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Old 07-18-2006, 10:59 PM   #1
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Brackish Cycling q's

I've been attempting to cycle a 20Long brackish tank since late may of this year. This is my first attempt at a brackish tank, but not at freshwater, as I've done both a 10 and a 55 in the past year.

First off, I had to move the tank about 2 weeks into the cycle from my downstate home to my college dorm. I drained 50% of the water and transported the tank carefully to avoid stress cracks. The filter media was transported wet to keep any bacteria alive. I'm running a 30gal. BioWheel as the filter.

It took around 1 month or so to get any nitrite buildup. Two weeks after, the nitrites started to rise as expected, nearing 1-1.5 ppm. Now, nearing 2 weeks later, my nitrites are up at a very high level (5 ppm, Aquarium Pharm. liquid test kit) with no signs of nitrates at all. I am using fish to cycle, mollies that I would like to keep after the tank is established.

Is a month a normal period of time for a brackish tank to establish the bacteria that use nitrites to produce nitrates? My other FW tanks completed their complete cycle in less than 2 months, so this one has me a bit confused. I checked my SG and it's at around 1.007.

Also, once the tank has been fully cycled for a few weeks, I'd like to look into getting some low light plants that tolerate brackish conditions. I know java moss and java ferns are shoe-ins for this, are there any other plants that can tolerate low light and brackish conditions without Co2 injection? Due to my living quarters and the placement of the tank injection is impossible, at least until I graduate.

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Old 07-19-2006, 11:15 AM   #2
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First of all... since you are cycling with fish, you are going to need to drop those nitrites dramatically. At that level those mollies arn't going to make it. Rather than trying to hurry the cycle along, with high levels of nitrite, back them off and extended the length of the cycle for the sake of the fish. i would do a few large water changes until that level of nitrites is below 1 ppm better yet .5. This is going to slow the cycle down, but at least the water won't be burning the fish gills to death and stressing them.

As far as plants go, go here:


Those are brackish adaptable plants. (Addition of plants could assist in keeping your water safe while you complete your cycle)

I hope this helps and ask anymore quesitons as they arise

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Old 07-19-2006, 11:33 AM   #3
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How old are your test kits?

Is your salinity stable or fluxuating?

I would expect you to start seeing Nitrates soon. 8 weeks is not out of bounds for a long cycle.

You could try introducing some dirty filter media from a cycled tank.

Since you've chosen to cycle with fish, do try to keep up the water changes to lower your nitrites below 1pm. I belive Prime will also detoxify nitrites.

I'm not sure about brackish & low-light plants, but here's one supplier's brackish index.
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Old 07-19-2006, 03:56 PM   #4
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Thank you for the plant info guys!

I will do a PWC today, I'm thinking about 25% today and 25% tomorrow. I'm keeping the salinity constant at roughly the 1.007, waivering no more than +/- .001. I test the salinity before I put the water into the tank.

My test kits are around 7 months old; I got the Aqua Pharm. master test kit for Christmas this year. They read the same as my housemate's kit so they shouldn't be off.

I have put a few of the ceramic bio media from my 55 into the tank, but that was around 3 weeks ago.

I guess I'll just stick it out for another few weeks, I know the cycle should be getting finished I'm just frustrated its not done yet.
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brackish, cycling

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