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Hunter Lang

Using Bio-Spira with dry rock? (Cycle)

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Hunter Lang

So I am new to the saltwater world and I just purchased a 10 gallon nano tank ( IM Nuvo) I am curious on how to start my cycling. Right now I have pre mixed saltwater in there and some sand substrate. I am planning on buying rock tomorrow

 

-but don’t know if I should get live rock or dry rock?

I know I need an ammonia source and dry rock won’t give that off,

 

-but will just putting in dry rock and adding Bio Spira be able to cycle my tank?

 

-Or will I need to add something like live rock or dead shrimp also?

 

-And using the bio spira with dry/live rock how fast does that speed up the process? 

 

Someone please help I can not find a specific answer to this question as there is a million ways people advise cycling their tank. I want it to cycle as quick as possible obviously but want it to be safe for the fish too.

 

- I have also read you can add dry rock and bio spira and a (live) fish to cycle your tank very quickly 

 

any thoughts?

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Lula_Mae

First, don't add a fish till the tank is fully cycled. Cycling with fish is very hard on their bodies and was considered cruel ten years ago when I joined the hobby. I've seen several newcomers recently cycling with fish so I can only imagine someone out there is still advising it. All the fish does is add an ammonia source, which can be done other ways. 

 

With live rock, you shouldn't need an added ammonia source, and if the rock stays wet during transport you may not even have much of a cycle. Live rock from the ocean can have some amazing critters on it, both good and bad. Hitchhikers are my favorite part of live rock. You can add Biospira, it won't hurt, but it's not necessary. 

 

Some places sell "life rock" or "real reef rock" which is dry rock painted to resemble coraline algae and infused with bacteria for a quick cycle. Several on here have used it successfully. Life rock and dry rock have the advantage of being able to be fiddled with until you get the perfect scape.

 

With dry rock you primarily need an ammonia source. The cleanest is pure ammonia without any additives. Dr. Tim's sells a small bottle of it (I think I got mine on Amazon last year). Adding bacteria like Biospira isn't technically necessary but it certainly helps speed it up. 

 

The route you choose is up to you, but based on my own experiences using dry rock,  I would highly recommend you spring for good live rock if you can find it. I've had issues with dry rock that I never encountered when using live rock and it's been a bummer. 

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Clown79

Using liverock means no ammonia or bacteria dosing.

 

-A shorter cycle

-No cycle of its cured liverock

- diversity of life in the tank

 

Using dry rock means needing to provide an ammonia source and bacteria dosing.

 

-Dosing ammonia like Dr Tim's product is the cleanest and most accurate method with dry Rock

 

 

 

 

 

 

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DaveMc

I used dry rock when I first started my tank, As everyone said, live rock is a better way to go, but if you decide to use dry rock you can add an ammonia source easily. I used a piece of fresh shrimp and just dropped it in the tank while it was cycling. After about a week I checked my water parameters and seen the ammonia was there and took the shrimp out and let the cycle finish. It worked really well for me but the cycle did take longer doing it this way. Mine took about a month using dry rock.

 

Good luck 🙂

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OPtasia

There's pros and cons to both live rock or dry rock. Weigh the options of both. Mixing live rock and dry rock is also allowed. 

 

I have Life Rock in my Biocube 32 and the thing that I like the most about it is it looks nice from the get go, comes in interesting shapes and you can control what kinds of life you put into the tank. IME, it will not prevent hitchhikers like aiptasia or problematic algae from getting into the tank. What I don't like about liferock is that it isn't as porous as liverock, so dentrification in a liferock tank needs to be addressed with different techniques (WC's, oversized skimmer, GAC/GFO, marine pure, sulfur reactor, etc.). 

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mcarroll
On 12/30/2018 at 5:41 AM, Hunter Lang said:

don’t know if I should get live rock or dry rock?

Live rock. 

 

If it's really live from the ocean and it's available there should be no question:  GET IT.

 

Yes, it's worth it.  No, don't get more than you need......1 lb per gallon at most will do it.

 

In contrast, "dry rock" is only slightly better than a bag of gravel or pack of bio-balls.   

 

And it's no better than any other natural or fake bio-media, like sipporax or Seachem Matrix/Denitrate, etc. 

 

You can make your own rock that would be just as good.  (GARF and @Paul B both have guides on DIY live rock.)

 

Also, bacteria such as you'd find in a bottled product or in a fish-only tank is not the difference between live and dead rock.  (There's a reason that nobody refers to the bed of gravel in their fish-only tank as "live gravel" even though it's coated in bacteria.)

 

All a bacterial additive buys you is a nitrogen cycle.  The nitrogen cycle is one very minor part (though important) of the function of live rock in a reef.

 

It's also the part most easily duplicated by almost any manner of bio filter.

 

On 12/30/2018 at 5:41 AM, Hunter Lang said:

I have also read you can add dry rock and bio spira and a (live) fish to cycle your tank very quickly

 

That's not specific to dry rock....it works with any inert filtration media such as an undergravel filter, a bio-wheel, a wet/dry filter, etc.

 

There is no apparent cycle when you use it.

 

Books, Books, Books

From the range of questions it sounds like you might not have a good starting reference to build your knowledge up. 

(Online is not a good first reference, generally speaking....for the reasons you mentioned, and more.)

 

If you don't have any books, I'd recommend starting with one or two good ones.

 

Pick up books by any of these authors (just for a start): 

Martin Moe

John Tullock

Robert Fenner

Dana Riddle

 

 

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Hunter Lang
On 12/30/2018 at 6:48 AM, Lula_Mae said:

First, don't add a fish till the tank is fully cycled. Cycling with fish is very hard on their bodies and was considered cruel ten years ago when I joined the hobby. I've seen several newcomers recently cycling with fish so I can only imagine someone out there is still advising it. All the fish does is add an ammonia source, which can be done other ways. 

 

With live rock, you shouldn't need an added ammonia source, and if the rock stays wet during transport you may not even have much of a cycle. Live rock from the ocean can have some amazing critters on it, both good and bad. Hitchhikers are my favorite part of live rock. You can add Biospira, it won't hurt, but it's not necessary. 

 

Some places sell "life rock" or "real reef rock" which is dry rock painted to resemble coraline algae and infused with bacteria for a quick cycle. Several on here have used it successfully. Life rock and dry rock have the advantage of being able to be fiddled with until you get the perfect scape.

 

With dry rock you primarily need an ammonia source. The cleanest is pure ammonia without any additives. Dr. Tim's sells a small bottle of it (I think I got mine on Amazon last year). Adding bacteria like Biospira isn't technically necessary but it certainly helps speed it up. 

 

The route you choose is up to you, but based on my own experiences using dry rock,  I would highly recommend you spring for good live rock if you can find it. I've had issues with dry rock that I never encountered when using live rock and it's been a bummer. 

Thank you, I added live rock and it cycled and I added two clowns today! They have been doing great and all my levels are great!

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Lula_Mae
3 hours ago, Hunter Lang said:

Thank you, I added live rock and it cycled and I added two clowns today! They have been doing great and all my levels are great!

In under 4 days?  Better keep testing those ammonia and nitrite levels.  It's best to wait several weeks after getting the rock before adding live stock to ensure the cycle has completed.  I know it's exciting to get fish and corals and all but it really is best not to rush things.  There's a reason why "Nothing good happens fast in this hobby" is a common saying around here.

 

Best order some Seachem Prime and a bacteria supplement like Microbacter7, Biospira, or Dr. Tim's because you may now be cycling with fish which is always a bad idea.  Prime will help neutralize the ammonia until you can change the water and the bacteria supplement will help your biofiltration get up to speed more quickly.  Also stock up on RODI or distilled water so you can perform large water changes for your fish's sake.

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mcarroll

@Lula_MaeThis was apparently good live rock, not cruddy, dry, dead rock.

 

Your advice would apply more to starting a dead tank (like a fish-only salt or fresh system) from scratch....although I've never agreed with ammonia starts. 

 

They are a neat trick to fast-track a tank, but in the end it's a solution to a problem we don't really have and an expert move. 

 

In addition, it's never good to rush the process....not even with rotten meat or ammonia.   (Why do we think rotten meat and ammonia are good exceptions to the "nothing good happens fast..." mantra???)  :blink::biggrin:

 

It still makes sense for @Hunter Lang to pay attention to ammonia, as the clowns are two stocky fish in a very small tank

 

With good live rock, most likely there will be no issue (or it would already be evident), but it doesn't cost much to watch (ammonia alert badge) and be sure.

 

More thoughts...
 

Spoiler

 

A better way (especially for beginners) to cycle up a dead tank is to use something like BioSpira at the same time as your fish, as the OP originally considered.   (Follow instructions on the bottle.)

 

But the best way to start a tank (dead or not, bio-spira or not) is to begin by adding the smallest critters in your bio-load first and then work your way up to fish.  When you get to adding fish, continue ramping up the bio-load slowly....add one fish at a time, and space out later additions by a weeks or a month or more.  (In a 10 Gallon, there may only be one or two rounds of adding fish.)

 

If you were planning corals for the tank in question, I'd suggest to begin adding them BEFORE or at the same time that you add fish (as well as when you're in the waiting periods) to improve fish health and reduce fish stress.   

 

No bottled miracles required.  😉 

 

Thinking fish are easier than corals (or "easy" at all) is one of the biggest and most common newb mistakes IMO.

 

If people generally believed that fish are at least as hard as corals to keep, folks would avoid a lot of the fish-disasters we can read about on most days in the forums.  (Fish have personalities, get sick, are picky eaters, and can jump....corals are none of that.  Even just on that basis corals are A LOT easier.)

 


 

 

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Lula_Mae
12 hours ago, mcarroll said:

@Lula_MaeThis was apparently good live rock, not cruddy, dry, dead rock.

 

Your advice would apply more to starting a dead tank (like a fish-only salt or fresh system) from scratch....although I've never agreed with ammonia starts. 

 

They are a neat trick to fast-track a tank, but in the end it's a solution to a problem we don't really have and an expert move. 

 

In addition, it's never good to rush the process....not even with rotten meat or ammonia.   (Why do we think rotten meat and ammonia are good exceptions to the "nothing good happens fast..." mantra???)  :blink::biggrin:

 

It still makes sense for @Hunter Lang to pay attention to ammonia, as the clowns are two stocky fish in a very small tank

 

With good live rock, most likely there will be no issue (or it would already be evident), but it doesn't cost much to watch (ammonia alert badge) and be sure.

 

More thoughts...
 

  Reveal hidden contents

 

A better way (especially for beginners) to cycle up a dead tank is to use something like BioSpira at the same time as your fish, as the OP originally considered.   (Follow instructions on the bottle.)

 

But the best way to start a tank (dead or not, bio-spira or not) is to begin by adding the smallest critters in your bio-load first and then work your way up to fish.  When you get to adding fish, continue ramping up the bio-load slowly....add one fish at a time, and space out later additions by a weeks or a month or more.  (In a 10 Gallon, there may only be one or two rounds of adding fish.)

 

If you were planning corals for the tank in question, I'd suggest to begin adding them BEFORE or at the same time that you add fish (as well as when you're in the waiting periods) to improve fish health and reduce fish stress.   

 

No bottled miracles required.  😉 

 

Thinking fish are easier than corals (or "easy" at all) is one of the biggest and most common newb mistakes IMO.

 

If people generally believed that fish are at least as hard as corals to keep, folks would avoid a lot of the fish-disasters we can read about on most days in the forums.  (Fish have personalities, get sick, are picky eaters, and can jump....corals are none of that.  Even just on that basis corals are A LOT easier.)

 

 

 

 

 

Whether it's "good live rock" or not, one should not add fish until it has been observed whether or not a cycle will take place.  You need more than three or four days for this.  With my first 5.5, I bought "good live rock" and carried it home in buckets of water and put it directly into the tank so there would be minimal to no die-off.  I still waited 3-4 weeks before I added anything at all.  Often live rock is fresh enough from the ocean that there is and will be die-off, producing ammonia and resulting in a cycle.  This rock is NOT safe for adding fish or livestock.

 

You'll note I did not say anything about adding ammonia.  I recommended the use of Prime and a bacteria supplement in an effort to cause as little stress to the fish as possible.  I'm not sure if you've ever cycled with dry rock before, but the dry rock I used in my current build was very clean and therefore had no die-off.  Ammonia had to be added for there to even be a cycle at all, because there was no "crud" to break down and produce ammonia to get the cycle going.

 

Had the OP not jumped the gun, I would've suggested allowing a few weeks for the cycle to run its course, then start with a small clean-up crew, then move on to inverts, corals, and fish.  I was quite surprised to see that he'd not only gotten rock but had added fish already, particularly after I already stated not to have fish in the tank while it's cycling.  Unfortunately, some people only hear what they want and do what they want, regardless of what's best for the livestock in question.  Maybe we as a forum should start recommending "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" wholesale again like when I started here.

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banasophia

At this point since you’ve already added your clowns, I would test your parameters and add an ammonia badge to the tank so you can monitor for rising ammonia in the event the tank isn’t fully cycled yet. I would also add BioSpira and/or Nutri-Seawater to ensure nutrients are processed quickly, to reduce potential stress to your fish, and to strengthen the biofilter. 

 

I am still very new to the hobby, but you can see my two tanks in my link in my signature. I cycled both my tanks quickly using both of those products (BioSpira and Nutri-Seawater) along with live Caribsea Liferock from my LFS. I would do it exactly the same way if I was doing it all over.

 

I wouldn’t advocate adding fish in under a week if you hadn’t already done it, even if you use live rock and other things to speed up the cycle, because there’s so much to figure out in the beginning and I think it’s important to make sure your equipment (lights, pump, powerhead, heater) is functioning, you can maintain your temp/salinity/top offs, have figured out how you will do water changes, and you are comfortable doing water tests before adding fish and/or corals. My tanks both developed diatoms after approximately one week and I added my snail only cleanup crew, I checked my parameters and added fish after 2 weeks.

 

There’s a lot of contradictory advice out there, so it’s really hard to sort out in the beginning... just keep reading and researching so you can make well educated decisions about your tank.

 

And welcome to Nano Reef and the hobby!!! Both things have changed my life for the better!  :welcome:

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banasophia

Ammonia alert badge can can be found on Amazon:

 

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mcarroll
5 hours ago, Lula_Mae said:

You'll note I did not say anything about adding ammonia.

Ya, I wish it was easier to multiquote just parts of a post here to keep the conversation more clear.

 

I wasn't quoting in that post on purpose as I was referring to info from the whole thread.  Rotten meat was recommended earlier in the thread, but not by you. 😄

 

If you use BioSpira, there should be no cycle....not from the fish....not from die-off.

 

(unless, perhaps, die-off it's massive....but then it shouldn't come as a surprise...the rock usually stinks to high heaven if it's massive)

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Silver City Reef

I'm curious on how this is going so far. I assume you didn't take the time to quarentine the new fish either?

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banasophia
6 minutes ago, Silver City Reef said:

I'm curious on how this is going so far. I assume you didn't take the time to quarentine the new fish either?

Welp, I also didn’t quarantine my fish. I figured that since they were the first thing in my tank, if they had ich or another disease I would let my tank sit fallow for the required time period. Expecting all brand new reefers to set up a new tank and a quarantine for their new inhabitants is not realistic in my opinion.

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Silver City Reef
20 minutes ago, banasophia said:

Welp, I also didn’t quarantine my fish. I figured that since they were the first thing in my tank, if they had ich or another disease I would let my tank sit fallow for the required time period. Expecting all brand new reefers to set up a new tank and a quarantine for their new inhabitants is not realistic in my opinion.

Many new reefers want to rush into getting their tank started, why would you risk having to go fallow for 10 weeks vs setting up a QT? I understand what you are saying, but it's not worth the risk in my opinion. I'd rather take an extra 4 weeks and KNOW I'm not introducing anything unwanted. Besides, if you start QT first, by the time your main display is cycled, your fish would be ready to go. QT is probably the cheapest safety measure you can have too. 

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banasophia
15 minutes ago, Silver City Reef said:

Many new reefers want to rush into getting their tank started, why would you risk having to go fallow for 10 weeks vs setting up a QT? I understand what you are saying, but it's not worth the risk in my opinion. I'd rather take an extra 4 weeks and KNOW I'm not introducing anything unwanted. Besides, if you start QT first, by the time your main display is cycled, your fish would be ready to go. QT is probably the cheapest safety measure you can have too. 

Well it’s certainly an option, perhaps the safest and most conservative option... My point is that there are many ways to run a reef tank, and there are advances that make it so people can successfully speed up the cycling process if that works best for them. People make different choices. I wanted to get my tank going quickly; I researched different options and figured out the best way for me. I wasn’t about to get a second tank and figure out quarantining at the same time I was figuring out everything else. 

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Lula_Mae
2 hours ago, banasophia said:

Welp, I also didn’t quarantine my fish. I figured that since they were the first thing in my tank, if they had ich or another disease I would let my tank sit fallow for the required time period. Expecting all brand new reefers to set up a new tank and a quarantine for their new inhabitants is not realistic in my opinion.

I've seen quarantining new arrivals recommended on most aquarium-related hobby forums, both salt and fresh, so I don't find it entirely unrealistic.  I wasn't a new hobbyist when I got my first saltwater fish, but I chose not to quarantine due to space considerations--and I learned my lesson!  I haven't bought a fish that wasn't quarantined since.  It's pretty simple to set up a QT tank, a tank, heater and sponge filter will give you a basic setup and pvc pipe pieces make good hiding spots for fish.  I also use plastic plants since they're cheap and easy to clean.  What I definitely don't find unrealistic is to expect good husbandry practices such as not cycling with fish, or waiting long enough after adding live rock to ensure the cycle has completed (neither of which the OP is practicing at the moment, unfortunately).

 

I generally recommend quarantine not only because it's a good practice to develop, but also because if the fish do come down with something, you've got to fish them out of the reef and set up a quarantine anyway, so it kind of saves a step lol.

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Lula_Mae
18 hours ago, mcarroll said:

Ya, I wish it was easier to multiquote just parts of a post here to keep the conversation more clear.

 

I wasn't quoting in that post on purpose as I was referring to info from the whole thread.  Rotten meat was recommended earlier in the thread, but not by you. 😄

 

If you use BioSpira, there should be no cycle....not from the fish....not from die-off.

 

(unless, perhaps, die-off it's massive....but then it shouldn't come as a surprise...the rock usually stinks to high heaven if it's massive)

I think I see what you're saying.  However, in my experience, Biospira's (and other company's) claims of instantly cycling a tank are a bit optimistic.  Even in freshwater I generally saw it recommended to wait at least a few days to make sure the cycle has completed before adding live stock.  I think patience is the most important tool in the reef keeper's toolbelt. :smilie:

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banasophia

Well all I can say is that if you come across like your way is the only way to new hobbiests coming to the forum, when they’ve just heard 10 different ways recommended to them and tried to make the best decision they could, and talk about them as if they aren’t even here in their own thread, it’s probably not a good way to support them and welcome them to the community. If it was me I would go elsewhere. But I intentionally didn’t post when my tank was new cuz I knew what would happen and I didn’t want to deal with it. Sorry if that’s harsh but I think we can be a bit tough on people who are brand new when they are trying their best... 

11 minutes ago, Lula_Mae said:

I think I see what you're saying.  However, in my experience, Biospira's (and other company's) claims of instantly cycling a tank are a bit optimistic.  Even in freshwater I generally saw it recommended to wait at least a few days to make sure the cycle has completed before adding live stock.  I think patience is the most important tool in the reef keeper's toolbelt. :smilie:

Have you personally tried BioSpira? 

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Lula_Mae
2 hours ago, banasophia said:

Well all I can say is that if you come across like your way is the only way to new hobbiests coming to the forum, when they’ve just heard 10 different ways recommended to them and tried to make the best decision they could, and talk about them as if they aren’t even here in their own thread, it’s probably not a good way to support them and welcome them to the community. If it was me I would go elsewhere. But I intentionally didn’t post when my tank was new cuz I knew what would happen and I didn’t want to deal with it. Sorry if that’s harsh but I think we can be a bit tough on people who are brand new when they are trying their best... 

Have you personally tried BioSpira? 

I make a concerted effort not to come across that way, because there's as many ways to reef as there are reefers.  But there are certain principles that are fairly standard across the board (e.g. don't cycle with fish, add livestock slowly, wait 2 weeks to a month between additions, etc.), and I confess I do tend to get a little frustrated when I see people cycling with fish (because it's not fair to the fish to go through that, and there's been several newcomers in the last couple of months who have done just that even when advised against it) or when people come looking for advice, receive it, and then don't listen at all (see: Derrick) if it's not what they want to hear (actually we had someone, not new, leave a couple of months ago because he didn't like what he was hearing, and went to another board and told them we were being mean to him...).  The ones who won't listen are the folks you'll see people being tough on.  Not the ones who maybe made a mistake but are trying to correct it.

 

I'm also not trying to speak about the OP as though he isn't here.  His last post was the one about adding the clowns because his live rock had been purchased and had "cycled" in the 3-4 days since he posted initially.  As you can see, I made some recommendations (which others on this board make as well) in an effort to help give the fish the best chance of surviving any potential cycle.  I think most everyone on this board would've said adding fish that quickly after adding rock wasn't really the best decision (or at least, I've never seen someone recommend adding fish within days of adding live rock).

 

I have used Biospira on more than one occasion.  It's a good product, but it's not a miracle solution.  Using Biospira and Microbacter7, live sand and seeding with live rock, it still took my dry rock three weeks to cycle.  The skepticism over Biospira's "instantly safe for fish" claims goes back years as I remember seeing it from my early days in the hobby.  All recommendations I've seen have been to use it and then wait a period of time and test to make sure ammonia and nitrites are being converted to nitrates before adding livestock.  The idea didn't originate with me lol.

 

Lastly, I'm sorry that you felt you couldn't post as a newcomer, and sorry if you felt defensive after my previous response to you.  It's wasn't my intention to make you feel that way.  I can be rather blunt sometimes, but I'm not trying to be rude, and I'm sorry if it came across that way.

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banasophia
8 hours ago, Lula_Mae said:

I make a concerted effort not to come across that way, because there's as many ways to reef as there are reefers.  But there are certain principles that are fairly standard across the board (e.g. don't cycle with fish, add livestock slowly, wait 2 weeks to a month between additions, etc.), and I confess I do tend to get a little frustrated when I see people cycling with fish (because it's not fair to the fish to go through that, and there's been several newcomers in the last couple of months who have done just that even when advised against it) or when people come looking for advice, receive it, and then don't listen at all (see: Derrick) if it's not what they want to hear (actually we had someone, not new, leave a couple of months ago because he didn't like what he was hearing, and went to another board and told them we were being mean to him...).  The ones who won't listen are the folks you'll see people being tough on.  Not the ones who maybe made a mistake but are trying to correct it.

 

I'm also not trying to speak about the OP as though he isn't here.  His last post was the one about adding the clowns because his live rock had been purchased and had "cycled" in the 3-4 days since he posted initially.  As you can see, I made some recommendations (which others on this board make as well) in an effort to help give the fish the best chance of surviving any potential cycle.  I think most everyone on this board would've said adding fish that quickly after adding rock wasn't really the best decision (or at least, I've never seen someone recommend adding fish within days of adding live rock).

 

I have used Biospira on more than one occasion.  It's a good product, but it's not a miracle solution.  Using Biospira and Microbacter7, live sand and seeding with live rock, it still took my dry rock three weeks to cycle.  The skepticism over Biospira's "instantly safe for fish" claims goes back years as I remember seeing it from my early days in the hobby.  All recommendations I've seen have been to use it and then wait a period of time and test to make sure ammonia and nitrites are being converted to nitrates before adding livestock.  The idea didn't originate with me lol.

 

Lastly, I'm sorry that you felt you couldn't post as a newcomer, and sorry if you felt defensive after my previous response to you.  It's wasn't my intention to make you feel that way.  I can be rather blunt sometimes, but I'm not trying to be rude, and I'm sorry if it came across that way.

Thanks, Lula, I appreciate your thoughtful reply. I like you a lot and really respect you. It’s not just your comments I was responding to. Being a new reefer myself I think I’m particularly sensitive to the challenges of trying to figure out this complex hobby in the beginning.

 

There seem to be old school and new methodologies, and advice from LFSs and different companies/products...all can seem contradictory. There are so many things to choose from, all with their advocates and detractors - tank type, light type, powerhead type, filer media, lab tests, salt brand, water source, water change method/frequency, traditional cycling vs bacterial supplements, etc. Most everyone wants the best for their new tank, has just invested a lot of time and money, and wants to create their own beautiful reef. People can be sensitive to criticism, and may be asking for input but it doesn’t mean they are committed to taking anyone’s advice in particular... I vote for doing whatever we can to simplify our guidance and make new people feel welcome and supported, even when they make the inevitable mistakes that everyone is bound to make as a noob. 

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Ramzman89

So what if you start with fish and do frequent small water changes say every other day? Would that be ok? Would that level things out while still accomplishing the cycle process while keeping ammonia levels at minimum? I'm a noob myself and curious. Not to get off topic from op.

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Lula_Mae
54 minutes ago, banasophia said:

Thanks, Lula, I appreciate your thoughtful reply. I like you a lot and really respect you. It’s not just your comments I was responding to. Being a new reefer myself I think I’m particularly sensitive to the challenges of trying to figure out this complex hobby in the beginning.

 

There seem to be old school and new methodologies, and advice from LFSs and different companies/products...all can seem contradictory. Their are so many things to choose from, all with their advocates and detractors - tank type, light type, powerhead type, filer media, lab tests, salt brand, water source, water change method/frequency, traditional cycling vs bacterial supplements, etc. Most everyone wants the best for their new tank, has just invested a lot of time and money, and wants to create their own beautiful reef. People can be sensitive to criticism, and may be asking for input but it doesn’t mean they are committed to taking anyone’s advice in particular... I vote for doing whatever we can to simplify our guidance and make new people feel welcome and supported, even when they make the inevitable mistakes that everyone is bound to make as a noob. 

Thanks for the kind words. :smilie: You aren't kidding, there's a steep learning curve in this hobby and it can be overwhelming at times.  I researched about six months before making any kind of saltwater purchases, and in hindsight I should've gone even slower but I was excited and wanted to jump in and it didn't always turn out well.  I hope to save others from some of the (sometimes expensive!) mistakes I have made and help them get off to a good start.  There's also been a big change in methodologies since I started (dry rock is popular when it wasn't too common back in the day, compact florescents and metal halides are pretty uncommon now, LED's went from being a fad to being a viable lighting method to being the most available and common lighting method, we now know that feeding corals is beneficial, people are keeping goniapora alive! when it used to be one of the most difficult ones to keep, etc.).  The best thing a new reefer can do is research, research, research, and research some more.  And then decide what you think will work for you and try it.  There's no right way to do most things and that's both the beauty and the challenge of this hobby.

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17 minutes ago, Ramzman89 said:

So what if you start with fish and do frequent small water changes say every other day? Would that be ok? Would that level things out while still accomplishing the cycle process while keeping ammonia levels at minimum? I'm a noob myself and curious. Not to get off topic from op.

So, I'm not the best person to describe this but basically, any amount of ammonia, no matter how small, is detrimental to fish.  I'm not sure how familiar you are with the cycling process (there's tons of articles on the web and on here) but basically it's the growth of bacteria that take ammonia (such as from fish waste), and convert it to nitrites, then more bacteria grow which turn nitrites into nitrates.  Ammonia is toxic to most livestock.  Nitrites are a bit less toxic but still bad.  Nitrates are basically ok as long as they don't get too high.  During the cycle, doing water changes will slow the cycle down since it dilutes the levels of ammonia and then nitrites, and the process of cycling is very hard on fish/corals/snails/crabs, etc.  It's basically what's known as soft cycling, but soft cycling is mostly intended for when you have live rock with lots of life on it and you're trying to save as much as possible.  It can mean daily water changes for weeks, up to six weeks sometimes. 

 

It used to be common advice (and sometimes is still given out by fish stores) to use a hardy fish like a damsel to cycle your tank (they produce poop which results in ammonia which is what feeds the cycle), but that practice has mostly fallen out of favor simply because it's considered cruel to cycle with a fish in the tank.  There are much better ways of fishless cycling (such as those discussed above) and there's really no reason to put a fish in an uncycled tank if you don't absolutely have to.  The fish will be much better off if the tank is fully cycled and ready before adding it.  A little patience can save a whole lot of headache and frustration.  Hope that helps!

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