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Cycling help for beginner

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kdwal

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 24, 2004
Messages
106
Location
Denver, CO
Any and all help/suggestions
Got my 30g SW tank set-up 4/10 (B'Day present from my kids),
4/16 filled with RO, SW (mixed SW myself using "Instant Ocean"), added fine white sand recommended by dealer & crushed coral for substrate.
4/17 added 30 lb. cured live rock.
Today water tested: pH 8.0, ammon. 0.25, nitrite 0, nitrate 10. the test cards)
have been reading, reading, reading on cycling the tank and am not exactly sure where I am in the process.
Of course I am anxious to go to the next step, but want to do this the right way.
Was told I would see an algae bloom "soon".
cannot find recommendations on using lighting during cycling and was told the skimmer was not necessary the first week or so. A wet/dry filter with built-in skimmer came with set-up but is on backorder and has not come in yet. Would like a little help from all you pro's. All the books I have read in the last couple of weeks (3 total plus, magazine articlces) have something different to say. Is seeding the tank with just the LR the best way to go or should I use one of the other methods to help things along?
Thanks to all who reply .......
 

mojoreef

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Jul 5, 2003
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Sumner
Did you see a rise in he nitrites along he way??? Has the cycle gone from high ammonia to nitrites to nitrates??? each one rising and then falling as the previous dropped lower??


Mike
 

NaH2O

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Jan 25, 2004
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8,568
Welcome to Reef Frontiers!!

The nitrogen cycle is driven by bacteria. What you'll see is a spike in ammonia, and as the bacteria that convert ammonia into nitrite (NO2) begin to populate ---> what you'll see is nitrite levels beginning to rise, while ammonia starts to come down. Then, nitrite levels rise as the bacteria that convert nitrite to nitrate (NO3) begin to populate ---> what you'll see is nitrate levels increasing, while nitrite levels reduce.

ammonia ---> nitrites ---> nitrates You will see ammonia 0, nitrites 0, and nitrates X when your cycle has completed. Continue to monitor those levels.

As far as having a photoperiod or skimmer during cycling.....you will find varying opinions on this. Some feel that a photoperiod is good to try and maintain life on the live rock.....while others feel having a photoperiod during the cycle process - you are creating an algae haven. Those that have their lights on even vary in opinions....some have a long photoperiod, while others have a short one. IMO, running a skimmer is a good idea, as you will be removing the nasties out of the water, however, there are people that will debate this.....by saying you prolong the cycle. Whatever way you choose, it has been done that way. You have started out right by asking questions.

Seeding the tank with LR is a good idea, another thing you can do is get a cup of sand from an established aquarium and add it to your tank (since you are using a substraight). Did you add a piece of shrimp or anything to jump start your cycle? Or did you just use the live rock?

What kind of lighting do you have, and what types of inhabitants (corals, fish, inverts, etc) do you want to keep? Reef, fish only, fish only with live rock?
 

kdwal

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Joined
Apr 24, 2004
Messages
106
Location
Denver, CO
I did not add shrimp or anything else, just the live rock. Are you saying a regular grocery store bought shrimp, (I read the post on putting it in a stocking).
All I have right now is aquarium 20w lamp that came with the hood, although I'm thinking I may want to upgrade that.
I would like to eventually have a mix of inverts & fish with LR. It sounds like I could do this if I am careful with my choices and not go overboard. My reading tells me to start with small peppermint shrimp and hermit crabs and the like. to help with cleanup. I really appreciate your input.
 

Doug1

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Joined
Aug 1, 2003
Messages
249
Location
Southern Oregon
If you have live rock curing in the tank a shrimp is not needed, it's just more crap to deal with later on. As stated you should see the ammonia rise and fall followed by a rise and fall in nitrite and eventually a detectable nitrate reading, the extent of the spikes depends on the condition of the rock.
Once you have gone through that phase opf the cycle(ie 0 amm, nitrite) then most people start adding stuff slowly at that point, however current thinking seems to favor letting the rock "Cook off" a while longer, as it sits it will shed detritous from the die off, even though the bacteria populations are expanded enough to handle some waste the detritous has a lot of organic and inorganic phosphate locked up in it, and this appears to be the driving force behind algae blooms and problems long term. I know this isnt what you want to hear but keeping the rock dark and frequent siphoning of detritous seems to circumvent the problems often found in DSB systems later on.
 

mattseattle

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Jul 15, 2003
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2,694
Location
Seattle, WA
when i did the cycling on my 55 gallon i never had an algae bloom and still to this date i have not had one. *knocking on wood*

i setup my tank with a DSB though along with 90 lbs of live rock. i also added a small piece of shrimp that i just placed on the sand bed to let it decompose. the tank smelled pretty bad for a day or so but since then it just smells like a normal tank. during the cycling i bought a turkey baster and every other day i would blow off the rocks to get the dead stuff off. my tank cycled pretty quick (within 2 weeks). a month into it i bought 2 hermit crabs and that was all that was in my tank for 2 months. i just let it sit there and cycle.. i didn't even have a skimmer on my tank the first 2 months. after 2 months i added 20 or so snails to my tank. they all remain to this day and that is all the snails i have. never needed any more. woops, nevermind i did add some nassarius snails in order to turn over the sand bed. i also added a conch to aid with this.

they key is patience and i think by letting my tank sit there and just cycle really helped in the long run. my tank is a year old now and so far no bad results. <knock on wood again> also once you start adding things do it really slow. when i started adding fish i did once fish a month to let the tank compensate for the new bio-load. i only have 3 fish in my tank now though. 2 clowns and a yellow watchman goby. i also have 3 types of shrimp - cleaner, tiger pistol, skunk shrimp to aid in aiptasia control. over the past year i have also added 2 clams as well as various corals and an anemone.

wish you luck in the cycling process and future tank additions.
 

kdwal

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Joined
Apr 24, 2004
Messages
106
Location
Denver, CO
mattseattle, Doug1, NaH02, mojoreef;
Thanks for the feedback, Guess I need to continue with looking at my LR and praying for patience. "waiting" has never been one of my strengths but I will continue to visit here and heed your advise, I do want this tank to succeed. You all have been very helpful.
Is it true that I should pay special attention to putting my LR upside? I read there is a definite upside and downside to the LR and placing it wrong could interfere with the cycling process? There is so much to learn!
I believe I am seeing some of the reddish-purple cyanobacteria forming on the LR, as I understand it, this is normal and no special effort needs to be undertaken to eliminate it, and this type of algae bloom will abate and then patches of purple coralline algae will begin to appear, and this is good? Yes?
 

kdwal

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 24, 2004
Messages
106
Location
Denver, CO
a new observation:
I was just looking in the tank and saw a couple of very tiny multi-legged creatures crawling on the LR. Can you tell me what they are? Good or bad or expected? I know there is something living in there now.
Thanks,
Kathy (kdwal)
 

jks1

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 29, 2003
Messages
179
Hi Kathy,
The little critters you see are probably copepods or mysid shrimp.
http://www.nmnh.si.edu/iz/copepod/
http://www.reefs.org/hhfaq/pages/picture_pages/faq_mysid.html
Both are perfectly normal, desireable in fact.

I hear you on the patience thing, but trust me it is one of the pre-requisites for long-term success in this hobby. Placing LR "upside down" isnt the end of the world but if you can tell what side is up- I would place it in the tank that way.

You will most likely go through some algae phases in the first few months. Again patience here, once the tank starts to mature a bit these will fade away. Also after your cycle (ammonia and nitrites=0, then you can start adding some algae eating snails or hermits to help you out here.

Good luck and ask any questions you need....
 

kdwal

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 24, 2004
Messages
106
Location
Denver, CO
John,
Thanks for encouragement and helping to identify those little creatures. I was just reading about some not-so-nice paracites that hitch-hike on LR. My only hope was, if the creatures were the bad guys, they have no fish to suck the blood from, so they will starve to death while I am being "patient".......I will take another look at my LR and try to determine their "upside". Another project to keep me busy while I am being "patient". thanks again....
Kathy
 

Alice

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Joined
Jul 18, 2003
Messages
1,108
Oh you'll be amazed at what pops out of the live rock; have you tried viewing the tank at night yet? Cover a flashlight with red cello or run a small red light bulb (you can find them at party stores, usually) under the hood. Nocturnal critters aren't bothered by the red spectrum so you can observe them. You'll probably find a few "what the heck is that??" creatures....and stay up too late!

Patience is the cheapest thing associated with this hobby...but the hardest to come by. ;)

Have fun,

Alice
 
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