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Seeding new filter media . . .

Wookii

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Just trying to get a consensus on this - I'm setting up a new quarantine tank with new HOB filter. The 70 litre QT tank will only have a few slow growing plants in - so the usual approach of plants as filter won't really apply - and the sand substrate will be new and just a thin layer of sand to cover the glass base, though I will be adding some matured leaf litter (that's been sitting outside in a tub for three months) over the top, and the hardscape will be wood that has been soaking outdoors for 6 months. The first inhabitants into quarantine boot camp will be a 25 strong shoal of Hyphessobrycon elachys that will have to be added in one go, so I need to ensure the system is biologically mature enough to support them.

The tank will take a few weeks to get in place and set up properly. So whilst that happens I plan to add the sponges from the new HOB filter to a spare tray in one of my existing long term mature filters to seed them with bacteria.

How long do we think it would take for the new sponges to become sufficiently populated with nitrifying bacteria to fully support the new QT tank?
 

PARAGUAY

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Ideally you would be better off IMO quarantine in groups of say eight over three weeks? Beside seeding the HOB why not run a sponge filter in one of your tanks add to the quarantine in a couple of weeks. Some stem plants would help
 

Wookii

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Surely it wouldn’t happen any slower than your normal nitrogen cycle

Not sure I follow? The purpose of putting the sponges in a mature filter would be to transfer active mature bacteria to the sponges, avoiding the need for any traditional 'cycle', cutting potentially 3 months down to an as yet undetermined number of weeks.
 

PARAGUAY

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Not sure I follow? The purpose of putting the sponges in a mature filter would be to transfer active mature bacteria to the sponges, avoiding the need for any traditional 'cycle', cutting potentially 3 months down to an as yet undetermined number of weeks.
A lot of shops do it when recieving new fish arrivals
 

Wookii

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Ideally you would be better off IMO quarantine in groups of say eight over three weeks? Beside seeding the HOB why not run a sponge filter in one of your tanks add to the quarantine in a couple of weeks. Some stem plants would help

Eight at a time isn't really going be a practical option so the shoal needs to be handled in one go. I'm not sure the additional sponge filter would add much - the HOB (Oase Biostyle 180) has plenty of capacity once the sponges are mature. I could run that filter on the existing tank to seed it, I just figured housing the sponges from it in the old filter itself would put them in direct contact with the actual bacteria since the water column doesn't contain nearly as many.
 

PARAGUAY

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The sponge filter in the main tank would hold bacteria for you tanks fish in the tank a lot more than the transfered media in the HOB initially . Because your adding quite a number l of fishl thought it an extra temporary precaution. Same with stem plants they could be used initially and taken out later
 

Wookii

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The sponge filter in the main tank would hold bacteria for you tanks fish in the tank a lot more than the transfered media in the HOB initially . Because your adding quite a number l of fishl thought it an extra temporary precaution. Same with stem plants they could be used initially and taken out later

Ah okay - same question applies in both cases then I guess; how long would it take for both lots of sponge to become sufficiently seeded to support the new tank?
 

Wookii

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The sponge filter in the main tank would hold bacteria for you tanks fish in the tank a lot more than the transfered media in the HOB initially . Because your adding quite a number l of fishl thought it an extra temporary precaution. Same with stem plants they could be used initially and taken out later

Good idea on some temporary stem plants - I could probably pot them up. The idea, being a QT tank, is that I can remove everything easily to net fish out - so most plants will be epiphytes and moss on a couple of larger pieces of wood and lava rock that can be puled out in a couple of minutes. I should probably also add that I'll add enough floating plants to largely cover most of the surface, so they'll suck up a good proportion of any ammonia the system generates too.
 

Konsa

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Just trying to get a consensus on this - I'm setting up a new quarantine tank with new HOB filter. The 70 litre QT tank will only have a few slow growing plants in - so the usual approach of plants as filter won't really apply - and the sand substrate will be new and just a thin layer of sand to cover the glass base, though I will be adding some matured leaf litter (that's been sitting outside in a tub for three months) over the top, and the hardscape will be wood that has been soaking outdoors for 6 months. The first inhabitants into quarantine boot camp will be a 25 strong shoal of Hyphessobrycon elachys that will have to be added in one go, so I need to ensure the system is biologically mature enough to support them.

The tank will take a few weeks to get in place and set up properly. So whilst that happens I plan to add the sponges from the new HOB filter to a spare tray in one of my existing long term mature filters to seed them with bacteria.

How long do we think it would take for the new sponges to become sufficiently populated with nitrifying bacteria to fully support the new QT tank?
Hi
A week in the mature filter should do it for the sponges.Also mature leaf litter and presoaked wood will have bacterial colonies already established. As for your slow growing plants you can possibly add some Floaters too to do the heavy lifting till system starts running on 100%.
Of coarse maintaining high oxygen levels will ensure your system stability no matter of the level of development of the microbal colonies in the initial stages and will help to establish them quicker.
Regards Konstantin
 

seedoubleyou

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Not sure I follow? The purpose of putting the sponges in a mature filter would be to transfer active mature bacteria to the sponges, avoiding the need for any traditional 'cycle', cutting potentially 3 months down to an as yet undetermined number of weeks.
It was kind of a question within your question mate.
Ultimately how could we possibly know how long it takes without taking those sponges out and adding them to the new system with those new fish and testing the water to see if enough bacteria has colonised on the sponges to deal with the bio load?

I’m just assuming the process would happen faster than your average cycle as the bacteria is already vastly there, it just needs to transfer over as such.
 

Wookii

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It was kind of a question within your question mate.
Ultimately how could we possibly know how long it takes without taking those sponges out and adding them to the new system with those new fish and testing the water to see if enough bacteria has colonised on the sponges to deal with the bio load?

I’m just assuming the process would happen faster than your average cycle as the bacteria is already vastly there, it just needs to transfer over as such.

Yep, agreed, but I'm assuming this is a path that has been well trodden before - so I'm hoping for a general consensus on how long that bacterial transfer process would typically be expected to take. If a week or two is sufficient as @Konsa has suggested above, then great, but if a month or more is usually required, then I need to know so I can keep them in the filter longer
.
 

seedoubleyou

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Yep, agreed, but I'm assuming this is a path that has been well trodden before - so I'm hoping for a general consensus on how long that bacterial transfer process would typically be expected to take. If a week or two is sufficient as @Konsa has suggested above, then great, but if a month or more is usually required, then I need to know so I can keep them in the filter longer
.
Yeah that makes sense. It would certainly make for a good experiment if someone ever had the spare time and spare equipment to set something up.
They could compare the traditional way, instant bacteria and seeding bacteria to see which method is more effective sooner.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
so the usual approach of plants as filter won't really apply
should probably also add that I'll add enough floating plants to largely cover most of the surface, so they'll suck up a good proportion of any ammonia the system generates too.
Floating plants should be a more efficient aid to filtration than non-floating ones, mainly because they have access to <"420 ppm of atmospheric CO2">.

Personally I would regard the floating plants as the <"more important component"> of the plant / microbe nitrification process <"Amazon Frogbit (Limnobium laevigatum) phytoremediation references">.
The tank will take a few weeks to get in place and set up properly. So whilst that happens I plan to add the sponges from the new HOB filter to a spare tray in one of my existing long term mature filters to seed them with bacteria.

How long do we think it would take for the new sponges to become sufficiently populated with nitrifying bacteria to fully support the new QT tank?
A couple of weeks? But that is really just to get some tank maturity (<"Seasoned tank time">). Because the sponges come from an established tank they should have a <"diverse and complex microbial assemblage"> already present, that will respond to <"changes in ammonia level"> when you add the fish.

While the tank doesn't have any fish I would be tempted to add a complete fertiliser with some urea (CO(NH2)2) content, it will <"aid plant growth"> and provide a <"trickle of ammonia"> to the filter microbes.

cheers Darrel
 
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mort

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It used to be advised when switching filters, to run them in tandem for a month to six weeks. I think that is overkill but extra time won't hurt (although a couple of weeks should surfice).
Bacteria loves to multiply with available food so quickly picks up the slack. We used to introduce hundreds of fish at a time to our systems and the bacteria soon caught up. We used to have sponges floating in all our sumps for when customers needed to set up qt tanks and although they were tiny compared to our biological media, they worked when needed.

When I setup a qt I tend to seed it with a bit of everything from existing tanks, so I'll add a little mature sand, some wood or plants.
 

dw1305

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Simon Cole

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From what I have seen (mostly the microscope videos done by Alex from The Secret History Living in Your Aquarium channel on YouTube), the problem appears to be getting biofilm to attach to sponges. Here is a shot from his video:
1655892579277.png

I think it is the flocculant that really matters when it comes to sponges. This is the debris that get's stuck, but is not adhered and stuck to the fibres.
As an alternative, I experimented a bit with perlite bags and found it rather good; and universally I use crushed pumice in all of my filter bags, and they are fairly interchangeable. Basalt and lava are good too. I would consider getting a bag of it from your filter and adding it to your HOB. Obviously the usual opinions prevail about pumice disintegrating and changing water column pH, but that has never really bothered me. If you wanted to supercharge the process, consider using sugar or <bee pollen> to feed the bacteria and kick-start your QT tank, remembering to change the water first before you add the fish.
When I have used bare bottom tanks, I have noticed rather rapid slime growth, and I think Darrel is in the right, up above. Perhaps just bung in some java moss.
 

Wookii

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While the tank doesn't have any fish I would be tempted to add a complete fertiliser with some urea (CO(NH2)2) content, it will <"aid plant growth"> and provide a <"trickle of ammonia"> to the filter microbes.

Thanks Darrel - so two weeks of the new sponges in the old filter, then QT tank set-up, and then a couple of weeks run in - I have some Solufeed 2:1:4 High K which I think is largely Urea based I believe for the Nitrogen element, so I could add a very low dose of that. The tank will be intentionally low light, for the sake of new livestock, so whilst there will be lots of floating plants, I don't expect them to be as fast growing as they are in my typical tank.
 

Wookii

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From what I have seen (mostly the microscope videos done by Alex from The Secret History Living in Your Aquarium channel on YouTube), the problem appears to be getting biofilm to attach to sponges. Here is a shot from his video:
View attachment 190240
I think it is the flocculant that really matters when it comes to sponges. This is the debris that get's stuck, but is not adhered and stuck to the fibres.
As an alternative, I experimented a bit with perlite bags and found it rather good; and universally I use crushed pumice in all of my filter bags, and they are fairly interchangeable. Basalt and lava are good too. I would consider getting a bag of it from your filter and adding it to your HOB. Obviously the usual opinions prevail about basalt disintegrating and changing water column pH, but that has never really bothered me. If you wanted to supercharge the process, consider using sugar or <bee pollen> to feed the bacteria and kick-start your QT tank, remembering to change the water first before you add the fish.
When I have used bare bottom tanks, I have noticed rather rapid slime growth, and I think Darrel is in the right, up above. Perhaps just bung in some java moss.

Thanks for the suggestion Simon - I had actually consider 'acquiring' the debris from my existing filter to seed the new sponge. So instead of maturing the new sponge in the old filter for two weeks, I considered simply washing the existing old sponge out in a jug of tank water, and then soaking the new sponge in the brown mulm water for a few minutes before removing them pouring the brown water through the new sponges to catch the larger particles, and then adding the sponges straight to the new HOB filter. I could even dump the remaining brown water straight into the new tank to help seed everything else in it.

There isn't really much more space in the HOB filter for anything other than the pre-cut sponges, so I'll need to run with those.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
So instead of maturing the new sponge in the old filter for two weeks, I considered simply washing the existing old sponge out in a jug of tank water, and then soaking the new sponge in the brown mulm water for a few minutes before removing them pouring the brown water through the new sponges to catch the larger particles, and then adding the sponges straight to the new HOB filter.
That is what <"I do with new sponges">. Once they are wet? <"I keep them wet"> and do what @mort suggests.
We used to have sponges floating in all our sumps for when customers needed to set up qt tanks and although they were tiny compared to our biological media, they worked when needed.
Same for @Konsa's comment, as long as your oxygen supply always exceeds your <"Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD)"> you shouldn't have any problems. I store my spare wood (and sponges) in the <"jenga"> tank and that also serves as <"my quarantine tank">.
Also mature leaf litter and presoaked wood will have bacterial colonies already established. As for your slow growing plants you can possibly add some Floaters too to do the heavy lifting till system starts running on 100%. Of coarse maintaining high oxygen levels will ensure your system stability no matter of the level of development of the microbal colonies in the initial stages and will help to establish them quicker.
The prime metric in nitrification isn't actually the ammonia concentration, it is the dissolved oxygen level. As you have water with greater amounts of organic pollution its Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) increases, BOD values range from clean water at below 5 mg/l dissolved oxygen up to about 600 mg/L in raw sewage. Water is fully saturated with oxygen at about 10 mg/L, so you can see that you would need to continually add oxygen for nitrification to occur.
cheers Darrel
 
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