Cycling an Aquarium

One of the earliest topics a new aquarium hobbyist needs to learn is how to properly cycle their aquarium. There is a ton of information on this...
  1. reefguy565

    reefguy565 Well-Known Member

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    yes using a fresh rodi water. you know thats a great idea. i will wait 3 days and see where i am at with nitrites. then i will make some fresh saltwater and test and compare with my current water.
     
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  2. reefguy565

    reefguy565 Well-Known Member

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    so i added 2,0ppm ammonia last night and it was at 0 today. nitrates looks a little darker. nitrites still high. so just a waiting game at this point, should i add more ammonia like every 2-3 days or just let it be?
     
  3. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    If you are going from 2ppm ammonia to 0ppm in under 24 hours I wouldn't add any more ammonia. At this point it is up to you on how to handle the nitrites. If it were me, I would wait a week to see if they come down. Even if they didn't, I would do a large water change at that point and start adding fish and/or CuC.
     
  4. reefguy565

    reefguy565 Well-Known Member

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    thanks Brew.. I will wait 1 week and see if nitrites come down. will the high nitrites stress out the fish and or kill it? whats a reasonable amount of nitrites that i can add fish?
     
  5. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    For fresh water fish even a small amount of nitrites can be lethal. Fortunately, they aren't much of a problem in saltwater systems. I've seen studies that suggest marine fish can live with nitrites over 100ppm. I would always prefer 0ppm but I wouldn't be worried if it is under 10ppm. Especially since it is possible that the test kit is reading a false positive.
     
  6. reefguy565

    reefguy565 Well-Known Member

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    SO I did another 50% water change, 100% in last 3 days or so. I am still seeing high nitrites. I am lost here not sure how it is not going down. i tested rodi water with and without salt and i got 0 nitrites, and high nitrites on tank water.
     
  7. Randy Holmes-Farley

    Randy Holmes-Farley Reef Chemist Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Expert Contributor Article Contributor

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    Might be so high that it is still maxed on the kit, or the kit may be in error.

    I wouldn't agonize over it.
     
  8. reefguy565

    reefguy565 Well-Known Member

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    Randy so what you suggest in this case? i added a piece of live rock today a friend gave me
     
  9. TherealplexiG

    TherealplexiG Well-Known Member

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    @Randy Holmes-Farley
    Saltwater bacteria are airborne?
    If you don't introduce any via any of the seeded stuff, you ain't gonna get cycled right?
    I always use some seed, I was just curious that it could work without it as well?
     
  10. JakesReef209

    JakesReef209 Well-Known Member

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    @Brew12 So happy to have found this thread. I've been having a problem a little different from @reefguy565. Tank has been cycling for almost 30 days now. Started with 3 bottles of biospira and dr Tims ammonium chloride. After a little more than a week the tank was taking down ammonia. But was seeing no change at all in nitrites. Unfortunately I'm still in the same position now. Taking down ammonia rapidly but zero change in nitrites. Still very purple lol but based on what I've learned here I should stop adding ammonia daily (dr Tims instructions said it was extremely important to not let the ammonia fall to zero before the end of the cycle, I assumed that was because the bacteria would starve)but it seems that daily adding may have been complicating my situation. I'm gunna halt the ammonia additions for a week and see where nitrites are reading. Should I do a large water change before or after waiting a week to test? High nitrates in the tank currently as well[​IMG]
    I've also started adding Polyplab Genesis as a secondary bacteria source anyone have experience with it? Also I got more live sand because I didn't order enough initially(I have no LFS so all of what I buy is online) is there any negative effect to adding live sand in the middle of a cycle?
     
  11. Xclusive Reef

    Xclusive Reef Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    I don’t recommend changing water. I did and it slows down the cycle. Just let it be. I went to 4 different lads this weekend to check them out and they all told me the same thing “never do water changes during cycle till ammonia and nitrites go down”. I have a buddy who tested this on manhattanrees and he did everything the same on 2 10 gal qt tanks. One he changed water when he had very high nitrites and they other he just left it be. The tank that he did NOT change water finished cycle and the one he did 2 50% water changes is having issues with nitrites going down. Yesterday my nitrites were still high but I don’t mind waiting tilll they come down. Another this I was told by all lfs and by seachem is that a true cycle will take an average of 45 day’s or longer, all tanks different. I would suggest adding a piece of live rock to your tank to speed things up. I will test my ammonia tomorrow.
     
  12. Xclusive Reef

    Xclusive Reef Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Plus I don’t think I will ever do another cycle without some sort of live rock, sponge or whatever...
     
  13. Xclusive Reef

    Xclusive Reef Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Plus I don’t think I will ever do another cycle without some sort of live rock, sponge or whatever...
     
  14. brandon429

    brandon429 Well-Known Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    regarding the transmission and vectoring of marine bacteria:

    that's a tough study. even google scholar doesn't have a lot. If we do however dig through them, this is what comes about:

    1. not primarily transmitted in air, desiccation issues. They are likely always vectored into our tanks in the trading of substrates and water via standard cross contaminations. They can be xmitted by the air in aerosols and attached to floc, but the direct transport method is what runs our tanks and seeds them unless we live next to Niagara for example

    Forests and high humid environs tend to have them in aerosols, when splashing of water is constantly happening among cloudy treetops etc. In a typical dry city, we're typically just cross contaminating them directly from source to source.

    2. the bacteria almost always occur communally in nature and not singly. Everything we do contaminates nitrifying bacteria along with regular mixed aerobes and pathogens etc, simply setting up a marine tank often involves substrates along the chain of command that seed in marine-specific bacteria.


    3. They do not sporulate, but there are online studies regarding dormancy and how they survive in low to no ammonia conditions, and they sure do survive that when it occurs as long as they stay wet.

    questions left to find Id sure like to know and haven't found as of yet:

    unified sourcing of nitrifiers: if someone does take time to use autoclaved prep water, aseptic lab technique upon setup, no prior marine substrates, and they set up a marine tank and leave it open topped for half a year, it cycles anyway with us adding nothing but water and time.

    How in the world are marine nitrifier potentiations happening in a dry wheatfield in the middle of Kansas for example? though they're marine specific, they're still ubiquitous and I cannot figure that part out yet
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2017
  15. Reef4Rose

    Reef4Rose Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

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    With a brand new tank and dry live rock, once the rock has cured the tank would then be considered cycled? Most definitely dry live rock can't go directly into an established tank without curing. If curing also cycles a tank when is best time to add sand. I have read leave sand out if curing in new tank. The dry live rock will only be rinsed not bleached or any other treatment.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2017
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  16. brandon429

    brandon429 Well-Known Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    Only an oxidation test can say if it’s cycled, the classic 1-2 ppm then zero in 24 hours ammonia reading. The rocks need to at least be hydrated 15- 30 days before using an oxidation test to stamp a cycle closed. Tests that show ammonia oxidation under fifteen days simply need more submersion time for surfaces to catch up regardless of readings. 15-30 days covers most cycling needs when some organic matter or bac boosting is in play.

    Curing time absolutely counts towards cycling time if it’s in marine salinities, but with curing you have different rates of protein re breakdown, depending on how knurled that live rock once was, which is different than classic dry rock cycling where the keeper simply inputs levels up to 2 ppm ammonia a couple times over the cycle.

    Some are curing once live rocks that have essentially beef jerky bits that have to hydrate and then break down

    Some are just curing/hydrating for po4 care and there isn’t a lot of organics in tow, curing varies in time frames whereas cycling doesn’t...any cycling chart we pull online is thirty days


    You may add sand at anytime but I see what you mean, they don’t want you curing around new sand cuz that’s a high nutrient mode and they are concerned about your clean sand uptaking and retaining phosphate. Add after curing
     
  17. Reef4Rose

    Reef4Rose Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Thanks Brandon. That's pretty much where I was at. The dry live rock I have has no real obvious signs of previous life. It will go in a functioning tank for a couple months or until tests say otherwise. I'll be getting fish for Thanksgiving or Christmas for sure. I'm about 2 weeks from water going in.
     
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  18. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Nitrites aren't a problem in salt water so that isn't a concern. Are you seeing Nitrates build up? If you are processing ammonia and increasing nitrates you are fine.

    And no, there is no problem with adding live sand or dry sand in the middle of a cycle.
     
  19. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Brandon and I don't see eye to eye on everything but he does raise some great points.

    Just keep in mind, as I stated in my article, that a tank is never "cycled". We tend to call it cycled when it can process enough ammonia to support fish. The truth is that a tank with dry rock and dry sand can support fish in an hour if you add enough of the right bacteria product. It will convert 2ppm ammonia to 0ppm in 12 hours with no nitrites. Just because this can be done doesn't mean it should be done. The only time I do this is when I set up a fish QT without rock or sand. The rock needs time in heated seawater to reach a chemical equilibrium based on the pH. This process can take a few weeks or longer. While a fish can survive in these conditions it is best to wait until everything is more stable which does take a few weeks.
     
  20. brandon429

    brandon429 Well-Known Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    I term cycled by whether or not the system can undergo unlimited full water changes and always pass an oxidation test upon refill. That's the thirty day mark with nearly all assisted cycles, agreed further maturation adds coralline etc

    focusing on legit starting points mainly, people always want the soonest time some organisms can break the monotony of the cycling tank :) and it must be repeatable imo to be legit


    That water change benchmark to me solves all manner of difference between true stand alone capabilities and something more like hospital emergency tank mode where only items dosed to the water hold the nitrification ability (not the surfaces). Those systems cannot endure a full water change and pass a digestion test without redosing bacteria

    Either way they're ammonia free with a given bioload, but something about that transition to not-going-to-undo cycle is a hallmark



    Agreed from there, fish quarantine alone should keep people nice and aged before venturing too far out.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2017
  21. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    That is why I really dislike the term Cycled. It can mean so many different things to different people. Too much confusion.

    I do agree that people push systems before they are ready. That is why I try not to make any blanket statements on when a tank is ready for fish. I've seen some tanks ready in a day and others not ready after 2 months.

    FYI, I've done a 100% water change on a QT system multiple times and it still processed ammonia with no issue at all. The bacteria seeds the sponge in the HOB, not the water. The water itself is irrelevant to processing ammonia.
     
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