Tank cycling...without the tank? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-26-2019, 10:54 AM Thread Starter
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Tank cycling...without the tank?

Hey everyone! This is my first post here as I'm just getting into the hobby. The tank I ordered is currently on back order with no estimated ship date. I'm thinking about trying to grow beneficial bacteria in a mason jar so that the tank "fully-cycled" when it arrives. My plan is to put some filter media in the bottom of the jar, use something like tetra safe start, and feed it some ammonia drops or decaying veggies? My chief concern is aeration. What thoughts do you have to make my experiment a success? Thanks!
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-26-2019, 11:31 AM
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If you have a large bucket, which is very useful to have anyway, you can run the filter in that for a while to give the BB a head start. Even better, you could put some of the substrate in there so that the beneficial bacteria can take root in that too. The tank still won't be fully cycled when you first add the filter, but it should help a lot.

I think it would be difficult to aerate a mason jar and there's not much water volume so ammonia would spike very quickly, potentially killing off all the bacteria that you're working hard to grow.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-26-2019, 03:05 PM
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+1 on setting up a filter, but maybe on a Sterilite or Rubbermade bin instead of a bucket as the curvature of a 5g bucket may not accommodate a filter. For a filter, I'd suggest an Fluval Aquaclear sized for the tank you're getting. The AC design allows you to customize the Media (I use all bio-sponge material.)
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-26-2019, 05:39 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice. I have decided to bypass my mason jar idea, and setup up my Fluval 306 in a 5g HD bucket with some substrate. Thanks!
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-26-2019, 06:18 PM
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I would not bother with trying to get the sub started as the bacteria is believed to live on the surface due to O2 supply needs. That means that moving the sub to a new location most likely will cover and kill much of the bacteria. While and established tank will have lots of the good stuff on the surface of the sub, I would not expect it to be enough to bother when speaking of moving the sub.
One of the things that can sneak up on us and create a spike is when we do a cleaning of a tank and do lots of smoothing/rearranging the sub. Both efforts do kill some bacteria and we should be aware/ alert to the potential problem.
I do not favor trying to use food, etc. as the ammonia source as it does take time to degrade and is not very controllable like pure ammonia.
Kind of throws in a wildcard that may let too much ammonia show up one day and that excess ammonia is an antiseptic which may kill off all the good bacteria we had been growing for weeks.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-26-2019, 09:26 PM Thread Starter
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Makes sense, as your approach eliminates one more variable. I will give the fish food approach a try (because I have fish food, but not ammonia). If it fails, I will restart but with ammonia. Thanks!
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-27-2019, 12:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Nitrox32 View Post
Makes sense, as your approach eliminates one more variable. I will give the fish food approach a try (because I have fish food, but not ammonia). If it fails, I will restart but with ammonia. Thanks!
I should also admit that finding the right ammonia is a pretty tricky thing at times as most has surficants added which are somewhat related to soap to make it work better. As far as I can tell Ace hardware seems to have the market for pure ammonia! If it foams and the bubbles persist, it is not pure!
End result is that it doesn't promote the good bacteria very well if it allows them at all. Easy method if you can work it out is getting some used media from somewhere like the LFS and then feeding the bacteria enough to keep it alive while waiting for fish.
Another place where there are lots of ways to go about getting there.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-27-2019, 01:24 AM
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Makes sense, as your approach eliminates one more variable. I will give the fish food approach a try (because I have fish food, but not ammonia). If it fails, I will restart but with ammonia. Thanks!
You can buy a 2 ounce bottle of pure ammonia on Amazon for around $5 designed for cycling aquariums, the stuff I got was by Dr. Tims aquatics.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-27-2019, 08:52 PM Thread Starter
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I picked up a bottle of ammonia from The Dollar Store: non scented, no soap or surficants. Gave it a big shake and no bubbles, so I figured it was worth a try. Now my tank's ammonia is 2ppm. Thanks for the great advice!
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-03-2019, 01:25 AM
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The only thing is that if you have no way of knowing whether your tank will be available to ship in two weeks, or a month or longer, maintaining and constantly monitoring a growing bacteria culture in a bucket will become your hobby for a while.
Just don't tell any of your friends that you're breeding millions of invisible pets.
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-03-2019, 04:19 AM
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The only thing is that if you have no way of knowing whether your tank will be available to ship in two weeks, or a month or longer, maintaining and constantly monitoring a growing bacteria culture in a bucket will become your hobby for a while.
Just don't tell any of your friends that you're breeding millions of invisible pets.
Why not? This could become the next 'Sea Monkey' craze. Only this time they're too small to see. The potential is enormous.

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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-03-2019, 06:38 PM Thread Starter
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I must admit, I had to look up what the Sea Monkey craze was. Before my time, but goes to show that the marketing aspect is as important or more important than the product that is being marketed.

As for the home depot bucket tank, still not Nitrites or Nitrates. I am concerned that my bucket temp may be too low. I don't have a heater in it, so the bucket/cannister stay between 67 and 73--the temperature range in the house. Either that or the Tetra Safe Start plus I bought is a no good.

Current water stats:

ph: 7.8
Ammonia: 2ppm
Nitrite/Nitrate: 0ppm
KH: 4
GH: 3
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-05-2019, 02:47 AM
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What are you using for seed bacteria? Thanks to modern, state of the art sanitation, your tap or hose water has nearly none.
For most people, its the bacteria on the plant or fish they bring home from the store, but this won't work for you
You can buy prepackaged beneficial bacterial made by any of the big names in fish supply; Marineland, Tetra, API, Fin, etc Your local fish store will have some options.

What I've done before is to bring an empty disposable bottle (drinking water) to an LFS and asked them to fill it from their sump or from any of their tanks.
You can get it from also any flowing creek, stream (I don't like standing pond/lake water, or slow large rivers). You can use a larger bucket and fill it part way for that.

I assume you used Prime or some brand of dechlorinator?
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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-05-2019, 08:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psychofisho View Post
What are you using for seed bacteria? Thanks to modern, state of the art sanitation, your tap or hose water has nearly none.
For most people, its the bacteria on the plant or fish they bring home from the store, but this won't work for you
You can buy prepackaged beneficial bacterial made by any of the big names in fish supply; Marineland, Tetra, API, Fin, etc Your local fish store will have some options.

What I've done before is to bring an empty disposable bottle (drinking water) to an LFS and asked them to fill it from their sump or from any of their tanks.
You can get it from also any flowing creek, stream (I don't like standing pond/lake water, or slow large rivers). You can use a larger bucket and fill it part way for that.

I assume you used Prime or some brand of dechlorinator?
I think getting seed from a friend's tank that you can assure is clean and well taken care off is better than getting it from LFS. you never know what type of parasite is in their tank, so better be safe than sorry. if you can't find a bacteria seed source then better take the long route instead of risking it of unhealthy seed.
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-05-2019, 03:35 PM
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you never know what type of parasite is in their tank, so better be safe than sorry. if you can't find a bacteria seed source then better take the long route instead of risking it of unhealthy seed.
I could say that about your tank. Or my tank. There's no way to assure that his friend's tank is any cleaner or well taken care of than an LFS. I wouldn't assume that my tank is cleaner or more parasite free than my LFS.

From where should we assume he will get most of his fish and plants from - his friend? Even if he orders fish/plants online, that store would be local to somebody else. Its still an LFS.

If you can't find a bacteria seed source, then there is no long route.
I used RO water when I had a discus tank. How long would it take to produce a thriving beneficial bacteria colony using RO water in a sterile (lowercase) bucket and adding ammonia regularly? You start with zero bacteria, after a year or two of dosing ammonia, you end up with . . . zero bacteria. Maintain that bucket in a class 5 hard drive assembly room if you want to be clean.

He wants to hurry up and have the tank cycled before he even receives the tank. I don't think that sound like he is interested in going the long route.

Logically, there is no problem with using water from an LFS he plans to purchase livestock from, but I think the quickest way to jump start the process is to use prepackaged beneficial bacteria - just get it off the shelf at the LFS.
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Last edited by psychofisho; 02-05-2019 at 10:27 PM. Reason: .
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