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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I set my first planted tank up a little over a week ago. I will be gone for the holidays for a period of about 8 days. The tank is cycling and there is no livestock to worry about - but I have two major questions for the health of the cycling bacteria and to prevent algae.

1) Will the ammonia leaching from the aquasoil be enough to maintain the bacteria population I have started to establish. I am at day 10 of the cycle. I have heard that Aquasoil will continue to leach ammonia for up to a month. I have started to see a decrease in ammonia levels when testing the water in the tank, with the level the past couple of days being between 1-2 and the nitrites getting high (5.0). So I am guessing that I am seeing the effects of the early-ammonia utilizing bacteria. Will the leaching of the ammonia from the aquasoil be enough over the next two weeks? Or should I add some fish food to the tank before I leave?

2) The lighting on the tank is low-medium - with a Fugeray suspended 4-5" off the surface of the water. I have been dosing Excel daily for the plants and to prevent algal growth with a photoperiod 12/12. While away - I was going to reduce the photoperiod to only 6 hours or so to cut decrease the possibility of algal growth in the absence of Excel dosing. Does this make sense?

Thanks in advance!
 

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This is probably one of the situations where following the very non-specific/non-scientific/non-quantifiable method of 'chucking in a raw shrimp or three' may actually be of use to you, since it will take time to decompose (and affect ammonia levels, etc.)

otherwise, I'm guessing that if you just dose the ammonia before you leave, and then dose and measure upon return, you will either be able to pick up where you left off, or have to recycle a bit.

If it's only set up for a week, I can't imagine it setting you back any further then that. Plus, using something like aquasoil that tends to release over a time period, it may not set you back at all.
 

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So are you adding ammonia or are you just relying on the soil for an ammonia source? I'd do a full water change first; nitrites are getting high and if left unchecked they can stall the cycle if left to spike too high. Since they are already 5, I'd do a full water change to get them down. Then if you're dosing ammonia, dose it up before you leave. Even if all of it converts the soil might provide enough to keep some bacteria sustained. Either way it shouldn't set you back too much and when you return you can just pick it up again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
I haven't had to add any ammonia yet - but I have it ready. The Aquasoil has been steady leaching it - ammonia was about 3-4 for the first week, then started dropping - with it being somewhere between 1-2 earlier yesterday. That is also the first time that the nitrites were really high - they had been sitting 2-3 before they really spiked. I have been doing water changes (20-30%) every other day.

Thanks for the advice. I don't leave until Sunday, so I will continue with monitoring and water changes - and then dose with ammonia before I leave. If I see that my ammonia levels are really getting low before I go, I will throw something to help with extended release.
 

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It took me close to a month cycling with just ADA AS, I think you might not have to add anything, since there is no live stock in the tank you might not have to do a wc, up to you, just check again before you leave, looks like you already have that planned:)
 

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i was in a similar situation to you.. except i used eco-complete (inert) and not aquasoil.

i had setup my 6G to start cycling a week before i went on vacation (was gone for about 7 days). if you're going to be gone, i think it's better to have too much ammonia in the tank than too little. too much may stall the cycle, but the bacteria should still be there when you get back. if you run out of ammonia while you are gone, the bacteria may starve/die and you would have to start all over again.

before i left, i dosed a lot of ammonia into my tank.. probably 4ppm i think? it was overkill, but my tank actually cycled pretty quick.. i think 3 weeks max total?

i think the aquasoil should continue to help cycle your tank, but if you are paranoid, i would toss in a raw shrimp in there to help with the cycling. in the end i think you'll be fine by the time you get back, i dont think anything would have slowed down too much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
So I am thinking the answer to the question leaching enough ammonia to keep my tank going over the next 10 days (I leave Sunday until New Years Eve) is going to be no.

Levels have been steady dropping over the last few days - and even with adding a few drops of ammonia last night after a water change, today it is the lowest it has been - 0.25 (see chart below). This is great - as it means my fishless cycle is progressing - but just about a week faster than I was hoping for. So I will bump it up with ammonia before I leave, and then place a vacation feeding block (or raw shrimp - although won't that start to stink...) as a source while gone.

I think I will also cut the photoperiod as an algae preventive.
 

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