm once a day. If you are growing plants that do not like this level of ammonia then test twice a day, and add enough ammonia to bring the test to 1 ppm twice a day.
If the nitrite gets to 5 ppm do a water change. Perhaps add less ammonia for a few days. The nitrite removing bacteria (Nitrospira species) are slower growing, and the ammonia removing bacteria might be making more nitrite than they can deal with.

When the ammonia returns to 0 ppm after 24 hours, and no nitrite shows up at that same 24 hour mark, then the cycle is done.
A fishless cycle with no plants might have VERY high nitrate. Do a BIG water change, or even a couple of them to get the nitrate way down before adding the fish. You can fully stock the tank.
A fishless cycle with lots of plants might show almost no nitrate. The plants are part of the bio filter, and are removing a certain amount of the ammonia before the bacteria even have a chance to turn it into nitrate, and then the plants are removing some or all of the nitrate produced by the bacteria. I would still do a big water change.

If the fish you want to keep need water different than the hard, alkaline water that grow the bacteria so well, now is the time to change that to softer, acidic water. While you were trying to grow the bacteria as fast as possible you wanted optimum conditions for the bacteria. Now that the colony is well established you can change the conditions. They might not grow so fast, but that is OK.

Products that have the right species of bacteria include:
Dr. Tim's One and Only
Tetra Safe Start
Microbe Lift's Nite Out II

There may be more, you will have to read the label.

Last edited by Darkblade48; 07-12-2014 at 02:55 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-12-2014, 12:00 AM
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Wow great explanation Diana. I wish one of the various forums on the Web had something this in depth stickied when I was doing my first tank. I had no idea it was one specific type of bacteria. I just knew safe start worked from experience.

Even though I'm not OP this was a great read!

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-12-2014, 02:23 PM
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What I write up as the fishless cycle was on line, way back when. That is where I found it.
A scientist or two started asking themselves what it took to grow a big population of nitrifying bacteria in order to fully stock an African Rift Lake Cichlid tank. These fish are generally over stocked as a means of controlling their aggression, and you need to add them all at once. Done wrong, one fish will claim the whole tank and attack all the later additions. Also, many eat plants or dig them out.
So, you need to grow a lot of bacteria in the tank without fish.
Also, of course is the humanitarian concept of not exposing fish to the toxic effects of ammonia and nitrite.

So they started working with dosing ammonia from a bottle, instead of from the fish gills, and tried to work out how to grow the bacteria the fastest. What dose of ammonia?

They are the ones that came up with the initial concept:
Jump start with 5ppm, then back off to 3 ppm when the NO2 shows up.

More research that I did further identified the optimum water conditions (hard, alkaline water) and detailed a few ideas about what to do if things were not going as per plan (these bacteria do not grow well when ammonia or nitrite are over 5 ppm, so do a water change).
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-14-2014, 10:39 PM
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two months sounds rather slow...

I've cycled two tanks so far, pretty much following Diana's method, and both completed in ~3 weeks. I didn't add any product, just daily ammonia dosing.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-14-2014, 11:33 PM
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I have done several variations on the fishless cycle, depending on if I have media to spare from established tanks.
The only time it goes slower is when there is no KH in the water. Some substrates take it out of the water, and this allows the pH to crash. End result is the bacteria just sort of sit there until I add potassium bicarbonate.
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