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

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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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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.

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.
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...:shock:
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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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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So far I am able to hit a max of 5 ppm, with plants. The issue without plants is that all the ammonia becomes nitrites and all the nitrites become nitrates so you have to monitor it and stay ahead of it. Plants shunt most of the ammonia directly out of the loop so not much of the ammonia even hits the cycle. I would suggest that you get the floaters in off the start to reduce the cycle as much as possible... Plants are plants no matter where they reside and a lot of floaters can use ammonia and use some nitrates as well.

Jeff.
 
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