Dr_Lew's 10g Culture Tank Project
As I prepare to get back into the hobby in a big way, I want to include a live food program for my (future) fish. After doing some thorough reading up, I've decided the best option is a co-culture of daphnia and dero worms. Both species are aquatic and pretty straightforward to culture, based on the research, and both should be tempting for the kinds of fish I want to have. I'm thinking Daphnia Pulex should give me the best food yield from my culture, and I'm preferring Dero worms to Tubifex because I understood that some Tubifex are suspected of carrying parasites.
I went today and picked up a 10g aquarium and got it set up. It has a heater, a hood/light that used to be one of the two fixtures on my dead 60g, and is currently running my smaller HOB filter, which will be moved to a planned 29g mini-community. By then, I should have an airstone-driven foam filter, and I'll squeeze from the HOB filter to seed the foam filter and (I hope) keep my tank cycling. I got the cycle started (I hope) by dropping in a good, big pinch of sinking shrimp pellets. That ought to start the ammonia building up.
Here's everything waiting to be set up:
And here it is mostly put together. With the mirror behind it, you can see portions of Dr_Lew. I deny everything.
I used siphon hose to run water into the tank from the faucet nearby. This was a challenge, as I had to get enough flow pressure to get over the top of the hose. It went well enough once I had siphon pressure flowing to the tank, though it took a while. I got a surprise when I turned the faucets off and the siphon started drawing water OUT of the tank, but I probably should have known!
As soon as the supplies arrive, I'll add the foam filter, a "substrate" of polyester filter cloth for the Dero worms to live in, over a probably sparse layer of crushed coral, which I read was recommended to supply minerals for the carapaces of the Daphnia. I'm also planning on tossing in some anacharis or hornwort, and if they come with some snails, so be it.
I'm excited to see how this project turns out.
Sounds interesting. I have never heard of dero worms before...
By the ways, tubifex worms are only suspected of carrying parasites when you buy them because commercially raised tubifex are raised in disgusting contaminated conditions. If you culture your own in a clean environment they should be safe.
Another note of interest: where do you plan to get your start cultures?
Hey, madagascariensis, thanks for the interest. Since I'd be uncertain about the cleanliness of the starter culture, I still think Dero worms are the way to go. They can also be called "microfex" because they're essentially tinier cousins of tubifex.
As for where I'll get my starters, I'm planning to look on Aquabid, and if I can't find them there, I think there are a couple of bilogical supply outfits (Carolina Biological Supply is one) that will have them, though they are pricier.
We're officially 24 hours in. The temperature is set an holding steady at 74, and so far all the equipment is working.
My plan to induce an ammonia spike and start the cycle is also working. I chucked in about 12 shrimp pellets yesterday, and today the ammonia drop test returned a reading of about 0.75ppm.
I now see very clearly why 10g tanks are considered unstable and impossible to keep healthy. That happened fast!
Not a lot exciting to report yet. Ammonia is up to 2ppm. There is a definite cloudiness to the water. It's hard to tell if that's dissolved particles from the melting shrimp pellets or a mild bacterial bloom, though the latter seems plausible given the surge in ammonia.
If this were an ordinary aquarium, having a bacterial bloom might bug me, but it's an empty tank, I know *exactly* what is in there causing it, and so long as the bloom doesn't become too severe, a tankful of infusoria will be an excellent snack for an incipient colony of daphnia.
Still no cycle, alas. Ammonia went above 4ppm, which I tought might be too high, so I've done a couple of 50% water changes and it's now hovering around 2ppm and the water is mostly clear.
I got the foam filter I'll actually be using in this tank, and it's now running along with the HOB I'm trying to cycle for my upcoming 29g aquarium (which will probably get its own journal soon).
I planned to add a pad of polyester filter floss as a substrate for the dero worms to live in, but the stuff I got was way too light and just wanted to float. So, I'm probably just going to use a layer of crushed coral (a thin layer, but not too thin) as the bottom. My reference recommended adding the crushed coral to provide minerals for the dapnias' carapaces.
Anybody out there have thoughts on alternatives to the filter floss? Or suggestions about the cycling? I know it takes a while, but I'd hate to be sitting there waiting and waiting because I'd done something wrong.
If you haven't already add a air stone this well speed up the cycle.
20 gallon tall: moderately planted with 11 blood fin tetra
10 gallon QT: empty
At long last an update. Almost a month in, and STILL no sign of nitrites or nitrates. Feeling somewhat desperate, I decided to go ahead and try adding some Malaysian Trumpet Snails to the tank, in hopes that they will bring with them an inoculation of beneficial bacteria to colonize my poor aquarium. I lowered the ammonia as much as I could with a giant water change before tossing the poor guys in. I've been doing pretty big changes already, trying to keep the ammonia around 2ppm, although it's substantially less now.
The little snails arrived last night in good shape, and so far appeared to be doing well as of this morning.
Here they are in the shipping bag:
I tossed two small Cichlid Stones in so they could have some shelter from the light, as the culture tank has no substrate for them to dig into. Their ultimate home will be my 29-gallon office aquarium, which is currently lifeless and just sitting around waiting for the HOB filter to be ready.
Here are the snails in their temporary home:
It's certainly not the greatest of photographs, but it gets the idea across.
On my 55 gallon fishless cycle, I didn't see trace nitrites until day 35. I used pure ammonia at 4ppm and raised my water temp to 85°. This is a game of patience. It will happen, just be diligent. Keep that ammonia as close to 2 ppm as possible and keep in mind that with lower ammonia levels, It's going to take longer. If possible raise the heat to around 80° c.
We have NitrItes!!!! It took forever (about as long as yours, SlowCheetah), but the NI phase of cycling is now under way. Lord knows how long it will take to start seeing NitrAtes, but progress is progress. Huzzah!!