Fishless cycle with Aquasoil - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-26-2014, 07:37 PM Thread Starter
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Fishless cycle with Aquasoil

Once we move into our new house I'll be starting my 125 back up. I am really thinking about using Aquasoil. I know that the AS gives off ammonia for a couple weeks. But, my question is does it produce enough ammonia to do a fishless cycle?
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-26-2014, 07:44 PM
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Originally Posted by PamAndJim View Post
Once we move into our new house I'll be starting my 125 back up. I am really thinking about using Aquasoil. I know that the AS gives off ammonia for a couple weeks. But, my question is does it produce enough ammonia to do a fishless cycle?
Yes it does. It took me around 3-4 weeks to complete the cycle but I started out the tank with a huge mass of plants which makes a difference in how fast it take to complete the cycle.

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-26-2014, 08:35 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for your response. To be clear, you did this with just the AS and no additional ammonia, correct?
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-26-2014, 10:00 PM
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Expect about 2ppm with new AS and non-seeded filtration, depending on AS to water volume ratio. About 4-6 weeks to cycle. If ammonia goes above 3ppm, time for a 50-90% water change.

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 12:35 AM
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If you start with the other parameters that the bacteria like then they will grow pretty fast with a regular supply of ammonia like from Aquasoil.

The problem that I foresee is that the soil removed carbonates. I had a tricky time doing the fishless cycle with Safe-T-Sorb, another substrate that removed the KH.
When I kept the KH at least 3 degrees (by adding baking soda) then the bacteria kept on growing (as tested by changing levels of NH3, NO2 and NO3). When the KH dropped then the bacteria stopped doing their stuff.

Here is the fishless cycle. I have included the optimum water conditions to grow the bacteria the fastest.
If the ammonia gets over 5ppm during the first week, do water changes.
If the ammonia gets over 3 ppm during the rest of the cycle, do water changes.
If the Nitrite gets to 5 ppm do water changes.
Monitor the KH and add carbonates (potassium bicarbonate, sodium bicarbonate...) as needed.

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.
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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 #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 02:59 AM
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It you get it planted right away your cycle will last 2 weeks.


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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 06:47 AM
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Don't mean to jack post but I'm in the same boat. Do you guys use tap water while it cycles or go with RO water from start?
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 03:42 PM
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Tap water and if you follow good advice, you will do a 50% water change every 3rd day for 1-2 months, there's absolutely no need to fishless cycle any planted tank. Water changes are used to keep the tank clean and the plants growing well while you dial in the CO2 correctly. You guess initially, then you tweak the CO2. The water changes will mitigate the issues there and the plants will grow much better and you will minimize algae. Once the plants have grown in, the tank is far more resilient to algae and other issues. I add shrimp and algae eaters at the 2-3 week. Never had any issues with this method.

ADA suggest a similar routine for new planted tanks.
So does ADG.
So do I.

Cycling does not even enter the picture. Good frequent water changes will help most any algae issue and prevent issues when you start a new tank.
Add a lot of plants from the start also.




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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post
Tap water and if you follow good advice, you will do a 50% water change every 3rd day for 1-2 months, there's absolutely no need to fishless cycle any planted tank. Water changes are used to keep the tank clean and the plants growing well while you dial in the CO2 correctly. You guess initially, then you tweak the CO2. The water changes will mitigate the issues there and the plants will grow much better and you will minimize algae. Once the plants have grown in, the tank is far more resilient to algae and other issues. I add shrimp and algae eaters at the 2-3 week. Never had any issues with this method.

ADA suggest a similar routine for new planted tanks.
So does ADG.
So do I.

Cycling does not even enter the picture. Good frequent water changes will help most any algae issue and prevent issues when you start a new tank.
Add a lot of plants from the start also.
I did it the exact way Tom is suggesting. Planting a large plant mass from the beginning will help you in the long run. Even if it means planting plants that you don't plan on keeping. Fast growing stems that will take up space quickly will help keep algae at bay.

All matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death life is only a dream which is an imagination of ourselves. Bill Hicks
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 07:27 PM
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You could also go with a rapid cycling method like Tom's One and Only or Tetra Safe Start Plus. Both can be found at your LFS or online. A number of people have had very good results with either product (including myself).

Simply pour the entire bottle into your tank and start testing. Once your levels are stable start putting in fish. The one thing to watch for, if your amonia levels are too high or too low it will delay the formation of the bacteria colony. IRC, Aquasoil ammonia levels should be fine.

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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 04:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post
Tap water and if you follow good advice, you will do a 50% water change every 3rd day for 1-2 months, there's absolutely no need to fishless cycle any planted tank. Water changes are used to keep the tank clean and the plants growing well while you dial in the CO2 correctly. You guess initially, then you tweak the CO2. The water changes will mitigate the issues there and the plants will grow much better and you will minimize algae. Once the plants have grown in, the tank is far more resilient to algae and other issues. I add shrimp and algae eaters at the 2-3 week. Never had any issues with this method.

ADA suggest a similar routine for new planted tanks.
So does ADG.
So do I.

Cycling does not even enter the picture. Good frequent water changes will help most any algae issue and prevent issues when you start a new tank.
Add a lot of plants from the start also.
Tom,

How do you dose ferts when doing water changes every 3 days? Do you keep adding ferts for lost water?
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