Should we rethink and refine means and methods for cycling tanks?

BRS

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100% agreed.
All im realisticly trying to get across is the whole entire cycling process and game can be totally refined and fine tuned to be better and work more efficiently for folks.
Or we can stay on stuck cycles and api test kits showing crazy high numbers when seneye is showing us the exact opposite.
I agree but this would entail coming up with a standard and that would inevitably cut out products A. B. C... where some companies thrive off of the mass confusion.
I cycled my tank with two 3.5" tangs and two bottles of Fritz Zyme 9 and it worked. 24 hours later no amonia and it was cheap. Those fish are still alive.
This is what I would recommend to anyone who is starting a cycle.
I see so many posts where they advocate several bottles of this and that and I ask myself why.
The only good advice I got from my crazy local fish guy was Fritzyme 9. That's it.
But there is money to be made in selling bottled promises.
 
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brandon429

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I bet it’s tied for #1 :) :) bio spira is cheaper, stores easier and carries this full reef instantly on day one




thats the most day 1 bioloading I’ve seen, bio spira allowed it. Fritz also tested to adhere to reef surfaces within a day after dosing to the water, these are darn strong bac mixes.
 

Lasse

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It seems like he is implying that its the same people suggesting the old cycle approach also push the "natural immunity" stuff. Two thought processes in one? In my mind, if you are starting with live rock, you will have an instant cycle, but need patience to wait the fallow period if you want to avoid fish parasites or coral pests, so I think patience is key regardless of which cycle method you use, but more so in the QT phase. I never lost fish to a cycle, but I have lost fish by not being patient with QT of later additions introducing parasites. Now I QT anything coming in, even snails, macro algae and inverts. Its just not worth the risk.

I´ll think your right but I think the resistance against proper nitrification cycle are formulated by persons that advocate for more or less sterile QT tanks with a soup of chemicals. The fish that die in these soups can´t die of the chemicals or upbuild of ammonia - because their whole view of the world crashes then

sincerely Lasse
 
AS

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How does using a slow(old science) cycle process kill fish?
Bump - seen no answers worth of considering yet - by the way - a good and adequate question.

Sincerely Lasse
 

1_hopeless_reefer

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I agree, but also would say that old school advice(ie toss a shrimp in and come back in 3 months) i think is very rarely given anymore.
I see this specific piece of advice given to new comers a lot. Especially from older reefers. I have seen tanks using newer forms of bottled bacteria (I.e. turbostart) stocked with the first few fish in less than 24hrs. I have seen new tanks using acquired live rock stocked the same day just as the OP has stated. Sorry for the rambling just meant to say that I have seen this advice given here recently more than I would like
 

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Thats no ramble its an accurate summary of today's cycling for sure

groupthink in forums would claim that burns fish with ammonia, but they don't own seneye and the ones that do own seneye see what's really going on.


bottle bac for cycling has removed the common wait times, we're dealing with the aftermath of mixed speciation from different collection points held in stress at lfs then moved again to home.


no degree of waiting past a cycle completion date stops this massive daily loss in the fish fish disease forums from systems that don't employ preemptive disease preventions



I'm not saying seneye is the end-all-be-all of ammonia testing it just removes a lot of confounds we get in common ammonia testing, and thereby extraction into what cycle bacteria must be doing based on those tests.


its not that cycles complete on wildly different dates (do cycling charts online range in param compliance dates?) its that our testing is all. over. the. place.

such as reporting total ammonia vs nh3, a ten times contextual overstatement and cause for much buying of new bottle bac. I dont blame any new cyclers for not understanding it, I barely understood it in 2020 when Dan explained it lol. Randy's article covered it of course but there's something about peer explanations that helps.

once we see that most api reads are correct when TAN factored, a lot of the stalled cycling worries stop. Also credit to Seabass, nano-reef.com active poster and writer who told me about tan factoring in 2009 but I certainly didn't get it then.


new science cycling has shown that cycles will complete and will not stall. we have charted compliance dates for systems that are dosed both feed and cycling specific bottle bac (instantly up to ten days max wait) or feed only with no bottle bac (30 days=cycling chart, howaboutme's 15 gallon feed only cycle) or actually no bacteria no feed at all, rocks just sit in water 4 months and self-cycle (Dr. Reef's bottle bac thread, page 97 MSteven1) and then for pure skip cycle tanks using coralline live rock cured in other aquariums we have the myriad reef convention tanks and skip cycle tanks from this forum.

*ten days is a recurring wait time we like to use in bottle bac threads to account for shipping and handling variations in bottles, I know some bottles may be dead or challenged. Day ten is also the ammonia drop date on a cycling chart, the date wasn't a random choice. this padding is why we haven't lost any fish in cycles in new science threads. a cycler can bet if they buy Fritz, biospira or Dr. Tims cycle their fish aren't going to be burnt, dilution alone carries so much ability in quick starts. And per Dan, keeping pH under control at set boundaries... there are fancy chemistry ways of protecting fish from burns as a backup when using bottle bac we see in the chemistry forum.

its not about the classic focus on nitrite, nitrate. its about predictive nh3-form ammonia control and disease prep

I think the incidence of dead bottle bac is so low, anyone that buys Fritz, Dr. Tims or Biospira can go fish in day one if they want. I don't know of any failed fish + bottle bac cycles in a display, using seneye, so until then it seems like a safe recommend. am aware of fifty thousand fish-in cycles assessed as failed on google using total ammonia reporting from api, for sure have seen those. just none on seneye.

buy pre quarantined fish, Dr. Reef was selling some last I checked.
 
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jda

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@LRT - upon reading this more, your success is likely more attributed to your knowledge, patience and experience and not so much the method. With these three things, almost any method could have worked. You could have failed if you added too many fish, or had some corals die, or whatever, but you didn't since you were smart and had healthy stuff.

I agree with Lasse that Seneye has been demonstrated not to be completely accurate at reading ammonia levels and if you were closer to a line of demarkation for failure, then it could have been an issue. I would consider this more of a fun tool than a reliable one.

When has any type of manufacturer been a good source of information and knowledge? Dr. Tim is no different. The stuff is fine, but there are real bacteriologists on this board with pHds that strongly disagree wit their assertions - some on this thread have been on threads with them and just ignore what they have to say since it does not fit their narratives. This is not dogma and old-school vs some new school miracle - it is facts and science versus marketing. Believe what you want, but these threads are out there for all to find.

For those who are new to all of this brandon does not really practice all of this... he reads and assumes based on the work of others. That is fine if you want to follow this, but just know that nearly none of it has been born out of any kind of actual experience. To each their own, but in the past people have been miffed when they found out after trying to implement what he has said assuming that he had more breath and depth of actual experience.

Quickly getting tanks started is hardly a new phenonomen and as far as I know, chemistry and biology have not changed in the decades since keeping marine tanks in homes started. Lasse has pointed out many ways, including moving filter media (sponges, HOB filter floss, etc), in addition to moving water, rocks and some sand, that can almost have a tank instantly ready for smart and patient people. My caution is in assuming that others have the materials that you do, or the knowledge, experience and patience to do the same things.

I also believe that tanks do get cycled in two parts. First the ability to quickly and seamlessly adjust to additional bio load to turn ammonia/ammonium into nitrate with quickly multiplying oxic bacteria. Then the second part is building the anoix bacteria to turn no3 back into nitrogen gas. Both of these together are the full nitrogen cycle to me. If people mean that tanks are never static, then that is totally true and the whole purpose of having ample area for these bacteria to multiply and shrink to equilibrium quickly is the whole idea.
 
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What you basically have done is to move an existing tank with 100% WC. The rocks looks as living rocks or used rocks - not dry rocks. Of cause it could be done. Corals ar no bioload, They are not producer of nitrogen or other nutrients - they are consumer. Your real biolad in the start is your 3 fish and the feed you give them. Basically you have followed my 15 steps but your seed of nitrification is not a bottle - it is your rocks and + 100 corals (with lot of space for nitrifiers. How large is the tank - it seems to be more than 100 G. Did you dip your corals before the introduction in the tank - if not - you have introduced an army of nitrifiers.

What are your advices to people that do not have access to living or old rocks and/or 100 of grown up corals with their substrates ? Don´t mention setting up a fish only tank.

You are using a special case in order to argue in a general discussion.



I have done that setup many times - it is not any need to measure anything when you move a old tanks content to a new tank according to acute toxicity

Sincerely Lasse
Hi Lasse the tank is 80 gallons with about 30 gallons in sump.
A little less than 1lb live ocean rock used considering total water volume.
Agreed I pretty much just simply followed the "rules" and mimicked the steps you used without even realizing that at the time.
I did not dip corals. I wanted to bring all the biodiversity from plugs, rock,discs and rubble that I possibly could to new tank.

I'm glad you ask what I'd reccomend to new reefers that cannot mimmick my start up exactly.
Id highly reccomend to all they should see the thread @brandon429 posted earlier in this thread.
The user just recently started with dry rock bottle bac and followed all the rules of start up cycle.
Experienced a 2 day cycle. Found the same exact data tracked out identical to the way the data tracked with my 18-25 yr old gulf rock. To my amazement I will add. I did not expect that. He pretty much followed same rules as us but stocked the tank immediately and continues to monitor and track params and they are tracking like my tank full of live ocean rock.
Alot can be taken from that.
A. His api test kit showed dark green when seneye showed ammonia concentration of .013.
I'm following reefs here that users are actually dosing higher concentration than that to there fuge on a daily basis.
Api also showed elevated Nitrite levels but those where most likely false and inaccurate as well and likely the levels where lower than any levels that could be considered toxic.
I've been following your thread and appreciate the work you have put in.
Not here to undermine that work it would be ignorant for me to say Nitrite levels can't be toxic or harmful to fish and critters.
What im hoping to find out is at what levels should Nitrite actually be considered harmful. And if we should trust Api and color coded chart is giving us an accurate reading when its clearly way off when looking at ammonia testing side by side to seneye.
I dont think what ive done is special at all. Many of my lfs has done same thing for as long as I know. Ive set up fast observation tanks with my rock and never even seen a recorded bump in ammonia at all in smaller tanks and more rock used.
Having said that the methods used in this and yours scenario could be taken and applied across the board.
There are folks here building big tank transfers, soaking dry rock for months and cycling it when its simply not needed as they already have healthy systems full of rock they can easily fire those new transfer off without a hitch.
 
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@LRT - upon reading this more, your success is likely more attributed to your knowledge, patience and experience and not so much the method. With these three things, almost any method could have worked. You could have failed if you added too many fish, or had some corals die, or whatever, but you didn't since you were smart and had healthy stuff.

I agree with Lasse that Seneye has been demonstrated not to be completely accurate at reading ammonia levels and if you were closer to a line of demarkation for failure, then it could have been an issue. I would consider this more of a fun tool than a reliable one.

When has any type of manufacturer been a good source of information and knowledge? Dr. Tim is no different. The stuff is fine, but there are real bacteriologists on this board with pHds that strongly disagree wit their assertions - some on this thread have been on threads with them and just ignore what they have to say since it does not fit their narratives. This is not dogma and old-school vs some new school miracle - it is facts and science versus marketing. Believe what you want, but these threads are out there for all to find.

For those who are new to all of this brandon does not really practice all of this... he reads and assumes based on the work of others. That is fine if you want to follow this, but just know that nearly none of it has been born out of any kind of actual experience. To each their own, but in the past people have been miffed when they found out after trying to implement what he has said assuming that he had more breath and depth of actual experience.

Quickly getting tanks started is hardly a new phenonomen and as far as I know, chemistry and biology have not changed in the decades since keeping marine tanks in homes started. Lasse has pointed out many ways, including moving filter media (sponges, HOB filter floss, etc), in addition to moving water, rocks and some sand, that can almost have a tank instantly ready for smart and patient people. My caution is in assuming that others have the materials that you do, or the knowledge, experience and patience to do the same things.

I also believe that tanks do get cycled in two parts. First the ability to quickly and seamlessly adjust to additional bio load to turn ammonia/ammonium into nitrate with quickly multiplying oxic bacteria. Then the second part is building the anoix bacteria to turn no3 back into nitrogen gas. Both of these together are the full nitrogen cycle to me. If people mean that tanks are never static, then that is totally true and the whole purpose of having ample area for these bacteria to multiply and shrink to equilibrium quickly is the whole idea.
Hey Jda agreed. @NeonRabbit221B has done a cpl threads tracking ammonia with seneye with real data and his findings have shown inaccuracies.
I myself have found seneye ph and temp to be way off with my particular device. Far enough off that I don't trust it with ph and temp.
I use it as a Guage. I feel like its close enough as far as ammonia goes as in the data and work threads shown its inaccuracies where still within the realm of recording levels that should be safe and track out as fully functioning reefs ammonia levels track out on daily basis.
Agreed that my transfer was and has probably been the most challenging reefing endeavor I've experienced.
As long as those following along simply follow the rules and diligently keep all params at known acceptable levels to best of ability during cycle and start up. They really can be just as successful no matter how they approach cycling and stocking a tank.
 

mbri

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This is super interesting to me because I’m currently setting up my first tank. I used live sand, dry rock, bottled bacteria, and bottled coralline. Didn’t expect a miracle by any means, but figured it wouldn’t hurt to try. Fast forward 2 weeks in and my parameters are stable, I’ve got a good amount of algae growing, and what seems like millions of pods jumping around in there. Thing is, I never saw the tell-tale ammonia spike. One test showed between 0.02 and <0.05, which was observed for literally 1 day. For the past few days I’ve had nitrites at 0, ammonia at 0, nitrates at ~3ppm, pH 8.2, and alk at 8.9. I don’t want to say it’s definitively done cycling, but to me it seems like it may be.
 

NeonRabbit221B

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Hey Jda agreed. @NeonRabbit221B has done a cpl threads tracking ammonia with seneye with real data and his findings have shown inaccuracies.
I myself have found seneye ph and temp to be way off with my particular device. Far enough off that I don't trust it with ph and temp.
I use it as a Guage. I feel like its close enough as far as ammonia goes as in the data and work threads shown its inaccuracies where still within the realm of recording levels that should be safe and track out as fully functioning reefs ammonia levels track out on daily basis.
Agreed that my transfer was and has probably been the most challenging reefing endeavor I've experienced.
As long as those following along simply follow the rules and diligently keep all params at known acceptable levels to best of ability during cycle and start up. They really can be just as successful no matter how they approach cycling and stocking a tank.
I think your comment about it being a guage is key. Is Seneye perfect? No. Partly due to it measuring free ammonia (pH, temp, salinity and ammonia levels coming into play) and partly because there is nothing to benchmark it. Now that being said, its a phenomenal tool to know how ammonia in your reef is trending, if you have an unexpected death or your tank sitter mixes up the proportioned cubes for whole frozen cubes while on vacation (actually happened to me and Seneye caught it)
 

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Introduce bacteria to tank. wait. cycle complete.
You could literally urinate into your tank on day 1 to initiate a cycle. What is all this "Cycling science" about? Now it is being lumped into fish disease which are two completely separate topics.. very interesting.
It's just bacteria, of course if you add live rock with no die off from one tank to another you aren't going to "cycle." Starting a tank with no bacteria will of course need to cycle.
 

jda

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Why not use ORP if you are just looking for a rough gauge of life in your tank? More established, better understood and probably easier to get help and stuff. Again, nothing new here, just different ways of doing the same things. Both are after the fact type of readings.
 
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Seney measuring the toxic form only - not total ammonia. If your seneye says 0.006 ppm at pH 8 - your total ammonia was around 0.24. For me a figure that 100 + photosynthetic corals can take up during one photo cycle

I have still not seen any figures of seneye accuracy according to NH3 measurements. For me - it could be as questionable as most hobby tests. Because of that you did not measured nitrite - we have no idea when the tank was fully cycled.

Note - fully cycled means when the nitrification process is seamless from NH3/NH4 to NO3 - not when organism stop to die. Cycling is an accepted term with scientific background - there is some criteria that should be fulfilled - namely a seamless nitrification - you are trying to redefine this term to mean not acute toxic water. I do not accept that because of many reasons

This tank was started with the 15 steps method - I introduce 1 fish and CUC day 2 and corals day 3. I followed the feeding protocol in 15 steps in order to establish a proper nitrification with help of rising biolad in the form of food (hence the amount of ammonia excreted from the clown fish gills)


This method is a general method working for all type of aquariums and size of wallets. Today - there is 50 + fish and the bioload (feeding) is around 20 g frozen freshwater cyclops and around the same amount of frozen artemia a day. Many sensitive species

Let me ask something - when you measure things like NO3, PO4, Ca and so one - you do not measure these for other purpose than acute toxicity?. Its the same for me then I measure the NO2 concentrations. The second step of nitrification is the most sensitive microbiological process I know of. If the second step does not kick in naturally - there is some upcoming trouble at the horizont. It is my early missile warning system.

What is your full biolad today (bioload = food to the system) ? How many fish?

Sincerely Lasse
Hi Lasse.
I took back my statement of redefining cycling definition in that other thread. I 100% agree with the criteria you pros have put forth. By that definition alone my tank cycle tracked out 100% according to those rules and still does to this day..
What I was truly after is re examine methods of cycling so I mis spoke and apologize for that.
My total fish count is at 4 in that tank now. 2 clowns, wrasse and tomini tang. Somewhere around 50 Cuc mix of hermits, conch, nassarius snails, astrea, cerith. Feeding a cube or 2 a day. Who know what wife is doing when I'm not around but the fish stay fat!
I do dose Phosohates to keep recordable levels in this tank. Dosed Nitrates for 1st cpl months until regular feeding caught up.
Sitting around 5ppm Nitrates and Phoshpates range from .003-.1 but has bottomed out on me a cpl times.
I do dose all for reef daily and it is keeping cal,mag, alk locked in at acceptable levels.
Ph ranges anywhere from 8-8.3
 
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@LRT If you set up a QT tank - is your method of instant cycling usable?

A very cheap and easy trick for setting up QT tanks is to have a small internal foam filter in the sump of the DT at least 3 weeks before the start of the QT. lift it over and voila - A QT with complete nitrification cycle is instant created.

Sincerely Lasse
Hi Lasse I have nothing against QT and do believe it has its uses but I have never QT a fish.
 

brandon429

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I really agree some people's innate skill and sourcing and tank preps make them less reliant on qt. when handling cycle dates by the hundreds though/better qt all of it as big chain stores are adding into the mix, even many lfs have a high disease component from stocked fish its really the right mode for the masses-carve off into specialty modes over time.

I think given today's usual sourcing even someone using a cured rock skip cycle tank, that's full pods/rock balance and all benefits of aging put in on day one, must use fish disease preps or they'll lose statistically high numbers 5-8 mos out. the new trends are emerging fast, if we relay them faster we can curb the buckets of fish being tossed out.
 

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I really, really want people to think on this going forward... this hobby, as well as many others that try and replicate nature by displacing living things from their habitats is under scrutiny and it will likely get worse. Don't start with me on the whole captive breeding stuff since all of you know that they people making the attacks will not look at this.

Hobbies that are cavalier about husbandry and that always want to cut corners even sometimes at the expense of the animals will further be reduced and maybe even strictly regulated. The look of threads like this that superficially debunk real science perhaps at the benefit of outliers and one-offs only to speed human desire is a BAD look. I am not saying that this is what is happening here, but you have to see the potential. When somebody takes a look at our hobby they need to see mostly successes with proven methods of husbandry that are backed by real science and best-of-breed type of stuff. When some congress person or CITES committee look to restrict imports, you don't want them to see the vocal folks on message boards recommending bleeding edge practices for these living creatures just captured from the wild. If we want this hobby to continue, we need to be the best keepers that we can be. For some, what is in this thread might work... but you all know that this is terrible advice for the masses. Hawaii is voting soon on starting to import fish again and the argument would be a whole lot easier if threads like this were qualified with the nuance and caveats as to why it is so hard versus how everybody else in the past is stupid.

What the people making decisions will see is a hobby that thinks of themselves more than the animals... right or wrong.

If you were captured by aliens and taken to their planet, would you want a habitat with already established plants, trees, vegetables, etc. with steams full of fish and fauna both for food and to process waste that is for-sure ready for life, or one that somebody just threw a basket of apples on the ground and a 5 gallon bucket for you to whizz in? The smart aliens can probably make either work for us, but even the dumb aliens can make the first scenario work.

I love these kind of discussions and like what they can bring, but we need to be careful to detail the nuances and experience necessary and not be quick at all to discount the real science and successes of the past.
 
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Because the "old school" methods teach patience. And in this hobby, if you are unwilling to be patient, you will fail or have a much more difficult time achieving success.

My experience has been that a very high percentage of the problems posted here are due to impatience. We have become a society in which instant gratification is the norm. But a thriving reef tank is not something that we pull from a box, plug in and enjoy.

Just as your garden needs time to grow into the display of beautiful colors and aromatic blends, reef tanks need to be nurtured and given an opportunity to grow into the wonderful display we imagine it as in our mind's eye.

While some people with high scientific acumen have a taste for the fast and new approach to cycling their tanks, most people in this hobby are just that; hobbyists. They are not into the complexities that can come with a 48 hour cycle. They just want to enjoy a nice salt water tank!

I think we over-complicate this hobby by creating these methods. In my view, throwing a raw cocktail shrimp into a new tank, and monitoring your ammonia and nitrites is perfectly acceptable. The only reason not to use this approach is impatience.

And we all know that in this hobby, when you are in a rush, nothing good happens.

Lastly, I feel that the push for 24 hour cycling is driven by scientists who work for the companies that manufacture these products. It very much feels like it is about the money to me. Because when things go wrong, the industry answer is to buy another bottled solution.

I feel that accelerating the cycle in a tank is a push by the industry to get people to spend more money, more quickly.
I dont like this theory and feel like its counter productive on too many levels.
I do agree with the statement that nothing good fast comes to those who rush things in this hobby. Matter of fact it's only ever caused problems for me.
Having said that though it makes entirely no sense at all to tell people to wait to stock a tank when a tank has been sufficiently cycled according the pros rules, that fully cycled tank is totally capable of carrying bioload.
If tank is fully cycled and capable of carrying biload its designed to carry just exactly what are we waiting for now?
Algae to grow where corals should be growing?
Nobody is saying to rush things. In fact a strict adherence to the rules is being practiced and followed to the T when you get right down and technical with it:)
 
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