The Scientific Cycle Experiment... In the works. - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
View Poll Results: Which test (cycle method) will finish first?
Bacteria in a bottle + Ammonia 3 60.00%
Seed from another tank + Ammonia 2 40.00%
Just Tap Water (conditioned) + Ammonia 0 0%
Just Tap Water 0 0%
Voters: 5. You may not vote on this poll

  • 1 Post By Byron
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post #1 of 5 Old 10-15-2012, 10:33 AM Thread Starter
Lightbulb The Scientific Cycle Experiment... In the works.

I've been reading a lot about cycling new tanks and not everyone seems to agree on how to do it. Most seem to agree, run the tank for a month. Some throw in something to produce ammonia, then run the tank until tests prove it's cycled. Both tend to think bacteria in a bottle is a scam.

I haven't seen good accurate experiments to prove what's best. Yes, there are claimed to be "Biologists" with hobby tanks running experiments that you see on YouTube. None of them are following the scientific method (Should bioligists know this?). Also a lot of the experiments I see are videos promoting a product or by the company that sells one of the products to cycle with.

I'm already wanting a tank to try and breed dwarf crayfish and the tank I'm thinking of can be divided into 4 sections. I'm not sure how to divide it yet, but it needs to be temporary so I can use the tank later, water proof so each test doesn't contaminate the other, and each with their own small filter and maybe some gravel.

Section 1: Expensive Bacteria in a Bottle + Ammonia
Section 2: Cheap Bacteria (maybe topfin) + Ammonia
Section 3: Ammonia (Control #2)
Section 4: Just Tap Water (Control)

Or maybe I should change Section 2 with seeded water from my oldest tank? So which one do you think will cycle faster? Will take some time for me to get everything together and get all the stuff. I was thinking about the Petco Bookshelf Tank, it's long and I don't need a tall tank for my crayfish later. I can make my own dividers with some plastic or vinyl, glued to a frame, and some temporary waterproof adhesive for them to go into the tank. Maybe I can even make my own filters.

I haven't done any of the math yet so its possible I may need more water to get a good test, in that case I can just go to some plastic containers instead of using a tank.

Lastly, the reason for the ammonia. I'm really doubting I can get any water tests to show me the progress of the cycle unless I have an initial reading. My tap water would be 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and 0 nitrates. If I add ammonia, I should see the ammonia, and over time the nitrite, and then when the cycle is done 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and a bit of nitrate. Without the ammonia how do you know it's cycled? You may not know the progress of your cycle until you add fish which is just doing it blindly (no wonder people wait a month or more sometimes). A fish-in cycle has too many disadvantages. You risk the fish unnecessarily and you're initial ammonia won't be in readable numbers for a period of time.

I'll let you guys know how it goes and when I get started. If you have any suggestions or ideas let me know. If I do this I will probably try to write up a good article.
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post #2 of 5 Old 10-15-2012, 02:25 PM
I think the separate containers would be the best way to do it, personally. so you KNOW for sure that the sections didn't contaminate.

My theory is that the plain water container with just a filter and no fish, ammonia, or anything, wont cycle at all.

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post #3 of 5 Old 10-15-2012, 02:53 PM Thread Starter
Originally Posted by djembekah View Post
I think the separate containers would be the best way to do it, personally. so you KNOW for sure that the sections didn't contaminate.

My theory is that the plain water container with just a filter and no fish, ammonia, or anything, wont cycle at all.
And I have read many articles that say to do it that way. It might could cycle after a really long time but you would never have a baseline to test from since there was never any ammonia in it to convert to nitrite and then nitrite. Then I also wonder if any bacteria that's already in the water would just hibernate since there wouldn't be much to survive on.
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post #4 of 5 Old 10-15-2012, 05:54 PM
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I was going to offer some general comments on cycling and bacteria, but it would only be repeating what i wrote in this article:
so I suggest you have a read of that.

The method one uses to achieve the cycling may vary, but the underlying science does not, ever. And it can take from a few days up to 8 or more weeks, since so many factors affect the bacteria (some are mentioned in that article).

But one thing I will say; a container of just water will never "cycle." There has to be a source of ammonia to start the process, and this can occur from many things.

If you have any questions after reading the article, fire away and I'll try to answer them.

djembekah likes this.

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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post #5 of 5 Old 10-18-2012, 10:51 AM
If you haven't done the test yet I would also add water with fast growing plants like anacharis.

With sufficient plants it is expected that there will be no ammonia spikes and short minor nitrIte spikes with an initial (3 weeks or so) nitrate spike should a source of nitrates be present.

then as the bacteria build up any nitrates spike will eventually drop down.

my .02
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