Preparing for a second aquarium - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-03-2014, 03:20 PM Thread Starter
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Preparing for a second aquarium

I am in the process of preparing a second aquarium and would like to know how long it takes to have a cannister filled with beneficial bacteria if I pug it on my actual aquarium.

Also will this reduce the actual Beneficial bacteria in my HOB when I will remove the cannister? Do not want to go through a mini-cycle.

Thanks all for the help
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-03-2014, 04:34 PM
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I ran my new filter in the established tank in addition to the established filter for a month then switched the new filter to the new tank. I had no problems in either tank. I did add fish to the new tank very slowly (over the course of a month or so) just to be safe.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-03-2014, 06:40 PM
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Use half of the water from your main tank and use sachem prime for the other half of freshwater for the new tank.let it cycle for 2 weeks , then check the water parameters,that's the way I do it to shortend the cycle.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-04-2014, 02:25 AM
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Here is the fishless cycle. Easiest and safest way to grow bacteria in a new tank.
You can run the new filter on the established tank, but only for a short time. Just enough to seed it with microorganisms. Then move it to the new set up and start the fishless cycle.
You can also run the fishless cycle in a bucket.

Sharing water with the new tank does not bring in much bacteria, I would not bother.

Cycle: To grow the beneficial bacteria that remove ammonia and nitrite from the aquarium.

Fish-In Cycle: To expose fish to toxins while using them as the source of ammonia to grow nitrogen cycle bacteria. Exposure to ammonia burns the gills and other soft tissue, stresses the fish and lowers their immunity. Exposure to nitrite makes the blood unable to carry oxygen. Research methemglobinemia for details.

Fishless Cycle: The safe way to grow more bacteria, faster, in an aquarium, pond or riparium.

The method I give here was developed by 2 scientists who wanted to quickly grow enough bacteria to fully stock a tank all at one time, with no plants helping, and overstock it as is common with Rift Lake Cichlid tanks.

1a) Set up the tank and all the equipment. You can plant if you want. Include the proper dose of dechlorinator with the water.
Optimum water chemistry:
GH and KH above 3 German degrees of hardness. A lot harder is just fine.
pH above 7, and into the mid 8s is just fine.
Temperature in the upper 70s F (mid 20s C) is good. Higher is OK if the water is well aerated.
A trace of other minerals may help. Usually this comes in with the water, but if you have a pinch of KH2PO4, that may be helpful.
High oxygen level. Make sure the filter and power heads are running well. Plenty of water circulation.
No toxins in the tank. If you washed the tank, or any part of the system with any sort of cleanser, soap, detergent, bleach or anything else make sure it is well rinsed. Do not put your hands in the tank when you are wearing any sort of cosmetics, perfume or hand lotion. No fish medicines of any sort.
A trace of salt (sodium chloride) is OK, but not required.
This method of growing bacteria will work in a marine system, too. The species of bacteria are different.

1b) Optional: Add any source of the bacteria that you are growing to seed the tank. Cycled media from a healthy tank is good. Decor or some gravel from a cycled tank is OK. Live plants or plastic are OK. Bottled bacteria is great, but only if it contains Nitrospira species of bacteria. Read the label and do not waste your money on anything else.
At the time this was written the right species could be found in:
Dr. Tims One and Only
Tetra Safe Start
Microbe Lift Nite Out II
...and perhaps others.
You do not have to jump start the cycle. The right species of bacteria are all around, and will find the tank pretty fast.

2) Add ammonia until the test reads 5 ppm. This ammonia is the cheapest you can find. No surfactants, no perfumes. Read the fine print. This is often found at discount stores like Dollar Tree, or hardware stores like Ace. You could also use a dead shrimp form the grocery store, or fish food. Protein breaks down to become ammonia. You do not have good control over the ammonia level, though.
Some substrates release ammonia when they are submerged for the first time. Monitor the level and do enough water changes to keep the ammonia at the levels detailed below.

3) Test daily. For the first few days not much will happen, but the bacteria that remove ammonia are getting started. Finally the ammonia starts to drop. Add a little more, once a day, to test 5 ppm.

4) Test for nitrite. A day or so after the ammonia starts to drop the nitrite will show up. When it does allow the ammonia to drop to 3 ppm.

5) Test daily. Add ammonia to 3 ppm once a day. If the nitrite or ammonia go to 5 ppm do a water change to get these lower. The ammonia removing species and the nitrite removing species (Nitrospira) do not do well when the ammonia or nitrite are over 5 ppm.

6) When the ammonia and nitrite both hit zero 24 hours after you have added the ammonia the cycle is done. You can challenge the bacteria by adding a bit more than 3 ppm ammonia, and it should be able to handle that, too, within 24 hours.

7) Now test the nitrate. Probably sky high!
Do as big a water change as needed to lower the nitrate until it is safe for fish. Certainly well under 20, and a lot lower is better. This may call for more than one water change, and up to 100% water change is not a problem. Remember the dechlor!
If you will be stocking right away (within 24 hours) no need to add more ammonia. If stocking will be delayed keep feeding the bacteria by adding ammonia to 3 ppm once a day. You will need to do another water change right before adding the fish.

Helpful hints:

A) You can run a fishless cycle in a bucket to grow bacteria on almost any filter media like bio balls, sponges, ceramic bio noodles, lava rock or Matala mats. Simply set up any sort of water circulation such as a fountain pump or air bubbler and add the media to the bucket. Follow the directions for the fishless cycle. When the cycle is done add the media to the filter. I have run a canister filter in a bucket and done the fishless cycle.

B) The nitrogen cycle bacteria will live under a wide range of conditions and bounce back from minor set backs. By following the set up suggestions in part 1b) you are setting up optimum conditions for fastest reproduction and growth.
GH and KH can be as low as 1 degree, but watch it! These bacteria use the carbon in carbonates, and if it is all used up (KH = 0) the bacteria may die off.
pH as low as 6.5 is OK, but by 6.0 the bacteria are not going to be doing very well. They are still there, and will recover pretty well when conditions get better.
Temperature almost to freezing is OK, but they must not freeze, and they are not very active at all. They do survive in a pond, but they are slow to warm up and get going in the spring. This is where you might need to grow some in a bucket in a warm place and supplement the pond population. Too warm is not good, either. Tropical or room temperature tank temperatures are best. (68 to 85*F or 20 to 28*C)
Moderate oxygen can be tolerated for a while. However, to remove lots of ammonia and nitrite these bacteria must have oxygen. They turn one into the other by adding oxygen. If you must stop running the filter for an hour or so, no problem. If longer, remove the media and keep it where it will get more oxygen.
Once the bacteria are established they can tolerate some fish medicines. This is because they live in a complex film called Bio film on all the surfaces in the filter and the tank. Medicines do not enter the bio film well.
These bacteria do not need to live under water. They do just fine in a humid location. They live in healthy garden soil, as well as wet locations.

C) Planted tanks may not tolerate 3 ppm or 5 ppm ammonia. It is possible to cycle the tank at lower levels of ammonia so the plants do not get ammonia burn. Add ammonia to only 1 ppm, but test twice a day, and add ammonia as needed to keep it at 1 ppm. The plants are also part of the bio filter, and you may be able to add the fish sooner, if the plants are thriving.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-04-2014, 05:38 AM
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Quick answer to the OP:

2 weeks until it is established.

You can remove 50% of the bacteria in the tank. It will take 24 hours for the bacteria to double. So removing a seeded filter will not have a noticeable effect on the tank.

In case you are starting up a larger tank than the one you have with more livestock: After seeding the filter, you can add in a dose of ammonia to 4ppm. This will double the bacteria or better in the new filter by the next day.

Some substrates will leach ammonia. If you use one of these, don't add livestock or ammonia for 3-4 days to make sure the bacteria colony can handle the increased load.

Once you have an established tank you really never have to wait for a fishless cycle again. I've bleach sterilized a small tank where I got a bacterial infection (filters and everything). Added fish back to it two days later after transferring some a small piece of filter foam I keep in my big tank for just this purpose.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-16-2015, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Diana View Post
You can also run the fishless cycle in a bucket.

I did this with a small internal filter, took about 10 days for nitrite to appear, then another 14 days to be complete.....
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-17-2015, 01:21 PM
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Yeah, seeding is the best way to go IMO. You're transferring a colony of bacteria which multiply quickly especially at a bit higher temp, say 80-82 F. Should take one-two weeks to be safe for full stocking, minimal stocking within a few days, especially if you've got some plants in there to help munch on the unwanted Ammonia and Nitrite/Nitrate sources while the colony of bacteria colonizes the filter media. Substrate or tank decorations also help in the transferring of nitrifying bacteria. Good Luck
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-17-2015, 01:28 PM
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I did this a lot:
Divide the established tank this way:

New tank gets...
All new substrate, decor, plant trimmings. 50% of the fish from the established tank. The fully cycled filter media.

Established tank gets...
Plants are pruned, new filter (or at least new filter media), and donates half the fish to the new tank.

This pretty much splits the bacteria equally, and splits the bio load equally. Plants make up the difference in waste handling ability, though I also did this before I had planted tanks.

Then restock both tanks slowly.
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