The microbiology of reef tank cycling.

brandon429

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The primary purpose of this thread is to demonstrate when to dose ammonia in a cycle and when not to. The secondary purpose is to show how you can cycle any aquarium (that requires cycling) without using test kits...because test kits err, and filtration bacteria mechanics are a science of submersion TIME and test kits merely indicate spikes and troughs in a graph so well known, that all cycling charts on google show pretty much the same time frame or number of days until nitrite always complies with ammonia performance. The reason there aren't a million varying google charts to match a million different reported cycles is because the aquarists have it wrong, not the years of study that produced the charts.

Do you see the interesting motile pods and creatures here that are part of a new tank because purple coralline real live rock was used? Don't burn them by adding ammonia. Ammonia is only added to tanks where no life is burned by it.

Video and tank by ChefNate

Study microbiology in the reef tank with us here and you'll never doubt nitrifiers ever again.

Learn to measure them by associates and required time frames set by nature, decades known already


Don't let a $9 tester for ammonia completely wreck your view on what nitrifiers really do... We don't need test kits here to cycle any aquarium because they all follow similar rules and time frames to completion

This is the highest quality starting live rock I've seen, we would never dose bacteria here, we would not dose ammonia. Ever. This is so loaded with life we already know the bacteria are in place, curing for higher life forms is underway- every cycling article on the internet doesn't apply to this tank bc all of them tell you to add bac and ammonia without factoring rock status at time of build


Current views circulated around web forums unequivocally list ways an aquarist "stalls" a cycle...meaning to impede bacterial growth on surfaces. Hydrated surfaces...cycles don't stall with any common variance during a cycle (i.e. nitrite or ammonia spikes don't stop your cycle, withholding fish feed or raw ammonia never ever ever stops a cycle, it makes the surfaces revert to something called the unassisted time frame covered on subsequent pages)





Ammonia vs no ammonia, when should I blast nitrogen (plant food) into my system as a new aquarium?


when the rocks you bought were dry, kept on a shelf, with no living animals-we place those in water and add ammonia and bottle bac and wait, for the cycle to complete

when you buy live rock that brings in life in any form, especially forms you can already see, we do not add ammonia, as that kills/stresses the life you paid $ for and the presence of the animals already means your filtration bacteria is in place

this rock wasn't stored dry, it was stored wet in a vat marked "live rock" and there's little animals like starfish and crabs and algae and various corals attached or coralline if lucky, this rock doesn't need ammonia. It needs you to transport it home safely, with water, so that it doesn't start producing ammonia


Testing. this is a NO TEST cycling thread, we don't use tests to tell us when the tanks are ready we use submersion timing and visual clues, we're different on purpose than usual cycling threads which vary infinitely due to testing drift/error

we don't need to test for nitrite, nitrate and even ammonia here but we talk about ammonia the most for a reason as the thread unfolds.

I. you do not have to test for nitrite when cycling a reef tank, or when a reef tank is running and matured. to do so misleads the masses via test misreads, and comprises no less than 50% of stalled cycle threads (cycles never stall, they are predictable for the submersion times and boosts at hand, across tanks, anywhere)
anywhere nitrite concerns you, the ammonia should have concerned you first as the nitrite is unimpactful to your tank. nitrite is the most not needed to know test param in all of reefing.



Why test for nitrate? Tests vary wildly, no two testers agree on a given sample, denitrification may be at work reducing the otherwise reading, and nitrate is for algae tuning and coral coloration tuning, it’s not a requisite cycling param and to include it in judging a completed cycle adds misread/misinterpret variables
Zero nitrate still means cycled:



Seneye feedback one day is going to do wonders to verify our claims regarding ammonia, the only param we care about on this thread.


Misreading test example threads, made everything confusing for the tester:

https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/redsea-nitrate-test-different-results.606170/
If you don’t wait nine minutes, you don’t get a good read. What if the variation resulted in an under-read? Then 100% of posters reading his cycling thread will claim the bacteria aren’t ready, no nitrate, and his cycle is stalled. They’ll make a huge leap about what bacteria do, off an unverified test reading. Good thing this poster caught onto the variation, and linked it for us.

. *how many other cycling threads do you see where anyone debates the reading? None. When the public advises cycling threads they take whatever reading is given at face value. And they’re nearly all wrong readings.

Only ammonia oxidation must be known in cycling, and even that can be predicted accurately and managed in tank cycling without testing, the whole thread is examples of this occurring and then people still testing ammonia to see if the call was correct.


II. don't add ammonia to live rock. If you are dealing with live rock you withhold ammonia, not add some. Adding ammonia is for dry rock cycling. was the rock wet at your pet store, then wet when you brought it home? did it have live copepods on the rock in the morning on your tank walls? what about the tank holding it at the pet store, any pods or worms lying about on the edges? This distinction is critical in setting the boundaries for how you clean an aquarium, how you can respond to emergencies in the tank, and it's all related to how you think bacteria work in an aquarium. we don't add ammonia to live rock in a civilized society of new tank cyclers.



Bringing home live rock from a pet store then adding a rotten shrimp to the setup is what this thread is trying to prevent, we want to convey rules of microbiology all tankers can use in setups, moves, deep clean, transfers, upgrades and downgrades and we will show how you can stop your reef from recycling anytime you want to do surgery on it for any reason.


III. how you handle cycling impacts how you handle tank invasions and algae problems even though those two seem unconnected currently. they're completely intertwined, and what filtration bacteria will allow sets your action boundaries when responding to tank invasions or algae issues. By knowing what marine filtration bacteria will permit, you can control your tank in amazing ways. Cycling is about bacteria, not plants, so don't permit algae as part of a cycle, keep your new tank hand cleaned until maturation takes over.



____________________________________________________________
Cycle Umpire Section- we make sense out of seemingly noncompliant cycles here. This is listed at the start of the thread to show how the info on following pages can be put to fast use. All cycles have a clear direction, they don't do unpredictable things. Your testing does. All cycles behave the same within close reason, they don't vary like aquarists think the do. From that basic information regarding wet surfaces and bacteria, and expecting most test kits to be misreading for one or more reasons, we can make cycles comply:

TO START, THIS WHAT TRUE FREE AMMONIA DOES, no testing needed

Compare that tanks outcome with those below

Eight pages of confusion due to test misreads, then cycle fixed in two posts using our rules

-Tank has live rock, and benthic algae growth and rock pigmentation so it has been underwater longer than 30 days and is certainly cycled.

Cycle ump says below tank is ready. harmony in the cycled tank, animals not dead in the last 24 hours, more than one fish, two blood shrimp, several days feed, and a stated three week cycle completed before this bioload was added. But when api says .25, then:
https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/ammonia-presence-what-next.620931/#post-6213421

This is how to arrange an ammonia tester from any brand name kit to truly indicate a closed cycle or an ongoing cycle
https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/tank-cycle-help.626882/#post-6263950


do I have free ammonia? (gets a yes for two pages from everyone, though they're using Prime additive which renders all ammonia testing invalid for trace sustained levels)
https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/cycling-stalled-and-now-ammonia-is-spiked.629528/page-2

**cycled corrected in 2016, now with 2019 updates*
https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/cycling-my-580ltrs-tank-with-live-rock.263680/page-2#post-6222579

https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/instant-tank-cycle.612166/

https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/nitrate-cycle.612476/#post-6161188

Is this tank cycled? All group B rocks. We set the pace early on it is cycled, no testing needed. Ready to go.
https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/new-setup-cycling-tank-multiple-questions.615362/#post-6180744

the same tank as the first link, re worked again through the forum where people assume its no where near cycled and advise to cycle it:
https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/adding-crabs-and-corals-before-cycle-is-done.613229/#post-6162658
This aquarium already has a full fish bioload. We want to know if adding more bacteria is required:
https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/expectations-with-adding-bacteria-to-partially-cycled-system.614654/

member Lapin called this cycle mighty fast, like a wild west gunslinger using updated microbiology:
https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/cant-keep-ammonia-up-for-cycling.621531/#post-6217103

subsequent descriptions and measures lock in that prediction. Lapin/umped it.


____________________________
*no tank carries .25 ammonia for two months after the cycle. its a misread in every single case.
________________________________

There are four main types of tank cycles, what you are attempting is one of these, and each version does something different with ammonia:

1. fully cured live rocks, transferred live from pet store or seller, to home:
gets no ammonia... we don't want to kill small bugs. keep it underwater for the transfer where possible. See this example of live rock skip cycling: https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/do-i-have-ammonia-pic.517195/

2. all dry materials, this gets the ammonia + bottle bac to cycle ranging between 2 weeks and 30 days, since there are no bugs/pods/worms to kill on dry rock.

3. mixed cycling where both live and dry materials are present at the start. a few different options exist here.

4. uncured ocean rock
its plant base will be massive on the rock, it will look amazing, and since your whole tank doesn't look that way now we can only expect uncured rock to dieback and match what you can currently sustain. some even pre-remove these growths via reef surgery before adding to the tank. expect this rock to produce ammonia, we sure don't want to give it any. try and suppress ammonia production from this kind of live rock as it cures

5. Caribsea LifeRock cycling
this rock is painted in bacteria within the coralline paint on the surface. to cycle liferocks, you merely add saltwater and wait two weeks. change out the water, begin. they're cycled. no feeding is required, submersion is required.
here's a caribsea setup

we use known submersion times to predict when a cycle is ready, we are unreliant on test kits to cycle reef tanks in this thread. They merely confirm what our timelines w already show, and to get a test kit to read correctly you have to change the way you run the test...we will review that later.


What is related to cycling and what is not:

Cycling has nothing to do with letting green hair algae show up and you hope it goes away


June 2019:
https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/1-cause-of-gha-is-you-fill-in-the-blank.618889/#post-6205795



Cycling has nothing to do with letting cyanobacteria overtake your tank for any period of time, cycling has no ugly phase, because you can't see the bacteria that cycling hopes to implant on your rocks and sand.

do not start out your tank with unrinsed sand (cloudy). its not that its harmful, its that sand (including live sand) is ideally pre-rinsed before use, so that it cannot cloud, and you are freer to clean your tank better than normal. clouding sand makes people hesitant to act. this is a six page thread on sand rinsing, tank transfers, tank cleaning and restorations for proof:

https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/the-official-sand-rinse-thread-aka-one-against-many.230281/#post-2681445

Algae and cyano can come on strong anytime, unrelated to cycling we can see in problem algae threads, so don't begin your new tank down an invasion path. keep it cleaned, manually, and as it matures your work will lessen.




THIS IS THE False AMMONIA test kit section, read these before your first ammonia test. These misreads are why we don't use testers to stamp a cycle ready here, we use alternate means.

*its not always API disagreeing. SeaBass from nano-reef.com has stated this for a decade, it should be relayed here. Here's a salifert vs fluval ammonia test conflict, causing doubt about bacteria (we eliminate doubt about what bacteria do here)

https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/frustrated-with-test-kits-which-do-i-believe.622299/


https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/1-month-of-cycling-high-ammonia.299601/#post-3666878



https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/ahhh-ammonia-spike.328633/page-3
and
https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/0-5-ppm-ammonia-bad.464063/
and
https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/ammonia-present.330174/

https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/still-having-ammonia-issues.330213/#post-4103674

Five year reef tank shows .25 makes bacteria seem dead or dying
https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/amonia-problem-in-established-tank-help.578170/


hobby grade ammonia test kits can have errors due to prep or the actual kit that cause false positives...false levels reported/ learn to consider that early on in tank cycling. Any use of the water conditioner Prime in the setup skews all testing for cycling params.

8/21/17
https://www.nano-reef.com/forums/topic/384806-cycling-with-aquaforest-bio-s/?tab=comments#comment-5555617

how were .25 readings affecting that cycle progression? Ideally we are about to use biology and not API testing to deem that tank a skip cycle tank....all group B rock to its finest.



http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?p=25124555#post25124555


http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2645161

8/11/18
https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/ammonia-problem-need-some-help.437767/#post-5013599


The point of this thread is using life forms you can see in the aquarium to guide cycling if you bought live rocks and replace test kits where possible. True live rock has growths, pigments, reds and greens and purple and white areas...maybe even live hangers-on. the tank the live rock came from will have pods, rocks with other verifiable life forms, these all indicate the presence of filtration bacteria because these animals take much longer than bacteria do to adhere to the surfaces of the rock.









Choosing when to start a tank based on biological allowance has nothing to do with how long you should take before starting to identify leaks, get electrical components installed and verified and quarantine fish. We don't advocate rushing, we provide the biological basis for doing so when its warranted though.

This thread is about the microbiology of the cycling aquarium... how bioindicators tell us what kind of cycling to employ, and when vs when not to use raw ammonia in a system.

The benefit of that knowledge is pure tank control: move one, clean one, mix one, rescape, rescue a tank and prevent a cycle if possible in each case by linking examples of each event ideally.

After reading you will always know when your cycle is done, with finality, and you will know when to use ammonia and when not to, this is the full intention of the thread.





20140125_110413-picsay.jpg
20140125_110419-picsay.jpg







Top pics are group A, the unverified gray no visual life barren rocks. This is where dr Tims and other bottle bacs come into use, and rotting shrimp or (much cleaner and workable) raw ammonium chloride dosing. Your end goal for these rocks is to make your system be able to digest ~.5- 1 ppm ammonia within a 24 hour period if you choose to test to verify it, 30-40 days after starting the fishless cycle method> it will be done sooner, but anyone who can wait 30 days after adding bottle bac + ammonia to the water in any amount will be cycled. We then do a final water change, and start with the initial bioload. *waiting 30 days handles the variances for bottles of bac that weren't shipped ideally. No bottle bac sterilizes itself when you mishandle, heat or cool it outside specs. They aren't as active, but inputting it will still vector in nitrifiers. that 30 day time frame is quite handy for group A/dry rock cycling for sure. Its not as easy to sterilize a liquid medium as aquarists claim it to be, entire industries have to exist in order to keep bac out of hydrated media.

It's quite easy to speed cycle without waiting the common time frame, that’s what makes bottle bac usage so popular. the 30-40 day time frame we use here is for extra measure and that's always enough time to pass an easy digestion test, it’s an old schoolers safe wait time. if you need an instant-ready fish tank, skip cycle with Group A rocks, then refrigerated Fritz bottle bac has been shown in Dr. Reef's testing to be the best there is, and it works if you'll keep it refrigerated/cool as an instant fish-in cycle option.


no pods and mini stars crawling around the vat of group A rocks at the pet store, these rocks are barren compared to group B rocks below. This shows us some visual differences between the major groups of rocks we see in cycling threads and in new setups.





Group B rocks
Bottom pics are cured live rock with months/years of coralline and fanworms and calcifications, colors, growths, pigments, textures, smells nicely...the nitrifier-verified, group B rocks. Group B rock has attributes you can spot from across the room, those details mean it has a full complement of filtration bacteria. you do not need to cycle it by adding ammonia.
example of group B
https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/tampa-bay-saltwater-live-rock.245819/

group B skip cycle rock macro shots, hitchhikers in tow:
https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/what-is-this-thing-crawling-all-over-my-live-rock.309762/

that is a thread from a business that makes its money shipping group B skip cycle rocks across the country. when you get these, you do not add ammonia ever, you try and prevent them from producing their own ammonia from shipping stress.

*the hallmark of group B rocks is that the living growths and pigments take longer than bacteria do to adhere as colonies on the rock surface exposed to the currents. Any rock that has accreted organisms is full up completely on filtration bacteria... these communities deposit on marine substrates in a sequential order always. Bacteria first, and last, given no meds dosed.

Applying raw ammonia to group B rock is counterproductive, it's stressing animals we were charged top dollar for, to verify a group of organisms we can already see are there plain as day.


Group B rock we handle like a living organism, it's a collection of them indeed. Do we add raw ammonia to a bag of fish while we float them in the tank to equalize temperature?


One can forego the entire wait time of biological cycling by using coralline covered rock or coralline spotted rock and caribsea wet pack sand and transporting it home in a reasonable way. From this fact, we can move tanks between homes or cities without a cycle (how all marine convention tanks are set up) and we can make upgrades and downgrades without a cycle



Do people who set up aquariums at massive aquarium conventions show up three weeks before the event to cycle?

No, they skip the cycle and house twenty thousand dollars of bounce mushrooms just fine.



We aren't advocating rushing, we advocate being exact in your cycle based on the substrate you paid for, the microbiology at hand, and not adding ammonia to living organisms when ammonia articles say it stresses them.


**Begin to trust your nose for ammonia verification, its exacting.

You can smell anything that produces a sustained .5 ppm of ammonia, so be instantly skeptical when you read in a cycling thread of someone's claimed 8 ppm levels/sustained. Their lady would boot them out. If it was a woman cycling at 8 ppm, the man would kick her out. Ammonia stinks, and sustained ammonia sources stink, always. You can use human smell to validate certain claimed levels of ammonia and to identify their source.












The actions the reefer takes when dealing with type A or B rocks are polar opposite, what we do to cycle live rock is opposite of what we do to cycle dry rock.


Once the bacteria are established on rocks, only meds or extremes will kill them * not ever moving between aquariums* and this sets the stage for our unique cycling thread here and why starting a tank with live rock and sand is very different than starting with dry substrates. Keep in mind that when you move live rocks between tanks using any reasonable preservation method, say an old tank vs a new one, or your pet store back home to you, your bacteria doesn't die, it actually stands to get a boost (if dieoff occurs this is feed)

You can only kill the live rock bacteria by introducing it to any extreme such as temp, desiccation or true drying, and meds, and it takes something that pronounced to kill them. nothing we do practically in tank work kills them, now we begin to trust bacteria and see them as the strongest group of animals we keep...not the weakest.

*of any life form in your tank at any time, bacteria as a community are the toughest and most resilient and adaptive to any change, any cycling thread needs this opening frame of reference.

How Many Parameters must we know to Cycle a marine aquarium:




Here are some links that reinforce the ability to kick nitrite and nitrate testing out of cycling, altogether.

Someone I respect greatly remarks on single point testing (not needing nitrate or nitrite testing in cycling) here:
http://reef2reef.com/threads/nitrates-disappeared-mid-cycle.251059/


This link literally says quit testing for nitrite, the great time waster
http://reef2reef.com/threads/nitrite-spike-in-qt.252455/

Post#8, persistent false nitrite reading from a non-api kit, a high quality kit:
http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2604106

any of the tanks from above would have been an "extended cycle" thread if we based the cycle completion upon debatable low level sustained nitrite readings. In this thread, we'll ignore nitrite readings, since nitrite follows ammonia digestion per all online cycling charts.

Changing the way you see cycle testing is the first step in becoming an efficient tank cycler.
 
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brandon429

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Transporting group B rocks home, or across town, or among tanks in your house, or from your pet store, or to a MACNA convention, all the same:


Live rock (group B) is typically sold wrapped in wet newspaper or in a styrofoam box with no water for ease of transport after you buy it out of the stock tank above.
IMG_20160111_182149237.jpg

They may stack a few pounds in empty fishbags. Lfs will not typically bag your LR underwater unless you provide the buckets or request them individually in fish bags with water. Merely opting for that step alone, keeping the live rock underwater for the trip home, changes your cycle dramatically and is preferable to any emersed transport although I transport mine without water and have no cycle. Since wild things happen on the web (you're all wielding API ammonia kits in the background/admit it) we'll control that variable.

Whether or not the transfer and the tank water differ in pH, temp, specific gravity does not matter within reason. Calcium, alk, magnesium levels of different tanks will not recycle live rock.





Packing live rock in newspaper or in empty bags is done in the industry because it is known that emersion is on the spectrum all but the most sponge covered live rock will tolerate for short periods. Its so reliable that it is the go to method for most shippers and lfs, and the rock typically moves tanks while not losing its life. limited air exposure to group b rocks isn't harmful like once thought. People who upgrade tanks, build emergency QT or frag tanks, move tanks to a new home, or set up at a convention appreciate the science of skipping the marine aquarium cycle.

Small amounts of ammonia may leak from live rock transported like this and placed in your new tank, but not because bacteria were killed off. It takes medication or true dessication to kill them, simple dieoff within live rock may produce small level ammonia and that subsides quickly if the reading for ammonia is accurate and low level.
The trip home did not sterilize or remove the mass bacteria from the rock, even if brought home with no water, true desiccation can take days. Any ammonia present would be from loss of higher order animals + decay time, that's pretty rough handling for live rock. Transporting it submerged works every time



***case review, on a seemingly stuck cycle system that was not stuck, it was ready to go
https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/cycling-not-progressing.588336/
*in that link we see testing issues and very common ammonia levels reported, low level readings vs changing readings on ammonia, visual ID of live rock animals, and cycle assessment solely off pics.


we don't spike ammonia to test Group B rocks, the benthics means it ready. You do the opposite, you use verified ammonia test kit(s) to see if those group B rocks are leaking ammonia, then you change water a lot or add things to bind ammonia if they are, so that a death cascade of your benthics doesn't continue. Continually in this thread see that we are treating Group B and Group A rocks oppositely regarding ammonia


There is polar opposite treatments between group A and group B rocks with respect to ammonia being spiked or stopped so you can begin reefing

There is no time we use shrimp cycling for live rock systems, ideally. They do however tolerate it just fine when we do anyway, and often oxidize all the ammonia produced such that it seems a cycle stalled but in fact its proof of a precycle, the opposite of the bacteria being dead or unestablished.
http://reef2reef.com/threads/week-2-tank-still-not-cycling.213996/


****want to see an example of a skip-cycle/instant reef setup using group B rock transfer, sps and lps?
https://www.nano-reef.com/featured/2019/theropes-3gal-pico-reef-bowl/






When transported live rocks leak ammonia and its verified with an accurate test kit, you begin water changes like CPR that prevent ammonia toxicity from wiping out your motile animals and reducing your animal inclusions back to only bacteria. Don't retro scale your tank...keep shrimp rot and free ammonia out of group B tanks.


Group A tanks need ammonia to meet the time demands we expect (and for a different thread, they will cycle in time anyway even if you add no ammonia, because trace ammonia gets in daily) see this post from Morangus on class A rock cycling its an ideal example:

http://reef2reef.com/threads/cycle-question.213966/page-2
 
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Tahoe61

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Very nice Brandon.

Boy this thread takes me way back.
 
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brandon429

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Our digestion test below measures the ability of a system to process raw ammonia ( it measures the ammonia going away, not the next-step metabolites because they are a given and we don't care about nitrite or nitrate here they both follow timeframes we don't have to measure, it never fails )

just because your accurate testing reflects ammonia digestion in a given tank doesn't mean you have a cycled tank... as bottle bac dumped into the tank makes the water the source of the work for a while and not the surfaces which have only been underwater a few days. Testing is not as important as known submersion timeframes are for tank cycling for this very reason.

The key to having reliable readings on a digestion test is not to use API ammonia as the sole source of info... skip to testless cycling below if that's the case.

if you have salifert ammonia, or API + another test kit brand to compare two readings, then the digest test tells if a given set of rocks is ready to be a filter:


Digestion Test
this calculator below takes your % ammonium chloride solution and # gallons to tell you how much AC to add to get a given parts per million reading without having to test for ammonia:

http://www.fishforums.net/aquarium-calculator.htm

follow that calc and make your tank of water 1 or 2 ppm ammonia.
Use high quality ammonia test kits in 24 hours to see if zero.

If your verified ammonia testing reads zero in 24 hours, and your intended cycle surfaces have been underwater at minimum two weeks before passing this test and you have not added bottle bac in two weeks, you can proceed as a speed-cycled tank. 30 days is a safer time zone for submersion allowance if you have that time.


If someone needs to cycle without using testing at all, even ammonia, in a group A rock system:




Fill tank with saltwater, rinsed sand that cannot cloud, rocks, and set temps and circulation...leave lights off ideally.

add bottle bac per dose instructions on bottle while boosting ammonia to 1-2 ppm use the included calculator for ammonium chloride

let this all run for two weeks do nothing, test for nothing.

Hit the system with same amnt liquid ammonia and more bottle bac after the first two weeks elapses. Guesstimate, not a big deal at this phase, just add some we are going to wait two more weeks.

at the end of four weeks, change out all your nitrate water or polyfilter the water back to nitrate free since we don't want your new corals and tank lighting running a high nitrate new system (algae). begin reefing after that water table has been reset... your critical surfaces are now coated in filter bacteria because we did 30 days with two boosts.










Bacteria are that predictable~
Knowing this makes cycling easier and under your command. We test for ammonia to reach completion dates before 30 days if you are in a rush...if you aren't in a rush to be done quicker than 30 days then no testing is required just a water reset at the end of your boost cycle




We don't need nitrite testing because every cycling graph online shows nitrite complying within a month or so, when ammonia complies, and we have chemistry references in following posts showing it nonharmful the whole time anyway.



Sources for ammonium chloride:
http://store.drtimsaquatics.com/Ammonium-Chloride-Solution-for-Fishless-Cycling_p_190.html

Or this is the same from grocery store (shake bottle, no foam at top or don't use, check that it has no surfactants that cause bubbling)
image.jpeg




*most people are using caribsea live wet sand, which has bacteria in it because it was sent to you wet... so your digestion test intended for rock assessment is likely already skewed by the ability of the sand. we always revert back to actual submersion times for materials in question... your sand was already cycled but the rock wasn't, allow 30 days if you can and the rock will be ready too.



https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/qt-cycle-sky-high-nitrates.331318/#post-4123678
In this example thread, we corralled a coral cycle by factoring only what ammonia does, and by factoring known submersion times. The aquarist had been submerged plenty of time, and resetting the water table+ new digest test simply makes this cycle behave now. knowing we don't need to factor the nitrite portion, due to submersion times and ammonia ties, we can disregard the low level reading.

https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/little-cycle-help.495735/#post-5316566
There is another. Simple. Within 30 days of using bottle bac and some ammonia, change the water out and begin with a light entry bioload. If you must test to prove cycle is completed, then it's an ammonia test and only after we met the submersion time




.
 
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https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/qt-and-biofilm.292878/page-2


that thread above has tenets regarding the true nature of bacteria in our tanks be sure and read it


we cannot remove nitrifiers and the heterotrophic bacteria they complex with on our filtration surfaces through any easy means--which is why you can move live rocks home from a store and not lose the bac. or ship them and not lose the bac, live rock stays able to filter until you do insane things to it, and in that thread even bleach wont work well to remove them, says a doctor of fisheries.

our cycling thread here is about the tough, predictable and reliable nature of bacteria so these two posts are strongly linked though different subject matter.


This thread has good data on salinity ranges our bacteria will accept
https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/can-nitrifying-bacteria-survive-changes-in-specific-gravity.300396/
 
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brandon429

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why did you put a reef in that
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Rocks that exceed the visual ID requirements for group B, uncured marine rock, and how they cycle oppositely of what we'd assume:

http://reef2reef.com/threads/nano-reefer-from-tx-help-me-id.215869/#post-2475140

repasted w perm. from ismaellobato


*this is how his rock came, not what he added to the rock. its loaded such that its prob the nicest starting reef rock Ive seen. rare to get uncured items that are not in a state of decay, we have to behave oppositely here to hopefully keep them alive.

This thread above is a prime example of a third class of rocks, not common but ever present an option for the new tank cycler. Uncured rocks in this case means came from the living ocean, not cured down to what an aquarium maintains long term, dieoff is likely since we don't feed well enough to support this array of benthics. high points:

-again, no bacterial support is needed, there is coralline and more.
what bacteria they bring in is vastly more diverse and ammonia hungry than what we will ever get from a bottle or from a mature reef tank, the bacterial diversity is ideal and highest here, and will begin to streamline in time down to what a tank keeps.

But this rock above has benthic animals some beyond ID ability, bottom living creatures, adapted to true ocean life. As soon as they are in our tanks they are starving, missing 99% of the complement that floated by them in the ocean for the taking. Add to that chemistry changes being shipped among retailers, and we can see that uncured live rock may likely emit ammonia for a while when added to our tanks, via loss of benthics, and never ever due to lack of bacteria.

For this group of rocks, you actually begin changing water immediately and remedying ammonia any way possible so there is never a detectable trace in the system, recap:

Group A rocks either need more time in system to develop benthic animals that always indicate nitrifier presence, or they must be digest tested to know if they're ready.

Group B rocks show up with full bacteria and do not need us to add more, although a bunch of redundant ammonia additions wont kill it.

Interim rocks, or uncured rocks with clear life forms moving, swaying, making them beyond group B live quality are likely to self generate ammonia if dieoff occurs, and we need to begin stopping that or arresting it

we've paid top dollar for this rock (this poster above gets about $100 of free corals too) and ammonia will cause a death cascade, it comes with more bacteria than we could ever attain after years in a reef tank. this rocks cycles opposite of group A rocks.

*****look at the video in this link of uncured, live ocean rock he got with zoanthids, unnamed inverts waving, 100% coralline coverage, and more bacterial diversity instantly input into his tank than the finest array of bottle dosers


http://reef2reef.com/threads/fresh-liverock-shedding-how-would-you-remove-detritus.243176/#post-2853105


This video above is example of rock you must not cycle. You literally skip cycle this rock by design, by constantly removing the detritus pumped out via water changes and hand guiding/cleaning as needed, permitting no ammonia whatsoever
How different is that than group A rocks? It's literally opposite

All due to the life shown in that short clear video.


Rocks factor into Group A or B or uncured here because that's the three types of rocks we typically get in reefing

Only group A rocks get raw ammonia, the others get opposite, zero free ammonia

example of uncured rock preservation.
https://www.nano-reef.com/forums/topic/384273-boris-12g-first-salt/
 
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Harold Green

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I was saying pretty much the same thing this morning. Three kinds of rock. There's dry, needing to be cured or already cured, fresh. Over the last ten years I've used fresh entirely with little or no cycling. I gradually add bio-load allowing the system time to catch up between additions. Here's a 54g that's one week old that I just set up using dry base rock and fresh live rock. While the tank matures I add pyto or other coral foods daily to keep the clams, sponges, corals, feather worms all alive and rarely see any ammonia at all.
corner tank .jpg
 

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Cycling is over rated! lol unless your starting a tank with everything dead. Dead rock, sand, etc. Then do a full cycle.
 
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brandon429

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Good points above. Good pic example too

I feel we've basically incorrectly cycled every tank that was using live rock lol much to no harm, but we also need a balance point between total reef anarchy heh and worrisome extended cycling by guess and constant .25

By early identifying your rock as group A,B or uncured you have a clear direction and endpoint which is repeatable, a true start point until you add your first frags.

When there's coralline and living indicators you suppress ammonia not spike it, and when there's not coralline or indicators you can spike ammonia and/or digestion test to find out.
**Free ammonia is counterproductive to diverse life on the rocks we've paid top dollar for and are trying to preserve. Since there is biological order to the establishment of benthic animals on live rock, bacteria came first, we can infer the presence of bacteria through visual cues excluding atypical use of meds for obvious reasons. The reliability of visual cues like coralline, live worms, snails, plants, pods, tiny fanworms, in aquarium cycling literally tells you what direction to take when you see those cues. We take a no ammonia direction.



When you use any reef test kit that is not a calibrated probe reading digital display, checked against another calibrated tool *before* you make changes to the tank chasing params, you are just taking guess readings that are not what the calibrated probe would read the vast majority of readings. the misreads outweigh the accurate ones by a margin of 8 to 2, someone test it if needed and post back.
see here, actual lab verification that titration tests are in dispute. A bunch of people with ranging color chart perception are stressing over elevated magnesium and not a thing indicates their readings to be true.

http://reef2reef.com/threads/magnesium-super-high-in-newly-mixed-saltwater-is-it-safe-to-use.252382/page-4
 
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Harold Green

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Back in the 70's starting a marine tank was pretty much a simple routine. Crushed coral over an undergravel filter. You poured in a vial of bacteria and added a damsel or pair of black mollies. Today we have a much improved list of ways to start a tank. The problem is there are so many successful ways that most beginners are totally lost. The most basic method is to add an ammonia source to a tank of dead rock and allow it to cycle for six to eight weeks. Trouble is most people want to fill up the tank and add animals not realizing that even if the tank cycles rapidly the water itself may not be suitable for fish yet. Until you have the experience the slower methods are less likely to fail and kill all your livestock.
 
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brandon429

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I might request a little clarity on the water part above, but agreed on not adding fish and other motile animals too fast, make sure you know your ammonia status first.





The mention of the water aging does have merit, aged sw has millions of nitrifiers in it, it is indeed helpful in nitrification (but we find it not a breakpoint). It is commonly said in forums that bacteria are only on the surfaces not the water, but its not the case, contamination and association with other nonfiltration bacteria have them floc'd everywhere. If the details matter, the reason we are getting by with full changes of otherwise filtration-helpful water is because we don't spike the initial bioloading of any new tank (fish). that was a good point to bring up and discuss I think .
 
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Harold Green

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It's hard to suggest people wait for two months. I said that a while back and another aquarist insisted he cycled his tank in two weeks or less and fully stocked it at that time and it's doing well. I wasn't able to get the point across to him that for new hobbyists it's much safer to allow time for the tank to mature before stocking and ramping up the bio load slowly. What we do in our tanks may be next to impossible for beginning hobbyists no matter how much information we give.
 
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brandon429

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How live sand carries your cycling risk when cleaning, transferring tanks:

we have been taught for 20 yrs to not clean sandbeds, so most don't (as usual, Im opposite. mine is clean all the time, fully, and has zero waste=fully hands on)
usual stored-up sandbeds continually take on waste in the form of half-rotted detritus and proteins and various degrading bits and practice a hands-off reefing mode out of fear of disturbance, many a tank has been impacted by the partial disturbance of a deep sand bed, one that was also allowed to store waste cumulatively.
Detritus pockets are potential ammonia pockets and if those get disturbed and not removed then an ammonia event can occur during maintenance or tank moves. detritus is always the source for the ammonia if all higher animals are accounted for and we are using good source water.

Contrast that risk of sandbed work to live rock taken care of, not plugged up with detritus.. established live rock can move from one tank to another in your home, no cycle.


Before tank work, plan and visualize how to isolate your delicates from pockets of waste and how to rid the tank fully of these waste storage areas as well as prevent the buildup differently in the future, be deliberate.
 
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Here's a question I don't have an answer for. Will marine fish flourish in a sterile tank? Just fresh seawater with zero ammonia, zero nitrite, zero nitrate. Do the fish require more? Things like plankton, a variety of foods, an interesting and stable environment to live in. Somewhere between the sterile tank and an old aged tank there is a point where fish do more than just survive. We need to make every effort to provide that environment rather than try to keep fish alive in a desert. I think many new hobbyists have the impression that if you complete a nitrogen cycle that's all that's required to keep marine fish and too many experienced hobbyists reinforce this view. Let's hear from the ones who have kept a group of fish for more than five years without a loss and whether they feel it takes more than a sterile tank to accomplish this.
 
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brandon429

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Our scope here is ammonia control and earliest possible start dates that will keep animals alive, helpful in emergency moves or upgrades as well, bacteria specific testing. I highly agree that the majority of rushed reef tanks will fail from other factors, no need for speed but meeting a legit demand for it is ok as well. agreed, don't rush unless you have to, salinity spikes alone can kill a new reef low on practice.
 
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brandon429

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I want to link a few upcoming threads that have the rock type identification details we use to predict cycling phase, what items prove live rock has full bacteria in tow not requiring further human intervention:

http://reef2reef.com/threads/live-rock-critter-ids-and-cycling-a-new-tank.217435/


Regarding this tank above and looking at the detailed pictures, would the keeper spike ammonia here? What if they didn't spike ammonia, will the bacteria begin to die?
 
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Summary


1. Group A rocks
unverified gray rock with no benthic indicators, a digestion test indicates ability to act as a nitrifying filter. Can spike ammonia, nothing on the rocks the spike would kill. bottle bac and cleaning ammonia appropriate. Treat until can digest 2-4 ppm ammonia in 24 hrs using undisputed quality marine tank ammonia test kit, salifert for example.


2. Group B rocks
known verified aged rock, coralline + or other life means don't spike ammonia, keep it zero and feed the life forms

3. blended tank. partial live, partial dead rock awaiting cycle added same time. Wait for the group A part to catch up naturally, can't spike ammonia in the blended tank due to the group B portion. The group B portion can carry the entire bioload even though the majority of the rocks are group A. bottle bac was added here.
blended tank example:

4. uncured rock
so packed with life your tank isn't likely to handle in terms of feed or other variables, likely to produce ammonia not from lack of bacteria but by overwhelming the bacteria in this dieoff adjustment. All ammonia production is assumed and prevented using any method that stops ammonia loss cascade of the rare animals on the uncured rock
 
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*nitrites aren't mentioned here...next page has nitrite details. We don't use nitrite details here because it is not required in tank cycling either group of rocks.

Not needed to know, even in group A rock cycling~

Not having to care about nitrite just removed 1/3 of your cycling woes.

How many graphs for tank cycling on google images show nitrite persisting past 40 days

And that's all for group A rock ****in no way do any of the charts apply to group B rocks***

To me that's why we should group rocks for discussion. Those graphs are understood by many to be what occurs when you put any live rock in the tank, even group b rocks transported underwater and the entire basis of this thread is the distinction between the two groups, and the cycling actions taken.
 
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