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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-30-2014, 01:29 AM Thread Starter
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Second Verse.

Hello all thanks for reading my thread. I am upgrading my planted aquarium from a 55g to a 75g. I will be using biologically mature rocks and fish mulm inoculated into my substrate at startup. My substrate will be made up of 1" of mineralized topsoil capped by 2" of black diamond sand blasting grit with azomite, muriate of potash, equilibrium, and aragonite sprinkled on the glass before installing soil. My equipment is pressurized co2 with solenoid, 4x54 watt lighting with two separate circuits for pairs of 48" bulbs, an eheim canister filter, a closed loop with submersible pump plumbed through an inline heater and co2 reactor returned through a spraybar the same length as the tank, and an ISTA co2 indicator. I will be running the filter and closed loop intakes through a single long sponge and both of the returns will go through my spray bar. I am planning to use temporary hornwort and possibly floating plants from startup. I have 4 questions please.

1. What is your opinion on photoperiod and light intensity during startup and cycling?

2. My black diamond sand blasting grit seems too fine. I asked them for the 20/40 size and the bag I received is not marked for size. Can the cap for my substrate be too fine?

3. How long and what time should I set my co2 to run? My lights are on from 12pm-12am.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-30-2014, 02:38 AM
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Start with 6 hour photoperiod and dose ferts right away.

Plant as heavy as you can right.from the start.

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-31-2014, 05:03 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you Philip, what do you think about co2 from the startup?
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-31-2014, 05:32 PM
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yeah run it. think about it this way, the more the plants can work with the better chances they have to a quick start. transitioning plants can be difficult at time and limiting them in any way is only going to make that process harder.

I would suspect without root establishment, the plants are not going to be super demanding so co2 would not have to be full tilt. but it really can't hurt your plants to provide as much as you can safely without hurting other live stock.

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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-31-2014, 09:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philipraposo1982 View Post
yeah run it. think about it this way, the more the plants can work with the better chances they have to a quick start. transitioning plants can be difficult at time and limiting them in any way is only going to make that process harder.

I would suspect without root establishment, the plants are not going to be super demanding so co2 would not have to be full tilt. but it really can't hurt your plants to provide as much as you can safely without hurting other live stock.
x2!
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-31-2014, 10:17 PM Thread Starter
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Alright thank you so much. Should I put some snails or fish in right away to produce some nitrogen?
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-01-2014, 01:55 AM
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No do not cycle with fish.

Here is the fishless cycle. Including some notes about cycling a planted tank.

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 #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-01-2014, 02:46 AM
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There are plenty of people who do fish in cycle with no problems at all. I for one find no issues with fish in cycles if proper care is taken. Diana always posts when someone says something about fish in, same cut and paste over and over again.

Anyways its your choice, both are great options.

For fish in cycles, you can add live nitrifying bacteria which speeds up the cycle to about 10 days.

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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-01-2014, 02:25 PM
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Well sure it is copied and pasted. It is very good info.
Even if you are not going to do the exact fishless cycle as it was originally worked out, just knowing what is going on is very important.

You need to get a good population of plants and bacteria established ahead of time to handle the nitrogen so it does not become toxic ammonia when you add the fish. It does not matter if the bacteria is grown in the tank (fishless cycle in its original form) or comes from a bottle labeled 'Nitrospira', the bacteria are there, waiting for the fish.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-01-2014, 05:03 PM Thread Starter
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That's a great recipe for a fish less cycle, thank you Diana. I am assuming using mineralized topsoil will release some ammonia as well as adding a layer of mature detritus from my previous tank in between my soil and my sand cap. I will also be using quite a few rocks that are probably loaded with beneficial bacteria. I am also running the filter I will be using on my tank now to colonize it. I am assuming I will probably not see much of a cycle. I gotta believe that Malaysian trumpet snails and rams horn snails are pretty hardy and can go in right away.
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