Carrot Cycling

Discussion in 'Advanced Topics' started by Vis, Feb 3, 2010.

  1. Vis

    Vis Gerhard

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    Good day Prof

    Weird title right but bare with me.

    I fully understand the whole cycling dynamic so wont ask questions about that. I just wondered if it can be cheated a little.

    I'll explain.

    I start up a new tank and do a complete fishless cycle. Now I add some fish which means I increase the bio load of the tank. The bacteria need to compensate for this and a mini cycle occurs. How dangerous would this be to the fish?

    Let say I start another new tank but this time I add a few peaces of carrot to the tank and leave it theire to decompose while the tank cycle.
    Would the carrot compensate for the fish I would later add and not cause a mini cycle?
    Will the carrot make it sort of a cycle with "fish" without actually putting any fish in danger?
    Let say this is not possible with carrots, would it be possible to do with something else?

    P.S- Which is the fastest fishless or with fish?
    I would guesse with fish as the tank have to cycle only once?

    Groete
     
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  3. Zoom

    Zoom Retired Moderator

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    Vis,

    Doing a fishless cycle is obviously always the best, and most people who start out their tanks are never patient enough to wait out the cycle. 99.9% of the time you can never miss the mini-cycles that occur as you add fish... it can be reduced in how large the cycle is by introducing fish slowly. Meaning don't throw in 5 angels at once, rather buy 1 at a time.

    Your tank will only cycle to the amount of bacteria required in the filter to deal with waste. More waste will require tha colony to increase in numbers. If you throw in 50 fish at once, and you have a cycled tank, you will find that a MAJOR recycle will begin. The ammonia and nitrites will spike deadly levels.

    You will almost NEVER avoid the small mini cycles that occur in your tank from time to time. Adding fish, over-feeding, waterchanges can all have effect on the balance of the cycle.

    My suggstion to anyone wanting to "speed" up a cycle... DON'T. BUT you can make the cycle more "effective" by adding Nutrifin Cycle, or Seachem Stability, and pit in a pinch of fish food every 3rd day. This will make it effective in that a larger colony of bacteria will colonize the filter, (from being introuced with the chemicals) and they will colonize because of the source of food. Other than that... stick to the 10 day cycle routine. You will never regret it.

    (Alternately move over to Marine fish and do your 6 MONTHS cycle!)
     
  4. OP
    Vis

    Vis Gerhard

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    Thanks Zoom

    The idea is not to speed up the cycle but minimize the initial minicycle and enable you to add more fish the first time.

    Does Nutrifin Cycle, or Seachem Stability actually contain the bacteria or only help them?

    Yeah those marina cycles is mad:push:
     
  5. rogerrabbit

    rogerrabbit

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    You can actually add diluted ammonia to increase the bacteria load artificially, but that seems a bit complicated and requires routine testing and more intense knowledge.
     
  6. KiazerG

    KiazerG Sailfin Molly

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    Yup it contains the actual bacteria that they culture in their labratories (or basements depending on the make of product ;) ) - this is why they come with expiry dates on them

    Incidentally I have tried both Nutrafin Cycle and Tetra SafeStart and can safely say that Tetra SafeStart is a WAY better product which properly cycles the water as apposed to Nutrafin Cycle which got the Cycle to the Nitrite stage but horribly failed from then on.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2010
  7. OP
    Vis

    Vis Gerhard

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    HI KaizerG

    Did you do this with or without fish in the tank?
     
  8. KiazerG

    KiazerG Sailfin Molly

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    What I did was add a small amount of normal flake food and let it decompose to increase the ammonia levels in the tank (which I tested) - I then applied the product to the water which now had sufficient amount of ammonia to maintain the bacteria.

    I then left it for 12 hours before adding 2 fish. I then left it for a week before adding another 2 and so on. In my mind (and with my limited Chemistry background) this allowed the added bacteria to establish itself in my system without overloading it which would invariably lead to spikes when large amounts of fish were added.

    And like I said with the Tetra SafeStart (which has much simpler application method i.e. just somma dump it in) I never picked up one spike.
     
  9. OP
    Vis

    Vis Gerhard

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    So the tank never cycled completely before you added the Tetra safestart and the fish?
     
  10. Dirk

    Dirk Dwarf Catfish

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    Hi Vis,

    Seeing that you directed the question at me, I would like to answer it myself and not rely on all the other advice that was given here.

    Firstly, we have to clarify one thing here that is pretty serious. You asked me:

    "Weird title right but bare with me"

    If I translate this into Afrikaans it would read: "Snaakse titel maar sal jy kaalgat met my"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    What you wanted to write was "Weird title right but bear with me". Die wondere van die Britse taal, boet!

    Having got over this hurdle, and I have been chuckling all morning, we get to the questions that you asked.

    Firstly, you cannot use carrots for cycling. You need the one breakdown product of proteins, which is ammonia, to get the breakdown cycle to start. The protein content of carrots is very low, they rather contain sugars, starches and cellulose and will not break down to ammonia, so this will not work.

    The cycling products that are advertised either consist of bacterial cultures or bacterial cultures and alcohol, eish! Straight alcohol, because it is better food for the bacteria to start off with than the ammonia on its own.

    Now when you start off a tank the fishes start producing ammonia. If you do not add any of these starters then bacteria that occur in the environment will start settling on the filter medium and start growing rapidly. The bacteria that do the ammonia to nitrite conversion start off first (Nitrosomonas) , then the nitrite levels start going up and the second type of bacteria (Nitrobacter) start growing and convert the nitrite into nitrate. Ammonia and nitrite are toxic to fishes, nitrate less so, but you cannot have levels over 20 mg/l in your tanks as this then does becomes toxic to the fishes and you have to remove this by water changes.

    It is important to remember that this denitrification process continues all the time in an aquarium and it is not as though you have small "cycles" occurring all the time. I also want to point out that the numbers of the bacteria in the filter increase to very large numbers and you are not correct, Zoom, in saying that the number of bacteria are limited by the fishes and then when you add new fishes you will start the process again. The bacteria always occur in greater numbers than are required. That is because they compete with each other all the time, so they will not stop multiplying when they "think" that there are enough, they multiply far more and once a system is up and running properly it can cope very well with the addition of a fairly large number of new fishes. And finally, Zoom, there is absolutely nothing wrong with speeding up denitrification, there is nothing artificial about this, all that you are doing is getting the bacteria to multiply faster so that they can do the breakdown faster which is what you want them to do. So, when starting a new aquarium add any of the cycling products to assist the bacteria to get the aquarium to break down the ammonia and nitrite more rapidly so that these do not intoxicate your fishes.

    The term nitrogen cycle is used in biology for the breakdown of ammonia to nitrite and nitrate in say an aquatic system, but then again the conversion of nitrate back to ammonia and then incorporation into the proteins of organisms. These organisms then break down their proteins again to ammonia and then you have a cycle, in other words the nitrogen gets cycled through a biological system. What we do in the aquarium is just the one side of this, in other words breakdown from ammonia to nitrite and nitrate. For this reason we should not talk about cycling but rather "biological filtration" which is the correct technical term to be used.

    And Vis, no kaalgat carrots please.

    Kind regards,

    Dirk
     
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  11. KiazerG

    KiazerG Sailfin Molly

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    The Tetra Safestart is what "instantly" cycles your tank - instead of waiting 8 weeks for the bacteria that is needed to seed and grow in your tank you are essentially just adding them in making them instantly available -

    Thus when fish that you've added produce waste (i.e. ammonia) the bacteria are already present in the system and will convert the ammonia to nitrite and finally nitrates. This will, theoretically, result in no build up of one particular element.

    Hope my explanation is understandable!


    ahh the Prof has spoken! - he'll be the best to explain this
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2010
  12. OP
    Vis

    Vis Gerhard

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    Ag die boerkind ook:p:redface:
    Jammer Prof maar ek sal my stelling moet terug trek, nie regtig my soort ding nie.:push:

    At least you will not be able to hide anything so the truth will prevail:bigsmile:

    So if I biologically filtrate (At least the boerkind learn fast)the tank normally and suddenly add a lot of fish but do water changes everyday for about a week they should be OK?

    Somewhere I also got the idea that there is only enough bacteria for the job at hand and not more.

    P.S Will keep the carrots in their skin.
     
  13. Dirk

    Dirk Dwarf Catfish

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    Hi Vis,

    I have to do some work today as well, so my reply will be short:

    No, you cannot just do water changes for a week, it takes about three to four weeks for the biological filtration process to really get going. First you have an ammonia peak, then you have a nitrite peak, I will see if I have some graphs to illustrate this. You will have to add "cycling" products or else you will have problems.

    What does help a lot though is if you take a filter from an aquarium that is well established and you clean it and chuck the brown floating stuff from that filter into the new tank as this will contain a lot of the bacteria you want and these will end up in the filter "starting" it off far sooner.

    Kind regards,

    Dirk
     
  14. OP
    Vis

    Vis Gerhard

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    I think I was a bit unclear. Will only add the fish after the tank have completely "cycled" without fish.
     
  15. Dirk

    Dirk Dwarf Catfish

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    No, it won't work because the fish need to produce the ammonia to get the tank to start biological filtration. It will also not work if you only add the cycling products and not the fishes. The bacteria that are added need the ammonia from the fishes for food.

    Kind regards,

    Dirk
     
  16. Laure

    Laure Cyano Terminator

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    What about adding zeolite (ammonia remover)? I understand that the zeolite removes excess ammonia from the system, but cannot remove all the ammonia. In this case, you can add a lot of fish and a small portion of the "unremoved" ammonia allows the nitrobacter bacteria to colonize and multiply. It is also claimed that zeolite removes a portion of the nitrite.

    Zeolite is apparently effective for about 6 weeks before the adsorbtion properties are exhausted. It is also claimed that the adsorbtion slows down over this period, thereby slowly allowing ammonia levels to increase, which in turn allows more food for the bacteria and thus can serve to increase their numbers as more food becomes available, without posing a risk to the aquarium inhabitants.

    Any comments?
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2010
  17. Zoom

    Zoom Retired Moderator

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    Hi Prof,

    Thank you for giving us a good detailed explanation of how to cycle a tank properly, and how the bacteria colony works. Every time someone asks we always get/give the same advice... and no one has every rectified and fixed this problem. If I may be so presumptious as to suggest an in-depth "article" on cycling a tank by yourself posted as a sticky for all our newbies.

    The advice I gave is what I got from other TASA members, books, online reading, and from LPS stores. Your explanation makes 100% sense, and I appologise for misleading vis, and anyone else who may have read my post.

    I honestly thought that bacteria colony was to the size of what is necessary... my logic said that no food for bacteria = less colony population.

    Again, thank you.
     
  18. Dirk

    Dirk Dwarf Catfish

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    Hi Zoom,

    Thanks for your compliments, and no need for an apology, I try to teach folks which is my occupation in the first place!

    I fear that the internet can be very misleading and what happens is that if one person writes something the next one accepts that as being correct without there being anyone that checks.

    You can also see that you interpretation about the bacteria was only slightly wrong, but that this can have major implications as to how we understand these things.

    Re an article on biological filtration, I had a quick look in my directories as I was sure that I has written something before, but I could not find it because I think it was quite a number of years back. I will check at home and then see if I can post something that we can then make sticky.

    Kind regards,

    Dirk
     
  19. OP
    Vis

    Vis Gerhard

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    Prof can I make another suggestion.
    I found the graphs for the biological filtration in my aquarium book.
    The graph ends where everything is in balance.

    I would also like to know what the graph will do after this initial period. When I "tamper" with the conditions there after like water changes, adding more fish, feeding etc.

    Will I be able to spike the ammonia to toxic levels again? Not going overboard trying to do this.(By accident)


    So the whole fishless biological filtraton is actually a bunch of nonsense?

    On a practical level:
    I want to setup a 3ft tank.
    I have already added a filter to one of my existing tanks and would be able to get that brown stuff out of the current tank filter too.

    If I setup the tank,add the filter, some of the brown stuff, 2 fish and let it filtrate for about 3-4 weeks.
    Can I then add about 40 Microrasboras to the tank with relative safety?
     
  20. TomK

    TomK

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    Seems like this very interesting thread has been forgotten. How about reviving it? Us newbie's would like to see the Prof's article.
     
  21. TomK

    TomK

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    So sorry, did not realize it is bad etiquette to try and revive a thread.
     

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