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nickt30 12-13-2011 01:30 PM

Accelerated Cycle?
I started a new 15-gal tank. Filled it with dechlor water, 30gal hob sponge/carbon/ceramic-like bio rock, 10gal hob sponge/carbon, 50watt heater, 75F.....ran over night.

Tested water in the morning pH6.8, Zero Ammonia/Nitrite/Nitrate clear water (drop test set).

I added 5 zebra danios, 1 pleco, 1 chunck of coral (4x4x4inch), and one tall plastic plant.
Fish were from the same non-problematic tank at the store.
I also asked for 2tbs of pepples from the same tank to place in my filter.

Day 2 of fish showed me a hazy (not cloudy) tank. pH 7.8, and zero ammonia/nitrite/nitrate.
All Fish appeared happy.....much less skitish then the travel day.

Same Haze on day 3, with same numbers except ammonia seemed like ti was not zero but not 0.25ppm either. I added one 6 leaf amazon sword.
I am feeding them flake food (2-3 flakes 2x/day and about 1/4 of an algae tablet)

Day 4 was less hazy. Same ph and zero everthing else.

Day 5 was clear but ammonia seemed to be between zero and 0.25ppm on the color card.

Day 6 Clear, ph same, zero everything

Day 7 clear, ph same, zero except for ammonia between the two again.

Not sure if that ammonia reading is right, could be fluctuation in my testing giving me the slight above zero color.....but this test is very subjective........but we do know that i do not have any concentrations near any danger zones.

Question #1 : Is the pH up because of a, what i am terming a, "small bloom of bacteria" from the sample of inoculated it the coral that is buffering the pH up to 7.8........ it a portion of both?

Question #2 : I expected to see some ammonia readings after a full week of bio-activity but i am not.

My hypothosis is that i created the complete nitrogen cycle at once in a low concentration but never-the-less complete.

I added both bacteria which which bloomed a bit to make it hazy but not cloudy.
The bacteria A feed on the ammonia from the waste as it was being generated resulting in a zero meas.
The bacteria B feed on the nitrite being generated but never accumulates either as it gets used up.
The plant is using the nitrate being generated and thus is not accumulating either.
The complete cycle.

I feel as though the system was set up in a state of equilibrium.

I have read that thisis a process called accelerated cycling as opposed to forced cycling with chemicals.

Question #3 : Am i cycled, partially cycled, or am i going to be surprised at a later date with the typical cycling that is described in most of what i read with out of control numbers.

The probelm i see with the other methods is that there are no bacteria of any kind present until ammonia is built up to poisonous levels then they start growing, but only bacteria A. Bacteria B has not started yet becuase there is not nitrite, which happens after the above poisonous stage of ammonia.
This method seems like a batch process where you concentrate on Bactera A, then Bactera B, then nitrate removal (syphoning).

I am new to freshwater aquariums but not new to science.

Am I understanding this or am I way OFF BASE?

AbbeysDad 12-13-2011 04:50 PM

A bio-seed can speed up the cycle process, but you don't get an instant cycle with a couple of spoonfuls of substrate from an established tank. Also, it seems unlikely to me that a single Amazon sword would process any/all nitrate instantly.
Just my my $.02, but I think you need to keep a watchful eye on ammonia levels and be prepared for a spike.

The cloudiness is a function of organic decomposition and has nothing to do with the beneficial N2 bacteria. Although organic decomp can cause a slightly acidic condition, you're not seeing that so it's likely the coral may be more responsible?

I don't know why you are not seeing an increase in ammonia.

I'd bet a few dollars that you're not yet cycled.

nickt30 12-13-2011 04:56 PM

..........always hoping for the easy way out..........i am watching closely.....testing everyday......
i knew it couldnt be that simple.........thanks

kangy 12-13-2011 09:08 PM

I'm in the middle on this one, as AbbeysDad said while the small amount of pepples you added would help kick start the cycle it is not enough for an "instant cycle"

My guess is the "ceramic-like bio rock" and the one sword plant you have is assisting with keeping the Ammonia spikes "in check" while the bacteria from the seeded gravel takes hold. I'm still a aquarium chemistry noob myself but I don't think you will see any large scale spikes. However, that depends a lot on what the "ceramic-like bio rock" is. Most likely what you are seeing is short bursts where the Ammonia overpowers the seeded bacteria/plant/and bio rock. I would still keep a very watchful eye on your levels over the next few weeks just to make sure. My best guess is you will still see a cycle but a lot less intense than a traditional no plant/no bio media/just add fish cycle.

1077 12-14-2011 01:40 AM

Agree with other's, five small danio's would not maybe create dangerous ammonia level's but pleco alone could create same amount of waste=ammonia that the five danios do.
A cup full of gravel from established tank would provide more help with establishing bacteria than spoonful.
Pleco not suited for such a small tank as it matures to possibly eighteen inches.Even smaller variety's, need more space.(In my view)
Amano shrimp,nerite snails,otocinclus, would be good alage patrol for this size tank.
Coral you placed in tank no doubt is responsible for increase in hardness and subsequent rise in pH and may not be needed depending on what smaller type fishes you intend to keep.
Feed sparingly, and keep an eye on ammonia level's.

nickt30 12-14-2011 05:46 AM

closer to equilibrium
The bio rocks came with the filter (forgot the brand)....

Yes the lack of spikes does show a system that is in control.....lets see how long i can keep it that way.

It woulod have been nice to get more then a few tbsp of inoculoated substrate material but we did not want to upset or throw out of balance the tank giving up the rocks......just being on the safe side of the donor tank.

I am dying to go buy more fish but i think i will just buy a 2nd plant for now expecting the waters to get rough in the up coming weeks. If i can control the spikes of poison then we are all better for it.

I am not worried about the pleco growing to big for that tank. I am one week into this and i have visions of this 15-gal tank becoming the QT tank and being replaced with something 50+. There are just too many cool fish and aquascapes possible with larger tanks after researching what fish to keep.

I am torn between removing the coral now or after i know the tank is established. My concern is that the bacteria that has grown in the tank has a good percdentage of its population located on the coral because of its many surfaces. If i remove it now i might thow the equilibrium out of wack and spike a poison. or do i do it now so the ammonia spikes are at a lower less poisonous pH and just battle the spikes with water changes.

PS: I have not done a water change yet to date......only lost 5% volume due to testing daily.......i will replace the volume during the 1st water change/cleaning when i see a decent spike in something

Byron 12-14-2011 01:01 PM

There are two possibles for the rise in pH.

Did you test the tap water, and by allowing it to sit overnight? The CO2 in tap water varies, and can cause an initial pH test to be lower than the actual pH of the water. Letting it sit overnight will result in a more reliable test. The pH may then be higher, or much the same [will not be lower, unless something else has occurred in the tap water source].

The more likely reason is the coral, and notwithstanding the results of the above tap water test, coral will significantly raise pH. I have a mere half a cup of crushed coral gravel in my canister on the 115g tank, and the pH went up from 6 to 7.2. With the named fish, and if the initial pH of 6.8 was accurate, I would definitely remove the coral fast. And do a partial water change (50%).

There will be no issue with bacteria in the coral. While some bacteria has probably colonized the filter, substrate, decor, etc., the sword plant is basically capable of handling any ammonia produced by the minimal fish load at this stage, in conjunction with the bacteria. Definitely get more plants. These fish like plants around them.

The cloudiness is likely a bacterial bloom, and this can result in increased ammonia, but as the tank is maturing biologically and with plants (the more the better) this should not be a concern. The cloudiness will clear on its own.

On the pleco, if it is a common pleco, I wold get rid of it. Even in a large tank, and we are talking 4-5 feet or more for this fish, it will be trouble. They generally chow into plants as they mature. And the waste it produces will be very significant. There are some smaller species, 4 inches max, and a host of suitable substrate fish.


nickt30 12-14-2011 03:35 PM

Water changed
Initial water testing was after one day of operation

Changes Made today:

coral out......texas rock, red rock, & drift wood added

4 small grassy plants, 1 large grassy plant, and some fine leaf ground cover like plant
(the names escape me)

30% water change

my apologies it is not a pleco but a albino cory (i was told)

Byron 12-14-2011 04:04 PM


Originally Posted by nickt30 (Post 921144)
Initial water testing was after one day of operation

Changes Made today:

coral out......texas rock, red rock, & drift wood added

4 small grassy plants, 1 large grassy plant, and some fine leaf ground cover like plant
(the names escape me)

30% water change

my apologies it is not a pleco but a albino cory (i was told)

Sounding much better. On the cory, a group of 5 preferably, but if you prefer more than one species, 3 of the albino and 3 of another is good too. Corys are social fish, they interact a lot, and in their habitat they live in grops of hundreds.

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