I see 4 ways to break the circle, none are quick:
- buy, borrow, steal media from an existing cycled tank (I personally not too keen on bacteria in a bottle products). Now you will have a race between plants and nutrifying bacteria for ammonia. Even if the bacteria gets some, the cycle will not be short and the possibility of the cycle is still iffy.
- take a chance on the bacterial bloom and start overfeeding the tank to bring the ammonia to around 0.25 - 0.5 ppm. The bacterial bloom gets worse but the cycle starts. Once it is complete, the bacterial bloom goes down / away.
- take care of the bacterial bloom first by trying to minimize it's food source. Take a turkey baster and either attach it to a a 1/2" hose or use both hands. Start syphon with the hose, gently squeeze the buster to blow out junk from the carpet and into the hose. Pretty labor and time intensive with iffy results (as hard as you try, there will still remain organics to feed the bloom).
- trim both carpets to substrate. They will grow back stronger then ever. Syphon out the organics with a hose, hopefully leaving little food for the bacterial bloom. Spike the ammonia a bit - now you have less competition for ammonia from the plants, more left for the nutrifying bacteria colony to grow. If you could now get used media then so much the better.
- or you can try UV to kill of the bloom and then start the cycle.
Best of luck, you can do it.
Thank you for the lengthy response! I definitely do want to start the cycle then ASAP. After reading your 4 options, I feel like maybe I can do a combination of these. As I do not have media from an established cycled tank, I may ask my LFS to see if they are willing to donate. Additionally, I am leaning towards the option of kickstarting the cycle by overfeeding. I have already begun to notice many of my fish defecating, which should add more ammonia as well. How would you rate the options you provided in order of best to worst option to kickstart the cycle?
As hard as it would be to trim away all the growth of my plants I've patiently worked hard on, I may trim my dwarf hair grass down to substrate as it grows back much faster than the HC. If I were to attempt to trim my HC back down to substrate, what would be the most efficient way to trim it without making a mess and without completing emptying my tank..? It's definitely grown out and upwards about 2 to 3 inches over a wide area, but I have a feeling I would get HC leaves everywhere in my tank and filter if I just started snipping away.
So as a bottom line, I am leaning towards trimming my hairgrass on the right side of the tank and clean up anything in that area, begin to overfeed and expect the bacterial bloom to continue blooming, and try to borrow some media. Additionally, should I continue to perform water changes and how often?
being that you haven't started a cycle yet you have a bacterial bloom of heterotrophic bacteria. this type lives off of decaying matter in the tank. they reproduce faster than autotrophic bacteria (the bacteria involved in the nitrogen cycle) water changes will help temporarily but the bacteria will quickly reproduce and you'll have cloudy water again. the best solution is to cycle your tank and make sure there's no decaying matter like dead plants and uneaten food. adding fish to your tank that in uncycled was not the best idea but you can still perform a fish in cycle. keep an eye on your water parameters and do water changes as need until your tank is cycled and the cloudiness should clear up.
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It does look like I am going to have to cycle it. Thanks for replying!
After three month's with the aquasoil,there is/was no doubt, healthy bacterial colony .
Aquasoil alone could cycle the tank, and feed the plants for some time.
The cloudy water could be result of dirty filter material and saw no mention of what type of filtration or how often it was/is being cleaned.
After addition of nearly two dozen fishes in a week or two?(slow and gradual over weeks is better.
I would expect another bacteria bloom which in my view would be normal.
As mentioned,,the three month's that OP fought cloudy water initially could have also been bacteria blooming as result of ammonia leaching from the aquasoil and perhaps dirty filter material.
One might think that with no fishes present,that the filter material should not be dirty ,but speaking from soil based tanks,the material can get fairly dirty for first few month's.
Same with some caps over soils, or mixed with soils like clay, cat litter,safe-t-sorb.
Were it me,I would just stay on top of water changes now that fishes are present and let tank mature at it's own pace.
I will admit, my filtration hasn't been cleaned on a constant basis. I've left the same sponge I've been using in there and now will be squishing it in tank water every 3 weeks or so. My filtration now is just a normal HOB filter with a sponge, a purigen filter, the stock white cubes that come with it, and a filter floss on top of that.
I am willing to be patient and let nature take its course, if I do nothing and sit back, how often should I be performing water changes and how much each time? Thank you!