Cycling with MGOPM - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-16-2014, 03:55 AM Thread Starter
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Cycling with MGOPM

Hi all!! I've set up my first dirted tank and have questions about the cycling. Here's the set up and what's in it so far...

65g
Cascade 1200 filter
200w heater
Two air stones
Substrate - MGOPM mixed with flourite capped with black sand
Plants so far include: water primrose, Pygmy sword chain, 2 banana plants, onion plants, java fern, ludwig, Anubis, and lutea. I'm planning on doing a ground cover. Was going to go with glossostigma unless someone has a better idea. I also have two BioEco stones in it.
I also have a massive piece of driftwood that is currently starting to grow algea.

I soaked the driftwood as best I could in the tub for a couple of days adding boiling water on several different occasions. It never seemed to release any tannins.

I believe the soil is leeching the present tannins.

I've been doing water changes to help with clearing the water. Today, my water parameters are...

Ammonia - 0 ppm
Nitrates - 1.0 ppm
Nitrates - 5 ppm

I was having a reading of .25 to .50 of ammonia. That has seemed to changed but the nitrites don't seem to be changing. The nitrates seem to be hovering around 5 ppm. I'm planning on another big water change and I anticipate the nitrites will drop to around .25. That is what happened last big WC.

I know I need more plants. I have some coming. I was actually supposed to get them today but they won't get here until Monday. I have yet to order the ground cover as I'm not 100% sure on the glossostigma. I don't really want DHG.

What kind of advice/thoughts can you give me on cycling with this type of substrate? I know there are loads out there that have done it. This is my first 'dirted' tank. Here's a pic.

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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-16-2014, 04:06 AM
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It's good you're going fishless - save the fishies!

Don't do a water change. Leave the nitrites in there so the appropriate bacteria will continue to grow. If you manually remove the nitrites (or ammonia, for that matter) via water change, you're just impairing the bacterial growth. Be paitient! Since your ammonia is already down to 0, you're almost there!

When your other plants arrive, feel free to plant them. They'll help get the nitrites down.


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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-16-2014, 05:17 AM Thread Starter
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Yes! Lol save the fishies!! There was no way I was going to put fish in with never having used the MG. I was too scared for sure.

And, this tank is for my guppies. I'm so attached to them I would feel so bad if any of them perished because I jumped the gun! They need a bigger home. I can't wait to see how happy they're going to be! And how happy my german ram is going to be to get rid of them. Haha.

You know, you're right. It's actually cycling, isn't it?!?! I'm not going to do a water change.

I've got to do a water change on my 36g tomorrow. My nitrate levels are too high in that one. Would it be beneficial to put some of that water in the one that's cycling to help it or no? Just leave it.
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-16-2014, 05:19 AM
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Without intending to I did a full fishless cycle from MGOPM leaching into the water. I tested every day and actually saw the ammonia spike, turn
to nitrite, etc. it took about a month...
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-16-2014, 05:41 AM Thread Starter
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Sounds like where I'm headed! I set up on Nov 2nd. I'm two weeks in today. Or later today anyway. I haven't been testing every day but I think I'm going to start!!

Matt, was it just WC that ultimately cleared your water from the tannins? I don't mind a little bit of tea color but mine is kind of ridiculous right now. Lol
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-16-2014, 01:32 PM
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The bacteria that turn NO2 into NO3 are slow growing. They do not do well when the NO2 is over 5 ppm.
Do enough water changes to keep the NO2 at 5 ppm or less.
Add a tiny bit of ammonia (to read 1 ppm) to keep on feeding the bacteria.

Here is the full fishless cycle:
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 1a) 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 #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-16-2014, 04:29 PM
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Wait you have guppies already?

Take the filter sponge from that tank and squeeze it into this tank. Transferring the bacteria from the established tank to the new tank.

Should see it finish cycling in 2 or 3 days after that.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-16-2014, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
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I'll do it!! I was going to do a water transfer. The nitrates in the guppy tank are way too high. But, I'll still do my WC for them today and get a little from their filter for the 65g.

It's a headache to break into that cascade filter, but it'll be worth it.
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-16-2014, 06:28 PM
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Just clean the filter media in the new tank. Some gentle squeezing of the sponges, a little sloshing of the bio media.
The nitrifying bacteria are well attached, so the Guppy tank will not have problems with that much bacteria loss, but the new tank should jump ahead in its cycle with just the few bacteria that come off the media when you clean it in the new tank.
But make sure to feed them, too.
Ammonia = zero means there is little or no food for the ammonia removing bacteria to keep on growing.
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-16-2014, 06:38 PM
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On a different, I really like the arched piece of wood.


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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-16-2014, 08:13 PM
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Only thing I have to add is for concern of the slope in your layout. Unless you have something underneath the substrate elevating it such as lava rock, egg crate or aquasoil, your substrates depth may cause you some issues down the road. If its all substrate that is piled high, it can create anaerobic conditions. MGOCPM should only be 1-2" deep max prior to being capped. If you really like that high of a slope, introduce a plant that has a large root system to introduce oxygen to the lower regions of the substrate. Overtime, that slope will start to level out anyways if has no slope holders.

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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-16-2014, 08:22 PM Thread Starter
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Ok... I took one of the filter media sponges from the 36g and swished it around in the new tank with some gentle squeezes. Clouded up the water pretty good so I'm hoping this will help. When you say, feed them... Just a little fish food?

The slope is made up of this layering... MGOPM mixed with the flourite for the base layer, several more layers of medium landscaping river rocks (initially boiled for quite a while to remove anything that shouldn't be there) loosely covered with the MGOPM and flourite. There's about an inch of the potting mix on the top before I covered it with the black sand. Someone mentioned getting Malaysian trumpet snails because they will burrow in the substrate. Thoughts?

I'll take water parameters tomorrow and see what they are! I'm excited to thing it's getting close...

I loved the wood too Guck! It's very 3-dimensional. I'm planning on hanging some Christmas or Singapore moss on it to create a cave like look... Then the ground cover will start around the "path" that goes underneath the wood and spread from there. At least, that's my plan. We'll see what the tank's plan is. Lol
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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-16-2014, 08:43 PM
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I did not say anything, but I kind of think like flight50. I am concerned by the thickness of the substrate. Be prepared for a lovely smell whould you ever take that down. Poke your substrate with something to let gases escape. H2S will likely buildup.

But looking forward to see more pictures of the arch.


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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-16-2014, 08:47 PM Thread Starter
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Ok. I'll poke around. See if I can release anything. It does have a lot of medium size rocks underneath...

Would the Malaysian trumpet snails help?
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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-16-2014, 08:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishygirl View Post
Ok. I'll poke around. See if I can release anything. It does have a lot of medium size rocks underneath...

Would the Malaysian trumpet snails help?
I don't know how deep they would go. But I have them in my 75gal (1in dirt + some sand). Eventually I hope to spread them to other tanks.

I am sure it won't hurt.


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