Question of the Day Tank cycling

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I have never cycled a tank. My first tank was 100% live rock. All subsequent tanks were seeded by live rocks that I kept in the sump from a previous tanks. This helps tremendously with all the ugly stages. I have seen so many hobbyists in the area that starts their tank completely sterile and seen all the horror they went though. Some got out of the hobby all together because they got frustrated with algae issues and can't seem to grow healthy corals. I don't know enough to say that there is a definitely causation between dry/sterile tanks versus seeded tanks but definitely some correlation.
 
I started with all dry rock.

I used Dr. Tim's for the nitrogen cycle, but once complete I got a reef starter kit from IPSF farms based on @Humblefish recommendation. I credit this for my tank not having many of the issues others have had. I did have an ugly stage of diatoms, but I did nothing and it eventually went away.

I think for it to work effectively you have to add the IPSF stuff when the tank is new. I think doing it later, your chance of success is less because other organisms have already had time to establish themselves. This makes it more of a war rather than a colonization.
 

phatduckk

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My first DT I did Dr Tims + Ammonia. It definitely stalled out for weeks even tho I followed the instructions. Had to add Biospira to get it back on track.

New new DT I did a combination: I put a bunch of rock from my old tank in the sump & added the appropriate dosage of Frtiz Turbo start.

Other small tanks along the way I always just used random media that I'd stashed away in the sump.
 

OverinThailand

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I have never cycled a tank. My first tank was 100% live rock. All subsequent tanks were seeded by live rocks that I kept in the sump from a previous tanks. This helps tremendously with all the ugly stages. I have seen so many hobbyists in the area that starts their tank completely sterile and seen all the horror they went though. Some got out of the hobby all together because they got frustrated with algae issues and can't seem to grow healthy corals. I don't know enough to say that there is a definitely causation between dry/sterile tanks versus seeded tanks but definitely some correlation.
I strongly have a feeling there is a link between starting sterile and many of the issues new tanks commonly go through but I'm sure there are people who claim they started sterile and never had a single issue so I don't know for sure... research does show however that the microbiome established in a tank started with only dry rock and bottled bac does develop a very different microbiome from those started with quality live rock (live rock from the ocean helps develop a much more natural microbiome in the tank) you simply cannot recreate the diverse microbiome of real live rock artificially and I suspect that the imbalanced microbiome developed by all dry rock tends to aid unwanted algal growth and other symptoms of the "ugly stage"
 

OZ_SPS

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Vette67

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Back in 1997, there was no bottled bac. You bought a box of trans shipped Fiji live rock and dumped it in a tank. You threw in a disposable damsel or 2 to add ammonia, and when your nitrites were zero, you were cycled (within about 3 weeks). Nobody ever heard of uglies or dinos.

Ahhh. The good old days. Back when a 45 pound box of real ocean live rock was about $150 (including shipping) shipped to your front door.
 

OverinThailand

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Back in 1997, there was no bottled bac. You bought a box of trans shipped Fiji live rock and dumped it in a tank. You threw in a disposable damsel or 2 to add ammonia, and when your nitrites were zero, you were cycled (within about 3 weeks). Nobody ever heard of uglies or dinos.

Ahhh. The good old days. Back when a 45 pound box of real ocean live rock was about $150 (including shipping) shipped to your front door.
The general concensus seems to be that real live rock from the ocean (not dry rock sitting in a pool of old water and bottled bac in your LFS) seems to be the strongly preferred way to get started
 

andrewkw

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Unless I ever get a massive tank I should have enough live rock that I'll never need to cycle a tank, just take some rock from other tanks and a bunch of corals and go. I have started to use a bit of dry rock but usually put it in my frag system for a few months first for new tanks.
 

abcha0s

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After bleach... a bottle of Dr. Tim's or Bio-spira.

I've done a few other things to really get the tank going... Ocean Direct sand, Rotifers, Copepods, Phyto, Coraline... I'm not beyond using post cycle bacteria such as Microbacter7 (or other). I am sure that the fish themselves bring in a collection of bacterium.

Perhaps of more interest is how to cycle a tank in an emergency - like really fast. I had to do this recently as I poured bleach into what was supposed to be my observation tank and my display hadn't been fallow long enough that I trusted it.
  • Get all the bleach out and new salt water to SG 1.025
  • There is a ton of biological media in the tank. Two big bricks of marine pure, sand, rock, more...
  • The night before I planned to move my fish to this tank (about 15 of them) I turned off all of the pumps and poured in a bottle of Dr. Tim's
  • Turn pumps on after 12 hours and aerate
  • Fish went in about 18 hours after dosing
  • Feed as normal
  • On day 4 I did a 50% WC and poured a second bottle of Dr. Tim's into the tank
  • No UV for first 14 days
Of course this is just a variation on the fish-in cycle but your not really supposed to do that with 15 fish. I took a few extra precautions to avoid an ammonia spike. I never saw any detectable ammonia or nitrite at any point. All of the fish are thriving and the tank has been very stable.

I'm also learning how to balance the use of UV with desirable bacteria in the water column. I do believe that UV has a place in a disease free tank, but probably not running 24/7.

The question I have is, can you grow/culture Dr. Tim's bacteria so that you an abundance on-hand at any given time.
 
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Vette67

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The general concensus seems to be that real live rock from the ocean (not dry rock sitting in a pool of old water and bottled bac in your LFS) seems to be the strongly preferred way to get started
I 100% agree. But that’s the other problem. People like to brag about which bottled product they used in their tank. As though it’s a point of pride. I would consider myself an utter failure as an aquarist if I ever put a bottle of anything bacterially into my tank. No bottle will ever beat nature, and no bottle has ever entered my tank in 25 years. And no infomercial video will convince me otherwise. And of course, the influencers propagate the same stories that new aquarists buy into (literally) and the misinformation perpetuates. Everyone wants the cheap easy route, when nothing in reef keeping is either cheap or easy.

Ok, I’ll get off my soap box now.
 

Dierks

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FritZyme9 -- Its all I use and all I trust. I have to cycle Large systems VERY fast and this has been my lifesaver. We go through Gallons of it every month... In fact that reminds me I need to reach out to them and see if they sell larger than the gallon jugs.

As far as my tank, I did the old school shrimp in the sump and let it rot... Was very effective but super nasty.
 

andrewkw

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I 100% agree. But that’s the other problem. People like to brag about which bottled product they used in their tank. As though it’s a point of pride. I would consider myself an utter failure as an aquarist if I ever put a bottle of anything bacterially into my tank. No bottle will ever beat nature, and no bottle has ever entered my tank in 25 years. And no infomercial video will convince me otherwise. And of course, the influencers propagate the same stories that new aquarists buy into (literally) and the misinformation perpetuates. Everyone wants the cheap easy route, when nothing in reef keeping is either cheap or easy.

Ok, I’ll get off my soap box now.
If you're starting from nothing you may need it. In most cases you shouldn't start from nothing though. There should be someone out there who can help you seed your tank. I'm sure you remember the days of trading cups of sand to increase bio diversity - to be fair I don't use sand anymore so some things change, at least for me.
 

Timfish

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I used to use wild live rock but it's more convienent to use a quality maricultured gulf live rock now. WIld or maricultured live rock is the best (and may be the only source) for beneficial microbial stuff and cryptic sponges essential for establishing and maintaining healthy reef ecosystems. Bottled stuff is fine but less than 2% of the microbial stuff found on reefs can be cultured and stuck in a bottle. Using wild or maricultured live rock that's been quarintined I'm able to set up a system and add fish and easy corals within a day without issues.
 

Veritas

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I have done it 3 ways: So long ago, I inherited my first reef tank, stand, all equipment with fish, tank and rock for $200....too new to even know about cycling or how darn lucky I was either. Best way if you are new is buy everything used. After that I cycled with fiji rock for my new tanks which also doesn't have a cycle in my experience. Plug and play tanks.
This last way took the shot gun approach for diversity with sterile rock, sterile substrate....3 different brands of live bacteria, live sand from aquabiomics, IPSF live sand, IPSF refugium set up and gulf coast aquacultured rock straight into a sterile tank without fish to cure intank under lights and provide ammonia. This took 3 weeks to cycle. My goal was not speed but diversity. Baby clowns went in then and did fine.
 

saf1

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Back in 1997, there was no bottled bac. You bought a box of trans shipped Fiji live rock and dumped it in a tank. You threw in a disposable damsel or 2 to add ammonia, and when your nitrites were zero, you were cycled (within about 3 weeks). Nobody ever heard of uglies or dinos.

Ahhh. The good old days. Back when a 45 pound box of real ocean live rock was about $150 (including shipping) shipped to your front door.

And covered in wet newspaper :) I remember drying it out and reading it later. Probably some of the best rock I've purchased.

I will say that I bought 25 lbs of live rock from KP last year that was good. Also going to buy some from the gals over at TBS just to spread the love around.
 
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