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Old 07-16-2003, 10:11 PM   #1
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Bacteria Source for Fishless Cycle?

I'm starting my first tank soon and want to try a fishless cycle. Since I haven't been able to find Bio Spira here in town (frustrating!) I'm going to try the traditional method.

I understand I can use filter media from a healthy, established tank to speed up the bacterial growth. My neighbors have a great salt water tank. Can I use their filter media to start a freshwater tank?
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Old 07-16-2003, 10:17 PM   #2
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About the SW filter media...I'm afraid I don't know. I would think you could use it. Actually, when doing a fishless cycle, you toss a dead shrimp from the grocery store in the tank and let it rot. This produces the ammonia/nitrite needed to cycle the tank. The bacteria will grow as long as there is food (ammonia/nitrite). Adding some filter media from an established tank would speed things up some, but you'll still need to cycle the tank before adding fish.
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Old 07-16-2003, 10:28 PM   #3
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Different bacteria in a SW setup. You really need to start with some fresh water source. Maybe you can go to the LFS and ask them for a little baggie of gravel from their tank or something that would have bacteria on it and start with that.
From what I understand with Bio-Spira you don't use it to cycle but put it in and then just add the fish right away. It is supposed to be a complete cycle. I have never used it though.

It is much easier and cleaner to use pure ammonia to cycle with fishless. Buy a test kit and keep dosing to 5 ppm every 24 hours. When your tank can go through 5ppm in 24 hours then you are ready to add a full load of fish.
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Old 07-16-2003, 10:39 PM   #4
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You can also calculate how much you would need to add for ppm. There is an old thread by mound where I calculated how much was needed. The only place I ran into trouble is when I was converting to american units at the end. I will look it up and post the formula I came up with.
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Old 07-16-2003, 10:40 PM   #5
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Quote:
Adding some filter media from an established tank would speed things up some, but you'll still need to cycle the tank before adding fish.
I understand... Just anxious and want to do all I can to get my fish sooner without putting them in danger.

Quote:
It is much easier and cleaner to use pure ammonia to cycle with fishless. Buy a test kit and keep dosing to 5 ppm every 24 hours. When your tank can go through 5ppm in 24 hours then you are ready to add a full load of fish.
This is the method I planned to use. I found a good article on fishless cycling that explains it pretty well. I bought my water test kit and am just waiting for my tank to get here (ordered it from www.drsfostersmith.com).

Bummer I can't use their filter, though... I know their tank is healthy. I trust them more than the LFS around here. :|
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Old 07-16-2003, 10:54 PM   #6
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1gallon=3.785 L
125g = 473L
--Your Gallons* 3.785 = Your Litres

5 ppm = 5mg/L H20
--for 5 ppm, you need 5 mg NH3 per L H2O

5mg/L = mlNH3 /473 L
--5 is proportional to your ml of NH3 to L H2O

2365.625 mg ~ ml NH3
--multiply your Litres by 5, and you get mg NH3

2.365 g ~ml NH3
--Divide by 1000 and you get how many g NH3

2.365 g NH3 is something like 1.57 ml
--Divide your grams by 1.5 to account for the density of NH3

your solution is 10%, so you need 10x as much, so 15.76 ml
--Depending on how concentrated your solution is, you will need to adjust the amount added based on the percentage

.01576/3.785 =.0041gallons
--Divide your ml by 1000 so you have L
--Divide your L by 3.785 and you have gallons

This is the point where the american system comes in, so I don't like to further convert. Tell me how many gallons and I will run the numbers myself and tell you about how much you need.
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Old 07-17-2003, 12:19 AM   #7
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Roger, I ordered a 12 gallon Eclipse System.

Thanks for the formulas. I'm sure they'll help.

Wish me luck! :P
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Old 07-17-2003, 09:12 AM   #8
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here is an old thread by mound where I calculated how much was needed. The only place I ran into trouble is when I was converting to american units at the end. I will look it up and post the formula I came up with.
yeah, careful with those calculations.. we had concluded "3 CUPS" and after 1.5 CUPS I knew that was waaay too much..

Turns out it didn't matter, yeah it was a huge overdose of NH3 (a 10% solution) but after 13 days the tank was completely cycled (without of course, the addition of any more ammonia) and was able to consume approx. 8ppm of NH3 in just under 9 hours.. (whew!)

I should mention - once the tank was at the point of getting back to 0ppm every day, I had to keep feeding it before the fish arrived, and this time I used small doses, achieved 5ppm using approx. 1tsp of the 10% NH3 solution per 10G of water.
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Old 07-17-2003, 09:55 AM   #9
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Fortunately, my husband works in an environment where he has access to high-grade ammonium hydroxide at about the same strength as the guy who wrote the article, so I think I'm going to follow his recipe (4-5 drops per 10 gallons of water).

I'm sure the experts here have probably read this but here's the link to the article in case any other newbies like myself are interested in doing this:

http://www.tomgriffin.com/aquamag/cycle2.html

The guy who wrote it has a PhD in Organic Chemistry and the page is published by a well known online magazine so I thought it was safe to trust.

Thanks for all the help! Now if my tank would just hurry up and get here...
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Old 07-17-2003, 10:02 AM   #10
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Good luck with the tank. Fishless cycle is the way to go!!
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Old 07-17-2003, 05:21 PM   #11
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.000004 gallons, or a few drops of pure ammonia. I just calculated it for kicks.
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Old 07-17-2003, 07:06 PM   #12
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Bored Roger? ;)

Heh, I actually read that post just prior to starting a fishless cycle in my soon to be planted 10g mound; you've saved me a bit of time with that info LOL as things stand now, I've gone from 0 readings to 1.0 ppm ammonia, 5-10 pmm nitrite, 40 ppm nitrate in less then a week. I wasn't quite as scientific as Roger LOL I added a capful of ammonia initially, and have added 2-3 drops every couple of days (and started with a hefty squeeze from my mature QT filter). I doubt my ammonia is pure (I got it from the supermarket and have used it so it was an open container), but there must have been enough to get the ball rolling and keep it that way :)
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Old 07-17-2003, 08:48 PM   #13
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The problem with some ammonia is that it has detergents built into it. If in doubt shake the container and if suds appear it has soap in it. If you are using that ammonia then stop and start over again as it will surely kill your fish.
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Old 07-17-2003, 10:49 PM   #14
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I just hope it cycles fairly fast. Now that I've decided to do this I'm really anxious to get fish!

I go check out a different fish store every day on my lunch hour. And this may surprise some of you, but I've found in the Phoenix area that Petsmart seems to have the best selection (and healthiest looking) of freshwater fish in the area. I've been to two different Petsmarts and they were both better than ANY of the fish stores I've been to. It seems like the fish stores focus on the expensive saltwater fish--obviously, more money there. Petsmart doesn't carry saltwater (at least, not here).
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Old 07-17-2003, 11:38 PM   #15
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Good point tkos; I should clarify. I used pure ammonia in the sense it ONLY contained ammonia and nothing else. Not pure in the sense it had been used previously and probably has been diluted by exposure to the air (don't quite understand how all that works, but have come across that info in my research).

Yeah MadameX, Petsmarts are funny like that. I personally think it depends on the manager of the store and the employees of the dep't. Some are really well kept; some are not worth walking into. The one near me doesn't do SW either. The semi lfs I am going to now does both (semi as in 45 mins away LOL), but their tanks are in pretty good shape, they're up on water parameters and testing, and I've had good luck purchasing clown loaches from them (which are notoriously difficult to keep healthy and alive initially).
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