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Old 01-28-2013, 06:28 PM   #1
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New FOWLR, skipped cycle?

Good Afternoon,

This is my first time posting here, or on any forum for that matter, but I have been doing so much research the last 3 weeks that I thought It'd be smart to ask for some help. I have a great LFS that I have been using for years, but I moved and am now 45 minutes away so I'm a little more on my own.

I just converted an old 29 gallon hex into a FOWLR system. I live in an apartment and it is just easier for me to buy premade salt water from my LFS where I get my fish. I have been cycling this new tank for 2 weeks fish-less. I bought 20lbs of live sand and 20lbs of cured purple coraline covered liverock and then another 10lbs of live rock seeded out of a 5 year old aquarium and transferred in a bucket of tank water to my new tank. I am also running a reef octopus HOB-1000 skimmer rated for a 100 gallon aquarium, a fluval heater and a 425 gallon per hour powerhead. The only thing the skimmer has pulled out was a very minuscule amount of light yellow water.

I started testing my water about 1 week after I installed the tank because I'm colorblind and seeing those colors is near impossible so I'd only be able to bring the water to the LFS to get tested. When I did (a week ago) the LFS said that my readings were .5 for ammonia, .0 for nitrates and .0 for nitrites and that it looked like I had just started cycling. So I bought an API master kit and have my girlfriend help me with the colors so I'm not driving so much. Today my parameters have been:

Ammonia .25ppm, Nitrite .00ppm, Nitrate .00ppm.

I called my LFS and told them the news, they said I should have probably had something by now and that with all the LR it might have cycled that quick, they don't want me to add any fish yet, and I don't either for a few more weeks, but they think a CUC might be ok. But my thoughts are:

If it HAS cycled would there even be ammonia? And if it has and there is nothing for the bacteria to eat, will it start dying off?

My PH is also worries me, it keeps measuring at 7.4 which seems low. I haven't been doing anything to the tank except taking measurements with the test kit. Is that PH normal?


Thoughts?

I appreciate all the help. Eventually I'm sure I'll ask about stocking advice.

Best,

Jack- Colorblind Photographer and Aquarist
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Old 01-28-2013, 06:42 PM   #2
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Welcome! A couple things here, you won't be getting a skimmate really until you add fish, as the bioload is basically what will produce the skimmate and that is what is being removed. Your tank is cycled when ammonia and nitrite are at 0, and you are getting a nitrate reading...
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Old 01-28-2013, 06:44 PM   #3
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You need to add an ammonia source to keep the BB eating... Also, the PH should be higher, which will be achieved with better surface agitation and gas exchange, most commonly with a power head towards the top.
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Old 01-28-2013, 07:38 PM   #4
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Get your cleaning crew in that will add some bio-load to your tank for the bacteria. If you feel that your tank is not cycled you can always throw uncooked shrimp in the tank (Just one) and let the ammonia build up and cycle your tank that way. I did the shrimp method and it took me 3 weeks to cycle. I have fish in my tank now and not a problem for three months.
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Old 01-28-2013, 07:53 PM   #5
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I wouldn't throw the shrimp in with a clean up crew. Either, or, but not both. The ammonia will
kill anything living in the tank. I did NOT use the shrimp method but did put a CUC in shortly after adding live sand and rock.
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Old 01-28-2013, 07:55 PM   #6
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Yeah, I didn't mean do both at the same time. :-p
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Old 01-28-2013, 08:12 PM   #7
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You want your ph around 8.2 usually. If you added live rock already then that's your source of ammonia. The die off on the rock is
Creating ammonia. If it was added before the cycle was finished. Keep testing for another week or so and as the Nitrifying bacteria builds the ammonia will drop and the nitrites will spike. Then the nitrates will spike . The nitrites and ammonia will be 0 and your nitrates will gradually drop. When it's close to 0 nitrates your cycle has finished
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Old 01-28-2013, 10:27 PM   #8
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Thanks for the replies

Thanks for the replies.

I have moved my powerhead up and it is blasting the surface now, I thought the skimmer would add enough o2 to the water, but I guess I was wrong and that surface agitation is where it is at. I have heard one of the problems with Hex tanks for saltwater is trying to get the ph at a decent level. I'll be purchasing another powerhead tomorrow, one dedicated for the surface and one dedicated for getting better flow at the bottom.

I have an mbu puffer in my 125 freshwater so I have uncooked deli shrimp on hand, but if I could kill 2 birds with one stone and get a CUC AND help cycle the tank that'd be great, but I don't want them to suffer like I wouldn't want a fish to suffer during a cycle. Would they make it in the tank with my water parameters? Would they have food to eat?

Thanks,

Jack
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Old 01-28-2013, 10:43 PM   #9
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You can add a CUC just not with a shrimp. Just feed the tank some food every other night or so... This will provide the BB some ammonia and the CUC some om nom noms...
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Old 01-28-2013, 11:03 PM   #10
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If you use a shrimp try putting it in a panty hose or stocking. That way you can get it out
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