cycling confusion

MidwestReefer

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Hello everyone i've recently started my first reef tank, and it's been going for about 2 1/2 weeks.
tank is a 13.5 G all and one, with cured live rock, live sand, seachem Seed as the bacteria booster, and temp at 86 degrees F.

the first week I set everything up and let the tank run. all the levels where right at zero, with no food added yet, as I was told I didn't need too..didn't make sense to me, but i'm a noob right? after talking to someone at my Lfs, I started putting fish flakes in the tank. few days later my ammonia levels hit 0.50 ppm, and then a few more days my Nitrite rose to 0.50 ppm, nitrates at 5.0 ppm, and PH 8.0 ppm. This is the end of week 2 btw. heading into week 3 my ammonia is still right at 0.50 ppm, but my nitrite is back at zero, and nitrate is still around 5.0 ppm... how did the nitrites go up and down, but not the ammonia?
 

brandon429

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https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/the-microbiology-of-reef-tank-cycling.214618/

that applies to your situation 100% and I hope the reasons we don't need ammonia make good clear sense after. its because bac moved among tanks dont die, it takes medically significant actions to kill groups of bacteria, its a hard thing to do...not an easy thing to do.

we only add ammonia to tanks that need to have bac established. we also only add it in tanks that did not bring live animals instantly into the tank. live rock brings pods 95% of the time, even if it looks barren. its easy to verify if your live rocks have life on them, coralline included. one can also check the actual container at the pet store they came from for living pods and starfish etc.
 
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MidwestReefer

MidwestReefer

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So since I added food/ammonia even tho I already had live rock, and sand, and the link that you presented said you should not do that lol..should I do some WC to help?
 

brandon429

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nice catch on temps I didn't see that

80 is my personal max, and less algae growth happens at 78 as an even better hedge

we need to do literally nothing other than add water to begin or sustain bac growth, they don't need our extra feed nor temp help/although its true warmer is typically faster colony growth. we never had a bacterial deficit here to even need more of them, there's already more than we need the second the live rock hits your tank. this is how they set up skip cycle tanks at large aquarium shows.

those items you've added can be tolerated by the rock no problem. that link was to get you to considering differences though, in microbiology, using specific times we dose ammonia and specific times we don't. as long as you don't let algae grow in your new tank, but guide it out sternly and take control, you'll be fine.

Others have a different take, leave algae in. my take comes from working algae correction threads where hundreds of people were losing their tanks and began by purposefully farming that which took over. the whole point of the cycling thread is that you don't need to concern over tank bacteria one bit, ever, for the accepted ways we run/clean/move and mature reef tanks. we moderate lots of actions based on what we think bac will do, they're fine without out consideration. certainly don't withhold tank cleaning in the name of keeping bac happy
 
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MidwestReefer

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BTW I was given 4 hermit crabs to put in, to see how they would do. they are doing just fine, and ive also seen copepods, star fish, and two little bristle worms, all alive with no signs of suffering. I had some diatoms form on the rock pretty quicking, but they have died back quite a bit already, think crabs are eating it. anyway should I just let the tank sit, and see if that 0.50 ppm goes away on it own, or do I do water changes, im not really sure anymore lol.
 

brandon429

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you should water change it. ammonia is deemed painful for aquatic life either way its sliced. it has free ammonia due to overload, and likely testing variance. given time it will go down, but the quicker the better due to the moving animals in tow. even someone's very old tank fully cycled can register a small ammonia spike when a fish dies...any excess degrading organics in the water column might present as free ammonia though the surfaces are fully cycled anyway.

for your type of cycle, we discuss how anti-ammonia is the way to go. opposite. you'd want to earn the zero ammonia condition for your tank and benthic life, then test in 24 hours to make sure there still is none, that no life died in the rocks. likely has not happened, I never see that happen.
 
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MidwestReefer

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you should water change it. ammonia is deemed painful for aquatic life either way its sliced. it has free ammonia due to overload, and likely testing variance. given time it will go down, but the quicker the better due to the moving animals in tow.
will this hinder my cycle? like I stated i'm heading into week 3 of this process.
 

brandon429

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no the article shows you have no cycle to do, and no way to hinder it by withholding something. your tank has all the bacteria it could need. you are already reefing due to the myriad animals in the tank, to add some zoanthids or mushroom corals (when you have cleaned out that rotting ammonia) is the next step. you were reefing on day 1 since the rock was live, live rock doesn't die when you move to a new tank. its merely living elsewhere, equally. although it seems like you are waiting for more bacteria to grow, they're secretly already done.
 
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MidwestReefer

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no the article shows you have no cycle to do, and no way to hinder it by withholding something. your tank has all the bacteria it could need. you are already reefing due to the myriad animals in the tank, to add some zoanthids or mushroom corals (when you have cleaned out that rotting ammonia) is the next step. you were reefing on day 1 since the rock was live, live rock doesn't die when you move to a new tank. its merely living elsewhere, equally.
thats awesome, thanks!
 

sithrico

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What test kit are you using for ammonia checking. The API almost always shows a bit of ammonia even if you have zero.
 
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So after hearing what you guys are saying today, I went to my LFS and got new saltwater, and some Prime as well. I did about a 20% water change and added prime with the new water... My ammonia is still at 0.50 ppm. should I be seeing the level change right after doing the water change? I know some say the API kits aren't that great, but i did test the kit on the new saltwater just to make sure, and it came out zero. I did blow the live rock off with a baster, and vacuumed some of the sand surface.
 

brandon429

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I would have changed all, forcing it to zero. prime causes false readings in api kits. simple full water change, ready to go. post pics of tank am curious to see this skip cycler

my 11 yr tank has had over a thousand full changes, way over.
 

brandon429

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86 is pushing the ability to kill micro life on the rock, as well. I have never owned a reef tank that got that warm. it may not wipe them all, but its approaching for sure, that's darn hot. slowly bring it all back to 78-80
 

beaslbob

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So after hearing what you guys are saying today, I went to my LFS and got new saltwater, and some Prime as well. I did about a 20% water change and added prime with the new water... My ammonia is still at 0.50 ppm. should I be seeing the level change right after doing the water change? I know some say the API kits aren't that great, but i did test the kit on the new saltwater just to make sure, and it came out zero. I did blow the live rock off with a baster, and vacuumed some of the sand surface.
be careful with prime. It is a sulfur based compound that locks up free ammonia and reduced oxygen. But most test kits still test for ammonia even if locked. The danger is you treat the tank still test ammonia and keep treating even though the first dose locked up all the ammonia. And by this way reduce oxygen in the tank. With reduced oxygen the fish die (suffocate) with the same symptoms as ammonia.

I use macro algae which not only consumes ammonia but also co2 and adds oxygen and fish food.

If you must use prime I recommend you get the seachem multi test ammonia test kit which does measure free ammonia and total ammonia (free + locked) or the ammonia dot (measure free ammonia only) and add prime only for the free ammonia.

my .02
 

brandon429

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I support macro, you can use it at any phase of a tanks cycle, and its tough enough to go through the necessary spikes we do on dry rocks, macro is good. it will vector in filtration bacteria anywhere its transported, whether they're needed or not. macro is an ideal plant to add to live rock systems, where we want no ammonia, because they'll uptake it second fastest of the organisms in our tanks. bac will get to ammonia first :) but that doesn't mean api can register the event correctly.
 
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