Can you instantly cycle your new filter this way? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 70 (permalink) Old 06-14-2019, 12:07 AM Thread Starter
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Can you instantly cycle your new filter this way?

Apologies if this sounds stupid but In my head it makes sense...

So a friend just asked if I had any spare media to help kick start his cycle (he’s new to fish keeping), unfortunately I don’t as I’m using it in a new filter myself.

So if I cleaned/ squeezed one of my filter sponges into a bucket of aquarium water- you know the drill where it turns that bucket water dark brown. If I left his filter running in that bucket for half an hour or so in theory that would fill his filter with bacteria?

Would That be a viable option?
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post #2 of 70 (permalink) Old 06-14-2019, 12:18 AM
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In three words: no, absolutely not.
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post #3 of 70 (permalink) Old 06-14-2019, 12:21 AM
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Do they use the same filter? Can you just trade a fraction of your foam? I'm not saying it would auto-cycle their tank, but you would be gifting some healthy bacteria.

Last edited by Streetwise; 06-14-2019 at 12:43 AM. Reason: Edit
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post #4 of 70 (permalink) Old 06-14-2019, 12:51 AM
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Better use of mulm water is to poor it into gravel bed when you start filling tank up so it seeds into gravel bed. Way more surface area for bacteria to populate. Gravel bed is always biggest and best biological filter.

If tanks already filled get a ketchup squeeze bottle and go around and squirt a little bit of mulm water into substrate about every 2. Dump rest into tank and let filter pads pick it up.

It can very much speed up cycling nicely but go easy with mulm and its not a full on instant cycling no matter what someone on internet said.
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post #5 of 70 (permalink) Old 06-14-2019, 02:51 PM
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Short answer, no.
However.... If you were to put 'items' in your tank or filter for a week - or three, then gift him that- he would get an extra boost. I do it all the time when I get new tanks- generally bacteria sticks to 'stuffs' (I call it when im being coy). But here is my routine: I use some rocks, substrate and filter media from an established tank in the new tank. I fill and add liquid ammonia for a week or so.... no water changes, lights off.
After that I check and if things are going in the right direction, then I add 'liquid beneficial bacteria'... people can argue whether or not this helps- but personally i figure it cant hurt. I keep dosing until my ammonia dosing reads 0, 12 hours after dosing and my nitrates are high.
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post #6 of 70 (permalink) Old 06-14-2019, 05:01 PM
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Bacteria will only grow to the level where the bacteria colony has enough food to live. One can not create more bacteria if there is no food for them to ingest. Bacteria inside the aquarium will consume the vast majority of the waste that feeding and fish waste provides.

Bump: Bacteria will only grow to the level where the bacteria colony has enough food to live. One can not create more bacteria if there is no food for them to ingest. Bacteria inside the aquarium will consume the vast majority of the waste that feeding and fish waste provides.
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post #7 of 70 (permalink) Old 06-14-2019, 08:51 PM
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It's interesting that folks that agree that putting media from an established tank/filter in a new filter jump starts a cycle, but not that 'cleaning' those same sponges in the the new tank water won't!
I 'instant cycle' new tank/filters (even in bare bottom grow out tanks) by doing exactly that - I simply take one or more sponges from a healthy tank/filter and 'clean' it in the new tank water. This seeds the new filter with BB. I first learned of this some 20 years ago!
The Bailey Brothers speak of it in one of their podcasts back in early 2k.
The Bailey Brothers Pet Fish Talk

Aquarium Water : 8:40
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post #8 of 70 (permalink) Old 06-14-2019, 09:31 PM
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You can only rush nature so much. Squeezing a sponge from a large Aqua Clear that has been running on a healthy mature tank is certainly going to help things along -and I do every time I set up a new aquarium. I'd imagine countless millions of nitrifying bacteria are going to be in that rinse water. Any plant that is growing will remove nitrogen as well. But I don't know of a method that doesn't take some time. Surely many of those bacteria perish from the parameter changes and disturbance, and there's just a "settling in" period for lack of a better term before they reach peak effectiveness.

Ever found a small fish that has been dead for a day or more in a newer tank? They almost always have cottony fuzz covering them. The same dead fish in a thriving 4 year old planted tank will dissolve into nothing in that time. When I was into reef aquariums, ORP (oxidation reduction potential) was becoming all the rage. This is basically your water's ability to oxidize a contaminant. I suspect you would find similar varying ORP readings in a mature planted system compared to a newer one as well though I don't know of people concerning themselves with this value in freshwater. But make no mistake, you can get an aquarium "cycled" in a few weeks (meaning no NH4 or NO2 and NO3 is showing), especially with growing plants but this same tank is not nearly the stable ecosystem that it will become after several months or even years.

Nothing good happens fast in an ecosystem.
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post #9 of 70 (permalink) Old 06-14-2019, 10:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AbbeysDad View Post
It's interesting that folks that agree that putting media from an established tank/filter in a new filter jump starts a cycle, but not that 'cleaning' those same sponges in the the new tank water won't!
I 'instant cycle' new tank/filters (even in bare bottom grow out tanks) by doing exactly that - I simply take one or more sponges from a healthy tank/filter and 'clean' it in the new tank water. This seeds the new filter with BB. I first learned of this some 20 years ago!
The Bailey Brothers speak of it in one of their podcasts back in early 2k.
The Bailey Brothers Pet Fish Talk

Aquarium Water : 8:40
Seeding adds all the BB strains and also provides a modest amount of organic waste for them to use as food source short term. But you still need to provide a long term food source by feeding fish or ammonia dosing to keep them fed if you want them to fully populate bio media.
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post #10 of 70 (permalink) Old 06-15-2019, 01:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveKS View Post
Seeding adds all the BB strains and also provides a modest amount of organic waste for them to use as food source short term. But you still need to provide a long term food source by feeding fish or ammonia dosing to keep them fed if you want them to fully populate bio media.

Agree.
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post #11 of 70 (permalink) Old 06-15-2019, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveKS View Post
Seeding adds all the BB strains and also provides a modest amount of organic waste for them to use as food source short term. But you still need to provide a long term food source by feeding fish or ammonia dosing to keep them fed if you want them to fully populate bio media.
Well yea....you add fish right away! Not a bio overload, but a few fish or many fry. For example, I recently setup another bare bottom 29g grow out tank with an Aquaclear 50. Once the temp was stable (about 77F) I cleaned the sponges from my 37g tank Aquaclear 70 filter (filled with bio-sponges) in the new tank water. A couple of hours later I added a few water sprite plants, some guppy grass, and about 50+ Swordtail fry. That was a couple of weeks ago and even with heavy feeding 3-4 times daily (fry are hungry little guys) ALL IS WELL.
Disclaimer: Having written the above I should point out that it's a fry grow out tank. As such, I stay on top or water changes.



'Instant cycle' works as I've been doing it for over 20 of the 50+ years I've been in the hobby.


Footnote: I know of hobbyists with NEW heavily planted tanks that add a few fish right away w/o even the 'instant cycle' that we're talking about. The plants use the ammonia as their N2 source and BB slowly develops to pick up the slack. The real key is only adding a few fish at a time so the ammonia created does not exceed the environments capability to deal with it. Still, given 'food' and O2, BB colony(ies) develop quickly.

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post #12 of 70 (permalink) Old 06-15-2019, 03:22 PM
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It definitely works for many. But it's absolutely not an ideal setup and doesn't allow for the same kind of environment that's created when a tank is allowed to mature for a month or two - developing biofilm, beneficial bacteria all over the place, and all that comes with it.

Through the past several decades, hobbyists have discovered that there are more humane, more ideal ways to create healthy habitats for the critters we keep in glass boxes of water. And that's why most of us shy away from doing things fast & easy and focus on slow and steady whenever possible. Hence all the comments in this thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AbbeysDad View Post
Well yea....you add fish right away! Not a bio overload, but a few fish or many fry. For example, I recently setup another bare bottom 29g grow out tank with an Aquaclear 50. Once the temp was stable (about 77F) I cleaned the sponges from my 37g tank Aquaclear 70 filter (filled with bio-sponges) in the new tank water. A couple of hours later I added a few water sprite plants, some guppy grass, and about 50+ Swordtail fry. That was a couple of weeks ago and even with heavy feeding 3-4 times daily (fry are hungry little guys) ALL IS WELL.
Disclaimer: Having written the above I should point out that it's a fry grow out tank. As such, I stay on top or water changes.



'Instant cycle' works as I've been doing it for over 20 of the 50+ years I've been in the hobby.


Footnote: I know of hobbyists with NEW heavily planted tanks that add a few fish right away w/o even the 'instant cycle' that we're talking about. The plants use the ammonia as their N2 source and BB slowly develops to pick up the slack. The real key is only adding a few fish at a time so the ammonia created does not exceed the environments capability to deal with it. Still, given 'food' and O2, BB colony(ies) develop quickly.


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post #13 of 70 (permalink) Old 06-15-2019, 03:46 PM
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How fast will the BB reproduce?

If seeding a new tank and providing a small bioload right off the bat it should stabilize very quickly. The key to doing what abbysdad talks about is not dumping an entire host of inhabitants in the tank right away.
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post #14 of 70 (permalink) Old 06-15-2019, 04:58 PM
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Yes - I think the key point here is that there is always a possibility that a seeded tank could fail to cycle. Even if you move a mature filter/substrate/plants/decorations in from an established tank. I often set up multiple seeded tanks at a time and several times, I've had two tanks set up exactly the same way, at exactly the same time, and one cycles almost immediately while the other goes through an adjustment period with some ammonia or nitrite spikes where you can actually smell that the water is "off".

It's like any situation where you're taking a "sterile" environment and trying to get specific bacteria to colonize. Take a human body after a course of antibiotics as an equivalent example. Many people have issues with yeast or overgrowth of bad bacteria in their bodies after a course of antibiotics knocks out their natural gut flora. Sometimes this requires additional treatment with antifungals or even stronger things. This can happen even if you take all precautions like taking probiotics.

This just isn't a guaranteed, 100% foolproof process. In identical setups you could have some tanks cycle right away and some tanks fail to seed. Taking time to make sure a new tank has stabilized prevents bad things from happening to livestock. It's also important to be aware of the tolerance and hardiness of your livestock. I often add a snail or two first to a new tank that appears to have stabilized. If the snail is fine, after a few days I add a guppy. If the guppy is fine after a few days, I add a shrimp. Basically I take the hardiest creature that I wouldn't mind losing one of to be the canary in the coal mine. If the snail, guppy and shrimp are all fine and water parameters continue to test where they should after a week, I then slowly add in more sensitive critters over time to allow the nitrifying bacteria to catch up to the increased waste production. If at any point things start to go downhill I remove the critters back to an established tank and treat the tank like it's brand new and wasn't seeded - I go through a fishless cycle at that point. I no longer experience deaths due to new tank syndrome, or "unexplained" deaths that are likely due to unstable water parameters.

I made enough mistakes with adding livestock to new tanks that hadn't cycled when I first started out with aquariums and lost enough poor fish that I don't find it worth the risk and stress to push things too much and rush. E.g. I am picking up some shell dweller cichlids this weekend even though their designated tank isn't ready so they're going in a long-established 10 gallon or two temporarily. Would I rather put them in their permanent tank right away? Of course, but that's not going to be good for them and I would feel like I'm failing in my duty to use good animal husbandry practices. Ideally I'd just wait to pick them up until their permanent tank has cycled but that's not an option this time around. So the 10 gallon(s) will keep them safe and happy in the meantime

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post #15 of 70 (permalink) Old 06-15-2019, 06:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by somewhatshocked View Post
It definitely works for many. But it's absolutely not an ideal setup and doesn't allow for the same kind of environment that's created when a tank is allowed to mature for a month or two - developing biofilm, beneficial bacteria all over the place, and all that comes with it.

Through the past several decades, hobbyists have discovered that there are more humane, more ideal ways to create healthy habitats for the critters we keep in glass boxes of water. And that's why most of us shy away from doing things fast & easy and focus on slow and steady whenever possible. Hence all the comments in this thread.

If you have one or more established healthy tanks it makes no sense to setup a new tank with bottled ammonia and wait 6-8 weeks for a cycle to happen.

There's absolutely nothing inhumane about properly seeding a new tank with beneficial biology, fast growing floating plants, and using common sense about stocking. I've done it many, many times and never lost a fish!

It's pointless to debate something that's been done successfully so many times.

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