New Tank - General Cycle Process and Question on Lighting During Cycle

Melin108

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Hello all,

I am a returning member of the reef community after years off, and new to the site! Please excuse me while I learn the etiquette and how to ask what I'm thinking in my head. I've set up a 20G Nuvo Peninsula tank in my office and so far here is what I've done.

I'm mainly concerned with my cycle process right now, so I'll explain what I've done thus far - I'm doing the cycle process with two snowflake clowns currently - and they seem happy and eating, exploring more each day.

  • CaribSea Live Sand - Special Grade
  • CaribSea LifeRock Shapes - glued some of the pieces together with some additional rubble - made something I thought looked cool - rinsed it in RO/DI
  • MarinePure Gems - those small octagon looking marine pure tucked in bag in the rear compartment in the "unusable" space in the pump chamber below the other chambers. Testing this out - no issues whatsoever right now after a few days.
  • RO/DI water used for everything - including at least rinsing every piece of equipment to even come in contact with the tank.
  • Reef Crystals for Salt (salinity at 1.025)
  • Cobalt 75w heater (set to 78)
  • Provided Media for Nuvo kit (cotton ball like filter floss, rox carbon, bag of GFO)
  • Dr. Tim's for cycle start
  • I've already installed an Duetto ATO because I didn't realize the evaporation on these style tanks - and I felt like i needed my salinity spot on at all times.
So I should have many sources of beneficial bacteria. I originally put the two clowns in and added the Dr. Tim's and waited a couple days. Fish have been eating fine and already developing personalities like blocking my overfill with their body so my pump compartment lowers and I rush to check what the noise is (seemed entirely like a lazy place to sit for them and they've since made homes in the rock).

When I originally set the tank up about 5-6 days ago (after making RO/DI and scape and everything like that) I made the mistake of adding the carbon and GFO right away. After research most say you shouldn't run these during a cycle, so since I had already added the Dr. Tim's I didn't want to bank that the bacteria didn't host in the carbon or GFO. So tonight I took out the carbon and GFO (put them both in pure RO/DI water, was told that would keep them until needed) and added another bottle of bacteria, this time of Bio-Spira because it's cold where I'm from and I couldn't get any other live bacteria shipped to me without it freezing. I'm hoping that this works out. I'm going to test the ammonia tomorrow and do a 20% water change tomorrow or the next day.

I am looking for feedback on any of that backstory, constructive criticism as one would say since I'm a born again noobie. I've been watching a lot of guides from Bulk Reef Supply, and they seem really good and informative.

My main question is this. I know until you get past the cycle you shouldn't really have your REEF/TANK lights on since it could promote algae growth (I want to avoid that "ugly stage" as they put it as much as possible, I've even pre-purchased some Microbacter Clean). I'm curious about room lighting in general - SPECIFICALLY during the cycle, my tank is not in direct sunlight, but my office is small and the light I have in there is a very bright LED that has very cool tones, I would assume a lot of blue light then possibly (correct me if I'm wrong). Is my normal office light, even as bright as it is, an issue for lighting during my cycle process? I don't have a par meter or anything like that. I've been living in as much darkness as I can for a couple days in that room, wondering if it's all being over paranoid and silly.

Are "normal" bright LED room lights (not tank lights) ok during the cycle, or will it also cause algae growth?

Bonus question - when do I actually put my carbon and GFO back into the tank, right after I see no ammonia?

Thank you,
Jon
 
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Idoc

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Your normal room lights will be fine and not cause an algae bloom during your cycle.

Good move removing the carbon and GFO...you may not need this stuff for quite awhile. You don't want to bottom out your NO3/PO4 in a new tank...that is a recipe for dino infestations.

I'm not a fan of adding fish to a system during the cycle...kind of cruel to them since ammonia burns gills. But, the bottled bacteria will have helped to combat this.

I wouldn't do any water changes during the cycle. Monitor your ammonia and nitrates. When the cycle is complete and your nitrates are high, then perform the water change (75%). But, your cycle may actually already be complete. I like to add straight ammonia to a system to around 1ppm and then see if the system can clear it in 24hours...but you can't do that with the clowns in the tank now.

Good luck...and you should start a build thread in the member's tank section.
 
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Melin108

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Thank you for your response! Very much appreciate it. It's been fun so far! I will take your advice and try to start a build thread.

My follow-up question is why no water changes during the cycle? I've read (although there is information everywhere and it varies greatly) that the bacteria exists on the surfaces and pores so a water change will help during the cycle to keep harmful levels of anything in there, but I can also see from your standpoint that you want to keep some of that in there while the cycle completes so each phase has it's food. Just looking for a little more clarification on why I should wait for a water change during the cycle.

Thank you,
Jon
 

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There is a specific wait time per cycle approach on water change it works like this:

true skip cycle live rocks from the pet store ride home full of bacteria, transfer over full of bacteria, and by rule can endure as many 100% water changes as you want to give them on day one because cycles cannot be peeled off rocks by water changes. The wait time for water changes on skip cycle live rock is zero days wait.


contrast that to dry rock cycling, we dose the bac. They float in suspension until they plate onto surfaces and then the rule above kicks in, no degree of full water changes peels them back off.

the deposition times against a full water change have already been charted in Dr Reefs bottle bac thread and on the labels of the bottles.

so for example, dr Tim’s, wait ten days then water change.


fritz, 24-48 hours its why it costs so much. Quick activity quick deposition. Wait until the dates on your particular brand show to wait, then change water. if you change before the listed dates you risk catching the bac in suspension and exporting them.
 
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Melin108

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Amazing advice as well, the community here is wonderful. Perfectly explains what I was wondering. Essentially - as I say this in my head "So that water change doesn't take away the bacteria that's established on the surfaces, but if it's still relatively new then they may still be looking for a home and you shouldn't remove them. " - got it.

So the tank is just shy of a week with daily feeding and my two clowns in there and I just ran an ammonia test kit tonight and found zero, I also have one of those Seachem hang on the side ammonia alert things just in case and that also shows zero (I like redundancy if possible). With only a week of run time I doubt my cycle is complete, correct (again brand new after a long break)? I did use a lot of sources of nitrifying bacteria, but that was to make sure it was safe for inhabitants.

I'm going to test Nitrites and Nitrates tomorrow and see what my readings are. I will be gone on Saturday which is unfortunate but I have my ATO filled up and my temp, ammonia, and salinity seem perfect right now - and have been. My wife who is brand new to tanks will do the feeding on Saturday and knows how little to feed, so I think I'll be alright.

So to your point, I've used a bottle of Dr. Tim's - then messed up and removed the carbon and gfo about 4-ish days later, and then added a bottle of Bio-Spira just to make sure everything was good and the colonies didn't just grow on the carbon and gfo. So you'd still probably think about 10 days from when I put the Dr. Tim's in do the first water change?

I can test nitrates and go that route as well if that's the best approach.

Thanks for all the advice thus far, you've all be extremely helpful. Wish me luck as I keep pushing forward! Hope to move into corals this time around.

Thank you!
 
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Melin108

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So I've been about a week and a day into my endeavor, and I've been testing for Ammonia (still 0 when I tested), Nitrite (0), and Nitrate and I think that's sitting around a 10ppm. Does this mean that my cycle is complete and I can add my next fish? I'll attach my Nitrate test tonight.

I'm looking to add a Blenny of some sort (looking for suggestions in 20G Peninsula, leaning towards a TailSpot), so that I can have it help with algae a little bit, and they look like super cool friends to add.

My main question - is my cycle already done when I'm showing Nitrates of 10ppm-ish? Probably around 13 would be my guess, and does that mean I'm clear to add another fish? I'm still running without lights and I have some Microbacter Clean so I'm wondering when do I add the Carbon and GFO back (like do I wait for testable levels of something or is it too early), when do I start the Microbacter clean to start algae prevention as recommended by a BRS on their youtube channel, and lastly as noted above is it safe to plan for the next utilitarian fish?

Overall, It's been about 8-ish days since tank start, I didn't expect the ammonia, nitrite, nitrate combo to happen as fast as it did. I plan on following the advice above and still waiting until day 10 to do a water change, so that'd be Monday.

Any suggestions would be helpful and encouraged!
 

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