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M320au

New member + cycling fatigue

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M320au
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Hello all, I have enjoyed reading these forums while I planed my noob nano reef. I’m suffering from cycling fatigue so thought I’d introduce myself.

 

28 days ago today I set up my new nano reef in Sydney, australia, comprising:

 

Waterbox 20 cube

AI prime 16 HD

Ai Nano 3 

Reef glass nano skimmer (installed but not running until cycle complete)

Tunze 1073.008

caribsea life rock

Serenity Natural Aragonite Coral Sand

 

I know the sand bed is too thick, Mistake #1, I plan to siphon some of it out slowly once my cycle is complete.

 

Commenced fishless cycling 28 days ago with Dr Tim’s one & only, dosed dr Tim’s ammonia 4ppm. Two days later, realised filter sock wasn’t supposed to be installed - so I removed, mistake #2. Sock was brown - probably because it was full of Dr Tim’s. On day 4, ammonia started dropping towards 2ppm, at which point I redosed as per instructions but, mistake #3, I think I redosed with 4ppm rather than 2ppm. Day 5, 6 and 7, ammonia is off the dial at 5mg+. So Day 8, realising ammonia shouldn’t be over 5, and thinking I;d probably filtered out all the Dr Tim’s, I do a 25% water change to bring it down, drops ammonia to approx 2ppm. Day 9 I buy the api nitrite test kit and register 2-5ppm nitrite. Within several days nitrite starts to read 5+. It stays stubbornly high for several days and ammonia doesn’t drop. Thinking I have stalled due to lack of Dr Tims, I add a bottle of API quick start. Ammonia reduces to zero pretty quick but nitrite remains >5, and judging by the colour and speed of the test result changing it is clearly getting higher & higher by the day.  Day 24, 2 weeks later, no dosing, nitrites still 5+, and NitrAtes measured with Sera kit, are 100. Day 25, after at least a week of zero ammonia I feel sorry for the ammonia bacteria so redose, but just 1ppm. (probably mistake #4). Day 26, frustrated by 2 weeks of very high nitrites with no progress, I watch Dr Tim’s video on YouTube where he says high nitrites will stall the cycle and to keep them below 5ppm. So I assume my cycle is stalled, do an 80% WC. Afterwards, Nitrites still reading at >5. So I do a further 33% WC. Nitrites STILL >5. By this point I assume I might have a faulty test kit, so I test tap water, nitrites 0.25ppm, so, probably not faulty. So, I start diluting my test tank water with tap water to see how high nitrites still are. At 50% dilution, nitrites still 5+. At 80% dilution, nitrites start to show <5 - probably around 2ppm. How is this possible after so many water changes?! So, … to get the nitrites down below 5ppm as Dr Tim recommends, I do *another* 80% WC on the same day, and go to bed last night happy with ammonia at 0.25, nitrites at 2ppm. Wake up this morning, ammonia has dropped slightly, nitrites rising again (maybe closer to 3 or 4), and nitrates reading 50%.
 

This watched pot is simply not boiling.

 

At which point, you probably all say to me, leave it alone for another fortnight. Easier said than done. Ive been in lockdown for 8 weeks with another 8 weeks at least to go, and a 3 day weekend coming up next weekend. I’m getting over it. If I can’t put at least at least a hermit crab or a snail in there to entertain me next weekend I think I’m going to give the tank to a relative - not helped by the fact I’ve watched so many videos about successfully stocking with fish on day 1 using the same bacteria solutions I’ve already used in mine weeks ago. 
 

It’s got me wondering how you might safely abort a cycle partway through and revert to the method on the label -

 

If nitrites are still high in 1 week, could I do a 90/100% WC, stock with hermit crabs or other CUC, and tip in another bottle of dr Tim’s, and expect things to go ok and cycling resume, but with low levels of toxicity? At least that way going into week 5 I would be looking at -something-? It’s not like I need 5 tangs in my tank to get satisfaction - a single coral or a few few crabs would do provided this show gets underway.

 

Appreciate any motivation / support you can offer. Thanks in advance.

 

 

305117FD-46D4-49A9-BFB0-CFA109A61951.jpeg

Edited by M320au
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banasophia

Omg this has been quite a challenging start. Hang in there!
 

You could just wait it out. But if I t was me, I would drain the tank, refill with new saltwater, add a bottle of BioSpira (also invented by Dr Tim but for some reason seems to work more consistently), run the tank a few days, test to be sure everything is fine (salinity 1.025-1.027, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 0-20), then if it checks out I would add 1-2 small fish. 
 

When doing it this way with fish, you don’t add the ammonia drops… the fish food and fish waste are the source of ammonia.

 

Lots of ways to cycle a tank… some take longer than others, but you get there eventually. Don’t give up!

 

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rough eye

your first mistake was not using any live rock. i wouldn't think 28 days is a very long time to wait for dry rock to be cycled. i know everybody loves it and all the problems that come with it. very nicely designed scape, by the way.

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Seadragon
24 minutes ago, banasophia said:

Omg this has been quite a challenging start. Hang in there!
 

You could just wait it out. But if I t was me, I would drain the tank, refill with new saltwater, add a bottle of BioSpira (also invented by Dr Tim but for some reason seems to work more consistently), run the tank a few days, test to be sure everything is fine (salinity 1.025-1.027, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 0-20), then if it checks out I would add 1-2 small fish. 
 

When doing it this way with fish, you don’t add the ammonia drops… the fish food and fish waste are the source of ammonia.

 

Lots of ways to cycle a tank… some take longer than others, but you get there eventually. Don’t give up!

 


Hah, I was about to write the same thing basically to help out the OP, but you beat me to it!  It takes me 7-10 days to cycle a tank using Bio-Spira and a hardy fish.

 

Last time I used Dr Tim + dosing ammonia a very long time ago, it took a month!  Oh well, I’d do what @banasophia said. 🙂

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banasophia
19 minutes ago, rough eye said:

your first mistake was not using any live rock. i wouldn't think 28 days is a very long time to wait for dry rock to be cycled. i know everybody loves it and all the problems that come with it. very nicely designed scape, by the way.

Lots of people use CaribSea Liferock on purpose to avoid unwanted hitchhikers and don’t add live rock… I use Liferock for all my tanks and then I add a couple sources of beneficial bacteria and my fish after a couple days. Just a different way to do it. I think the only mistakes here were probably just adding too much ammonia which may have stalled the cycle… but also Dr Tim’s just seems to take a while. 

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banasophia
2 minutes ago, Seadragon said:


Hah, I was about to write the same thing basically to help out the OP, but you beat me to it!  It takes me 7-10 days to cycle a tank using Bio-Spira and a hardy fish.

 

Last time I used Dr Tim + dosing ammonia a very long time ago, it took a month!  Oh well, I’d do what @banasophia said. 🙂

Yeah I really can’t figure out why Biospira seems like it’s so much more reliable than Dr Tim’s… it’s weird. 

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ninjamyst

Your mistake was doing too much.  Cycling = do nothing.  Add ammonia, wait for it to be converted to nitrate.  What test kit are you using?  With the amount of bacteria you added, my bet is you are already cycled.  

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M320au

Thank you all for your comments. Unfortunately Bio Spira doesn’t seem to be available in Australia. Aqua forest Bio S, Dr Tim’s of API quick start seem to be the only options I can find.

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Seadragon
15 minutes ago, M320au said:

Thank you all for your comments. Unfortunately Bio Spira doesn’t seem to be available in Australia. Aqua forest Bio S, Dr Tim’s of API quick start seem to be the only options I can find.


How about just buying some live rock from your Local Fish Store?

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Tired

Ocean live rock is the best stuff you can get for your tank. The risk of pests is overestimated, and ocean rock brings in an amount of beneficial (and interesting) biodiversity that can't be gotten anywhere else. If you get cycled live rock (i.e. rock that's done dying off), your tank is cycled instantly. 

 

It's certainly possible to cycle dry rock. But it's going to take awhile, you're going to have a nasty ugly stage, and it's going to be years before the rock is really mature in any sense of the word. 

 

I'd highly suggest seeing if you can get just a pound or so of proper live rock at your LFS. Won't cycle the rest of the rock, you'll still get loads of algae on that, but it'll bring in all sorts of good bacteria and really help the tank's maturity along. 

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banasophia
10 minutes ago, M320au said:

Thank you all for your comments. Unfortunately Bio Spira doesn’t seem to be available in Australia. Aqua forest Bio S, Dr Tim’s of API quick start seem to be the only options I can find.

Okay, well in that case I would just stay the course. You’re getting there. I would stop doing all the water changes, and just follow Dr Tim’s directions and see it through. I think you were adding too much ammonia too soon before.

 

What are your salinity, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate now?

 


https://www.drtimsaquatics.com/resources/library/quick-guide-to-fishless-cycling-with-one-and-only/

 

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banasophia

Seriously… in this forum people for some reason hate on the Caribsea Liferock… you DO NOT need to go get any other rock. The Liferock is totally good and fine. It is COMPLETELY POSSIBLE to cycle Liferock and people do it all the time. 

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Tired

I mean, sure, it's workable, but proper live rock is better. It'd be helpful for this situation. Not mandatory, just helpful. Way more good stuff on it than on painted rock that's sat in a bin for awhile. 

 

Staying the course will produce a cycled tank. Adding proper live rock will also produce a cycled tank, might be faster, and gets a significant head start on adding biodiversity. If you don't add ocean rock, you're stuck trying to get biodiversity off of frag plugs and whatever's in the air. That magnifies the ugly stage and misses out on a lot of scavengers and detritivores, plus you don't get the cool critters to look at. Dry rock tanks (Liferock is just painted dry with a head start) can work fine, there's just a significant benefit to ocean rock. 

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banasophia
1 hour ago, Tired said:

I mean, sure, it's workable, but proper live rock is better. It'd be helpful for this situation. Not mandatory, just helpful. Way more good stuff on it than on painted rock that's sat in a bin for awhile. 

 

Staying the course will produce a cycled tank. Adding proper live rock will also produce a cycled tank, might be faster, and gets a significant head start on adding biodiversity. If you don't add ocean rock, you're stuck trying to get biodiversity off of frag plugs and whatever's in the air. That magnifies the ugly stage and misses out on a lot of scavengers and detritivores, plus you don't get the cool critters to look at. Dry rock tanks (Liferock is just painted dry with a head start) can work fine, there's just a significant benefit to ocean rock. 

 

Better in your opinion. Liferock is better in my opinion. Just sayin. 
 

When a new hobbyist researches and decides on what type of rock they want, I think it’s a good practice for us to try to work with what they’ve chosen for their tank. You may or may not have noticed that I don’t go into the posts of newbies with ocean rock and tell them what a mistake they made because they could be inundated with hitchhikers they’ll have to figure out and potentially deal with, even though I may think that. Because they already made their choice and got their rock. Their way isn’t wrong, it’s just a different way with a different set of challenges.
 

Have you ever used Liferock? 

Have you ever noticed how people slam newbies for asking what the hitchhikers are that they find in their tanks? 
How it’s then a big debate about whether and how the hitchhiker should be removed? 

Why do we tell people to use ocean rock with all kinds of hitchhikers, but then we tell them to dip their corals to remove hitchhikers? 
 

I had a rough day today, so I’m a bit feisty… I don’t mean to be rude, I do appreciate your perspective. We’re all just trying to offer helpful advice. 
 

 

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Tired

Hitchhikers on coral frags are more likely to be things that strongly associate with corals, which means they're more likely to be coral pests. Plus, there's much less of a chance of there being beneficial hitchhikers on a tiny frag. And the small amount of space on a frag means you aren't going to transfer much dip into your tank. Dip a chunk of live rock, and aside from potentially killing off the good stuff, you've just filled the rock with dip that then goes into your tank. 

 

If somebody is trying to cycle a tank with dry rock, adding a piece of live rock will add additional bacteria and algae. If someone is trying to cycle a tank with live rock, adding a piece of dry rock doesn't do much. If someone is having a slow cycle like often happens with dry rock, adding a big chunk of established, mature, diverse bacteria is definitely a good thing, so "you might want to get some live rock" is potentially useful advice. 

 

The issue with people asking about hitchhikers is people posting the thousandth "what is this" post, and it's just aiptasia or a stomatella snail. There's nothing wrong with asking questions, but it's a bit irritating when someone clearly hasn't gone and done any sort of research. By "research", I mean Googling "live rock hitchhikers" or a vague description of the thing and looking at the first few photos. If anybody's being outright slammed for it, well, the people doing the slamming should suck it up and be more polite. 

 

A mature, biodiverse reef tank is a healthy reef tank. Live rock is a great way to get mature, biodiverse rock into your tank right away. Dry rock has the benefit of having no pests, being cheaper, being more convenient to get, and sometimes coming in better shapes, but then you have to figure out how to get all the biodiversity into the tank. A small piece of live rock has some benefits (algae, bacteria, hopefully starter populations of beneficial critters), while having much less chance of bringing in any pests than a whole bunch of live rock. It does have the downside of leaving lots of your rock as dry rock that will need to get established, and of not bringing in the same population of helpful critters. 

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banasophia
19 minutes ago, Tired said:

Hitchhikers on coral frags are more likely to be things that strongly associate with corals, which means they're more likely to be coral pests. Plus, there's much less of a chance of there being beneficial hitchhikers on a tiny frag. And the small amount of space on a frag means you aren't going to transfer much dip into your tank. Dip a chunk of live rock, and aside from potentially killing off the good stuff, you've just filled the rock with dip that then goes into your tank. 

 

If somebody is trying to cycle a tank with dry rock, adding a piece of live rock will add additional bacteria and algae. If someone is trying to cycle a tank with live rock, adding a piece of dry rock doesn't do much. If someone is having a slow cycle like often happens with dry rock, adding a big chunk of established, mature, diverse bacteria is definitely a good thing, so "you might want to get some live rock" is potentially useful advice. 

 

The issue with people asking about hitchhikers is people posting the thousandth "what is this" post, and it's just aiptasia or a stomatella snail. There's nothing wrong with asking questions, but it's a bit irritating when someone clearly hasn't gone and done any sort of research. By "research", I mean Googling "live rock hitchhikers" or a vague description of the thing and looking at the first few photos. If anybody's being outright slammed for it, well, the people doing the slamming should suck it up and be more polite. 

 

A mature, biodiverse reef tank is a healthy reef tank. Live rock is a great way to get mature, biodiverse rock into your tank right away. Dry rock has the benefit of having no pests, being cheaper, being more convenient to get, and sometimes coming in better shapes, but then you have to figure out how to get all the biodiversity into the tank. A small piece of live rock has some benefits (algae, bacteria, hopefully starter populations of beneficial critters), while having much less chance of bringing in any pests than a whole bunch of live rock. It does have the downside of leaving lots of your rock as dry rock that will need to get established, and of not bringing in the same population of helpful critters. 

Well like I said before, I do appreciate your perspective and experience. 🤗 I encourage you to try a Liferock/BioSpira tank sometime; you might be pleasantly surprised. I think my success with my tanks is due in part to using Liferock. 

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M320au

Thanks again everyone for the guidance. Re: live rock, actually I haven’t been able to find a fish store who will sell me some - my LFS tell me they’ve chosen to stop selling it. I’ve found one place that will deliver 20kg of it for $800, or a couple of shops which don’t ship it but are rumoured to stock it which are all out of my permissible 5km lockdown radius. So, life rock it is. 
 

So I’ve bitten the bullet and progressed to potential mistake #5, done another 90% WC and ordered some livestock. 1 black clownfish, 3 hermit crabs, 2 torch snails, and a torch coral frag, 😬They will take about 48 hours to arrive as the poor things will have to be air freighted.

 

My current water Params:

- 0 ammonia

- 0.25 / 0.5 nitrite

- havent measured nitrates today (will do tomorrow) but suspecting it will be very low (was reading 50 on a sera test kit this morning before the 90% WC),

- salinity 30ppm, I will slowly tweak it up before the fish and coral arrives.

- temp dropped from 27 to 25 degrees to prepare for the fish.


Suddenly very excited that things are in progress. There’s not a lot for my snails and hermit crabs to eat - apart from a thin film of something on my tank glass which I am deliberately not cleaning off. I’ve got some food pellets - I read I should get the snails some dried seaweed - anyone think it will be necessary?

 

On arrival day, I plan to:

/ check levels. If nitrites have risen above 0.5 I will WC until they are down to 0.5 or below again, (although I doubt they’ll increase given ammonia is 0),

/ toss in another healthy dose of API quickstart,

/ drip acclimatise the fish,

/ lightly feed everyone,
 

Then, I guess my plan is just to test test test! And if nitrites start to rise above 0.5, I’ll just have to do water changes until they drop again. I’ll be sitting next to the tank working from home all day, so it’s not likely things will get out of hand too quick I hope.

 

Appreciate this may not have been the ideal startup process but fingers crossed! Will post another update once everyone has arrived and is settled.

 

mat.

 

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M. Tournesol

Buy some Seachem Amguard Anti ammoniac, or Prodibio Stop Ammo, or another similar product in case your ammonia level shot up.

23 minutes ago, M320au said:

I read I should get the snails some dried seaweed - anyone think it will be necessary?

I don't know, but it's good to be prepared. Dried seaweeds aren't very expensive and can be kept for a very long time.

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M. Tournesol
27 minutes ago, M320au said:

/ lightly feed everyone,

For feeding, you can wait a little. Let your fishes settle 2-3h to 1 day.

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M. Tournesol
1 hour ago, M320au said:

torch coral frag

good luck 😬

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Seadragon
2 hours ago, M320au said:

and a torch coral frag, 😬They will take about 48 hours to arrive as the poor things will have to be air freighted.


I hope you do get the Liferock in time.  I would’ve held off on the Torch coral frag till everything was more established or buy a cheaper frag to start off if you can’t wait, something hardy like GSP for the back wall.

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rough eye

i believe you're not supposed to drip acclimate shipped animals. i only float the bag for CUC to acclimate them to temp (about 20 minutes) and then put them directly into the tank. as for the fish you might do the same since they will have been in shipping awhile and the water may be full of ammonia, which can become harmful when dripping.

 

you can tie a strip of nori to a small rock. hermits will love it too. if the film on the glass is green the snails will likely eat that. have you been running lights in the tank during the day?

 

prepare to be patient, don't rush into things. i've only added a few of the easiest corals into my tank until  my algae issues have subsided - about 8 months of waiting.

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brandon429

@M320au

 

Want to be part of a very large reef tank cycling study?

 

Do these activities below and give updates after doing the moves exactly as written. This is a custom cycle call for this thread, others need different timing.

 

1. Change about 90% of the water for new saltwater. Match temp and salinity to common reef tank levels

 

2. Add your intended bioload, choose a specific disease prevention model before adding mixed pet store fish, but add what you want to start reefing with.

 

3. Cease testing any further for nitrite nitrate and ammonia for three months straight, we visually guide the tank and every day it runs great and example #310 gets added to our study elsewhere I'll link here one day.

 

Live rock is nice to use, but some want to exclude it by design, we can get dry starts ready with just the same timeliness 

 

How about it

 

You're well past the start date here. Instead of hashing issues before they play out, this time the offer is follow the rules above, give us frequent pic updates, your cycle is unstuck free of charge. To post approximate param test levels further is directly opposite of the offer, it's pic and animal based visual info so that we remove subjectivity from the eval

 

The clean water ensures your new animals aren't harmed, the reason you're invited to participate in a large cycling study is because we're studying how non digital ammonia test kits and factoring nitrite in marine cycles is causing buyers to buy massive amounts of unneeded bacteria from sellers to fix cycles that were never stuck. 

 

On page three well after public acceptance of visual fact we can hash out what occurred. It's better aligned this way. Our study is currently twenty straight pages of work following the exact steps above, you tank won't be harmed it'll be awesomed. 

 

 

b

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M. Tournesol

@brandon429, I know that you like to make the hobby "advance" but shouldn't your study be undertaken only by experienced reefer?
For me, a newbie "visually guide the tank" is not an easy thing to do when you don't know what are the signs of a problem.

 

Once the result is out, Yes, sure, a beginner should try it. 

 

Ps: This is not my aquarium, @M320au can do what he wants. I just wanted to give my opinion.

 

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brandon429

 

 

He is well past start dates we've been testing for about six straight years using those steps at certain dates on cycle studies

 

They're built on trackable examples just like this thread.

 

Nobody will revolt if he added zoanthids to clean water, a small lysmata shrimp , three snails, some pods, and began common feeding and water changes. A clownfish if you can get a quarantined one. He used the #1 bottle bac people use for skip cycling, and seneye nh3 testing shows no burning of fish, opposite of what the masses claim.

 

 

Here are some of the factors in play that are unique to this cycle, but can't give the whole enchilada up front or it becomes a procedure debate long before pics show the real workings of the ammonia line from any cycling chart (is that 28 days or ten ish)

 

This tank is on day 28

 

What's the label on the bottle bac used say regarding number of days required to cycle, a month or about ten days

 

 

Now we just discern if APi is right in all stated cases and TAN was factored for nh3 per instructions when reported and we're set.

 

 

 about nitrite, why his specific ammonia loading from this thread and that tank pic above can't be lethal in any case:

http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-06/rhf/index.php

 

Because those variables align, this reef can begin work after the common big water change and we can track that into doom or assured success by pics... a crashing tank looks horrible. A shiny nano reef isn't crashing.

 

 

The three actions set above directly account for the filter sock used and all forms of bacterial doubt regarding water bacteria, too high temps, any stalling, did not occur here. The reason my information seems backwards is because I'm not selling anything, what I seek is pattern confirmation or denial.

 

All current cycling information in practice is written by bottle bac sellers. We have quite the proof set to offer, this thread could be one for sure.

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