Jumpstarting the nitrogen cycle - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-16-2008, 10:11 PM Thread Starter
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Jumpstarting the nitrogen cycle

Hey there. I'm setting up a tank after being away from things for a while so I have to start from scratch.

I live in the middle of nowhere without easy access to a decent aquarium supply shop and have to do nearly everything via mail order. I've got my tank set up and borrowed a pinch of food from a friend 40 miles away to get some NH4 going in the tank. However, it's been nearly a week and none has shown up. If I had some more food I'd toss it in but I don't. Is there another organic source I can use to seed it? Would something as simple as plant matter from the yard work or does it need to be animal based? Is this a really weird question?

I'd like to know my tank is in good order before I make an epic journey to purchase some plants and fish (the shop I have in mind is about 2 hours away). Of course I will pick up the appropriate food and fert at that time but it would be great to do it in a single trip as well as avoiding unnecessary shipping for a single item.

Thanks and hello!
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-16-2008, 10:46 PM
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Anything that will break down and produce ammonia will suffice. I know a lot of people who used to use chunks of white fish buried in the substrate. You can also use pure ammonia as long as it has no scents or additives, just pure ammonia.


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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-16-2008, 10:53 PM
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I've heard of people using ammonia (without any additives besides h2o) and shrimp.

Do you have any plants in there now?
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-16-2008, 11:06 PM Thread Starter
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No, the tank is entirely empty right now (well, except for substrate and heater/filter etc). Our water is from a spring and when I filled the tank there was a huge amount of sediment (it varies day by day). I wonder if there was just enough organic goo in it that it started breaking down the NH4 right away. I would think I'd see some NO2 or NO3 if that were the case though but it seem pretty sterile when I test it.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-17-2008, 01:12 AM
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If you can get some mulm or gravel from your friend's established tank, this would rapidly accelerate the process.

Paypal me $5 and I'll send you some of my sand with muck (I think it's $4.70 for anything under a pound of shipping).
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-17-2008, 02:29 AM
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Throwing in a cocktail shrimp will accomplish much more than just one pinch of fish food; you need a steady source of ammonia.

Here's a few articles on fishless cycling for you:

http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/4468/...hout_fish.html

http://badmanstropicalfish.com/articles/article14.html





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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-17-2008, 04:17 AM
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A silent cycle would work well. I am not sure why you feel the tank needs to by cycled prior to adding plants or fish. This is more of an issue if you plan to go unplanted.

If you add the mulm to your sediment and follow Rex Grigg's step by step once you get your plants, you should not have issues.

Here is the link to Rex's step by step:
http://www.rexgrigg.com/cycle.htm

Prior to getting into planted tanks, I cycled tanks in various ways and tested ammonia and nitrites.

I cycled an unplanted tank with one hardy fish(whitcloud minnow). It worked but took almost 4 weeks

I did the fishless cycle using ammonia and tested nitirites and ammonia. that worked too and took less time - 3 weeks instead of 4.

I did the silent cycle. Added mulm and capped with substrate, jam packed the tank with plants, including a lot of floating plants, in much the same way as described by Rex Grigg. I did add a hardy fish for ammonia. That took the shortest time - 2 weeks. And the ammonia spike lasted only a few days. It was the nitrite that proved a little stubborn and took time to clear, but it still took much less time to clear than with traditional and fishless cycling. Some say with a silent cycle, you should not experience any ammonia or nitrite. I found that this was not the case when I tried it, which leads be to believe that some nitrifying bacteria will still form even with this method. Keep in mind that jam packing your tank full of plants as part of setting up for a silent cycle also serves to prevent huge algae issues later on and as far as algae goes: "an ounce of prevention is really worth a pound of cure," given that algae can be a real PITA to contain once you get it.

While I cannot speak for other peoples' experiences, based on my experience, the silent cycle resulted in the fastest cycling.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-17-2008, 05:42 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lauraleellbp View Post
Throwing in a cocktail shrimp will accomplish much more than just one pinch of fish food; you need a steady source of ammonia.

Here's a few articles on fishless cycling for you:

http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/4468/...hout_fish.html

http://badmanstropicalfish.com/articles/article14.html
Those are really fantastic articles, especially the second one. I like his philosophy quite a bit. Thanks very much. I think I've decided to follow your lead and go with a piece of fish/shrimp since that's the easiest thing to get a hold of around here.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-17-2008, 07:51 AM
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It's also quite entertaining from an observational science standpoint to use shrimp for fishless cycling.

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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-17-2008, 12:52 PM
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It's also quite entertaining from an observational science standpoint to use shrimp for fishless cycling.
LOL, well it is fishless. To bad it costs you a nice appetizer.

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