research, research research... lol
I'd strongly recommend getting your hands on the book The New Marine Aquarium by Michael Paletta. It should help get you on the right track with your tank.
thanks for all your advice..............:-)
Fishless marine tank cycle (without live rock)
I decided to try completing a fishless cycle in a marine tank without using any live rock (only dry rock), just as you would for a FW tank using new bio-media. From everything that I read, this will work with both FW and SW set-ups in the same way. But I also found some info that suggests it is a bad idea. So I thought I would try it for myself and pre-cycle some rock for the next tank we are setting up. I’ve been interested to learn about this some more anyways, so I found it really interesting to try this. Below is the link to the FW fishless cycle stickie here that I followed, which provides another level of detail to this thread .
I’m using my 20 gallon QT tank with two powerheads for a total of 1800 gph, and a single 300 watt heater (my old back-up heater form the spares closet). I used the old tank water from the other two reef tanks that I have so I could recycle some of the old tank water. In those tanks I use RO water and a good quality salt. Also, I know that the dKH is at 9.6, Mag at 1300, and Cal at 440, which will all help to keep the PH a little more stable during the cycling process to help accelerate the bacteria growth.
For media I used approx 30 to 35 lbs of rock that I took out of my one of my sumps (existing reef tank) and scrubbed down with tap water to clean off a very bad form of algae that I had growing. That should have done a great job of killing off all the bacteria as well. After letting it dry out (just to make sure), I placed it in my 20 gallon QT tank and brought the ammonia up to around 2 to 4 ppm. I’ve got two power heads in there for strong flow and a heater maintaining the temp at 78 to 80 F (closer to 80F). Salinity at 1.025 to 1.026
Week One Summary
At the end of week one, very little to no change. Originally I thought my ammonia was lower but as it turns out, the ammonia is actually around 4ppm. I found out the test kit I started using had expired over 6 months ago so I got a new test kit. Also, nitrite and nitrate are at zero. I tested the nitrates using the API test kit but it will not detect amounts less that 5 ppm. Using my Salifert test kit I get a reading of 1 ppm, but it’s really hard to tell as the color is so very very light. Not even testing the PH at this stage. I think the ammonia has dropped a little near the end of the week but it is sometimes hard for me to tell the difference between the colors on the test kit chart. Temp still around (or a little lower) 80F and the salinity stable at 1.026. I also added another 15lbs of dry rock which should not slow down the cycle at all.
Week 2 Summary
The ammonia was at ~4 ppm and started dropping near the end of the week. It dropped down to around 0.5 ppm (maybe a little higher) by the end of the week. I did one dose to bring it back up to around 4 ppm. At the end of the week I got a Nitrite reading between 0.50 and 1.0 ppm. Temp still around 80F and salinity at 1.025. Things seem to be moving along nicely.
I tested the PH, just out of curiosity to see how much the ammonia and nitrite will effect it. It was at 7.5 to 7.8 (dropping from around 8.0 to 8.2). Based on my research, the bacteria grows best with a PH of 7.0 to 8.3 and will grow slower with a PH outside of that range.
Week 3 Summary
Nitrites went up to between 1 and 2ppm during the week, and the ammonia dropped to almost to 0 (maybe 0.25ppm) twice at the end of the week. At the end of the week, the nitrites started climbing to close to 5ppm, so I cut back the ammonia a little to keep it around 1 to 2 ppm. Nitrates are at 5 to 10 ppm using the API test kit. Temp and salinity remain unchanged. Things are really starting to happen.
Week 4 summary
Nitrites spiked around 5 ppm ( maybe be a little higher) near the beginning of the week but looked like is dropped to around 2 but the end of the week . By the end of the week the ammonia drops to 0 within 24 hours consistently. Nitrates are between 10 and 20 using my API test kit. No change to the temp and salinity. I will be adding my skimmer on the QT tank this weekend which will likely affect the nitrates a little. The reason for adding the skimmer really doesn’t have anything to do with the cycle. I just want to break it in before I set-up the tank I will be using this rock in. Things really seem to be kicking into high gear now
Week 5 summary
Woo hooo. By the end of the week getting 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite within 24 hours after dosing up to 1 to 2 ppm of ammonia. The ammonia seems to drop a lot faster than the nitrite, but both still end up at zero. Nitrates shot up and are now between 40 and 80 ppm (closer to 40ppm). PH is now back to where it should be (or at least close to where it was before), just under 8.0. Looks like I have successfully grown the Nitrifying bacteria (converting ammonia and nitrite into nitrate) to finish the first stage of the cycle.
If I had my tank right now, I could now move the cycled rock into it and slowly start adding my stock. I had a small delay getting my new tank set-up so I will continue the cycling process in the QT tank to start/continue growing the denitrifying bacteria which will convert the nitrate into inert nitrogen gas.
Week 6 summary
Continued the daily dosing to raise the ammonia between 0.25 and 0.5ppm (closer to 0.25ppm). 0 ammonia and nitrite after between 12 and 24 hours, nitrates up closer to 40ppm. All other parameters remain unchanged
Week 7 summery
Nitrates are now down to between 10 and 20ppm, only ever going above that about 4 hours after each daily dose of ammonia. All other parameters remain unchanged . Today, the Nitrates are down around 5 ppm (maybe a little closer to 10) only spiking at 10 to 20ppm about 4 hours after dosing ammonia,
Looks like I have grown the nitrifying bacteria and denitrifying bacteria typically found in a marine aquarium as there is a definite drop in the nitrates that a nano skimmer alone cannot achieve. Just to make sure, I brought the ammonia back up to around 2ppm to see what would happen
All levels spike but then returned to normal after 18 hours. I've completed this test three times, each with the same results.
I now have some rock ready for the new tank. This process seemed to work well for me. Plus I like the fact that I only needed to buy some really good quality dry rock. I don’t like the fact that it took so long to fully cycle the rock. It certainly would have been easier and quicker to use at least 25% live rock but this worked well too.
Now that I have some cycled rock, the wife and I are ready to set-up our next tank that we have been planning as soon as the tank comes in. It was supposed to have been here almost a month ago but was delayed by the manufacture. I will feed this rock a small amount of ammonia each day to ensure the nitrifying bacteria will stay alive and the denitrifying bacteria can continue to grow. I am expecting the nitrates to continue to drop to around 5 ppm within the next few weeks. I will also watch the nitrate levels to ensure they don’t get high (above 5ppm).
Last edited by Cliff; 02-20-2012 at 09:16 PM.
If you take your time to do the research FIRST, you can successfully set-up and keep ANY type of aquarium with ease.
"Not using a quarantine tank is like playing Russian roulette. Nobody wins the game, some people just get to play longer than others." - Anthony Calfo
Fishless Cycle Cycling with Fish Marine Aquarium Info
Very cool experiment Cliff. Thanks for recording the results and sharing!
125g - 6 Zig Zag Rainbows, 6 Turquoise Rainbows, 6 Boesmani Rainbows, 5 otos, 6 corys