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The notion of Cycling


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Dear ShrimpSpot community,


I am starting multiple shrimp tanks, a rack almost, and want to know whether I am wasting my time with the traditional cycle.


I am a novice shrimp keeper, starting with a one month colony of Neocaridina (Red Cherry) and Caridina (Blue Bolt) which are now starting to thrive and breed. I am a long term fish keeper, and the concept of cycling a tank is something that is pivotal to avoid the notorious 'new-tank syndrome'. It is a bane and boon for me, in that cycles may sometimes take in excess of 4 weeks, yet the advantage of having an established cycle means that I can never doubt myself if deaths are due to my tank's inability to deal with ammonia.


However, I have noticed that many hobbyists, and Asian breeders advocate for a 1-2 week cycle, incorporating the use of what I think is freeze-dried nitrifying bacteria in powdered forms. I am very open-minded, so have spoken to some of these breeders and they assert that a 7-10 day wait period is all that is needed before the introduction of shrimp. They seldom use test-kits nor test for parameters, and have an abundance of thriving shrimp colonies to show for it.


I know for certain that a tank is unable to fully cycle in 7 days, however, is there a logical answer for their survival? In my early days, I recall the literature stating that true nitrifying bacteria (nitronomas/nitrobacter) is unable to be suspended and dormant in any form save liquid, but perhaps this has recently changed? I've been hypothesising that the powders contain another type of bacteria (heterotrophic?) which help to reduce NH3 and NO2 (e.g. Seachem Pristine), whilst the traditional cycle (true nitrifiers) occurs in the background.


I've spoken to another breeder who provided me another perspective: that the use of buffering substrates and RODI (low pH be it from the process itself or production of carbonic acid) renders toxic ammonia to the less-toxic ammonium form. I have seen some documentation of non-toxic ammonium so I am not disputing it, yet this was from the use of Seachem Prime to bind to NH3 and make it safe for a fish-in cycle. A low pH also stalls a cycle, or slows it significantly (anecdotally), and if a low pH was all that was needed to keep inhabitants alive, I'd think we'd all try to incorporate and rely on it rather than wait - painfully.


I would conduct this experiment myself, however I prefer to prevent my critters from what I believe would be suffering, as I think that even if they're able to endure an uncycled tank and survive, surely ammonia/nitrite spikes would affect their longevity or quality of life long-term. 


All in all, should I disregard whatever I know about the cycle for fish? Perhaps shrimps produce a negligent bio-load, one that isn't enough for toxicity, hence a cycle isn't needed?


Help much appreciated, thanks!

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