First Time Cycling with Dry Rock and Live Sand

RhiD08

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Hi there!

My Fluval Evo 13.5 experienced a crash last summer following many issues and so I decided to shut it down. After some thought, I've decided to restart it by removing everything, cleaning it out, and setting it up again. However, this time I've decided to use dry rock and live sand to setup and cycle the tank as some of the issues I experienced were attributed to the live rock I used. Since this is my first time cycling a tank with dry rock, I want to make sure I'm doing everything right. This is my plan.

I've ordered about 15 lbs of Two Little Fishies Stax Rock to use. Out of all the options available, I like the look of this dry rock the best and I think I could come up with an interesting aquascape. I bought about 10 lbs of CaribSea Arag-Alive Special Grade Reef Sand to use. I will be using RO/DI water again and plan on using Fritz Aquatics FritzZyme TubroStart 900 Saltwater as a source of nitrifying bacteria and DrTims Ammonium Chloride Solution for Fishless Cycle as a source of ammonia. Other than that, I plan on monitoring the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels until the tank has cycled.

I'd appreciate any tips and advice!
 

TX_REEF

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I still would recommend a bit of real ocean live rock or live rock from a clean mature system to seed your dry rock, it will benefit your bacterial biodiversity enormously. I started my display like yours a year ago with dry rock, live sand and Fritz. I ran an Aquabiomics test which flagged a severe deficit in bacterial biodiversity, so I went right ahead and supplemented with ocean live rock from @LiverockRocks. Not a single regret other than not doing it sooner!

Either way congrats on the new system and a best of luck :beaming-face-with-smiling-eyes:
 

Waters

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I recommend dosing different strains of bacteria daily for a while. In addition add any utility fish/inverts you can early on. As stated, if you can get one or two small pieces of safe live rock I would throw that in the sump. I started my current dry rock/BB tank this way and have not had a single issue (tank is going on 2 years old.)
 
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RhiD08

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I recommend dosing different strains of bacteria daily for a while. In addition add any utility fish/inverts you can early on. As stated, if you can get one or two small pieces of safe live rock I would throw that in the sump. I started my current dry rock/BB tank this way and have not had a single issue (tank is going on 2 years old.)
I read somewhere that I shouldn’t dose different strains while cycling so would that be something you recommend doing after the tank has cycled?

Adding a few pieces of small live rock tot he sump is a good idea, I will keep that in mind and lookout for safe live rock!
 
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RhiD08

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I still would recommend a bit of real ocean live rock or live rock from a clean mature system to seed your dry rock, it will benefit your bacterial biodiversity enormously. I started my display like yours a year ago with dry rock, live sand and Fritz. I ran an Aquabiomics test which flagged a severe deficit in bacterial biodiversity, so I went right ahead and supplemented with ocean live rock from @LiverockRocks. Not a single regret other than not doing it sooner!

Either way congrats on the new system and a best of luck :beaming-face-with-smiling-eyes:
With dosing Fritz and ammonia, is this something you only do once or do you have to monitor and redose?

Also, is it possible to keep live rock in the tank for a while for the biodiversity but then remove it once that’s been introduced? Or would it be better to keep it permanently in the sump as Waters mentioned?
 

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If you are not comfortable with live rock, just don't do it. You can reach the same results without it.

You can check my build thread and... I started completely without live.
Just throw ammonia and let it do its thing.

I started my cycle with dr. Tim's ammonia. I dosed ONCE and I dont know how I overdosed.
Then I had to await a few more days. No big deal. It seems to be pretty common to have this overdosing thing.

Keep in mind that once you finish cycling, and you introduce something, you might have a rebound of high NO2/N03s in the first month, so don't overstock in the first 1-2 months. I meant like 1-2 frags and 2 fish or less.
I would be adding more stuff when the rock is starting to change color from white to green.

Bacteria, pods and biology in general, will be introduced while adding corals, fish and cuc.
I personally dont think it makes sense to add early on bacteria and other stuff as they will have limited food source.

Not sure exactly what was the cause of your crash last time...

But add a clean up crew once ammonia is zero. This is more important than anything.
I know that hermit crabs are underrated (blue leg and similar), but that's how I deal with the algae / ugly phase, specially brown algae / diatoms.
Crabs are cheap so add a lot of them. In mine a 8 gal... I added like 8.
I was feeding them pellets as well (crab cuisine), but since they were overpopulated, so they will brush out all diatoms of the rocks day ans night and in 2-3 days everything is clean and they prevented this getting out of control.
Over the time a natural selection will happen and only the strongest crab will live and population will balance.

sorry for the long text. hope to help somehow and post your questions and photos of your gear!
 

Waters

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I read somewhere that I shouldn’t dose different strains while cycling so would that be something you recommend doing after the tank has cycled?

Adding a few pieces of small live rock tot he sump is a good idea, I will keep that in mind and lookout for safe live rock!
Every tank (and person) is different, but I dosed up to three different types daily for over two months when I started my current build. Never had any visible algae, dinos, cyano, etc. Again, introducing the CUC early is just as important as bacteria biodiversity.
 

TX_REEF

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If you are not comfortable with live rock, just don't do it. You can reach the same results without it.

You can check my build thread and... I started completely without live.
Just throw ammonia and let it do its thing.

I started my cycle with dr. Tim's ammonia. I dosed ONCE and I dont know how I overdosed.
Then I had to await a few more days. No big deal. It seems to be pretty common to have this overdosing thing.

Keep in mind that once you finish cycling, and you introduce something, you might have a rebound of high NO2/N03s in the first month, so don't overstock in the first 1-2 months. I meant like 1-2 frags and 2 fish or less.
I would be adding more stuff when the rock is starting to change color from white to green.

Bacteria, pods and biology in general, will be introduced while adding corals, fish and cuc.
I personally dont think it makes sense to add early on bacteria and other stuff as they will have limited food source.

Not sure exactly what was the cause of your crash last time...

But add a clean up crew once ammonia is zero. This is more important than anything.
I know that hermit crabs are underrated (blue leg and similar), but that's how I deal with the algae / ugly phase, specially brown algae / diatoms.
Crabs are cheap so add a lot of them. In mine a 8 gal... I added like 8.
I was feeding them pellets as well (crab cuisine), but since they were overpopulated, so they will brush out all diatoms of the rocks day ans night and in 2-3 days everything is clean and they prevented this getting out of control.
Over the time a natural selection will happen and only the strongest crab will live and population will balance.

sorry for the long text. hope to help somehow and post your questions and photos of your gear!
You can certainly have a successful system without ocean live rock, but you certainly can NOT achieve the same result. Just not possible to replicate the bacterial biodiversity. Just want to be clear on that.
 

Waters

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You can certainly have a successful system without ocean live rock, but you certainly can NOT achieve the same result. Just not possible to replicate the bacterial biodiversity. Just want to be clear on that.
I think it depends on what you consider to be the "same result"? As far as what we as aquarists NEED in regards to bacterial diversity....that can be achieved without live rock. Is it quicker and easier with live....of course. I have no live rock in my system and don't have any need for it. If I did have live rock, the tank would not look any different. I guess what I am trying to say lol, a lot of that biodiversity that comes with live rock isn't necessary in our closed box systems. I am not for or against dry/live....I have had successful, problem free systems with both.
 

TX_REEF

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I think it depends on what you consider to be the "same result"? As far as what we as aquarists NEED in regards to bacterial diversity....that can be achieved without live rock. Is it quicker and easier with live....of course. I have no live rock in my system and don't have any need for it. If I did have live rock, the tank would not look any different. I guess what I am trying to say lol, a lot of that biodiversity that comes with live rock isn't necessary in our closed box systems. I am not for or against dry/live....I have had successful, problem free systems with both.
Of course, which is why I prefaced by saying successful systems can be had without. I’ve had systems both ways, and have always found more stability faster with the real rock. When I say “same result”, I mean the phrase at literal face value.
 
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