The microbiology of reef tank cycling.

Discussion in 'New to Saltwater & Reef Aquariums? Post Here' started by brandon429, Sep 20, 2015.

  1. brandon429

    brandon429 why did you put a reef in that R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/thought-i-was-cycled-guess-im-not.341916/#post-4263611



    Something new for our cycle referencing and proofs thread. That is a low surface area setup. No sand. No rock quarantine tank using an external filter with siporax as the surface area media. Here's how I think that thread relates to ours

    Single parameter cycling. What does ammonia do after the known submersion period has passed vs other params, and has that mattered on previous pages, and do params other than ammonia matter here?


    *in our thread, we never assess a cycle off what the final wastewater numbers are, we change the water out and digest test at a custom level using salifert testing, relative to a tanks surface area varistion from norm. We test the opposite of metabolite laden wastewater, we test the clean palette to really see where a cycle has occurred or not

    We don't use API either

    Do we have to digest test at the stated two ppm levels in a tank using very low comparative surface area? No rocks or sand is mighty different than most. Worth considering.


    Another really interesting feature of this particular tank was that the sole nitrifying surface area was in the back chamber, in a baggie, not the same as display tank constant-contact ammonia water with live rocks and sand. For this setup that seems to be misbehaving above, their tank water swirls around up front a lot before portions of it reach the back, for nitrification, but we're testing and making assessments only off the front portions.


    All cycles behave the same relative to boosts and surface area at hand, in this case to get a classic-behaving cycle, we had to account for special arrangements. His surface area was active within 30 compared to normal setups. I suggested moving the siporax to another container and testing there, in closer confines.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018

  2. Debra Johnson

    Debra Johnson Member

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    Blast, I wish I'd found this post before I dosed my live, group B rock with ammonia. Can I suggest that this be pinned? The discussion on the different types of live rock (group A/B) vs dry rock and how best to cycle was very beneficial to this 'newbie'.
     
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  3. Instigate

    Instigate Valuable Member Build Thread Contributor

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    This, I wasted a lot of my red sea nitrate/nitrite test kit(and time) testing for nitrite while cycling my first few tanks...
     
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  4. brandon429

    brandon429 why did you put a reef in that R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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  5. brandon429

    brandon429 why did you put a reef in that R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/q...-and-the-bio-spira.365859/page-2#post-4524962



    Team right there we used the classic technique of group B/A rock verifications to place the cycle in the right context.

    his coralline is outstanding/with the advent of today's painted fake coralline items, we pressed a little further until some worms and a brittle star leg could be seen. don't burn me!!


    Here's another group B recycling arrest thread: https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/week-1-of-cycle-testing-results.365156/#post-4539868
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2018
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  6. brandon429

    brandon429 why did you put a reef in that R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    https://reefbuilders.com/2018/03/17/beginners-guide-to-cycling-a-saltwater-aquarium/


    Our thread has some issues with the order of operations listed in that article, for one it says that within a week to ten days after adding perfect live rock to your tank, you should get an ammonia and nitrite SPIKE


    This means that every tank at MACNA who moved over live rock to make a skip cycle display tank is just days before an ammonia crash, and we know that not to be the case.

    Im not nit-picking someone who wrote a nice article and earned a spot at reefbuilders, Im claiming that she means to state group A dry rocks follow that course, not the live rock she mentioned.

    Am only relating to why its important to differentiate between group A and group B rocks, and which ones get raw ammonia to them, by linking that study above.

    Live rock needs no help from us to keep its bacteria, we need only to keep it wet. It doesn't lose bacteria if we don't feed it; live rock IS an ammonia source for its bacteria even if you stop feeding it for five years, it NEVER loses its filtration bacteria if kept hydrated. it is impossible to have matured live rock without organic stores packed inside it which permanently fuel its bacteria as long as that rock holds together or until a true antibacterial step is taken. withholding ammonia or fish food is not anti bacterial.

    In post #144 above, I showed where some petco live rock actually had a free fish inside, while its usually just live worms and pods inside and on the rock we don't dose ammonia to known live rock which we can verify through more than one benthic organism we can actually see; and we can verify live/fake from the actual tank and verbal history known at the LFS. if adding ammonia for proof of digestion is a -must- given all these pages, then digest test at no more than half a ppm.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2018
  7. NY_Caveman

    NY_Caveman Man of Many Caves R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor

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    @brandon429

    If you were cycling a small amount of rock in a bucket or storing live B rock, would you cover it? Does it matter?

    For my specific case I am storing good, live B rock (coralline, worms, snails) with cured A shelf rock to allow all of the rock to mature. 0 Ammonia and 3ppm Nitrate (Red Sea, also API for Ammonia which is always 0 on both). Shelf rock curing was 2 months, it has been cycled for four weeks with the B rock, but the aquarium is not ready. I cover it to keep keep light out and evaporation down. Thoughts? Concerns?
     
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  8. brandon429

    brandon429 why did you put a reef in that R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    Guaranteed not to matter to bacteria, but some form of ventilation is ideal for the group B rocks living counterparts, so I’d vote vented in some way while still manually topped off. Online studies show nitrifers prefer the dark anyway, but no form of light variation here would affect the bacteria it’s the quality of the awaiting live rock we want to maximize
     
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  9. NY_Caveman

    NY_Caveman Man of Many Caves R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor

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    Thanks! I was getting a slight odor, not of death, but somewhat of a bitter smell. I have kept the lid ajar for a couple of days and it smells like the ocean again.
     
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  10. brandon429

    brandon429 why did you put a reef in that R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    They're respirers... all the micro benthic life we focused on much here for the group B

    The autotrophs who would -produce-oxygen for us (algae) have been largely peroxide blasted off by now...hand guided out to prevent algae early takeover, leaving mainly waste gas producers so that uncovering was cpr restoration.


    Your assessment really frames what we're looking at with live rock: a huge breathing apartment building on a tiny scale, that expels co2 and bits of methane or cousins... rule of aerobic metabolism byproducts.

    I'm really glad you mentioned a smell test! Waste gasses build up but with venting, restoration.

    Smell testing is a little known aquarist trick


    Would I sniff a brown palythoa rocks water? Likely not :)

    But where carefully crafted, smell assessment is just gold i used it routinely in developing the reefbowl.

    We mentioned in earlier pages how well olfaction beats ammonia testing with API for the .25 ~ it's neat you utilized scent elsewhere and to assess gas exchange for live rock bin, fantastic


    In this thread as a recurring theme we want to use non chemistry assessments to either cycle reefs or make live rock do our repeatable bidding, your posts are spot on for ways to measure impacts

    before and during use, live rock needs to waft ocean...it's a bio picture of your rock tenants health
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2018
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  11. stefanm

    stefanm Member

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    I've got a question(s) my tank is currently cycling, barebottom, diy rock and NSW, my first batch of NSW went in around 2 weeks back, I've had the lights on throughout this time.

    I finally filled the tank properly 3 days ago. As there aren't any LFS's that do saltwater even remotely close by, I had visited a saltwater specialist last Tuesday and was gifted a ball of chaeto which has a few pods, hence why I am running the lights, to keep the chaeto alive and developed a pod population.

    Today I added a prawn to be an ammonia source, yesterday I had added some filter bacteria also, the display also has some diatoms appearing now.

    I'll add, the rock has been in the tank for sometime in freshwater, I did have some algae appear, I ended up chlorinating the tank before I began adding saltwater, the chlorine had dissipated long before I dumped the freshwater out.

    So the algae had died off, I definitely didn't remove all of it when I drained the tank, so my assumption is the for off of algae would be also a source of ammonia.

    So what should be my next move, should I test for ammonia, I'm kind of in a hurry to get some fish as I live in the tropics and the weather is getting hot, I'll need some media for the qt tanks, which don't have a chiller, I'll be prophylactically treating and how long to leave the prawn to decompose? Should I add another one afterwards?
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2018
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  12. brandon429

    brandon429 why did you put a reef in that R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    nice, thanks for posting this will be quick to clear up need couple clarifiers

    are you able to use live ocean water here, or is it synthetic water you've made up. so far in your description, Im seeing literally all dry surfaces and was checking to see if your water is coming from the ocean which is awesome if so, and factors tremendously into your cycling time where substrates can handle the waste vs bacteria added in suspension.

    whatever the prawn degrades into, ammonia level-wise, wont matter. too high, or too low, if a shrimp degrades in the presence of bottle bac you added a couple times over 40 days, then after a water change and removal of the shrimp that aquarium will be able to pass a .5-1 ppm digest test, which is enough to get started if you used the typical amnts of sand and rock as surface area.

    we can cycle off submersion time frames, don't even need to know testing levels might be real handy here.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2018
  13. stefanm

    stefanm Member

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    Yes the water is straight from the ocean.
     
  14. brandon429

    brandon429 why did you put a reef in that R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    hey this is neat, we don't have one of those here, a live ocean water cycle.

    there is no more potent, varied or ideal addition you could be doing for that tank. that water alone will cycle the surfaces the shrimp is icing on cake.

    For the first time, we get to frame live ocean water as liquid live rock because it:
    -has pods and suspended worms and goodies depending on sample times
    -has plankton and a microbenthic food web in suspension
    -has bacteria humans have not classed yet
    -is aerobic, must never be kept sealed in its true live condition, produces ammonia lightly as metabolic waste from suspended animals and from life/death cycles of its microbes... this water 'breathes' and expels co2 as its apartment tenants are floating and not in a caco3 matrix house.

    you have the temp + thing working in your favor regarding cycling time completion.



    -live water can produce ammonia if sealed due to its potency of living, thriving proteins arranged as various animals and plants. samples vary in protein potency and as such the degredation risk ranges, but many of the boxed saltwater producers simply filter out the concerning materials or they've found tolerance levels/shipping/expiry times for the samples they do produce and ship.

    Whether or not you use a shrimp, if you put ocean water in that tank and let it sit 40 days then change out the water and refill, those surfaces will have picked up bacteria bigtime enough that you can change the water out and start fresh, and it will run a normal beginning bioload. Do have any extra filters like canisters or sumps or any other surface area supports in place, to pick up this excellent source of varied filtration and feed bacteria for the 40 day time

    no matter what we all buy as retail additives, it cannot compare to one single drop of what you are about to base your whole tank

    its likely cycled before 40 days, only water changes and digestion tests can tell but by day 40, absolutely cycled. any shrimp or bottled bac added is icing, and makes the day 40 for sure x 100. its already for sure if you added none, but add em lets thick that tank out with bac then change it clean and run it after about a month.

    **please take pics of the progress along the way and update it will be such a neat addition to the collection of variations in cycling.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2018
  15. stefanm

    stefanm Member

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    Thanks Brandon, I've just woken up, I'll take a video of the tank and sump later and post it, it'll be easier to explain what's going on and how the set up is.
     
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  16. stefanm

    stefanm Member

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    Video uploading....
     
  17. stefanm

    stefanm Member

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    So now it's day 17, the prawn is still rotting down, it's been in the tank for 4 days now, should I swap it?

    The water is getting cloudier, not sure if it's a bacterial bloom, algae or bits of prawn.

    I did check a LFS for an ammonia test kit, he only had API and it was way too expensive, especially as I'll barely need to use it (approx $25 after exchange rate conversion), If I do get one I'll get a local made one (approx less than $8), I'd probably be better off spending the money on some more filter media.
     
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  18. brandon429

    brandon429 why did you put a reef in that R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    Agreed we don’t need to test anything


    It’s ok to swap it out yep until day 40 and let a fresh one begin until that terminal cycle date comes, it still feeds things and won’t be as annoying / smell coming up like that current one will be. By the end of the wait, we can remove any of the shrimp, change out the water and begin with some corals and clean up crews, a normal light bioloading


    When it comes time to add fish, step introduce them over a few weeks this is safe for no ammonia testing at all vs a big addition all at once. Corals and shrimps and crabs first then fish slowly over he coming weeks after day 40, let the tank adjust a week or better to each fish. Testless cycling can be really handy and since we are in no rush quicker than 40 days it’s perfect for your build

    What tropical place are you! I spent sixty days on grand cayman in 96 I’d love to see a real reef again someday. The last time I saw a coral in the wild, 1996 july
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2018
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  19. stefanm

    stefanm Member

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    Ok, I changed the prawn/shrimp this morning, it was stinking, lol. At least the water doesn't smell, algae is growing slowly, but steady. I'm still not running any filter socks or the protein skimmer, the water appears to be more turbid.

    I did pick up a 100ml seachem stability this evening, I'll add that in three doses daily and have ordered from Amazon prime a 1 litre tub of seachem matrix.

    The matrix I have ordered because the initial fish will be in quarantine and prophylactically treated, starter corals will go in the display at the same time. I will try to keep the fish in quarantine for 12 weeks, in case any corals or inverts are carrying ich.

    I found a brittle star in the chaeto just now, not 100% sure, but I believe they're quite sensitive to water quality?

    I live in Goa, India, I've not dived the local reef as yet, I'm awaiting for my daughter to turn 8, then I'll take her for a dive, she'll definitely get hooked.
    Funny enough I've only dived once in a reef in Cyprus, also in July 1996! Absolutely loved it!

    The brittle star.

    IMG_20180326_000244.jpg
     
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  20. brandon429

    brandon429 why did you put a reef in that R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    Wonderful details

    Yes, ammonia toxicity must not be too bad due to the star~ no certain amount nor consistency of ammonia is required for your cycle, and any amount added just pumps up bacteria all the better. The new shrimp is hyper fueling bacteria stuck to every crevice of those rocks, moving fast yes.

    the chaeto and the water and all these wonderful sources of filter bacteria seed, this is just perfect for a cycling thread. You have group b water, ha! Never made that call before.

    I’m so glad to know you are in Goa this is wonderful to meet a new friend and gain new science contributions for our read, thanks much for your details and good work
     
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