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Cultivated Reef

Dry Rock Cycle


JayPagi

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Week 3 update and all my parameters are still at 0 (NH3,NO2,NO3). Here's a quick timeline. On December 11th I placed the Eco rock in a Rubbermaid container to cycle; it went through a cycle for 2 weeks. On January 21st I set the tank up added my rock and a new bag of LS. I used all the water from the Rubbermaid container and put it into my tank plus 5 gals of freshly mixed saltwater. I'm concerned because I want to bring my corals over from the 5.5 but I don't want to have my tank crash. I also want to start building the bio-load up; my gut tells me the tank has cycled but with the Eco rock it's hard to tell. I'm seeing life on the glass (small white things moving around) and some areas of the rock is darker than others.

 

Any thoughts?

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Hey Jay,

 

Remember that a "Cycle" isn't a one time event. It's something that is constantly changing and adjusting (as the word cycle implies).

 

If you're starting with dry rock, then 2 weeks isn't enough time to establish the necessary bacteria on the rock. It's true that if you leave it alone long enough dry rock will cure itself, however, it's much easier and faster to help it along yourself.

 

What you need is a "starter" of some sort. How big is the new tank? Are you going to transfer the entire contents of the 5.5 to the new tank? To initiate the cycle some people dose pure ammonia, some people use a little fish food, and others use a quantity of established LR from another tank. This gives a jumpstart to things by either introducing a food source or by just introducing the diversity of necessary bacteria all at once.

 

Procedurally, if you are going to just transfer everything over from your 5.5 then really you can just move it all over at once. The reason is that the bio-load will be the same in both systems and the rock in the 5.5 already is capable of processing that bio load. Even if the new tank is bigger/smaller as long as everything transfers over there shouldn't be any significant adjustments in the cycle.

 

If you are not going to transfer everything over from the old tank then maybe see if you can spare a piece of rock for a few weeks to start the cycle as I mentioned above. This is a safe and very effective method just make sure to blast the rock with water flow. After about a week, test the water and if ammonia and nitrite are 0 then add a few herbivorous snails. Wait another week, test, and if ammonia and nitrite are 0 then add some more... Continue in this fashion until the tank is stocked. Just remember to test before you add anything and to introduce things slowly especially fish) so as to not shock the system and cause a spike in water parameters.

 

Anyways, if you have further questions a good resource is the article in the N-R.com library on the nitrogen cycle. It will help you going forward.

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Hey Jay,

 

Remember that a "Cycle" isn't a one time event. It's something that is constantly changing and adjusting (as the word cycle implies).

 

If you're starting with dry rock, then 2 weeks isn't enough time to establish the necessary bacteria on the rock. It's true that if you leave it alone long enough dry rock will cure itself, however, it's much easier and faster to help it along yourself.

 

What you need is a "starter" of some sort. How big is the new tank? Are you going to transfer the entire contents of the 5.5 to the new tank? To initiate the cycle some people dose pure ammonia, some people use a little fish food, and others use a quantity of established LR from another tank. This gives a jumpstart to things by either introducing a food source or by just introducing the diversity of necessary bacteria all at once.

 

Procedurally, if you are going to just transfer everything over from your 5.5 then really you can just move it all over at once. The reason is that the bio-load will be the same in both systems and the rock in the 5.5 already is capable of processing that bio load. Even if the new tank is bigger/smaller as long as everything transfers over there shouldn't be any significant adjustments in the cycle.

 

If you are not going to transfer everything over from the old tank then maybe see if you can spare a piece of rock for a few weeks to start the cycle as I mentioned above. This is a safe and very effective method just make sure to blast the rock with water flow. After about a week, test the water and if ammonia and nitrite are 0 then add a few herbivorous snails. Wait another week, test, and if ammonia and nitrite are 0 then add some more... Continue in this fashion until the tank is stocked. Just remember to test before you add anything and to introduce things slowly especially fish) so as to not shock the system and cause a spike in water parameters.

 

Anyways, if you have further questions a good resource is the article in the N-R.com library on the nitrogen cycle. It will help you going forward.

 

ajmckay thanks for responding. The new tank is roughly 15 gallons. I'm transferring the few corals I have from my 5.5 over. I also brought over two small pieces of LR (roughly 1lb combined) to introduce some bacteria. Those two pieces have been in the tank for 2 weeks and I still haven't seen any measurable readings though it might be too little of an amount of rock. I didn't want to bring the other larger pieces of Fiji over because the 5.5 had a small Aiptasia and bubble algae problem I didn't want carrying over.

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I highly recommend pure ammonia. Keep in mind that you're not going to get readings for ammonia unless there is die off, which I doubt occurred by putting a piece of LR in from your other tank. I also like the idea that pure ammonia won't introduce phosphates like fish food.

 

EDIT: I'm currently using pure ammonia, and it's working very nicely so far. All I added was live sand from my tank to introduce bacteria.

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+1 to josh, you're probably not going to get any real accumulation of ammonia unless there is die off...

 

BUT, because you added the cured piece of LR you can be assured that the necessary bacteria exist in your new tank. The point of adding ammonia (pure, or a source of) is to increase the biofilter so that once you're ready to add livestock the system isn't overloaded and crashes.

 

The alternative is to just stock really slowly (my preferred method as it requires less work). If your ammonia/nitrite tests come back 0 then you're good to add a few herbivorous snails, and probably your corals too. just keep that piece of cured LR in there and keep plenty of flow on it and the other rocks.

From there, each week or so test your water and as long as the readings continue at 0 then you're good to add a few more small things. After 3-4 weeks you should have a decent CUC and then after testing you can add a fish. Using this method you should never experience any significant ammonia/nitrite readings at all because you're not over burdening the biofilter sufficient to create readable amounts.

 

Another test would be nitrate. If you have nitrates then that's evidence that the cycle is working.

 

Good luck!

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Your set up is completely different from mine but maybe my experience may help you a little. I set up brand new tank with live sand and Dry Eco rocks. My ammonia and nitrite readings were very low and I was concern if the cycle ever started so I decided to buy pure ammonium chloride, added enough to bring ammonium reading to 2.0 ppm and within about 8-10 days it went back to 0 (also thank to Dr.Tim's One and Only). Again, I'm not an expert like many others here but it may help you.

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My eco dry rock took about 6 weeks. I did ammonia and fish food (brine shrimp cubes) for cycle. I would wait till your nitites go up then back to zero. Nitrates can be managed and arent as dangerous in low levels.

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Hey Jay. I started off with all dry rocks and dry aragonite sand in mine. I managed to complete my cycle in just 10 days. But what I did was pour a small bottle of BioSpira and constantly maintained ammonia levels of 4-8ppm by dosing it with Ace Ammonia. Once you see NH3 drop, you'll see the NO2 spike. NO2 will be up for a while and you might think its not moving or might be stuck. Just stay the course. Maintain the 4.0ppm of NH3 dosing and when your params drop to 0ppm NH3 and 0ppm NO2 within 24 hrs, then all you'll have to do is do a big water change to get out the NO3, and your tank will be considered cycled. It worked well for me. Good luck.

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+1

 

I highly recommend pure ammonia. Keep in mind that you're not going to get readings for ammonia unless there is die off, which I doubt occurred by putting a piece of LR in from your other tank. I also like the idea that pure ammonia won't introduce phosphates like fish food.

 

EDIT: I'm currently using pure ammonia, and it's working very nicely so far. All I added was live sand from my tank to introduce bacteria.

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I've had excellent luck dry cycling tanks with pure ammonia. It's faster and cleaner and more stable than silly things like rotting shrimp, and far more humane than using fish. The ammonia dosing method is also 100% reliable because after the ammonia levels plummet the tank is guaranteed cycled and ready for a fairly heavy bioload.

 

Corals also won't produce a cycle because they don't excrete ammonia and little organic waste. Inverts like snails or shrimp produce a bit more due to respiration. Fish however produce the most ammonia.

 

Straight corals won't produce anything that contribute to a cycle, so there's little chance of anything going wrong.

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  • 5 months later...

Which brand of ammonia is used to cycle dry rock? I saw Ace Ammonia, but what amazon has looks like a cleaning solution. I am planning on seeding a tank with some LR from my tank, a little Dr Tim's and some ammonia.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Odyssey350kc

I just started a 20 gallon tank with dry base rock and a bottle of the bio-spira.

 

How much ammonia would it take to get the roughly 4.00 ppm of NH3.

Are we talking like a drop, or a tablespoon?

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neonstingray
Because it is cruel.

 

Agreed, that's intentionally making the fish suffer, unless you actually have a small enough fish and a large enough tank for the bacteria to scale at the same rate, but that's usually not the case, especially with nanos.

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