Put Established Media Directly Into Tank? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-19-2015, 12:45 AM Thread Starter
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Put Established Media Directly Into Tank?

I'm thinking about getting some established medias from my LFS , putting them into a leg stocking and hanging it directly into the tank. Will this help accelerate the bacteria colony in my canister filter?
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-19-2015, 01:11 AM
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I would be warry putting anything from a fish store in my tank, I don't put their water in my tank, i wouldn't put their filter media in my tank either... just my opinion.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-19-2015, 01:32 AM
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Just as it your LFS water can have diseases, so can their filter media. But it can be safe if they haven't had any disease outbreaks.

You can put it in the stocking as mentioned, but best to put it so more flow can go through it to provide more oxygen (and food within the water) to the media.
The beneficial bacteria will spread out, but if you can it is better to put it where it can get to your non-colonized bio media easier. Such as right next to it, with the water flowing through the LFS media before going through yours. I guess you maybe can put it near the intake of your filter and maybe some beneficial bacteria can get sucked up into the filter and colonize your biomedia faster.

So if you are going to do it, place it either next to/together with your media or if that isn't possible, just near intake of your filter, or in the path of most water flow (outlet of filter).

But if the LFS media is safe and you can keep it, you can just use it and not your biomedia if it has enough beneficial bacteria on it.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-19-2015, 01:40 AM
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It will speed things up, but you might want to try to find some from another source like friends or neighbors.

If you put it in an empty tank for long enough then I wouldn't worry about it, but then what would be the point of accelerating the cycle? Maybe just buy some of the quick start bacteria instead.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-19-2015, 02:03 AM
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I do it with media from my own tanks, im not sure how much Id trust a fish stores
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-19-2015, 02:10 AM
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Here is the fishless cycle.
With NO boost, the cycle can be done in 3 weeks.
If you jump start it with media from a well cycled, healthy tank the cycle will go faster, but how much faster will depend on how much bacteria is in that media, and how well it can transfer to your media. Placing it in the filter, or at the intake to your filter is a good idea.
If you jump start it with a bottled product that contains Nitrospira species of bacteria the cycle could be done in as little as 1-2 days.
For optimum growth of the bacteria make sure the water parameters are the best for growing bacteria. If you need to change the water chemistry when you want to add fish, that is OK. After the bacteria population is well grown it is OK to alter the water parameters. The bacteria may slow down, but there is a good population, well able to handle the waste level of the fish.

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. I have even heard of the right bacteria growing in the bio film found on driftwood. (So if you have been soaking some driftwood in preparation to adding it to the tank, go ahead and put it into the tank) 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 10 (permalink) Old 09-19-2015, 03:20 AM
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I recently cycled one tank with the fishless method, and another with fish. I used Tetra SafeStart. Worked well in both cases. Ammonia effectively converted to nitrates.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-19-2015, 02:39 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies.

I started a fish-less cycle last Wed night and I've added in Tetra SafeStart each day since but the ammonia is still at 2ppm. I'm heading to the LFS today to see if they can give me some established media. I'll be sure to ask if the tank with the media had any history of diseases.

The tank is empty with only gravel, canister filter, and heater. I'm going to buy some plants today as well.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-19-2015, 05:24 PM
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I put the plants in before starting the cycle. I also used most of a bottle of SafeStart at one shot for a 30g tank. Seemed to work. Zero ammonia or nitrites on a consistent basis.

How big is your tank and how much SafeStart are you using?
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-19-2015, 11:29 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Argus View Post
I put the plants in before starting the cycle. I also used most of a bottle of SafeStart at one shot for a 30g tank. Seemed to work. Zero ammonia or nitrites on a consistent basis.

How big is your tank and how much SafeStart are you using?
I have a 50g tank. I used 1/2 between Thurs/Fri and I dumped the rest today. I'm using the SafeStart Plus bottle.
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