Am I cycled?

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AdamBWS

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Hey guys, a bit confused on my chemistry here and want some opinions.

20 gallon nano, running water circulation and heater.

12 lb dry rock in tank, 2 lb dry rock rubble in back chamber in a media bag.

1 lb live rock from the lfs operating frag tank setup. Very healthy, worms, bit of coraline, saw a copepod running around on it when it was in my tank.

Dosing Aquaforest Bio S to try to give the bacteria a headstart. ATI test kit (yeah, I know, I need to get something more accurate).


Tank has been wet for a week and a half. Started dosing Bio S immediately.
Didn't see any ammonia, nitrite, nitrate for the first 4 days. Ghost fed a bunch of flake food to try to get some ammonia happening.
Ammonia slowly rose to 1ppm over the next three days (I think this is about right for food breaking down to ammonia).
2 days after ammonia spike at 1ppm, it's back at 0/0.25 by the ATI kit.

Nitrite and Nitrate are testing 0, as they have been the whole time.

So my question is this: is the bacteria supplement giving me the biology to process the nitrogen cycle too fast to be able to test for nitrite and nitrate? Am I ready to throw in a couple small clowns?

Sorry for the newbie questions here. I'm trying to be patient but that'd be easier if I knew how to interpret my test results!
 
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Lowell Lemon

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Usually you get a spike in nitrite after the ammonia...when it drops you are cycled.
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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Your live rock is skewing any measure you could be reading. The added live rock can handle a bioload right now far in excess of what we'd guess, the living type you describe is very powerful.

the dry portions will take on the bacteria from the rock and additions if I had to guess within 10 days, meaning if you separated that dry portion out after it sat for ten days in the presence of all that stuff it would pass its own oxidation test in another container. You have a blended cycle, and the live rock portion is already ready. api is almost impossible to get zero's with for about 90% of people which is why some cyclers have forgone testing altogether and solely use submersion time as the factor. if yours shows zero ammonia after dosing and the tests work great that's a good set of tests then... its measuring the combined effects from your bottle bac and live rock. dry rock is still catching up.

depending on the arrangement stated, each system has an already-known completion date where it can handle a starting bioload without loss, and a full water change cannot undo it. that's the definition of a closed cycle. Your ammonia test happens to coincide with the predicted ability of the tank per the known live rock portion. if it said .5 we'd have much more confusion but lucky in this case its accurate.

if you made a full water change exporting all that dosed bac, the system would perform the same as it does now, live rock is that powerful. you don't have a way to test the live surfaces while they're mixed with the live, just have to wait the expected deposition time frame. under ten days.
 

Txplicit

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2 weeks wet shouldn't be cycled. I know you added biospira, but don't trust that alone. Meticulous testing. Small ammonia spikes happen. 1ppm is not a spike. You will see it spike higher, then drop. Then test nitrate and nitrite. The nitrite should spike (buig spike) then drop. After all that, get a phosphate test kit. Phosphates will rise above acceptable parameters causing algae blooms like cyanobacteria, gha, and bubble algae... once phosphate drops to acceptable (but not zero. Zero will bring about a dinoflagellate bloom), then you are cycled and safe.
 
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brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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bottle bac are meant for fish-in cycling and instant ability to handle ammonia and all brands are working consistently for that across posts. Dr Reef's bottle bac thread demonstrated bottle bac adhering to surfaces, immune to full export water change, in under two days across name brands. based on the bottle bac portion, when we hit 48 hours after it Id predict the dry portions can be separately tested and found active with a light ammonia bioload.
 

Aswswild

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Hey guys, a bit confused on my chemistry here and want some opinions.

20 gallon nano, running water circulation and heater.

12 lb dry rock in tank, 2 lb dry rock rubble in back chamber in a media bag.

1 lb live rock from the lfs operating frag tank setup. Very healthy, worms, bit of coraline, saw a copepod running around on it when it was in my tank.

Dosing Aquaforest Bio S to try to give the bacteria a headstart. ATI test kit (yeah, I know, I need to get something more accurate).


Tank has been wet for a week and a half. Started dosing Bio S immediately.
Didn't see any ammonia, nitrite, nitrate for the first 4 days. Ghost fed a bunch of flake food to try to get some ammonia happening.
Ammonia slowly rose to 1ppm over the next three days (I think this is about right for food breaking down to ammonia).
2 days after ammonia spike at 1ppm, it's back at 0/0.25 by the ATI kit.

Nitrite and Nitrate are testing 0, as they have been the whole time.

So my question is this: is the bacteria supplement giving me the biology to process the nitrogen cycle too fast to be able to test for nitrite and nitrate? Am I ready to throw in a couple small clowns?

Sorry for the newbie questions here. I'm trying to be patient but that'd be easier if I knew how to interpret my test results!
No I would go longer
 

Txplicit

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Bottle bacteria is recommended to add fish. I find that cruel especially because in our modern hobby, we can add ammonium chloride as an ammonia source and not trial and error with a live fish.
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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agreed, and any of these assertions can be tested and verified using that AC

since we're posting in a chem thread I think some of it should be tested. any mix of full water change and redose ammonia, or separate out the live rock and change water and redose, would leave some data to work with over guesses.

Its important to know that fish-in cycling doesn't harm fish, or they'd be panting and breathing at the top vs acting totally normal all the days in a dry system insta start. They die from skipping the disease prevention protocols, not from ammonia poisoning.
the mean part of fish-in cycling is the slow death from ich and other diseases, we're past ammonia poisoning to the point they cannot tell if they're in a full mature system or one with just bottle bac running things


The way people set up instant tanks at MACNA is legit, its not harming fish nor corals. we have the ability to legit skip cycle, and test for it for proof, any time we want. Its rare to get hard data testing on this type of stuff, we should here if poss. testing ammonium chloride against predicted surfaces here would be neat. people who move tanks among homes also want skip cycle re setup, so moving things in the direction of LFS to home isn't much different. I think cycle analysis is so fun because of how predictable it all is
 
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cymonous

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I just recently setup a 40B with all dry rock. I added enough to get to 2ppm of ammonia and bacteria in a bottle. After that went to 0, I added 1ppm of ammonia. It still took about a week for that to go to 0. I added another 1ppm of ammonia. That went away in 24 hours. It took another 3-4 days for my nitrites to go to 0. That's when I knew my cycle was complete.
 

Txplicit

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I just recently setup a 40B with all dry rock. I added enough to get to 2ppm of ammonia and bacteria in a bottle. After that went to 0, I added 1ppm of ammonia. It still took about a week for that to go to 0. I added another 1ppm of ammonia. That went away in 24 hours. It took another 3-4 days for my nitrites to go to 0. That's when I knew my cycle was complete.
This right here is what I'm talking about. We as responsible hobbyist shouldn't need to subject livestock when we have other, cheaper, means to get the same results.
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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we need ammonia data to be digital, like seneye or similar exacting measures...not api. to me that's huge big deal but its not a big deal to everyone/agreed just pointing out ways its required to streamline data for cycle analysis.
pics of the readings would help, we can see about shades of green vs yellow for example


the searchable numbers reported of .25 - .5 sustained ammonia from api users in matured tanks calls it into fair concern... I don't know of any .25 for days reported by seneye even during the cycle.

.25 is a point on a continuing graph, either up or down, it never hovers digitally that Ive ever seen


it makes for accurate peaks and troughs to be shown or observed if we're all measuring not subjectively. Fish will not tolerate the inability for a system to handle free ammonia for days, they'll die and the water will cloud if uncycled and unable due to compounding

Since the test from this thread registered a zero at any time, Id trust it to evaluate the dry materials separated out real quick. overnite we'd have some very neat data to check out.

Dr. Fish's in depth bottle bac measure/study thread really shows the collective power of the various kinds we can buy when tested in a controlled manner each time. Even gross overdoses up to 8 ppm sustained were shown to be unharmful to bottle bac, across brands. The end result in that work thread was bottle bac being very trustworthy.
 
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AdamBWS

AdamBWS

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Thanks for weighing in everyone.

So what I'm understanding is this:
Since it's a split cycle and I've got a good chunk of real live rock and am hitting the tank with the bacteria supplement, we have a pretty good idea that the dry rock is going to be an effective biological filter.

But we can test that!

Would we learn anything if I removed a 3lb chunk of dry rock from the tank, put it in a 5g bucket of new saltwater (do I need heat and circulation?), dosed it up to 2ppm ammonia (I'll have to see if my LFS can get me any, in Canada it's harder to find pure ammonium chloride), and then test in 24hr?

Do the bacteria supplements (Bio S, Dr. Tim etc.) have the full range of nitrogen cycle bacteria to deal with the ammonia AND nitrite and nitrate when they would show up?

Is the Salifert ammonia test kit any better than API in low range?
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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that's a fair summary. regarding the test specifics: the public favors salifert over api that's true, but in my cycling thread we have misreads for any type of titration work, BUT we also have a way to calibrate any titration test to reveal cycling bac and its by looking for oxidation reduction, not true zero.

your particular test has already shown a stated zero so it really might be fine on its own. but to get a real view about bac being there or not, simply dose ammonium chloride up to about half a ppm, the first increment of change your tester registers up from zero.


this volume calculator below takes into consideration your tank volume (estimate rock and sand displacement) and % strength ammonium chloride, you can get really accurate levels off this without even testing.

2 ppm is not required, that's an arbitrary number off bottle bac labels. the slightest amount of ammonium chloride added to move the test color up one degree of change is the right amount to test your isolated set of rocks

then in 24 hours if that same test goes back down you have proof of bac being on those rocks. If it cannot move back down, then they're not and they need more contact time and we have a definite. pls take pics of each increment of testing so we can discern the color changes

I truly think it'd be neat to see your mini experiment, this forum area is about data and measures I can't wait to see what you find out. We would only factor ammonia action in stamping your cycle complete as nitrite doesn't matter, its neutral impact in reef cycling, and nitrate is for algae tuning. we collected cycle examples in my thread where people thought their nitrate missing meant a stalled cycle, but we can find fully matured reef tanks at 0 nitrate and needing to add stump remover to comp...nitrate is too variable to use in cycling and testing for it is more variable.

Im aware of the longstanding claims about nitrite testing. Am aware of the directions that say 5 ppm nitrites can stall a cycle.
in my thread, zero cycles stall for four years straight. we don't test for nitrite.

just as skip cycle reefing was 'impossible' back in the 90s (they would have had you recycle your live rock portion, as moving it among tanks would 'kill' the bac due to minor air contact)

we have progressed beyond nitrite testing for reasons searchable in Randy's chem forum links, its an unimpactful param in reefing even if some nitrite is there and accurate testing for nitrite when nitrate is present is nearly impossible.
 
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AdamBWS

AdamBWS

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Very interesting. I'm going to see if I can get some ammonium chloride to make this happen.

That said, I'd love to pick up a couple black ice clowns while I'm there. Seems like I'm probably ready to do that, especially if I keep dosing the tank with bacteria supplement?
 
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Lowell Lemon

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We did skip cycle tanks all the time back in the 80' using live rock from a cycled holding system at all the major pet industry trade shows. We rarely lost any livestock or inverts in the three day periods from set up to breakdown and delivery to a local customer. We even got to the point we did not even test cause the animals would tell us of a problem before the test kit did.
 

brandon429

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agreed I have never cycled a reef tank I opt out. I buy rock with total coverage of real coralline/done deal.

opinions diverge further there Adam about adding fish :) getting a resounding-agreed answer about cycling aspects is not easy/admitted

skipping the disease protocol/fallow and qt options is the risk. those clowns are pretty tough, but as soon as you add them without doing fallow/qt then the system has chosen a path where disease prevention is pure luck of the dry and helped along by quality feeding and water changes.

Today's best fish conservation/disease control doesn't allow for quick entry, even when the system can handle them. have to choose

lets see pics too, to get ratios down. lets see how big that lr chunk is
 
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AdamBWS

AdamBWS

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My LFS doesn't sell ammonium chloride or a supplement to dose ammonium. Apparently pure ammonia is illegal to sell in Canada. This experiment might not be able to happen...

I'm hoping to add all my fish before any of my coral. I'm hoping to get around setting up a qt this way. Isn't fallow for eradicating disease once it's there? What's the point of fallow if you're starting clean? Is my live rock the danger here?
 
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