Seeding a new tank questions
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Seeding a new tank questions

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Seeding a new tank questions
Old 01-08-2012, 09:12 AM   #1
 
Seeding a new tank questions

I have a couple established tanks and am setting up a new tank, all freshwater.
In the past, and as others have mentioned, I've had success seeding the tank with gravel, ornaments, and using a old wet filter speeds up getting the nitrogen cycle working.

So far, with a new 20 gal tank at 80-82F, and in only 1.5 days the tank is already cloudy with what I'm guessing is bacterial bloom. The readings are 7.6pH, 0.50 NH3, .25 NO2, and zero NO3. That seemed pretty fast to get that level of nitrates, but I've never bothered taking readings before about 7 days.

So, this raises some questions for me about helping along the cycle:

1. Am I nuts or was that actually pretty quick to get NO2 producing bacteria at that level? Under the most optimal conditions, how fast have you been able to fully break in a tank?
2. This time, I added a plant at the start of the break-in. Would that matter?
3. I've always thought that high levels of NH3 will kill off bacteria that make NO3. So, if I already have bacteria creating NO2, would it help to re-seed with ornaments from an established tank to speed creating NO3 producing bacteria?
4. I've seen some loose suggestions for adding carbon into the process, such as a limited amount of ethanol. Is this valuable and have you tried this?

Thanks!
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Old 01-08-2012, 02:25 PM   #2
 
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Quote:
1. Am I nuts or was that actually pretty quick to get NO2 producing bacteria at that level? Under the most optimal conditions, how fast have you been able to fully break in a tank?
If the tank was seeded with nitrifying bacteria, I would expect nitrates to be showing immediately. Of course, a source of ammonia needs to be present to continue this.

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2. This time, I added a plant at the start of the break-in. Would that matter?
Live plants affect this by assimilating most of the ammonia/ammonium at the start. They out-compete nitrosomonas bacteria. Many of us don't bother "cycling" new tanks, just have plenty of live plants with a few fish and you're set.

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3. I've always thought that high levels of NH3 will kill off bacteria that make NO3.
True, this can occur.

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So, if I already have bacteria creating NO2, would it help to re-seed with ornaments from an established tank to speed creating NO3 producing bacteria?
I'm a bit confused here; but seeding the tank with established bacteria should provide the necessary level of bacteria. Provided the ammonia is not excessive.

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4. I've seen some loose suggestions for adding carbon into the process, such as a limited amount of ethanol. Is this valuable and have you tried this?
Never heard this.
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faronem (01-08-2012)
Old 01-08-2012, 02:49 PM   #3
 
Cloudy water has little/nothing to do with the beneficial bacteria (nitrobacter and nitrosomonas). Instead, the bacteria bloom seen with cloudy water is decomposition bacteria as the result of dissolved organics in the water. The bloom usually runs it's course and the water clears in a few days.

Note: the only time I ever had cloudy water is when I attempted the fishless cycle with shrimp. The following day, the tank water was cloudy as could be and the living room stunk. The tank got drained and I started over....without shrimp!!!

I was able to cycle my 60g (with a few fish) in under 4 weeks by bio-seeding with a gravel pouch from an established 10g and Top Fin Bacteria Suppliment. At about 3 weeks I saw an ammonia spike and did a 30% water change. Following that, weekly water changes were all that was necessary.

As I have come to understand it, high levels of ammonia are [also] toxic to nitrosomonas bacteria which is why an ammonia spike must be treated with a water change or a neutralizer. Nitrosomonas are a bit slow to colonize, so excess stock or bio-load can over power them. In a new tank it can be important to slowly add stock, allowing for a beneficial bacterial balance.

Although short lived, carbon is a good adsorbant for removing unwanted chemicals, etc. but has little to do with the N2 process. It can serve as a platform for bacteria, but inasmuch as the adsorbtion is short lived, it typically gets replaced so that negates it's use for that purpose.

As far as I know, the Aquaripure filter is the only situation I'm aware of that uses weekly injections of alcohol (and a very slow flow in a sponge filled canister) to stimulate bacterial growth, including anaerobic bacteria to also process nitrates.

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faronem (01-08-2012)
Old 01-08-2012, 11:05 PM   #4
 
Quote:
Quote:
1. Am I nuts or was that actually pretty quick to get NO2 producing bacteria at that level? Under the most optimal conditions, how fast have you been able to fully break in a tank?
If the tank was seeded with nitrifying bacteria, I would expect nitrates to be showing immediately. Of course, a source of ammonia needs to be present to continue this.
Hey, thanks...it's rare I have even the slightest evidence that I'm not nuts. :)

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2. This time, I added a plant at the start of the break-in. Would that matter?
Live plants affect this by assimilating most of the ammonia/ammonium at the start. They out-compete nitrosomonas bacteria. Many of us don't bother "cycling" new tanks, just have plenty of live plants with a few fish and you're set.
This is valuable, thanks. Prior to reading this, I had added several healthy danios to the tank but have been questioning if it was a good idea. It sounds like their added NH3 should be offset by the plant, so the main concern will be any potential nitrite issues for them.

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3. [...]So, if I already have bacteria creating NO2, would it help to re-seed with ornaments from an established tank to speed creating NO3 producing bacteria?
I'm a bit confused here; but seeding the tank with established bacteria should provide the necessary level of bacteria. Provided the ammonia is not excessive.
To clarify, although I might misunderstood/overanalyzed this, my understanding is that there are 2 types of nitrosomonas critical for the cycle, one that transforms NH3->NO2 and another that transforms NO2->NO3. Given that high levels of NH3 can kill off the NO2->NO3 bacterium, my idea here was to seed additional ornaments from an established tank after a good level of NO2 became present to spawn NO2->NO3 ones.

So, I think it worked. After about 3 days, tank is measuring 7.6 pH, .25 NH3, .50 NO2, and 5 NO3.
Not cycled, but not too shabby! Let's see if it's sustainable.
I wonder if I'll need more NH3 to keep things going.
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Old 01-08-2012, 11:21 PM   #5
 
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Originally Posted by AbbeysDad View Post
Cloudy water has little/nothing to do with the beneficial bacteria (nitrobacter and nitrosomonas).
Ah, things becoming clearer. NH3->NO2 is nitrosomonas and NO2->NO3 is nitrobacter. Somehow in my head, I lumped these both together under "different types of nitrosomonas".

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Instead, the bacteria bloom seen with cloudy water is decomposition bacteria as the result of dissolved organics in the water. The bloom usually runs it's course and the water clears in a few days.
Probably the case here and from food/plant detritus. But if it weren't for the bloom, I wouldn't have gotten curious to measure the water's levels and found a surprising (to me) level of NO2. And, indeed, clear water after 3 days. And now already 5ppm NO3.
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Old 01-09-2012, 06:04 PM   #6
 
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As long as you see test results for ammonia and nitrite, daily 50% water changes are needed if there are fish in the tank. Live plants, more of them, even floating, would help here by assimilating more of the ammonia. The more plants, the less nitrite and nitrate.
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Old 01-09-2012, 06:20 PM   #7
 
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As long as you see test results for ammonia and nitrite, daily 50% water changes are needed if there are fish in the tank. Live plants, more of them, even floating, would help here by assimilating more of the ammonia. The more plants, the less nitrite and nitrate.
That's a good idea...I will add some plants from my other tank.
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