Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs on Establishing Nutrient/Biological Cycling in Marine Systems 7

Related FAQs: Establishing Cycling 1, Establishing Cycling 2, Establishing Cycling 3, Establishing Cycling 4, Establishing Cycling 5, Establishing Cycling 6, Marine Cycling 8, Marine Cycling 9, Marine Cycling 10, & FAQs on Biological Cycling: Science/Rationale, Techniques/Methods: Seeding Filter Media, Live Rock/Sand, Using Livestock, Cycling Products: By Manufacturers/Names: Bio-Spira, Cycle...  Chemical Feeding, Anomalies/Fixing 1, Trouble/Fixing 2, & Fluidized Beds, Undergravel Filters/FiltrationDenitrification/Denitrifiers, Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates, Phosphates, & Nutrient Export,

Related Articles: Establishing Cycling, Biofiltration

New larger aquarium set-up  9/5/05 Greetings Staff. <Hello Dean> I have a question that I hope you can help me with. <Shoot> I am in the process of setting up a new 180 gallon marine tank.  I have had it running for about 2 weeks. Originally I filled it with approximately 50 % seasoned water from another tank and a few cups full of seasoned crushed coral (substrate) and the balance of water I mixed fresh. I have been measuring the usual components but have not experienced an ammonia spike. Will I or should I get a large reading of ammonia or will I need to feed it further with something? <You need to feed it.  Add a couple of hardy fish.  You probably won't experience a spike since the crushed coral you added should have a good starter culture.>I have about 80 pounds of fully cured live rock on hold at the LFS and will add about  50 pounds from another tank that I have. Is it better to add the rock now or should I wait until my new tank has fully cycled on its own ? <I would add it now and also, no lighting for at least three weeks, preferably four.  We don't want nuisance algae to take hold during start up.> Thanks for all of your help. All the members of the crew have been very helpful to all of us marine enthusiasts and it is very much appreciated. <Thank you, James (Salty Dog)> Dean Fowler Cycling (Yet Again) - 09/03/05 Before I start of with anything else! YOU GUYS ROCK! Hats off to you, your knowledge and quick responses! <<Thank you for this.  We are a dedicated team of volunteers who do this for the love of the hobby, but as my friend Anthony is fond of saying..."very redeeming to hear.">> Well I had previously asked about the water circulation and was very pleased with the kind of response that I got. <<very good>> Well the tank is being cycled but I have a few queries. <<shoot>> Let me tell u the background of the tank before going any further. It's a 36" x 30" x 30" (approx 140G Tank).  It DOES NOT have a UG filter.  It has a sand bed of 3" wherein the bottom 2" is coral sand and the top layer is Aragonite sand. <<I would add another inch of sand.>> After adding water to this tank and mixing salt as per requirement on the day 3, exactly a week before I introduced a EHEIM 2217 to the system.  This filter was running with a friend of mine for around 8-10 months and since he was closing the tank I picked it up from him along with the bacteria in it :P  I took some SO CALLED live rocks from him too which has 40% coralline algae on it. <<neat>> After introducing these things to the tank I waited for 2 days and introduced a prawn for ammonia. <<Ok...but not necessary.>> Every alternate day from them I have introduced bottled bacteria in the tank (10ml each time) Now here are my questions: <<Again...not necessary.>> 1> I have check the NO2 but it has not yet registered. A friend told me that it might just not register as u have lot of de-nitrifying bacteria in the tank. <<Yes... is very likely if the rock added was/is cured the nitrite will not register on the hobbyist test kits we use.>> 2> Do I still need to wait and see if the NO2 registers or is it safe to introduce the fish? <<The cured rock can/will speed the cycle process, but patience is its own reward in this hobby, I would wait a minimum of four weeks before introducing any fish.  Even better, give the system a full six months to a year fishless to allow self-sustaining populations of micro- and macro-fauna establish.>> 3> I am seeing brown algae (maybe diatoms) growing already on the artificial corals, LR, the poster, etc., right from day 3 of starting the filter. I did read the FAQ about diatoms but does that indicate that the water is matured or it's just the lighting that's doing it? <<All part of the natural algal succession...and another reason to keep the tank fishless (Fish = algae food).  You will likely see Cyanobacteria and then filamentous algae next...best to wait till all are resolved before beginning stocking.>> 4> If it's not the right time to introduce the fish how long will it take? <<See my previous remarks and be patient my friend...your tank and its inhabitants will be all the better for it.>> Regards. Thanks once again for the reply last time. P.S. Today is day 9 after the salt and water was added to the tank. <<Ahh...still a bit to go...EricR>> Cycling a system/LR, livestock selection... WWM  9/1/05 Hi Have been reading through some of your articles and FAQs and have some questions that I was hoping you could help me out with? 1) I am currently cycling a new salt water tank. I am using what appears to be an unconventional method but I would like to understand your thoughts on my logic. - I have used some bio balls / filter wool, sponge, noodles, activated carbon in the filter - I then added a very small amount of low grade live rock which started the cycle. - I add daily Ammovec - which is a Sera product to introduce bacteria - for 7 days). I am currently at day 4. - Once both ammonia and nitrites are zero, I then intend on adding a lot of premium live rock and go through a mini-cycle with hopefully not too much die off. - Once the mini cycle is completed, I then, very slowly over time, will remove the bio-balls / noodles and just let the live rock do the job. Is this a good method? No one specifically gave me this advise, but I have read so many different methods that I am not sure of the way to go and I don't want to spend a lot of money on premium rock if it is going to die during the cycle. <Should work> I don't have the facilities to do a DSB as you recommend in your articles so I am trying to work with the resources that I have. I currently have ammonia and am about 4-5 days into the cycle. Could you recommend next steps? <Time going by> If you think I have done something wrong could you advise what I should do? Is it too late to remove the noodles? Can I back out if I need to? <?... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nh3marfaqs.htm> 2) I have quite a small tank due to lack of space.. So I plan to keep 1-2 small fish at the most. What would you recommend as a good symbiotic or interesting setup for a very small system. I would have obviously liked to get the clown fish/anemone combination but only have white/actinic fluors. So don't know if this is a practical option.   <... please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/smmarsysstkgfaqs.htm> I have heard that the clown could take to some other corals.. is this true? <Possibly> What would you recommend? I have done a lot of reading on types of fish and their suitability i.e. gobies, blennies, shrimps, Dottybacks, clownfish and cardinals but am looking for a good combination? 3) I have just added a powerhead to increase turbulence..  How do I know when I have too much turbulence? <You'll know> I am getting some tiny air bubbles with my AquaClear 20. Do you know the reason for this and how I can prevent it from occurring? <... Please search WWM re bubbles...> I appreciate your help. And I apologize for asking so many questions! I want to make sure I start off on the right foot before I go beyond the point of no return! Kind Regards Simon <Please learn to/use the indices, search tool on WWM... keep good notes. Bob Fenner>

Cycling <quarantine> Question  9/1/05 Hi Guys, We set up a 20 gallon hospital tank using 15 gallons from our display tank and mixed 5 more gallons to complete the fill. (no substrate and 2 pieces of baseball sized live rock from the main display tank) Even though the water came from a cycled tank (5 months) does the Penguin 200 power filter also need to cycle? Thanks, Brad <Possibly... sometimes moving all produces a "check" in bacterial metabolism, die-off in populations... the only way to "tell" is experience, testing. A good idea to have more cycled filter media, water ready... Bob Fenner> Adding liverock and brown algae 8/30/05 Hello Crew, <Hi Ginette, Ali here> I have a 55g flat back hex SW FO tank I have started on July 22 with 10 damsels.. I have one left. ( wish I would have found your site sooner) <Glad you found our site now!> I am at the point where Ammonia is 0 and Nitrate - 80ppm, nitrite- 5.0 ph 8.2 and a steady growth of brown algae. The LFS said not to add the live rock until my tank has 0 nitrites and to leave my tank lights off to slow down the brown algae. They advised me to make a 10% water change and get as much of the algae out as possible and turn on the skimmer. <Adding liverock now wouldn't be so bad. You must understand that most of the life on the liverock you will receive will be dead and die in your tank at this time, however the beneficial bacteria will survive and be the main source of your biological filtration.> My  Newb understanding of your mountains of informative material indicates that the rock should come before adding anymore stock to the tank and that it would help make sure the tank cycled properly..  Most of the articles regarding the Brown Algae indicated that this was a good thing and not something to stop in a cycling tank. So my question is can I add cured live rock to the tank now or should I wait?   <Keeping the lights off, or simply on for just a couple hours a day is not a bad idea. Common brown algae aka diatoms is not really a 'good thing'. In fact it is an indicator of high levels of unnecessary nutrients. The longer you let your liverock become established within your aquarium, the better.> Equipment:  2 Aqua Clear 50 power heads for the plenum ( every so often they blow out micro bubbles too) . 1 Fluval  204 ( I am rethinking this, it keeps blowing micro bubbles and I cannot find a leak), 1  Red Sea Prism Skimmer, 2 12 inch air stones, and I added a Zoo Med  100 -270 power head that rotates for circulation. Ginette Degner <Consider upgrading the protein skimmer and make sure you clean the ZooMed powerheads weekly as the 'sweepers' (rotating devices) on them tend to clog up and stop working in saltwater applications. Keep researching/learning and you should be okay Ginette! - Ali> 55g marine aquarium stubbornly refuses to completely cycle  8/30/05 Hello,     I'd like to begin by conveying my appreciation for the information I've been able to obtain from this site.  From my earliest thoughts of setting up a marine aquarium, I have searched and read (re-read) articles and FAQs on all aspects of marine aquaria that I've so far dealt with. Its brought me to a point, a year later; that I am proud of.  It began with just thoughts and ideas, and with good information to lead me, I've turned them into something hugely fascinating and satisfying for me. <Ahh, thank you>   Now on to my question and setup details .. I put together a 55g marine aquarium about 6 months ago. It has a 4" DSB of fine aragonite sand (Arag-alive variety), 25g sump with Aqua-C Urchin skimmer producing a quarter cup of skimmate a day.  45lbs of live rock which I cured before setting up the tank 6 months ago. 4x65w PC Flo's for lighting (2 10,000K & 2 Dual daylight) Turnover is around 30x total volume per hr. Temp is constant at 79 deg. Salinity also steady at 1.023. PH holding at 8.2. Weekly 10% water changes with aged, circulated & aerated tap water. The problem is, from the beginning; there has always been ammonia and nitrite present according to my "Marineland reef" tests. Ammonia at .5ppm, then down to .25ppm and holding for months at that reading.  Nitrite almost always at .1. I made sure that the live rock was fully cured before I set up the tank, and I've smelled pieces of it recently, there doesn't seem to be any die off.  There is only one fish, a false percula clown, for the past 3 months. He is doing fine so far as I can tell. I also have a spaghetti finger leather coral, which appears to be in decent shape after a month in there.  Shouldn't the tank be at a more advanced stage of cycling by this point? <Yes... and I suspect it is... that your trouble is with the test kit> I've measured Nitrate at 2.0, but it hasn't been more than that in 6 months. Basically the readings are holding low but its still annoying and frustrating that they are present at all. The only thing I have come up with recently is that the tap water I am using, while aged and circulated, still has too much chlorine/chloramine and is killing any nitrifying bacteria as fast as it is produced. <I discount this> I know that cycling can take quite some time, and patience is key, but I'm starting to wonder if it will ever happen for my tank with the current methods and water that I use.  I can't really afford a R/O unit right now to take care of the possible chlorine issue.  What do you recommend to give the cycle a push? My sincere thanks in advance for your thoughts and your time. Chris Carey <I would look into other test kits... Please read on WWM re... and possibly add some live macro-algae here. Bob Fenner>

Live rock cycle jumpstart? Foundation equipment - 7/31/05 Hi guys, hope all's been well. <Hi Jon, Ali here> I have another question for you. (obviously)  I am setting up another tank.  It is a 140 gallon with so far a Mag 350 and several powerheads, and 150 lbs of Aragamax. <Is this a reef or a fish only with live rock??> I will add more filtration, probably a sump soon, I was just trying to get a jump on cycling the tank. <If you plan on keeping corals, dump the Mag 350, add the sump and a heavy duty skimmer. Read up on the EuroReef, AquaC models and invest in a good quality RO/DI water filtration system. Additionally consider having at least a 3-4" sandbed with the Aragamax. To achieve this, 300 pounds of sand will more than likely be needed.> But, my question is this:  I purchased 100lb of live rock, from an online store that I have used many times.  I never got an ammonia spike, or any change in ammonia at all for that matter.  On previous tanks I was usually off the charts within a day or two. Any advice would be appreciated. I have enjoyed your site for many years, your teams wisdom is impressive. <You want to jump start your cycle? Why? Stability is extremely important and generally nothing good ever comes from jump starting something in a saltwater aquarium. Add the sand bed, fill your tank up with properly filtered RO/di saltwater, add as much current/circulation as you can, add your live rock and let your tank 'run' with just the sand and rock for a good 2 months at least (keep your lights on no more than 3 to 5 hours a day during this time). Even if your levels appear to read low, maintain the tank for the full two months as stated above. After this time, test your water, and begin adding animals,...slowly. Once again, remember to invest in the skimmer and RO/di filter. These two items shouldn't be looked at as add-ons or upgrades. They should be looked at as foundation equipment, just as important as the main aquarium itself.> Thanks in advance.  Jon <Good luck Jon! Keep reading/researching and enjoy your new system - Ali>

Recycle 7/11/05 We have a 72 gallon saltwater tank containing live rock with coral and several fish until today.  Yesterday we went from a bio-wheel filter to a canister filter and now all of our fish but two are dead.   <Well, I think I know what happened. The Bio-Wheel played host to the majority of beneficial bacteria in your aquarium. When you removed it, you removed all of them, then you added a sterile canister filter. No more bacteria resulted in nothing to metabolize Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate. This caused a spike, and killed your fish.> Are there any steps can we take to save our last two a clown fish and cardinal fish, they are not looking so good.  We do not have a quarantine tank. We tested our water and had the fish store test our water (everything testing acceptable) right before the change and now everything is out of whack.  Any help would be very appreciated. <Well, I would advise you either: a) Ask your local fish store to hold your two fish for you while you re-cycle your tank, as you will have to. (Pretend it is a brand new aquarium, just set up). b) Purchase a live bacteria product to re-seed your tank. Bio-Spira is high on my list of favorite aquarium products, and would serve your cause wonderfully. Put it on one of the filter cartridges in your canister filter so that water passing through the filter will be "treated" by the bacteria. I have found that, when working with Bio-Spira, it is always best to buy a size 2-3 times larger than they recommend, as, when I go with their recommended dosage, it never works out. I suppose a great deal of the bacteria perish when in the tank or were already dead in the pouch.> Thank you, Brandie Emmett <Best of luck! Mike G>

A Follow Up (tank cycle) - 06/29/05 Thanks for the quick replies! <<My pleasure>> The remaining Clownfish and Cleaner shrimp are now being babysat at a LFS. <<Excellent my friend!>> The ammonia level has gone back down to 0.25 by itself. <<OK>> I haven't bought a new test kit yet, because I'm broker than Michael Jackson at the moment (hey, topical humor is in right now, right?).  The kit that I have been using is Aquarium Pharmaceuticals. <<Do try Seachem or Salifert if you can.>> In about two weeks I'll have some expendable money, and plan on adding about 30-40 pounds of fresh live rock. <<I hope by "fresh" you mean freshly cured.  Even with so called "cured" rock, expect this tank to cycle again.>> I'm hoping this will add the much needed bacteria. <<Will add bacteria, yes.>> I've been receiving a lot of advice for how to run a marine tank lately, and I'm starting to feel more confused than George W. Bush when he reads Curious George (that's cool right?). <He can't read... the child was reading this book TO him. RMF>   This has been my plan so far for the filtration: the 120 gallon tank with about 150-200 pounds of live rock; a sump with floss and the pumps and skimmer; no wet/dry systems, refugiums, or fancy expensive devices.  What's your take on this? <<Can be done.  I would recommend a bit less rock (100-120 lbs) to give fish room to swim/corals room to grow, and skip the floss in the sump.>> And if it is sound, when would it be safe to introduce livestock again. <<After adding the new rock?...after ammonia and nitrite fall and stay at zero, and nitrate below 5ppm.  Please do have a peek at our FAQs on tank cycling: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm>> Thanks a lot for your help! Derek <<Regards, Eric R.>>

Bio-Spira Issues  6/8/05 Dear PufferPunk, Thanks for responding back. I am using distilled water; consequently, I am not using any conditioner. This morning the Ammonia is up to 0.50.  I have stopped feeding the fish since yesterday.  Should I continue not to feed him?   <Feed lightly.> I plan to do another water change today with distilled water. I guess my question at this point would be...How does B-S claim that it cycles the tank over night when I followed the instructions fully? <Bio-Spira is an excellent product, if kept refrigerated the entire time before use & used according to directions.  Where did you buy it from?  Are you sure it couldn't have gotten warm somehow, at some time?  I really do swear by the product.  Even at 0.5, the ammonia shouldn't kill your fish.  Wait one more day & then do water changes, until your ammonia is 0.  Unfortunately, this means your tank will be cycling with the fish in it.  You will have to test 2x/day & do water changes accordingly.  Is the other packet of B-S from the same supplier?   Maybe you could talk to whomever you purchased it from to see if it was definitely refrigerated properly.  I went to a LFS last year, who swore it didn't need to be refrigerated.  It had been out on the shelf for weeks.  After my insistence that it indeed needed refrigeration, they put in the refrigerator.  You can bet they sold it to someone... Ps. I am using distilled water because the quality water where I live is very poor. <I'm wondering if RO water might not be better.  what's wrong w/your water?  What fish do you keep?  ~PP> Thank you, Kelly

Tank Start Up Bob: <Ben> Just thinking out loud here, please help. <Will try> Trying to wrap my mind around the startup concept of adding live sand in the DSB's (Tank and Refuge) and a portion of the overall total of live rock that will eventually enter the aquarium. What bothers me is that the LS and LR will be sensitive to ammonia, nitrite, nitrate etc. and in the process of building up a good population of bacteria the LR and LS will be stressed with some micro and macro organisms dying off. <Yes> Why can't I take it real slow and dose the tank with a pharmaceutical grade ammonia and add bottled bacteria from a reputable vendor. <You can... and even skip the exogenous ammonia> In theory I should be able to build a strong bacterial base which would be augmented with doses of LS and LR once everything is at ZERO or very close to ZERO. My thinking is that with as few as possible living things going through the cycle, more will survive and less will be stressed and the introduction of LR and LS will produce minimal ammonia spikes if any. Your thoughts? <Your thinking is correct here... the only "downside" is the added amount of time to "really" livestocking. Bob Fenner> Thank You, Benjamin Small marine system cycling Hello, I am a newbie trying not to kill any more fish. To make a long story very short, the Aquarium was a reward for my daughter being potty trained. Needless to say it has almost become an obsession for me. We/I started out with a freshwater tank... four fish and all was well. Added four more and one was very ill. The girl at PetSmart said the female was pregnant... not so and killed the tank. Daughter was very confused about the explanation. Four hundred dollars more and researching facts, we decide to go with a Marine Tank. I set the 30 Gallon tank up with filtration, protein skimmer, and heater for a 100 gallon tank. Moving and heating water is not a concern. I stock the tank with 10lbs of "live sand" and use another 10lbs of gravel. I then add Real Ocean water from PetCo and use some bacteria accelerator products. Three weeks later after daily testing of the water...I add four fish (two Yellow Tail Damsels and two Tomato Clowns). Everything seems to be going well. The daily water tests are great and I think I have the whole thing down. I now have a problem... four weeks after the addition of the fish, all holy hell is going on with the chemistry of the water. It appears the tank is cycling (ammonia climbed then declined and nitrite has risen substantially). This seems normal, but I have a few questions (and fears): 1. Does this sound normal? <Happens> 2. How long before the nitrite lowers and the nitrate rises? <Likely a few weeks> 3. I have changed the water weekly (20%) Do I need to change it more? <Only if ammonia or nitrite exceeds 1.0 ppm or your fishes appear in dire trouble... changing the water may well forestall the establishment of cycling> 4. The tank now has what I can best guess as Diatoms (brown/golden) and should they go away soon? <Will, with the cycle, time going by... replaced by other types... greens> 5. Am I being overly paranoid...should I let the cycle take due course? <A bit of both> Your help is greatly appreciated, and the fish stand a better chance of surviving. I have spent more money on chemicals and not used them with a fear of waking up to the horror of trying to explain to my daughter what happened. I did use an ammonia Detox after I felt the readings were too high. Sincerely... Tom <Take your time here... read, on WWM, the Net re cycling... Bob Fenner>

Re: New Tank Thanks for the fast response... the fish are fine and the tank is maturing. So far the Ammonia levels are at zero... but the nitrite is a little high and the nitrate is climbing. For a beginner it seems all is well with the tank cycle. I am getting used to this fascinating hobby. I think after the nerves settle, a 75 gallon tank is in order. It appears I like this more than my daughter likes looking at the fish...maybe a tie... Tom <Perhaps a fish theme tie... Bob Fenner> 

Reef Tank Cycling Questions (5/15/05) Hello!  <Hi. Steve Allen with you tonight.>  I had a couple of questions for you guys. I tried searching the site to see if I could find the answers, but couldn't find anything concrete.  <There's a lot of varying opinion on many issues.>  I am starting my first reef tank after having a fish only system for the last three years. I am thinking of buying the new Jebo 45 gallon tank. First off, what do you think of this tank and the filtration system [in the hood] for a reef aquarium?  <I am not familiar with this specific system, nor could I find any good description of it on the web. That said, I am generally not a fan of in-hood filtration in marine set-ups because it often seems to get salt all over everywhere. Some people are quite satisfied though. You might want to join the chat forum and see if anyone there has any input.>  I am not sure on the lighting [I think power compacts, 50/50, 10000K] - is this good enough lighting for a reef tank? <Depends on what you want to grow. Also wattage. Check WWM for a list of low-light corals. You'd probably need a lot more light that it comes with for SPS corals. Much more on lighting options is also available on WWM and elsewhere. Read, study, learn. I can >  I was also planning on buying the Prizm Deluxe Protein Skimmer, 40 lbs of Fiji pink Arag sand.  <The Prizm does not have a particularly good reputation. You ought to look at the AquaC Remora.>  I have 42 lbs of live rock from my other tank that I will be putting in this tank. I want to start from scratch on the reef tank, so when I cycle the reek tank with the LR and sand, do I need to run the protein skimmer?  <I think it's good to skin from the start.>  Also would it hurt to cycle the tank with "Cycle" [bacteria supplement]?  <There is ample evidence that Cycle does not work. If you really want to use something, take a look at Bio-Spira Marine--it really works. OTOH, if you are using LR from your current tank, that should seed the new tank. And you do not need fish for cycling.>  I know water movement is important....what size pump would you recommend for this purpose?  <You're probably best off with a few powerheads here and there in the tank. There's plenty to read about circulation on WWM.>  Thanks, Mo  <Hope this helps.> 

Lack of understanding re cycling, damsel behavior, lack of information on tank size, set-up, decor Hi, I just recently started a saltwater aquarium maybe 1 month ago... it is still hasn't fully cycled yet and I am using 2 fish to help speed the process. I have a false percula clown fish and a yellow tail damselfish. I'm having some problems with my damsel... I don't know why but when ever someone comes near the tank or I go to test the water he turns a blackish color. Is this normal and if not what can I do? Thanks a lot, Brooke <Mmm, is normal... for being stressed out, moved... in too unstable an environment... I would not use these or other fishes to cycle a system... Save yourself and your fishes real trouble and study... on WWM re cycling, set-up... Bob Fenner>  Cycling Marine Tank Dear Crew, Had some questions I was hoping you could answer. Have been spending quite a bit of time on trying to get this reef tank set and I want to make sure this is done correctly regardless of the time spent to be able to enjoy it that much more in the end. I have spent a good 2 - 3 months of just reading your site and some literature as well as questioning LFS's and colleagues in the hobby. I have come up with the following. I have a 75 Gallon display tank. This has 1 corner overflow. It is sitting on my personal custom built pine stand (another month to build, sand and stain).  <Very nice> It overflows into a 40 gallon tank divided into 3 sections. 1st section is about 12x12 and collects the overflow and houses the Euro-Reef CS6 skimmer. The second chamber is about 17x12. This houses 20 lbs of live sand and some live rock frags. 3rd chamber is about 5x12 and houses the return water to the tank. It is sent back to the display via a little giant pump (not sure of GPH). I have a Corallife combo light fixture containing the following; 2 150w metal halides, 2 96w actinic and 3 night pendants. Am also running standard light over center chamber over live rock and sand on reverse day light. Have 2 400gph pump within show tank for additional circulation. I added water and 7 - 10 lbs of live rock exactly 2 weeks ago.  Now here come the question (sorry about the winded explanation of system).  I have an additional 100 - 120lbs of rock in the tank. This was live at some point, but has since been scrubbed clean rinsed and out of water for nearly 4 months. Will this rock become live again with the 10 lbs of base live rock.  <To some extent... over many months time, yes> I have been adding some C-Balance every other day to help with the calcium levels in hopes to assist with live rock creation, or re-creation. <Good idea> My other question is in regards to the lighting. After 1 week I was running the lights since live rock was added, I then noticed rusty algae growing on sand bed and overtaking rock. I have since turned off all lighting in tank to complete cycling per previous FAQs I read on this site in regards to lighting during cycling. Was the rusty algae normal.  <Yes, to be expected, common> Now that lights are off all algae has gone away. Is it coincidence to turning off light or direct result. <Likely more direct than not> Was this algae desirable?  <More undesirable than so> Just want to make sure I am doing this right from the beginning instead of attempting to fix something when it's too late. I have checked water levels today and salinity is about 1.026, ammonia is un-detectable, nitrite is at a very minimal level (waiting for this to eliminate completely), and nitrate is still at a high level, do not have exact reading in front of me. Planned on giving the tank at least 6 weeks to cycle due to large amount of non-live rock. Is that long enough? Too long?  <Should be about right... keep testing weekly... for aspects of nitrogen cycling> I have already waited a good 5 months in planning and setting up to this point I am not looking to rush anything. Thank you for the web-site full of useful info as well as the response to this email that I already know will help.  Jason Delpome <Thank you for your participation. Bob Fenner> New Tank Cycling Question Good morning crew, I have recently switched from FW to a SW FOWLR system. Your site has been an invaluable resource for me and I have learned so much here. I have read and re-read many of the FAQs available here, great stuff!, you have answered many of my questions before I even had to ask! OK, enough praise, on to the questions. <Good> First, my setup: I have a 30g long tank (36x12x18) with an All-Glass Versa-Top that has been set up since April 2, 2005. It's been up and running 3 and a half weeks now. I have 30lbs of Carib Aragamax fine sand and 20lbs of Aragamax live sand and 25lbs of Fiji Live Rock which I'm re-curing in the tank; I plan on adding another 15lbs (I should of bought it all at the same time, but I didn't).  I used RO water purchased from my LFS and Kent Sea salt. I'm heating the tank with a 150w Hagen submersible heater. For water movement I using my Whisper 2 Power Filter (I plan on replacing this) and 2 AquaClear 301 Powerhead units rated at 175gph. For a Skimmer, I opted for the AquaC Remora HOT powered by a Maxijet 1200.  Currently, my lighting in only 2 standard Florescent tubes, but I have bought a 36" Corallife Aqualight w/ Lunar lights (2x96watt bulbs, 1 True Actinic and 1 10,000K PC) with a Corallife Power Center which is arriving on Friday. The light is rated at 192w which gives me around 6.4w per gallon.  I have read many times to drop the Actinic and replace it with another 10,000K PC light, I'm just curious, why? <For the better purposeful use of fixtures, electricity... most "actinic" light is useful for looks only> Upon starting the tank I just reused the filter in the Whisper Power Filter. I added the LR a week and a half after I started the tank and I have been watching the Nitrogen Cycle and testing my water bi-weekly since that point. Would the use of the old filter have sped up the Nitrogen cycle due to the pre-existing bacterium in the filter? <Likely so> April 17 - My first readings were: SG: 1.024 pH: 8.2 Temp: 79F NH3: 0.5ppm NO3: 1.0ppm NO2: 10ppm <The above chemical symbols are switched... NO2 is nitrite, NO3 nitrate> April 27 - Here are the readings from this morning: SG: 1.024 pH: 8.2 Temp: 79F NH3: 0.0ppm NO3: 0.0ppm NO2: 10ppm Has my tank completed its initial cycle or should I wait for the Nitrates to reach 0ppm? <They won't> I plan on doing a 10% water change with premixed aged salt water, of course, after the cycle has completed.  After the cycle has completed and I perform the water change I do plan on waiting at least week before adding livestock. I want to add a Cleanup Crew first, probably the one that LiveAquaria.com has for a 30g setup. (5 Scarlet Hermit Crabs, 10 Mexican Turbo snails, and 20 Red Tip Hermit Crabs) Are the Hermits necessary or should I just get different types of snails?   <None of these animals are necessary> I would also like to add a fish or 2 at this point, perhaps a Yellowhead Jawfish or a Bi-colored Blenny or both if they can tolerate each other. Will it be to much of a bi-load adding a cleanup crew and 1 or 2 fish at the same time? I am in no rush; I can wait if I have too. <Better to wait on all... a month or two after your live rock has settled in> Here is my future stocking list (only adding 1 or 2 fish per month): Cleaning Crew 1 or 2 Blood red cleaner shrimp <Only one Lysmata specimen in this small tank> 1 Yellowhead Jawfish or Bi-colored Blenny or both <One of these...> 2 Percula Clownfish 1 6 Line Wrasse <I would leave this out... your system is too small> 1 Dwarf Flame Angelfish <Definitely omit this fish... until you have a much larger system> 1 BTA (if lighting is sufficient) <Wait on any stinging celled life period... you are not ready for an anemone> I plan on only stocking 5 or 6 fish or less taking the bio-load into consideration. <I would stick with three fish here maximum> Thanks for you time, -Eric <Keep reading Eric... and saving up for a larger rig. Bob Fenner>

Vicious Cycle? (Nitrogen Cycle Underway!) I have a 65 gallon set up with a Hydor Prime 30 canister filter, SeaClone 100 skimmer,300watt Heater, Satellite 96wattpc light with a 10,000/460nm bulb,80 lbs. of CaribSea Redi-Reef sand and 40lbs of pure aragonite base rock. My goal is to add about 20lbs of live rock and some coralline cultures to seed the base rock and eventually in due time get some soft corals. My question: I read in the forums that I could use pre-cured live rock to speed up the cycling process. <Well, the tank will still have to cycle, but if the rock is truly "cured", you will probably have a minimum of ammonia and nitrite during the process. There is no circumventing the process completely.> I have just started to cycle the tank 4 days ago with a dead shrimp and Cycle as an additive; the ammonia level has just shot up, is it to late to put live rock in the tank? <Well, if the rock is truly "cured", ammonia could be detrimental to the life forms on the rock, so I'd probably err on the side of caution and wait until the ammonia returns to an undetectable level.> Also, I was thinking of adding a Skilter filter for more filtration, is this a good idea? <The Skilter is a novel idea, but in my experience, it seems to be a bit underpowered as far as its skimmer function is concerned. Supplemental mechanical filtration is not a bad idea, but you need to pay careful attention to media replacement and cleaning, or it could work in a detrimental manner, trapping detritus which can decompose and degrade water quality over time. I'm a bigger fan of regular small water changes to dilute and eliminate organics from your system.> Thanks for a great website--Rich <Glad to bring it to you! Regards, Scott F.>

Strange cycling question/ confusion Hi, <Hello there> Sorry to bother you with a strange question, <I like strange questions> ...but I am looking for a bit of advice, I have a 20L tank that I am currently cycling (fishless) or trying to. I have 18 Lbs. of live rock, originally I placed the rock in the aquarium but was a pain to clean in there with the die off, so I moved to a lg Rubbermaid container until ammonia & nitrites (approx. 2 1/2 weeks) both read zero, then added to tank. The rock has been in the tank now for a little over a week, there are some new types of algae stalks sprouting out of the rock & some diatoms (which is normal w/ new tank), the coralline algae looks to be growing too. I have read that some tanks sort of instantly cycle... <Yes... mostly larger volumes> ...my question is: The highest the ammonia had ever reached was .50 & nitrites were .10, and only for a day (actually it was the 2nd day after the rock was added) then they both went to zero, I tried adding some fish food to maybe speed up the ammonia spike & it only went up to .25 then back down. Can you point any advice my way? <Mmm, nope... You're doing fine... this system is likely "semi" cycled... better to wait a few weeks before starting your initial livestocking> By the way the site & the books are the best! They have gotten me through confusion with my 150, the LFS around here really don't know much or give you half a** advice. <Mmm, perhaps they will read, learn as well... through your suggestions. Bob Fenner> 

Re: Strange cycling question/ confusion, TMC Percs Thank you for your help, I have a Blk & Wh Percula waiting in QT for his new home & don't want anything to go wrong, I had trouble finding this little man! Thanks again. Kerrie <Neat animals... mainly cultured still by TMC in England... Bob Fenner> 

Cycling new tank I'm cycling a new tank (54 gallon) with 50 lbs. cured live rock - no fish. After 10 days, ammonia is 0, nitrite is 0.2, and nitrate is about 10. I'm running the protein skimmer and it's pulling out some light brown foam/liquid. Is the tank cycled at this point?  <Nope> Also, when do I do my first water change? Thanks for the help. Mitch <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm and the linked files above... some other issues you will answer for yourself... Bob Fenner>

Cycling a New Tank/Curing Rock...At The Same Time! Great website. <Glad to hear that you like the site! Scott F. here today!> I'm trying my first reef tank (have had fish only saltwater in the past), and have a few questions. I've read through most of the FAQ's already but will probably ask a few repetitive questions - sorry.  <No problem> I have set up a 20 gallon AGA, Instant Ocean salt to 1.023 in DI water (Tap water filter), CPR BakPak 2R, Hagen Aquaclear 70 (approx 290 GPH circulation / plus extra 1/2 gallon water), Maxi Jet 1200 Powerhead - (Extra Circulation). There is no substrate as I have just tanked a shipment of 30 lbs Uncured Lalo Live Rock from LiveAquaria.com , formerly FFE. <Nice rock...> I received the rock in excellent condition - very little smell - probably due to only 18 hours in transit (FedEx overnight) Scrubbed most of what appears to have died - a few sponges, and what appears to be algae? Black colored spots encrusted on rock - doesn't seem calcareous but clings on pretty well. <Could be some form of encrusting algae or sponge material...> I didn't want to remove everything - why buy uncured rock if scraping it all off. Added some "live bacteria starter" (Stability by Seachem) but don't really expect much help from it - only $5.00. <Well, it could help provide some support for your biological filter during the curing process.> Water test results are Salinity 1.023 Alk 3.5 pH 8.3 Ammonia: Off the scale Nitrite/Nitrate: not tested Calcium: Awaiting a test kit by mail order Phosphates / Silicates: Undetectable (only Day 1) Questions: After placing the rock in the tank, my Seachem ammonia alert monitor (supposedly reads only "free ammonia" reads grey - alarm -but my total ammonia Seachem test reads purple - off the chart. I've already changed 50% of the water on day one - this is going to be expensive! Skimmer is already removing a ton of skimmate.  <Well, in a tank that's cycling-and I'm assuming that you're curing the rock in the display tank-you'd probably not want to do too much in the way of water changing, or you will greatly prolong the cycling time. On the other hand, since you are curing the rock, you'd probably want to do some smaller water changes (like 10%) just to get some of the organics out of the tank so they don't overwhelm your skimmer.> Do you recommend or the use of Purigen (Seachem polymer to control ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, phosphate etc) right from the start? I ask because I fear the enormous ammonia spike will kill everything and leave me with base rock. <I have always used chemical filtration media (basically carbon) from the start in all of my tanks. It helps remove some of the excessive organics in the water.> Also is it acceptable to use carbon and mechanical filtration ( sponge in AquaClear) in the beginning to help speed the removal of nutrients - and then to be removed later? <I'd use it continuously> I would like to keep as much life alive as possible but wonder whether these additions will compromise my live rock bio filter down the road. <No, I think that they will be helpful for the aforementioned reasons.>  I have even seen the use of Amquel advocated on other sites with the only caveat being the difficulty in determining when the cycle is over, how do you feel about this? <I would not use any chemical additives to assist in the removal of ammonia. Let the natural bacteria do the work.> I expected to do 2 -3 25% water changes weekly until the cycle is over - what do you recommend?  <No. If you must, make them small water changes, and only because you're curing the rock in the tank. That's my strategy.> I am also just about finished building my light canopy which will house 2 55 Watt Compact Fluor., 1 10000K, 1 Actinic blue. I've seen mixed advice on whether the lights should be run at all during the first few weeks. What do you recommend? <Your call. If you are curing rock in the display tank, I'd probably not run the lights. Better to discourage the growth of nuisance algae. I think that helping suppress potential algae outbreaks is far more beneficial than lighting the rock for the benefit of any organisms on the rock. Most will rebound just fine after being under room ambient lighting during curing.> Sorry about he extra long email - I look forward to your advice. Thanks. <Glad to be of service! Hope that things go smoothly for you! Regards, Scott F.>

Cycling with very small fish and other topics Hi crew, <Morning> I have a 55 gal that I am running fallow for 6 weeks (am in the 3rd week): I had a recurring ich problem. I also have a 10 gal quarantine that I am cycling (1st week). I have 2 Perculas and 1 regal tang that are all very small (about 1 inch). Here are my questions:  I was planning on using the clowns to cycle the qt. The problem is I don't think a regal can withstand the ammonia and nitrite and nitrate peaks.  <Likely not... and too stressful for all... Please read through WWM re establishing cycling: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm and Quarantine:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quaranti.htm and the linked files above...> I thought I might then do a 50% water change every week until my main tank is ready in 3 weeks does that sound feasible to keep them all alive?  <No...> Will the qt keep on cycling even thought I will have taken the fish out? <Yes, but not very "well"... w/o the more or less constant feeding of ammonia (from the fishes or elsewhere)> I plan to introduce the clowns and the regal in the main tank and see if they get ich. If they don't all is fine but if they do... I plan on taking them out and treating them with copper in the qt. How is the qt going to be then: half cycled and with copper (chelated Mardel)... I was planning on doing another 50% water change after a week to get rid of some copper and whatever else in the water! <A sound plan... with the addition of having dipped/bathed the fishes on their way into quarantine...> Also, while I have you here... ;) I have 1 brittle star and a fancy sea star. They did great at cleaning in my 55 gal and was looking to putting them back there when ich free (took them out with the inverts in case ich could latch on to them!) but I read they could eat small fish, is that so? <Some> Thanks in advance for your advice, it is much appreciated! Jose <Study Jose... you need to know a bit more... and will be much more successful for having done so. Bob Fenner> 

Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate Oh My! Hi all, <Howdy> Great Website, I really appreciate the vast database of information you have available here. <Welcome> After many years of great success keeping freshwater critters I have recently migrated to the saltwater side. I enjoy Scuba and after a couple of years diving in the Atlantic on vacations, I wanted to try bringing some of that beauty into my home. I had an empty 29 gal tank sitting around and my son said, "hey dad, will you set that up in my room"? I said sure, what kind of fish do you want? Being 8 years old and loving the Great Barrier Reef display at the Zoo, guess what he said? Yep, I want a Nemo! <Happens> After reading a lot of your setup FAQ's I went to the LFS and got all the stuff and setup a 29 gal salt tank. Its been up for 4 months now and we only lost one Chromis during the cycle and I think he was weak to begin with. Since we used lots of live rock before adding the fish, we never saw an Ammonia spike and the tank is doing great.  Well then I got cocky! I thought, this is easy, I'll convert my 55 gal African tank over to salt. So I sold all the fish, dumped the UG filters, and bought a Wet/Dry with Skimmer. Setup the tank with freshwater first and ran everything for a week with no substrate in the tank just to make sure it was all functioning properly, so far so good. I added the salt and 60# of reef sand (40# regular sand, 20# aragonite w/ bacteria). Here is where it all starts to go wacko. Thinking that, since I added all those bacteria, I should be able to add a couple small damsels during the cycle. One week into the setup my ammonia went up over 1.2. <Mmmm, you didn't move some of the water, substrate from the 29?> So, going the "dilution is the solution to pollution route", I did a 20% water change and went out and bought a Nitrite, and Nitrate test kit. 3 days later the Ammonia was again up over 1.2 and Nitrite was in the danger zone as well, with some Nitrate.  I did another 20% water change and just retested tonight and it looks like a never ending battle. The fish seem fine, they don't seem to care. <Thus far...> I know that since I'm producing both Nitrite and Nitrate that the cycle is taking place, but I expected the ammonia to start falling and it hasn't.  Should I continue to do water changes or quit messing with it and let it finish cycling? <Mmm, stop feeding (if you are) and let time go by... w/o water changes, sans livestock in the 55 (move all to the Nemo tank> Hind sight, I should have bought LR but funds are growing thin so I tried to get away with the Aragonite instead. I expected the 55 gal tank to be easier than the 29 but since I didn't use LR I've got a mess on my hands.  What to do? <Move the Damsels, switch some of the water, gravel twixt the two tanks... patience. Bob Fenner>

Re: Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate Oh My! And Dura back in biz Thanks for the quick response. Moved the damsels last night, they seem to be ok with their new tank mates. Nobody seems to be arguing anyway. <Okay> I think that I will forego the substrate exchange between the tanks. The 29 has crushed coral and I've used reef sand in the 55. They won't look very good mixed. I could get a mesh bag and use it inside the Wet/Dry with some of the crush coral, couldn't I? Before my first e-mail, I did take one of the filter pads out of the power filter on the established tank and put it in with the filter pad on the wet/dry. I don't know how much help that was. <Should> Does the AragAlive reef sand fall under the same category as most other products that claim to cycle the tank faster, or is there really a benefit to using it?  <Not much> I thought that the bacteria needed a bio-load to keep it alive; otherwise I never would have added the fish so soon. <Bingo> On another topic, I read the WWM article about lighting that discusses the use of a product called Vita-Lite by Duro-Test. I would like to try these, but the company went out of business for a while and the bulbs are not available at retail stores. I've called the manufacturer, Duro-Test and they have a min order of $85.00. Ouch. I found a website http://www.naturallighting.com/ that sells them... <Ah! Glad to find the co. is back> ... but I'm not sure that I can get enough wattage over a 55 gal tank to do as well as compact fluorescents, or maybe the newer T5 bulbs. The 55 is deep enough that I'm concerned standard fluorescents are not going to be enough, full spectrum or not. Do you have any thoughts on this subject?   Again, great site, and nice chatting with you Mark <If you want/need more intense lighting, I would go with CF's, T-8's, T-5's... in low to higher order. Bob Fenner>

Ammonia... killing off one's biofilter Mr. Fenner, Thanks for all your help in the past. <Welcome> I have been battling ammonia the past couple weeks, and I lost a lot of fish.  <Mmm... what are fishes doing in such water?> I seem to have gotten it under control today. I have had my tank setup for about 6 months. I suddenly got a tremendous (off the scale) ammonia spike that I could do nothing to fix immediately.  <From?> I don't understand. I'm thinking I might have somehow caused new tank syndrome. I did replace my CPR BakPak skimmer with an ETSS reef devil, but the downward spiral started a couple days before that. I did keep my biomedia from the old skimmer and put it in a ventilated container and floated it in my sump. I don't know if that would do any good anyway. <Should have> Somehow, I think I killed off all the beneficial bacteria. <I agree... or overwhelmed the system with proteinaceous material... did someone toss in a bunch of food... might an animal have died and you not caught it?> I was reading all the posts and I think it was from excessive vacuuming of the DSB. it was so dirty though. I wanted your opinion on this observation: Immediately after 2 ammonia spikes settled down, the deep sand bed was covered in a rusty brown substance. That's what I vacuumed away. Is there any correlation between this "stuff" and the ammonia level going back to zero?  <Yes... the brown stuff are likely diatoms, other algae... that need the ammonia to be gone, nitrate (product) to flourish> It's just odd that the sand is white, and my ammonia is through the roof, and then finally the ammonia is gone, and instantly the sand is brown. Well, I still have 1 dogface puffer and 1 striped damsel left, and I don't want to go vacuuming if its gonna finish them off too. I'm really surprised they made it. My ammonia scale only goes to 2, and it was definitely way over that! <Yikes> Also, what do you think about Chemi-clean?  It's supposed "removes disease causing red Cyano bacteria, oxidizes trapped organic sludge and sediment. Chemi Clean also clarifies aquarium water to crystal clear and promotes ideal enzyme balance."  <... not a good idea... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/maralgcidefaqs.htm> I started having the troubles when I added this in conjunction with B-ionic Calcium Buffer, and Ruby Reef Kick Ich. <Oooohhhh... This is the source of your trouble... you actually killed off your nitrifiers...> I think maybe it all had some unknown effect. <Yes, for sure> I read something on your site about one of these effecting pH, which might affect ammonia? Thanks for your time, I read your posts daily. B. Robinson <The "Clean" product... kills microbes... including your beneficial bacteria... the "kick" product does nothing (but flavor food), the B-ionic is a fine product (for pH, alkalinity). More study, less chemicals my friend. Bob Fenner> 

Nitrogen Cycle Fails to Start - 9 Mar 2005 I found your e-mail on Wet Web Media, and was trying to find an answer on early cycling of my marine tank (I also have your book).  <Okay> My set up is 210 litre tank (60 x 60 x 60 cm), with synthetic salt mix (tab water pre-treated with conditioner to neutralize chlorine and chloramines). <I see> 3 cm of crushed marble substrate (no buffering there, looks nice), 2 Via Aqua Canister filters, 6.5 litre capacity each, 1000 litres/hour circulation. One has only bioballs, the other filter wool, ceramic noodles, and outflow inline with a Merlin fluidized bed filter.  Tunze TurBelle internal circulation pump (6000 litres an hour), Deltec MCE 600 Protein Skimmer (rated for 450 - 700 litres), Jager 200 watt heater. <So far...> I have made some rock from white cement + crushed marble and coral sand (22 kg) and that will need to soak in water for at least 6 weeks to remove the pH lime effect. <Good> Later when it is safe to put them in the tank, I wanted to get a small live rock to sit on the cement rocks to make it live over time. Macroalgae does not fall from the sky (micro does). The tank set up would then have redundancies in filtration (but that may not be a bad thing). <Well stated> For now I wanted to cycle without fish. The Fluidized Bed Filter came with a packet of ammonia crystals, and I also added three cocktail shrimp (2 cm long). The water smelled bad in 48 hours, and removed the shrimp bits. I have added two "bottles," of StressZyme over the last three weeks, water temperature 25 degrees C. <Okay> My present external system for now should be a real nitrite >> nitrate farm. <Perhaps... in a while> Testing after three weeks, I have nothing to show for it. Ammonia levels are 8 ppm, nitrite zero, nitrate zero, pH 8.2 I have a sterile tank, which is lethal to all marine life. <Yes... and the ammonia... is actually way too high... principally at fault here for forestalling cycling> I have read the bacteria will grow quicker with a higher temp, so I have set it to 30 degrees today (can turn in it down later).  Bacteria are supposed to just fall from the sky anyway (in time). <Yes> Is this just a mater of more time, and wait, or is the high ammonia level acting as a disinfectant? <Ahhh! Bingo! As they say in the States> Do you have any suggestions? All the Best from New Zealand. Mike Lomb <Yes my friend. Do execute a good sized water change (perhaps 3/4) or add a bit of mitigating filter media, conditioner to render the ammonia concentration less than 2.0 ppm... and try to keep it there... or lower... Otherwise... it is "a matter of time"... or something that can be sped up... Have you read this? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm re Establishment of nitrification in marine systems? It might give you solace to review others (the linked Related FAQs above) experiences... It reads as if you "Know what you're doing" and have a nice set-up here... all that is really needed is a bit more time... and possibly diluting the ammonia. Bob Fenner> 

Marine, establishing cycling, using WWM Thank you for that link. I plan on purchasing one of those products. Which do you recommend, the Fritz-Zyme #9 or the Turbo-Start #900?  <Very fresh (overnighted, refrigerated Fritzyme works... the best product of this type on the market is BioSpira however> Also should I get the Fritz guard or should I be fine just adding the bacteria? <Use the Marineland product> Last but not least. I am going to be obtaining live rock. I am near a beach in Miami, FL and am wondering hypothetically (I know the legal consequences) if I were to take rock directly from the ocean kept it submerged in water and put it in my tank wouldn't that be the same and/or better than obtaining live rock from a store? Thanks. <... please insert the terms: "Collecting your own live rock" in Google here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ Bob Fenner> 

Cycling a new tank <Hello> When cycling a new 54 gallon tank FOWLR with about 50 lbs. of live rock, how often is a water change necessary, and how much water? <Personally I did very little in the way of water changes while my tank was cycling fishless, I wanted the water to go poor so that the bacteria needed to take care of the ammonia then the nitrites both grew as fast as possible, however, I did not have live rock in the tank while it was cycling. With only live rock in the tank water quality isn't nearly as large a concern, but it is worth watching. Stuff will fall off and die on the live rock, that is normal, but if you do not want that to happen as much, put the live rock into another water filled container until the tank is cycled.>  I was reading on LiveAquaria.com that they recommend doing a 50% weekly water change until cycled. I'd like to know your opinion. <As for changing the water I only did a 10% change each week along with a water test to check on the process. Honestly if you are going to use live rock and cycle the tank, I would put in a bacteria colony product like bio-Spira to cycle the tank very quickly in order to keep the most things on the live rock alive. I don't recommend using live rock during cycling because of losing a lot of beneficial organisms due to the quality of the water shifting so much. when if you wait some those things would do fine in a cycled tank. Only if your LR is uncured or gotten delivered by mail would I cure it or cycle the rock with such large water changes, to ensure that no massive organism deaths pollute the tank. > Mitch <Justin (Jager)> 

Cycling tank - S/W Hi, <Hello> Thanks for such a great site! <Thank You>  I have a 75g SW tank that I have had running for 4 weeks and I have 40lbs of Fiji rock. 20lbs of the rock has been in for all 4 weeks and the other 20 lbs for only 3 weeks. My problem is that I did not start testing my water until week 3 into the cycle. My water goes as follows: ammonia is 0, nitrite is 0 and nitrate is about 20ppm. I have tested everyday this week waiting for ammonia and nitrite to increase but its not. Could my tank already have cycled? <Yes, it is possible>  I purchased 5 mollies to help the cycle along but I have lost all but 1 and I can't figure out why? <Mollies? those are freshwater to maybe slightly brackish water fish they wont survive in saltwater easily if at all.>  Any suggestions? Thanks for all your help Sara Kinnear <Well other than the fish mix-up I'd say your tank is probably cycled, but you can make sure by getting one inexpensive fish such as a damsel or if one of your choices for a permanent resident is very hardy get it. Then buy a bacterial cycling product like Bio-Spira and add them both to your tank. then test the water each day and watch. However having nitrates usually means that the tank has done cycling. Do keep an eye on the water tests though to be sure. Good luck Justin (Jager)>

- Quick Cycle? -  Hi Crew, Just a quickie: my 225 gallons was running for 8 months and I was hit with marine velvet. I lost 6 fishes. I do quarantine for [a] period of 3 weeks. The last addition was a Starck's damsel, which I think was the culprit. From now on I will extend it for 6 weeks. Anyway, to make the sad story short, I moved all my fishes in quarantine ( 50 gallons), I moved the live rock in[to the] trash bin with air pump and heater. I drained the main tank, scrubbed everything. Powerheads, replace all the hose[s] and filled up with freshwater for 24 hours. The next day I started the tank ( how nice, brand new tank), put the live rock in (100 lbs), tested the water. The following week it showing ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate .3, is this possible?  <Sure... you took proper steps to preserve your live rock so it would still be live when you put it back in the tank.>  Tank is cycled within two weeks?  <The live rock can do this.>  I am planning to start stocking in 6 weeks. Any suggestions from the pros?  <You're probably all set... once your fish are out of quarantine, you can stock your tank.> Thank you for your time.... Dan <Cheers, J -- >

Establishing Marine Cycling 2.22.2005 What's the best way to cycle a new tank without using live rock? It will be SW FO. < http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm  Time, nutrients, and capacity for patience.  Read up, and let us know if you have any other questions.  Thanks!  Ryan>

Cycling I'm setting up a 54 gallon corner tank SW FO. I've been reading numerous opinions on the site about the best way to get the tank cycled. Can you give me a detailed step by step way to do it including filtration, lighting, etc? I'll be using a wet/dry sump filter. I assume you'll suggest using live rock. Do I also use live sand with the live rock or is it not necessary? <Mitch, I will suggest this link to you. You should find everything you need to know here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/ James (Salty Dog)>

Confused about.. S/W Question Hi Jeff here with a quick question for whoever has the time to answer. <Hey, Jeff. Mike G here> I have a 55 gal salt tank 6wks old approx 40 lbs of live rock 1 Sebae clown, 1 peppermint shrimp, and some crabs and snails. All was well levels all zero except Ammonia at .25ppm, so we did a 20 to 30% water change two days ago salinity dropped to 1.018 (alarm Bells were screaming at me) so I mixed more water and have brought it up to 1.020. I ran the tests and came up with the following, SG 1.020, PH 7.8, Nitrite .25ppm, Nitrate 5ppm, Ammonia .5ppm. This seems very bad to me did I just cause my tank to re-cycle if not what is going on, and what can I do. <I don't think "re-cycle" is the best term to use, as it appears that your tank never fully cycled in the first place. From your email, I am inferring that you have a somewhat fuzzy understanding of the Nitrogen Cycle, so I will do my best to explain it to you. Ammonia is a compound toxic to marine life, and is also produced by marine life through bodily functions, such as respiration and the passing of feces. Decaying organic matter also produces Ammonia. Certain beneficial bacteria consume Ammonia and convert it to Nitrites in the process. When a tank is first set up, there are no substantial colonies of the said bacteria, so the Ammonia level quickly rises. As time goes by, these bacteria will build their populations up to colonies large enough to effectively convert all Ammonia to Nitrite on an as-produced basis. Nitrite, though much less toxic than Ammonia, is quite a deadly compound itself, and approximately 1ppm of Ammonia would convert to somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.5ppm Nitrite, so you could imagine it builds up rather quickly. The Nitrite is converted to Nitrate in much the same way as Ammonia into Nitrite, except a different species of bacteria is responsible for the said conversion. Nitrate is nowhere near as toxic as Ammonia, and pales in comparison to Nitrite. However, around 2.5ppm of Nitrite will convert to approximately 6ppm of Nitrate. So, you can see, as the cycle is going on, a lot of Nitrate is produced. Nitrate is the "end product" of the conversions, and there is no aerobic species of bacteria that consumes it. However, things like plant life, macroalgae, sand beds, and water changes will all help absorb Nitrates, emphasis being placed upon water changes. What I am getting at is that, if your Ammonia was originally at .25ppm and Nitrites and Nitrates at 0ppm, than the Ammonia-converting bacteria were still building up a significant population. Later on, you say that your Nitrites and Nitrates increased, which is typical of the Nitrogen cycle. Your tank seems a bit heavily populated for so early in the cycle, so I would advise you to just wait out the cycle. However, if any of your livestock seems to be reacting adversely, action should be taken accordingly. Hope this helps, and good luck> Thank you for you time I know you get questions from dummies like me all the time, Jeff <The only dumb question is the one you fail to ask. :)>

Ammonia... Hi Crew, <Mario> I have had my new system running since Jan. 16, 2005. <Just a few weeks back> I have been testing the water for the past week and the ammonia is at .25 to .50, the nitrite is at zero and the nitrate at 0 to 5.  Because the ammonia is above zero I would do a 25% water change each time. <Mmmm, I would wait on water changes... till the ammonia, nitrite are past 1.0 ppm... hopefully you don't have livestock present> My question is should I continue to change the water at these levels or let the cycle process continue? <Uhh, please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm and the linked files above> If I do not continue to change the water will the ammonia over time go down to zero and then the nitrite will begin to rise? <See the above> If this will be the case (ammonia = 0 & nitrite > 0), only then should I start doing the 25% water changes again, until the nitrite drops to zero?  <See the above> Is siphoning the waste from the bottom during each water change a good idea, will it slow down the cycle proceed? <See the...> Do you recommend I only siphon the waste when the tank is cycled or during each water change? <See...> Your insight on what I should do next is greatly appreciated.  Thanks, Mario D. <Your diligence in studying is likewise thanked. Bob Fenner>

- Tank Move and Cycling - Hi Guys- Unfortunately, I had to move my tank to a new location in the house due to poor initial planning on my part.  <Happens.>  Since I was breaking down the tank anyway, I thought that it would be a good time to get the tank drilled and add the Oceansmotion 4-way that I've always wanted, but it added quite a bit of time to the move, i.e. 5 days instead of probably 1. My question is whether it is typical to have a new Ammonia/Nitrite/Nitrate cycle after the move?  <It's not atypical - really depends on how much original water you were able to use... how much of the biological life was lost during the move, etc.>  The tank has been up for 2 days and my parameters were: Day 1: (24 hours after move) NO2: 0.025 NO3: 1.00 NH3: 0.3-0.6 (in-between colors on test kit). The kit is a bit dodgy, i.e. Hagen, and bought a JBL for future tests.  Added Seachem Prime (max amount) to try and detoxify the nitrite as suggested by LFS Day 2: NO2: 0.1 NO3: 2.00 NH3: 0.25-0.5 Did 20% water change. Waiting to see what the parameters are today!  I sent in a previous question prior to the move about keeping the live rock wet during the process. You suggested to keep wet at all times and if left for even a period of an hour out of water, the decaying process will have begun.  <True.>  Up until the aquascape phase, I did continually keep the rock submerged with a heater, circulation pump, and light. However during the aquascape, it took, a bit longer than planned due to gluing, tying, etc... rock together for quite amazing formations, i.e. over 24hrs in the end!!! My LFS, who graciously helped me with the move and redesign, said that leaving the rock exposed is not such an issue as you guys had suggested since our live rock here in NZ isn't quite the same as in the US.  <Huh... don't why it would be "different" in that way - it may hail from a different place, with slightly different life forms, but the basic functions of it would be the same.>  That is, all our rock comes in to the country and must remain dry for 3 weeks. Therefore, we basically always start out with dead rock, cure it and then dump it in our tanks. However, the rock that I was using had been in my tank for well over a year and exposed to rock that comes in with corals, etc... and thus, was quite live in terms of bacteria, little critters, etc... I think that this time of the rock being dry substantially added to the spike that I am experiencing now, but my LFS says that this is totally normal in every move (which I think is probably due to the fact that they are not strict about keeping rock wet as much as possible).  <I agree with you, not your LFS.>  Not only that, but they said that it is most likely going to be worse in my case since we used about 30KG less rock with the new aquascape and had to completely rinse the sand due to the long timeframe of the move.  <Huh... well, you should expect an ammonia spike, but expect it will resolve itself quickly - within a week or two.> I have had to move the tank on two other occasions (in which I made sure to keep everything wet) and had no new cycle. Another difference from the previous moves to this one is that I was able to use much more water from the previous tank, i.e. approximately 75% instead of only 20% as in this case.  <Patience... this will all work out in the end. Try to hold off on the water changes for a little while so the cycle can complete.> Thanks for your help, Steve <Cheers, J -- >

- Tank Move and Cycling, Follow-up - Thanks J. <My pleasure.> I know it all will be fine in the end, and patience is certainly a virtue in this hobby. However, I just wanted to know how much of a factor leaving the rock out of the water played on this outcome since this was the real bone of contention during the move.  <Well... that and rinsing all your sand, which most certainly HAD been live before that. But... in the case of your live rock... the fact that it was dry and dead once doesn't mean that once it is live, that leaving it out in the air will somehow make it different from other live rock. Your assertion that the rock being dry for even an hour is going to losing some of the life living in it is a correct one.>  Being a LFS owner, I am sure that he will give this advice to others and if it was in fact a major contributing factor, then I want to let him know to take better precautions with the rock, sand, etc... in the future.  <You can tell him if you want, and for the record I do think he is mistaken in his opinion, but... it's been my experience that many folks don't take well to having their long fought for opinions second guessed by "some guy on the Internet." If he gives this advice to your friends, straighten them out directly - even show them our emails. But as for trying to straighten this guy out... well, it's your call. I've been spending the last month trying to help a friend/store owner realize that Kick-Ich is worthless and will lose him customers... people just get things set in their heads and won't let go.> Thanks again for everything. Your (as well as the whole crew's) advice has been invaluable in my progression in this hobby. Cheers, Steve <Cheers, J -- >

Damselfish in cycle Hi, I need your help!  <I'll do my best to help you, MacL here.>  New saltwater hobbyist and just started tank up (75gal) about two weeks ago.  <How exciting!>  No live rock using dead reef bone, crushed coral/live sand for substrate and fake plastic corals (for decoration). Have two Penguin 1140 powerheads and Emperor (hangs over the back) power filter and two heaters. We stuck three damsels in there about a week ago to help with the cycle startup. One black/white tail, blue/yellow tail, and one all blue. We've tested the water every other day and our last tests is like this: temp=82deg., salinity=1.017, PH=7.8, nitrate=80, nitrite=.5, and ammonia=.25.  <Okay first your temperature is too high, you need to lower it a bit to 78 degrees. Your salinity is a little bit low, although it might very well change with a salinity reading 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Your nitrates are very high. Has your tank gone through part of a cycle? Risen and on its way down? You are giving me the latest readings but not the progression. The reading of nitrates would indicate that this has happened. If this is the case hopefully soon all the levels will drop to zero and all will be great. Let me refer you to http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm  and the discussion about the cycles just to be sure.>  We cannot seem to get any of these levels to where they should be and now our blue/yellow damsel is acting strangely. She is no longer as active, her breathing looks labored, and she seems to stay within one spot. We feed them twice a day (small amounts only) and they all eat even the blue/yellow one.  <Is she getting picked on at all by the other damsels? That might be a possible explanation for her behavior.>  We've bought some Proper pH to balance but not sure how to incorporate into water, because it seems not want to mix with the water.  <I am assuming that it is some brand of chemical you have picked to raise the pH? Does it say to mix with the water? Sometimes chemicals mix better in cold water if that helps any. Normally, my first recommendation would be to do a water change to get your ph to the proper levels but the water change if in the middle of a cycle will cause some problems.>  We need any kind of help/advice you can give us!! We don't want our fish to die (we want to be good parents)!!!!! <Obviously you guys care and that's all it takes. Usually in a cycle the ammonia rises and drops, the nitrites rise, and then the nitrates begin to kick in as illustrated in the article. (Okay massive oversimplification). My guess is that the live sand started a cycle then you added fish in the middle of it, which caused another rise. And that's what has sent things a little out of whack for you guys. Let me also ask you, before I forget, the Emperor doesn't have the carbon filters in the back do they? It is best to have removed those and replaced them with sponges. The carbon will interfere with the natural cycle. At this point, the way I see it you have two choices. First, you can let the tank go and let it finish what its doing or you can do a partial water change and get things BACK in balance and then let it go back to the natural progression of the cycle. Check for the fish being picked on, it could be totally natural behaviour. If you could try to answer some of what I've asked you and let me know we can get a little more in depth with the discussion and hopefully get you totally fixed up. Good luck, MacL>

Cycling a marine tank Hi, I am currently cycling (or rather trying to cycle) my aquarium with the fishless method. < Very good idea. >  The aquarium is running for 3 weeks(!!!) and as you can see on the attached file, the nitrite levels are still too low. Until now I have been adding 2 drops of ammonia daily to keep the ammonia concentration around 2.5-3ppm. Some people suggest that ammonia should be added only if its concentration drops. Which one is the right way?  < I would never add ammonia to my tank. I think you are better adding live rock, knowing some of it will die. > You will notice on the file I am attaching herewith, that on the last days the ammonia concentration is increasing, even without any ammonia being added externally? Why is that?  < Well there must be something dying in the tank. I'd say probably live in the rock and sand. > Web pages report that a nitrite spike should occur 1 or 2 weeks after the cycle's initiation. Why am I getting such a slow cycle? Is it because I haven't used any source of bacteria?  < Well the tank needs something to cycle. So by adding a bunch of live rock, you will have of the life on it die, and then bacteria in rock grow and consume that waste. In order to tell you more I'd need a pic of the tank or some description of what life you have in there to cycle. > Thanks, Spyros < Blundell > 

Cycling of Saltwater I am new to saltwater <welcome to this frustrating hobby> I have a 55 gallon tank set-up for three weeks. following bad advice we used 2 blue damsels to cycle the tank ammonia levels were very low. Talked another person at LFS , we were told that the tank would not cycle without we had some live rock. <Live rock is not required to cycle a tank, just patience.> We purchased some live rock added it to tank, the ammonia levels climbed to over 8 ppm,<sounds like the live rock was not cured.> I the used Ammolock2 as a corrective measure. My question is was that a mistake. <You need the tank to cycle naturally for the best results. Don't add any more fish/invertebrates until the tank is completely cycled, usually close to four weeks. Good luck, James (Salty Dog)> Thanks, P Richmond 

Cycling the Tank >Hello, >>Hello. >Thanks for leading me through this hobby, your book is a big help as well. I have a 75g with 80 lbs of live rock with 4-4.5 inches of sand with plenum in the display and 10 lbs in a 30 gallon refugium that also has a DSB. I skim with an Aqua C and turn the water approximately 13 times and I have 3 power heads for circulation.  >>I'm assuming that turnover rate is per hour. >We sent on vacation in September and before we left I removed all of the living creatures and returned them to the LFS because I did not have a way to maintain the tank while away; not to mention an abysmal hair algae situation.  >>Sounds not good, stressful. >At the time I did not have enough live rock so I purchased more, cured it and placed it in the display tank. Do I need to allow the tank to cycle as though the tank were brand new?  >>I would force a mini-cycle to be certain. I'd do this fishless, with some raw shrimp or the like. >Nitrates are at 0-.5 ppm, nitrites are 0, no ammonia, but I am having problems with P04 coming from the tap. >>Thusly the hair algae. >I have a RO system that I purchased to combat the hair algae but it is not in service yet. Thanks for the help! When is the next book coming out? Is it about coral care and propagation? Scott >>You're welcome for the help, can't tell you any specifics about the next book (I'm assuming you're asking about the NMA series) at this point. Marina

When to add live rock Hi to you all! Thanks so much for answering all my previous questions, there is such a minefield of information in this hobby, I never know what's right/wrong!!! < Neither do I.  I just pretend I do. > My tank has been cycling for 28 days now.  There is nothing living in the tank yet, all dead rock & dead sand & dead rock.  I used Biomature (liquid ammonia) to introduce waste into the system and initiate the cycling process. < This really won't cycle until you really get living organisms in there. > My ammonia peaked at 5ppm and dropped to 0ppm within 14 days. My nitrite level has peaked and is on the way down but has been lingering at 0.8ppm for a couple of days now. I'm currently using a canister filter & internal filter on the tank I want to add some cured LR(10kg), from my very LFS, the rock has been fully cured in a tank for over a month and is now stable.  My tank size is 46 gallons and I am planning to add 20kg of cured LR to replace the filters over the next 12 weeks (I can't afford it all at once!).  My question is, Can I add the cured LR now with a nitrite reading of 0.8ppm?? < Absolutely.  It will rise again, but there is no reason to wait before adding live rock.  You can add it the first day. > or will this kill some of the life on the rock. My theory is that since the LR is now stable and obviously has beneficial microbes living on and within it, that it will help the stubborn nitrite level in my tank to drop to 0ppm.  < Indeed it will.  First it may cause another spike, but it will certainly help bring it back down. > Is this theory correct?? or will the aerobic microbes die-off during a 30min drive from the LFS??? Thanks very much for your time. <  Good luck. > All the best Dave <  Blundell  > Bacteria additives products like Nitromax marina, Stability,& Cycle are they safe for ammonia spike in reef tank. <Safe, yes, bacterial? Sometimes the above do work, but the present "Winnah and Champion" in this category is BioSpira by Marineland... Do check this out on the Net, BB's. Bob Fenner>

Broken heater Dear Crew,  I recently lost a bubble tip anemone and all the mushrooms in my tank as a result of a broken heater in my sump.  The glass was shattered and it was still plugged in so I am sure that I sent an electrical current through my tank.  While I am not positive that this caused the deaths, it is the only thing that changed in my tank.<Sorry John, without a doubt this caused the deaths. I strongly suggest using a GFI where you plug your equipment in to eliminate this possibility in the future.>  Since the anemone died I now have some ammonia in the tank.  I have done a 30% water change and am going to do another 25% tonight.  My question is, could or did the electrical current that killed ( I think) my inverts also kill the bacteria that I need to break down the ammonia?  Should I expect another full blown cycle or should my 1 year old tank with 150lbs of live rock be able to handle the mini cycle I am getting from the die off? <Dave, its hard to say.  I certainly would monitor ammonia levels daily for a while.>FYI my tank is a 110 gallon with a 20 gallon sump.  I use bio balls in the sump. Other filtration (besides the LR mentioned above) comes from a EuroReef CS8-2 skimmer and a Magnum 350 with fresh carbon that I mainly use for extra circulation.  I'm pretty diligent in keeping the Magnum clean.  I like the extra flow and it is a convenient way to use carbon. <David, can I suggest using Chemi-Pure rather than carbon?  I've done some tests on carbon relating to excessive algae growth due to the phosphates present in activated carbons (especially coconut shell carbon). I have found that Chemi-Pure has the least effect.  It also creates a crystal clear blue/white water along with other benefits.> there are 4 150 GPH powerheads in the tank, and my main pump runs at 800 GPH. Altogether the flow is about 1750 GPH.  Lighting comes from 4 110watt VHO's and a 260 watt PC.  Finally, I also have about 2" of live sand on the bottom of the tank.  All rock and sand has been in the tank for at least 12 mos. <Good luck with your problem Dave.  James (Salty Dog) Thanks for taking the time to answer my question.

Nitrite problem Thanks very much James, I'm now satisfied that this'll work. I've just re-checked the nitrate level - it is at 25mg/l (not 50) The nitrite level hasn't changed for 2 days (still at 0.8mg/l), I've just added 200ml of Nutrafin cycle, way over the stated dose, but apparently it cannot be overdosed. Do you think this'll help the nitrites to drop further??<Personally Dave, I like to let nature develop the bacteria, but yes, this should help.> Any idea how long I've got left to wait?<No, reason being, I still believe your live rock is not done curing.  Nitrate levels should not be that high in a new set up without something adding waste to the system.> Will a 20% water change be a good idea before adding livestock?<It would be an excellent idea.  Don't rush it Dave.  Always remember...In marine systems, bad things happen fast, and good things happen slow. Thanks once again. Dave

Tank cycling Hi to you all!<Hello Dave> Firstly, thank you very much for the swift responses to my two previous questions. Secondly, thanks for your time, it is very much appreciated, considering that every time I think I've got it figured out I get another opinion, Ahh!! Thirdly, here is the questions I need answered so I don't kill or stress anything, myself especially! My set-up: 46 gallon tank with internal filter (came with tank) Fluval 404 canister filter Aqua medic Biostar Flotor skimmer Airstone T8 bulbs - 1x10000K & 1x6500K (50/50) actinic 03 - both 30watts Where I'm at so far: Been cycling for 24 days, I used bio-mature (sea mature) to initiate the process and followed instructions accordingly.  I have a 1" substrate of coral sand and 16kg of dead base rock9 (ocean & reef). I have noticed some small brown droppings appearing on the substrate, in the more shaded areas, there is also green patches developing on top of the reef rock directly under the lighting.<sounds like brown diatom algae along with green algae> What are these things? Readings - Ammonia-zero, Nitrite-0.8, Nitrate-50.0 <Hard to believe your nitrate reading is that high on a newly set up tank.  Might want to take your water to a dealer for a nitrate reading.> I am guessing that my tank cycle should be completed soon and I then plan to do the following: 20% water change to dilute nitrate volume. Add 5kg(10lbs) of cured LR (the LR has been curing for a month at my LFS and I will transport it submerged in water, 20mins drive and then into my tank)<Not necessary to submerge in water.  Wrapping with wet newspaper is sufficient.> Add 2xsmall ocellaris clownfish Add clean-up crew. I am assuming that the LR should not have any die-off if transported in these conditions and I can avoid a spike. Is this right? <Take pieces of the rock and smell it.  You should have no rotten egg odor.> I am also assuming that the LR will aid my filtration, along with the current filtration.<It will. Lighting should not be on during the cycling process or for future reference, if you cure your own live rock.> Next step: During the following consecutive 4 months I will add 5kg cured LR monthly and gradually remove the media from my filters to complete the LR & skimmer filtration method. I know this might sound like a strange way of doing things and I should put all the LR in now.  But my initial tank and filtration purchases were at an LFS specializing in freshwater and they sold me not the best stuff, and to be honest I can't afford to buy all the LR right now and have to do it monthly as described. So will it work??<Yes, but I wouldn't add any more fish until your completely done with adding live rock.> & sorry the e-mails a bit long. Keep up the good work.<Thank you, James (Salty Dog) Dave Could it be cycled already? Greetings, wonderful fish gang! <Salutations fellow aquarist!> I'm setting up a 75 FOWLR aquarium.  I got it December 10th, filled it with RO water, <And synthetic salt I take it> added about 80 pounds of "live" sand, (the kind that comes in an air-tight bag,) 100 pounds of sugar sized CaribSea aragonite, and about 25 pounds of liverock from a 4 and a half year old established tank.  I never saw a spike in ammonia or nitrites. <You might not> About 10 days afterwards, I took my 2 year old Eheim 2026 loaded with all the Eheim recommended media from the established tank and placed it in the new tank.  Still no spike.  (The established tank now has its own brand-new 2026.) Nitrates also measured at 0.  There is no skimmer, as I'm still waiting on the new D&D Terminators to be built.  (That sumpless kit looks COOL.  Wow.) <A good route to go> 5 days ago, I added 45 pounds of "Premium Fiji" live rock from Drs Foster and Smith, and another 30 from the LFS.  The ammonia and nitrites immediately spiked to .5ppm and 1.0ppm respectively, and took 3 days for them to both go down to 0. <Quick!> Today I measured nitrates at ~15ppm. So, my question is, has the tank cycled this quickly? <Seems so> I have no shortage of patience; could I do any harm waiting a few weeks to make sure?  Will the bacteria be able to sustain itself in the meantime? <Better to indeed wait... as a general rule with aquariums I would state, "When in doubt, wait"> Is there any way that I can definitively verify that the tank has indeed cycled, like drop in a cocktail shrimp and see how quickly the resulting ammonia and nitrite spikes are taken care of? <Yes, you could do this... better with a sub-sample and some exogenous (liquid, "cleaner") ammonia of low, but measurable concentration...> Would a water change be called for to bring the nitrates down, and if so, how large of one? Thanks! - Chad <Just wait... the nitrates should rise, then drop without further addition of nitrogenous/biological material. In your "spare" time, take a read re biological filtration, nitrates... on the marine root web of www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Successful tear down ? Hello WWM; <Hi there Randy> Yet again I come trying to obtain some more knowledge.  I've looked pretty closely through the FAQ's and have not yet stumbled on to a similar question.  I'm sure it is out there, I just haven't found it, as such I was hoping you had time for a quick response.  Some general background,  Tank is a 90 gallon deep Salt tank with 200 + pounds of Live Rock and a shallow sand bed.  Livestock consists of two tomato clowns, a Sebae anemone, Condylactis (spelling ?) anemone and a Yellow Tang.  The tank is also home to a never ending supply of Xenia, some star polyps, daisy polyps, mushrooms, and buttons.  The tank has been up for about 4 years.  I am running 4 x 110 watt VHO (URI 2 actinic / 2 white ) on an Ice Cap ballast.  Over the past 3 months the tank was overrun with hair algae and I finally gave in and did a complete tear down. While the tank was down I add a new sump which has a baffled area for the skimmer and return pump with about a 20 inch x 12 inch area left to be used as a refugium. <Good addition>   For now I've placed Siporax in that area as it appears as close to anaerobic as I'm going to find (the baffles cascade water slowly from skimmer into sump and back to return area).   <Okay> After setting the tank back up I returned about 35-40 gallons of existing water and mixed 80 gallons new ( 90 gallon tank + 29 gallon sump.  While the tank looks great right now do you think such a large addition of new water is going to throw me into a "cycle" as if the tank were new ? <Maybe> Will the bioloads on the existing Live Rock help with this process ? <Likely yes, but could go the other direction, especially at first> I really don't want to kill off the few species I have in this tank but as I think about it I am worried I have doomed my pets by perhaps triggering a new cycle ?  I am not a believer in these "instant cycle" chemicals so I am hesitant to add chemicals to head off the disaster.  What do you think, do I have something to worry about ? <Maybe... you have test kits? I do endorse the new BioSpira product from Marineland... a winner. Bob Fenner> As always, your time is greatly appreciated Randy

Re: Successful tear down ? Thanks so much for the response, 2 days after the tear down ammonia has moved from 0 to 0.25, nitrite remains at 0 which I guess is to be expected until the ammonia tops off. <Yes> Is this small rise an indicator of what is to come, or is it possible that the existing bioload is going to take this back down to 0? <Could go either way> I have a feeling your response may be, time will tell. <Oooh, should have read ahead and used that one> You all really are the best, a true resource with the databased info.  All the best in the New Year and thanks again for the help. Randy <You will do the same. Bob Fenner>

Blue damsel problem  Hi Bob, <Hi Angie> While I just found your site a few days ago it has helped me tremendously I just started a salt water tank about 2 weeks ago its 55 gallons and currently has a fluval304 filter, 300 watt heater we let the coral sit 7 days as recommended by our pet store and the ammonia, PH, nitrate and salinity is perfect according to our tests as for decor its just "natural" nothing plastic rocks with cave like holes and such and some silk plants as recommended because they said for live plants we would quote "have to spend about 500 bucks for lighting" I'm not sure how true that is and some stuff called cycle to "mature" the tank as we are new to salt water I have had fresh water aquariums in the past. My problem is to start off the tank we purchased 6 damsels 3 3 stripe and 3 blue <too many fish to start the cycle, two would have been plenty>the first day in all was fine and today one of the blue damsels looked very bloated and his mouth was open like in sort of a kissing position for a long time then after a bit it sort of looked like it was peeling just around the mouth I have never seen something like that before I wasn't sure what to do we had ran out to purchase a smaller tank as a "hospital tank" and when we came home he was belly up we immediately took him out with a sample of water to bring to the pet store tomorrow I just had a few questions in general about this and the tank. 1. do I have to worry about whatever it was he had going to the other fish they are all looking fine and seem to be swimming happily in their new home?<I would guess one of the black and whites went a few rounds with him.  You will find later that the black and white damsels will raise holy hell in your tank>2. would you suggest getting real plants and the new lighting and removing the silk ones and is that really how much it will run us to get the lighting?<your tank is too new to be thinking about live plants.  At least wait till it cycles.  And no, lighting will not cost you 500 bucks.  Go to www.Drsfoster&smith.com. They have a good selection of lighting that will work with live plants. Around 4 to 5 watts per gallon would be sufficient.> 3. this one might sound novice but I am a beginner, how many times a day are we supposed to feed damsels the guy at the store said once every 2 days and not to feed them when we get home as they were fed already that day so today when we fed them they acted like they were starving poor little guys :)?< I would feed less and feed once a day. Your only overfeeding if you put more food in the tank than your fish can consume.  This leads to problems also.>4. I have read a lot in the articles and questions on here about a protein skimmer do you suggest we get one right away the man said I can wait till the tank is about 2 months but I don't want to do anything that would be harmful to the fish so if you suggest it should go in now I will get it right away?<A protein skimmer is not absolutely necessary but certainly improves the water quality.  In a new tank it probably wouldn't do much, there is not enough nutrients to take out of the water yet.  Like your dealer says wait a couple months.> 5. and lastly we really really want to get a yellow tang but the man said that we should wait till the tank is quote "cloudy" a bit even though I'm hoping it never gets in that shape but we love this fish so I would like to know when would be the best time to get him?<I don't understand what he means "cloudy".  Tangs require good water quality and plenty of room since they are very active swimmers.  You don't say how big the tank is, but 70 gallons is a good choice for keeping tangs.  A 55 gallon will work, but keep in mind as a tang grows they need more room.>thank you for your time I know you must receive many many emails per day and so sorry for so many questions its just that when we went to buy the filter and coral one guy helped us and he told us a bunch of things about starting a salt water aquarium then when we went back to get the damsels it was another man and everything he said sort of contradicted what the first man said so were in a tight spot with too much advice from people that I'm not so sure know exactly what they are talking about  & thanks for having such a resourceful site :)<I recommend you purchase Bob Fenner's book, "The Conscientious Aquarist".  It is a excellent book that you can always refer to.  James (Salty Dog)> Angie Re: blue damsel problem <Hello Angela> I wanted to thank you sooo much for answering so quickly and was just wondering one more thing the man at the store said it was a minimum to start with 6 fish and you had said 2 would be fine and a different man said today that while its cycling I am going to lose more fish I don't want them to die so am I really going to lose more fishies :(( I just want them happy and don't want to kill them off. You won't necessarily lose these fish its just that when you start cycling a tank, the more fish in it increases the initial level of ammonia to a more toxic level.  This varies with the size of the aquarium.  James (Salty Dog)> thanks again Angie Wacky SW tank cycling 1/8/05 Guys I need help. <join the club, bubba... I still suck my thumb. Oh, wait... you meant help with your aquarium! My bad... please continue...> I have my tank trying to cycle. I can't seem to get the ammonia up and nitrite down to actually start the process. Is it safe to add pure ammonia to help give the cycle a boost? <very dangerous with livestock in the tank when you are metering the dose with mere hobby grade test kits. A pot shot at best. Not recommended mate> I have 5 damsel fish and a few Hermit crabs. I placed them in when my nitrate, nitrite and ammonia was near 0, now nitrites are up to the middle of the test card and ammonia will still not register. <hmmm... several possibilities here: 1) did you use a water conditioner that says it neutralizes chloramine? If so, it interferes with some Ammonia test kit readings (Nessler's reagent) I have very hard water here in the mountains. I have tested with the kit first but with no readings. 2) it is possible that your live rock was somewhat cured and went through little to no ammonia spike. Poss. Is there a way to test for the bacteria? 3) different bacteria have established and displaced the more desirable/typical nitrifiers. Nitrite converters may have been displaced by something else... even harmless but not helpful bacteria. What do I do if this is the case? 4) your tests kits are inaccurate (easy enough to check against the LFS or another hobbyists kits. Use a different brand/reagent kit to be sure.> Everything I have read is not really happening here. I have live Fiji rock, was not cultured, live sand and water from a well in the mountains. Hope this will help answer my question. <do chew on the above starting with confirming the quality of your test kits and also test your raw, untreated freshwater source. A helpful and inexpensive solution is the addition of a sponge filter (I really like Hydrosponge brand). This can cycle a tank fast and be left hidden in the display for future use in your quarantine tank when needed. And you must know that for marine aquaria... you need(!) to quarantine ALL new livestock without exception, my friend. It is critical for long term success (all plants, algae, fishes, corals, snails, rock, everything wet!). Anthony> What exactly is a Hydrosponge? Well I guess I can look up online. I just want to make sure the tank is doing what it is supposed to as not to kill anything.

LR Question Dear Crew, <Steve> I just set up a 150 gal. tank with 150 lbs. of LR with a DSB and at 9 days my ammonia, nitrites and nitrates were at 0 so I fired up the lights and they have been on for 2 days.   This is my first attempt at a reef tank so I'm not familiar with the cycle that LR can go through. <The operative word here is "can"... you may have skipped the whole process with well-handled, pretty-much-cured materials> I read the FAQ and came close to my answer.  Some of my LR has turned lime green but it does not look like algae, it looks like someone has painted it with a thick coat of paint or frosted it. PH is 8.2 and SG is 1.024, any insight?  Thanks Steve <Some... tis algae of a few possible types... and more indication that your system is indeed cycled. Bob Fenner>

Nitrite Issues, Cycle Question hi,  <Hello! Ryan with you today.> I have a specific question on tank cycling.  <OK>  I tried searching the forums for answers but I couldn't find a satisfactory answer so I thought I'd ask you.  <No problem-But I do ask that you make an earnest attempt at using decent capitalization and grammar next time so that other can use your question for reference.  We need to correct these by hand!> I'm 9 days into the cycle. The thing is I'm not sure if my ammonia levels has peaked. The levels have been consistently at 0.5mg/l since day 2 (I don't know what the ppm equivalent is, I think it's the same isn't it?  <Milligram and parts per milliliter are not the same- But equally effective ways of measurement.> - on my test chart 0.5mg/l is the next reading next to 0mg/l - test kit expiry date is 2008). At day 1 I only had some dry coral in the tank (55gallon). I suppose it had some die off in it hence the 0.5mg/l reading on day 2. day 3 I introduced 3 small damsels as suggested by my LFS. days 4-6 still at 0.5mg/l. day 7 I put in a cocktail shrimp. days 8 & 9 still at 0.5mg/l.  <Nothing strange so far.> Nitrites started at 0 and climbed to 3.3mg/l on day 4. day 5 it went up to 16mg/l. it's been at 16mg/l since. is my cycle ok? Should I just leave it or intervene? Thanks in advance for your help! Desmond  <No, you've got to leave it alone and wait for the nitrite to be converted to nitrate...Then you're set to add livestock.  Good luck! Ryan> G'day there  <How goes it?  Michael here today> Klay from NZ here, <Cool!  Cold there?> I have a couple of questions and need  your advice 1) bacteria for seeding , is there a difference between temperate and tropical marine bacteria ( nitrification cycle) , would like to use local rock etc for seeding Fiji tropical base rock. <I wouldn't think so, but I'm not positive, and didn't find much on Google.  I would think that they are the same\similar species, and temperature would just affect their rate of reproduction> 2) do they need light to multiply? <No sir, they are chemoheterotrophs :) (ooh fancy word from my biology class)>, have a 4ft tank seeding the normal way ( lights, heat, base + live rock) but have 50 KG that will have to go outside in 2 more 4ft tanks but am worried about the algae that will appear - was hoping to put a black cover over them. Any comments would be much appreciated. <Light is not needed, so cover away> Cheers Klay. <M. Maddox> 2 weeks cycling with fish 0 ammonia STRANGE Hi, Just a quickie. I have been cycling a small setup 55 litres for two weeks now with cured LR and two green Chromis and still have 0 reading ammonia and nitrite is this due to the liverock being good quality (out of show tank in LFS) and can I introduce any more fish yet or should I leave it a while longer and keep testing daily. Any help would be appreciated, thanks Andy. <I would wait another couple weeks... though, as you observe, the system is/was ready cycled by your cured live rock. Bob Fenner>

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: