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- Dec 9, 2014
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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 challenge and highlight the bottle bac sales machine which is making thousands of dollars off unneeded bac sales, from people who read false claims about stalled cycles in the marine hobby.
Reef tank cycles don’t stall. they follow a predictable completion timeline set by the boosters applied to the system, and even systems you add no boosters to still self-cycle given enough environmental exposure time in a home (see all of the 1970's and 1980's in the hobby, delayed wait cycling)
Watch how many reefs we cycle in this thread, see if a single stall happens. A stall kills the first animals you add; it means the tank isn’t ready, the start was premature. if we pull off pages of successful tank starts, then no cycle stalled.
hesitation is non existent here, we have visual cues and measures for ammonia alone that determine the start date for all reef tanks.
you can cycle any aquarium (that requires cycling) without using test kits...because test kits err, people are trying to sell you bottle bac when you don’t need it, 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. today’s bottle bac strains move that time up to same day, with bioload:
I just started a new tank a little over a week ago. I started with all dry rock and new sand. I added a bottle of Bio-Spira and put fish and coral the same day. Never saw any ammonia and fish and coral seem healthy.
that doesnt mean all reefs should be one day setups, it means its possible because ammonia control is so consistent tank to tank (not variable, as non seneye ammonia readings would claim)
Do you see the interesting motile pods and creatures here below that are part of a new tank because purple coralline real live rock was used?
The rock you got is going to save you maybe 20+ new tank problems! Best of luck
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 nitrifier presence by seeing growths on live rock, like algae waving in the current or by an attached fan worm. If those organisms had time to attach, bacteria were fully ready first.
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. Watch as we turn out tanks for pages, never measuring for ammonia but applying what we already know it does
look at this cycle where non Seneye ammonia is stating its not cycled after 90 days
So, as of today, I've: Turned off the skimmer completely for a week (didn't realize that was a thing with bacteria additives) Filtered with carbon for a week ahead of time (turned off now) Pumped 15 gallons (20%) out of the tank Carefully sifted about 15 dead snails out of the sand bed Added 15...
Following the dated and old rules of 3 param testing to close a cycle is misleading thousands of cyclers by mistesting and it's over boosting bottle bac sales. That cycle above wasn’t stalled, not using seneye to test ammonia makes for false reads, on cycles that are fully completed.
*****here is how to use API, Red Sea or Salifert ammonia tests effectively when testing dry rocks, with ammonia:
using the kit to detect motion down, not zero, is the right way to use a tester. Not all will show zero but they’ll show color changes down in 24 hours
movement down in 24 hours from a more solid color to that above would be complete confirmation of ready start, remarking upon the action of the bottle bac even if it didn’t hit zero.
seneye shows us there is no zero so we shouldn’t ask it from a titration kit, though several from each brand have shown zero. It ranges, and movement down is better calibration for what we want to verify
All reefs at a marine aquarium convention like MACNA start on time for a reason, because reef cycles don’t stall.
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
you wouldn’t add bottle bac to live rock setups, you just paid extra for bacteria rocks.
When can I add fish?
***read this before adding any fish to your cycling reef*****
This thread will be linked to hundreds of new tank builds. I want a quick and concise link for tankers to read as they meet the choice crossroads of no fish disease protocols vs the best we have to offer in 2020 (fallow and quarantine, with aseptic transfer practice between tanks) We can see by...
Testing. no ten testers will report the same rating on a given sample, yet our entire concept of what bacteria do is based upon how we interpret ranging test kits, this should be shocking to readers.
I have a 3 months old 14 gallon nano tank with heavily stocked livestock. Two clown, one small hippo tang(getting new tank soon), one clown fish and few invertebrates. It is heavily stocked small tank but i strictly do maintenance everyday. I do maintenance by chaning filter every two days...
we only need to control ammonia to cycle, nitrite and nitrate do not have to be tested in updated cycling science.
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. Randy’s chem forum searches show us that Chloride presence in reef water neutralizes nitrite effects on fish, so we don’t factor it. That alone stops thousands of dollars of extra bottle bac purchases, to know we don’t care about nitrite in updated cycling science.
Why test for nitrate? Tests vary wildly, no two testers agree on a given sample, denitrification may be at work reducing the otherwise reading if live rock transfer occurred, 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. Thousands of matured reefs are testing zero nitrate, its not a condition related to cycling or cycle stalls.
Seneye feedback one day is going to do wonders to verify our claims regarding ammonia, the only param we care about on this thread.
*how many other cycling threads do you see where anyone debates the stated test 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.
These are the 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, fixing crashed tanks so you can skip the reuse cycle wait time
Tank Transfers and Rebuilds to recover from crashes
Due to corona my school was shut down and aquarium care was at a minimum. At the time I was an unpaid volunteer and just came by to feed the fish a couple times a week and refill a sump with DI water so it didn’t dry up. Turns out the facility manager was not doing water changes for an...
*****that above is one of my fav rebuild work links, our friends at the university take command over tanks nearly destroyed in Covid lockdown distress and snap them into shape, saving some corals and fish from loss! These setups are likely leaking ammonia animals die/ have died during loss cascades. The goal here is power rinsing, ejecting plugging waste from loss cycles, and we know the underlying biofilm will instantly handle the new reassembled reef; it will skip cycle because if live rocks are kept wet, filter bacteria remain even after an environmental insult
2. all dry materials, this gets the ammonia + bottle bac to cycle 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. dont add ammonia, burns the live portion. Give the set of rocks twenty days to coexist and theyll all share bacteria via water transfer:
EDIT: In conclusion, if using the method I did - connecting an established reef to a new system with dry rock (clean), I recommend the following: 1. Dose your new tank prior to connecting to your old tank with NO3 and PO4 enough to raise to your established tank levels. 2. Take your skimmer...
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
Hi, I have recently started a new tank (Reefer 250). I put carib sea life rock and live sand in it. After 5 days of no activity, I added a raw shrimp and let it rot for 4 - 5 days. Then I took it out. Now my measurements are No2 1 ppm and No3 100+ ppm. This has been like this for more than a...
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 don’t look for zero ammonia, it doesn’t run at zero in a reef tank.
What is related to cycling and what is not:
NO UGLIES PHASE ALLOWED
Cycling has nothing to do with letting green hair algae show up and you hope it goes away
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:
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.
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.
Before adding fish to your tank, study the Fish Disease thread here and read a few pages, make a plan for prevention before you start. The first three pages are often threads showing the impact of skipping disease prep protocols (fallow, QT)
A forum for discussing treatment and diagnosing saltwater reef fish.
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 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 and cannot fail to be cycled. Do not buy bottle bacteria because you think a cycle has stalled, they do not stall. if you want old school reliability wait 30 days and do a final water change, and start with the initial bioload. As you can see from my first link above, same day starts with dry rock and bioload also work due to increased power of bottled bacteria...which are great products for the initial dose to group A systems.
Visual cycling / things we can see is a recurring theme here... proofs where we can verify cycle completion without using test kits.
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
group B skip cycle rock macro shots, hitchhikers in tow:
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.
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. You can NOT starve a completed cycle by withholding fish food, that is a hobby falsehood.
*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.
Changing the way you see cycle testing is the first step in becoming an efficient tank cycler, free from retail influence over matters of microbiology you can likely wield free of charge. Watch our example set grow here, year after year.