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Old 01-03-2014, 11:47 PM   #241
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I totally agree with you. We are all over the place. I'm no scientist so I really am not skilled at bringing together everything we find into some cohesive... statement.

I would say the #1 myth that I wanted to dispel when we began is that "high nitrites or ammonia will stall the cycle"
I honestly feel that we have found enough evidence to dispel this. At this point I believe things that can stall the cycle at our small scale include depletion of phosphorous, pH crash, and depletion of dissolved oxygen.

Also I guess #2 myth, which is kind of related to #1, is that x particular level of ppm of ammonia is "ideal" for cycling.
For example I was taught to cycle using craaaazy style ammonia levels, like it got to 18ppm before I ever saw nitrites, and it's doing fine (because the cycle won't stall at our scale from high ammonia or nitrites, see #1)
We want to run a (non scientific) experiment that tasks people with using vastly different dosing schedules to demonstrate that different dosing/cycling methods will work.

I feel like right now we are not sure what we want to accomplish.

I *think* what we want to do is SIMPLIFY CYCLING into elements that will allow it to be completed without any water changes in the optimal amount of time.
I personally do not think the instructions used on this forum accomplish this.
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Old 01-03-2014, 11:49 PM   #242
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Oh and I think that we can teach to cycle with just one single initial dose of ammonia without adding any more later.

I realized there was another myth which we have dispelled - AOB die off if there is no food. We busted that one too. They can go dormant for months.
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Old 01-04-2014, 12:05 AM   #243
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I would say the #1 myth that I wanted to dispel when we began is that "high nitrites or ammonia will stall the cycle"
I honestly feel that we have found enough evidence to dispel this. At this point I believe things that can stall the cycle at our small scale include depletion of phosphorous, pH crash, and depletion of dissolved oxygen.

Phosphorus, yes. But many other things. An organism is made up of much more than nitrogen and carbon; they also need iron, potassium, magnesium, and a plethora of other nutrients, although only potassium is needed in comparable quantities to phosphate and nitrogen. However, people sometimes think that they can just add ammonia (nitrogen) and call it good. It's little wonder that so many cycles go awry in these circumstances. I generally stick pretty closely to the planted side of things, so all my cycling tanks are provided with a rich nutrient environment, so it's never been something that I've encountered, but I would imagine that some tanks that are little more than glass boxes would have a plethora of other issues. There are, of course, other ways that people cycle tanks, such as using a raw shrimp and leaving it in the tank for weeks on end, likely supply a smattering of other elements to the developing bacterial colonies. Maybe this method has less trouble?



pH crash..... agreed. Moving on.



Oxygen... now this is a different beast. Oxygen is a dynamic molecule in an aquarium in that it is constantly added and removed from the tank at equilibrium with the surroundings: at higher levels more oxygen leaves than enters, and at lower levels more oxygen enters than leaves, eventually achieving a more or less steady state called dynamic equilibrium. In most aquariums, surface agitation will allow oxygen to be exchanged sufficiently such that as oxygen is used by bacteria and converted into CO2, more enters thereby creating a steady supply. You would be hard pressed to make an environment where bacteria would be limited by O2 (possible, but difficult).


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lso I guess #2 myth, which is kind of related to #1, is that x particular level of ppm of ammonia is "ideal" for cycling.
For example I was taught to cycle using craaaazy style ammonia levels, like it got to 18ppm before I ever saw nitrites, and it's doing fine (because the cycle won't stall at our scale from high ammonia or nitrites, see #1)
We want to run a (non scientific) experiment that tasks people with using vastly different dosing schedules to demonstrate that different dosing/cycling methods will work.
I don't think that one concentration of ammonia is better or worse for bacteria, at least from a scientific standpoint. 4 ppm is generally used, but I think it was chosen for more practical reasons than anything. Anything more and it becomes a pain to remove with waterchanges (18 ppm converts into about 80 ppm nitrate, so you'll need 3 50% WCs to get it down to 10 ppm, which would be a good starting level for an aquarium), anything less and you'll likely have to add more to be confident in a completed cycle. The thing about bacteria is that they don't really seem care how much ammonia is available as long as A) they don't run out and B) it's not toxic, at least in regards to growth kinetics.
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Old 01-04-2014, 12:16 AM   #244
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only potassium is needed in comparable quantities to phosphate and nitrogen. However, people sometimes think that they can just add ammonia (nitrogen) and call it good.
So you're saying there are other trace elements required? Would these be depleted in the course of a cycle with no water change though? They must be very, very trace

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Oxygen... now this is a different beast. Oxygen is a dynamic molecule in an aquarium in that it is constantly added and removed from the tank at equilibrium with the surroundings: at higher levels more oxygen leaves than enters, and at lower levels more oxygen enters than leaves, eventually achieving a more or less steady state called dynamic equilibrium. In most aquariums, surface agitation will allow oxygen to be exchanged sufficiently such that as oxygen is used by bacteria and converted into CO2, more enters thereby creating a steady supply. You would be hard pressed to make an environment where bacteria would be limited by O2 (possible, but difficult).
Good to know, but unfortunate. We're trying to come up with a good laundry list of why crashes occur.
Like there is a thread right now in the newbie area and I have NO IDEA why her cycle is stalled, none at all...
Help with fishless cycle


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I don't think that one concentration of ammonia is better or worse for bacteria, at least from a scientific standpoint. 4 ppm is generally used, but I think it was chosen for more practical reasons than anything. Anything more and it becomes a pain to remove with waterchanges (18 ppm converts into about 80 ppm nitrate, so you'll need 3 50% WCs to get it down to 10 ppm, which would be a good starting level for an aquarium), anything less and you'll likely have to add more to be confident in a completed cycle. The thing about bacteria is that they don't really seem care how much ammonia is available as long as A) they don't run out and B) it's not toxic, at least in regards to growth kinetics.
Regarding the WCs I am kind of wondering "so what?", but politely When the tank is fishless cycled I would just perform the biggest WC possible to get out every bit of nitrates I can, then refill, which doesn't seem to be a big issue.
Mostly we want to have other forum members try different levels to show THEM that the high levels of ammonia and nitrite aren't stalling out their cycles since this is such a heavily perpetuated myth.

What are other reasons that you feel a cycle could stall?
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Old 01-04-2014, 12:44 AM   #245
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So you're saying there are other trace elements required? Would these be depleted in the course of a cycle with no water change though? They must be very, very trace
There are many, each necessary for life. Unfortunately, it's usually impractical to know how much of which is found in any individual's tap water. Is it iron? Is it molybdenum? It's impossible to suss out most of the time. Which segues to....

Quote:
Good to know, but unfortunate. We're trying to come up with a good laundry list of why crashes occur.
Like there is a thread right now in the newbie area and I have NO IDEA why her cycle is stalled, none at all...
Help with fishless cycle
As I said, impossible to suss out. Sometimes they do stall, but quite often people don't realize the time commitment of a unaided cycle. She's only one month into her cycle, so I wouldn't necessarily do anything except maybe add some fish food and check again in a week or so. I don't consider anything 'abnormal' until two months have past and the cycle isn't done or nearing completion. If she were another month along, that might be something to be concerned about, but really she should just give it time (and maybe some fish food).

You mentioned something about buckets earlier.... I have some experience on that front. In this case, it was literally just tap water, ammonia, and enough plant fertilizers to supply phosphates and all micronutrients. I put it under my bathroom sink and forgot about it for 2.5 months and it was cycled when I looked at it again. That's fishless cycling in a nutshell to me: giving nature what it needs and getting out of the way. The problem is often in the human factor in that people feel the need to poke and prod at their tank (in the form of testing) until they think they find something wrong with it (that may or may not be normal), and then worry about it. Maybe that's a bit callous, but I honestly believe we would have a fraction of the posts we have about stalled cycles if people just let them sort themselves out.

Continuing on.


Quote:
Regarding the WCs I am kind of wondering "so what?", but politely When the tank is fishless cycled I would just perform the biggest WC possible to get out every bit of nitrates I can, then refill, which doesn't seem to be a big issue.
Fine. Be that way

Another good reason to use 4 ppm is because that's in the 'dynamic range' of our test kits. If we dosed our tanks up to 20 ppm of ammonia, and your developing bacteria colony eats 2 ppm, you have 18 ppm. But ammonia test cards only have readings at .25, .5, 1, 2, 4, and 8 ppm (ie, along a log scale), and 20 is way off it, as is 18, so you can really see a change. If we dosed 8 (and it went down to 6), there may be a change in color, but it would be very slight such that you wouldn't be able to tell reliably. From 4 to 2 it a much more discernible change, which most amateur aquarists would be able to eyeball the change and know their cycle is at least progressing.

You already explored toxicity to some extent, which I think should be touched on. Is high nitrite (~60 ppm with a 20 ppm dose) toxic to nitrifying bacteria? Are you sure? If you limit yourself to 4 ppm (~12 ppm nitrite), then it's simply one less thing that can gum up the works, and it comes at no cost, that is to say, 20 ppm and 4 ppm will grow bacteria at similar rates assuming no inhibition of bacteria by ammonia.

Quote:
Mostly we want to have other forum members try different levels to show THEM that the high levels of ammonia and nitrite aren't stalling out their cycles since this is such a heavily perpetuated myth.

What are other reasons that you feel a cycle could stall?
I've never bought that high nitrite could stunt a cycle either, at least not in the levels you see in a fishless cycle. In my bucket, levels would spike up to 12 ppm without a problem. Higher than that I can't say, but within reason, probably.
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Old 01-04-2014, 01:18 AM   #246
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She's only one month into her cycle, so I wouldn't necessarily do anything except maybe add some fish food and check again in a week or so. I don't consider anything 'abnormal' until two months have past and the cycle isn't done or nearing completion. If she were another month along, that might be something to be concerned about, but really she should just give it time (and maybe some fish food).
She's a month into her cycle however with any nitrites. Beyond what we know from practical experience, at least a few of the papers I have read have graphs about the nitrogen cycle and I think it's generally demonstrated that there should be some evidence of nitrites by two weeks in. For her to go over a month with no trace of nitrites seems abnormal.

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You mentioned something about buckets earlier.... I have some experience on that front. In this case, it was literally just tap water, ammonia, and enough plant fertilizers to supply phosphates and all micronutrients. I put it under my bathroom sink and forgot about it for 2.5 months and it was cycled when I looked at it again. That's fishless cycling in a nutshell to me: giving nature what it needs and getting out of the way.
HA yes this is perfect. WHY can't we just dose ammonia once and leave it alone? It's an imperfect number and surely the "correct" number can be devised to yield a 24hr 4ppm turnover, but presumably something "like" 8ppm ammonia could be dosed and then the entire system left alone with no more ammonia dosing, ever!

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The problem is often in the human factor in that people feel the need to poke and prod at their tank (in the form of testing) until they think they find something wrong with it (that may or may not be normal), and then worry about it. Maybe that's a bit callous, but I honestly believe we would have a fraction of the posts we have about stalled cycles if people just let them sort themselves out.
Yep, that may be so. But I also think some of it is nutrient depletion (so maybe WC DOES help there) or pH crash.
I think a LOT of it is the misguided cycling instructions on the forum advising that people just keep upping the ammonia.
Can you take a look at this thread:
Why isn't my cycled done?
This seems like a prime example. This person has been following the cycling thread religiously resulting in dosing up to 4ppm multiple times per day!! His cycle will never complete simply because the nitrifying bacteria cannot possible catch up with the endless food supply!
And he is simply following the instructions as given by THIS forum.
So as you can see, I wholly object to the directions that we provide to our newbies.

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Originally Posted by aqua_chem View Post
Another good reason to use 4 ppm is because that's in the 'dynamic range' of our test kits. If we dosed our tanks up to 20 ppm of ammonia, and your developing bacteria colony eats 2 ppm, you have 18 ppm. But ammonia test cards only have readings at .25, .5, 1, 2, 4, and 8 ppm (ie, along a log scale), and 20 is way off it, as is 18, so you can really see a change. If we dosed 8 (and it went down to 6), there may be a change in color, but it would be very slight such that you wouldn't be able to tell reliably. From 4 to 2 it a much more discernible change, which most amateur aquarists would be able to eyeball the change and know their cycle is at least progressing.
I can agree with that
I want to make some of our test subjects use high levels though just to prove it can be done. It can't be just me doing the test over and over and claiming it works for me at high levels.

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You already explored toxicity to some extent, which I think should be touched on. Is high nitrite (~60 ppm with a 20 ppm dose) toxic to nitrifying bacteria? Are you sure? If you limit yourself to 4 ppm (~12 ppm nitrite), then it's simply one less thing that can gum up the works, and it comes at no cost, that is to say, 20 ppm and 4 ppm will grow bacteria at similar rates assuming no inhibition of bacteria by ammonia.
This is practical and I don't necessarily disagree with the guideline. But I DO want to prove that in application it doesn't matter and I want people to stop with the whole "high nitrites stall your cycle" thing

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I've never bought that high nitrite could stunt a cycle either, at least not in the levels you see in a fishless cycle. In my bucket, levels would spike up to 12 ppm without a problem. Higher than that I can't say, but within reason, probably.
There you have it.
My bucket cycle is almost done, and surely has had in excesses of 30ppm nitrite at any given time, from the 18ppm ammonia
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Old 01-04-2014, 02:05 AM   #247
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She's a month into her cycle however with any nitrites. Beyond what we know from practical experience, at least a few of the papers I have read have graphs about the nitrogen cycle and I think it's generally demonstrated that there should be some evidence of nitrites by two weeks in. For her to go over a month with no trace of nitrites seems abnormal.
She HAD nitrite, just not anymore. Often in cases like that, I find that you need to give 'fit all' advice, ie, dose to 4 ppm one more time, add some source of other nutrients, and wait another month. What often goes unmentioned is the 'human' element, ie, are they using their test kits correctly? Her ammonia dropped to 2 from 4, that should give her at least 4 ppm nitrite and 6-7 ppm nitrate, but none shoes up? It doesn't just disappear, the nitrogen has to go somewhere. You will drive yourself INSANE trying to figure out a problem if you're not getting good information. That's part of the problem working in an amateur field (as opposed to professional), you never know how good the person on the other end is.

Quote:
HA yes this is perfect. WHY can't we just dose ammonia once and leave it alone? It's an imperfect number and surely the "correct" number can be devised to yield a 24hr 4ppm turnover, but presumably something "like" 8ppm ammonia could be dosed and then the entire system left alone with no more ammonia dosing, ever!
I also find it hard to believe that all you nitrifying bacteria will just die off if not given ammonia for a few weeks. More likely than not they'll die back to a base level, and when you give them ammonia again at the end of the process, they'll multiple back to good levels within a few days.

Quote:
Yep, that may be so. But I also think some of it is nutrient depletion (so maybe WC DOES help there) or pH crash....
Not the best way to supply nutrients, especially considering most tap has relatively low levels of these trace elements and no phosphates, but it may help somewhat. It also resupplies the tank with carbonates to prevent pH crashes

Quote:
I think a LOT of it is the misguided cycling instructions on the forum advising that people just keep upping the ammonia.
Can you take a look at this thread:
Why isn't my cycled done?
This seems like a prime example. This person has been following the cycling thread religiously resulting in dosing up to 4ppm multiple times per day!! His cycle will never complete simply because the nitrifying bacteria cannot possible catch up with the endless food supply!
And he is simply following the instructions as given by THIS forum.
So as you can see, I wholly object to the directions that we provide to our newbies.
Adding ammonia repeatedly (or at least at that frequency) isn't considered good advice on this forum. I would consider that bad advice actually. It looks like he simply misunderstood the directions or ran into some bad advice, and it would be a fool's errand to try to scrub all the bad advice of the internet.

But yea, five weeks into a cycle and in the middle of the nitrite spike? Right on schedule really. The guy needs to breath a bit and be more patient.

Quote:
I can agree with that
I want to make some of our test subjects use high levels though just to prove it can be done. It can't be just me doing the test over and over and claiming it works for me at high levels.

There you have it.
My bucket cycle is almost done, and surely has had in excesses of 30ppm nitrite at any given time, from the 18ppm ammonia
As I said, I've never bought it either. With a 4 ppm initial dose, nitrite will spike off the test card, but it never seems to hurt anything. Higher than that, I can't say, but that's part of the virtue of picking a thoroughly tested level like 4 ppm to start with: we know that, at the very least, it works at and around the levels encountered. Advocating higher levels, while very possibly viable, is essentially reinventing the wheel with all associated trial and error.
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Old 01-04-2014, 02:39 AM   #248
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She HAD nitrite, just not anymore. Often in cases like that, I find that you need to give 'fit all' advice, ie, dose to 4 ppm one more time, add some source of other nutrients, and wait another month. What often goes unmentioned is the 'human' element, ie, are they using their test kits correctly? Her ammonia dropped to 2 from 4, that should give her at least 4 ppm nitrite and 6-7 ppm nitrate, but none shoes up? It doesn't just disappear, the nitrogen has to go somewhere. You will drive yourself INSANE trying to figure out a problem if you're not getting good information. That's part of the problem working in an amateur field (as opposed to professional), you never know how good the person on the other end is.
You're right. But I must soldier on and try! I am at a loss though.


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I also find it hard to believe that all you nitrifying bacteria will just die off if not given ammonia for a few weeks. More likely than not they'll die back to a base level, and when you give them ammonia again at the end of the process, they'll multiple back to good levels within a few days.
Why would they die off at all? Bacteria are pretty good at surviving. Like in general. Aren't they?


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Not the best way to supply nutrients, especially considering most tap has relatively low levels of these trace elements and no phosphates, but it may help somewhat. It also resupplies the tank with carbonates to prevent pH crashes
I'm just playing devil's advocate with the WC thing. I am against WC during cycling.



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Adding ammonia repeatedly (or at least at that frequency) isn't considered good advice on this forum. I would consider that bad advice actually. It looks like he simply misunderstood the directions or ran into some bad advice, and it would be a fool's errand to try to scrub all the bad advice of the internet.
Are you sure of that? Read the fishless cycle sticky by Eco. It is quite clear from the sticky that you should always be re-dosing to 4ppm and it does not state HOW OFTEN. It's obvious to us that he did not mean "every single moment it must be at 4ppm" but in the absence of a time frame supplied I can actually see quite clearly where people might read it that way (must be 4ppm every moment) and I think it's in grave need of an edit.
I'm not in favor of such aggressive dosing after you see nitrites. Well you can probably see from our discussion so far that I'm not necessarily in favor of dosing more than once anyway.
Most cycling articles on the web advocate a serious reduction of both dosage and frequency as soon as nitrites are detected. In strong contrast, our forum's instructions advocate dosing extremely aggressively, to the point where there is the implication to the newbie that 4ppm is a number to be maintained at all times.
Read the sticky if you have the time and you might see what I am referring to.

As a result, the cycle takes a lot longer than it needs to. The nitrite eating bacteria just keep trying to catch up to the nitrites being added, in a loop.
THIS is why people then need to WC - aggressive ammonia dosing.

STOP the aggressive dosing! STOP the WC!!!


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But yea, five weeks into a cycle and in the middle of the nitrite spike? Right on schedule really. The guy needs to breath a bit and be more patient.
I disagree - his cycle will never finish dosing to 4ppm from 0 2x a day.


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As I said, I've never bought it either. With a 4 ppm initial dose, nitrite will spike off the test card, but it never seems to hurt anything. Higher than that, I can't say, but that's part of the virtue of picking a thoroughly tested level like 4 ppm to start with: we know that, at the very least, it works at and around the levels encountered. Advocating higher levels, while very possibly viable, is essentially reinventing the wheel with all associated trial and error.
Maybe. What if it's better?
But no - I don't want to reinvent the wheel. The wheel is fine. I DO want others to agree it's a myth at our levels so we can tell people to stop spreading it and, worse, worrying about it.
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Old 01-04-2014, 03:44 AM   #249
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Why would they die off at all? Bacteria are pretty good at surviving. Like in general. Aren't they?
Yes. Exceptionally so.


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I'm just playing devil's advocate with the WC thing. I am against WC during cycling.
Why's that?



Quote:
Are you sure of that? Read the fishless cycle sticky by Eco. It is quite clear from the sticky that you should always be re-dosing to 4ppm and it does not state HOW OFTEN. It's obvious to us that he did not mean "every single moment it must be at 4ppm" but in the absence of a time frame supplied I can actually see quite clearly where people might read it that way (must be 4ppm every moment) and I think it's in grave need of an edit.
I'm not in favor of such aggressive dosing after you see nitrites. Well you can probably see from our discussion so far that I'm not necessarily in favor of dosing more than once anyway.
Most cycling articles on the web advocate a serious reduction of both dosage and frequency as soon as nitrites are detected. In strong contrast, our forum's instructions advocate dosing extremely aggressively, to the point where there is the implication to the newbie that 4ppm is a number to be maintained at all times.
Read the sticky if you have the time and you might see what I am referring to.
I went back and read it. Yea, you're right, the fine print isn't really clear at all in that. BUT, the fact that the first few posts essentially were "stop dosing so much" somewhat supports the fact that it's not recommended. What we have hear is a classic case of 'expertitis', that is, someone who thinks they know everything about something posting a guide that's largely correct has information in that's.... not.

Quote:
As a result, the cycle takes a lot longer than it needs to. The nitrite eating bacteria just keep trying to catch up to the nitrites being added, in a loop.
THIS is why people then need to WC - aggressive ammonia dosing.
...
his cycle will never finish dosing to 4ppm from 0 2x a day.
How are you defining a completed cycled? As I understand it, the 'cycle' is just a term for a matured nitrifying bacteria colony. The tank will cycle in the same amount of time plus or minus a day or so, assuming no nitrite toxicity effects. He'll have to build up a somewhat larger colony than others will, but it will eventually build up to a point where it can denitrify 4 ppm of ammonia into nitrite and then into nitrate within a 12h window (or however often he checks).
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Old 01-04-2014, 04:05 AM   #250
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Why's that? [re: WCs]
I don't really see how it's necessary. Seems like added work. One of the perks of fishiness cycling (to me) should be futzing with the tank less.
If the dosing instructions weren't so aggressive it would definitely not be an issue, I suspect

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I went back and read it. Yea, you're right, the fine print isn't really clear at all in that. BUT, the fact that the first few posts essentially were "stop dosing so much" somewhat supports the fact that it's not recommended. What we have hear is a classic case of 'expertitis', that is, someone who thinks they know everything about something posting a guide that's largely correct has information in that's.... not.
Right but that was all yesterday. Here this person has been endeavoring to follow the sticky all this time Poor person.

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How are you defining a completed cycled? As I understand it, the 'cycle' is just a term for a matured nitrifying bacteria colony. The tank will cycle in the same amount of time plus or minus a day or so, assuming no nitrite toxicity effects. He'll have to build up a somewhat larger colony than others will, but it will eventually build up to a point where it can denitrify 4 ppm of ammonia into nitrite and then into nitrate within a 12h window (or however often he checks).
I just I think it would take... quite a long time to handle that much in a 12h window. They don't double that frequently. It's just all so unnecessary. That particular tank is probably already acceptably cycled to 4ppm in a 24 hr period.
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