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Muffin87

Cycling 16G tank: CaribSea Life Rock + Bacteria in a bottle + ghost feeding

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Muffin87

I'm getting my first tank tomorrow, a 16G (60 litres = 15.85G), and I plan to do fishless cycle with dry rock (I'm a penniless PhD student and I don't want hitchhikers).

I've watched tons of video tutorials about cycling a reef tank, but I'm still not clear if cycling with dry rock is the same as cycling with live rock with the exception I need to add the bacteria and the ammonia source.

 

If someone has some experience with fishless cycles with dry rock such as CaribSea LifeRock, could they share their wisdom and tell me if this is how I am supposed to go about it, and possibly correct the wrong steps?

(I'll be testing with Salifert tests plus an ammonia badge)

 

  • Tank = Empty
  • Add a flat layer of sand
    [
    1 inch to 1.5 inch thick covering the full bottom of the tank - sand comes with the tank kit]
  • Add Carib Sea Life Rock for a total of 18 lbs (8 kgs)
    [This brand of dry rock has bacteria spores inside]
  • Add Saltwater
    [premixed or mix in the tank?]
  • Add Bacteria-in-a-bottle, specifically EasyLife EasyStart
    [American brands are difficult to find in Southern Europe, and this product has good reviews]
  • Add fish food daily (ghost feeding) until ammonia reaches at least 5 ppm
    [I'd dose pure ammonia, but adding fish food seems less likely to end up in extremely high ammonia]
  • Ammonia over 5 ppm, plus nitrifying bacteria, means nitrite spike.
  • If nitrite=0, raise ammonia back up to 3-4 ppm, and add bacteria, until I get a nitrite reading.
  • After nitrite, I'll get nitrate. At what level/PPM of nitrite should I start testing for nitrate?
  • When nitrite tests 0 ppm and nitrate is spiking (over 5 ppm? 10 ppm?), do a water change (5%? or 10%? more?) to lower nitrate to 0-10 ppm.
  • Tank = cycled, add fish.

 

Sorry this is very long-winded, but I couldn't find a step-by-step procedure to cycle with dry rock such as CaribSea Life Rock, bacteria-in-a-bottle, and fish food.

 

Thanks a lot if someone can help!

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Subsea

First, welcome to the addiction.

 

What you describe will work.

 

Why do you equate hitch hikers as an out of pocket expense?  

 

Yes, I think I hear you say that you believe sterile is good in a reef tank.  What is your PHD major in?

 

your concept of live rock is very wrong.  Just because bacteria are included with rock does not make it live rock.  Bacteria are in the air we breath.  I would not consider it to be “live air” any more than what you call live rock.

 

This is live rock:

 

http://www.gulfliverock.com/premium-decorative-rock.html

 

 

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squamptonbc

I would aim for 2ppm ammonia if cycling from dry. I would also just use pure ammonia, if you dose too much, a partial water change will get you down to 2ppm.

 

I personally would just buy a small piece of live rock, add it to the tank and seed it that way, I find this method is quicker and less pain in the rear. I have not had good success with bottled bacteria and they simply take too long for my liking.

 

My most recent example, after 5 weeks of not seeing any drop in ammonia, no nitrite, or nitrate from using Dr. Tims*, I just went and added 5lb of live rock**, and 24 hours later ammonia was 0.

 

Also be aware there are many different ways to achieve the same end result, and I admit to doing things different but my fish and tanks are healthy.

 

* I have no way to know if the bacteria in the bottle was alive when I received it, no idea what environmental conditions the bottle experienced from manufacture, to Amazon to me. 

 

** My use of term live rock is simply rock that has been cycled, might have minimal life like small feather dusters, but considering how long it takes rock to reach Canada from Fiji or the fact almost all live rock today in my area is real reef artificial rock that never saw the ocean, the days of real live rock is gone.

 

Me personally, skip the bacteria in a bottle, get 3-5 pounds of cycled rock to seed the tank.

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squamptonbc
2 hours ago, Subsea said:

First, welcome to the addiction.

 

What you describe will work.

 

Why do you equate hitch hikers as an out of pocket expense?  

 

Yes, I think I hear you say that you believe sterile is good in a reef tank.  What is your PHD major in?

 

your concept of live rock is very wrong.  Just because bacteria are included with rock does not make it live rock.  Bacteria are in the air we breath.  I would not consider it to be “live air” any more than what you call live rock.

 

This is live rock:

 

http://www.gulfliverock.com/premium-decorative-rock.html

 

 

 

I might be old school, but I miss that type of live rock, the days of plant life, sponges, and all the other cool life that came in with it. No way to replicate that starting with dead rock in my view, especially if your like me and don't buy boat loads of coral.

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Sjadet

It obviously takes longer to cycle a tank with dry rock than live rock.

As soon as ammonia is present, bacteria will start to colonize the tank and the cycle starts. Once a balance is created - where there is enough bacteria to convert all bioload into nitrate or lower stages, the cycle is "finished" though it never really does, instead the amount of bacteria present always alterates depending on your systems bioload, which is why adding too much fish at once will cause a spike where the bacteria population cannot keep up.

 

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Clown79

Dry rock cycling takes longer.

 

The ammonia shouldn't reach 5 or more, this prolongs the cycle time.

 

Liverock if cured can have no cycle or a mini spike, often complete in 7 days.

 

Liverock that is full of detritus and decay will go through a longer cycle.

 

Myself personally, I prefer liverock to dry rock. Out of 6 aquariums I got 1 hitch hiker, a pistol shrimp which may have come on a coral rock as there had been no clicking for months. 

 

 

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Muffin87

Thanks everyone for the input! Very Helpful!

Sorry for answering so late, work's been busy!

 

On 16/1/2018 at 4:54 AM, Subsea said:

Why do you equate hitch hikers as an out of pocket expense?  

 

Yes, I think I hear you say that you believe sterile is good in a reef tank.  What is your PHD major in?

 

your concept of live rock is very wrong.  Just because bacteria are included with rock does not make it live rock.  Bacteria are in the air we breath.  I would not consider it to be “live air” any more than what you call live rock.

Oh I know biodiversity is good in a reef tank, not advocating for sterility, just I wouldn't know how to handle pests that can come with live rock, so if I can avoid pests, spend less money and still have a decent 15g reef tank, why not? I do linguistics (it's sciency enough if you check it out!)

 

On 16/1/2018 at 7:24 AM, squamptonbc said:

I personally would just buy a small piece of live rock, add it to the tank and seed it that way, I find this method is quicker and less pain in the rear. I have not had good success with bottled bacteria and they simply take too long for my liking.

 

My most recent example, after 5 weeks of not seeing any drop in ammonia, no nitrite, or nitrate from using Dr. Tims*, I just went and added 5lb of live rock**, and 24 hours later ammonia was 0.

Thanks! Actually 5 lbs of live rock could work for my 15G too! 

 

On 17/1/2018 at 10:44 PM, Clown79 said:

Myself personally, I prefer liverock to dry rock.

I'd prefer it too in theory. But some experience with dry rock would be good as well. It might come in handy later if I decide to set up a larger tank and going full live rock would be just out of my budget.

 

On 16/1/2018 at 12:07 PM, Sjadet said:

Once a balance is created - where there is enough bacteria to convert all bioload into nitrate or lower stages, the cycle is "finished" though it never really does, instead the amount of bacteria present always alterates depending on your systems bioload, which is why adding too much fish at once will cause a spike where the bacteria population cannot keep up.

Good info!

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Muffin87

Are there any reference values for nitrite and nitrate I want to keep in mind during the cycle?

Or actually the only thing that matters is that I get some indefinite amount of nitrite/nitrate, rather than specific values?

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