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Three Questions About Cycling

Discussion in 'Cycle your Tank' started by DeanoL83, Jul 10, 2016.

  1. DeanoL83

    DeanoL83 Member

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    Hi guys,

    Have a few random questions about cycling - particularly seeding a new tank - to try and help me understand the process better.

    1) can you use fish food to cycle a tank or help in the process? As it rots it would cause Ammonia which in turn would kick start the process of creating good bacteria wouldn't it????

    2) if you can mature filter media from another tank to 'instantly cycle' a new tank does it need to go in the filter or can you just place it somewhere in the tank? Placing it directly into the tank would still provide beneficial bacteria wouldn't it? Just asking in the instance that the mature media is too big for a smaller filter in a new tank.

    3) will plants struggle in an uncycled tank as there is no Ammonia and nitrates for them to use? As in, if the Ammonia levels are too low during the cycling process will they struggle?


    Finally, if I was to use a combination of all three - fish food, mature media in tank and live plants would that mean the cycling process would be much shorter?

    Well guess I actually had four questions. Lol.

    Thanks to anyone who can provide some answers. Just keen to get my head around how it all works.

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  2. fluttermoth

    fluttermoth The current Mrs Treguard ;)
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    Modern fish foods are specially formulated NOT yo produce ammonia so, quite apart from having rotting food all over your tank, it won't produce enough ammonia for a proper cycle.
     
    No, mature media needs to go into the filter, as the bacteria do best where it's dark and there is a high flow. If you get given too much, just cut it up, if it's sponges, or use less of it, if it's ceramic rings.
     
    Plants don't 'need' ammonia, although they will utilise a small amount as food if it''s there. Plants main food is nitrate which is present in most domestic water supplies.

     
    If you use mature filter media, then the best way is to put that in your filter and add a small amount of ammonia (just enough to get your tank up to 1 or 2ppm), last thing at night, and test first thing in the morning to see if it's gone. If you really can't get hold of household ammonia (I know it's very difficult/impossible to source in Australia!), then use the fish food or, even better, a prawn from the supermarket, but put it in a bucket, let it decompose, then use that water to add to your tank.
     
  3. DeanoL83

    DeanoL83 Member

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    Thanks for the reply. I've tried to find Ammonia but can't find any at all. I will see if I can get a prawn, if not I'll try the food.

    The reason I was asking about the media floating in the tank was because I was planning on using a sponge filter so can't really add the media into that. But I do have a small internal filter I could use instead.

    I will probably cut up some of the sponge filter and use that. I could also take some gravel and an ornament from my four foot tank. My understanding is that there would be some beneficial bacteria in they gravel and on the ornament.

    I have read of some people squeezing their mature media into tank water and using that to seed a new tank, would this method mean the new bacteria would add to a sponge filter or internal filter?

    So, small piece of mature media + substrate + ornament + live floating plants + fish food will hopefully have it cycled pretty quickly if not immediately I'm thinking. Will ofcourse test for Ammonia and Nitrite before adding fish

    Wanting to use this tank as a fry grow out tank for 'teenagers' so would probably have say 8 juvie swords in there to start with, hopefully will have enough bacteria for that.

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  4. StevenF

    StevenF Member

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    All food is made from plants, animals, bacteria, or algae.  And all of thee require nitrogen to live.  IN fact it is a key part of all DNA.  So all fish food will produce ammonia when it rots.  NO exceptions!
     
    The best place to put bacteria is in the filter.  However the bacteria can be placed anywhere in the tank.  Once the tank is cycled the bacteria will be everywhere in the tank and hopefully the highest concentration will be in the filter.  So it doesn't mater where you put it.
     
    Bacteria need about a dozen elements to grow in addition to the nitrogen and hydrogen in the ammonia.  So doing all three is not a guarenty the cycing will proceed quickly.  Although I haven't tried it I suspect the best way to insure cycling goes quickly is to put a complete plant such as  Flourish comprehensive in the water with the ammonia.  That will insure the bacteria have most of what they need.  If you are using distrilled or RO water with only ammonia it will not cycle at all.  
     
    I have een ammonia chloride sold in fiish stores for cycling.  I have no experence with it but it can be easily ordered on line http://store.drtimsaquatics.com/Ammonium-Chloride-Solution-for-Fishless-Cycling_p_190.html.  It should smell a lot better than a tank with rotting food.   Note extend the cycle a few days after the cycling appears to be complete to insure the bacteria is well estrablished before adding fish.  Rushing things can cause problems.
     
  5. StevenF

    StevenF Member

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    Yes plants may struggle depending on how many nutrients are in the water,.  ghd zmount of light or CO2 may alo affect them.  However if all the nutrients are there they will consume the ammonia .  You don't want the plants and bacteria to compete against each other for food..  I would strongly advise that you cycle the aquarium without plants.  
     
  6. DeanoL83

    DeanoL83 Member

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    Thanks for the reply StevenF. It's very hard to get any Ammonia sources to fishless cycle in Australia, hence why I was asking about the use of fish food to cycle.

    I have seachem flourish comprehensive so I will use some of that with fish food and see how it goes.

    Will add a bit of mature media into the tank and an ornament and some gravel to hopefully help it.


    Just a question about your recommendation not to add plants. I just want to get my head around the reasons for that. I would assume that adding plants would mean I could add fish a little earlier as they would help suck up Ammonia etc.

    But are you saying that this leads to a false assumption that there is enough nitrifying bacteria? As in, if plants are used then the tank is stocked, if the plants are removed for some reasons or die, there may not be enough bacteria in the tank to cope with the fish load??? Is that the only reason why you suggest not having plants while cycling?

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  7. fluttermoth

    fluttermoth The current Mrs Treguard ;)
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    If you have an already cycled tank, then you don't really need to do a fishless cycle; just fill you small filter up with mature media, and you're ready to stock with a SMALL amount of fish (roughly equal to the fishthe media was already supporting in your main tank; so if you had 20 guppies in your main tank, and you took a quarter of the media, your new tank could support four or five guppy sized fish.

    You must make sure you test frequently and be prepared to do some extra water change while the bacteria adapt to the new environment.

    If you especially want to use a sponge filter, then put the sponge in your main tank's filter for a couple of months and, again, you'd be cycled for a small amount of fish.

    The key to doing these sorts of 'instant cycles' is to use plenty of media, stock very lightly and slowly, and test as often as possible.
     
  8. StevenF

    StevenF Member

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    yes, those are reason I don't recommend cycling with plants.  The other reasons are that the ammonia levels needed for cycling may not be good for the plants.  Some sensitive varieties might die.  Also some people may have a hard time maintaining good plant growth in a new tank.  And if this problem occurs. ammonia could spike if the bacteria is not present.  
     
    Now that said some people have a lot of experience with plants and if they are confident that the plants will do well. sometimes they skip cycling and just plant the aquarium and then stock it.  And if you can maintain healthy plant growth for several months.  After month is it is unlikely you will ever have serious issues.  However it is very hard to judge someones skill levels on line so for that reason I always recommend cycling with ammonia first.  That is the safest lowest risk option.
     
     Note I also provided a link to Ammonia chloride which also can be used to cycle a tank.  I would assume that is available in Australia.  
     
    Note food will generate ammonia but generally not quickly.  Plant fertilizer with ammonia chloride is in my opinion the most likely to achieve a cycle quickly.  
     
    I would not do this.  One person did this and then lost several fish overnight.  In his case the bacterial feed very rapidly on fish waist and created a large bacterial bloom overnight.  Ammonia and nitrite shot up and then it was all over by the time he realized what was happening.  When he tested the water all he had was nitrate.  Ammonia and nitrite were already gone.  His tank cycled in less than 24 hours.  But cycling that fast is not always good.  
     
    Cycle the tank before you add the fish and they add at least a couple more days with ammonia to be sure the tank is ready before you drain, refill , and add fish.  
     
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  9. DeanoL83

    DeanoL83 Member

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    I would not do this.  One person did this and then lost several fish overnight.  In his case the bacterial feed very rapidly on fish waist and created a large bacterial bloom overnight.  Ammonia and nitrite shot up and then it was all over by the time he realized what was happening.  When he tested the water all he had was nitrate.  Ammonia and nitrite were already gone.  His tank cycled in less than 24 hours.  But cycling that fast is not always good.  
     
    Cycle the tank before you add the fish and they add at least a couple more days with ammonia to be sure the tank is ready before you drain, refill , and add fish.  
    Thanks for the advice Steven. I will look for some Ammonia chloride and see if that's available.

    Can i ask why is it important to drain and refill the tank before adding fish if it is cycled?

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  10. DeanoL83

    DeanoL83 Member

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    I've added fish food the past two days to try and boost Ammonia but now my water is cloudy. I know it would normally be a good idea to gravel vac the food to help remove the cloudiness but that would also prevent the Ammonia from building up wouldn't it?

    Now I'm definitely thinking I might just take some plants from my other tank and some gravel and ornaments to almost instantly cycle.

    I've read not to put fish in cloudy water because of oxygen issues but if I add a sponge filter or air stone would it be ok?

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  11. Gruntle

    Gruntle Member

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    Draining and refilling the tank eliminates the (very likely) high concentrations of nitrate which build through your cycle (ammonia - nitrite - nitrate). Although less harmful in the short term, high nitrates will cause health issues for your fish.
     

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