Cycling Questions

pgsonier

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I've been cycling a new 25gal tank for nearly two months now. Started on 9/25 and I'm taking things very slow this time around. I just have a few questions if y'all don't mind. First, when should I start testing? When should I start doing water changes? Should I let algae grow on the glass and sand bed right before I put in my clean up crew? Last, I'm planning on adding a bottle of Dr. Tims bacteria soon and letting it run another month before adding any live inhabitants to be sure the cycle has run it's course and the tank is stable. I've been told patience is the best virtue to have in this hobby, so slow it goes! Any responses are much appreciated and thanks in advance!
 

InvaderJim

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I usually start testing about a week after setting up the tank. If you started it on 9/25 your cycle very well could be done by now. I would test for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates. If the ammonia and nitrite are 0 and you have nitrates your cycle is likely done. You could always add some ammonia and test the next day just to confirm. As far as clean up crew I just throw them in right after I have confirmed they cycle is finished. The algae will come, it's better to get a head start on it.
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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Before you begin adding things this 2 month water only cycle has strong potential to contribute to new cycling knowledge


most people blast food and water immediately, but if this reef has only had saltwater and time, then we can use your cycling ammonia and the test kit to uncover neat things before you add the bottle bac, we want to test how much natural bac got in, if any


are you down for this important assessment :)
 
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pgsonier

pgsonier

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Before you begin adding things this 2 month water only cycle has strong potential to contribute to new cycling knowledge


most people blast food and water immediately, but if this reef has only had saltwater and time, then we can use your cycling ammonia and the test kit to uncover neat things before you add the bottle bac, we want to test how much natural bac got in, if any


are you down for this important assessment :)
Sounds pretty interesting! I'm up for it if you are! Just send me some instructions on what you want done and I'll get back with you with the results!
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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very fun stuff here are the facts:

nobody in reefing, thats no book author or forum sage or dna lab owner or trade microbiologist can tell us how long an unassisted marine cycle takes.


not anyone


we can speculate and we do ad infinitum

but the actual test, we are too busy seeing how quick we can start with boosters, not how long nature takes to prep the tank. It’s an unknown realm for marine tanks, but it’s not unknown for freshwater as every single cycle chart ever written is for unassisted freshwater cycles.

Unassisted means add water, have an open top vs a sealed container, and nature takes over

slowly lol



those cycle charts are what run the basis of wastewater treatment science our hobby has no claim solely to a cycling chart. Nature provides the food, the source and the timing we can know by those charts.


but marine? Such a chart does not exist. Nobody lets a reef just sit there, so that’s why your test can be rare. You didn’t add any living material, these were all dry rocks right? Can you post a pic of the setup


every single cycle entry and article in reefing is based on a meter not even written for reef tanks. we could start such a chart at least with one single data plot / gotta start somewhere
 
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pgsonier

pgsonier

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very fun stuff here are the facts:

nobody in reefing, thats no book author or forum sage or dna lab owner or trade microbiologist can tell us how long an unassisted marine cycle takes.


not anyone


we can speculate and we do ad infinitum

but the actual test, we are too busy seeing how quick we can start with boosters, not how long nature takes to prep the tank. It’s an unknown realm for marine tanks, but it’s not unknown for freshwater as every single cycle chart ever written is for unassisted freshwater cycles.

Unassisted means add water, have an open top vs a sealed container, and nature takes over

slowly lol



those cycle charts are what run the basis of wastewater treatment science our hobby has no claim solely to a cycling chart. Nature provides the food, the source and the timing we can know by those charts.


but marine? Such a chart does not exist. Nobody lets a reef just sit there, so that’s why your test can be rare. You didn’t add any living material, these were all dry rocks right? Can you post a pic of the setup


every single cycle entry and article in reefing is based on a meter not even written for reef tanks. we could start such a chart at least with one single data plot / gotta start somewhere
This is all very interesting. Yes, I started the tank on 9/25 with freshly filtered RO/DI water and slowly brought the salt level up to 1.025-1.026 and have just let it run with a set schedule on my lighting setup. I used dry rocks so I don't believe any bacteria was added. I haven't done any water changes and have just been testing the specific gravity of the salt level and the temperature. I'll post a photo later on tonight once I get home for you.
 

brandon429

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That’s perfect alignment, sheer perfection.


the first thing to see is any common test kit ran on that set water. Ammonia nitrite and nitrate before any additions


have a friend bring over a different set of kits to test those three params with pics if possible, if not possible just seeing a standard representation of our kits on yours will be great. But to have another tests colors to compare all up on same undosed water, thats neat benchmarking

A pic of the readings in white room light next to their cards for reference

to calibrate common tests against a known truth is so rare. Normal reefs have had ten different additives.

You cannot have nitrate in a barren system, and you cannot have ammonia appear in a tank unless we added some, nitrite needs to be zero on accurate kits because nothing has been introduced to start the chain reaction

how the test kits read on a known perfect sample starts the journey and gives us a measurement baseline.


cycling charts have a time axis and a param axis, we already know your time axis now we can start to view the param side.

after seeing what pics show we can add a very specific amount of ammonia known to cause an exact measure. That will now check the kits for increase read ability, and cause a small change in nitrite and or nitrate IF nature has provided any bacteria, you certainly havent added them on purpose.
 
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pgsonier

pgsonier

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That’s perfect alignment, sheer perfection.


the first thing to see is any common test kit ran on that set water. Ammonia nitrite and nitrate before any additions


have a friend bring over a different set of kits to test those three params with pics if possible, if not possible just seeing a standard representation of our kits on yours will be great. But to have another tests colors to compare all up on same undosed water, thats neat benchmarking

A pic of the readings in white room light next to their cards for reference

to calibrate common tests against a known truth is so rare. Normal reefs have had ten different additives.

You cannot have nitrate in a barren system, and you cannot have ammonia appear in a tank unless we added some, nitrite needs to be zero on accurate kits because nothing has been introduced to start the chain reaction

how the test kits read on a known perfect sample starts the journey and gives us a measurement baseline.


cycling charts have a time axis and a param axis, we already know your time axis now we can start to view the param side.

after seeing what pics show we can add a very specific amount of ammonia known to cause an exact measure. That will now check the kits for increase read ability, and cause a small change in nitrite and or nitrate IF nature has provided any bacteria, you certainly havent added them on purpose.
Here's the photos as promised as well as the test results you requested from my Red Sea test kits. I had to convert the files to PDF's because I have the new iPhone 12 Pro and the photos taken are in a format that I can't upload. I tried converting to jpeg but it still wouldn't work, so you'll have to download the pdf documents to view the photos. I apologize for this.
 

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brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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Hey do have a way to do this it will be faster than individual downloads: open the picture on your phone and post the screen shot of the pic. I started to download one for converison but they’re big files / screen cap is small fast
 
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pgsonier

pgsonier

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So according to the pictures it looks like ammonia is at 0, nitrate at ~5, and what I think is the nitrite at 1? With no ammonia or bacteria added? That's interesting.
Yes. I posted the results from my test on another message board and others thought it was odd as well with no Ammonia but high levels of nitrates and nitrites. Are there any other tests you want me to do? I’m planning on adding a bottle of Dr. Tim’s very soon to help the tank stabilize and complete the cycle.
 

InvaderJim

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Usually high nitrates and no ammonia or nitrites is indicative of a finished cycle. The fact that you have nitrites could mean the the cycle isn’t quite finished though. Once nitrites drop to zero you could always add ammonia and check 24 hours later and see if it shows up.
 

brandon429

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Your bottle bac wants to be fed with cycling ammonia

so before you add the bacteria dose the ammonia until the current level moves up only a little


then see if that ammonia one goes down in a day or two. then add the bottle bac and see if the rest stabilizes. For our updated cycling science posts we r curious if the ammonia can be controlled as the other nitrogen species tested does indicate


having nitrite isn’t an alarm, show me any cycle in the next four pages of the forum that does not have positive nitrite :) it’s very common and until dosed yours might take a long time from natural sources. That ammonia control detail. That’s the hidden jewel
 
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brandon429

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If we search other cycling posts here the readings for nitrate and nitrite aren't doubted so no reason to here. Bacteria and feed are getting in naturally but yes it's faster than normal it seems


A cycle chart shows close readings to yours currently

Rtr is a site- friendly forum we dont worry about links, if anything is posted as alternate options on forums u can link that too its all good science info
 

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