A few questions about Cycling
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A few questions about Cycling

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A few questions about Cycling
Old 04-01-2013, 08:36 PM   #1
 
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A few questions about Cycling

Just a few questions about cycling my first 5.5gal tank.

Is it required to do water changes DURING the cycle (Ill be doing a fishless, pure ammonia)

About the filter eventually getting dirty/clogged, the box says buy a new media every month, but from my knowledge that would be pointless, i wonder why they even say that? Anyways, is this same filter media going to last you...forever? And I hear every month you're supposed to swish/rinse it in old tank water. This seems a little vague to me. Do you just swirl it around in a bowl of old tank water? Will that effectively clean it? On the other hand, can you cause too much disturbance on the media by swishing it too hard?

On the same topic, when you gravel-vac for water changes, do you plunge the vac into the substrate to insure you collect all waste, or do you just skim the surface in order to not create disturbance of bacteria on surfaces?

Ive read that you should always keep the ammonia at around 4-5ppm every day during the cycle. In regards to the first stage of the cycle, when the ammonia-eating bacteria are only just developing, doesn't this mean that the ammonia won't start to go down until the first stage starts to complete? Example: If I add in 4ppm ammonia on the first day of my cycle, won't it pretty much stay that way until week+ later when ammonia eating bacteria develop?

Thank you...
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Old 04-01-2013, 10:38 PM   #2
 
Welcome to TFK!

You only need to do water changes during an initial cycle if/when either the ammonia or nitrites spike too high. Ammonia and nitrites are toxic even to the beneficial biology that oxidize them.

I'm assuming you have a cartridge type HOB (hang on back). Yes you can rinse and reuse the cartridge until it nearly falls apart. You rinse in tank or conditioned water rather than tap water so as not to kill the beneficial bacteria living there.
Most cartridges have a small amount of activated carbon inside. Carbon is a great purifier of water as is adsorbs all sorts of impurities. But it use life is pretty short, in most cases after a couple of weeks so they recommend replacing the cartridge.
But if other things are being managed well and especially if you have plants, you can not use carbon at all.

If you have gravel you want to drive the gravel siphon into the substrate to remove as much crud as you reasonably can. This material will just decompose and produce excess nitrates. Just like crud in your filter, best to get rid of it ASAP. Now if you have sand, you would just hover the gravel siphon over the surface to collect any mulm and disturb the sand as little as possible.

Ammonia oxidation into nitrites is the first stage of the N2 process. You maintain a level of ammonia until and after nitrites are created. As you continue to 'feed' nitrites may spike, in which case you would do a water change, but you must continue to feed the beneficial biology that required the ammonia. Once nitrites are processed, nitrates will begin to appear. Once ammonia and nitrites are zero, you can do a partial water change and add a couple of fish.

Note: You may not wish to jump into a planted tank, but if you invest in a few bunches of floating plants, the whole cycling process is much easier. I like Anacharis, but Water Sprite and Wisteria are favorites of others.

I also recommend jump starting cycling the process with one of the many good bacteria supplement products (API Quickstart, Seachem Stability, Tetra SafeStart to name a few). The continues to be a lot of debate over the effectiveness of these products because they had a much poorer performance years ago. However, these products have come of age. (You could also 'seed' the biology if you know someone with a healthy aquarium that could give you some filter media or substrate.)

Hope this helps some.
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MonteCarlo (04-03-2013)
Old 04-02-2013, 07:37 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MonteCarlo View Post
Just a few questions about cycling my first 5.5gal tank.

...

Ive read that you should always keep the ammonia at around 4-5ppm every day during the cycle. In regards to the first stage of the cycle, when the ammonia-eating bacteria are only just developing, doesn't this mean that the ammonia won't start to go down until the first stage starts to complete? Example: If I add in 4ppm ammonia on the first day of my cycle, won't it pretty much stay that way until week+ later when ammonia eating bacteria develop?

Thank you...
Yes, you only need to add ammonia if it goes down, which is what will happen if you change water once the nitrite starts to spike.

Without getting into the whole process, you can achieve the same result with less than 1ppm ammonia... and I would suggest that it would be quicker to complete the whole cycle setup... but the higher ammonia does work or it wouldn't be so prevalent.

Jeff.
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MonteCarlo (04-03-2013)
Old 04-02-2013, 08:45 AM   #4
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MonteCarlo View Post
Just a few questions about cycling my first 5.5gal tank.

Is it required to do water changes DURING the cycle (Ill be doing a fishless, pure ammonia)
no
Quote:

About the filter eventually getting dirty/clogged, the box says buy a new media every month, but from my knowledge that would be pointless, i wonder why they even say that? Anyways, is this same filter media going to last you...forever? And I hear every month you're supposed to swish/rinse it in old tank water. This seems a little vague to me. Do you just swirl it around in a bowl of old tank water? Will that effectively clean it? On the other hand, can you cause too much disturbance on the media by swishing it too hard?
don't use mechanocal filters. so can't advise. sorry.
Quote:

On the same topic, when you gravel-vac for water changes, do you plunge the vac into the substrate to insure you collect all waste, or do you just skim the surface in order to not create disturbance of bacteria on surfaces?
Don't do water changes. Perhaps others can advise.
Quote:

Ive read that you should always keep the ammonia at around 4-5ppm every day during the cycle. In regards to the first stage of the cycle, when the ammonia-eating bacteria are only just developing, doesn't this mean that the ammonia won't start to go down until the first stage starts to complete? Example: If I add in 4ppm ammonia on the first day of my cycle, won't it pretty much stay that way until week+ later when ammonia eating bacteria develop?

Thank you...
Something for you to consider especially if you haven't started already. I use a little peat moss in the substrate with sand on top. Heavily plant the tank with a mix of fast growing plants (anacharis, vals) and slower growers (crypts, swords). Wait a week. Add a single fish. Wait a week with no food being added. More fully stock up the tank and start feeding a single flake per day. No filters, no circulation no water changes. Ammonia never spikes, nitrItes have minor spikes for a day, nitrate can jump up initially then drops down 3 weeks later.

What I have found out over the years is that the plants provide the best environment with least amount of "messing around" on my part.

But that's just my .02
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MonteCarlo (04-03-2013)
Old 04-03-2013, 10:04 PM   #5
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AbbeysDad View Post
Now if you have sand, you would just hover the gravel siphon over the surface to collect any mulm and disturb the sand as little as possible.

Ammonia oxidation into nitrites is the first stage of the N2 process. You maintain a level of ammonia until and after nitrites are created. As you continue to 'feed' nitrites may spike, in which case you would do a water change, but you must continue to feed the beneficial biology that required the ammonia.

Note: You may not wish to jump into a planted tank, but if you invest in a few bunches of floating plants, the whole cycling process is much easier. I like Anacharis, but Water Sprite and Wisteria are favorites of others.

Hope this helps some.
This has helped thank you. Further questions: I will be having sand as I do have some plants (crypts with long roots) that ill putting in and I like the ease of sand. I guess I'm just wondering a vague/simple question: Should i be VERY concerned with how I vacuum? Im skilled enough to skim surface but if theres still a significant risk of too much disturbance I guess id go with gravel.

What level of Nitrites is "too high" in a fishless cycle that would actually require a water change (is it normal to have to or do most ppl do the cycle without a single w/c?)

I have anacharis and duckweed in my current tank. I was going to add some water from my current tank to the new tank to jumpstart cycle, but how come you say actually adding the floaters would help? Wouldn't adding 4-5ppm of ammonia be a little harmful to em?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JDM View Post
Without getting into the whole process, you can achieve the same result with less than 1ppm ammonia... and I would suggest that it would be quicker to complete the whole cycle setup... but the higher ammonia does work or it wouldn't be so prevalent.
Hmm. I guess if you'd care to PM me or something real quick, I'm wondering how only 1ppm is faster? I don't know much but itd seem as if adding the 4-5ppm would cause the bacteria to grow quicker

Quote:
Originally Posted by beaslbob View Post

What I have found out over the years is that the plants provide the best environment with least amount of "messing around" on my part.

But that's just my .02
If you check out my aquarium pic you can see my 10gal heavily planted NPT, mainly with anacharis (also have java moss, moss ball, crypts, cabomba, java fern). The messiness of the floor is a little distracting. But most of all, I don't like how the fast growers (anacharis/cabomba) eventually slow down in reproducing. Ive got stems in places that stopped growing, but i cant uproot it and replant new stems since itll cause dirt to go everywhere and ive read disturbing the surface is bad too. its definitely hard to maintain so many fast growers, which is why ill probably redo the tank WITH a filter and only slow growing crypts/java fern/moss

e/ I wish it were as simple as trimming the anacharis wherever and they'd just grow back. but they always have to form a new little sideshoot away from where you cut it, and eventually those sideshoot spots run out and the entire stem just stagnates.

Last edited by MonteCarlo; 04-03-2013 at 10:08 PM..
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Old 04-04-2013, 07:12 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by MonteCarlo View Post
This has helped thank you. Further questions: I will be having sand as I do have some plants (crypts with long roots) that ill putting in and I like the ease of sand. I guess I'm just wondering a vague/simple question: Should i be VERY concerned with how I vacuum? Im skilled enough to skim surface but if theres still a significant risk of too much disturbance I guess id go with gravel.


Disturbing the sand is not an issue, you just don't need to do it is all. I've tried it both ways and ended up just siphoning now, the odd time I vacuum is if I see something I want to remove hanging around. I don't have enough visible detritus or mulm to get anything when I vacuum.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MonteCarlo View Post

I have anacharis and duckweed in my current tank. I was going to add some water from my current tank to the new tank to jumpstart cycle, but how come you say actually adding the floaters would help? Wouldn't adding 4-5ppm of ammonia be a little harmful to em?
The beneficial organisms are not in the water so all you are doing is transferring dirty water, or maybe conditioned water depending on how you view the water. The idea of "jump starting" is a misnomer. If you add gravel or use an already established filter it helps by processing ammonia and nitrites as both organisms are already working but it does nothing to help establish other colonies, the total cycle will still take as long as it takes.

I would agree that the high level of ammonia might harm the plants but I am not sure that it is the case... of course with enough plants you don’t even need to cycle... I didn’t and it worked out very well. Many others do the same. Looking at your profile tank you would have more than enough in that tank that if it was new you could easily skip the cycle setup routine.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MonteCarlo View Post

Hmm. I guess if you'd care to PM me or something real quick, I'm wondering how only 1ppm is faster? I don't know much but itd seem as if adding the 4-5ppm would cause the bacteria to grow quicker
OK.... but you are going to get the long version...
Quote:
Originally Posted by MonteCarlo View Post

If you check out my aquarium pic you can see my 10gal heavily planted NPT, mainly with anacharis (also have java moss, moss ball, crypts, cabomba, java fern). The messiness of the floor is a little distracting. But most of all, I don't like how the fast growers (anacharis/cabomba) eventually slow down in reproducing. Ive got stems in places that stopped growing, but i cant uproot it and replant new stems since itll cause dirt to go everywhere and ive read disturbing the surface is bad too. its definitely hard to maintain so many fast growers, which is why ill probably redo the tank WITH a filter and only slow growing crypts/java fern/moss

e/ I wish it were as simple as trimming the anacharis wherever and they'd just grow back. but they always have to form a new little sideshoot away from where you cut it, and eventually those sideshoot spots run out and the entire stem just stagnates.
Are you fertilizing? Given the setup that would be the only reason they might stop that I can think of. When you say “disturb the surface” are you referring to the substrate surface or the surface of the water?

Jeff.
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Old 04-04-2013, 09:38 AM   #7
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JDM View Post
Disturbing the sand is not an issue, you just don't need to do it is all. I've tried it both ways and ended up just siphoning now, the odd time I vacuum is if I see something I want to remove hanging around. I don't have enough visible detritus or mulm to get anything when I vacuum.
Disturbing the sand actually is, or can be, an issue... Assuming the sand is 2-3" or more (most often the case in planted tanks), within the sand there is the aerobic, anaerobic and anoxic regions. There are different beneficial bacteria colonies that inhabit these areas. Even in shallower sand (or in bio-media in filters), the beneficial bacteria colonies perform best when not disturbed.
Disturbing and disrupting these colonies does damage that may take weeks or months to restore. We 'get away' with this in the aquarium because typically there are other areas that can make up for our actions. For example, when we clean a filter, the substrate handles more bio-load. When we disrupt the substrate, we interrupt some of the advanced bio-filtration function, but inasmuch as it affects elements we don't even measure, we don't see the downside - but it's there just the same and the water purity is reduced.
With gravel, unfortunately we have no choice and typically must gravel siphon unplanted areas to reduce the likelihood of creating a nitrate factory. This action is not counter productive only because the alternative to the action is worse than inaction. However, with sand, detritus does not sift below the surface so we only need to hover the siphon to remove it, leaving the sand and the substrate bio-integrity intact.

Note: This is very much the same with the land. Conventional farming/gardening that tills the soil seriously disrupts the soil food web. (This has been proven in many studies - In fact, crop yields were proven to be much higher in un-tilled soil...believe it or not.)

Last edited by AbbeysDad; 04-04-2013 at 10:17 AM..
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Old 04-04-2013, 09:50 AM   #8
 
I had a dangerous nitrite spike because I decided to move some plants in my planted aquarium. My nitrite levels went up to >1 ppm after I decided to move my echinodorus from one side of the tank to the other. And that was while using my jbl pro flora substrate.

In my new tank I am using ADA new amazonia, if I stir too much my ammonia levels can go up to 2-3 ppm!!! I am very careful when moving that substrate now that I have fish living in the tank.
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Old 04-04-2013, 10:03 AM   #9
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I had a dangerous nitrite spike because I decided to move some plants in my planted aquarium. My nitrite levels went up to >1 ppm after I decided to move my echinodorus from one side of the tank to the other. And that was while using my jbl pro flora substrate.

In my new tank I am using ADA new amazonia, if I stir too much my ammonia levels can go up to 2-3 ppm!!! I am very careful when moving that substrate now that I have fish living in the tank.
Is this sort of thing particular to enhanced substrates? I could see a deep sand bed disturbance affecting various potential biologicals, it would need to be deep, but causing spikes of that nature should almost be impossible in a less than 3" sand substrate.

A suggestion for any plant moving in those would be to run the siphon in the area that you are working while disturbing the substrate, perhaps that would help to mitigate any potential release of toxins.

Jeff.
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Old 04-04-2013, 10:18 AM   #10
 
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Is this sort of thing particular to enhanced substrates? I could see a deep sand bed disturbance affecting various potential biologicals, it would need to be deep, but causing spikes of that nature should almost be impossible in a less than 3" sand substrate.

A suggestion for any plant moving in those would be to run the siphon in the area that you are working while disturbing the substrate, perhaps that would help to mitigate any potential release of toxins.

Jeff.
Hey jeff

I misspelled that one. It was JBL AquaBasis Plus. It has a depth of around 3-4 inches.

I learned my lesson and you are right, next time I had to move plants around once I removed the plant I quickly hoovered the affected area and performed a water changed. Since then I never had a spike.

The tank is now gone though I have a new bigger tank with amazonia in it... cycling the amazonia substrate was some experience too... my ammonia went up to 7 ppm at the beginning, it took me 8 days to cycle the substrate
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