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FAQs on Establishing Nutrient/Biological Cycling in Marine Systems, Chemical et al. Feeding

Related FAQs: Establishing Cycling 1, Establishing Cycling 2, Establishing Cycling 3, Establishing Cycling 4, Establishing 5, Establishing Cycling 6, Establishing Cycling 7, Marine Cycling 8, Marine Cycling 9, Biological Filtration, Marine Cycling 10, & FAQs on Biological Cycling: Science/Rationale, Techniques/Methods: Seeding Filter Media, Live Rock/Sand, Using Livestock, Cycling Products: By Manufacturers/Names: Bio-Spira, Cycle...  Anomalies/Fixing 1, Trouble/Fixing 2, & Fluidized Beds, Undergravel Filters/FiltrationDenitrification/Denitrifiers, Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates, Phosphates, & Nutrient Export,

Related Articles: Establishing Cycling, BioFiltration

Take care here... you only need a teensy amount to promote and sustain nitrification establishment

cycling tank....Bryopsis? Marine Filamentous Algae, and Establishing Nutrient Cycling   3/26/13
<Sigh... seven megs of pix... what is our limit?>
To whom it may concern,
I appreciate you taking the time to read my inquiry.
My 187 gallon aquarium is in week 3 of its cycle.  Their is 60lbs of live rock and 100lbs of Marco Rocks in the aquarium.  I will be acquiring more live rock as I can.  I also used a bag of live sand.  To help kick off the cycle I dosed ammonium chloride to bring the ammonia to 2ppm.
<Mmm, okay... not necessary, and too toxic, but... all right>
  Then I added the recommended amount of bio Spira.  within 11 days of adding the ammonium chloride and the bio Spira my tank had completed the cycle, or so I thought.
 My ammonia started off at 2ppm. Then it went to 0ppm and I started to measure nitrite.  Nitrite spiked then went to 0ppm.  I let the tank sit for another 7 days.
<Were you (still) adding a source of chemical food? Needed to. I'd use a dried source... flakes, pellets... though you could use a bit of animal carcass. Many folks prefer shrimp>
 I then checked ammonia again.  With the API
test kit I am using I did not get a clear 0ppm reading for ammonia.  So to be sure I dosed ammonium chloride again to see how long it would take to come down to zero.  Last night (3 days later) my ammonia is .25ppm.  So currently my parameters are; ammonia .25ppm, nitrite 10ppm and nitrate 0ppm.
<Not cycled... need to add a steady source of something that will degrade to NH3/NH4OH...>
 My PH is a steady 8.1 during the day and 8.0 at night.
That's just a little back ground on what my tank is doing right now.
During the course of this cycle I have been getting a crazy amount of algae of some sort.
<I see this... filamentous>
 I believe, since I am still going through my cycle that it is the phosphates leaching from the Marco Rock. I try and measure phosphate with my Hanna checker but the phosphates are being used up before they enter the water.  What puzzles me is why the algae is growing on the live rock?
<Source of other needed material, biominerals>
What kind of Algae its it?  If it's Bryopsis
I must be producing nitrates.  I am using filter socks during the cycle and I am not changing them very regularly.  They seem to plug up after a day and a half or so.
From the pictures I am providing could you identify what kind of Algae it is?
I run 2 mp40w es, 2 Tunze 6065 and a SWC 200 extreme skimmer.  I just started running Rowaphos in a reactor as well.
Thanks for your time once again!
(See attached file: photo.JPG)(See attached file: photo (2).JPG)(See attached file: photo (3).JPG)
<Do search, read on WWM re Marine Filamentous Algae, and Establishing Nutrient Cycling... take your time here; much to gain, enjoy in the process. Bob Fenner>

Re: dirty water  8/27/11
Thank you for your prompt reply.
There is one bit in what you've said I am confused about.... I thought that the microbacter and other chemicals mentioned are for feeding/multiplying all kinds of beneficial bacteria.
<Depends... Nitrobacter (actually other genera) need a ready source of ammonia... best supplied with a bit (pinch every other day or so) of dried food of a proteinaceous make-up. B>
Please, forward to me any information regarding what else I should buy to feed microbes.

Bio-Pellets/Filter Media 2/19/10
he guys-
<Hey guys? Hello Justin>
Been a loyal patron of your site for 8 yrs. and love what you do for the community.
<Thank you.>
that said I wanted to get your thoughts and what you have heard about bio-pellets. In case you have no idea what I'm talking about here is a link-
I've heard some positive things but its relatively new and not many people have tried it ( plus they are expensive). just wanted to get you opinion.
<Have seen/read, but I have no experience with them. I personally stay away from these type products as an efficient protein skimmer, good filtration methods,
and good tank husbandry will keep nitrates/phosphates in check. You may want to read/learn here on controlling excess nutrients in your system.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Cycling an upgraded tank, SW   4/28/08 Hi, I just set up a 115 gal. tank to replace my 55. I took several cups of substrate, some carbon, and the live rock from the 55 (30 lbs that had to sit in a Rubbermaid with a heater and power head for 10 days during setup) and put it in the new tank. I put in an additional 60 lbs of cured live rock from the LFS. After reading through a bunch of FAQ's it wasn't totally clear to me whether I should throw in some dead shrimp from the fish market to add an ammonia source for cycling or if just adding the rock etc. from my old tank and the new live rock will cycle the tank quickly (possibly instantly) by itself. Do I need the extra ammonia source? Thanks, Brendon <If your stocking plan is not "too much, too soon", you don't need to add an exogenous source of ammonia here. I would not. Bob Fenner>

Marine Tank Cycling Greetings, <Hi David, MacL here with you tonight.> I have a 55 gallon fish only marine aquarium that was set up 3 weeks ago.  The aquarium store gave me BioSpira and 2 Damsels were placed in 24 to 36 hours later.  They all died within 24 hours. <Such a shame.> The tank is stable at 78 degrees.  The pH was a little low at 7.8.  I then added a buffer and it raised to 8.3.  Salinity is between 1.021 and 1.023.  All other reading were at zero. I then tried adding a raw cocktail shrimp to help with the cycling.  When it started to smell (about 2 days later) I took it out.  The ammonia level is now at 1.0 and the nitrite level is .50 and both have not changed now in 4 days. <let me suggest you take a look at the wonderful article on site about cycling tanks, please look here. . .http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm.> I also noticed the pH is dropping down a little to between 7.8 and 8.0 and I don't want to constantly add a 8.2 buffer everyday. Of course I want both the ammonia and nitrite to be zero before I kill any more fish but it seems that nothing is changing.  I'm going on 4 weeks now and it seems that the bacteria are not doing their thing. <There are multiple things to do here and that's why I suggested the articles and FAQs. As I am sure you will discover many many other people are having similar problems and it will explain why to you as well.> What can I do to alter these events because it seems that something is wrong. Thanks very much for your time and patience.  <NOOOOO worries, if you don't get the help you need from the article please let me know and we will work out a plan to get you inline. Thanks MacL>

High Ammonia, No Change Hi Crew, <Tom> On July 12th I began setting up my first marine tank the humane way. I used household ammonia marked 10%. From the outset I put too much ammonia in the tank., .6. I then added "Cycle" and "Stress Zyme" according to instructions. I also put some fish food in the tank. <That a lot of ammonia total...> I know that I am supposed to be patient, but there has been absolutely no change since July 12th. I am using "Master Saltwater Test " by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals. <Try using a different test kit to see if it agrees with your current results. Also, consider adding a very small piece of live rock or sand from a fellow hobbyist's established system to seed more aerobic bacteria. Other than that, patience...> Can you shed some light on this problem. Thanks, Tom <Best, Chris><<RMF would also do a massive water change to dilute the current toxic level of household ammonia present>>

Vicious Cycle? (Cycling Tank) I need your help on another issue. <You've got issues? I've got answers (hopefully)! Scott F. with you today!> I started cycling my tank on March 24th using household ammonia with no additives.  The article I read said it was comparable to using at least 6 damsels in the tank.  I initially put 5 drops per each 10 gallons until I started seeing nitrite.  Then I reduced the ammonia to 3 drops per 10 gallons.  This has been almost 6 weeks and I still have .50 of ammonia and my nitrite is out of sight.  I quit adding ammonia almost a week ago.  The article said this was a faster way to cycle, but it sure doesn't seem so.  Any advice to speed things up?  Should I not have quit adding the ammonia?  Thank you, James <Well, Frankly, I'd stop the ammonia myself, and maybe "feed" the tank with some dried food to give the bacteria something to "work on". I prefer using natural materials, such as live rock and sand to do the trick. However, since you've already got things going, I'd rely on food to help finish the job. In fact, since your cycle appears to be "stuck", this may be one of those rare occasions when it might be beneficial to try one of the commercially available bacteria cultures...Hope this helps! Regards, Scott F>

Building the biological filter I am currently doing a fishless cycle on a saltwater tank.  Ammonia levels remain at zero after adding ammonia, but the nitrite level seems to be taking forever to fall.  I was thinking of going a while without adding any ammonia, but didn't know how long I could do this before the biological filter would become ineffective in removing ammonia due to nothing to feed on.  Please let me know what you think.  Thanks, James <You don't say what is in the tank, Live Rock, how much substrate, what kind of filtration, skimmer, etc. These all affect the cycle as well.  You also don't say how long it has actually been, this process can take 4-8 weeks. I would stop adding ammonia and use a VERY small amount of flake food, just a few flakes, a couple times per week at most. Hope this helps. Don>

Cycling with raw shrimp I read the Q&A's every day. Its great and I am learning so much. I was wondering what you thought about cycling a new tank using raw shrimp from the supermarket, instead of using damsels or black mollies. This is touted on different fish boards, and since I am getting close to setting up my tank I would like your opinion. Thanks again for you time and sharing your knowledge. Michelle <Kind of messy... and expensive. I'd rather eat the shrimp (yum!) and use live rock for the job... and/or used filter media from another tank, or friends tank, or a friendly stores tank, and/or some sort of bacteria preparation Product... without the fish livestock for the first couple of hurdles (ammonia, nitrite). Don't worry about feeding the starter cultures. Use some live rock and all will be well and better. And thank you for writing. Bob Fenner>

Questions about Cycling with Ammonia Hi Bob, <<Bob is out of town until 12/7, JasonC here answering the WetWebMedia Mail.>> Any news about your books (I need 2 of them) ?? The tank cycling is progressing and I need some first class info.. <<don't know if your order was processed before Bob and Di left town. Do check back after 12/7.>> To update you (and ask a question... you expected that, didn't you ?). I have been using the fishless cycling and (after 10 days) the regular ammonia quantity I add is turned to nitrites in 1 day, while nitrates are over the 50 mark. <<with regular ammonia from a bottle, interesting. How much ammonia did you add?>> When I started (after 3 days) I had NH3 = 4, NO2 = 0, NO3 = 0. Now (day 10) I have NH3=0 (or very close), NO2 = 8 ppm, NO3 = >50 ppm. In this environment I can't add a fish. <<no, you can't>> I was thinking of adding the macroalgae now. There is some sort of brown algae growing already.. The question is : will the brown algae consume the nitrates ? <<no, it won't. A little more time should pop the NO2 down to zero at which point you should probably do a water change [perhaps 25%] and then add the macro algae.>> Don't you think 10 days is a bit short ?? <<have heard of, witnessed 24 hour cycles in tanks with lots of prepared & cured live rock and sand. So who knows, certainly cycling with fish takes the longest. Very curious to know more about the direct ammonia method, if for any other reason than to get it on record for the WetWebMedia readers, but certainly to fix my own > (You see, if I had your book here, I would probably ask far less questions, if any !!) <<yes, is an excellent title, but somehow I think this same question would have come up, even with the book. Is a very interesting question.>> George J. Reclos Ph.D. <<Cheers, J -- >>

Cycling a Tank with Ammonia Editor's Note: this gentleman is a Pharmacist & Immunologist and as such is a professional with regards to the procedures he describes. If you don't have the foggiest idea what he is talking about, then don't try it at home! I started with a solution which was supposed to be 20%. The solution was found to be 18% after volumetric titration. After making the calculation to see how many ppm correspond to that 18% I added enough micro liters (1 micro liter = 1 millionth of a liter) of this solution in a liter of double distilled sterile water and used the kit I have to see when I would get a reading of about 4 (with those colorimetric kits it is quite difficult to say). Again the kit proved to be almost 30% off the calculated value but it was used as a basis for the calculations since this would be used with my tank water. Once this was achieved, I adjusted my calculations for a level of 6 ppm and added the necessary quantity in my tank (I first add the ammonia in 100 ml of water and then drop it in the tank). I repeated this every two days. After the NH3 dropped to almost 0, I add the same quantity every day. Of course, this would be far more accurate if one was to know what is the anticipated amount of ammonia a fish will produce per day. I think that 6 ppm in a 140 liter tank is a bit too much for one fish. This means that the biological filter will be calibrated for higher ammonia levels that the ones the fish will produce therefore part of the colony will die - polluting my water. That is why a fish cycling should be preferred but one has to work with what is available to him !! Thanks for your information about the algae !! I was under the impression that the algae being a plant would use the nitrates found in the water column... <<and they will to a small extent, but not to the level I think you were hoping for. Like any algae, they prefer the various phosphors, but will gladly take it any way they can get it as I'm sure you know.>> I was really surprised to learn that it won't !! Will the macroalgae have a problem to compete with the brown algae already installed in my tank (another very quick presence !!) <<Usually, macro algae get preferential treatment from the people keeping watch, so it has a competitive advantage. You can also help that along by vacuuming out the brown algae once the cycle is complete.>> Note: You have to keep the concentrated ammonia solution in a tightly closed bottle in the refrigerator. The colder the water the more ammonia it can hold !! <<Thank you very much for the detailed explanation of this whole thing. You are a gentleman and a scholar. Cheers, J -- >>

Follow-up on Cycling a Tank with Ammonia Hi Jason, <<Hi>> Thanks for your kind words. I am preparing a "diary" which will appear in our site at the end of the month. If you like you can copy and paste it in your site or link to it. I send a notification to Bob at this address so you will know !! It will be a small reward for letting me use the information in WetWebMedia. George <<No really, thank you for sharing - this is what helps glue this site all together. Thanks again. Cheers, J -- >>

Feeding during cycling Hi all, <<And hello to you.>> I'm in the process of cycling a new tank with live rock only. There are a bunch of feather dusters that came with the rock that I would love to keep around and I'm wondering if they will survive the cycling process. <<Perhaps, but even if this batch vanishes, there will surely be some more.>> I know this may sound dumb but....should I feed them? <<Not a dumb question at all, but in this case, because you are cycling the tank, I wouldn't add anything just yet.>> Feather dusters are way cool :-). Wes <<This is true, part of the fun of live rock is all the stuff that comes along with it. This fauna [including your feather dusters] will come and go many times over the years... this is quite normal. As long as the tank conditions are favorable, the feather dusters on your rock will persist. Even if cycling knocks them out, baring other chemistry problems, they should make a rousing comeback.>> <<Cheers, J -- >>

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