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FAQs on Establishing Nutrient/Biological Cycling in Marine Systems, Seeding Via Filter Media

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: Live Rock/Sand, Using Livestock, Cycling Products: By Manufacturers/Names: Bio-Spira, Cycle...  Chemical Feeding, Anomalies/Fixing 1, Trouble/Fixing 2, & Fluidized Beds, Undergravel Filters/FiltrationDenitrification/Denitrifiers, Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates, Phosphates, & Nutrient Export,

Related Articles: Establishing Cycling, BioFiltration

Live organisms will greatly aid in establishing and sustaining cycling.

Good bacteria, SW bacteria seeding 6/29/09
Good evening,
I'm wondering if I could use gravel from my cycled freshwater tank to start the cycle in a new saltwater aquarium?
<Unfortunately not, is different bacteria for each environment.>
I've searched your site, but don't find anything addressing this, unless I've missed it. Any previous article or data you could point me to would be greatly appreciated.
<Not sure we have anything written up on that.>
Thanks for your help, and great website,

Sponge Filter, bio-filt.  3/12/09 Hi Crew, <Hello Darby> Just had one question. How long does it take a sponge filter to build up bacteria if put it in my cycled tank. <A few days providing air is supplied to the filter to draw in water and O2 to kick start the process.> Thank you. <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Darby Woody.

Transferring To New Tank...Cycle First Or Use Existing Media? -- 05/21/07 Hi, <<Hello>> I am frequent reader of your website and I have a question to ask. <<Okay>> I have a 55-gallon tank with 2 Common Clowns,1 Bicolor Angel, 1 Bird Wrasse,1 Royal  Gramma and two Sailfin Tangs one yellow and the other one brown. <<Too many active/large fishes for this tank>> They all have done well for about four years.  I am now building a new tank of about  120-gallons. <<Ah...much better>> My question is how am I going to transfer the fish in the new aquarium?  Can I use the existing biological filter media? <<This can be/has been done this way, though I don't recommend it unless absolutely necessary and/or the aquarist is very experienced and well aware of the dangers re.  In addition to transferring the biological media, do also transfer as much of the old system water as possible.  Be sure to add chemical filtration (carbon/Poly-Filter)...monitor water parameters very closely for the next week...and have plenty of saltwater on hand that has been 'mixed and aged' ahead of time for performing large water changes should the need arise>> And if yes how long should I take to transfer the fish? <<As long as it takes to transfer the media/water>> Or should I recycle the tank from the beginning? <<This is the best method, in my opinion>> Thank you in advance. Anthony Zahra <<Happy to assist.  Eric Russell>>

Bypassing new tank cycling Hi Bob <Hello John> I have a 3 foot tank that I am setting up as a quarantine tank. I need to put a fish (clown trigger) that I purchased into immediate quarantine as I don't want to place it in the display tank. If I take some media (ceramic balls) from the trickle filter, some media (ceramic balls) from the sump and water from my display tank (Running for 10 Months) and place it in the quarantine tank canister filter, will I still need to cycle the tank? <Likely you won't have to do more to aid nitrification... but do move a good amount of material ( a couple of cups), keep it moist in the process, move a good part of the current system water with the media... to the filter AND tank, and be careful re feeding the trigger (hope it's not very large)... and do monitor for ammonia> Will this idea work to bypass the nitrogen cycle completely and avoid ammonia and nitrite spikes? Will the fish be fine? Thanks John <Should be fine, but do test for ammonia as stated, keep an eye on the specimen for signs of deteriorating water quality and have water pre-made for switch-out. Bob Fenner> - Using Floss from a Cycled Tank - Dear Crew, <Good morning, JasonC here...> I have a bare bottom 10 gallon quarantine tank with a single female beta and a box filter containing floss and Eheim EHFI Substrat.  The tank is cycled.  I will soon be restocking my now-empty 30 gallon tank with new plants and gradually with new fish plus my beta.  The 30 gallon tank has an Eheim canister filter.  I plan to use  the contents of the box filter to seed the canister filter with bacterial colonies.  Now here is my problem and question: Problem-the 10 gallon tank keeps growing brown algae.  Every couple of weeks I move my fish out and completely scrub out the tank and the heater and thermometer with salt and water.  I soak the filter floss and substrate in fresh aquarium water.  The side of the tank that faces a window is covered with black paper, but the algae keeps growing back.  I think algae is in the floss and the substrate but I don't want to replace them since they hold the bacterial colonies. <Actually, they [the algae and their spores] are everywhere... in the air, water, etc.> When I restart my 30 gallon tank, I plan to use the floss and substrate to seed my canister filter with the bacteria.   Question:  Do you think (as I do) it is likely that algae are growing the filter floss and EHFI Substrat? <No.> Will this plan to use the colonized floss and EHFI Substrat in my 30 gallon tank introduce algae into my clean 30 gallon tank? <No, the algae will appear on its own.> And if so, will that be a problem that will be difficult to overcome? <No, just be careful about the amounts that you feed, and stick with the diligent cleaning.> I will eventually be buying algae eaters, but I don't have them now and I've heard it is best for their health to introduce them into an established, cycled tank. <You could try at this point, if you tank is indeed cycled.> Is it possible to rid the floss and EHFI Substrat of algae without destroying the helpful bacteria? <Well, the de-nitrifying bacteria are everywhere, but probably not in the same numbers that are in the floss... removing the floss would reduce their numbers but probably leave you with enough bacteria to do the job - they would multiply as necessary, perhaps showing a brief rise in metabolites - ammonia and/or nitrate.> What is the best way for me to proceed with restocking and cycling my 30 gallon tank? <Your plan is fine - use the existing floss and substrate.> I appreciate your help. Judy <Cheers, J -- >

Jump Starting Wet/Dry BioBalls Wondering........ if I were to float bioballs in some of my existing tanks and ensure that the current kept them tumbling across the surface, would that serve to colonize them so that I could later gather them for use in a wet/dry? <Yes> I have enough mature tanks that I could distribute six or seven gallons of bioballs among them without taking up too much surface area in any one tank. It would seem that at least some sort of colonization would take place, but I wonder if there would be enough to (nearly) instantly cycle a new filter. <Likely so. Please see here re means of establishing cycling: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm Bob Fenner> Thanks in advance for the help! Chris

Biological Filtration/Q-Tank Hi (Dr Fenner ?) <Just Bob, please> Congratulations on a marvelous website ! I have been a silent visitor to your site for months, mostly because I have always found answers to my questions in your FAQ sections. Now finally I have something to ask of which I am not very sure yet, if you don't mind. <Not at all... as a matter of note this is exactly how we hope to add content, get input on what topics we might write about...> After having to destroy my decor and battle for hours trying to catch sick fish with whitespot I decided that I will not add one more fish to my system without putting it into quarantine first, <Hallelujah> so I'm busy setting up a quarantine tank, its about 25 gallons in size. I don't want to run this tank continuously and would like to only run it when I actually have to quarantine a new fish. So I would keep the tank empty and when its time to buy a new fish I would fill it up with new water of do a water change from the main tank into this quarantine tank. My question to you is about the biological filtration and the best way to make sure that I don't get ammonia spikes in the QT - I have 2 options: 1. Keep the foam sponge from an Aquaclear hang on filter in the sump of my main tank permanently and then install it into the QT on the day when I add the new fish to the QT, hopefully introducing all the bacteria that the new system needs. 2. I have a Merlin Fluidized filter (from Red Sea) here which I am not using - I can run this permanently on the main tank and then transfer it to the QT whenever I need to quarantine something. Which one of these do you think would be best, if any ? Do you normally keep your QT's permanently running ? <Both are excellent... in fact I would employ both... simultaneously for redundant back-up... and utilize your main/display tanks water for the quarantine/treatment system for water> Your comments on this would be greatly appreciated. Kind Regards Derek <Thank you, Bob Fenner>

Re: Biological Filtration/Q-Tank Hi Doc (grin) <Derek> Thanks for the speedy reply. One thing I forgot to ask was how long it takes for something like a sponge or a Merlin to be properly "infected" with the bacteria ? Am I correct in assuming that you need about a week ? <Several days to a few weeks> There are so many test kits available, but to date I haven't found one that measures how many Nitrosomonas or Nitrobacters bacteria you have in a sponge, if you know what I mean...I don't even know if there is 1 in there :) <Interesting possibility... as far as I'm aware there is no such assay. Perhaps you will devise one. Bob Fenner> Thanks for the advice Derek

Cycling a Tank I have several questions that I hope you can help with, but first let me give you my tank set-up. I have a 100 gallon tank with a wet-dry trickle filter. The wet-dry is divided into to parts the top half contains probable about two gallons of bio-balls. The other half contains blocks of sponge. The sump has a Berlin turbo classic skimmer and I don't know what the pump is rated for in the sump, but I am sure it is at least 300 gallon hour. I , also, have a rainbow system. The rainbow consist of a mechanical, chemical, heater, and a UV unit, its all run with a quiet one pump. The decor is frames of PVC pipe with rock work attacked. On this rock I have added about 20 pounds of live rock to cycle the tank. I am using four florescent 50/50 bulbs for light. This tank is going to be a fish only with some live rock. Now to the questions: 1. I have been cycling this tank for six weeks now and things just don't seem right. I add some bio-balls I had from an existing tanks canister filter, and two mesh bags of gravel from the same tank. The ammonia went to 2PPM for two weeks and then dropped to 0.5 which it has stayed at till this day. I'm I doing something wrong? <It does not sound like it.> Should the ammonia not have dropped to 0? <It will eventually. It may take longer in your case or your test kit may have become contaminated. Double check at your LFS or with another kit.> For the last four weeks I have even been adding stress zyme to try to help things along. <IMO, not going to help.> I have no carbon in this tank should I? <I recommend using it, but would probably do nothing for this problem.> I have been running the UV filter could this be the problem? <No, UV's only "kill" things which pass through them. Your beneficial bacteria prefers to grow on a substrate.> Below is a chart I have made of the readings from my tank that might be helpful. Also, have noticed what I would describe as detritus accumulating on the live rock. I blow this off and I assume it is from the bristle and other worms. <Better to vacuum it off with water changes.> 2. I have developed some algae growth in the tank . My question is about hair algae. Are there Different types of hair algae? <Yes.> I am familiar with the long stringy type which I do have a small amount, but I am get a large amount, mostly at the top of the tank, of an algae that I would describe as a long feather duster in shape. Is this also hair algae? <Maybe, take a look at the pictures of algae on the WWM site.> I would like to get a handle on this growth before it gets out of hand. What can I add to the tank that will eat and Keep this algae under control? <Various Tangs, snails, scarlet reef hermit crabs will eat algae, but far better to control its growth too by careful import and aggressive export of nutrients.> Also, can I add it even thought my ammonia is still at 0.5ppm? <Best to wait until ammonia is zero.> Things aren't all bad I am getting the purple and red algae from the live rock spreading on to the other rocks. 3. What would be best in controlling bristle worms an archer crab or coral banded shrimp, and can I add them with the ammonia levels I have? <No need to worry about the worms.> 4. Attached to my live rock I have a invertebrate I would like to identify. It has a long skinny base at the top I would describe it like an anemone flower. It is brownish red in color and can move. Also, it is starting to the other rocks in my tank. What is this? <Possible Aiptasia. Again, take a look around WWM.> 5. Last question I bet your thankful. I was watching my tank and noticed a strange creature and I want to know what it is? It is very small and almost see through. It has a center that I can only describe as geometric in shape around this shape seems to be tentacles or legs maybe eight. I see them mostly on the tanks glass, but I did see one swimming and the movements reminded me of an octopus or squid swimming. <Look around WWM for pictures of copepods and amphipods, but your description sounds different. A picture would be helpful.> Thank you and I'm really getting despite about this cycling problem. <Patience, all things should work themselves out in time. -Steven Pro>

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