Cycling Tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-12-2015, 04:05 PM Thread Starter
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Cycling Tank

So I have developed an addiction and my 20 gallon isnt big enough anymore.

Scenario: Can I take the fish out of my 20 gallon tank and put them in a 5 gallon bucket (with water from their tank) and then use the same substrate on the new tank (plus additional new substrate), replant the plants and add new ones, move over some of the hardscape and filters (with media) and add the remaining water from the 20 gallon to the new tank and top off with new water?

Would the new tank be cycled faster and if so how quickly? I am thinking of upgrading to a 50 gallon.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-12-2015, 04:16 PM
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In theory, if you move everything over, you are going to loose the cycling capacity of the biofilm on the glass, but keep everything else.. You'll be mostly-cycled, but you'll possibly have some minor spikes going on as the bacteria multiply enough to replace the lost colonies..


That said, one note is to make sure the top-layer (top 1/2" or so) of your current substrate ends up as the top layer in your new tank..

The nitrifying bacteria on the top of the substrate are actively feeding on the ammonia in your water, and are part of the nitrogen cycle that affects your fish. If they get buried, they'll only end up dealing with the limited amount of nutrient that works its way into the deep layers of the substrate.

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-13-2015, 12:13 AM Thread Starter
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Anyone else have input? I want to make sure I dont try it if it is likely not to work.
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-13-2015, 12:35 AM
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Matt gave excellent advise. Skim off the top 1/2 inch of substrate and set it aside in a small bucket of tank water, then top the new substrate with what is left in the tank of your old substrate. Then spread the saved top layer on the top of all that.

If you do that as well as adding Prime in each bucket of new water You should have a minimum of issues. You should plan on testing the water for ammonia and nitrites each day for a week or two and be ready to do a water change if the levels spike but you may not need to at all.

The key is to move as much stuff with bacteria on it,( everything in the old tank), and not let it dry out for more than a few minutes and to not let untreated,(Prime or other de-chlor), tap water touch any of the bacteria laden stuff. You also want to get the filter running again as soon as possible. The longer it sits without water running through it the more beneficial bacteria could be dying. You especially do not want chlorinated water to get to the filter without it first being thoroughly treated with De-chlor.

Go for it, you will be fine if you just plan ahead. I have done it many times.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-13-2015, 01:06 AM Thread Starter
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Matt gave excellent advise. Skim off the top 1/2 inch of substrate and set it aside in a small bucket of tank water, then top the new substrate with what is left in the tank of your old substrate. Then spread the saved top layer on the top of all that.

If you do that as well as adding Prime in each bucket of new water You should have a minimum of issues. You should plan on testing the water for ammonia and nitrites each day for a week or two and be ready to do a water change if the levels spike but you may not need to at all.

The key is to move as much stuff with bacteria on it,( everything in the old tank), and not let it dry out for more than a few minutes and to not let untreated,(Prime or other de-chlor), tap water touch any of the bacteria laden stuff. You also want to get the filter running again as soon as possible. The longer it sits without water running through it the more beneficial bacteria could be dying. You especially do not want chlorinated water to get to the filter without it first being thoroughly treated with De-chlor.

Go for it, you will be fine if you just plan ahead. I have done it many times.
So I could add the fish to the new tank the same day without (hopefully) any harmful effects?
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-13-2015, 01:37 AM
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Very likely, yes, you could add fish the same day. I just did basically the same thing on my wifes tank. Although, on hers I installed a new canister filter with a bunch of used biomedia, and completely new substraight. I waited a week to get everything moving in the right direction (ammonia and nitrite down to 0) before I added the hardscape/plants/fish from the old tank.

As others have stated, if you move everything at once AND keep the upper layer of substraight where it belongs, you should be fine.


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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-13-2015, 02:35 AM
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+1..

In addition, I'd probably dose prime into the change water to keep ammonia detoxified for the first 24 hours... Test after 24 hours and re-dose if ammonia is registering. Keep an eye on the ammonia for 3 days or so.

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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-13-2015, 03:01 AM
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So I could add the fish to the new tank the same day without (hopefully) any harmful effects?
You can also add beneficial bacteria from Tetra Safe Start Plus to help.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-13-2015, 05:24 AM
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I just set up a 10 gallon and used tetra safe start plus. Poured it in and put about 50 shrimp , crs and fire reds, with no problems.

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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-13-2015, 03:12 PM Thread Starter
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Awesome! I just wanted to get a good idea before I did it.

I will do it in November (after I move).
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-13-2015, 06:53 PM
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+1...

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattinmd View Post
That said, one note is to make sure the top-layer (top 1/2" or so) of your current substrate ends up as the top layer in your new tank..

The nitrifying bacteria on the top of the substrate are actively feeding on the ammonia in your water, and are part of the nitrogen cycle that affects your fish. If they get buried, they'll only end up dealing with the limited amount of nutrient that works its way into the deep layers of the substrate.
+1
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-13-2015, 07:25 PM
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All that said, my comment about the gravel depth goes out the window if you've got an undergravel filter.. but those are pretty rare these days...

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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-13-2015, 07:33 PM
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The other thing to consider (in favor of doing it), yes, you'll lose some beneficial bacteria but you're moving everything into a considerably under-stocked tank. Any ammonia spike will be much smaller because you have 30 extra gallons of water to dilute it. Good luck!
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-14-2015, 04:11 AM
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Ditto the comments above.
There is not much bacteria in the water, but it will help to make sure the new water has the same GH, KH etc about like doing a 50% or greater water change.

The water in the bucket with the fish is not good to use. When fish are stressed they produce excess ammonia and stress hormones. You do not want these to be added to the tank.

Save all the stuff you can, then add a little Nitrospira bacteria just to be sure.
There are a lot of threads here about moving with aquariums. Just do a search including the word 'moving' or similar terms.
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-14-2015, 12:26 PM
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I wanted to mention that if you are moving from a 20 to a 50 that you should put any new substrate down first, then add what was in your 20. This is similar to the comment above about the top 1/2" of your old being the top 1/2" of your new tank. Depending on your current substrate depth, this could be the majority of your old substrate. The one thing to look out for is that when you move substrate it kicks up a lot of detritus that is still in there. So that can cause a mini cycle. So it might be better to keep the fish in the old tank for a day or two in transition. Otherwise, make sure the fish have heat if the transition is going to take time. Just some thing to think about.

BTW, your 20 would make a great QT.
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