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Cycling Questions

Discussion in 'New to the Hobby Questions and Answers' started by Yarkii, Apr 28, 2017.

  1. Yarkii

    Yarkii Fish Fanatic

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    Hello!

    I was hoping to get a little advice about my current fishless cycle. I'm up to Day 13, and it seems to be going faster than the cycle in the cycling guide on these forums. I've been following the advice there, except that I added some "ViviD" bacteria powder when I added Dose #1 of ammonia, plus I've got plants, driftwood, slate, and some tiny little hitch-hiking snails in there. I also added Flourish and Prime when first filling the tank. I haven't yet done a water change.

    I'll post the record of measurements & additions in the comments below. My most immediate question is: should I add another full dose of ammonia now, or a 'snack dose', or wait longer?

    I'd also like advice on whether to add further bacteria (there's most of the packet left), or even Dr Tim's One and Only, an unopened bottle of which I have sitting in my fridge? Should I add more Flourish for the plants? Are they going to die because they're in there during a cycle? Is algae good or bad from the perspective of the plants and my future livebearer fish?

    But mostly, should I add ammonia now?

    TIA

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  2. Yarkii

    Yarkii Fish Fanatic

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    Pre-cycling
    When I first started filling the tank, with just some minimal coral sand in it (Pisces Coral Sand from the display - I got most of it out but not all), plus appropriate doses of Prime & Flourish (for the one piece of drift wood with anubias & moss) the water parameters as per an API 5 in 1 test strip were:
    NO3 0
    NO2 0
    pH 6 - 6.5
    KH 40
    GH 0-30

    It stayed half full with an air pump (not the filter yet) & under lights (only during the day) for a couple of days until I managed to hook everything up, rinse & put in the sand, fill the rest of the tank & sump and turn everything on.

    DAY 0 - 15 APRIL 2017

    - 10kg of Classica Aragonite sand
    - 20kg of Pisces Coral Sand (it's 99.8% CaCO3).
    - Prime
    - Flourish

    Turned on the heater & sump filter pump.

    (N.B. I already regret using the Coral Sand, as it is extremely fine and the water is glowing white under the lights, plus it's way too white. I might scoop out as much of the white sand as I can, and replace it with more Classica Aragonite, or mix something darker in to it. Since I can't have catfish, I'm wondering whether to get a darker substrate with bigger pieces, if they'd sit on top of the sand, and if the aragonite will still do its GH-raising job from below it.)

    DAY 1 - 16 APRIL 2017
    1 day after turning everything on, the water parameters (test strip again) were:

    NO3 0
    NO2 0
    pH just shy of 7.0
    KH 40
    GH 30-60
    Temp: 24C

    The temperature wasn't rising much (24C), but according to the cycling guide on Tropical Fish Forums that's enough to start cycling, so I added:

    - approx 33mL of .02% ammonia
    - 'ViviD' (bacteria powder from Mentone Aquarium)

    Half an hour later the API Ammonia (test tube) test read 2-4 ppm ammonia.

    Eight hours later the water parameters (test strip) are:

    NO3 0
    NO2 0
    pH 7.0
    KH 80
    GH 60

    So the pH, KH & GH are all going up. I haven't put in any of the blue crystals that every single fish shop says to use. They raise the GH (but not the KH). I'm starting to wonder if that's why so many Melbourne fish stores caution against using aragonite; perhaps they're also using the blue crystals.

    DAY 2 - 17 APRIL 2017

    3:30pm:

    NO3 0
    NO2 0
    pH 7.0
    KH 80
    GH 120

    Bought driftwood & plants from Bunerong Aquarium:

    - 2 x driftwood with Anubias & Moss
    - 1 x driftwood no plant
    - 1 bunch long grass (?name?)
    - 1 bunch Elodea (hornwart?)
    - 1 bunch bamboo

    Bought plants from PetBarn Frankston:

    - 4 x Hairgrass

    Planted all of these. Plain driftwood in sump as I couldn't figure out where to put it in the tank. Too much wood?

    10:20pm:

    NO3 0
    NO2 0
    pH 7.0
    KH 80
    GH 180

    DAY 3 - 18 APRIL 2017

    Bought plants & driftwood from Petbarn Mentone:

    - 2 x Banana Lillies
    - 1 x dry M driftwood

    Planted lillies. Soaked wood in bucket first, with goldfish water conditioner & crystals, then put it in the sump.

    11pm:

    Temp 25C
    Ammonia 1ppm
    Nitrite 0
    pH 8 - 8.2
    KH 5 drops = 89.5
    GH 7 drops = 125

    But TEST STRIP different:
    NO3 0
    NO2 0
    pH 7.0
    KH 80+
    GH 180

    Not happy with different pH & GH readings from different tests! Was there not enough water in the pH test tube? PH 8 will be too high for my fish.

    DAY 4 - 19 APRIL 2017

    Temp 25C
    Ammonia 0.5 - 1.0 ppm
    Nitrite 0
    pH 7.8
    GH 8 drops = 143.2

    Seachem alerts measure Ammonia 0.5 & pH 7.4.

    DAY 5 - 20 APRIL 2017

    Temp 25C
    Ammonia 0.5 - 1.0
    Nitrite 0.25

    Dial in filter measures Ammonia 0.5 & pH 7.4.

    - Woo hoo! We have Nitrite!
    - Still unhappy with the teeny tiny particles of coral sand that are always floating up the tank.
    - Put in 2 x slate pieces purchased from Mentone Aquarium weeks ago. They've been in a bucket of water (with goldfish conditioner & crystals) for 1 - 2 days. I like the look. I'll buy more slate.

    DAY 7 - 22 APRIL 2017
    9pm

    Ammonia <=0.5
    Nitrite 2.0ppm (maybe more?)
    5 in 1 strip Nitrite 3.0

    pH 8.0
    Seachem alert pH 7.4
    5 in 1 strip pH 7.5

    GH 8 drops = 143.2
    5 in 1 strip GH = 120+ (dropping?)

    5 in 1 strip KH = 40?

    DAY 8 - 23 APRIL 2017

    1pm (just before lights on)
    pH 8.0

    Also noted various algae types on driftwood (fluffy off-white, on driftwood from Aquariums Plus Pets in Bentleigh), and on plants (brown on bamboo leaves on top near lights; white specs on anubia leaves on same piece of driftwood; discolouration (yellow, black/brown, dry corners) of anubia leaves & banana lily leaves; 'melting' of banana lily leaves).

    N.B. Lights set for 8 hrs per day (both white & RGB+blue) past two days, but were 10 - 11 hours per day prior to that.

    11:45pm (1-2 hr after lights out)
    pH = 7.8
    Ammonia = 0
    Nitrite = 2.0+
    Nitrate = 10 - 20 ppm

    As per Fish Forums cycling instructions, added DOSE #2 AMMONIA 33mL (might have been a little more).

    I am very tempted to put in the Dr Tims One & Only bacteria, just because I have it, but I won't. Will see what happens next.

    Half hour after adding DOSE #2:
    Ammonia = approx 2.0ppm. (Is it meant to be 3.0 that quickly? Put ammonia in the sump, but tested the tank water. Could that be why it was 'only' 2.0 instead of 3.0?)

    DAY 9 - 24 APRIL 2017
    2pm (14 hours after Dose #2)
    Ammonia 1.0ppm
    Nitrite 2.0ppm

    DAY 11 - 26 APRIL 2017
    4pm
    Ammonia 0.25
    Nitrite 2.0+
    Nitrate 20+
    pH 8.2 (but Seachem alert says 7.4)
    GH 9 drops = 161.1
    KH 6 drops = 107.4

    DAY 13 - 28 APRIL 2017

    9:30pm
    Ammonia 0
    Nitrite 2.0
    Nitrate 40+
    Seachem pH alert 7.4
    Temp 24C+

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  3. DutchMuch

    DutchMuch Fish Addict

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    nice specs :nod:
     
  4. Yarkii

    Yarkii Fish Fanatic

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    Thanks DutchMuch.

    I really want to plot it all on a graph, but just don't have the time to go that far right now.

    I think I might just throw in an ammonia 'snack'.

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  5. DutchMuch

    DutchMuch Fish Addict

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    idk what that is but good idea lol
     
  6. Yarkii

    Yarkii Fish Fanatic

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    Just a smaller dose of ammonia (1/3 of the original dose that was calculated to bring the ammonia concentration of the full tank up to 3ppm). This is as per the cycling guide elsewhere in these forums.

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  7. DutchMuch

    DutchMuch Fish Addict

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  8. Baker

    Baker Fish Fanatic

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    Hi yarkii, just wanted to chime in with a few basics when it comes to cycling that often get overlooked:
    1 - when adding prime and flourish just be aware that there are components inside of prime that while active, can cause some of the micro nutrients in flourish to become inert. It's best to wait 24 hours after dosing prime before adding flourish to your water column to get the full effect. If you read the back of the bottles it should go a little more in depth about the effects of mixing both compounds within a certain amount of time.
    2 - as for the ammonia, in my opinion it's really not necessary to continue dosing pure ammonia, as once you introduce ammonia to the ecosystem it will stay in the water column until your colony of beneficial bacteria have reached carrying capacity. It's highly unlikely that your permanent fish residents will consistently produce up to 3ppm ammonia, thus, after the fish are introduced, the BB will likely die off anyway due to less waste load.
    3 - as far as the plants are concerned, the best possible time to add plants is during the cycling process as they will uptake many of the metals and micronutrients from your tap water as well as the frets you are adding. Furthermore, depending on how densely planted your aquarium is, the plants are certainly helping with the cycling process, they are partially responsible for removing ammonia and even nitrates
    4 - algae, while considered unsightly by many, is nothing but beneficial for an aquarium, just like plants they help filter the water of toxins as well as metals and things like that in your tap water.
    5 - if your aquarium is moderately to densely planted, you can consider your aquarium cycled as long as you don't overload it with fish too quickly. Once you notice growth from your plants, or algae beginning to appear you will know that your aquarium is safe for fish. Most people don't realize that the growth they see in heir plants is directly related to their ability to consume toxins like ammonia. If you think about it, a plant that has grown 2 inches since being introduced has in essence, converted that much "waste" or fertilizer into new plant growth.
    6 - finally, as you said you are going to be going with a live bearer community: many fish, and almost all live bearers actually feed off of algae from time to time so having algae not only helps with water chemistry but also acts as a natural source of food for fish, that being said you also have snails so you probably won't ever have to worry about algae being an issue, you will be able to use algae growth as a measure of imbalance for your light/fertilizer ratio.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  9. Yarkii

    Yarkii Fish Fanatic

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    Hi Baker. :)

    Thank you. I somehow missed your post until now. Thank you for giving me so much information.



    Re Prime & Flourish, I just did my first water change, and added them together, but from now on I'll do as you suggested & delay the Flourish.

    Thank you. I won't be adding any more ammonia. I think the plants seem to be doing a pretty good job.

    That's good to know. I've been rather confused about the whole plants during cycling thing.

    Thank you. I really wondered about that. Everyone seems to want to remove algae, but I wasn't really sure why.

    That makes sense. And yes, I've definitely noticed growth in my plants. I have a brand new baby anubia (very cute), and now two of my four banana lillies are shooting lily pads up to the surface. I've noticed new leaves sprouting on various plants, but also dying leaves & debrisfrom some. I'm not sure whether to leave the dying loose leaves in there for a while. I imagine they might be creating more bacteria that's good for the little ecosystem.

    Ah. As in, if I get noticeable algae, there's too much light, or too little?

    Despite being happy now with the nitrogen cycle, I need to take some time to observe what's happening with the pH, KH, & GH after and in between water changes. I might start a new thread specifically about that tomorrow, as I'm concerned that I might have fluctuating parameters that will be a big problem.

    (I have very soft water, so used aragonite & coral sand as substrate to lift the pH, KH & GH, but the hardness lift might take too long and not be high enough, while the pH might be going too high. I can't put fish into a system that is going to have moving pH & GH, so I need to be certain about the possible fluctuations first. I imagine there might be others at some point with the same issues, so I'll document it while I'm trying to work it out.)



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