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  • Cycling Fishless with Frozen Shrimp

    Hi,
    I started cycling my 140 gallon reef tank 12 days ago. I cycle fish-less and use Stability.
    I followed the instructions on the bottle from day 1 to day 8 (stopped after 8 days as instructed on the bottle).
    On day 3 I added a large frozen shrimp as a source of amonia. Since that day my amonia levels are at a steady 1.5ppm, nitrites at 0 and nitrates at 0. The testing was done daily until today (day 12) with the API test kit and twice by my local fish store as well.
    When I told my local fish store I added a frozen shrimp my guy there got all mad saying I ruined the cycling and should not have added it. He said he wanted me to add a couple of clownfish to the tank after 2 weeks and that I cant do it anymore. He scared me a little to be honest. My question to you guys is: Is he right when he said I messed it up? Did I?
    Like I said I barely see any rise in amonia and nothing at all in Nitrites and Nitrates, so I don't know. Would you say the cycling is on track? I am not in a rush at all, I don't mind waiting 8 weeks to add any livestock.
    the frozen shrimp is now decomposed. my PH is at 8.1, salinity at 1.024 and temperature ranges from 27 degrees C to 30 degrees C (I live in Dubai, it's hot).

    Any advice on what to do now would be great as well. Do I stop Stability as instructed on the bottle or do I keep adding?

    Thanks a lot !
    Nicolas

  • #2
    Good day Nicolas,

    I'm sorry to hear you had a negative experience at your local store. As a hobbyist myself, those sort of experiences can be really upsetting! While cycling with hardy fish certainly works; once a fish is in such a large tank with an appropriate amount of rock, they're not coming out. Being patient and cycling without fish is not only ethical, but it ensures you're able to add only the fish you plan on keeping as time goes by. This patience and sticking to a well-considered plan will serve you very well over the years; keep it up! Rule #1: Nothing good ever happens quickly in a salt/reef tank.

    You're doing just fine by adding a shrimp to your tank. In fact, with a fishless cycle that's usually a good thing since bacteria need more than just ammonia to grow. Something to keep in mind when cycling such a large volume of water is the bacteria may need more than a single shrimp's worth of other nutrients to grow a population large enough for your tank. In addition to shrimp, I'd recommend adding Fuel to provide amino acids and vitamins that the bacteria can directly take up and use to build new tissue and multiply. Since you've got such a large volume of water and a relatively minor source of nutrients, I'd suggest continuing to add Stability in conjunction with Fuel and ammonia (when needed) to more quickly boost the beneficial bacteria population.

    Are you able to get mature sand that's been in a system for a good while and is populated with benthic organisms such as bristle worms and copepods? If so, adding a liter or so will help establish a bacterial and macrofauna population in the tank to prepare it for future habitation by fish. I typically like to get portions from different reef keepers in my area to maximize biodiversity. If you have to get it from a store (don't use wild-collected sand!), make sure to keep it in a quarantine system for a couple of months to minimize risk of transferring disease and/or parasites to your tank. Just plop it in a small tank with a filter, which you'll want to have available to quarantine future fish, and toss a piece of shrimp in there on occasion for the critters to eat and let it do its thing.

    One last thing; I'd bring your pH up to 8.4 and salinity to 1.024 to better match natural sea water conditions. Salinity is the ideal salt for this, but if it's difficult to get where you are we have a number of supplemental products to address major water chemistry concerns.

    I hope this helps.

    Regards,
    PE

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks a lot for such a detailed reply in such a timely manner! Cheers.

      Comment


      • #4
        You're very welcome, I'm happy to help and wish you continued success in the hobby.

        Regards,
        PE

        Comment


        • #5
          Finally found some Fuel in Dubai. Really not easy to get your hands on this product here!
          So this is what I intend to do, no need to comment back unless you think I am doing a big mistake. for the next 7 days I will add Stability and Fuel as instructed on the bottles as well as having 2 raw shrimps in the tank. I will continue to monitor my parameter. If Amonia reaches 4 ppm I will remove the shrimp. If it does not reach 4 ppm I will never the less remove the shrimp after 7 days (or what is left of it).
          Hopefully this should get my cycle going.

          Thanks

          Comment


          • #6
            Sounds good. Please keep us updated.

            Regards,
            PE

            Comment


            • #7
              Hi.
              Update:
              I am now done with the second 7-day program of Stability. I followed the dosing recommended on the bottle.
              As discussed before, I felt that nothing was happening after the first 7-day stability program. I had 2 raw shrimps in the tank at that time. I removed what was left of them after 7 days and replaced by 2 new ones when I started the second 7-day stability program. I removed the 2 new shrimps after 2.5 days because I felt that was enough amonia (my test showing a constant 2ppm throughout the 14 days).
              Today my Nitrite API test kit shows a small spike in Nitrites around 0.35 ppm. Nitrites were at 0 ppm since the first day (3 weeks ago). Hopefully that means that soon I will see more nitrites, less amonia and some Nitrates appear later on.

              Comment


              • #8
                It does indeed seem to be that way. One thing to consider is that if there's no constant source of ammonia available the bacteria that consume it will die off and the tank will effectively de-cycle. I'd recommend adding a single shrimp in there to provide a source of ammonia for those bacteria.

                Regards,
                PE

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Tech Support PE View Post
                  It does indeed seem to be that way. One thing to consider is that if there's no constant source of ammonia available the bacteria that consume it will die off and the tank will effectively de-cycle. I'd recommend adding a single shrimp in there to provide a source of ammonia for those bacteria.

                  Regards,
                  PE
                  I thought stability had very hardy strains that only work harder when the environment gets worse for them i.e. low to no ammonia, etc.? Also, wouldn't the bacteria simply go back into a spore state until sufficient nutrients are available to them? Unless, you mean that Stability contains autotrophic bacteria only...

                  Anywho, I think Nicolas might need a secondary filtration scheme that can house a surpluss of bacteria. I had success in the past with a drip tray filter under my old 100 gallon aquarium (inside the stand) using a combination of Matrix and other bio-media.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hi Nicolas,
                    Just for your peace of mind, I recently cycled my first saltwater aquarium with a frozen prawn. I admittedly did not use Seachem bacteria (sorry Seachem!) but I thought you might like to see my results with this method, to get an idea of a timeline. I used dry rock and sand but about halfway through the cycle a friend gave me a couple of small pieces of live rock rubble from his coral system, which really sped things up.
                    Cheers,
                    Chris

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Thanks LabTest57 and Chris.
                      Helpful comments!

                      As an update: I think my cycling finished today. When I compile my test results for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates I get a similar graph to yours Chris.
                      As some point during cycling the nitrites where sky high, nitrates went also sky high and then nitrates dropped suddenly and stayed low for 5 days during which the nitrites were still sky high. That got me a little worried because I was expecting the nitrates to either continue to rise or stabilise at a high level. But then, out of nowhere, nitrites suddenly dropped (went from above 5ppm to 0ppm in 48 hours) and have been at 0 for 4 days now. Nitrates also went down but less drastically and are now at a steady 10ppm for the last 3 days.
                      So anyways to make it short, for the last 3 days Amonia:0, Nitrites: 0 and Nitrates: 10ppm.

                      I am going away for a week and then I will quarantine my first couple of fish for 4 weeks. This means my main display will stay 5 weeks without fish even though the cycle is finished. What do you guys suggest I do during these 5 weeks to keep the tank cycled? will the tank "uncycle"? How can I keep all these beneficial bacteria alive?

                      Thanks!!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Nicolasroc View Post
                        Thanks LabTest57 and Chris.
                        Helpful comments!

                        As an update: I think my cycling finished today. When I compile my test results for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates I get a similar graph to yours Chris.
                        As some point during cycling the nitrites where sky high, nitrates went also sky high and then nitrates dropped suddenly and stayed low for 5 days during which the nitrites were still sky high. That got me a little worried because I was expecting the nitrates to either continue to rise or stabilise at a high level. But then, out of nowhere, nitrites suddenly dropped (went from above 5ppm to 0ppm in 48 hours) and have been at 0 for 4 days now. Nitrates also went down but less drastically and are now at a steady 10ppm for the last 3 days.
                        So anyways to make it short, for the last 3 days Amonia:0, Nitrites: 0 and Nitrates: 10ppm.

                        I am going away for a week and then I will quarantine my first couple of fish for 4 weeks. This means my main display will stay 5 weeks without fish even though the cycle is finished. What do you guys suggest I do during these 5 weeks to keep the tank cycled? will the tank "uncycle"? How can I keep all these beneficial bacteria alive?

                        Thanks!!
                        Sorry I missed this. I think your tank could uncycle without ammonia to keep the nitrogen cycle going. You can add fish food as a source of ammonia or maybe a little piece of shrimp?

                        Cheers,

                        Chris

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