Help - Fish-Less Cycling - New 29g - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-25-2015, 05:22 PM Thread Starter
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Help - Fish-Less Cycling - New 29g

Hello! Newbie in the planted tank world and needing some cycling advice please!

Set-up & details to date:
Initial establishment on 10/18/2015
29 gallon tank w/ glass lid
Finnex Planted+ 24/7 LED light (running on 24/7 cycle)
Substrate layers: Flourite (bottom), Ecocomplete (middle), CaribSea Super Naturals sand (top)
AquaClear50 filter- currently housing sponge, Purigen (trying to remove tannins), and BioMax media.
150w heater - temp @ 79-80
Two pieces Mopani wood
Not sure if it matters what I have planted in the tank at this time, but is an assortment of anubias, vesuvius sword, crypt spiralis, compact hygrophila corymbosa, blyxa aubertii, and moss.

Test readings taken last night: pH 7.6, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 0

I have read or been given so many recommendations that the info is running together and I'm getting lost, so here's my question(s)

I would like to cycle relatively quickly, and after researching, see that that there are so MANY options!! 😳
I bought a bottle of Stability, but have not used it yet. I have an established 10 gallon tank in my office at work, with a BioWheel filter and a filter cartridge that I KNOW has some nice juicy bacteria all over it. The work tank is super clear, with happy, healthy kids living in it. Should I pull the filter cartridge out of it and place in the AQ filter at home to help start the cycle? Or should I just use the Stability and ammonia dosing to start cycling the home tank? OR should I be using both??? Or should I do something else? And is it ok to keep the Purigen in place as I'm going through this initial cycling process?

Thanks in advance for any help or suggestions!!
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-25-2015, 06:06 PM
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I haven't used Seachem Stability, but had very good luck with Tetra SafeStart Plus.

Make sure GH and KH are above 3 dkh.

Add ammonia until it reaches 5ppm. You want to make sure the ammonia you use does not have any additives. Supermarket ammonia usually has other things in it that can cause problems in an aquarium. I used janitorial ammonia from Ace Hardware.

Add your Stability. I used about 200ml of Tetra SafeStart on a 30g tank and it cycled very quickly.

Test for ammonia daily. When it drops to zero, add more ammonia. You have to keep feeding it until you add fish for a natural source of ammonia. Otherwise, the bacteria will starve and you will have to cycle the tank again.

I cycled a 10g quarantine tank with fish. Added about 100ml of SafeStart and fish. It was pretty much instantly cycled.
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-25-2015, 06:14 PM
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I'm not one for chemicals if they can be avoided, so for years any time I need to establish a tank I move media from one to the other. You could squeeze some nice filthy water out of your cartridge and let your AC sponge soak in it for a few minutes, then pour it over your biomax and put in the sponge. That will not impact your cycled tank, and transfer some bacteria to get your new one started. I try to keep an extra bag or two of bio max type ceramics in all my filters so if needed I just pull the bag from one and drop it in another. Hope that helps.
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-25-2015, 08:00 PM
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Here is the fishless cycle. Ignore all the 'other' fishless cycles. This is the fastest, and I have added all the info about optimum water conditions so the bacteria grow as fast as possible.
If you want to jump start the bacteria population look for a product with Nitrospira species of bacteria.
If you have a healthy, cycled aquarium already running, then you can share some filter media.

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 #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-27-2015, 02:31 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the responses! I tested the 10 gallon tank at my office today, which had what I think were great results! Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, and Nitrate at 40ppm. The pH was very low at around 6, but the pH in the new tank is at 7.6, so not sure how much that matters? Will it??
Took a few fistfuls of rocks, a large silk plant (which sticks out like a sore thumb in the planted tank), and squeezed as much juice out of the filter cartridge as possible, directly on to a bag of biomax media. Brought home the "soup", added soup and bag to my filter, and put the other items in the tank - so now, the waiting starts I guess.

Thanks again for the advice! I'm sure I will have to make many more adjustments, but looking forward to positive results eventually!
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-27-2015, 03:24 AM
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Now it is not just waiting. Feed the bacteria!

The bacteria generally do better with higher pH. Whether this is actually the pH, or whether it is a reflection of the KH, which the bacteria need, I do not know.

What is the GH and KH in the new set up?
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-27-2015, 05:21 AM Thread Starter
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GH - 3.8
KH - 4.2

We had LFS test our water before we filled, as we had access to city water source and a well water source. We went with the well water source, due to less chemical additives, etc.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-27-2015, 07:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShonJohn74 View Post
Hello! Newbie in the planted tank world and needing some cycling advice please!

Set-up & details to date:
Initial establishment on 10/18/2015
29 gallon tank w/ glass lid
Finnex Planted+ 24/7 LED light (running on 24/7 cycle)
Substrate layers: Flourite (bottom), Ecocomplete (middle), CaribSea Super Naturals sand (top)
AquaClear50 filter- currently housing sponge, Purigen (trying to remove tannins), and BioMax media.
150w heater - temp @ 79-80
Two pieces Mopani wood
Not sure if it matters what I have planted in the tank at this time, but is an assortment of anubias, vesuvius sword, crypt spiralis, compact hygrophila corymbosa, blyxa aubertii, and moss.

Test readings taken last night: pH 7.6, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 0

I have read or been given so many recommendations that the info is running together and I'm getting lost, so here's my question(s)

I would like to cycle relatively quickly, and after researching, see that that there are so MANY options!! ��
I bought a bottle of Stability, but have not used it yet. I have an established 10 gallon tank in my office at work, with a BioWheel filter and a filter cartridge that I KNOW has some nice juicy bacteria all over it. The work tank is super clear, with happy, healthy kids living in it. Should I pull the filter cartridge out of it and place in the AQ filter at home to help start the cycle? Or should I just use the Stability and ammonia dosing to start cycling the home tank? OR should I be using both??? Or should I do something else? And is it ok to keep the Purigen in place as I'm going through this initial cycling process?

Thanks in advance for any help or suggestions!!

Were it me (and it ain't). I would use the seeded cartridge from work tank as you mention, and feed the 29 gal a pinch of fish food every other day (once), to provide food for the bacteria.
Would perform weekly water changes with good dechlorinator, and after three week's,,stock the tank slowly with a few fish at a time with ten day's between new addition's.
Choose healthy looking fishes whenever possible.
Without quarantine tank,the 29 gal will essentially become quarantine so time between new addition's of fish will hopefully allow for problem's that may appear between new fishes added.(need a lot of luck nowday's).
Ideally,,the time between new fishes would be closer to a month, but few are able to wait this long when they have a brand new tank running with no life therein.
Breeder's,fellow hobbyist's,online vendor's make little money peddling sick fishes as opposed to crowded store tank's where number's of fishes go through these tank's weekly, and all manner of disease ,parasitic pathogen's are possible so I might source fishes from afore mentioned .
Another option might be to purchase small 10 gal tank, and after the 29 gal has matured for a couple month's with just plant's,borrow some filter material from it right before placing a few small fish for the 29 gal in the small ten gal for quarantine of at least a month.
Few can imagine anything more intolerable than to patiently set up new planted tank and then stock it with fish only to have disease or parasites be introduced to the new system.
You are then left with in essence,a planted hospital tank and we have all done it.(sucks canal water).
I keep a small sponge filter going in mature tank so that when I am considering adding some fish to my planted tank,I can just move the sponge filter to a small ten gal tank and a small heater to place the few small fish in for a few week's before risking placing the new fish in my planted tanks where treating with med's is expensive, due to size of the tank, and where plant's may not respond well to the treatment's.
I can do this easily,,but I do not alway's practice this for reason's that are unclear to me givin previous disaster's.
Just sayin. (sheepishly)

Last edited by roadmaster; 10-27-2015 at 08:06 AM. Reason: addition
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-31-2015, 02:39 AM Thread Starter
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Update and guidance needed please!
Found the ammonia at Ace, added this evening, just tested and ammonia appears to be between 4 to 5 ppm. My pH is still showing 7.6, and tank temp is in low 80s. I added some more Stability, as I'm still in the whole "add for 7 days straight" phase since Tuesday.
I am keeping the light on a midnight setting, to keep algae from occurring?? But I noticed that one of my plants is looking straight nasty, like a cloudy, snot-like film is growing from the bottom up. The plant I'm referencing is the hygrophila corymbosa.
Should I turn lights off completely? Turn the heat down? Stop with the Stability? Test for something else?
Just want to be sure I'm headed in the right direction and not about to kill off all my plants and wind up with a ole' big tank full of NOPE. Being a noob with this type of tank is throwing my OCD into overdrive. 😳 But I'm hanging in!

Bump:
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-31-2015, 03:38 AM Thread Starter
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Here are a few photos. Second one shows mystery cloud fungus on the plant. Also keep finding tiny snails that that just suddenly show up, so I'm guessing that they somehow hitchhiked in with the plants. I have 0 experience with snails, but wondering if anyone knows what this one may be or if I should be doing something about them? Good? Bad??
Thanks!





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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-31-2015, 05:24 AM
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Images too small for me to see much.

You added ammonia to 4-5 ppm. What reading was it 24 hrs. later?
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-31-2015, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by roadmaster View Post
Were it me (and it ain't). I would use the seeded cartridge from work tank as you mention, and feed the 29 gal a pinch of fish food every other day (once), to provide food for the bacteria.
Would perform weekly water changes with good dechlorinator, and after three week's,,stock the tank slowly with a few fish at a time with ten day's between new addition's.
Choose healthy looking fishes whenever possible.
Without quarantine tank,the 29 gal will essentially become quarantine so time between new addition's of fish will hopefully allow for problem's that may appear between new fishes added.(need a lot of luck nowday's).
Ideally,,the time between new fishes would be closer to a month, but few are able to wait this long when they have a brand new tank running with no life therein.
Breeder's,fellow hobbyist's,online vendor's make little money peddling sick fishes as opposed to crowded store tank's where number's of fishes go through these tank's weekly, and all manner of disease ,parasitic pathogen's are possible so I might source fishes from afore mentioned .
Another option might be to purchase small 10 gal tank, and after the 29 gal has matured for a couple month's with just plant's,borrow some filter material from it right before placing a few small fish for the 29 gal in the small ten gal for quarantine of at least a month.
Few can imagine anything more intolerable than to patiently set up new planted tank and then stock it with fish only to have disease or parasites be introduced to the new system.
You are then left with in essence,a planted hospital tank and we have all done it.(sucks canal water).
I keep a small sponge filter going in mature tank so that when I am considering adding some fish to my planted tank,I can just move the sponge filter to a small ten gal tank and a small heater to place the few small fish in for a few week's before risking placing the new fish in my planted tanks where treating with med's is expensive, due to size of the tank, and where plant's may not respond well to the treatment's.
I can do this easily,,but I do not alway's practice this for reason's that are unclear to me givin previous disaster's.
Just sayin. (sheepishly)
Tons of good advice in this post.

Are you really running your lights 24/7? If so I would cut that down to 8-12 hours a day, probably on the lower end of that. Too much light will almost guarantee algae.
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-31-2015, 05:04 PM Thread Starter
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Tons of good advice in this post.

Are you really running your lights 24/7? If so I would cut that down to 8-12 hours a day, probably on the lower end of that. Too much light will almost guarantee algae.
Not running 24/7 - I have a finnex 24/7 led fixture. Have had it on midnight (minimal) setting since I've been adding bacteria solution daily since Tuesday.
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-03-2015, 12:25 AM Thread Starter
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Update on cycle. Current readings as of 15 minutes ago were ammonia 2.0, nitrIte 1.0 ppm, nitrAte 5.0 ppm. Exciting!! Something is finally happening!
Should I dose ammonia back up to 3-4 ppm, or wait and let it drop to around 1 before dosing again? I have already completely lost my hygro to a mushy mess, so I removed it. I just dint want to lose any more if I can help it. So far everything else looks good, except for the number of snails I keep noticing.
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-03-2015, 12:44 AM
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How do you keep nitrites down mine are off the charts and did 2 50% water changes. Ammonia is getting eaten up dosing 1ppm twice a day, Don't want to burn the plants. Nitrates were 50 before water changes.
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