The Planted Tank Forum banner
1 - 20 of 20 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,534 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I setup a new Marineland Contour 5 gallon tank, using gravel from an established tank (rinsed with conditioned water). I also used plants from that established tank, and some filter floss from the filter. Then I added a new bag of ceramic bio-media in the rear sump area with a capful of bacteria blend dumped over it. 2 days later I did a 75% water change because of the dirt leaching some nutrients under the gravel. Added more bacteria solution to the ceramic bag and waited a few more days, did a 25% water change and added more bacteria blend to the tank. It's been 2 more days and I still have no ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate readings. I am using a heater @ 78F so I am just thinking I will not detect spikes. So I introduced a little bit of Excel today and Flourish Comp. I have waited off on adding any Purigen yet, I think after almost I think 10 days I may be good, I can possibly add my clean up crew now. The only thing I really have is a Betta fish that I built this tank for and I really want to put him in it what do you think? I used both test strips and liquid tests to verify.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
649 Posts
From what I can tell, there is nothing in the tank to produce ammonia. You need bacteria food before the bacteria can grow. Put some fish flakes in there and check it in a couple of days. Don't add a clean up crew until there is something to clean up.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
852 Posts
Ac heap bottle of pure ammonia from Ace hardware will tell you.add enough to bring it to 1 or 2 ppm,IME that's usually about 1 cc/10 gal.test the next day for ammonia and nitrite.if there's no ammonia,those guys are going,if there's nitrite,it still needs to cycle.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,862 Posts
Like the others said, there is no ammonia source for the nitrifying bacteria (Autotrophic) to utilize.
If you used that bacteria product on a established tank or one with a bunch organic matter (uneaten fish food/detritus/mulm), the sludge reducers/eaters (Heterotrophic bacteria), break that down into ammonia. In a clean newly set up tank, there isn't much/any organic matter to break down into ammonia. Even if there is organic matter, the seeded biomedia (or the bottled nitrifying bacteria, if it contains the correct bacteria species) would be converting that generated ammonia into nitrite then into nitrates.

Add more ammonia source (can just use fish food, place in media bag for easier clean up) and see if the tank is indeed cycled or not. Even if it is, keep the bacteria fed so they stay alive and/or grow. If it's cycled then it's ready to be stocked with livestock.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
649 Posts
That bacteria blend always fed the cycle, I did buy a clean up crew but I plan to feed them. Their poop will then be broken down by the micro-organisms, I can sink some NLS pellets.
I doubt that the bottle of bacteria have food in the bottle. If that were the case, they would spike the nitrate in the bottle until it killed itself off.

The reason everyone is saying that you need an ammonia source is because there is a tell tale sign of what is going on. The byproduct of cycling ammonia/nitrite is nitrate, which you are getting a reading of zero of. Conversely, I am cycling a ten gallon tank right now, and I am seeing ammonia, nitrite, and a TON of nitrate.

I think you would be best off, and save some money on fish if you either dosed some ammonia or put some fish food in the tank and monitor the ammonia being converted eventually into nitrate.

Best of luck
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,534 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for completing my circle everyone, unfortunately it was too late and I already brought home Amano shrimp, I added them last night along with one Nerite snail. They worked all night and cleaned up the pre-existing algae on plants I pulled from other tanks, they pooped quite a bit just from the algae however I do not think Amano shrimp poop breaks down very fast. They seem to keep their turd shape for weeks, when I vac my other tanks their poop is pulled out completely molded so I am not sure about that. I did add NLS to the tank for the clean up crew to eat, it is very nutritious for them and hopefully that will get some ammonia going. The 3rd or 4th day of cycling I saw those harmless flatworms crawling around, not sure where they come from possibly the soil but that is a good sign I know they live in the substrate and eat decaying matter down there. I will wait and see what I get for test results, hopefully the spikes are not too high if they appear.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,721 Posts
What bacterial additive did you add?
What are the instructions?
I am with all the folks who have posted ahead of me: you have not been feeding the bacteria, so they have no way to grow.
To cycle a tank before adding livestock is very good, but you need to actually feed the bacteria with ammonia either from a bottle or from decomposing protein such as fish food.
From your earlier test results there was little or no ammonia, just what might have been in the water if your tap water contains chloramines. This is not much, no where near enough to grow a big colony of bacteria or keep it fed until you add livestock.
Plants are also part of the bio filter, so if they are growing well they will help.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,534 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The one in the photo lol it says 1 capful per 10 gallons, then 1 more 2 weeks later. This is a 5 gallon tank I used a whole capful which is 2x the amount recommended.

I am very curious why this same solution caused cycling spikes in all my other "new" tanks without feeding any ammonia?

Can anyone clarify the difference between food in the water column and eaten food (poop) in the water column? The poop still contains the nutrients of the food, only it has been processed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
541 Posts
Bacteria break down food into it's components which we call waste. The bacteria are in the water and on surfaces of the tank and also in the digestive tract of the animals in the tank. They all do the same thing. They feed and excrete substances that other organisms then feed on etc. until the cycle of food to ammonia to nitrite to nitrate is complete.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,534 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
So than, there is no difference between food decaying in my substrate and my cleanup crew finding that food, eating it and pooping into the substrate, both will work? They already found all the NLS in the gravel and ate it, so if it is necessary for it to remain uneaten I can add some to the sump in the back and let it break down back there?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,721 Posts
Fish excrete ammonia via their gills. Micro organisms take longer to process food or feces into ammonia. Do not add additional food beyond the needs of the livestock. That might add too much, and cause an ammonia spike that would be harmful to your livestock.

I do not know which product you are using, but dead microorganism are a possible source of ammonia.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
649 Posts
The one in the photo lol it says 1 capful per 10 gallons, then 1 more 2 weeks later. This is a 5 gallon tank I used a whole capful which is 2x the amount recommended.

I am very curious why this same solution caused cycling spikes in all my other "new" tanks without feeding any ammonia?

Can anyone clarify the difference between food in the water column and eaten food (poop) in the water column? The poop still contains the nutrients of the food, only it has been processed.
Both rotting food and waste produce ammonia as you pointed out. The difference is doing a fish in cycle versus a fishless cycle. Having livestock in the tank exposes them to ammonia and nitrite which is extremely toxic. Nitrate is still toxic, but much less so than ammonia and nitrite. We keep our tanks stocked with plants and do weekly water changes to keep the nitrate levels at a minimum.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,534 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Having livestock in the tank exposes them to ammonia and nitrite which is extremely toxic. Nitrate is still toxic, but much less so than ammonia and nitrite. We keep our tanks stocked with plants and do weekly water changes to keep the nitrate levels at a minimum.
I understand this, and I would not do a fish cycle, only inverts so that the spike is not high. I just tested it still 0-0-0, I may try adding just a drop or two of ammonia if I find some. I do not think I did enough water changes after dirting because a few shrimp are turning pinkish and cloudy, possibly still metals leaching from the dirt. They keep gobbling up the NLS though right away. If one of the shrimp dies I will leave it in there as a source of ammonia.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,534 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
So I do believe I am silently cycling, I have been testing for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate every day for a week now. 4 shrimp eating like crazy pooping all over the place, I have been feeding a mix of foods they completely consume. Everything from NLS pellets, SanFran frozen brine shrimp and bloodworms, blanched zucchini. 0-0-0 so I should certainly have ammonia present by now, just in the frozen foods alone I added them to a feeding cone without rinsing so those juices entered my water column then I waited a day before dumping them from the feeder cone since the shrimp were not eating it though the cone. I keep adding plants as well, so possibly the plant load including floaters are consuming the nitrate before it has a chance to build. All I know is I have added 2 weeks or more worth of food for my Betta in less than 7 days, and there are no spikes, and much more poop present in the tank then my Betta could have produced by now. So I THINK I am safe...I use accurate liquid tests that I meticulously match with their directions. I will wait 1 more week
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,721 Posts
The product you have used (I can see the pictures on this computer, could not on the other one) does not specify Nitrospira species of bacteria, and does specify sludge removal. It is not nitrifying bacteria, but is decomposer bacteria. These will (as stated above) provide food for the nitrifying bacteria by decomposing organic matter (feces, fallen leaves...) slowly. In a new set up without much organic matter the 'sludge' is not there in sufficient quantity to produce excess ammonia or nitrite.

You added cycled materials and plants from other tanks. These brought in the Nitrospira and other nitrifying organisms. Not much, but some. Enough.

Then you added several shrimp, and food for these shrimp. The food for these shrimp should not be very much (do not overfeed), and seems to be within the capacity of the nitrifying bacteria and plants to handle. Ammonia, nitrite and nitrate are all 0, showing that plants are ultimately taking in most or all the nitrogen in any of these forms. Your current bio filter is working just fine for the current stocking level.

DO NOT ADD AMMONIA.

When you want to add more livestock then add Nitrospira species of bacteria such as Dr. Tim's One and Only or Tetra Safe Start. These contain the actual species of bacteria you are trying to grow, and are almost immediately available and ready to go to work (24-48 hours) not a week or two. If you know you are going to be buying fish or shrimp keep a bottle in the fridge. Add some every time you add livestock.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Here is the fishless cycle. You can do this with every new set up. The time to complete the fishless cycle will depend on how much of the correct species of microorganisms you can add at the start. If you start with none of the correct species the fishless cycle will take 3 weeks. If you start with lots of the correct species the cycle might be complete right away, and this would show as a small spike in ammonia or nitrite just within the first 24 hours, then 0ppm ammonia and nitrite, and rising nitrate (depending on the plant growth- could be 0ppm NO3, also).

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 methemoglobinemia 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. (7.5-8 seems to be optimum)
Temperature in the upper 70s F (mid 20s C) is good. Higher (to 95*F or about 35*C) 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, and trace elements like CSM+B 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 may use the carbon in carbonates, and if it is all used up (KH = 0) the bacteria may die off. They use the carbon from CO2, and this is generally pretty low in water, but can be replenished from the air and from carbonates. Keep the carbonates up to keep the pH up, too.
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. To grow them at optimum rates, keep the pH on the alkaline side of neutral.
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. 1 ppm twice a day will grow almost as much bacteria as 3 ppm once a day.
 
1 - 20 of 20 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top