Monday, May 9, 2016

"64.8L Passionately Curious": Fishless Cycling Process

As any other newbies in this hobby, I was very excited waiting for the tank to be fully cycled. I did water test very frequently during this first stage and nervous sometimes seeing the water test results. The tank has been fully cycled finally after 32 days. 

Since I do not want to see the fish "suffering" from high level of toxic substances such as Ammonia, Nitrite or Nitrate at the cycling period, I chose "fishless cycling" method that use ADA Aquasoil. 9L of ADA Aquasoil New Amazonia Powder was utilized for my 2ft tank. This substrate after setting up would leech out Ammonia to the water column for beneficial bacteria to feed on. Hence, there is not necessary to add in additional Ammonia daily as stated in some online "fishless cycling" methods. 

ADA Aquasoil New Amazonia Powder (9L)
In addition, with the wish to speed up the cycling process, "WaterLife BacterLife: Digest Ammonia &Nitrite" was dosed in according to manufacture recommendation. 
WaterLife BacterLife: Digest Ammonia & Nitrite
As expected, Ammonia peak appeared right away after flooding the tank at very high level (i.e. 4ppm). It could be seen Nitrite level was very high at 2ppm for the first five days and gradually reduced to 0ppm by Day 15 whereas, Ammonia level was unchanged at 4ppm until Day 18. 

It can be seen that WaterLife BacterLife does affect the nature process by developing beneficial bacteria to convert Nitrite to Nitrate, whereas, beneficial bacteria to convert Ammonia to Nitrite in the tank was developing slower. Hence, whatever Nitrite was produced, it was quickly converted to Nitrate and Nitrate was removed by partial water change every 2-3 days in the first 3 weeks. On the other hands, I also think that too much Ammonia leached out from ADA Aquasoil constantly would make the bacteria overloaded and could not convert Ammonia to Nitrite in a short time. 
The first 5 weeks of "fishless cycling" (click for enlarged picture)
After Day 18, Ammonia Level gradually reduced and reached 0ppm on Day 32 and it completed the whole cycle. 

During the cycling time, anxiety visited me regularly :). Most importantly, we, new hobbyist must keep our patience. The tank will naturally go through the process and it takes time for beneficial bacteria to develop in the filter. Sometimes, all the Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate levels might not follow exactly what indicated in text books. That is OK. Every tank is different and the speed of beneficial bacteria developing is differently, too. If you are too anxious about the high ammonia or nitrite levels, just do water change. There is no harm doing water change up to 30% for every 2-3 days at the first 3-4 weeks after setting up the tank. 

The first 30 days for me was enjoyable as well since I can watch the plants growing day by day. I can test and tweak all the lighting, CO2 injection rate and fertilizer regime to make sure the plants grow well and become stable before fauna is introduced to the tank. And do remember not to introduce any fauna in the tank until you are really sure that Ammonia and Nitrite Levels are 0ppm. At the end of the cycling process, Nitrate Level would be very high, and 50% water change before introducing fauna to the tank is recommended. 

In conclusion, my first lesson in this hobby are:
"Be patient."
"Stay curious and plan well ahead".

Thanks for being patient :)

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