Cycling in a tub - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 5 Old 03-21-2012, 06:38 AM Thread Starter
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Cycling in a tub

So I'm preparing to set up a 125 gallon aquarium. I have the tank, stand is about half way there, and people are coming today to measure the room so we can replace the carpet. I expect it will be 2-4 weeks before we can hope to have the new carpet installed and I'd like to use that time getting my filter seeded.

The canister is far too large to use on our 20g or 10g So I plan on buying a large storage bin/tub to fill with water and do a fishless cycle in it. In addition, I'll put my Malaysian Driftwood in to start soaking as well.

I'm hoping this will at least seed the filter and driftwood somewhat, and at least get a 2-4 week head start on the cycle.

I'll be heavily planting in the tank anyways, but adding fish day one still has that mental barrier to get over

So quick questions: Would the tub need heated for the bacteria? I assume not. And second, does it need light? I'd probably put a lid over it to keep the cats from drinking ammonia water.
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post #2 of 5 Old 03-21-2012, 07:41 AM
You don't absolutely have to heat it (after all, unheated goldfish tanks cycle) however, it would be better as bacteria colonies develop better/faster in warmer water. It does not need to be lit.
If it will be a heavily planted tank, pre-cycling is almost a moot point....right?

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post #3 of 5 Old 03-21-2012, 08:29 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by AbbeysDad View Post
If it will be a heavily planted tank, pre-cycling is almost a moot point....right?
It is.

The only question becomes ... how many plants does it take to reach that point? In addition, from my limited experience with live plants they seem to be in 'shock' for a period of time after planting and don't do much growth. No growth, no ammonia used.

Pre-cycling the filter is just for piece of mind and a fall back. Half the fish on my planned stocking list I can not get locally, which means either a long drive or ordering online and in both cases I'd like to do one order, or one trip, to save costs as much as possible without causing harm.
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post #4 of 5 Old 03-21-2012, 09:30 AM
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Youre only 2 hours away geo! Stop down here, and my wife and I will take you to our favorite aquarium superstore down in levittown, PA. If they dont have it, you dont need it! Their fish room is almost the size of my local petco. There is 2 or 3 other fish shops in that town and around it also, and one in new jersey on the way. which arent huge but all had neat stuff (well, the one in new jersey was huge).

Anywhoo, back to the beginning, yes. I would add the plants a couple weeks in advance to get them settled and growing, then the fish slowly. The filter will cycle as excess ammonia is present, and it will be alot easier to manage an ammonia trickle than an ammonia spike. Could also find a 10lb ball of anacharis to keep in there as things grow just to manage the ammonia. I think you would be fine as long as you vigilantly watch your numbers.

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post #5 of 5 Old 03-21-2012, 04:29 PM
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I agree that any form of "pre-cycling" is wasting your time. I have set up dozens of tanks, including my 115g which has been torn down and reset with new substrate and filter media more than once, and never mess with any type of cycling. Live plants are the best.

When I last did my 115g it was last summer. I put the fish in a 30g along with all the wood, just in case anyone wonders about that. I cleaned the tank, washed the new playsand and added it, added about 7-8 inches of water, siphoned that off (it was very dirty), then filled the tank maybe half full, conditioned the water (to get rid of chlorine), then moved over the wood, planted it, topped up the water to about 4 inches from the frame, got the filter (with new media) running and the heaters, left it overnight. The only reason for this was in case the water was still dirty from the sand, but it wasn't so I then moved over all the fish.

In your situation, I would set up the tank, plant it, get the filter and heater running; leave it overnight to ensure no leaks, filter working, heaters correctly set. If all is good, add a few fish and gradually increase the fish load.

I have also used biological supplements in new tanks, more out of an abundance of over-caution. Seachem's Stability or Tetra's SafeStart. These are both live nitrifying bacteria. Sometimes I use these if I have a major fish load going in the first day.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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125 gallon , fishless cycle

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