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PostPosted: Dec 18th, '10, 01:04 
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OK so it is time to start system cycling and wanted to check our methodology sounds sensible.

Firstly we have a high pH system so we have been advised that it would be safer to go with a fishless cycling process.

Secondly - we did a search this morning in town and we were unable to find any suitable Ammonia products (pure ammonia, ammonia hydroxide or ammonia chloride) or any liquid seaweed extracts (Seasol, Maxicrop etc). So it looks like we will be going the pee-ponics/humonia route.

So having identified our source of ammonia the steps are:

- Add the ammonia to the tank a little at a time until you obtain a reading from your ammonia kit of ~1-3 ppm. (read anywhere from 1 to 5ppm depending has been successful)
- Record the amount of ammonia that this took, and then add that amount daily until the nitrite appears (0.5 ppm) (reduce or stop adding ammonia if ammonia is much above 5ppm)
- Record ammonia, nitrite, nitrate & pH daily
- Once nitrites appear, cut back the daily dose of ammonia to half the original volume.
- Once nitrates appear (5 – 10 ppm), and the nitrites have dropped to zero, you can add your fish.

Some questions:

- So when is the right time to start our seedlings off from seed - now or in a week? Or because we don't have any seaweed extract should we wait until system has cycled and just plant seeds directly in media?
- Plan is to cycle all the water in the fish tank through the flood and drain beds once an hour. Also it has been coolish at nights here (~ 5C though warm during the day 20-25C) and we were thinking of only running the pump during the day to conserve water heat - will this have a detrimental effect to developing or nitrification bacteria if they are not exposed to water at night?
- Air requirements; I'm guessing because the media is in a flood/drain system and will be exposed to air regularly that we will not need to add extra air to the system through an aeration pump and stones? The returns to the tank look like they add some bubbles as they hit the water.

Any other advice?

Thanks

Matt, Kosia & Lungi

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PostPosted: Dec 18th, '10, 02:33 
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I'll take a stab, but I'm faily new to this also...

Most seeds contain all the nutrients withing the seed itself to sustain it until a root system is developed. I see no need to wait to add seeds since by the time they sprout there will be nitrates available. Even before the cycle is complete, there will be nitrogen available from the ammonia and nitrite conversion. Adding air will not do much for the plants, that is mainly for the fish. If your flood and drain cycle is long enough, it should properly airate the water for you. In fact, air stones don't do much for adding O2 to the water. My reef tank does not have additional air... And in my AP system, with 3 air stones, it looks like I still have an O2 problem because of the bio-mass of the fish. The best air will be from water splashing about like the waterfalls used on kio ponds. I have moved to constant flood and the fish seem to be getting by with that. Shutting down the pumps at night is your call...someone else will have to chime in if it will speed up the cycling some. I don't think it will change things much until you have fish.

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PostPosted: Dec 18th, '10, 04:10 
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In aquariums we used to just chuck a raw peeled prawn into the tank.

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PostPosted: Dec 18th, '10, 04:16 
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I fishlessly peeponic cycled my system over last winter.

i was adding 500ml to my system to bring it up 4ppm ammo, with very cold water temps, it took a while to go, but now days i never see an ammo reading even with 50 SP, when i had no fish betweeen my trout & Silver perch i brought it upto 4ppm with pee and it was 0 again over night.

the main thing you would want to watch and this is IMO only that turning off the pump will leave a dry growbed and i worry about the bacteria dieing off when in a dry bed. it will still cycle in the cold and i think you will find when it warms up it will happen rapidly as mine did.

theres no speeding up nature :)

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PostPosted: Dec 18th, '10, 04:47 
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1st Fresh pee will not immediately give you an ammonia reading so don't go adding more fresh pee while waiting to get an ammonia reading. Sealing pee up in a bottle for a few weeks will allow the urea to convert into ammonia and make it easier to track the readings. Of course you probably don't want to wait to start the process.

I would recommend adding about 200-500 ml of pee for the first dose then you will probably need to wait a week before adding another dose of similar amount. (While waiting, seal some pee up in a bottle so your later doses will be pre-aged and you will be able to track the ammonia levels much better.)

Anyway, I would add a first big dose or two and then wait and test the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels daily. With fresh pee you will have to wait a bit before the ammonia level climbs and then starts to fall again. As soon as it starts to fall, give another dose and hopefully by then you will have some aged pee that will make dosing to 1 - 2 ppm of ammonia possible by the time your system might be getting ready for the both ammonia and nitrite to 0 in 24 hours testing.

During cycle up I would probably let the system run 24/7 since the bacteria can only expand when they are getting nutrient rich water to work on. With cooler temperatures it might be a bit slower but leaving the system off overnight will only slow it more.

Currently you probably don't need any extra aeration but once you add fish to the tank it may be a different story. How much aeration you need will depend on the fish and the number of fish as well as temperature and how much splashing you get from the water return. While air stones might not provide much aeration in and of themselves, they do provide quite a bit of mixing of the water and by bringing bottom water to the top, it gets aerated at the surface and this can make a big difference in a tank with minimal circulation. Once you add fish, some extra aeration is probably a good idea in some form or other.

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PostPosted: Dec 18th, '10, 19:30 
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You might be able to find urea fertilizer to cycle your system, but aged urine is very handy..

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PostPosted: Dec 19th, '10, 09:50 
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Yea, urea would work too but it also has the problem of not being ammonia yet either and I think it may take even longer to convert to ammonia since it doesn't come already mixed with the enzymes that convert urea to ammonia the way human urine usually does.

So if using fresh urine or urea, take it easy on the dosing since it is very easy to overdose early on when you don't see an ammonia reading for the first week or two.

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PostPosted: Dec 19th, '10, 12:29 
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Yes, you would want to do some calculations to figure exactly how much to add since, as you point out, the effect would not show up for a while.

I have those calcs if anyone needs them....

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PostPosted: Dec 19th, '10, 12:48 
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If you harvest some pee now it'll age up before you workout what's going on with the fresh stuff. It's not that bad duckin out the back for a pee :) I got my sons involved too. Had plenty of it in reserve.

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PostPosted: Dec 21st, '10, 08:26 
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Thanks all for your thoughts - I either didn't receive or missed the notification emails indicating you had replied.

We added our first humonia earlier this evening - it was produced on Friday so around 3 days old. I think I had read somewhere that it might take a while for the ammonia to develop so didn't go completely crazy (thankfully now I've caught up with this thread) - ended up adding 585gm/ml. Water quality readings before and after adding:

- Before; pH 8.2, Ammonia 0ppm, Nitrite 0ppm & Nitrate 10ppm
- After; ammonia 0.5ppm

We also planted a bunch of different seeds and some tomato seedlings that Lungi had been growing for her own garden. Who knows how they will grow but it is a great feeling to have finally planted something and we have lowish expectations at this stage (which I think is healthy).

I have more pee sitting there to add when needed - as per TCLyncs advice we'll test each day until we see ammonia levels climb then fall; then add some more.

Cheers all.

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PostPosted: Dec 21st, '10, 08:53 
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There ya go on your way. :laughing3:

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PostPosted: Dec 21st, '10, 18:41 
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If you havent got any fish then you dont need to be too worried about overdosing, if your ammonia reading goes too high you just stop adding more and let the numbers come back down. I was adding fresh pee every 2 days. My reading got above 5 but I stopped, let it come down to 0 and then added fish. It then didnt spike when I added the fish

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PostPosted: Dec 22nd, '10, 00:08 
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And I have read that the fastest bacterial growth takes place at 5ppm, so that is a good place to aim.

I am not certain if high nitrites (over 5ppm) will slow cycling so keep an eye on that...

Someone should do these tests....

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PostPosted: Dec 22nd, '10, 04:14 
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If you are fishless cycling, no need to worry about how high the ammonia gets. Just more food for the bacteria. I just pee until I see a high enough (2 ppt) level then stop. After you stop peeing you will see the ammonia continue to rise for a week or so while the humonia converts to ammonia. After that the levels will begin to drop as the bacteria kick in.

In my system getting the right air pump was crucial. Before the air pump my fish hardly ate. After the air pump they would eat vigorously. You may be able to get fish to survive without supplemental air, but not thrive.

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PostPosted: Dec 22nd, '10, 04:21 
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Here is a calculation for the air pump. From TCLynx's post.

viewtopic.php?f=12&t=6646

Aeration
Though flood and drain grow beds provide all the aeration that the plants and bacteria needs, it is good to have supplemental aeration for the fish tanks even if it is not strictly needed to keep the dissolved oxygen up for the fish, the extra circulation provided by the aeration can help keep fish tanks cleaner. Also having a supplemental air pump can make it easy to hook it up for battery backup in case of power failure.
-1 cfm (cubic foot per minute) at 2 psi (pounds per square inch) for 400 gallons of fish tank.-
?aprox 18 liters per minute at 13 kPa for 1000 liters of fish tank

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