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Old 04-06-2006, 09:53 AM   #1
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Fastest cycle ever?!!

ok, i started cycling (55 gal) with pure ammonia and seeded substrate two days ago. i dosed the ammonia to 4ppm. yesterday my ammonia was at 1ppm and my nitrites were at 1ppm. i dosed ammonia back up to 4ppm at about 8:30 last night and this morning i tested again and my ammonia is at <.25ppm and my nitrites at <.25?!! i am using a liquid reagent test kit and i did have a buddy bring his test kit over as well this morning cause i thought "no way!", but both tested the exact same.
my pH is 8.0 and my temp. is a very solid 81.0 (love that stealth heater!). could i be done in three days? i did use a lot of fresh seeded material.
well, i'm hoping i'm lucky and this is the case. i'll plan on getting some fish tomorrow unless someone thinks otherwise. tia for input.
also, bubbles! bubbles bubbles bubbles! i have more bubbles in my tank than i know what to do with. they are very tiny, and i can't imagine they will hurt anything. this is o.k. yes?
thanx - chris
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Old 04-06-2006, 10:25 AM   #2
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define "used a lot of seeded material"

With 1ppm of nitrite, the tank is NOT cycled. When you can add ammonia to 3ppm and in 24 hours ammonia = 0.00ppm and nitrite is 0.00ppm and nitrates are steadily increasing, the tank is cycled.

why are you keeping it 81 degrees? Unless you have discus, that's too warm.

you have a good jump start on it, but it's not ready for fish tomorrow IMO.
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Old 04-06-2006, 12:21 PM   #3
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ive heard many places to keep the tank around the mid to upper 80 to help the cycle process then drop it back down slowly before addin fish.
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Old 04-06-2006, 12:26 PM   #4
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The bubbles are harmless and normal in a new tank. I agree your cycle may not be as close as you were hoping. What malkore says is very true, keep dosing ammonia and see where you are in a few days. I am uncertain on the increased temp issue. I have heard that it helps from some and not from others. I have no honest basis to support or reject this theory. Good luck on the cycle. I hope the seeded media does speed things up for you!
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Old 04-06-2006, 12:36 PM   #5
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I have "heavily seeded" a tank's filter in the past, and had only 3 or 4 days of elevation in ammonia or nitrite. So yes, it is possible that a heavily seeded tank can have a functional biofilter in under a week. For my purposes, "Heavily seeded" meant that all porous biomedia in the new tanks filter came from the biomedia of an established tank's filter that was about 6+ months old, and the new filter was crammed with as much biomedia as it would hold. I otherwise used new substrate and decorations, and also used "low dose fish" instead of pure ammonia. If you dose the tank up to 1ppm of ammonia each day, and ammonia and nitrite are zero the next day, then I think you can stop using ammonia and add fish. Add fish slowly, starting with the hardier species, and keep an eye on it. Also, if you have added 8+ ppm of ammonia in total over the days, you should be able to detect an increase in nitrates by now, assuming the tap water started out low (0-5 ppm).

I would not have expected such a great result from just adding in and established tank's substrate to a new tank, I would have thought it would have to be the filters biomedia that was seeded for such a quick response, but if its working, don't over think it!
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Old 04-06-2006, 01:08 PM   #6
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by a lot of seeded material i mean: 2 large decorations (used), ugf (used),seven fake plants (used), one established bio wheel in my new emperor 400, both media containers filled with established substrate, and about five pounds worth of established substrate in a couple nylons (my wife just asked me this morning if i planned on buying her new ones ). my temp is at 81.0 based on the idea that it would help the tank cycle quicker, i too had read in more than one place this could help. as long as there's no fish i figured it couldn't hurt to try.

malkore, the nitrite reading of 1ppm was on day two. today (day 3) it was at <0.25.

i'm going to play it safe and continue dosing pure ammonia to 3ppm for the next couple days and see what happens. if i continue to have <0.25 readings for ammonia and nitrites after 24 hours i should be good then, yes? and i will be turning my heater down to 78-79...

thanx for all the input everyone, it's a big lake out there, easy to get lost in ! AA rocks!
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Old 04-06-2006, 01:27 PM   #7
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Yep, now that is a heavilly seeded tank!

I see no need to dose ammonia to 3ppm per day. I would think that if your tank can consume one ppm of ammonia in a day with no ammonia or nitrite after 24 hours, then it is ready for some stock. I believe that you are likely at this point now, considering how much colonized biomedia you put in the tank. Start off with an initial low fish load. SAy, 10% of your goal, and add fish weekly if everything is going OK.

Feel free to wait until your tank can consume 3ppm per day if you want to. I think you did a helluva job seeding and setting this tank up. Having access to colonized media REALLY makes a new tank easy.
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Old 04-06-2006, 03:18 PM   #8
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Yep, I'd agree it was heavily seeded, but due to the seeded substrate, filter material and the bio wheel. the decorations and plants do help, but they have significantly less surface area than a bio wheel or 5lbs of substrate.

either way, you did it right.

0.25ppm nitrite is still more than 0. you are very close. very likely next monday you'll be ready to go.
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Old 04-06-2006, 04:31 PM   #9
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woo-hoo!! thanx for the info and encouragment everyone. i'll keep plugging away until monday.

what do you all think about starting with a couple black skirt tetras and a common pleco? that should be a light enough load for the first couple weeks after cycling, shouldn't it? and also, i should do a partial water change before stocking, right?
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Old 04-06-2006, 04:34 PM   #10
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Yes do a 75 - 80% water change. The pleco will outgrow a 55 gallon eventually. I think 6 black skirts would make a great first addition.
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Old 04-07-2006, 12:04 AM   #11
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really, six? i thought that would be too many. can putting in too FEW fish lessen the strength of my biofilter?
i have a buddy with a 150gal who will take the common pleco after a while. my goal is to get a bristlenose pleco (thanx jchillin for the recommendation, they're sweet lookin!), but i don't want to get the more expensive fish to start. this is my first tank ever, so i want to make sure i get a handle on this before buying something expensive that can die...
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Old 04-07-2006, 12:07 AM   #12
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6 would be fine. They are tough fish and you are processing 3ppm ammonia way more than 6 tetras will produce, besides they like to be in groups.
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Old 04-07-2006, 08:48 AM   #13
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day 4 test results are in! ammonia: 0.0 nitrite:0.0 pH:8.0 temp:81.0 . well, i think i did it, with the help of my little bacteria friends, of course. i have yet to get a nitrate test, so i'm going to pick one up today. if i understand correctly, since i have dosed 16ppm of ammonia total, that's what my nitrates should be at assuming my tap is at 0.0, yes? we'll see. going to drop the temp to 78.5 over the weekend and add some (6) black skirt tetras and a common pleco monday! thanx for everyone's help!
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Old 04-07-2006, 09:38 AM   #14
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Yes, in theory, you should be able to quantitatively account for the nitrogen as it moved through nitrification. In practice, the nitrate test uses scales and color charts with much higher levels than ammonia and nitrite, color interpretation makes it difficult to use these tests quantitatively. But I would say conclusively that you should be detecting some nitrate, and it will be in the 10 to 20 range. Perhaps higher if your tap water has nitrate in it. You should test your tap water too.

There can be some loss of nitrogen if there are live plants or have been water changes. I also saw a 0.25-0.5ppm decline in ammonia without a corresponding rise in nitrite early in a fishless cycle. So small amounts can go unaccounted for, perhaps it evaporates out of the tank or reacts with and or sticks to things in the tank.

Good job on the new tank jump start, and go buy some fish!
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Old 04-07-2006, 12:57 PM   #15
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justrelax,

There are 2 prevailing theories on stocking once a fishless cycle is complete.

Many people (indeed several of the posters here) use the stock slowly method. This will guarantee that you have an established colony of bacteria and you should never seen an ammonia or nitrIte spike.

The other theory is the one I follow. If the bacterial filter has been established to the point that 3ppm or greater of ammonia is converted to nitrAte in under 24hours you have a SIGNIFICANT amount of bacteria present in the tank, to the point that by putting in a small amount of fish, your bacterial colony will die off in proportion to the amount of ammonia being produced by the fish. Remember that ppm is a concentration, so 3ppm in a 10gallon is the same as 3ppm in a 100gallon. Clearly a bacterial population in a 100gallon must be MUCH larger than that in a 10gallon to convert to nitrAte in under 24hours.

I prefer to stock almost completely at once. This enables the bacteria to not reduce in numbers due to lack of food, as well as, (and this is still completely theory, and also unique to each tank and fish), generally fish that become stressed from a move and are less likely to be aggressive immediately after being added to a new tank then when a new fish is added into an already established group. Territories are not yet setup, pecking orders have not been established, and so you might avoid a possible bullying situation.

As a precaution, I still highly recommend that the feeding schedule be reduced and the ammonia and nitrIte levels closely watched for the first week or so. But if you have established a bacterial colony to the levels mentioned above you should see NO ammonia or nitrIte at all.

This method is not quite as recommended I feel because people are so eager to start up a tank, they don't wait until a large biological filter has been established. But from a scientific and logical perspective it is a valid option.

justin
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Old 04-07-2006, 01:48 PM   #16
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I do agree with 7Enigma, in that if your bio-filter can consume 3ppm of ammonia a day, the bacteria could handle a fully stocked tank.

I just never bought that manyfish at once, nor could I dicide completely what I wanted. I always liked to put some fish in, watch them for a week, think about it, go fish shopping, then buy some more. Once I was at full stock, some of the excitment of a new tank was gone. And its harder to run into difficulty being patient and going slow.

But that is a big advantage to a fishless cycle, you can quantify the capacity of your bio-filter and go to full stock. This could potentially compensate for the fact that you have been staring at a giant test tube for weeks (in the unseeded tank).

While I do not have scientific proof, I think that the Nitrosomas bacteria are highly adapted to surviving well on minute quantities of ammonia. Thus, if you decide to spread out your fish acquisitions, you need not fear harming your bio-filter or causing a mini-cycle later on. The bacterial activity will adjust to the lower fish load you put in, and all you need do is make the additions more gradual later on to prevent out-pacing the bacterial reactivation.

I guess how fast you stock is up to you!
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Old 04-07-2006, 02:07 PM   #17
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TomK2,

I remember reading a lot about nitrifying bacteria a month or so ago. I read one scientific paper that showed death rates based on nutrient limitation (ie no food) and it was staggering how quickly they died. Again I don't know if this was the specific strains of bacteria in our tanks (they were aquatic, but very well could have been salt water variants), but I swear it was something like 25-50% death within 24 hours of no food.

They are at such a quick metabolism compared to eukaryotic organisms (even though they are considered very slow for prokaryotes), that even a couple hours without food is enough to kill them.

Both nitrosomas and nitrobacter do NOT have the ability to form spores (a main reason why a tank without seeded material is virtually impossible to get cycled), so under low nutrient conditions don't have the same ability to go dormant as some other species of bacteria.

I wish I could find that paper, but have no idea where to start looking.
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Old 04-07-2006, 02:42 PM   #18
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Here's some references I have come along on the internet:

http://www.bioconlabs.com/nitribactfacts.html

http://article.dphnet.com/cat-01/naturewonders3.shtml

Nitrosomas has a dormancy feature that nitrobacter lacks, if these sites are correct? Thus, I think the nitrosomas population is least at risk from an interruption or reduction of nutrients. AS for nitrobacter, no spores or dormancy options are available? But in the case of a decrease in the available nitrite supply, not a complete stop, would nitrobacter poulations suffer so much that quickly? I know that you can wipe them out reall fast if you let the biomedia dry out.

I have a hunch that they are adept at surviving on low levels of nitrite because we have low levels of nitrite in our tanks. And I bet your filters biomedia would survive the longest, since flow rates through the filter are many times greater than flow rates over the substrate, giving the filter biomedia a competetive advantage when the nitrite supply became less. But I truly do not know what would happen if a colony that can consume 3 ppm per day were force to get by on 1 ppm or less. An interesting question. I guess if I chose the start slow stocking plan I would stick with it, to avoid a reduction in bio-filter capacity right before adding a whole bunch of fish to increase demand on the biofilter.

I enjoy collecting resources, references, and tidbits about bio-filter bacteria, so if you ever run across that paper again please let me know.
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Old 04-07-2006, 02:58 PM   #19
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Will do. I tend to read everything I can find, but am always too lazy to keep the link. It works well most of the time, but every once in a while my brain makes stuff up, or slightly confuses an issue, and I'm left looking like an idiot.

As a total off topic, I was looking up info on my possible BBA or brush algae problem on my anubias and java fern leaves and came across this old post by Tom Barr on GW (which I think has some good info which might also affect other types of algae):

"One thing I have noticed in a number of tanks and in my own twisted
experiments with this alga(e) is that it is almost always accompanied by a
disturbance in the N cycle of a tank with a spike of NH4+ appearing in
almost every single case. Reasons for the NH4+ spike are many.

1)New tank-poor N cycle, not established yet

2) Filter removal, a spike since bacterial action has been removed/reduced.
We often see in non filtered tanks that slight haze or a continual issue in
high light no filter tanks.

3) Massive uprooting, removal of a small tree like sword plant etc (see
bacterial disturbance again). Messing too much with your tank in some way.

4) Nutrient removal-stunted plants not taking up NH4+ production and no time
for the bacterial responses. Turn off CO2 all of sudden, No NO3 etc. That
stops the NH4+ uptake that's taking place so it builds up slightly and
triggers the GW to propagate.

5) Other factors such as good growth then poor CO2 all of a sudden. Any
dramatic slowing of growth rates(hence less NH4+ uptake). Any event that
lets the NH4+ build up pretty much.

It seems that there a window of opportunity for GW that's in between the
bacteria getting it and the plants getting it. If care is taken to ensure
plants get fed well and that the bacteria have a good home as well(deep
sub's, wet dry filters, big canisters etc) this will minimize the outbreaks.

And water changes will remove build ups of NH4's so after a big hack, after
a long period of abuse, new tank set ups, good maintenance will take care of
your tank.

I do know GW water is not caused by: Most of the other nutrients. NH4+ is
the exception and the common issue in many experiences with to date. This is
how I induce it actually. I toss a couple of Jobes into the water column of
a very high light 20 gallon tank and it's there in a day or two. It will
live on little once it's there but seems to get "turned on" by the NH4
spike.
These tanks have good CO2, high light(where we often find GW in such tanks),
good everything as far the nutrients. I lowered the CO2 for a week, GW. I
shut off the filter, GW. I tossed in a ton of PO4, no GW. I tossed in a ton
of KNO3, no GW. I tossed in a ton of micro's, no GW. I did a big pruning and
removal without a water change after, GW. I added jobes, GW. New tanks by
the dozens, GW.

It really a neat and very useful alga tool for us. It's easy to get rid of,
takes no effort and causes no real harm to the tank. But we can do all sorts
of things to it and it keeps coming back

FWIW, I have never had GW in any of my tanks. I had to induce it by adding
Jobes. I keep my tanks quite rich in everything but since the plants are
doing well there's little NH4+ around to be had. But I've been at work
lately checking this one out. I have some ammonium sulfate to play with to
see if it's definitely the NH4+ or not. Problem is I have to remove the
critters to do this in case I go overboard from ammonia poisoning But it
should not take much to trigger this event I suspect. Haven't killed things
prior with the lower amounts from Jobes, new tanks etc.
Regards,
Tom Barr"

After reading this I'm a bit worried about my tank right now. After getting a bunch of small clippings from czcz, I pulled out a good 50% of my wisteria which has been growing like crazy for the past 2 weeks. Uprooting and planted new clippings (without a water change, since I was stupid) really stirred up the substrate. I'm hoping when I get home nothing is out of the ordinary (though I did test for ammonia about 1/2 hour after the tank maintainence and it was 0).

Everyone have a great weekend, I'm outta here for a bit!

justin
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