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Old 09-02-2006, 08:46 AM   #1
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Need help understanding "live sand" and 1st cycle

Newbie warning!

We are fairly book smart - reading lots from this forum already. But I could not find anything on this specific issue - so please point me there if it exists.

We have a 24 gal Aquapod, accessories, testing kit, etc. We were all set up to do a traditional 1st cycle with a raw shrimp but then bought a substrate called Instant Ocean (Bio-Activ Live Aragonite Reef Sand) - not for the "just add fish" claim but for the attractive texture (built in small shells) etc. We added 19 gal of 1.02-ish salt water and started the filter. SO NOW, 36 hours later, where in the "1st cycle" are we? Our testing shows between 0 and 0.25 Ammonia, 0 Nitrite, and 0 Nitrate with about 7.6 pH.

How can we tell where we are without introducing waste (or did I just answer my own question)?


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Old 09-02-2006, 09:55 AM   #2
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Sounds like you answered your own question. I'm kind of surprised that the live sand produced measurable amounts of ammonia.

Are you planning on adding live rock later? I wouldn't wait, I'd add it now. You really only need to cycle the tank once if the lr is already in the tank or if you buy fully cured lr from the lfs and put it directly into the tank so there is no die-back.

If you order lr from an internet source there will always be some die-back and some re-cycling. IMO, uncured lr is more wasted time and effort than its worth.

46 gal FOWLR
11lb Live Rock - 40lb Live Sand
ProClear Pro 75 - LR rubble & skimmer in sump
AC 300 HOB
AC 402 Powerhead - AC 301 Powerhead
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Old 09-03-2006, 09:05 AM   #3
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Your pH should be at around 8.1-8.4 If your salinity was 1.02 you should add more salt. Get the salinity around 1.023 - 1.025. It seems like your cylce is going just fine, even without the raw shrimp.
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Old 09-04-2006, 01:15 PM   #4
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You could be getting ammonia from die-off from the "live" sand. You should see the ammonia spike then nitrItes spike as they consume the ammonia, then you should get a nitrAte spike as it consumes the nitrItes. Once there are no detectable readings of ammonia and nitrItes, and low or no nitrAte readings, your cycle will be complete.
Age is relative, you are only as old as you act....of course, this works in reverse....

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Good reading about:
Nitrogen Cycle
Fishless Cycling
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cycle, live, live sand, sand, tan

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