Cycling with Shrimp... - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-17-2012, 06:32 PM Thread Starter
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Cycling with Shrimp...

I've never really done a cycle that I closely monitor, so this is a bit new to me. Usually I just throw some fish food in to get things started, wait a few months, and make sure all the readings are good before I add anything.

On my 10 gallon, however, I did want to do a bit of a closer cycle. I added a single shrimp, the kind you buy frozen in the bag, and cut it into 3 pieces. After 3 days the ammonia is .5 ppm (the API test kit colors are hard to distinguish, but it's definitely not more than 1 ppm). I heard 3 ppm is the goal. The shrimp are looking a bit icky, fuzz growing on them and the like, and making a nasty little film on the top of the water. (the kind a new tank usually gets I guess)

My question is, should I be patient for the 3 ppm goal? Will the protein film on top of the water somehow hurt my floating watersprite?
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-17-2012, 07:35 PM
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If you get "Ace hardware janitorial strength ammonia" you will have a lot more control - just a few drops of that in a 10 should have you at 3ppm easy.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-17-2012, 09:58 PM
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Use the liquid. Complete control and easy to continue feeding the tank even after the cycle is done if you don't get fish in it immediately after the cycle is complete.


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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-17-2012, 09:59 PM
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I haven't used shrimp to cycle personally but I believe the ammonia level should rise as it decays more. I've heard it can be pretty smelly and messy though. Pure ammonia allows you more control and it's much cleaner if you can get some.


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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-17-2012, 10:10 PM Thread Starter
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I'm not secure with using pure ammonia, namely because of the possibility of fumes since I have a pet conure in the same room as the tank.


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Use the liquid. Complete control and easy to continue feeding the tank even after the cycle is done if you don't get fish in it immediately after the cycle is complete.
I was always under the impression that once a tank was cycled, and the bacteria colonies are established, it's always cycled unless you kill the colonies somehow. I thought they fed off of dead plant matter, snails, microfauna, etc.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-17-2012, 10:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WallaceGrover View Post
I'm not secure with using pure ammonia, namely because of the possibility of fumes since I have a pet conure in the same room as the tank.



I was always under the impression that once a tank was cycled, and the bacteria colonies are established, it's always cycled unless you kill the colonies somehow. I thought they fed off of dead plant matter, snails, microfauna, etc.
The fish are required to produce waste, which the bacteria thrive on. Without any sort of food, bacteria will die off and you'll need to restart the cycle. Snails and microfauna won't produce enough waste.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-17-2012, 11:33 PM
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i'm at 27 days on my fishless cycle.... 90ish gallon cube tank, a single raw shrimp. i had to go buy the ace ammonia to keep the levels up!
i am very glad i read an article on this liquid ammonia cycle when the other posters say control they mean it!

my nitrite levels were off the scale and staying there with the liquid cycle i am doing water changes to keep nitrite below 5ppm and that alone has made the tank look some much better.

i am thinking 1 more week and its fish time!

the only time i smell ammonia is when the bottles is open, maybe you could take a small bucket of tank water into the other room and add ammonia there then pour it back into the tank?
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-17-2012, 11:44 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hawk40 View Post
i'm at 27 days on my fishless cycle.... 90ish gallon cube tank, a single raw shrimp. i had to go buy the ace ammonia to keep the levels up!
i am very glad i read an article on this liquid ammonia cycle when the other posters say control they mean it!

my nitrite levels were off the scale and staying there with the liquid cycle i am doing water changes to keep nitrite below 5ppm and that alone has made the tank look some much better.

i am thinking 1 more week and its fish time!

the only time i smell ammonia is when the bottles is open, maybe you could take a small bucket of tank water into the other room and add ammonia there then pour it back into the tank?
Yeah, I guess that might be the case. I'll keep trying this for a bit longer though...
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-17-2012, 11:56 PM
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The protein scum at the water surface will greatly reduce the gas exchange. You need to break that up, get rid of it. Your filter or power head ought to be creating enough ripples to keep the surface clean.

Per post #5:
The nitrifying bacteria need ammonia. This can indeed come from dead plants, snails (waste matter and dead snails) and all the microorganisms. However, the population of nitrifying bacteria rises and falls with the food supply. To keep the population high enough so it is safe to add fish you need to feed the bacteria while the tank is relatively empty because all the small sources are not enough to keep the tank ready for fish.
If you allow the population to drop by removing the fish, then not feeding the bacteria it will take time for the population to grow again. When you think you are going to put fish back in there, start feeding the bacteria so their population grows. It can take several weeks to a month to do this. Just follow the instructions in the fishless cycle, as if you are starting a new tank.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-18-2012, 01:01 AM
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The liquid ammonia once added to the water won't smell. You will need to add a very small amount. Like suggested, if you are concerned, add the ammonia elsewhere to some water, add that to the tank. You'll be adding literally drops to a 10g tank to get it to the proper level which is 3-5ppm.


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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-18-2012, 01:04 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
The protein scum at the water surface will greatly reduce the gas exchange. You need to break that up, get rid of it. Your filter or power head ought to be creating enough ripples to keep the surface clean.

Per post #5:
The nitrifying bacteria need ammonia. This can indeed come from dead plants, snails (waste matter and dead snails) and all the microorganisms. However, the population of nitrifying bacteria rises and falls with the food supply. To keep the population high enough so it is safe to add fish you need to feed the bacteria while the tank is relatively empty because all the small sources are not enough to keep the tank ready for fish.
If you allow the population to drop by removing the fish, then not feeding the bacteria it will take time for the population to grow again. When you think you are going to put fish back in there, start feeding the bacteria so their population grows. It can take several weeks to a month to do this. Just follow the instructions in the fishless cycle, as if you are starting a new tank.
Very useful, I'll have to make sure and do that...
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-19-2012, 04:38 PM Thread Starter
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Now that I've thought over it, you convinced me to make the switch. The NH3 was still only .5. I am wondering though if the soft, slightly acidic water could be skewing my API test results, since lower pH makes ammonia less toxic?
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-21-2012, 12:13 AM Thread Starter
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I got the ammonia today, but when I pulled the shrimp out it smelled FOUL. It is probably the closest thing I have ever smelled to poop, but at least twice as strong...
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-21-2012, 01:44 AM
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Nitrifying bacteria need some carbon. They get it from carbonate. If the KH is at least 3 German degrees of hardness they will be OK, but you are trying to grow them as fast as possible, so more KH would probably be good.

These bacteria seem to grow best when the pH is anywhere in the 7s. I do not know if this is just because of the KH (higher KH usually means higher pH) or if the higher pH actually is part of the issue.

When you test your water most ammonia kits are telling you both NH3 and NH4+. In aquarium water there is usually both. When the pH is under 7 the ammonia is mostly in the form of ammonium (NH4+). When the pH is in the 7s both are present, with more as ammonia as the pH rises.
The bacteria can use both forms, so I would not do anything because of the ammonia/ammonium balance.
But look into the KH and pH situation. You might have to add some baking soda to get the bacteria to grow well.
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-21-2012, 01:56 AM Thread Starter
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I'll have to test KH, thanks again Diana!
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