Newbie tank swap question. - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-08-2015, 03:52 AM Thread Starter
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Newbie tank swap question.

Hi to all, newbie here.

I have a 10g running for over a year now. It has a couple of small fish and a dozen of cherry shrimp. All happy and healthy.


Planning to replace it and build a Mr. Aqua 12g long low tech planted aquarium.

Got a couple of tank swap questions before i purchase the material.

1. Existing tank has Flourite Dark and some natural lava gravel.
Should i transfer them or buy new one ? It will take 2-3 months for the new tank to cycle and stable to transfer my live stock. If i transfer the flourite and gravel now, will that harm my existing live stock?

2. Can i take out the existing rock and dry wood to design my new aquascaping now ? Will cycling kill all the existing good bacteria ?

Any input will be appreciated !
Here is a pic of my existing 10g tank.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-08-2015, 04:03 AM
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If you want to retain your stock then keep the substrate in the present set-up.

Transferring rock and wood from present setup to the new one will not kill the beneficial bacteria on them, unless you let them dry. That's to say if you take them out and put them in your water filled new tank the bacteria will not only not die but will kick start your cycling process.

If you have a choice, you have a problem, till you elect your choice. No choice, no problem, only consequences, learn to live with them.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-08-2015, 11:49 AM
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essabee nailed it, but I'll go further. I would rehome the fish temporarily while I transferred everything, media from the filter included, to the new tank.


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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-08-2015, 01:31 PM
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It shouldn't take that long to cycle a tank. 6 weeks is the maximum I have ever had a tank cycle. If you use material from your existing tank, dose microbacter, and supply ammonia, it will only take a couple of weeks at the most.

I wouldn't mess with the substrate unless you need to use it in the new tank. Stirring up the substrate has a way of throwing aquariums all out of whack. Not to mention there's a good chance that the shrimp could be harmed in the process. If you need to move the substrate, I would build a shrimp trap (ala cut water bottle) and make sure they are out of the tank before you start taking the substrate out.

Best of luck!

This isn't rocket surgery
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-08-2015, 02:24 PM
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Here is how I would do this:
A week of so before:
Clean the filter, vacuum the tank. Start finding whatever supplies you need (read through this to figure out what you need).

Day before:
Prepare enough water for 100% water change, if the water needs to circulate overnight. Otherwise prepare water when you are ready to do this. Rinse new substrate if it needs it.

Day of:
1) Turn off, unplug all equipment. Remove from tank.
2) Siphon the water into 2-3 buckets. One or two for fish and shrimp. One for filter media (does not need a lot of water, just damp). Some water onto a shallow tray. Spread the plants out on this tray and keep them damp. Then you can see what plants you have for the new scape.
3) Remove decor, keep it in a damp place (garbage bag, bucket)
4) Remove substrate. Here is the trick to retain the maximum bacteria: The bacteria thrive only in the top layer or so of the substrate, where there is good water movement to bring them the oxygen and ammonia. Skim this layer and set it aside. Then remove the rest. You will stir up a lot more debris that could cloud the water in the new set up, so the way I do this is to partially refill the old tank with water and do a quick rinse of the substrate. Stir it around, siphon out the dirty water, repeat if the water is pretty bad.
5) Move new tank into place. Plumb, level, square.
6) Install the substrate, make hills and valleys. Put the reserved substrate on the top when you are sure it won't get mixed up with the lower areas.
7) Hardscape- rocks, wood...
8) Plant. Mist often.
9) Put a plate or plastic bag over the substrate and pour the water in slowly so it hits the plate and seeps over the edge. This minimizes the clouding. You can add bottled bacteria if you want. Read the label and make sure it has Nitrospira species of bacteria. This is the correct species of bacteria. Do not waste money on anything else.
10) Install equipment, check that it is working.
11) Net the fish out of their bucket. Fish under stress produce excess ammonia and stress hormones. You do not want this water in the new tank.

The rest of the day:
Lights out, do not feed unless the fish are behaving OK, then only feed half as much.

Next day and following days:
Lights on, feed regular amount.
Test for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Be ready to do a water change if the ammonia or nitrite are too high.
If you used Nitrospira you should not do a water change. Read the bottle for when a water change is OK. There may be a small blip in ammonia or nitrite when you use bottled bacteria. It should not be very high, and it should go away quickly. If it climbs too high, or does not go away this suggests the bacteria have died. Do water changes as needed.

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If you want to change the substrate, and use all new:
Put the reserved substrate (rich in bacteria) into several mesh bags and hang them on the walls of the tank. Once a week remove one bag. This will allow the bacteria to grow in the new tank yet provide a little bit better bio filtration from the old bacteria. Definitely use Nitrospira.

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If you are setting up the new tank, and keeping the old:

Put all new substrate, decor, plants in the new tank, and the old, cycled filter from the established tank, and half the livestock.
Keep the old tank set up, just add a new filter. But remove half the livestock.

Reason: Roughly half the beneficial bacteria live in the filter. By moving half the livestock with the established filter you are keeping the population of bacteria balanced with the ammonia production. Adding new plants gives the new tank a bit of a boost, a little extra bio filter.

You can sure add Nitrospira to both tanks- This also will boost the population of bacteria.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Another way to do this:
Set up the new tank with all new things.
Do the fishless cycle- tank will be ready for a full fish population in 3 weeks or less.

Here is the 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. 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 #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-08-2015, 02:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freemananana View Post
I'll go further. I would rehome the fish temporarily while I transferred everything, media from the filter included, to the new tank.
Would not that be risky?

If the present fauna is re-homed temporarily - first into holding buckets while the old 10g is emptied and cleaned and then into the old 10g - the old filter with its media would be needed for them.

The new 12g is then set up using the old substrate with necessary additional new substrate, and the old hard-scape materials. This would mean the tank is not completely cycled.

If now the fauna is moved to the 12g and part of filter-media in the new filter is replaced with the filter-media of the old filter/ alternatively the old filter itself is used - still the new tank is not completely cycled.

The risk remains. Does it not at least to a degree?

If you have a choice, you have a problem, till you elect your choice. No choice, no problem, only consequences, learn to live with them.

Last edited by essabee; 10-08-2015 at 02:43 PM. Reason: .
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-08-2015, 05:02 PM
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I'm under the impression that cycled media is really all you need. The tanks aren't that much different in size and I was thinking transferring cycled media would be enough.


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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-09-2015, 07:25 PM Thread Starter
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Wow, thank you very much to everyone for sharing all the great knowledge and advise.

Really appreciated from the bottom of my heart.

Now i can order my hardware and take my time to digest all the information slowly.

Again, Thanks a lot !!
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-16-2015, 01:44 PM
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If you wait about a week, I'll be setting up a new tank. I'm taking my shrimp out of my sump, setting up a 20g tank, and transferring some bio media from my sump to a canister filter. I don't expect any issues with my light bio load and aged bio media. The tank will be brand new, brand new substrate, and new hardscape. I'll move some plants from my current tank and use existing media. If you think about it, PM me in about a week and I can show you some test results.


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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-20-2015, 02:47 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks.
Will be glad to see your result.
I am delaying my plan a little bit. Instead of Aqua 12 i properly will go for the Aqua 22.
I need to add some support to my bookshelf before i buy the tank.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-20-2015, 11:47 AM
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Well! I did my tank transfer. Zero casualties on day two. No real issues yet. My bio load is almost non-existent though. I transfers 30-50 RCS to a new tank. I used new sand, new wood, plants from my existing tank, and media from my existing filter.


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