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Author Topic: 4 day tank cycle???  (Read 1877 times)
AnnaK
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« on: October 18, 2016, 07:36:08 PM »

Hi, I recently tore down and revamped my 5 gallon hex tank after the death of my betta Philip. I set the tank up on Saturday with brand new filter media, a piece of mopani drift wood, a few small rocks and fluorite black sand. Sunday I added several live plants (first try at a fully planted tank, wish me luck). I dosed the tank with seachem stability on day 1 and day 2 but not yesterday or today (ordered Dr. Tims bacteria and still waiting for it to arrive). I have no ammonia source except for what ever pieces of plants may be rotting. I also bought Dr. Tims ammonia and I'm waiting on that as well.

Anyway, I got my test kit and I decided to test my water before changing it out (tanins turned it the color of tea). pH is 7.8 (also 7.8 from the tap) ammonia is 0 as is nitrite. Nitrate is 5ppm. Does this mean my tank is cycled as in adequate bacteria load to add animals? or are my plants just doing it for me? If it's the plants can I go get some creatures? Possibly just the cleaning crew? I plan on eventually stocking with a betta, a nerite snail and possibly a few ghost shrimp but I would start with just the shrimp and snail for now.

One last question...Could the high pH have lead to Philip's demise? confused He lived for 1.5 years with me and seemed pretty healthy till he got dropsy.

sorry if i rambled.
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TwoTankAmin
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« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2016, 11:16:38 PM »

No, your tank is likely not cycled. At least not for fish. However, plants will consume ammonia, (as NH4). The difference is that they do not create nitrite or nitrate as happens with bacteria. But those plants also have the nitrifying bacteria on them as well. However, here is no way for sure to know how much ammonia the plants and bacteria on them are able to process.

What we do know is that the amount of ammonia produced is a function of the bio-load in the tank. that is a fancy term for saying how much ammonia the critters in the tank produced based on their body mass. Bigger things create more ammonia Smiley So in your case the least ammonia will be produced by the shrimp and the most by the betta. However, this would only matter if a tank was not cycled at all or minimally so. This will not be the case in your tanks once the box of goodies arrives.

As for the nitrate, it is a decent possibility that there is really none in your tank. This kit is one of the least accurate, especially between 0 and 20 ppm. Plants will consume nitrate when there is no ammonia.

At any rate, here is what I suggest you do. Wait for the box to arrive. When it does, rather than r. Tim's directions, do the following:

1. Do a big water change- as much as you can.
2. Add a max of 4 drops of ammonia to the tank. I am using 4 not 5 gals. for good reasons I wont list now. Turn off the tank light.
3. Shake the bottle of bacteria and add the suggested amount for 5 gals.
4. Wait 24 hours and test for ammonia and nitrite and post them here and they will determine the next step. (I should get and email when anybody replies here.)

Somewhere between 2 and 7 days from dosing the ammonia above, your tank should be ready to receive all 3 species you have selected. A second addition of ammonia may be required. However, be aware that the betta may see the shrimp as lunch.
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AnnaK
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« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2016, 07:44:53 AM »

Thanks for the reply, that makes a lot of sense. The bacteria and a timer for my light should be here today but I won't get the ammonia until Thursday or possibly tuesday. I'll probably wait until the ammonia arrives to do anything, just admire my beautiful plants and continue to fight the tannins. Speaking of, do the tannins have any negative effect other than lowing pH (which they don't appear to be doing)? I kind of like the tint of the water as long as it's kept in check.
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TwoTankAmin
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« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2016, 08:32:05 AM »

Just the mere production of the staining alone is not enough to determine how this might be affecting water parameters. pH, GH and KH are all intertwined so it is difficult to understand what might be going on in any tank without good information on these things.

Chemistry in the air/land is hard enough but when things get into water , things become even more complex. One of the better sites I discovered many years ago for explaining the basics is still one of the places i like to send those who want to learn a bit. If you are curious, have a read here http://fins.actwin.com/aquariafaq.html Click on Your First Aquarium. the section to read is the one on Practical Freshwater Chemistry especially the part about Altering Your Tank Water's Chemistry.  It is not overly technical and will explain the fundamentals sufficient for most hobbyists to have an understanding of the major points.

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“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” Daniel Patrick Moynihan
AnnaK
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« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2016, 04:55:22 PM »

Ok so I finally have all my supplies. I changed about 3/4 of the water-it now looks more like an aquarium than a tank full of sweet tea. I added prime then 2 cupfuls of bacteria (recommended min for a 10 gal tank but it says i cant overdose). Then i added the ammonia and ate lunch then did an ammonia test--slightly lighter than the .25ppm reading so I'm happy.

I keep staring at my tank cuz it looks beautiful and I noticed a fine film of something all over my drift wood and flowing in strands from the ends of the anacharis. It seems mucoid but is it possibly algae? Or it is an effect of the bacteria setting up? It's mostly colorless. Plants are all doing really well, better than I expected. I thought for sure the s. repens would die because it was tiny and i didn't know what it was when i bought it--still green!

So my only questions are 1)what is the film and 2)when do I add more ammonia?

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AnnaK
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« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2016, 05:24:06 PM »

also just noticed a single pond snail  Sad if there's not any food in the tank will it just die? Also, there are tiny yellow spheres on my drift wood that i never noticed before. No pond snail eggs I hope?  I was actually hoping for some trumpet snails to stir the sand but i hate pond snails.
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TwoTankAmin
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« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2016, 12:47:26 AM »

Where did you get the wood and what did you do to it before it went into the tank?
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AnnaK
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« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2016, 06:57:47 AM »

It's mopani wood from zoomed. I ordered it online and lucked out with a beautiful piece. I soaked it in hot water (steaming) several times over the course of a day. (Silly me, I thought I had gotten all the tannins out...)
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TwoTankAmin
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« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2016, 11:16:41 AM »

Nope- tannis take a while to come out completely. I have a coup;e of pieces of mopani have been soaking for weeks and they still leech. However, I would suggest that malaysian wood would have been a better choice for plecos. It is much softer than the mopani.

The scummy stuff is not unusual. You can remove it manually. it will eventually stop. I have seen some fish that will actually eat it.

If you dosed 10 drops of the ammonium chloride and it read only .25 ppm a couple of hours later. your tank is pretty much ready to receive fish. Dosing the 1 drop/gal. is really overkill in terms of making a tank ready for a full load of fish. You should see little or even no nitrite and the same may apply to nitrate. Basically, the test of when a tank is ready for a full load of fish is when within 24 hours it can process that 1 drop/gal. and show 0 for both ammonia and nitrate.

There is a caveat here, Seachem's Prime neutralizes ammonia but it will also cause false positive readings for ammonia. The suggest the following:
Quote
A salicylate based kit can be used, but with caution. Under the conditions of a salicylate kit the ammonia-Prime complex will be broken down eventually giving a false reading of ammonia (same as with other products like Prime®), so the key with a salicylate kit is to take the reading right away. However, the best solution ;-) is to use our MultiTest™ Ammonia kit... it uses a gas exchange sensor system which is not affected by the presence of Prime® or other similar products. It also has the added advantage that it can detect the more dangerous free ammonia and distinguish it from total ammonia (which is both the free and ionized forms of ammonia (the ionized form is not toxic)).
from http://www.seachem.com/prime.php

The API and most hobby kits use the salicylate test reagents.

You do not need to get their test for unionized ammonia, the normal total ammonia kits are fine.
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“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” Daniel Patrick Moynihan
AnnaK
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« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2016, 02:10:26 PM »

i only dosed the ammonia at 1 drop/gal so 5 drops. Today the ammonia reading was not 0 but it was not .25 any more either. there were no nitrites. So I dosed 3 more drops and an hour later tested ammonia and it was .25ppm again. I found instructions on Dr. Tims website and that's what I'm following.

I recently found out that I'm moving back home (6hr drive) yay!!! So after the cycle I will probably just add the prettiest nerite I can find and wait until I have moved to add anything else. So snail will have his own kingdom for 3ish weeks. How often do I feed just a snail? or will he get enough food just cleaning up the tank? I am assuming a piece of algae wafer every few days would be ok?

ps. how does one move a 5 gal hex tank? I was thinking bag up filter media and dropping the water to 1/3 full and strap the whole tank into the front seat. Would that work? I really don't want to pull up all my plants, they are doing so good. I will of course replant anything that uproots itself during the drive.

oh and good to know the scumminess is normal and will go away. I described it to my husband and spider-web snot...its gross. Also, i think the little yellow egg things are very late stage pond snail eggs b/c since I saw the first snail i have seen others that are not much bigger than the yellow eggs and were nearly transparent. Hopefully with no food source other than bits of plant and whatever the scum is they won't reproduce too much.
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TwoTankAmin
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« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2016, 09:51:14 AM »

Dr. Tim's directions are not based on a planted tank. Plants change all the numbers involved.What can further complicate matters here is some plants are ammonia sensitive. His drections will not really work for a fishless cycle. The reason is twofold.

The first is that plants consume ammonia in the form of NH4 (this is the major form of ammonia in water). That means any ammonia they consume will not result in any nitrite or nitrate being produced. This will throw off any tests done for these two things.

The second is that seeding bacteria either bottled or from an existing tank, also changes results. In such cases one is providing both the ammonia bacs and the nitrite bacs in a balance such that all the ammonia that can be oxidized to nitrite in any given time period will not result in it being detectible. The reason is that as fast as the ammonia is converted to nitrite that nitrite is converted to nitrate. In an established bacterial colony the caoacity to convert ammonia and nitrite are in balance. The result is one may see excess ammonia if there are not enough bacteria to handle it all, but one will rarely of never see nitrite.

Between these two factors, the results one can test for will not be the same as doing the cycle from scratch without and help from plants or seeded bacteria. Just to give you an idea of how powerful plants and/or seeding can be, there is something the real plant nuts do which is called a "silent cycle." basically heavy planting using faster growing plants to start provides a capacity to take up ammonia from the start. because plants come covered with bacteria, they too are present. The tank is then stocked gradually over time instead of all at once. This allows for the plants to grow and the bacteria to replicate as the ammonia load from the fish is incresed. This method means on never actually cycles the tank in the traditional sense, they merely stock in several additions over a number of weeks and all ammonia and nitrite are handled. In established, well planted, higher light tanks it often becomes necessary to add nitrate to the water for the plants.

As fir the move, the less water in the tank the better. If all there is is the snail, drain the tank so that the plants stay wet. Maybe an inch of two of water. Bear in mind the plants do not stand erect without water, so you can let them "lie down." As long as the water slops over them they will be fine. Only fish need to be removed for transport. In years past I used to set up summer tanks on a screened terrace. When I needed to move them, with fish in them, I did as described above. But I only had to move the tanks from one end of the house to the other and the fish managed for that cou-le of minutes. I would not try this in a car. Tanks with frames are designed to sit flat an a level surface which support the entire perimeter of the tank. A tank with water not properly supported will crack the glass to to the unbalanced forces involved. The smaller the tank, and hence the thinner the glass, the more easily this can happen.

If you have ever driven a car with an open top cup of something you are drinking, you already know what can happen to the liquid inside, even when it is not very full Smiley

Oh yes, Dr. T's ammonium chloride is designed such that adding one drop per gallon produces 2 ppm of ammonia as nitrogen. On as hobby test kit this can test as high as about 2.6 ppm.




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AnnaK
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« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2016, 11:53:12 AM »

ok...so what you're saying is my plants + seeding with Dr. Tim's bacteria means that my tank has the capacity to handle a small ammonia producing animal such as a snail? Should I go get a snail today and stop dosing ammonia?

I have read about silent cycling but i didn't think i had quite enough plants and I didnt wanna risk anything getting messed up. I have a bunch of anacharis lining 1/3 the back of the tank, 1 java fern with about 8 leaves, 1 anubias nana and 1 anubias nana petite, and a few small (tiny) sprigs of s. repens which are growing to my surprise. The only one of those that is fast growing would be the anacharis which i have already had to trim and replanted the ends and the little root are shooting out at amazing speed. I have noticed new leaves in all the other plants.

The instructions I was following had a section about using the ammonia + one an only bacteria but nothing about plants.

As of now (24 hrs from 3drops of ammonia creating 2.5ppm) the ammonia: between 0 and 0.25pp (the longer it sits the more it looks like 0.25 but at the 5 min mark it was mostly yellow as in 0). nitrIte is 0, nitrAte is 5ppm (and i shook those bottles forever). pH is still between 7.8 and 7.4. I think I'm overthinking this which is normal for me  Wink
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AnnaK
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« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2016, 12:41:32 PM »

here is a picture of my tank to give you an idea of the level of planting.


* IMG_20161021_153317817.jpg (247.53 KB, 369x656 - viewed 76 times.)
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TwoTankAmin
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« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2016, 01:33:02 PM »

I would say for gradual stocking you are good to go. You might even be OK to stock as planned all at once. Most aquatic creatures can withstand lower levels of ammonia, especially if it is mostly NH$, for a bit. But they also reproduce in response to excess ammonia. In your case the amount of increase needed would not take long to happen. If your pH is under 8.0 and your tank temp under 80F and you have .25 ppm of total ammonia, then your NH3 (the toxic form) is 0.016 ppm or less. Usually the red line for NH3 is at 0.05 ppm for most species and almost none of the more commonly kept fw species are at risk at under 0.02 ppm. This is all somewhat technical stuff you really don't need to be up on but it explains why you don't need to worry about a little amount of ammonia for a short time.

I would do a big water change, make sure the water is at the right temp and put in whatever you want from your list. Just monitor the ammonia level for the first couple of days to be safe. If you get an ammonia reading, test for nitrite. This is easy to deal with if necessary.

You should not add ammonia to a tank which contains fish and/or inverts. I would suggest you have some fish some fish in the tank, not just the snail. You can move them easily in fish bags for a 6 hour trip. I can pack fish to be fine in a bag for days. You can likely get your local store to let you have a couple of bags. This is all up to you of course. You need to do things in a way that makes you most comfortable. You can even choose not to stock until after the move. All you need to do is add a few drops of ammonia, 2-3 every 2 or days. This will keep the bacteria healthy and ready to go. The plants wont mind either most likely.
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AnnaK
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« Reply #14 on: October 23, 2016, 02:45:42 PM »

SCIENCE! i love it! I am not sure what I want to do right now. I know my husband want to be involved in choosing the betta and there is a good store in town that has some amazing looking fish, unfortunately he is at work. I would like to get a betta from that store but I am a little wary of buying a fish and then stressing it again in 2-3 weeks with a 6+ hr car ride...

sounds like my original plan to just have a snail in an aquatic garden wont work to keep the bacteria happy. I feel i'm in an all or nothing situation for now with stocking. this move it throwing me off.

I think for now i will re-dose with the full 5 drops of ammonia and see what the level is when I get off work tomorrow. if it drops again i may run down the street and buy a snail and 3 ghost shrimps and add them after a heavy water change. I am hoping this bio-load will keep the tank happy till after the move and i can add the betta once i am back in NC. Hopefully i can find a store with fish as nice as the one here. or maybe next weekend i will crack and hubs and i will go buy a fish and hope he likes road trips  Smiley
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TwoTankAmin
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« Reply #15 on: October 23, 2016, 03:23:29 PM »

Anna- no need to dose 5 drops for a snail. No need to dose anything. The tank is already OK to accept a snail. The problem is that the amount of bacteria in a given tank depends on the ammonia levels. What this means over time is the bacterial colony will size up or down to meet the bio-load of the tank. Add fish and the load goes up, remove them and it is the reverse. As a rule of thumb there is a direct correlation between the body mass of the inhabitants, how much ammonia this means and then how much bacteria is needed to handle that. Again this is a bit of an over simplification, but it is the gist of it all.

A fishless cycle, or the combination of live plants and bacteria, which can process 1 drop per gallon of Dr. Tims ammonium from ammonia to nitrate in 24 hours or less means a tank is able to handle a full stocking load. Over time the size of the bacteria colony in a tank is a function of the ammonia it produces. This is not an instantaneous process, it happens over time via reproduction, or a lack thereof, by the bacteria. If ammonia levels rise, they reproduce more. If ammonia is fairly constant, then they reproduce and die at a similar rate. Finally, if ammonia decreases, they reproduce less or not at all in an extreme case. Unless they are in their dormant state, a continued lack of reproduction means they will all die.

The point of this is a fishless ccycle done with 2 -3 ppm of ammonia per dosing makes a tank ready for full stocking. But if you only want to stock for a single small nerite snail- in your tank you probably required nothing at all beyond the plants. The bacteria you added was not required for one snail.

if you want to pass on fish, I would also pass on the snail. I would dose ammonia at about 3 drops a time into the tank until you move. Change water weekly. When you get to your new location, the tank should be close to ready for a full stocking. You can add ammonia before you stock to insure it is still ready or need some time to be. A nerite will not keep the tank cycled. So when you arrive, you may have a bit of trouble getting the tank ready for a betta which will greatly increase the bio-load. You may have to remove the snail to temporary quarters and do some cycling and/or add more of the bacteria to get the tank fish safe.

The neat thing is that one can use dosing ammonia into a tank (with no fish/inverts present) to determine the level to which it is cycled. To me the term cycled means having a tank ready for fish in terms of the nitrogen complex. This can be done completely with bacteria or by some combination of live plants and bacteria.
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AnnaK
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« Reply #16 on: October 23, 2016, 04:41:12 PM »

hi, my main interest in giving a full dose of ammonia this evening is to see what the tank could do with it in 24 hours. Basically an experiment cuz i dont trust that i wont kill anything. Then if the ammonia is 0 tomorrow i was planning on getting the inverts. But if i understand you correctly that would be useless and i would have to start over the process when i want to add the fish right? And of course I cant dose with ammonia once i have animals...Ok. I guess for now I will keep feeding the tank ammonia and decide what to do in a couple days. Maybe stock fully next weekend. Or maybe just suck it up and wait.
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« Reply #17 on: June 03, 2017, 03:55:11 AM »

Cycling process should maintain a day in a week, not more than.
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russ
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« Reply #18 on: June 04, 2017, 06:33:42 PM »

Cycling process should maintain a day in a week, not more than.

Huh?
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