The Planted Tank Forum banner
1 - 4 of 4 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
134 Posts
I'm transferring all the contents of a smaller tank into a new large tank that is still in the cycling process. Over the years I've always moved a portion of the media from a tank into the new tank to jump start the process, never have I moved all the media and fish to a new tank. I could be more scientific about this process and figure it out but I'm sure someone has the answers I'm looking for, with my wife on travel all week and my monkey children on my back I'd like to make this as fast a transition as possible. So question is if I move all the media and fish to a tank that's 5 times the size (29 to a 125) will there still be a mini cycle? I do have ammonia in the tank already so I would plan to do a large water change before hand. Love to hear some opinions on this.

Bump: Also have a bonus question; if I want to keep the 29 gallon (or any other size for that matter) as a quarantine tank what's the best way to keep it cycled? My wife will birth a kitten if I don't get rid of this tank so It must be somewhere inconspicuous, so it won't be anywhere close to the new tank, likely in the back of a utility room.

Well after some diggin' with the search function I found the answer to my first question. Since bacteria lives on all surfaces of the tank, and I'm not moving the old gravel, the tank will experience a mini cycle. During the cycle it is advised to dose prime and stability (full water amount) as a precaution and check the levels regularly. Lots of members reported having almost no cycle time at all with a heavily planted tank. Another member said that bacteria doubles ever 24 hours (yet to fact check that) so even if you lose the bacteria in the gravel it wouldn't take but a few days to get it back.

As far as the quarantine tank some say to just take media from the main tank and stuff it in the qt tank. I've always been told that your tank can't hold "extra" media per se, the bacteria only multiply enough to convert the ammonia that exists. If you take out some media then you send the tank in a mini cycle as there's not enough bacteria to handle the bio load. If you take out a couple fish then some bacteria may die off as there's now less (potentially) ammonia being produced.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,428 Posts
I think of this question as one which gets down to pretty basic stuff. Step one is to ALWAYS assume things can go wrong when making major changes. That means being ready to test for ammonia and also being ready to control it if it shows. May happen, even in the best of plans so being ready is important. Facts are that we could, in theory, do without the cycle. But that also means we might need to pour fresh water all night long to keep ammonia down so the smarter folks do the cycle. Just being ready can save a lot of fish and trouble.
But then it is good to question what is expected. You will lose some bacteria on the walls, substrate surface and such. But you will be taken what is designed to hold a good portion of the bacteria with you on/in the filter and media. Take good care of it and don't let it die? The bacteria does jump back up quickly so the question can get to be how close you are running to being at full stocking balanced against how much bacteria will be lost. The ammonia produced can be cut back in some ways that help. Stop feeding a couple days before the change and feed lighter for the next week. Neither hurt the fish and reduce chances of ammonia spikes. Another good point in your favor is the ammonia produced is also diluted a whole bunch in the new tank. Moving 29 to 125 cuts the PPM about five times so what might have been 20PPM in 29 might only be 4PPM in 125. Hardly worth the mention even if you could measure it.

For QT, I do not keep a full time QT but we each need to look at how and when we use one. If you are going to be picking up new fish that are suspect, keep the QT running even if it is a pain. But if you are okay on current stocking and only will use it when disease or injury show, perhaps keeping it in the closet is good enough. How do you feel about your fish experience and stocking?
I have little sickness and raise most of my own fish so that leaves me not needing full time QT. A sick shows sick, I move it into the spare tank and don't feed them while sick. I stuff the filter on the QT with used media from the existing tank and it all works out. By the time the sick one is ready to be fed, the bacteria is ready to handle any ammonia left over after water changes. When fish are sick I do double/ triple water changing as good water is one of my best bets for good medicine. You don't need bacteria to convert ammonia if you are removing it with water changes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,721 Posts
These bacteria barely double in 24 hours, they are slow growing.
Stability does not have the right species of bacteria. Look for Nitrospira species of bacteria. Read the label and do not settle for 'just like it'.

To set up a new tank by moving everything to the new tank you will be moving pretty much all the bacteria. I have done this with no blip in ammonia or nitrite, but be ready for a short minor blip. Here is how to do this the best way to conserve the maximum bacteria:
Roughly 50% of the bacteria live in the filter. If you clean the filter a few days to a week before moving, they will have recovered if any were lost in cleaning. A gentle rinse in used aquarium water is the safest way to clean the filter media. Do not get too aggressive with cleaning the filter right before changing to a new tank.
The remaining 50% of the bacteria live on all the surfaces in the tank where conditions are right. The major location is in the uppermost layer of substrate, perhaps 2-3 grains deep. This is where the maximum water circulation is that brings oxygen and ammonia to the bacteria. When you begin taking apart the current tank skim off this upper layer of substrate and set it aside where it will stay damp and have oxygen.
If you will be reusing the same substrate, (just adding more, since you are moving to a larger tank) add substrate in this order:
New material on the bottom, or blended with most of the used substrate.
Then do whatever arranging you will do with driftwood, stones, ceramic merpeople.
Last, use the reserved, high bacteria population substrate used to top off the substrate. This will keep it in the upper area with the maximum contact with oxygen rich water.
If you will be using all new substrate, then put the reserved, high bacteria population substrate into 3-4 mesh bags and hang these around the aquarium in high flow areas. Monitor the ammonia and nitrite, and when these are showing 0ppm remove these bags one per week for 3-4 weeks. This will allow more bacteria to grow in the system while spreading the loss of the bacteria from this substrate over enough time that it should be OK.

I have removed as much as 25% of the filter media from an established tank and had no problem with ammonia or nitrite. The remaining bacteria and plants seem able to handle that. Remember that 25% of the filter media probably has only 1/8 of the total bacteria in the system. This media can be used to cycle a quarantine tank (for just a few fish) or to jump start a new tank (do the fishless cycle to grow this starter culture into a bigger population) or combine small amounts of media from many tanks to more fully cycle a new tank.

To keep a tank cycled you do not need fish.
Just feed the tank fish food or ammonia. The bacteria do not care if the ammonia came from fish or a bottle. Or if microorganisms digested the fish food or if a fish digested it.
Alternate:
Keep a bottle of Nitrospira in the fridge and the day before you want to get some fish add some to the q-tank with a bit of ammonia. This will get them settled into the filter right away.
OK to add it the day you get fish, too. Either way monitor the tank to be sure there is not ammonia or nitrite (might be a little blip of either for 24-48 hours, then it will be gone).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,011 Posts
I did exactly what you mentioned and outlined it on my 75g tank thread. I went from a 30g to 130g of water (75g with 55g sump). I experienced a week long mini-cycle. My sump had a lot of new bio media and the existing media didn't make good contact with all of the water. My turnover rate was also lowish, 2-4x probably. I also got all new sand along with new plants. I transferred all my old plants, but had a lot of new ones. As far as the QT tank goes, that is a touchy subject. You don't want anything from your main tank to ever touch the QT tank. So you can't really transfer media back and forth. If you want to keep it cycled, you can keep dosing ammonia or fish food. I would use a sponge filter on a bar bottom tank with a couple large PVC pipes. Then, when doing a QT, just toss a couple floating plants in or something that can float and you'd be golden.

To address the mini cycle, I just followed the label on the bottle of prime. You can do 5x dose or something. I did that, along with daily 30-50% water changed, for 5 days. Then I never had another problem. Just check your parameters.
 
1 - 4 of 4 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