Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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kevNnic 04-12-2010 11:15 AM

Question regarding the cycle
quick question about the fish cycle, I have set up my aquarium yesterday 65 gallon tank, now i added my live sand roughly 4 inches on the bottom of the tank, have my pump, power head and skimmer running, it was murky all day but is clear now. I plan on buying some dry rock today and some live rock as well. rougly 50lbs of dry and can probably afford 15lbs of live rock. will this be sufficent, also would my cycle of started when i added the live sand or do i need to wait for the rock to start my cycle? or will the live sand be the start of the cycle? i plan on adding lots of coral as well over time and building up the tank. Is it safe to add more rock as time goes on without restarting the cycle?



as the tank sits now it seems to be filtering fine so i will take a reading today.

Pasfur 04-14-2010 07:36 AM

Honestly Kevin, we rarely even discuss the cycle in a saltwater aquarium. If you are setting up a tank with live sand and dry/live rock as you describe, you will probably not even see a cycle. The rock and sand already contain all the necessary bacteria you need to process wastes. At this point i should point out that there are 2 conditions to that make this work. First, the live rock should be cured ahead of time, either at the pet shop or at home. Second, I assume you are using a protein skimmer.

When you think about a saltwater tank it is more important to observe the aquarium for signs of maturity. Having a mature system is a much more important consideration, as mature aquariums are much more stable and capable of a much wider variety of life.

When we talk of a mature aquarium, we are looking for a number of things. First, within a couple of weeks you will see a diatom bloom. The diatom will appear almost overnight, looking like a rust colored algae covering your rock and often sand. It will go away on its own almost as quickly.

Next you should see coraline algae begin to spread across the glass and rocks. Coraline algae is a pink/purple colored algae that is highly beneficial for your system. It is sign that the overall environment is beginning to stabilize, especially alkalinity and calcium levels. By the way, you should begin testing and adjusting both alkalinity and calcium when you see the diatom bloom appear.

You should also see microfauna begin to spread rapidly, both in your substrate and on the glass. Look closely for copepods and amphipods, which will appear as very small tics and worms, that scurry about in the sand and on the glass. These can be hard to see.... it takes a trained eye so be patient. Once you get used to looking for them you will see hundreds of these critters. A thriving population of copepods and amphipods is very beneficial to the system as a whole, so it pays to not add livestock until you see this. Generally, when the diatom bloom has passed, the microfauna populations will be thriving.

Finally, I would use the Nitrate test as a key indicator as well. In most systems you will see the nitrate peak and then begin to drop. It will eventually level out near zero, or somewhere under 10ppm. Good skimming, good aquarium husbandry, and a proper sand bed depth should keep nitrates at these low levels.

Hopefully this gives you some different ideas to think about, because ammonia and nitrite levels are really an afterthought in the world of marine aquariums.

TerryLee 04-14-2010 09:55 AM

I don't see any harm in doing this. However, just careful to wash the rocks before you add in. Possible if you put in submerged in water for few days.

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