Cycling Aquasoil and Fert Dosing - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-09-2014, 09:24 PM Thread Starter
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Cycling Aquasoil and Fert Dosing

Sorry in advance if this has been laboriously answered previously, but didn't find anything through a search.

I just started a new tank with aquasoil. The filter is from an established tank to speed up the cycling. I've been doing 50%+ water changes every 2 days or so to remove cloudiness and ammonia. I've planted the tank since day 1. The tank will be high light + high co2 + demanding plants. My question is if I need to dose EI ferts at all, or will the aquasoil suffice? Also, I've planted plugs of monte carlo in the foreground and wondering if the plugs will die if not every stem is surrounded by some sort of aquasoil.

Thanks for the help!


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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-09-2014, 10:18 PM Thread Starter
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Ahhh, screamed out for help a little before I found some good info. Thinking about dosing half EI for the first 2 weeks, and then upping it depending on conditions.


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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-10-2014, 06:17 AM
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Leave a trace of ammonia in the water (no more than 3 ppm) so the nitrifying bacteria have some food for the first month.

Here is the fishless cycle.
The difference is that with ADA soils you have a source of ammonia during the cycle automatically added for you.

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.

1a) 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.

1b) 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.
Some substrates release ammonia when they are submerged for the first time. Monitor the level and do enough water changes to keep the ammonia at the levels detailed below.

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.
__________________________

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 1b) 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. Tropical 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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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-10-2014, 07:57 AM
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Well, for me it would be well enough to know that the aquasoil is providing ammonia which plants will use as fuel for growth.
I would simply feed the plants with fertilizers while beginning the CO2 injection and would keep photo period relatively short for the first few weeks.
Would not be too quick to add fishes/inverts while the aquasoil is releasing ammonia unless I was prepared to do frequent water changes.
much easier in my view to get the plant growth /CO2 /lighting dialed in without the burden of worrying bout fishes.
Gives me time to move plants/hardscape about (I try not to),and or deal with possible algae and various chemical fixes that many employ without worrying bout the fishes as well.
No fishes for first few weeks also means no extra organic input from fish food and or fish waste and one can observe plant growth as result of only fertilizers and CO2 available depending on methods.
Also provides time for me to research possible fishes that interest me and see if they will be a good fit with water chemistry/tankmates.
My two cents.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-10-2014, 05:18 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you both for your inputs! I am using the fishless cycle, but I already have most of the plants I want in the tank. I've started the CO2 injection since day one and just started dosing half EI. My concern was whether the plants will be able to thrive as the tank is cycling with aquasoil, and if anything would be a limiting factor. I figured I'd start with some fertilization and tweak as needed depending on algae and tank chemistry. Valuable two cents there roadmaster!


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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-10-2014, 05:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asu1776 View Post
Thank you both for your inputs! I am using the fishless cycle, but I already have most of the plants I want in the tank. I've started the CO2 injection since day one and just started dosing half EI. My concern was whether the plants will be able to thrive as the tank is cycling with aquasoil, and if anything would be a limiting factor. I figured I'd start with some fertilization and tweak as needed depending on algae and tank chemistry. Valuable two cents there roadmaster!

I might would keep an eye on ammonia if adding liquid ammonia in addition to that being released by the substrate.
I do not think the liquid ammonia to be necessary with the ammonia also available in the aqua soil.

Those who use the aqua soil recommend largish water changes to prevent the ammonia being released from triggering algae blooms.
I should think that with subdued photoperiod/intensity for a few weeks, the plants may be able to use the lions share of the ammonia without triggering algae bloom that some see when using uber lighting.
Would not hurt to test ammonia and or perform water changes to keep it from getting ridiculously high.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-10-2014, 05:53 PM Thread Starter
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Oh yes, not adding additional ammonia since I know aqua soil releases it. I've been keeping up with the water changes and testing ammonia as well. Ammonia floats around 1 ppm or so. My PH is 6.0ish due to Co2 injection and the aqua soil, so hoping it won't drastically affect the cycling of the tank.


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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-10-2014, 06:17 PM
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Lots of water changes, add some ferts and that's it. The rest is good CO2, that's what you should be most concerned about for any new tank.

Ferts, cycling, do not worry about, it'll happen.




Regards,
Tom Barr
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-10-2014, 08:18 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Tom!


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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-18-2014, 05:32 PM
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Good!
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-18-2014, 05:59 PM Thread Starter
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A quick update. My tank is showing no signs of ammonia for the past 3 days, maybe even sooner. Getting the plants to grow well and doing frequent water changes seems to be the trick as Tom had mentioned. Awesome!


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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-19-2014, 03:45 AM
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So, pretend you have just added fish.

Add ammonia instead.

Can the tank deal with it? Does not matter if it is the plants or the nitrifying bacteria, but you want to see zero ammonia and nitrites by the next day.
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