Another tank cycling question . . . kind of . . .

Wookii

Member
Joined
13 Nov 2019
Messages
724
Location
Nottingham
Let me start by saying I've read enough threads on this forum to appreciate that the consensus, certainly on this forum, seems to be generally against artificial tank cycling with added ammonia.

Normally I wouldn't consider this approach anyway, I never used added ammonia 16 years ago when I used to have planted tanks, I would just add the plants, on tank set-up, and once I was happy the plants had grown large enough, I'd slowly start adding some fish.

That however was me, just putting together tanks purely for myself - I like the plants almost as much as the fish and shrimp, so I was happy for the required extended wait.

This new 60 litre tank I am putting together however is also for my 7 year old son (well it's supposed to be mainly for my son, but I'm hijacking it by making it a high tech fully planted tank!).

Anyone who has had a 7 year old involved with tanks, will probably appreciate that its usually not about the plants for them, its all about the critters. Those people will probably also appreciate that few 7 year olds would maintain interest waiting 6-8 weeks for a planted tank to develop biologically, sufficiently to start supporting fauna.

To add to the 'delay', whilst much of the tank is ready and mostly set-up (or will be finalised in the next week or so) including filtration, substrate, hard scape ready to assemble etc, some key things are to be Christmas presents for my son, including the light, glass ware and plants. So I can't plant it yet anyway, and he's currently staring at an empty tank set up in his room.

My current thinking therefore is I could finish setting the tank up now, and artificially cycle it over the next 5 weeks, without lights, to mature the filter and substrate and establish the biological filtration in readiness for Christmas.

Then on Christmas day/Boxing Day we can have some father and son time draining the tank to the substrate and planting his new plants, adding the light and glass ware, before re-filling, setting up the CO2 and allowing them to grow in for a week or two.

At that point I would hope the tank, with the pre-cycling and the later added plant mass, would have sufficient biological filtration capacity to support some shrimp and a few fish. Job done - sons interest maintained.

I appreciate it's not the purist approach of planting right at the start and waiting 6-8 weeks - but do you think its an acceptable approach given the unique constraints and the desire to reduce the gap between Christmas day and critter introduction?
 

Thumper

Member
Joined
14 Nov 2019
Messages
91
Location
Germany
Thats exactly how James Findley from TGM cycled most of his tanks. I dont see any reason not to do it. You might want to add some bottle of bacterias (Seachem stability, Microbelift NiteOut2) to get a headstart ;)
 

dw1305

Expert
Joined
7 Apr 2008
Messages
10,495
Location
nr Bath
Hi all
My current thinking therefore is I could finish setting the tank up now, and artificially cycle it over the next 5 weeks, without lights, to mature the filter and substrate and establish the biological filtration in readiness for Christmas.
You could.

You probably won't get an appropriate microbial flora, <"but it would be a start">. If you did want to go down this route I still wouldn't add any more than a trace <"amount of ammonia">.

Any amount of time set-up, and wet, is better than no time at all.
You might want to add some bottle of bacterias (Seachem stability, Microbelift NiteOut2) to get a headstart
They aren't products that I'm ever going to use, and I don't know how available it is in the UK, but if I was going down this particular avenue I might try one <"Tim Hovanec's"> <"products">.

@jaypeecee has used <"Tetra SafeStart"> recently, so I'll add him in. My guess would be that a small amount of garden soil would be equally effective as a microbial innoculum.

cheers Darrel
 
Last edited:

Zeus.

Member
Joined
1 Oct 2016
Messages
3,222
Location
Yorkshire,UK
What I did to get the filter ready for getting the tank/filter suitable for inmates as soon as possible after my DSM is during the DSM period I set the filter up in the garage with a Bin full of water with the filter and media fitted and just added some waste products for the filter bacteria to work thrive on, just used an empty glass filled up up with privacy with my urine and put it in the bin a few times a week and it worked a treat as had inmates in tank within a week. Although my substrate would have already cycled because of the DSM OFC but all depends on what substrate you plan to use OFC. I would use the same precycling technique again without hesitation with the addition of adding a few plants (weeds) roots from the garden into the bin also as a quick source of bacteria from the garden to speed up the cycling/bacterial colonization process.
 

Wookii

Member
Joined
13 Nov 2019
Messages
724
Location
Nottingham
Hi allYou could.

You probably won't get an appropriate microbial flora, <"but it would be a start">. If you did want to go down this route I still wouldn't add any more than a trace <"amount of ammonia">.

Any amount of time set-up, and wet, is better than no time at all.They aren't products that I'm ever going to use, and I don't know how available it is in the UK, but if I was going down this particular avenue I might try one <"Tim Hovanec's"> <"products">.

@jaypeecee has used <"Tetra SafeStart"> recently, so I'll add him in. My guess would be that a small amount of garden soil would be equally effective as a microbial innoculum.

cheers Darrel
Thanks Darrel - yeah I’m not going to go crazy with the ammonia - just a minimal amount.

The substrate will be Tropica Soil Powder - I’ve read it gives off a small amount of ammonia on its own initially - though not nearly as much as the ADA stuff, so I may not need to add much of any ammonia at the start.

I must admit I have bought a few ‘bacteria’ additives already - before reading of their possibly dubious benefit on this forum - some clear EA balls to stick in the base of the Eheim filter, some Bacter 100 to add to the substrate, and some Fluval Cycle for the water column. All probably unnecessary now you mention the soil idea, but I may as well use it as I have it.
 

Wookii

Member
Joined
13 Nov 2019
Messages
724
Location
Nottingham
What I did to get the filter ready for getting the tank/filter suitable for inmates as soon as possible after my DSM is during the DSM period I set the filter up in the garage with a Bin full of water with the filter and media fitted and just added some waste products for the filter bacteria to work thrive on, just used an empty glass filled up up with privacy with my urine and put it in the bin a few times a week and it worked a treat as had inmates in tank within a week. Although my substrate would have already cycled because of the DSM OFC but all depends on what substrate you plan to use OFC. I would use the same precycling technique again without hesitation with the addition of adding a few plants (weeds) roots from the garden into the bin also as a quick source of bacteria from the garden to speed up the cycling/bacterial colonization process.
lol that takes the piss! . . . Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Thanks for the tips - I did think of cycling the filter on its own in the garage, but as the tank is already sat there, and the substrate and hardscape is ready to implement, I figured I may as well cycle with the whole tank, and then at least the substrate and hardscape will hopefully have some useful bacterial content also.
 

jaypeecee

Member
Joined
21 Jan 2015
Messages
1,420
Location
Bracknell
Hi @Wookii

You have plenty of time to get a tank ready before Christmas. I see that you have a 60 litre tank. Are you planning to use tap water and, if so, please get a copy of your water company's most recent water report. You will also need a test kit in order to carry out some important tests. The following kit seems quite popular and it covers all the water parameters that you will need to measure:

https://www.ntlabs.co.uk/browse-products/indoor/aquarium-lab/aquarium-lab-multi-test/

You will also need a source of ammonia. Dr Tim's Ammonium Chloride is a good choice and it's available from Amazon UK. You will need a bottle of Tetra SafeStart which you can also get from Amazon UK - a 100ml bottle should be adequate. You mention 'filtration'. Which filter are you using? And you will need a thermostatically-controlled heater plus a separate thermometer. As you're using tap water, you will need a tap water conditioner. I understand that API Tap Water Conditioner is a good choice and guess where you can get that from? Yes, Amazon UK.

That's probably all that you need to know right now. More to follow when you've got all the above and ready for the next stage.

JPC
 

jaypeecee

Member
Joined
21 Jan 2015
Messages
1,420
Location
Bracknell
I must admit I have bought a few ‘bacteria’ additives already - before reading of their possibly dubious benefit on this forum - some clear EA balls to stick in the base of the Eheim filter, some Bacter 100 to add to the substrate, and some Fluval Cycle for the water column. All probably unnecessary now you mention the soil idea, but I may as well use it as I have it.
Hi @Wookii

We probably will not need to use any of the products you have listed. I would advise against using them just because you have them. Hold onto them for now and return them for a refund, if necessary, at a later stage.

JPC
 

Wookii

Member
Joined
13 Nov 2019
Messages
724
Location
Nottingham
Hi @Wookii

You have plenty of time to get a tank ready before Christmas. I see that you have a 60 litre tank. Are you planning to use tap water and, if so, please get a copy of your water company's most recent water report. You will also need a test kit in order to carry out some important tests. The following kit seems quite popular and it covers all the water parameters that you will need to measure:

https://www.ntlabs.co.uk/browse-products/indoor/aquarium-lab/aquarium-lab-multi-test/

You will also need a source of ammonia. Dr Tim's Ammonium Chloride is a good choice and it's available from Amazon UK. You will need a bottle of Tetra SafeStart which you can also get from Amazon UK - a 100ml bottle should be adequate. You mention 'filtration'. Which filter are you using? And you will need a thermostatically-controlled heater plus a separate thermometer. As you're using tap water, you will need a tap water conditioner. I understand that API Tap Water Conditioner is a good choice and guess where you can get that from? Yes, Amazon UK.

That's probably all that you need to know right now. More to follow when you've got all the above and ready for the next stage.

JPC
Thanks for the pointers - I’m coming back to owning a planted tank after 16 years away, so I have most of the kit already. The tank is one of my older ones, and I have my old Eheim Pro 2 2028 with several boxes of new media ready to go, plus all the CO2 kit ready for when we add plants, and the EI feet kit arrived this week curtesy of AFPUK.

I also have a couple of decent quality heaters to set up with, but again one of my sons Christmas gifts is one of the Hydor in-line units together with an Inkbird controller, as he very astutely pointed out that he disliked seeing any equipment in the tank the first time we went to the LFS - maybe I introduced him to my Takashi Amano books too early!!

I have bought a basic dip test kit just to ensure I’m showing zero ammonia and nitrites before adding livestock, and have a 2 litre bottle of Fluval Aqua plus which will auto-dose into an automatic water change header tank I’ve hooked up with a couple of solenoid’s.

I also already have the Dr Tim’s bottle, from Amazon as you say.

All I’m waiting on now is the arrival of a Lifegard bulk head fitting from the US so I can plug the hole I successfully cut in the tank last weekend.

Once that’s in place I we will be ready to scape and fill!
 

jaypeecee

Member
Joined
21 Jan 2015
Messages
1,420
Location
Bracknell
I have bought a basic dip test kit just to ensure I’m showing zero ammonia and nitrites before adding livestock, and have a 2 litre bottle of Fluval Aqua plus which will auto-dose into an automatic water change header tank I’ve hooked up with a couple of solenoid’s.

I also already have the Dr Tim’s bottle, from Amazon as you say.

All I’m waiting on now is the arrival of a Lifegard bulk head fitting from the US so I can plug the hole I successfully cut in the tank last weekend.

Once that’s in place I we will be ready to scape and fill!
Hi @Wookii

The dip test kit will not be adequate for the job. Hobbyist dip tests are notoriously inaccurate. Liquid test kits are far superior. Plus, you will need to test for nitrate. The Fluval Aqua Plus sounds as if it contains aloe vera having read the online description - not a good idea if you are planning to keep anabantids such as Gouramis. Which 'Dr Tim's bottle' do you have? There are two that you need.

JPC
 

Wookii

Member
Joined
13 Nov 2019
Messages
724
Location
Nottingham
Hi @Wookii

The dip test kit will not be adequate for the job. Hobbyist dip tests are notoriously inaccurate. Liquid test kits are far superior. Plus, you will need to test for nitrate. The Fluval Aqua Plus sounds as if it contains aloe vera having read the online description - not a good idea if you are planning to keep anabantids such as Gouramis. Which 'Dr Tim's bottle' do you have? There are two that you need.

JPC
To be honest I’m no too worried about accurate ammonia and nitrite readings, just zero or non-zero, and I’m not worried about measuring nitrates as I’ll be dosing those in excess in due course anyway.

AquaPlus does does contain something like Aloe I think - not ideal, I did want to use Seachem Prime, but Seachem confirmed to me that it can’t be mixed with DI water to use with an auto-doser that ideally needs to dose in the 5ml range at a time. We won’t be having any Gouramis though, my son is dead set in Guppies and Platys.

I have the Dr Tim’s ammonia - I only need that one, as I just need a source of ammonia and honestly didn’t think of peeing in the tank lol
 
Last edited:

jaypeecee

Member
Joined
21 Jan 2015
Messages
1,420
Location
Bracknell
To be honest I’m no too worried about accurate ammonia and nitrite readings, just zero or non-zero, and I’m not worried about measuring nitrates as I’ll be dosing those in excess in due course anyway.

I have the Dr Tim’s ammonia - I only need that one, as I just need a source of ammonia and honestly didn’t think of peeing in the tank lol
Hi @Wookii

Without being able to accurately monitor ammonia and nitrite, it will be difficult to see how well the cycle is progressing - if at all. And measuring nitrate will be evidence that the cycle is close to completion. It's very likely that your chosen bacterial products will let you down. That's why bottled bacteria gained a poor reputation with fishkeepers. But, Tetra SafeStart has been proven by many (including myself) to be trustworthy. One of the main reasons for this is that it uses Nitrospira bacteria instead of Nitrobacter to convert nitrite into nitrate. Dr Tim Hovanec, who developed the SafeStart formula, was the man who correctly identified Nitrospira moscoviensis as being the nitrite-oxidizing bacteria in aquaria.

Water temperature, pH and KH all play an important part in ensuring a successful cycle. I have cycled tanks in just one week using SafeStart after which I have been able to add fish to the tank. Plants can be added a couple of weeks later.

JPC
 

Zeus.

Member
Joined
1 Oct 2016
Messages
3,222
Location
Yorkshire,UK
I just need a source of ammonia and honestly didn’t think of peeing in the tank lol
Well salts are salts and its premixed and I would of thought very similar to what fish excrete seeing we all evolved from fish long ago, plus the advantage of using a mans urine is because of the reality long length of the urethra in males unless you have a bladder infection urine from men tends to have very few 'if any' bacteria
 

dean

Member
Joined
6 Apr 2012
Messages
1,240
Location
Warrington, Cheshire
If I’m right you already have aquariums set up and this is one for your son

If that’s right why don’t you use some the mature filter media in your sons setup ?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Wookii

Member
Joined
13 Nov 2019
Messages
724
Location
Nottingham
If I’m right you already have aquariums set up and this is one for your son

If that’s right why don’t you use some the mature filter media in your sons setup ?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
No, I don’t have any aquariums set up currently. The last one I had set up was 16 years ago - at that time I had several planted tanks. So I have much of the kit, but no mature filter media, otherwise yes, that would have been my plan.
 

Wookii

Member
Joined
13 Nov 2019
Messages
724
Location
Nottingham
Well, the tank is set-up and ‘cycling’ (I’m aware that isn’t a popular term).

I’ve added no ammonia at all yet, but the readings are already high - so much for Tropica soil not releasing much of it I guess!

DC0B42BB-0762-4F67-85AE-7B27BB5532D2.jpeg


Guessing this is somewhere between 2-4ppm
 
Joined
17 Aug 2018
Messages
1,098
Location
-
Worth getting another reading early on tomorrow and doing a water change to make sure it goes no higher than that.
 

Wookii

Member
Joined
13 Nov 2019
Messages
724
Location
Nottingham
Well, just by way of an update, the ammonia levels are gradually reducing, and nitrites are at significant levels. I've done four 50% water changes since starting to try and keep levels of both lower, so I'm hoping the nitrites will be on the way down soon also.

Incidentally I haven't even opened the bottle of Dr Tims Ammonia yet - all the ammonia is being, and continues to be, leached into the tank by the Tropica Soil Powder substrate!
 

Similar threads

Top