Need info regarding new tank cycle - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-15-2019, 04:16 AM Thread Starter
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Need info regarding new tank cycle

Hello all, I have been racking my brain over the new tank cycling process. I feel like Iím complicating the process more than I should. I am setting up a 22 gallon long and am still waiting for my equipment/accessories to arrive. I expect to start setting up and planting within the next few weeks but want to be 100% ready. Keep in mind this is a brand new, untouched tank so there will be a fresh start for the biological filter.

To start off I will be using water straight from the tap. I am waiting on my test kit to get parameters so stand by for numbers. I DO plan on adding livestock but can/will have to wait obviously.

1. When adding fresh tap water either on first fill up, or a water change. Should I be adding a dechlorinator (eg. API Conditioner)? For water changes would I do the change (remove/replace) then add a product to my tank? Or prep the water in a bucket or something first? And when should I be doing water changes during the cycle? Should I just go 50% daily for the first week or so, or every other day to let the levels rise for bacteria?

2. I plan to use ADA Amazonia light OR Tropica Aquasoil. Would these leech enough ammonia for my cycle or should I grab a bottle of ammonia just to be safe? I understand I should be around 4-5ppm of ammonia to get the cycle going, until I see nitrites?

3. Kickstarting the cycle. Products such as Seachem Stability should be added at what point? From day 1? Or after I see some decent Nitrite levels? Should I be using Prime during this cycle, or at all?

4. Anything else I can add to the water to help beneficial bacteria? Fish food? If so what kind, and how much/how often?

From what Iíve been researching Iíll basically be setting up the equipment, doing the hardscape, plant (possibly DSM as well), flood the tank adding required/recommended conditioners, and start a daily photoperiod while cranking Co2.

I know this is basic info, but I keep getting conflicting info on starting a bio cycle and would just like some things cleared up before I begin. Any help on this subject would be GREATLY appreciated.


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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-15-2019, 07:45 AM
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So the reason you are getting conflicting information is that the process is pretty simple so there are dozens of ways to do it and they all work because bacteria are pretty easy to grow.

To break it down for your particular case. You are using an active substrate so you don't need to add any more ammonia. Your substrate will produce plenty. If you are on city water as opposed to well water, you will need to use a dechlorinator. You can add it to the first bucket of water or to the tank right before you dump water in. It doesn't matter which. There is not enough chlorine in your water to instantly kill everything.

I use liquid bacteria to jump start completely new tanks when I don't have access to an established tank. I add the bacteria immediately after first fill up. Different people have different preferences on this.

I am just going to copy and paste the water change advice.

"For the first week, every day. For the second week, every other day. Three times during the third week, and two times during the fourth week. After the first month once a week is sufficient."

And no matter what you will see folks doing it differently than what I just said because growing bacteria is pretty simple. Just don't get impatient. Get a test kit and wait a month before adding fish. You can plant from day one though.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-15-2019, 08:17 AM
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Tetra safe start plus was a really helpful bacteria supplement for me when I was cycling my tank for the first time. I tried my best with a bottle of ammonia, testing everyday and monitoring levels for a couple months with no decent success, and eventually I gave up out of frustration and dumped in a bottle of safe start plus and things turned around and I was cycled within a week or so. I also tried stability before I tried safe start plus and it didn't do much for me, but I've heard good things about it, which is why I bought it in the first place so its definitely up to you.

The only thing about safe start plus is that apparently, depending on the storage/travel conditions before it gets to you, the bacteria could be killed through extreme temperatures. Thankfully my bottle was fine and things went well. I bought extra bottles just in case of emergencies too.

And it should be added right away, so that your cycle can complete as soon as possible. Ammonia itself should be enough to feed the bacteria so I would say just measure the ammonia to make sure there's enough in the water column from the soil, otherwise dose more ammonia. You can add fishfood or some other organic matter but it's less concise in its measurements and harder to guess how much to put in.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-15-2019, 10:13 AM Thread Starter
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Appreciate the replies from both of you. You two helped clear up some confusion! So my API kit should be arriving in the next day or two then I can begin testing water parameters while I gather and setup the rest of my equipment then I will go from there. The problem was Iíve spent countless hours researching the art of aquascaping itself and all of the technicals involved such as equipment and materials, that the introduction cycle took me by surprise. I hadnít done nearly enough research on actually starting the tank cycle (I havenít had any aquatic tanks since I was a child basically). I feel a bit more confident/excited to begin now. Iíll be sure to check out conditioners and liquid bio additives you guys have mentioned and see which will work best for me.

I just overthink a lot of things because I donít like learning the hard way and wanted to be 100% sure I knew what I was doing before my new tank saw a drop of water or material, haha. The help was much appreciated, Iíll be sure to post a little setup thread one day shortly to show off what I will have going on.

Thanks again!


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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-15-2019, 01:42 PM
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I just cycled an Amazonia Light tank in 2.5 weeks with the use of seeded filter media . No added ammonia necessary. Dr . Tims bacteria starter works well if you don't have seeded bio material. I ended up only having to do 4 water changes during the start up, which is why I went with the light product. It's been a month now and still I don't have any algae, and it was far easier than I expected after reading about ADA soil.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 08:54 AM
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Totally get you! I was the same way when I started my first tank and I wanted to get everything exactly perfect. Did hours upon hours of research and devised a serious game plan including a go at the DSM too! Funnily enough, many things didn't go according to plan but it all came together in the end, because in my experience, many aspects of this process are quite forgiving which is definitely a relief.

Just wanted to add a few things:

1. You might not need to go as high as 4-5ppm ammonia depending on how large your tank is/how heavily you will stock. I also read through various sites on the cycling process when I was attempting mine and most said 4-5ppm as a standard but I've learned that it is not really necessary when your tank is on the smaller side. I started off trying to cycle with 4ppm ammonia, but the cycle wouldn't budge and so I came to TPT for help and I learned from another user that for my 10g tank, I really only needed to cycle with about 1-2ppm ammonia. Most cases, in a smaller tank, 4-5ppm is more than the livestock would ever really produce in a single day. And so for a tank that's 20g, you could probably get away with 3-4ppm instead of 4-5ppm. I think I stuck to around 1.5ppm for my cycle and once I stocked my tank, everything was perfectly fine, no problems in my cycle at all ever since.

2. If you do decide to stick to the higher range of ammonia, I might caution from putting plants right away as some plants could melt from ammonia burn when the ammonia is too high. Depends on the plant, and of course how much ammonia there is, but if you start out high, you might want to wait until the ammonia lessens a bit just to be safe.

3. If you use a bacteria starter, it's very helpful to pour some of the liquid straight onto your filtration media so some of the bacteria have a head start in establishing in the media. As for me, I shook the bottle vigorously before pouring half the bottle in the water column and half straight into my filter where my filtration media was. Not sure if it made a difference, but it cant hurt

By the way, the user above recommends Dr. Tim's bacteria starter and I heard so many good things about this product. It's said to be one of the few bacteria starters that have the true, live nitrifying bacteria that is needed in the cycle, which is why I definitely considered using this product before I tried tetra safe start. A lot of articles said other bacteria starters dont have the right bacteria in them and don't do much for the cycle, but I found this to be false. I definitely would have tried Dr. Tim's bacteria starter if it wasn't so hard to get ahold of, plus it's a bit more expensive than tetra safe start. Tetra safe start is carried at most chain pet stores and is on amazon for pretty cheap. I took a chance and it turned out to be worth it in this instance so I would definitely recommend it. I also tried API quickstart, but that didn't do anything for me.

Hope that helps. Wish you lots of luck on your tank!

Last edited by waterblossom; 06-16-2019 at 09:54 AM. Reason: edit
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-17-2019, 05:17 PM
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Added in bold and italics.
1. When adding fresh tap water either on first fill up, or a water change. Should I be adding a dechlorinator.
Add declorinator BEFORE you add it to the tank.
Lights off!- no water changes. add Ammonia to 4ppm.


2. I plan to use ADA Amazonia light OR Tropica Aquasoil. Would these leech enough ammonia for my cycle or should I grab a bottle of ammonia just to be safe? I understand I should be around 4-5ppm of ammonia to get the cycle going, until I see nitrites?
Nitrites are poison.... nitrates feed plants. If you see nitrites.... keep going....... otherwise you will poison fish/inverts, etc. Ammonia- Nirtites - Nitrates..... that is the process. So until you have high nitrates- on zero ammonia.... dont stop feeding ammonia. You can check your ammonia with a simple test.... ammazonia doesnt guarantee the proper ammonia.


3. Kickstarting the cycle. Products such as Seachem Stability should be added at what point? From day 1? Or after I see some decent Nitrite levels? Should I be using Prime during this cycle, or at all?
Personally I let nature take it's course (but make sure you DECHLORINATE). Then after a week or so I start adding 'bacteria products' as I dont want false readings.


4. Anything else I can add to the water to help beneficial bacteria? Fish food? If so what kind, and how much/how often?
IMO, just add the liquid ammonia.....


From what I’ve been researching I’ll basically be setting up the equipment, doing the hardscape, plant (possibly DSM as well), flood the tank adding required/recommended conditioners, and start a daily photoperiod while cranking Co2.
I cycle with no lights.... That is after you plant. depending on your schedule for planting.

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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-20-2019, 05:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ricci_215 View Post

1. When adding fresh tap water either on first fill up, or a water change. Should I be adding a dechlorinator (eg. API Conditioner)? For water changes would I do the change (remove/replace) then add a product to my tank? Or prep the water in a bucket or something first? And when should I be doing water changes during the cycle? Should I just go 50% daily for the first week or so, or every other day to let the levels rise for bacteria?
Yes. If/when you have a municipal water supply it's treated with chlorine/cloramine to kill bacteria that you need to neutralize. You can bucket prep, or add directly to the tank just before adding new tap water. Opinions vary, but most mfg's recommend dosing for the entire tank volume rather than just wah is being added (unless you bucket treat).


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ricci_215 View Post

2. I plan to use ADA Amazonia light OR Tropica Aquasoil. Would these leech enough ammonia for my cycle or should I grab a bottle of ammonia just to be safe? I understand I should be around 4-5ppm of ammonia to get the cycle going, until I see nitrites?
ADA adds a LOT of ammonia and higher levels of ammonia is toxic even to the bacteria we want/need in our aquariums! You need to do a LOT of water changes before you can effectively cycle the tank. The product offers recommendations (repeated here in a previous post).



Quote:
Originally Posted by Ricci_215 View Post

3. Kickstarting the cycle. Products such as Seachem Stability should be added at what point? From day 1? Or after I see some decent Nitrite levels? Should I be using Prime during this cycle, or at all?
AFTER you get ADA ammonia levels down, a bacteria in a bottle product can make good sense. I hear good things about Dr. Tim's. Then there is also SafeStart and Stability. The trouble with some of these as they are not always handled properly in shipment/storage and can get a bad rap from hobbyists that saw no value (I think I'd go with Dr. Tim's).


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ricci_215 View Post

4. Anything else I can add to the water to help beneficial bacteria? Fish food? If so what kind, and how much/how often?
The biggest thing you might add is patience - Rome wasn't built in a day and although a BB supplement speeds up the process, time is your ally. Having said that, fast growing floating plants (that use ammonia as their N2 source) can add a huge advantage.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Ricci_215 View Post

From what Iíve been researching Iíll basically be setting up the equipment, doing the hardscape, plant (possibly DSM as well), flood the tank adding required/recommended conditioners, and start a daily photoperiod while cranking Co2.
I'd wait until the tank has stabilized before boosting light and adding CO2. It's much easier to establish a solid low tech environment and then cranking it up a notch to high(er) tech.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-20-2019, 06:32 PM
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Most of your questions have been answered but I'll share some very brief thoughts on the matter. I am an advocate of fishless cycling with ammonia. When possible, a sponge from a healthy tank can speed things up. I'll usually just put the sponge and some tank water in a fish bag and squeeze it as much as I can then move that dirty water to my new tank. I once had the opportunity to set up 100 aquariums and experimented with different bottled products designed to speed up cycling. There was no consistency of any working better than the control tanks that used no product at all. After that I refused to even sell bacteria in a bottle, but people I trust say the newer products are much better than they used to be.

When I set up tanks with lots of plants from day one I often never see significant nitrogen spikes at all even though dosing ammonia. Between the bacteria and plants, there appears to be a decent nitrogen demand. I am still inclined to wait 30-45 days before adding remotely delicate livestock, though. And the more sensitive the species you intend to keep, the more important patience becomes. When you start seeing bladder snails, scuds and so forth (they tend to come in with plants), it's a very good sign. If adding plants from the start, you'll want to run lights during the day, obviously.

There are a lot of ways that work. None are instant. And none are "wrong" arguably, other than throwing fish in the tank upon setting it up. Ours is a hobby of slow reward.

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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-20-2019, 06:51 PM
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So much great advice here! I would only add that depending on how many fish you are planning to add to begin with, 4ppm of ammonia might be overkill. The higher the ammonia, the more fish the tank can handle to begin with, so if you are adding a fair number of heavy poopers, go with 4ppm, but if you are going to add your fish a few at a time, you're just wasting your own time & supplies since the bacteria you create will just die off when it isn't used because your fish are only producing 1-2ppm of ammonia...

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