Fishless tank: how long before it "uncycles"? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-25-2005, 07:01 PM Thread Starter
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Fishless tank: how long before it "uncycles"?

Well I got a new filter and I'm not really sure what happened but in the next 2 days both my fish died. I don't want to add any new fish until I can go get the water tested (darn this Easter holiday!!) and see what's wrong. So will the filter be able to re-establish bacteria? It has half the bio-media from my previous established filter in it but will the bacteria thrive with just the waste that has collected in the gravel? And for how long before everything starts to fall apart?

Also I wanted to ask about the filter. Is it possible that the ammonia reached toxic levels in less than 24 hrs after changing filters? I thought it was supposed to take 8 days before reaching a peak? Argh I'm so frustrated... I lost my gorgeous male and a female ready to drop fry any day now

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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-25-2005, 08:43 PM
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I'm sorry, I don't remember your tank size and stocking levels, but it is definitely possible, even likely, that you killed the fish by removing the established biofiltration.

Normally you don't "change" biofilters, you clean them carefully to not affect the established bacterias. Adding part of the old filters media is a step into the right direction, but maybe it wasn't enough in your case. You could also run both filters at the same time for a few days to start bacteria in the new filter.

A filter per se doesn't re-establish bacteria, the key is to do changes slowly, especially in a small tank, so ammonia/nitrite levels don't become deadly. When you re-stock the tank, start with few little fishies so bacteria have a chance to develop and do their thing.

In planted tanks there is some more buffering capacity because plants like to use the various N forms, but it all depends...


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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-25-2005, 11:39 PM Thread Starter
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Well my tank is an 8 gallon and it just had the 2 gups. I switched from a corner to an internal filter (from floss to sponge media) because of the CO2. I couldn't use all floss in the internal filter because it would get dragged into the impellor at the top. I really didn't think it would have such a huge impact so quickly. Eh and sorry I didnt really state my question right about the bacteria... since a lot of the bacteria is now gone, can the tank re-establish the N cycle with the ammonia from the waste in the gravel, or will the bacteria all die without fresh fish waste being added? I'm hoping I can wait 'till the tank is cycled again before adding the new fish. And btw your tanks are gorgeous esp the 100g Mind telling me what that little red plant is? (towards the right side)

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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-26-2005, 12:23 AM
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Some bacteria will grow, but if the supply of fishpoop is gone there isn't much food for them. So they will grow, use up what's there, and then sorta go to sleep. Sorry to hear about your guppies!

The little red plant you asked about is Alternanthera reineckii. Very nice little dot of color!


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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-26-2005, 08:07 PM Thread Starter
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K thanks so much. I guess I'll have the water tested Monday and see what the nitrite and nitrate levels are. They don't have a test for ammonia. Also out of curiosity, about how much is a test kit in the US? Here we have a kit that tests nitrite, nitrate, pH, hardness and something else I believe, for almost $100. It's insane, I've spent so much money and effort turning this into a planted tank... sometimes I wish I would have stuck with the ever popular plastic plants

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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-26-2005, 10:58 PM
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100 bucks?! I would skip test kits then. I have actually never needed any test kit, ever, except a PH test kit to test the PH of my tap water. Ammonia can build up within 24 hours if you remove all bio filtration, like you have. The key when switching filters is to run the new one, and keep the old one in the tank for 1-2 weeks. That way, bacteria can build up in the new filter, while the old one is still cleaning the water.

Good luck.

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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-27-2005, 05:28 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah 100 lol, the only test kit I have is pH. Eh well this is a lesson learned the hard way. I've read some on the internet and it always said change half the bio-media at a time... never did they mention all your fish will die! Well now I know and I'm happy with the internal filter so hopefully I won't need to touch it for a while.

Oh and one last question. I noticed that the plants haven't been pearling since the filter changed. Is this becuase all the nitrate has been used up and there aren't any bacteria converting ammonia to nitrate? Plus green algae is havin' a party in there now So.. would I be wrong in assuming that if the plants start to pearl nitrate is back and the tank is established? I just really really don't want to risk losing anymore fish. Seesh I used to have a 55 gallon with more delicate fish like angels and discus and never lost this many. With my 8 gal I feel like an evil fish killer... 4 gups, a betta (in 2 months) and still counting

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