Has my tank instant-cycled through reanimated media?

onetwothree

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Hi All,

Yesterday, I set up my first tank and got ready to cycle it. I purchased my tank 2nd hand, with an old filter which included media. I didn't end up using the old filter, but figured since the media was still good, I'd see if it could provide me with an 'instant' cycle, as I've read that using media with established bacteria can do this. However, when I purchased the tank & filter etc, the seller told me they had emptied the tank around Christmas, so the media was sat in a plastic bag and had presumably been there for some weeks, outside of the filter, tank and water. I've read from many sources that this should kill the bacteria, however I've also read several reports on forums, of media that has been out of water, still providing the immediate cycling results once placed back into water, with some suggesting that this could somehow reanimate the dormant bacteria. I have no idea if this is scientifically possible, but regardless, would make no difference if not, as I could just do a normal cycle.

Once set up, I tested my water and got the following results; PH 6.8, ammonia 0.25, nitrite 0, nitrate 5.0. (cold water, the filter and heater had basically just been turned on).

Today, I tested the water after 24 hours and got the following (image attached); PH 6.6, ammonia 0 (very pale yellow), nitrite 0, nitrate 25 (roughly). All the tests were left to stand for at least 5 mins and completed using API master test kit.

At this point, I haven't even entered anything into the water column to start the cycle as I have read online. I planned on purchasing some fish food which I will begin slowly putting in daily, to breakdown and create ammonia. However, if my understanding is correct, there should be no nitrate present in the results yet if a cycle had not yet begun. The presence of 25 ish PPM nitrate and 0/0 ammonia & nitrite would be results I'd expect to find at the end of the cycle.

So, am I correct in assuming the old media has caused this and has provided me with an environment safe for fish? Is my understanding correct, or is there an error here?

Advice appreciated.

Thanks,

Alex
 

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PARAGUAY

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Moving media is often done by retailers to prepare tanks for new stock. 0 nitrite seems your ok
 

cbaum86

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I also remember reading something similar about a dormant or hibernation period but I can't for the life of me remember where I found it - and like you it also seems to go against what is the mainstay of advice (not that that actually makes it correct).
I think I remember though it said that it can take a while - although not as long as a full cycle - and a slightly higher ammonia load to reanimate the colony.

Nitrate can be present in your tap water (up to 50ppm legally) so I'd test that. If you also happen to have around the 25ppm in that then you're just testing tap water which would have 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite.
However, that does raise the curiosity between your first and second readings. Where has that first bit of ammonia come from (aquasoil ???) and why only 5ppm of nitrate over the 25 the following day.
Also, I'm not aware of the nitrification chemistry and equations but if there were some kind of cycle would you really jump to 25ppm of nitrate?
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
If worried either wait 8-12 weeks to allow it to cycle fully
We like <"plant and wait"> as a cycling technique. You don't need to add any ammonia, but if you feel happier adding a few flakes that is fine.
I have no idea if this is scientifically possible, but regardless, would make no difference if not, as I could just do a normal cycle.
Was it stored damp? It is was? It is possible that it still has an appropriate microbial flora.

Have a look at <"Another tank cycling question"> and linked threads for some back-ground.
a dormant or hibernation period but I can't for the life of me remember where I found it - and like you it also seems to go against what is the mainstay of advice (not that that actually makes it correct)
It is probable that Ammonia Oxidising Archaea (AOA) are <"more important in nitrification in aquariums than bacteria"> are, and AOA are likely to be more tolerant of drying and low oxygen levels.

There is a lot of recent scientific work on nitrification, but not much of it has filtered down to aquatic forums, or LFS, yet.

cheers Darrel
 
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cbaum86

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There is a lot of recent scientific work on nitrification, but not much of it has filtered down to aquatic forums, or LFS, yet.
I'm always going back to the links you post to those articles and the ones in the Bedside Aquarium journal - trying to remember which bit of information is in which publication is a nightmare. Trying to pass on the information to others is sometimes a struggle, whilst I understand the basic premise and overarching results it can be hard to convince people without a full understanding of the biology and chemistry when the idea of 4ppm ammonia black and white cycle is so entrenched. But that has been discussed on here enough!
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Trying to pass on the information to others is sometimes a struggle. whilst I understand the basic premise and overarching results it can be hard to convince people without a full understanding of the biology and chemistry when the idea of 4ppm ammonia black and white cycle is so entrenched.
I understand.

As a series of threads (over several forums) it has generated a lot of comment, a lot of it not very complementary and some of it extremely hostile.

cheers Darrel
 

onetwothree

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Quick update for everyone; I've ordered some ammonia to dose tonight to see what reaction I get. I've been advised that if my tank clears the added ammonia within 12 hours, then its a good sign that the cycle is complete and has in fact been 'instant'. However, I noticed last night when testing that my ammonia and nitrite spiked from 0 each to around 2 & 0.50 respectively. Within about 2/3 hours, they had fallen to about 0.25 & 0.25 each, with nitrate increasing to around 30. Today I have noticed that they have fallen a little more, but are similar within that range. The only changes I've made to the tank in the last day is adding another 2 rocks as hardscape (taken from the old tank setup).

Any idea on what could have caused this at all?
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
The only changes I've made to the tank in the last day is adding another 2 rocks as hardscape (taken from the old tank setup).
It is unlikely to be the rocks.
I've ordered some ammonia to dose tonight to see what reaction I get. I've been advised that if my tank clears the added ammonia within 12 hours, then its a good sign that the cycle is complete and has in fact been 'instant'.
Honestly I'd get some-one else to advise you. This isn't necessarily true, and adding ammonia is actually more likely to increase the time taken for the tank to become fish safe.

<"Cycling is a very divisive issue">, but there definitely isn't a switch from <"non-cycled (not safe for fish) to cycled (and safe for fish)">.

Have a look at <"Dr Tim Hovanec's"> comments. It was his scientific work that led to the development of <"ammonia based cycling">, but he has revised his views in light of more recent scientific research.
However, I noticed last night when testing that my ammonia and nitrite spiked from 0 each to around 2 & 0.50 respectively. Within about 2/3 hours, they had fallen to about 0.25 & 0.25 each, with nitrate increasing to around 30.
I'm not particularly keen on <"nitrate (NO3-) or ammonia (NH3/NH4+) test kits">, and I definitely wouldn't base any decisions about fish welfare to a tank based on them.

cheers Darrel
 

sparkyweasel

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I agree with Darrel's comments, and would suggest that the most likely explanation of those test readings is that you are getting false or misleading results.
Are your plants growing well? Getting them well established will enable you to start gradually stocking fish.
 

onetwothree

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Hi all,It is unlikely to be the rocks.Honestly I'd get some-one else to advise you. This isn't necessarily true, and adding ammonia is actually more likely to increase the time taken for the tank to become fish safe.

<"Cycling is a very divisive issue">, but there definitely isn't a switch from <"non-cycled (not safe for fish) to cycled (and safe for fish)">.

Have a look at <"Dr Tim Hovanec's"> comments. It was his scientific work that led to the development of <"ammonia based cycling">, but he has revised his views in light of more recent scientific research.I'm not particularly keen on <"nitrate (NO3-) or ammonia (NH3/NH4+) test kits">, and I definitely wouldn't base any decisions about fish welfare to a tank based on them.

cheers Darrel
Thank you for the helpful comments and links. It seems that the science surrounding around cycling is still evolving (as is the way of the scientific method, I suppose). It's interesting that much of this information is stated as fact across many of the other forums, when it's clear from the article you linked there's still far more knowledge to be gained and questions to be answered around the subject. The advise I got was from a moderator on another forum, which I have followed now, so it'll be interesting to see the impact regardless. Even if the test kits can be misleading, I'm unsure how else I can gain a consistent insight into the changes and overall safety/status of the water chemistry? I have planted the tank with several varieties of plant (3/4 different species), including Java fern. So far, it seems ok, some white whispy biofilm type material is growing on much of the wood currently, which I believe is harmless.

I agree with Darrel's comments, and would suggest that the most likely explanation of those test readings is that you are getting false or misleading results.
Are your plants growing well? Getting them well established will enable you to start gradually stocking fish.
Plants seems ok so far, it's only been a few days. I have some surface dwelling/floating plants (look like very small clovers that float on the top and have small roots dangling below in the water), no idea what they're called anymore, but they seem to be spreading in number already. I recently purchased some fertiliser, which I'm considering adding in. I'm conscious that I don't want to mess too much with the chemistry of the water currently, as it's a totally new tank. Would you advise adding any of this to help them become established?
 

sparkyweasel

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Yes, ferts will help your plants right from the start, and the better they grow the more they will help with the water quality. The floaters are good, they grow fast as they get their CO2 from the air, where there is more available than dissolved in the water for your submerged plants. Fast-growers are generally a good thing for water quality.
If you're not sure of the species you could post some pics, some-one will probably be able to identify them.
You're right about the white wispy stuff, it's harmless and will go away after a while. It feeds on residues in the wood, which will become exhausted in time.
 

onetwothree

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Yes, ferts will help your plants right from the start, and the better they grow the more they will help with the water quality. The floaters are good, they grow fast as they get their CO2 from the air, where there is more available than dissolved in the water for your submerged plants. Fast-growers are generally a good thing for water quality.
If you're not sure of the species you could post some pics, some-one will probably be able to identify them.
You're right about the white wispy stuff, it's harmless and will go away after a while. It feeds on residues in the wood, which will become exhausted in time.
Thanks for the feedback, I’ll post some pictures when I get home of the plants. I added some ammonia last night as I mentioned in my previous post to read 2 ppm, after 12 hours this has fallen to around 1-1.25 ppm region, with nitrite and nitrate remaining around the same (around 0.25 and 30 respectively). The reduction in ammonia does suggest then that the necessary nitrifying bacteria is growing, but I am far from ‘cycled’ or fish-safe yet. It’s curious that despite falling ammonia levels over the 12 hour period, nitrtate and nitrite have remained stable?

What would your advise be from this point on, beyond to start adding ferts? I assume you believe it best to stop adding any ammonia sources at all? No fish food, pure ammonia etc, and just go by the hands-off ‘plant and wait’ method? Would you advise any water changes at all?

Thanks

Alex
 
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dw1305

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Hi all,
It seems that the science surrounding around cycling is still evolving (as is the way of the scientific method, I suppose).
I think the evidence is pretty unequivocal that the linear, ammonia based, view of cycling isn't right.

I actually started posting on cycling before I knew about the microbial research, mainly because I'd been working on a project looking at the <"phytoremediation of landfill leachate">, and it was apparent from this research that
  • the filtration capacity of planted wet and dry trickle filters was enormous, and
  • much exceeded the capacity of non-planted wet and dry trickle filters, but these were still
  • an order of magnitude better than the other options.
From this (and <"visiting a lot of sewage works">) it was clear that oxygen was the most important physical factor in nitrification, and that plants vastly increased the capacity of filters, although the exact mechanisms for this weren't fully known.

The subsequent twenty years have seen a lot of interest in <"phytoremediation">, both in <"constructed wetlands"> and in <"lagoon systems">.
It's interesting that much of this information is stated as fact across many of the other forums, when it's clear from the article you linked there's still far more knowledge to be gained and questions to be answered around the subject.
I want fish keepers to keep planted tanks, ideally with <"emerging or floating plants">, because having plants vastly increases their long term chances success, it is no more complicated than that.

I <"don't have anything to sell">, or any agenda. If people use the <"Duckweed Index">, or like a post, it might massage my ego, but it doesn't make me any wealthier. I'm not entirely convinced that <"every-body, who posts, has the same aims">.

<"Once or twice"> I've been approached by companies to review, or promote, their equipment and I've always been honest in reviews and refused any financial inducements.
I added some ammonia last night as I mentioned in my previous post to read 2 ppm, after 12 hours this has fallen to around 1-1.25 ppm region, with nitrite and nitrate remaining around the same (around 0.25 and 30 respectively). The reduction in ammonia does suggest then that the necessary nitrifying bacteria is growing, but I am far from ‘cycled’ or fish-safe yet. It’s curious that despite falling ammonia levels over the 12 hour period, nitrtate and nitrite have remained stable?
Have a look at Clive's @ceg4048 comments, but I will warn you that <"he is a much angrier man than I am">.

cheers Darrel
 
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onetwothree

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Hi all, I think the evidence is pretty unequivocal that the linear, ammonia based, view of cycling isn't right.

I actually started posting on cycling before I knew about the microbial research, mainly because I'd been working on a project looking at the <"phytoremediation of landfill leachate">, and it was apparent from this research that
  • the filtration capacity of planted wet and dry trickle filters was enormous, and
  • much exceeded the capacity of non-planted wet and dry trickle filters, but these were still
  • an order of magnitude better than the other options.
From this (and <"visiting a lot of sewage works">) it was clear that oxygen was the most important physical factor in nitrification, and that plants vastly increased the capacity of filters, although the exact mechanisms for this weren't fully known.

The subsequent twenty years have seen a lot of interest in <"phytoremediation">, both in <"constructed wetlands"> and in <"lagoon systems">.I want fish keepers to keep planted tanks, ideally with <"emerging or floating plants">, because having plants vastly increases their long term chances success, it is no more complicated than that.

I <"don't have anything to sell">, or any agenda. If people use the <"Duckweed Index">, or like a post, it might massage my ego, but it doesn't make me any wealthier. I'm not entirely convinced that <"every-body, who posts, has the same aims">.

<"Once or twice"> I've been approached by companies to review, or promote, their equipment and I've always been honest in reviews and refused any financial inducements.Have a look at Clive's @ceg4048 comments, but I will warn you that <"he is a much angrier man than I am">.

cheers Darrel
Thank you for the further helpful info. According to most of the info you've shared here, it seems my focus should be almost entirely on cultivating a healthy and stable environment for the various plants within my tank to growth and become established, which will then provide a good environment for fish to be added over time. I should mostly do-away with testing perameters constantly, and just focus on providing adquate fertiliser to my plants, adding some more quick growing species and take things from there. Are there any specific species of plants you recommend?

What would be your advise around water changes?
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
it seems my focus should be almost entirely on cultivating a healthy and stable environment for the various plants within my tank to growth and become established, which will then provide a good environment for fish to be added over time.
That is what I do. I'm not claiming it is the only method that can be successful, but it works and <"has a very low risk of failure">.
.......and just focus on providing adquate fertiliser to my plants, adding some more quick growing species and take things from there.
Yes, I'm a pretty shoddy and lazy fish-keeper so I like to follow the path of least resistance. If plants can do the <"heavy lifting">, that is great by me.
I should mostly do-away with testing perameters constantly
We have members who are keener on water testing, @alto, @ian_m or @jaypeecee can advise you of suitable test kits.

It is not that I'm not interested in water chemistry, I'm very interested.

The problem for me is that it isn't that easy to derive values that are accurate and repeatable for all the parameters I'm interested in. When scientists are looking at water quality in the field they use a combination of the <"BOD value and an invertebrate biotic index"> and in waste water testing they use <"bioassay techniques">.
What would be your advise around water changes?
I'm low tech., I use rain-water and I don't regularly add nutrients, so I uses <"small and frequent water changes">. Other will use a much <"bigger volume change">.

cheers Darrel
 

david boden

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123------Darrel has just saved me a load of typing !
I'm in his camp......and it's worked well for me for years ( I don't keep really tricky species though ).
May I just add that once you start adding fish gradually, you'll naturally accumulate Nitrate in your water. Aquatic plants are not too efficient at removal of this, but emergent plants thrive on it.
I personally just push a cut stem of Golden Pothos behind a piece of back landscape, and let it grow its multiple aquatic roots after a few weeks......there are several other suitable plants I believe too.
As Darrel said, there's no right and wrong , .....just different strokes for different folks......choose what you enjoy the most !
 

sparkyweasel

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I assume you believe it best to stop adding any ammonia sources at all? No fish food, pure ammonia etc, and just go by the hands-off ‘plant and wait’ method? Would you advise any water changes at all?
Yes and yes.
I think that adding ammonia makes it complicated and unreliable; 'plant and wait' is simple and very unlikely to give you problems.
Water changes are good, even without fish yet present. Plants and microbes also produce wastes of various kinds, which water changes dilute.
Like Darrel and lots of others here, I can tell you what works for me, without claiming it's the only way to go. I wouldn't trust any advice that tells you there's only one way to succeed with something as complicated as an aquarium. There's a lot of chemistry and biology going on in there, and nobody understands it all. So sometimes it's good to do what gets results and makes life easy.
 

sparkyweasel

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. I added some ammonia last night as I mentioned in my previous post to read 2 ppm, after 12 hours this has fallen to around 1-1.25 ppm region, with nitrite and nitrate remaining around the same (around 0.25 and 30 respectively). The reduction in ammonia does suggest then that the necessary nitrifying bacteria is growing, but I am far from ‘cycled’ or fish-safe yet. It’s curious that despite falling ammonia levels over the 12 hour period, nitrtate and nitrite have remained stable?
If the old-school theory of nitrification was correct, the ammonia would have been converted to nitrite, then nitrate so one or both of the latter two readings would have increased.
If the readings are accurate, it suggests that your plants are taking up the ammonia. If that is the case, adding ammonia is not helpng the bacteria much if at all.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I have some surface dwelling/floating plants (look like very small clovers that float on the top and have small roots dangling below in the water)
Possibly <"Salvinia "auriculata group""> It doesn't really matter which floating plants they are, as long as they are growing.

The most common ones people use are <"Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes)">, Floating Fern (Salvinia natans (auriculata)) and <"Amazon Frogbit (Limnobium laevigatum)">. I have a mixture of all three, but <"I particularly like Amazon Frogbit">, mainly because it is a nice green colour, and I use it as a <"measure of nutrient status"> in the <"Duckweed Index">.

The other two <"have hairy leaves"> which makes them less "grass" green.

cheers Darrel
 

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