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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 05:48 PM Thread Starter
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Goofed, mini cycle expectations

Over the weekend I broke down my 29g which has been up and running for a good 2 years. The reason for breaking it down was to remove about half the substrate. As the amount I had in was way to much and putting some stress on the stand.

So I removed the top "sand cap" and about half or so of the original substrate (eco complete with root tabs) leaving less than an inch in the tank. I put new pool filter sand on top of this. Nothing in my mind said, you might get a mini cycle by doing this. I kept the filter running in rubbermaid tub which held the fish. After filling it up and letting the tank run for a few hours I tested and had 1ppm ammonia in the tank on Sunday. I've done 5, 50-75% water changes since Saturday night. I'm still sitting at .50ppm ammonia as of last night around 10pm. My plants took a hard hit and I hope they can bounce back. I'm not sure what to do, I've read plenty of threads on here about mini cycles, and some have said it could take up to 2 weeks to complete. I cycled all of my tanks in less than 8 days. Should I crack open the filter, add more media and give the tank a dose of ammonia to bring it up to 8ppm. Basically just do a full recycle on the tank or let it runs it's course and continue to do water changes?

My understand of this, by removing more than 50% of the substrate I killed my bb colony off, what BB I have in the filter isn't enough to handle the amount of ammonia in the tank from my moving the old substrate around. So at this point I'm just waiting on the bb to rebuild.

I rehomed all of the fish, I'm just worried about my plants at this point.


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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 05:54 PM
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I have sucessfully use Tetra Safe Start to cycle a tank in a week.
Started to bring down the ammonia in 45 min.
If there are no fish I would only bring it up to about 2ppm for sake of the plants.
They actually use ammoniabut it's not usually that high either. 4-5ppm is the normal no fish level to use for a cycle but with no plants either.

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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 06:12 PM Thread Starter
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I put tetra safe start in the tank Sunday night, I added 10ml of it to the 29g tank. The ammonia moved from 1ppm to .50ppm but was back at 1ppm last night.

my other tanks I just used janitorial ammonia and dosed the tanks 8ml and they cycled in a week. I'm just afraid that bringing the ammonia up anymore than the 1ppm will completely wipe out the plants that seem to be enduring this ok.

my Cabomba furcata has melted to nothing, red ludwigia seems to be doing ok, sunset hygro and polysperma both took some hard hits and started to melth, I yanked them out and have them floating in my 55g currently. It took me a long time to find those plants, so I'm trying to specifically save those ones first. I have trimmings of the Cabomba furcata in most of my tanks so I should be able to replace them easy. Dwarf hairgrass looks ok, blyxa I have no clue, it's starting to turn clear but not terrible yet. I'm afraid of what I'm going to find tonight when I get home.


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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 06:23 PM
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You should be getting 0.25ppm - 0.5ppm straight out of the tap. That might be where you are getting your 0.5ppm of ammonia from. I don't think that will be enough to cause a problem, with your plants that is. For what its worth, I dosed 4ppm of ammonia on another tank with plants and ended up killing about half of them.
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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 06:32 PM
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Im reading something different in your post.

Initially, if there is an ammonia spike everything about the walstad method indicates where it comes from. its a great method for the no disturb substrate part...but we broke that here.

The method is incorporating what is essentially years/decades of high organic reserves into a capped substrate that is meant to instantly age that portion of the tank. Tons and Tons figuratively speaking of partially reduced proteins are in a state of constant decay in this capped method, which is why it grows plants decently without carbon gas support, lots of carbon is in there, and bacterially mediated reduction frees it up over long periods of time.


You will find pockets of hydrogen sulfide gas not impossible in these kinds of setups, its a rule regarding pocketed degredation of high organic loads in small aquatic spaces, ammonia, various species of nitrogen, carbon etc all from this load we put under the cap. Then you can focus on keeping less nutrients in the water column to balance algae challenges.

So, its very clear where the mini cycle came from.

The next part, no bacteria were killed, what is resident was just overcome with the liberation of waste materials, mid cycle breakdown, into the tank.

Recap it well, change out all or most of your top water or you can input more bacteria to help with this if you like. they will balance out in time. merely exporting the ammonia, and capping its source, is what I do as I never buy bottle bac but I also dont doubt they are valid if you want that route.

With ammonia, use of prime etc is also indicated to stop the immediate assault. Id choose full water change and slow pour back to avoid more spikes.

nobody advises us to put garden soil w ferts or manure or ultra heavy things in the bottom soil....but, we are using comparatively massive stores of organics compared to inert gravel, and thats the source of both your benefits and your troubles here. you uncapped danger lol.

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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 06:33 PM Thread Starter
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ammonia out of the tap is 0, I thought at first my api test kit was bad. So I tested my tap, 55g, 8.7g and 10g and r/o. All came in 0 except for the 29g, that's when I went into panic mode.

Bump:
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Originally Posted by brandon429 View Post
Im reading something different in your post.

Initially, if there is an ammonia spike everything about the walstad method indicates where it comes from. its a great method for the no disturb substrate part...but we broke that here.

The method is incorporating what is essentially years/decades of high organic reserves into a capped substrate that is meant to instantly age that portion of the tank. Tons and Tons figuratively speaking of partially reduced proteins are in a state of constant decay in this capped method, which is why it grows plants decently without carbon gas support, lots of carbon is in there, and bacterially mediated reduction frees it up over long periods of time.


You will find pockets of hydrogen sulfide gas not impossible in these kinds of setups, its a rule regarding pocketed degredation of high organic loads in small aquatic spaces, ammonia, various species of nitrogen, carbon etc all from this load we put under the cap. Then you can focus on keeping less nutrients in the water column to balance algae challenges.

So, its very clear where the mini cycle came from.

The next part, no bacteria were killed, what is resident was just overcome with the liberation of waste materials, mid cycle breakdown, into the tank.

Recap it well, change out all or most of your top water or you can input more bacteria to help with this if you like. they will balance out in time. merely exporting the ammonia, and capping its source, is what I do as I never buy bottle bac but I also dont doubt they are valid if you want that route.

With ammonia, use of prime etc is also indicated to stop the immediate assault. Id choose full water change and slow pour back to avoid more spikes.

nobody advises us to put garden soil w ferts or manure or ultra heavy things in the bottom soil....but, we are using comparatively massive stores of organics compared to inert gravel, and thats the source of both your benefits and your troubles here. you uncapped danger lol.
thank you, I really didn't want to mess with it and I should have just removed all of the substrate and started over but I had over 6 inches of eco complete and sand in this tank. The plants were growing great and the tank never had any issues, this was just my own doing. I could visually see the stand starting to buckle. I addressed that as well. I added about an inch of pool filter sand on top of the eco complete I left in. I'm out of prime so I might have to stop and grab some on the way home.


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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 06:48 PM Thread Starter
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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 07:06 PM
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very nice setup

I truly believe in the large water change, all that hurt can be arrested just pour back in slowly with a diversion of some sort so it doesnt pocket out.

prime/binders ok as back up

whats important here is actually the 8 week checkup. really I hope you w pm me to see december1 update pics thats how time w tell

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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 08:17 PM
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[QUOTE=Italionstallion888;6717513]I put tetra safe start in the tank Sunday night, I added 10ml of it to the 29g tank. The ammonia moved from 1ppm to .50ppm but was back at 1ppm last night.

10ml ? You are supposed to use the whole bottle...all of it. I usually use half on the first day and then the other half on the second day.
The filter is only one place that contains the bacteria. Actually every surface on the inside of your tank has some. But it is just more concentrated in the filter. The surface(about 1/2" of it) of the sub has some also. This is why people are told NOT to clean the glass and vacuum and rinse out the filter at the same time.
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"my other tanks I just used janitorial ammonia and dosed the tanks 8ml and they cycled in a week. I'm just afraid that bringing the ammonia up anymore than the 1ppm will completely wipe out the plants that seem to be enduring this ok.

my Cabomba furcata has melted to nothing"

Then don't add any more a mmonia. Besides that was jut if you wanted it to cycle naturally and without the Tetra Safe Start.

Can you or someone clarify something for me ?
It sounds like Brandon429 thinks you have a dirt sub...do you ?

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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 08:25 PM Thread Starter
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couple of things, I have not added any ammonia to this tank, the furcata melted from the ammonia that come from the substrate.

I do not have dirt, I have eco complete with o+ root tabs, the bottle of safe start said to use 5ml for every 10g being put in, Since I did about 20g of water I added 10ml of safe start. I should add more than this?

I never touch my filters unless the flow starts to decrease, then it's just a simple dunk in removed tank water and a good squeez of the sponges once or twice. I've never had an ammonia spike in my many years of fish keeping. This was my own mistake in messing with the substrate when I should have just removed it all and started over.


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post #11 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 08:52 PM
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Perhaps that is why it started to lower the ammonia as soon as I used it. I don't have a bottle here to read it but if it says how much to use then follow that.
I did mine a couple of years back. I asked the shop owner how to use it and followed his directions of 50/50 in two days with the whole bottle. It's not a chain type store and the owner is an ex high school biology teacher...comes in handy at times even though he looks at internet with contempt as if it's all bogus info.
I oonly mentioned the filter because I have read so many threads on here about "Why is my water cloudy" and usually they have cleaned the whole tank at once like I mentioned.
I've only changd a sub once and did remove all of it then also. I had too much Laterite under the Eco and it burned the plants badly. Lucky I only had one exotic in there.
How often do you replace the O+ capsules ? I have only a few plants and they are very small so I have put in individual beads of the O+ under each plant/w a tweezers.
About three per plant.

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post #12 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 09:12 PM Thread Starter
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I use my hairgrass as a feeler for the root tabs, when I see them start to look unhappy I add 1 tab about ever 5 inches. I'm usually putting new tabs in about every 4 months.

I knew better than to mess with to much at one time. I knew there was a chance of having an ammonia spike, I didn't want the % would be and hoped my BB in the filter could handle the load, but I guess it couldn't. This is the first time I've done a partial substrate change, all of my other tanks just got new substrate when I changed over. I have 3-4 5 gallon buckets in the garage full of substrate that I removed from my various tanks this year. I plan on using it in the garden next year after I get it built.
This tank was off to such a great start, had great plants that were growing as I put a pressurized co2 system on the tank a month and a half ago and just recently upgraded my light to a finnex planted +, I have a betta sitting in a cup ready to go in this tank, it just can't yet. Might have to set up a temp home for him if this takes to long.

How long should I continue to do water changes, after 2 weeks if I still have 1ppm of ammonia should I start looking at other options (ie start completely over)


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post #13 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 09:20 PM
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dang [email protected]!!! lol I thought I read dirted.

Bump: well it wasnt a total waste of time. the tracing of ammonia is the same in every tank reef or planted.

Two more variables to nail down

organic reserves or characters unique to the degredation of eco complete under capping is the origin of ammonia still most likely bed waste. searches will turn out how well eco complete holds up long term to eliminate that, next up is how dirty were we talking here? did you have the stinking smell

lastly, the type of test kit matters. the ones that read .25 as a zero in many places aren't helpful in ammonia tracing.

the remedy is still the same, big water changes for some, or binders or bottle bac for others

I 100% guarantee that if we dig up a portion of my 13 yr old planted tank some ammonia will come out, i turned regular gravel into walstad quality inclusions by not changing the water for seven years with about 200 guppies and snails lol. i got some organics. and I capped that with nice planted tank substrate when I felt like shrimping it out, water change times are still 100% but Im very very careful.

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post #14 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 09:26 PM Thread Starter
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I used a control to test if they api kit was working, I just bought the "master kit" 2 months ago so I know it's minty fresh off the shelf.

here is what I tested
3 currently running and cycled tanks- 0 ammonia
1 tupperware container with a "zerba rock" as shown above after 24 hours: 0 ammonia
tupperware with 1 cup of pool filter sand after 24 hours: 0 ammonia
tap water: 0 ammonia
r/o thats been resting in my holding can: 0 ammonia

I was trying to determine if the ammonia was coming from something I put in the tank and not me messing with the substrate.


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post #15 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 09:30 PM
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well we are inching closer. now we can swirl up a sample of substrate and test it for ammonia in the known clean water

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