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 Post subject: Fishless Cycling
PostPosted: Jan 6th, '10, 01:07 
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It has come to my attention that we don't have a thread of instructions for this in an easy to find place. So I'll make one.

Fishless Cycling=basically getting the bacteria for the bio-filter working on the nitrogen cycle before getting your fish.

All it really takes is a system and an ammonia source. It is far less stressful to cycle a system up before adding valued fish that might be difficult to replace.

Basic steps-
First do water tests to see what you are starting from for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH. Water temp is also good to know since cycling is generally quicker in warm weather.

Then dose your system with ammonia till you get 1-2 ppm of ammonia.
Let system run and do daily tests for ammonia and nitrite, you are watching to see ammonia falling and nitrite rising.
Once ammonia is down and nitrite starts falling, you can dose again with ammonia.
repeat as needed.
Once the system can process 1 ppm of ammonia to reach 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite within 24 hours, it can be counted as Fishlessly cycled. You can keep feeding a system regular small doses of ammonia to keep the bacteria alive until a few days before you will be adding fish. Make sure ammonia and nitrite has a chance to reach 0 before adding the fish. This method can be used to keep plants alive between batches of seasonal fish or even run a system completely fishless as in Pee Ponics.

Sources of ammonia
pure ammonia from the store (must be sure there are no additives that could hurt fish like detergent, soap, fragrance etc.)
urea fertilizer (has the drawback of needing to convert to ammonia which can take several days and make overdose likely)
Humonia (urine, pee.....other than the yuck factor some people have about it, Fresh, it has the same drawback as urea)
Aged Humonia (pee in a bottle and seal it up for a few weeks. The enzymes to convert the urea to ammonia are already present and the conversion to ammonia will raise the pH and kill off the e. coli that usually gets into urine making it far safer to use provided it came from a relatively healthy person.)

Some other methods might include using fish food, or other forms of rotting protein to provide the ammonia. These might work but also carry a risk of introducing bacteria, disease, or simply rotting solids into the system that are generally best avoided.

Some ways people have tried to speed up the cycling process.
Using water from existing aquarium or AP systems. (might help but minimally)
Using gravel from existing system (good if kept alive and placed in the middle layer of the new grow beds.)
Using filter gunk from aquarium (could help if aquarium is in similar conditions to where the AP system will be.)
Using water from existing pond (might help but if wild pond, might also harbor fish parasites or diseases.)
Buying bacteria in a bottle (of questionable usefulness since the bacteria exist naturally.)
Worm castings (I don't know if there are any studies about it speeding cycling but I like a hand full of worm castings with some worms in each grow bed as they are usually rich all sorts of beneficial bacteria and provide the start of the helpful worm population.)

Hopefully this proves helpful to those just getting started.

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 Post subject: Re: Fishless Cycling
PostPosted: Jan 6th, '10, 03:12 
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TC,

At least in the US, pure ammonia has become very difficult to get. Apparently, it can be used in the manufacture methamphetamine.

I've started my systems with fish emulsion. Obviously it takes longer than ammonia but it works.

m

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 Post subject: Re: Fishless Cycling
PostPosted: Jan 6th, '10, 05:59 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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I'm partial to humonia but that is just me.

Pee Ponics ya know.

I might have to start the Pee Ponics back on on pee again as the cold water has killed most of my tilapia. A few were still moving barley as I was netting the dead ones from the duckweed tank.

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 Post subject: Re: Fishless Cycling
PostPosted: Jan 26th, '10, 17:54 
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I'm curious about when we know a system is ready to introduce fish. As Mornings mentioned, ammonia is now very difficult to get hold of so I have been using fish emulsion, seaweed extract and the occasional pee ponics (I have no problem with it and saves energy walking back inside the house.. :lol: )

I have been cycling the system for 4 weeks and 2 days now. It took forever for ammonia levels to build. Water temp is a constant 20degrees and pH hasn't moved from 8.0.
Then all of a sudden at Day 26, ammonia, the nitrites AND nitrates spiked. Nitrites have steadily declined as has ammonia.
Below is what is happening now.
At Day 33 (today), Nitrites suddenly dropped to 0.0, ammonia at 0.25 and Nitrates are staying constant at 10.
Can I begin adding fish and is my system 'cycled'? :?
Because there is a lot of algae growing now too and plants seem to be flourishing (with some looking just a bit yellow though).
Cheers
T


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 Post subject: Re: Fishless Cycling
PostPosted: Jan 26th, '10, 19:54 
Yes, your figures show that you are cycled... and normally you could now add fish...

However in your system thread you indicated that you have dosed your tank again with large amounts of Charlie Carp and Seasol... expect another ammo & nitrite spike...

No wonder your algae is growing so well with all those nutrient doses... :lol:

Shade your tank... no more dosing.... other than perhaps a level scoop of chelated iron... because your pH is probably locking it out... hence the "yellowing" of your leaves...


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 Post subject: Re: Fishless Cycling
PostPosted: Jan 27th, '10, 09:29 
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TCLynx wrote:
Worm castings (I don't know if there are any studies about it speeding cycling but I like a hand full of worm castings with some worms in each grow bed as they are usually rich all sorts of beneficial bacteria and provide the start of the helpful worm population.)


Just curious with the worm castings, is it simply a matter of raking aside some of the grow bed and depositing them in and recovering with gravel?

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 Post subject: Re: Fishless Cycling
PostPosted: Jan 27th, '10, 09:39 
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RupertofOZ wrote:
Shade your tank... no more dosing.... other than perhaps a level scoop of chelated iron... because your pH is probably locking it out... hence the "yellowing" of your leaves...

Imagine having to shade the tank in TAS..! :lol: But yes, that's also a job for this weekend.
So where do we get 'chelated iron' from? I've seen you mention that in a few posts and threads now and was wondering what brand/supplier you recommend.
Cheers
T

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 Post subject: Re: Fishless Cycling
PostPosted: Jan 27th, '10, 09:43 
"Yates" product... Bunnings, IGA, nurseries etc....


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 Post subject: Re: Fishless Cycling
PostPosted: Jan 27th, '10, 18:40 
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RupertofOZ wrote:
However in your system thread you indicated that you have dosed your tank again with large amounts of Charlie Carp and Seasol... expect another ammo & nitrite spike...

Tonight all readings were ammonia 0.0, nitrites 0.0, nitrates steady at 10, and pH no change 8.0.
So as yet no ammonia spike but rather went down.
:D

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 Post subject: Re: Fishless Cycling
PostPosted: Jan 27th, '10, 21:04 
Kewl... the large doses previously must have built your bacteria colony to max... and it's handled the new load... but maybe it just hasn't impacted yet...

Test again tommorow... you might be right for fish...


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 Post subject: Re: Fishless Cycling
PostPosted: Jan 27th, '10, 22:13 
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I think that cycling chart should become one of our smileys.

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 Post subject: Re: Fishless Cycling
PostPosted: Jan 28th, '10, 03:23 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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Adding worm castings, well I usually just put a hand full of them under the inlet to the grow bed if using a single inlet. If using a grid, yea I'd probably just bury the castings around the grow bed or even just sprinkle over and water in.

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 Post subject: Re: Fishless Cycling
PostPosted: Jan 30th, '10, 11:56 
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RupertofOZ wrote:
other than perhaps a level scoop of chelated iron... because your pH is probably locking it out... hence the "yellowing" of your leaves...

Managed to find the chelated iron at Bunnings.. :cheers: Just added a scoop.
I have been looking a little closer at some of the other green leafed plants and some definitely have gone a bit yellow so it will be interesting to see if the Ch Fe does the trick..
All other levels have remained where they were i.e. ammonia and nitrites 0.0, nitrates 10.0, pH 8.0. Fish are arriving tomorrow..!! Woo hoo.
Cheers
T
:D

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 Post subject: Re: Fishless Cycling
PostPosted: Jan 30th, '10, 14:05 
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Tony in TAS wrote:
Fish are arriving tomorrow..!! Woo hoo.
:cheers:

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 Post subject: Re: Fishless Cycling
PostPosted: Jan 30th, '10, 22:08 
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The Iron won't fix the leaves that are already yellow but look at new growth to see that it is coming in greener.

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