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Step by Step Cycling Techniques

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We constantly have questions about cycling.  I'd like this thread to be Step-By-Step Cycling Techniques.  These will provide examples to follow.


Feel free to add your Step-By-Step techniques.


But to keep this thread cleaned up, please post questions or comments to http://www.shrimpspot.com/index.php?/topic/4064-step-by-step-cycling-techniques-conversation/






6-14-15   Add Old Sea Mud, and BT-9, to bottom of tank

                Add Amazonia substrate                

                Install HMF. Place biorings and heater behind HMF

                Fill tanks with tap water


6-15-15   100% water change


6-16-15   100% water change


6-18-15   Tanks 1-3 drain water 100%.

                Add SL Magic Powder to top of substrate and add 100ml Purify.  Cover top of substrate with tap        

                water (w/ Prime)

                Tanks 4-6 complete 50% water change. Turn on heater to 85 and add plants


6-19-15   Tanks 1-3 fill with 100% conditioned tap water. Turn on heater & add plants. Add buffer


6-20-15   Add minerals to raise TDS to 130 and GH 5. Add Bacter AE to tanks 4-6


6-21-15   25% water change. Adjust TDS and GH. Add buffer


6-24-15   Add buffer PH between 6.8-7.0


6-28-15   25% water change. Add buffer to tanks 1-6.  PH 6.8-7.0


7-1-15   Added Bacter AE to all tanks


7-3-15   25% water change tanks 1-6. Test for ammonia. Tank #6 is showing 0ppm. Test Tank #6 again.

              Add 3.0ml of Purify to all tanks. Add Magic Powder to all tanks.

              Add almond leaves to all tanks.

               Adjust heater in Tank #6 to 72


Also, all tanks were seeded with muck from sponges from other tanks around 6-19.


One thing I'm going to start to do from now on, is to start keeping my Java moss in a mesh bag and hang it in the tanks that are cycling as an ammonia sponge.  This would be removed before shrimp are added.

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Mine is pretty simple and easy.

1. Pre-seed 4.25" cube sponge filter (from Angelfish plus) in existing healthy tank a month ahead. If you have HOB or canister filter, do the same.
2. Add 5 lbs of Controsoil for 20L, 2.5lbs Controsoil for 10G, thin substrate works better
3. Add RO water
4. 4 days later, do 100% water change. adjust GH to 3. I use SS GH+
5. Add pre-seeded sponge filter and HOB/Canister
6. Add plants, add light (20W LED for 20L, 10W LED for 10G).
7. Wait 3 more days then add shrimp
8. Done

Done cycling a new tank in 7 days (on the safe side, it can be done in one day)

I successfully keep MK-Breed PRL, Ellen Wang's PRL, BKK, Wine Red, Yellow Kingkong, Crystal White by this way without any lose, and starts breeding in a month or so.

If you don't have time. you can do it in 1 day. I always have extra sponge filter in existing tank.
So I can setup new tank in emergency in no time.

Warning, this procedure only works with ControSoil or similar, it doesn't work with ADA AS.

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  • 9 months later...

I thought that maybe some absolute beginners might be interested in my experience of cycling an entirely new tank.  My experience was that the cycle kicked in at week-4 and by week-5 was established.  


I should stress that I started the tank 100% from scratch.  I didn't have another tank from which I could pull any 'starter' material.  The tank was 12l with a Maxi Power Head Pump (6W, 400L/hr) and a 25w heater.  It also had a ceramic filter, carbon filter and 5.75w light, all of which came with the kit.


My base-layer was Tropica Plant Growth Substrate covered by 'Pets At Home' Premium Black Gravel.  Into this base I placed five plants; Cryptocoryne Amicorum, Cryptocoryne Nevellii, Echinodorus Parviflorus Tropica, Hygrophila Mini and Java Moss (on wood).  I then added POTW (plain old tap water) treated with 'Love Fish' Tap Safe and switched everything on.  After one week, I did a water test:

  • CL2 – 0
  • pH – 8
  • KH -15-20 (d)
  • GH – >21 (d)
  • NO2 – 5 (mg/l)
  • NO3 – 25 (mg/l)

I was actually surprised that the nitrite and nitrate levels were relatively low, but clearly, the nitrogen cycle hadn't kicked in.


At the end of the second week I did another water test before doing a 25% water change:

  • CL2 – 0.8 (up)
  • pH – 8 (no change)
  • KH -15-20 (no change)
  • GH – >21 (no change)
  • NO2 – 5 (no change)
  • NO3 – 50 (up)


I was a little surprised by the increase in CL2, but everything else was as expected.  I think that the increase in Nitrate was probably because the cryptocorynes were both suffering from 'melt' and I suspect that as the leaves decayed they were releasing nitrates into the water.


At the end of the third week I did another water test before a 25%b water change:


  • CL2 – 0.4 (down)
  • pH – 7.6-8 (no significant change)
  • KH -15-20 (no change)
  • GH – >21 (no change)
  • NO2 – 0-0.5 (down)
  • NO3 – 10 (down)


It seemed as if the nitrogen cycle was now starting to kick-in because the numbers were starting to come down.


At the end of the fourth week I did another water test before a 25% water change:


  • CL2 – 0 (steady)
  • pH – 8-8.4 (up)
  • KH -20 (up)
  • GH – >21 (no change)
  • NO2 – 0 (steady)
  • NO3 – 0 (down)


So, at that time I made the assumption that the nitrogen cycle was operating.


Since then, I've continued to monitor the water quality on a weekly basis.  I keep the tank at 25C and have the light on for 12h per day.  I swap out ~25%-30% of the water every week using a narrow tube.  It typically takes 15-20 minutes to syphon 25%-30% of the water out of the tank (during which time I do some general tank cleaning) and another 15-20 minutes to syphon fresh (tap) water back into the tank.  My neocaridina seem happy with this approach, and it was roughly 2 months after adding juvenile shrimp to the tank that I spotted my first 'berried' female.

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