Starting a Cycle in a Bucket - the Experiment

BigBeardDaHuZi

Member
I have a big tank coming in a month and most of my research is done. I need something new to work on while I wait. Hence the experiment.

Question: Can you do a complete cycle in a bucket and start off with a cycled tank?
(I say cycled, not seasoned. Once the media is in the actual tank, things will still need to settle.)

Equipment: Two big buckets with 20L of water in each.

Bucket One will have a sponge filter in the bottom and 10 kilos of ceramic balls.
It also has about a kilo of crushed coral to buffer the KH and keep the pH over 7. (My water out of the tap is 7 pH, 6 KH, 7 GH)
After the ammonia starts to show up, I will also add a little bit of cycled media from another tank. - I'm a little torn on this one. I am curious if the cycle will complete without the nudge, but also really want the cycle to finish in a month. Any thoughts?
The temperature is about 25 celcius/75 fahrenheit. I may add a heater later to kick it up a notch. Also, fall is setting in. My house may get a bit cooler.

Bucket Two is the control bucket. It will have an airstone to keep the water moving/prevent stagnation.

Source of Ammonia: Fresh, dead shrimp.
I don't have access to Dr. Tim's and, also, I am a bit inclined to try the natural method. This will not be as accurate, but the shrimp will be a constant source of ammonia and will not require fiddling with drops of ammonia on a daily basis. In Bucket Two, we should see how much ammonia one shrimp can produce. If needed, in Bucket One I can double, triple or quadruple the shrimp as time goes on.

Assumption: One dead shrimp will produce as much ammonia as six 3" African Cichlids.

Assumption: The shrimp will start to stink after a while and I will probably need to change them out from time to time.


How long till they stink? Will the ammonia in the control bucket reach levels toxic to bacteria?



Assumption: One fresh, dead shrimp will produce as much ammonia as six 3" African Cichlids.


Blah, I had this all spaced out and formatted for easy reading. Apparently spaces are the devil and they have all been eliminated.
 
Best Answer - View mattgirl's answer

Darthmoli

Member
Sure this should work just fine and is not a bad idea to get a jump start on your cycle. Think of the buckets like mini aquariums. I also used dead shrimp to cycle my last tank as a test and it worked just fine and was super quick. Mine was in 55 gallons so your ammonia might get a little more concentrated than mine was so i would be careful of that and having it just kill your bacteria lol. If the shrimp start to stink you can just use fish flakes and drop a little in as it decays it will release ammonia. I'm interested how your experiment works out! Good luck!
 
  • Thread Starter

BigBeardDaHuZi

Member
Day Two: Oof

The stink did not take long. I got a nice 1.5 ppm on ammonia, but the water is slimy and has a faint stench. Well, kind of faint. "Stench" is probably the right word though.

The control bucket is getting dumped and cleaned. I pulled the shrimp from the test bucket too, but I didn't dump the water yet. I put some media from a cycled tank in today and I want to give it a chance to get started. I will see how the numbers look tomorrow.

I am going to fill up the other bucket with some water to de-chlorinate over night and I will probably change the water on the test bucket tomorrow. (I don't want to add a dechlorinator because that would bind up my ammonia/nitrites).

After that, I will need to try again to get some pure ammonia or just go with fish food.


This experiment has been a success of sorts already. I can definitely recommend not trying the shrimp.
 

AvalancheDave

Member
Fish excrete most of their nitrogenous waste in the form of ammonia so dosing ammonia is actually more natural.
 

FishBoy101

Member
BigBeardDaHuZi said:
I have a big tank coming in a month and most of my research is done. I need something new to work on while I wait. Hence the experiment.

Question: Can you do a complete cycle in a bucket and start off with a cycled tank?
(I say cycled, not seasoned. Once the media is in the actual tank, things will still need to settle.)

Equipment: Two big buckets with 20L of water in each.

Bucket One will have a sponge filter in the bottom and 10 kilos of ceramic balls.
It also has about a kilo of crushed coral to buffer the KH and keep the pH over 7. (My water out of the tap is 7 pH, 6 KH, 7 GH)
After the ammonia starts to show up, I will also add a little bit of cycled media from another tank. - I'm a little torn on this one. I am curious if the cycle will complete without the nudge, but also really want the cycle to finish in a month. Any thoughts?
The temperature is about 25 celcius/75 fahrenheit. I may add a heater later to kick it up a notch. Also, fall is setting in. My house may get a bit cooler.

Bucket Two is the control bucket. It will have an airstone to keep the water moving/prevent stagnation.

Source of Ammonia: Fresh, dead shrimp.
I don't have access to Dr. Tim's and, also, I am a bit inclined to try the natural method. This will not be as accurate, but the shrimp will be a constant source of ammonia and will not require fiddling with drops of ammonia on a daily basis. In Bucket Two, we should see how much ammonia one shrimp can produce. If needed, in Bucket One I can double, triple or quadruple the shrimp as time goes on.

Assumption: One dead shrimp will produce as much ammonia as six 3" African Cichlids.

Assumption: The shrimp will start to stink after a while and I will probably need to change them out from time to time.


How long till they stink? Will the ammonia in the control bucket reach levels toxic to bacteria?



Assumption: One fresh, dead shrimp will produce as much ammonia as six 3" African Cichlids.


Blah, I had this all spaced out and formatted for easy reading. Apparently spaces are the devil and they have all been eliminated.
Following!
 

Rockymountainstream

Member
This is very interesting and I have been curious about this as well. Keep up the good work
 

mattgirl

Member
If you already have a cycled tank I have to wonder why you are trying to grow another cycle in the buckets. Is it just an experiment to see if it can be done? If so I do understand experimenting.

Are you running an airstone in the test buckets? If not I will recommend you do so. The water movement will prevent a lot of slimy buildup on top of the water. I have to think it should cut down on the "stench" too.
 

Thaijade

Member
Very interesting! This has occurred to me, but not to this level of complexity. I can’t wait to hear how it comes out. Good luck!

mattgirl said:
If you already have a cycled tank I have to wonder why you are trying to grow another cycle in the buckets. Is it just an experiment to see if it can be done? If so I do understand experimenting.

Are you running an airstone in the test buckets? If not I will recommend you do so. The water movement will prevent a lot of slimy buildup on top of the water. I have to think it should cut down on the "stench" too.
I think they are trying to cycle for a new upcoming tank.
 

mattgirl

Member
Thaijade said:
I think they are trying to cycle for a new upcoming tank.
I realize that but if seeded media is available from a previously cycled tank that media can be used to cycle the new tank. He mentioned adding media from a cycled tank to one of the buckets.
 
  • Thread Starter

BigBeardDaHuZi

Member
My other tank is a small planted tank with a betta. It is only 14 gallons. I was able to sneak a little extra media in (ceramic balls) to pick up some bacteria, but no where near enough to get a 160 gallon ready.

Mostly this is just a fun experiment My wife and the people at the fish store did not grok it very well, but it is something fun to do while I wait.

I had an airstone in the control bucket and a sponge filter in the test bucket. Interestingly, even though the control bucket with the airstone looked more aerated, the bucket with the sponge filter had way less slime. Tonight when I get home, I will check on the test bucket and check the numbers.

If it doesn't stink, I might add half a shrimp back in (in an easy to take out place this time :rolleyes. Otherwise, I will change the water and try fish food. Hopefully this week I can track down some pure ammonia.

Day 3: The stink is gone!

My ammonia has dropped to 0.5 ppm. At least, as far as my eyes can tell. Trying to tell which color this actually is, is a bit frustrating. Has anyone found an Ammonia test kit that they actually like?
Nitrites 0.5
Nitrates 10
That little bit of media I tossed in has gotten a quick start. I suspect the rest of the experiment with this bucket will be getting and maintaining a good ammonia level for the rest of the month.
I have more media coming in the mail and I may try to run the second bucket straight with no added media to see how it goes.

I added just the tail of a shrimp this time. Maybe without the guts, there will be a slower putrification factor.
 

mattgirl

Member
This is a very interesting experiment. Thank you for keeping us updated. It would be great if you are able to get some pure ammonia. With it you could probably grow enough bacteria to get your big tank off to a very quick cycle.

The thing with shrimp or fish food we really won't know how much ammonia it is actually being processed so can't know if there is a big enough colony of bacteria to instantly cycle your big tank. It certainly should give it a good start though. A much better start than anything that comes in a bottle.
 

Rockymountainstream

Member
Yes, I go color blind some times with the ammonia between .0 and .25, also with nitrate 10 & 20. So when in doubt I will use a strip test to reconfirm the drip test.
 
  • Thread Starter

BigBeardDaHuZi

Member
Day 4: The Stink is Still Scarce!

I don't know if it is because I have better circulation (a 2nd available airstone) or because I left the head off the shrimp, but the water is clear and there is no smell. I will add a fresh full shrimp again to see.

Ammonia today is a good solid 1.5 ppm. As I was doing the test today, I realized that I used the wrong syringe yesterday to draw water. I added 2.5 instead of 2 to the test solution. The scientific "value" of this experiment is really, really poor. No steady variables at all.

Nitrites are steady at 0.5
Nitrates 25
GH 7
KH 10

There have been a bit of a learning curve, but the experiment is going well.
 

Utar

Member
Just wanted to ask, are you saying you have no other choice but to us shrimp for an ammonia source?

Side note: I don't want to offend anyone, but I don't understand this Dr. Tim's ammonia or whatever it is, I think this is just a good sales job and nothing more.

I found a bottle of pure ammonia at Ace hardware and have used it to cycle my aquariums. So much easier to use then using shrimp or fish food, and provides a faster cycle.

But the experiment is cool, interested to see how it turns out.
 
  • Thread Starter

BigBeardDaHuZi

Member
Utar said:
Just wanted to ask, are you saying you have no other choice but to us shrimp for an ammonia source?

Side note: I don't want to offend anyone, but I don't understand this Dr. Tim's ammonia or whatever it is, I think this is just a good sales job and nothing more.

I found a bottle of pure ammonia at Ace hardware and have used it to cycle my aquariums. So much easier to use then using shrimp or fish food, and provides a faster cycle.

But the experiment is cool, interested to see how it turns out.
I don't live in the states anymore. No Ace hardware. I am going to have my wife help me and see if I can find a bottle of the pure stuff here. It's all in Chinese and my reading skills in that language are... not great.

The shrimp idea comes from this sites Nitrogen Cycle FAQ. I was drawn to it because it is a continuous source of ammonia. Except for the stink. Which makes it a source that needs to be replaced continuously.
For my second bucket, I will try pure ammonia.
 

mattgirl

Member
Utar said:
Just wanted to ask, are you saying you have no other choice but to us shrimp for an ammonia source?

Side note: I don't want to offend anyone, but I don't understand this Dr. Tim's ammonia or whatever it is, I think this is just a good sales job and nothing more.

I found a bottle of pure ammonia at Ace hardware and have used it to cycle my aquariums. So much easier to use then using shrimp or fish food, and provides a faster cycle.

But the experiment is cool, interested to see how it turns out.
I normally only recommend the more expensive Dr. Tim's when sourcing it seems to be near impossible for some folks. At least with this one we can be pretty much assured it is pure ammonia with nothing else added and some folks are willing to pay more for the peace of mind in knowing that they are getting the right stuff.

Others, like me, have no Ace Hardware in their area. We used to have one but sadly no longer. Even my local Wal-Mart doesn't offer pure ammonia. If ammonia has to be ordered on line we have no way of being sure it is pure ammonia until we get it. Although more expensive Dr. Tim's is just an easier solution in some cases.
 

Utar

Member
BigBeardDaHuZi said:
I don't live in the states anymore. No Ace hardware. I am going to have my wife help me and see if I can find a bottle of the pure stuff here. It's all in Chinese and my reading skills in that language are... not great.

The shrimp idea comes from this sites Nitrogen Cycle FAQ. I was drawn to it because it is a continuous source of ammonia. Except for the stink. Which makes it a source that needs to be replaced continuously.
For my second bucket, I will try pure ammonia.
I understand now, didn't know you lived in China.

mattgirl said:
I normally only recommend the more expensive Dr. Tim's when sourcing it seems to be near impossible for some folks. At least with this one we can be pretty much assured it is pure ammonia with nothing else added and some folks are willing to pay more for the peace of mind in knowing that they are getting the right stuff.

Others, like me, have no Ace Hardware in their area. We used to have one but sadly no longer. Even my local Wal-Mart doesn't offer pure ammonia. If ammonia has to be ordered on line we have no way of being sure it is pure ammonia until we get it. Although more expensive Dr. Tim's is just an easier solution in some cases.
Here is a thread on fishlore where it talks about this subject. I found it very interesting.

Where to buy the no-additive ammonia?
 
  • Thread Starter

BigBeardDaHuZi

Member
My wife helped me find a place that sells lab grade ammonia and ammonium chloride last night.
I went with the ammonium chloride because that is what is in Dr. Tim's.
In retrospect, I wonder if I should have went with the pure ammonia, as the pH in the bucket is over 7.
Well, we'll see.

Day 5: Time for new water

Ammonia 1 ppm
Nitrite 1 ppm
Nitrate 25< (stupid hard to see colors)

I was a little late pulling the shrimp today and it had just started to rot. The water itself is a little smelly. The smell is not overpowering, but it is there. Time for a water change.
I'll have to wait till tomorrow morning though, to let the fresh water de-chlorinate.

Added a new shrimp
 

mattgirl

Member
I do have to ask out of curiosity. Why the water changes? Is it just because of the smell? Normal fishless cycles don't require one to do water changes like they would if they were doing a fish in.
 
  • Thread Starter

BigBeardDaHuZi

Member
Yea
mattgirl said:
I do have to ask out of curiosity. Why the water changes? Is it just because of the smell? Normal fishless cycles don't require one to do water changes like they would if they were doing a fish in.
Yeah, just the smell. I don't want to lose my lovely, lovely nitrites, but it is bubbling in my study. And I need to work in there.
We'll see. I'm going to test the water and give it a nose.

Day 6: A minor smell

Well, a cold front has moved in. There is a typhoon of the coast and it is blowing cold wet wind in. The test bucket is in my study with the windows open and the temperature in the bucket has dropped to 20 celciues/69 fahrenheit.
I will put the heater in today and hope it doesn't make the smell worse.
... it's gonna make the smell worse.

Ammonia 1.5
Nitrites 2
Nitrates 50

The smell is not too bad. I am going to hold off on the water change for another day. I don't won't to lose all my precious nitrites.

The heater is set for 26 c / 79 fahrenheit.

Tomorrow, I want to start doubling the shrimp.

Day 7 - the heat is good

Ammonia 1.5
Nitrites around 7
Nitrates around 70

The heater really kicked up production. The shrimp was definitely more "baked" this morning, although they always come out pink like they have been cooked.
The smell.... continues lightly. I can't smell the bucket unless I get my nose right down near the water (Which is not recommended - the bubbles from the air stone tend to sprinkle a lot and a face full of dead shrimp water is an experience you could spend a life time not missing). I am going to hold off on the water change for now. I have good things going on.

I will wait one more day before I double the shrimp. The ammonia is holding steady , but the nitrites are going up. Once the ammonia starts dropping, I will double up.

Day 8 - Putrescence

Ammonia 1.5
Nitrites 10+
Nitrates 250

And the stink is highly notable. Time for a water change. I was thinking 50% to get the nitrites down to 5, but this stink has got to go.

---------------

Dear lord, that was foul. And HEAVY. 20 litres of water and 10 kilos of ceramics is a beast of a weight. The shrimp has been effective, but I would never recommend it. I hope my ammonia arrives today.

Changing out the air stone for a 2nd sponge filter. I might need to quarantine tanks when it is time to start stocking (Africans should be stocked in groups of 6 they say).

Also, the rest of my ceramic balls have arrived. I think I am going top off the bucket with another 5 kilos. They might as well all get a good dose of BB

Rubbish. Filth. Slime. Muck. 2 points if you can name the movie

Day 9 - Ammonia is cycling!

Ammonia .25
Nitrites - off the charts - too purple to read - at least 10+
Nitrates - somewhere between 250 and 500

I should change the water out and double the shrimp.... but the bottled ammonia is supposed to arrive tomorrow and I'll need to do a full water change then. Also the weekends are my busiest days of the week. Still, it was a good test today
 

mattgirl

Member
BigBeardDaHuZi said:
Day 9 - Ammonia is cycling!

Ammonia .25
Nitrites - off the charts - too purple to read - at least 10+
Nitrates - somewhere between 250 and 500

I should change the water out and double the shrimp.... but the bottled ammonia is supposed to arrive tomorrow and I'll need to do a full water change then. Also the weekends are my busiest days of the week. Still, it was a good test today
These numbers are surprising me. Not only how quickly it is happening but how high they are going. I am mostly surprised at how a piece of shrimp can produce enough ammonia to shoot these numbers up so high. It does sound like this bucket is getting filled with bacteria though.
 

kansas

Member
ok, what's the movie?
 
  • Thread Starter

BigBeardDaHuZi

Member
The Princess
kansas said:
ok, what's the movie?
The Princess Bride! If you haven't seen it, put it at the top of your bucket list. It is an older movie now, I think it came out in 1987, but absolutely fantastic. Fencing, fighting, death, revenge, romance, pirates - and it is really funny. A very sweet movie

mattgirl said:
These numbers are surprising me. Not only how quickly it is happening but how high they are going. I am mostly surprised at how a piece of shrimp can produce enough ammonia to shoot these numbers up so high. It does sound like this bucket is getting filled with bacteria though.
My ammonia has arrived. I am really looking forward to seeing just how much ammonia the bucket can process.

Day 10 - Last Shrimp Reading

The ammonia was somewhere between 0 and .15, just a faint yellow tint to the water, so small it was hard to be sure if it was there or not.
Nitrite still over 10
Nitrate still over 250

I suspect I had a stall because the nitrites were so high. We'll see.

My bottle of ammonia chloride arrived. 500 ml. I now have enough to ammonia to cycle a swimming pool.
ead:

Day 11 - Ammonia is clear

I put 3ppm of ammonia in the bucket yesterday (about 18 hours ago). Today the vial is crystal clear.

Ammonia 0
Nitrite 10 - not so dark as yesterday
Nitrate 250

mattgirl What do I do now? Should I dose it to three again on ammonia? I was thinking to see if it will bring the ammonia to zero in 12 hours - but my nitrites are still high.
Should I hold off on dosing the ammonia until tomorrow and let the nitrite bacteria have a go?
Is it true that high nitrites will stall a cycle? Should I do a partial water change and then re-dose the ammonia?

It is watering day... I suppose for today I will do a partial water change and feed my plants. Re-dose to 3ppm and check it again tomorrow.
 

mattgirl

Member
BigBeardDaHuZi said:
Day 11 - Ammonia is clear

I put 3ppm of ammonia in the bucket yesterday (about 18 hours ago). Today the vial is crystal clear.

Ammonia 0
Nitrite 10 - not so dark as yesterday
Nitrate 250

mattgirl What do I do now? Should I dose it to three again on ammonia? I was thinking to see if it will bring the ammonia to zero in 12 hours - but my nitrites are still high.
Should I hold off on dosing the ammonia until tomorrow and let the nitrite bacteria have a go?
Is it true that high nitrites will stall a cycle? Should I do a partial water change and then re-dose the ammonia?

It is watering day... I suppose for today I will do a partial water change and feed my plants. Re-dose to 3ppm and check it again tomorrow.
Several things have to happen to stall a cycle. The pH falling below 6.5 can cause one to stall. I have seen them stall when both nitrites and nitrates get too high. I don't know if it is the fact that they are so high that causes it or maybe by the time they get that high all minerals have been depleted and it is the combo of all those things that cause it. I do know a tank can be considered stalled if the ammonia stops going down. When that happens a water change will get it going again. As long as the ammonia is still being processed the cycle is still moving forward.

I don't know if it restarts it because the water change lowers both nitrites and nitrates or replacing depleted minerals is what does it. It could be a combination of all those things.
 
  • Thread Starter

BigBeardDaHuZi

Member
I have a bunch of crushed coral at the bottom of the bucket. pH is at 7.6. So that should be alright.
Hmm...
Well, I'll dose it to 3 again and see how it goes

Thank you for all your help!

Edit: My study smells so much better. The shrimp experiment was interesting, but I'm glad it's over. My three year old kept wanting to put her hand in that bucket too :yuck::yuck::yuck:
 

mattgirl

Member
BigBeardDaHuZi said:
I have a bunch of crushed coral at the bottom of the bucket. pH is at 7.6. So that should be alright.
Hmm...
Well, I'll dose it to 3 again and see how it goes

Thank you for all your help!

Edit: My study smells so much better. The shrimp experiment was interesting, but I'm glad it's over. My three year old kept wanting to put her hand in that bucket too :yuck::yuck::yuck:
Like you, I am learning from this experiment. It seems your cycle is still moving forward even though both nitrite and nitrates are off the chart high. This is telling me it is something else causing the stalled cycles. This leads me to believe it is what I call "dead" water causing the stall. Dead water is water that has had everything in it used up. It seems the crushed coral is adding things back in as they are being depleted.

Now that you have the liquid ammonia and can add more at any time, water changes aren't going to be detrimental to the cycling process. With shrimp you had to wait for it to produce ammonia and of course couldn't control the amount of it. If it were me I would try to get the nitrates down by doing water changes. I don't know if that is necessary but since nitrates are the final part of the cycle (most of us don't grow the bacteria that consumes nitrates) so are not necessary during the cycling process it might be beneficial to try to keep them down to reasonable numbers.
 

Rockymountainstream

Member
This has been a very interesting topic. I somehow took the alert noticed off. I thought you had decided to just stop. I am glad you did not. I have learned a few things so far. Even with doing some back reading. I'll stay tuned to the same fish time and the same fish staton ha ha.
 
  • Thread Starter

BigBeardDaHuZi

Member
Day 12: A New Stink

Ammonia 0
Nitrites 12+
Nitrates 250+

For all of you thinking, "Dr. Tim's is a bit expensive, I'll just buy straight ammonia" Lord, just buy it. If Dr. Tim's comes with a squeeze bottle/built in dripper, it is worth the extra bucks. Ammonia Stinks. It clears your sinuses and then assaults you when your defenses are down.
Still smells better than the shrimp. At least after the bottle is closed again.

And the water in the bucket is now lovely and clean.

My nitrite bacteria is definitely working, but I don't seem to be making much progress. Is it just because the bacteria needs more time? Or are the Nitrites reaching levels where the bacteria is no longer able to function?

I did an 80% water change and re-dosed to 3ppm on Ammonia Stankalotus.

I am going to test it again tonight when I get home. If the nitrites don't start winning, I might switch to 1.5 ppm ammonia/twice a day.
My end goal is dosing 4 ppm ammonia twice a day. We'll see.



My big tank, 160 gallons+ is still a month away. I thought it was ordered last week, but we had to go back in and talk to the guy.
On the plus side, I picked up a sweet 20 gallon tank from him yesterday (at a good discount) that I can use as a quarantine/incoming tank. It has a built-in trickle filter style back, where you can hide your heater. The tank will have no visible equipment. Some day, when my big tank is thriving, this tank will be a Lot of fun to play with. Planted or a colony of Multi and/or Brichardis are my top two contenders right now

These are probably common back home, I have no idea, but when I was active in the hobby all those years ago this was NOT available.

Can't wait to play with it.
 

GlennO

Member
I read that if nitrites exceed 5 ppm it starts to poison the nitrite eating bacteria. Not sure if true but there are enough reports of stalled cycles with nitrites above 5 to suggest that something happens.

Btw there's no need to add ammonia whenever it drops to zero which it's doing daily. The bacteria are incredibly resilient once established. I do understand that people feel the need to 'feed' them and it doesn't really hurt but it can mean that you have to actively manage nitrite levels and of course there will be continually increasing nitrate levels.
 
  • Thread Starter

BigBeardDaHuZi

Member
GlennO said:
I read that if nitrites exceed 5 ppm it starts to poison the nitrite eating bacteria. Not sure if true but there are enough reports of stalled cycles with nitrites above 5 to suggest that something happens.

Btw there's no need to add ammonia whenever it drops to zero which it's doing daily. The bacteria are incredibly resilient once established. I do understand that people feel the need to 'feed' them and it doesn't really hurt but it can mean that you have to actively manage nitrite levels and of course there will be continually increasing nitrate levels.
I was wondering about that. I will check it tonight, make sure the nitrites are under 5 and not re-dose until I need to
 

mattgirl

Member
At this point I would be cutting the ammonia you add way down. I would also be getting both nitrites and nitrates down to much lower levels. Once the nitrites drop down to zero you can very gradually increase the amount of ammonia you add each time.

We are just talking about 5 gallons of water so adding so much ammonia we are overwhelming the nitrite bacteria's ability to catch up. We know you have both ammonia and nitrite eating bacteria in there because you have nitrates. At this point you don't need to be feeding the bucket as much ammonia. You really only need a maintenance dose 'specially until the nitrites drop.

Once the nitrites drop you could conceivably only feed the bucket every few days. Every few day you can increase the amount of ammonia you are adding. You can gradually increase the amount of bacteria in the bucket by gradually increasing the amount of ammonia you are adding.

Once the nitrites you are seeing now drop to zero start by adding 1ppm. If within 24 hours that 1ppm has gone straight through to nitrates, meaning 0 ammonia and 0 nitrites add 2ppm. Continue increasing the amount, checking the next day to make sure both ammonia and nitrites are zero. I don't know how high you will be able to go in this bucket but it is conceivable that you can go up to 10 or even 20ppm and bacteria will just continue to grow enough to process it. I just don't know. I do know or think I know that you will have to be doing water changes to help keep some of the nitrates down.

You may not be able to grow enough bacteria in this bucket to instantly cycle your new tank but I have to think there will be enough to give it a fast start. Much faster than anything in a bottle. Even 20ppm ammonia in a 5 gallon bucket is just a drop in a bucket compared to 20ppm in a 160 gallon tank. Of course you would never need 20ppm ammonia in a 160 gallon tank. I am not even sure you will be able to process 20ppm ammonia in the bucket but you won't know unless you try.

BTW: Check around. You may be able to find a dropper bottle somewhere. If you lived close I would give you one as I have plenty of them laying around. I vape and make my own e-liquid. I have lots of dropper bottles I used to use for my e-liquid. I now use glass dropper bottles so no longer have a need for the plastic ones.

I smoked for 45 years. I have been smoke free for almost 9 years now thanks to vaping. After trying to quit for years I finally found something that actually works with no adverse side effects

Are you running any kind of media in the bucket other than the mixed substrate? If not I do highly recommend you run at least one big sponge filter in there. It/They will give the bacteria a lot of area to grow on.
 
  • Thread Starter

BigBeardDaHuZi

Member
mattgirl said:
Are you running any kind of media in the bucket other than the mixed substrate? If not I do highly recommend you run at least one big sponge filter in there. It/They will give the bacteria a lot of area to grow on.
There are two sponge filters in there to keep the water swirling. Nice job on kicking the smokes!

Day 13 - time to change

Yup. It looks stalled out.
Ammonia 0
Nitrites 12+
Nitrates 250

Did a partial water change

Nitrites at 5+ (Gosh darn it - should have dumped more. That bucket is bloody heavy though, so this will have to do)
Nitrates 100

pH has dropped to 6.4 while I wasn't watching The ammonia must have ate up all that crushed coral. Going to add another cup of that now.
It is sitting on top now so I can keep an eye on it.

I just used the tank calculator for my new aquarium's dimensions - 145w x 60d x 75h - and I am getting 172 gallons. Of course, those are the outer dimensions of the tank and more water will be displaced by rock and sand. I would guess... 160 gallons? Plus another 20 in the sump. (No idea on that one, I will have to wait to measure it when it gets here).

A 5 gallon bucket is just a drop of water compared to a 180 gallon tank. And a level 4ppm of ammonia in 180 gallons is a metric butt load of ammonia (sorry, math is not my strong suit, but something like 144 parts ammonia?).
But I have to wonder, how much ammonia can each fish actually produce in a day? If I start with 6 - the most that I can fit in the quarantine tank to get them ready - and there is 180 gallons of water in the new tank and sump.... Will the fish be able to produce 4ppm of ammonia in a day? How much per fish?


I remember finding a Dr. Tim thread on here before (!!!) and he said that a different kind of bacteria eats the higher concentrations of ammonia. (My memory is notoriously bad. I could be wrong.) If I can get my ppm up over 10+, will I still be growing the right kind of BB?

Well, it should be fun to find out. I will aim for 20 ppm of ammonia.
 

mattgirl

Member
I am sure Dr. Tim knows a lot more than I do but it just stands to reason to me than if we very gradually get the ammonia up to 10 or even 20ppm we would also very gradually grow enough bacteria to process it.
I really don't know how much ammonia a fish can produce a day but I have to think the amount of bacteria you are going to be growing in this bucket will handle the bio-load of 6 little fish even after you put them in your big tank. What you are growing in the bucket should give you a good start on the big tank's cycle.

Thank you. I am proud to be an ex-smoker.
 
  • Thread Starter

BigBeardDaHuZi

Member
mattgirl said:
I am sure Dr. Tim knows a lot more than I do but it just stands to reason to me than if we very gradually get the ammonia up to 10 or even 20ppm we would also very gradually grow enough bacteria to process it.
I really don't know how much ammonia a fish can produce a day but I have to think the amount of bacteria you are going to be growing in this bucket will handle the bio-load of 6 little fish even after you put them in your big tank. What you are growing in the bucket should give you a good start on the big tank's cycle.

Thank you. I am proud to be an ex-smoker.
I gave up smokes the night my first daughter was born. It helped that I was giving them up for her. I swore I would never smoke a cigarette again. And I haven't.

Now, I am trying to give up the drinking. Which sucks. I LOVE scotch. But... when your body starts getting older, it really takes it toll. And I need to be around for my daughters when they get older. So bye bye to booze. Mostly.
Getting back into the hobby is helping. It is something to focus on. Something to save money for (no to the single malt, yes to a new HOB). That kind of thing. So far I am winning

Day 15 - Free and Clear

Ammonia 0
Nitrites 0
Nitrates 150

I dosed to 2 ppm Ammonia today. Partly on accident. I meant to put in 1ml, but I dropped 1.5
Well, it should be ok. We'll see. I will test the nitrites tonight before bed and make sure they are not over 10

pH still 6.8
GH 4
KH 6

I ordered some limestone to play with and put in the big tank eventually. I might put some of that in the bucket to get the numbers up a bit.

I have Amazon Frogbit floating in my planted tank. That stuff grows like dandelions and I have to thin it out every week. I might start putting that in the bucket to eat the nitrates.
 

mattgirl

Member
Those numbers for ammonia and nitrites look really good. I really don't expect you will see much in the way of nitrites again. If you do it should be just a low spike.

Congratulations on being able to give up the smokes. Yes, you had a very good reason to do so. Thankfully I have never acquired a taste for alcohol so that is one vice I've not had to struggle to give up on. Wishing you bunches of good luck at giving it up without too much trouble.
 
  • Thread Starter

BigBeardDaHuZi

Member
It looks like I skipped Day 14, so this is actually

Day 15
Ammonia 0
Nitrites 0
Nitrates 100

Going to put in 2 ml of ammonia today - 3 ppm in the bucket

Day 16

Ammonia 0
Nitrites 0
Nitrates 100+

I checked them in the morning before I went to work and re-dosed to 3ppm ammonia.
Two choices moving forward:

If the ammonia is back to 0 by night fall, dose again
Or
Increase the dosage tomorrow morning.

Thoughts?

Sometime during this experiment, I would like to start testing how many nitrates floating plants can actually absorb in a day too. I have frogbit in my planted tank that I have to cull every week. I'd like to try that one out.
It would be nice, if they could take in enough nitrates, to leave a mass of frogbit on top and keep dosing ammonia - without hauling the bucket to the bathroom every day
 

Rockymountainstream

Member
This has been very interesting so far. I have only have heard of using shrimp for cycling. While It does work, there are a lot of drawbacks. Adding pure ammonia seems to be more effective and easier to control. A stall out happened that you were able to correct. Now you are 100%cycled, so congrats on your success. I am not the expert here however I think I would increase the amount of ammonia to grow or straighten the BB before putting it in your big tank. As far as the plants go, you might as well try it. I have never heard of someone putting a number to a plant absorbing nitrates before. If you're enjoying your experiment and want to be really finely tuned with your tank. Then I say, go for it.
 

StarGirl

Member
Ok so my question is.....Once it is cycled could you use it for a sponge filter seeding bucket? How would you keep it cycled, add ammonia everyday or some small fish or snails? Wondering because I don't really like sponge filters in my display tank.
 

mattgirl

Member
I would just increase the dosage tomorrow or maybe even tonight. If you just add the same amount of ammonia you are just feeding the bacteria you have. By increasing the amount you are forcing the bucket to grow more bacteria. Since you are seeing 0 ammonia and nitrites you could add the higher amount tonight. I would increase the amount each time both reach a steady zero.

Have you considered just dipping part of the water out and carrying it to the bathroom instead of taking the whole thing in there? The more ammonia you add the faster the nitrates are going to accumulate so it may reach the point of removing some daily.

The good thing about the fact that you are now using liquid ammonia instead of shrimp....you can just dose it back up instead of waiting for the shrimp to make more ammonia so even if you had to remove and replace some water daily it won't be a problem. I have to think you could allow the nitrates to get pretty high before having to lower them.

I don't know how much nitrate floating plants actually suck up but it would be an interesting experiment. I actually can't imagine you being able to grow enough frogbit in the bucket to make a dent in the nitrates being produced but I don't know that for sure. What kind of nitrate numbers are you getting in your planted tank?
 
  • Thread Starter

BigBeardDaHuZi

Member
I th
StarGirl said:
Ok so my question is.....Once it is cycled could you use it for a sponge filter seeding bucket? How would you keep it cycled, add ammonia everyday or some small fish or snails? Wondering because I don't really like sponge filters in my display tank.
I think it would be easy to keep in perpetuity, just add some ammonia a couple times a week. If the frog bit works, you wouldn't even have to change the water. Although, I have read recently that they will take in ammonia first. Not sure how that would affect things.

mattgirl said:
I would just increase the dosage tomorrow or maybe even tonight. If you just add the same amount of ammonia you are just feeding the bacteria you have. By increasing the amount you are forcing the bucket to grow more bacteria. Since you are seeing 0 ammonia and nitrites you could add the higher amount tonight. I would increase the amount each time both reach a steady zero.

Have you considered just dipping part of the water out and carrying it to the bathroom instead of taking the whole thing in there? The more ammonia you add the faster the nitrates are going to accumulate so it may reach the point of removing some daily.

The good thing about the fact that you are now using liquid ammonia instead of shrimp....you can just dose it back up instead of waiting for the shrimp to make more ammonia so even if you had to remove and replace some water daily it won't be a problem. I have to think you could allow the nitrates to get pretty high before having to lower them.

I don't know how much nitrate floating plants actually suck up but it would be an interesting experiment. I actually can't imagine you being able to grow enough frogbit in the bucket to make a dent in the nitrates being produced but I don't know that for sure. What kind of nitrate numbers are you getting in your planted tank?
That tank runs zeroes across the board. I still do water changes every week, but mostly as a convenient way to get rid of detritus. I haven't seen a nitrate in there for a couple months.

That tank has been an experiment too. I am doing a bunch of No-Nos, but so far I am winning.
The tank is pretty heavily stocked. And it is sitting in a big, sunny, southern window. I get a trace of algae on the glass sometimes, but mostly, my plants eat up every ounce of nutrients. My mystery snails and otos keep the glass pretty clean, but once in a while I give it a wipe down.

I fertilize with Excell to add a little carbon, and flourish to add other nutrients without adding any nitrogen.
It is a bit of a jungle, but I kindof prefer it that way. The frog bit spreads so much and trails its roots so deep, sometimes it blocks the view and I have to cull it

Here is an older photo. You can just make out Cereal, the betta. I wish I could post video. In the day, when the sun is falling on the water is really gorgeous.
 

mattgirl

Member
Oh my goodness, what a beautiful tank You may already know this and for some reason still can't do it but to post a video you need to upload it to youtube first and them post a link to it here.
 
  • Thread Starter

BigBeardDaHuZi

Member
mattgirl said:
Oh my goodness, what a beautiful tank You may already know this and for some reason still can't do it but to post a video you need to upload it to youtube first and them post a link to it here.
Yeah, I suspected that. I am a bit of a luddite when it comes to that kind of thing.

I spend so much of my day on the computer for work anyways, but I cordially dislike learning new ways to use it. It's probably not even that bad, but still...

Well. One of these days
 

mattgirl

Member
BigBeardDaHuZi said:
Yeah, I suspected that. I am a bit of a luddite when it comes to that kind of thing.

I spend so much of my day on the computer for work anyways, but I cordially dislike learning new ways to use it. It's probably not even that bad, but still...

Well. One of these days
I totally understand this because I am the same way. I was forced into what folks call a smart phone. I was perfectly content with my little flip phone. It did exactly what I wanted a phone for. I use this "smart phone" the same way I did my simple flip phone. I make phone calls and occasionally answer a text message

I use my computer for this forum, ordering most of what I buy, pay a few bills and email. I am sure this thing will do a lot more but I am not interested enough to try to figure it out.
 
  • Thread Starter

BigBeardDaHuZi

Member
Day 17 - A bit of Frogbit

Ammonia 0
Nitrites 0
Nitrates 250

Sunday is a very busy day for me. Dosing takes a minute so I started option 2.

I snatched a small cluster of frog it out of the other tank. How long will it take them to knock the nitrates out? We'll see.

If I don't see any obvious changes, I will probably go back to dosing, but I am very curious about this one.
 

mattgirl

Member
BigBeardDaHuZi said:
Day 17 - A bit of Frogbit

Ammonia 0
Nitrites 0
Nitrates 250

Sunday is a very busy day for me. Dosing takes a minute so I started option 2.

I snatched a small cluster of frog it out of the other tank. How long will it take them to knock the nitrates out? We'll see.

If I don't see any obvious changes, I will probably go back to dosing, but I am very curious about this one.
OK, you lost me. Option 2?
 
  • Thread Starter

BigBeardDaHuZi

Member
mattgirl said:
OK, you lost me. Option 2?
Sorry, increase the ammonia dose or try out the plants
 

mattgirl

Member
BigBeardDaHuZi said:
Sorry, increase the ammonia dose or try out the plants
Gotcha. Maybe both 1 and 2. Increase ammonia gradually to grow more bacteria and add plants to try to lower the nitrates.
 
  • Thread Starter

BigBeardDaHuZi

Member
Day 18 - The Magic of Froggy

I didn't add ammonia yesterday because I wanted to see how much nitrate could be soaked up by a handful of frogbit.
Yesterday, my nitrates were sitting at around 250.
Today they are around 100
I am going to leave the water alone today and see how it looks tomorrow. After that i want to start pushing up the ammonia numbers. The bucket can handle 3, I will try for 3.5. I am also curious if high doses of ammonia will burn the frogbit.

This has been an interesting bucket.
 

mattgirl

Member
That is an amazing reduction in nitrates from just a handful of frogbit. I've not tested my nitrate levels in my tanks with water lettuce. Guess I should check them out and see if the water lettuce works as well as frogbit. I still have a couple of frogbit plants. Hopefully they will take off and start growing more. They were doing really well for a while but for some unknown reason they started dying off. Same with my water lettuce but thankfully the die off hasn't been as drastic as the frogbit.

This bucket experiment has been really interesting for me too. Thank you for sharing it with us.
 
  • Thread Starter

BigBeardDaHuZi

Member
mattgirl said:
That is an amazing reduction in nitrates from just a handful of frogbit. I've not tested my nitrate levels in my tanks with water lettuce. Guess I should check them out and see if the water lettuce works as well as frogbit. I still have a couple of frogbit plants. Hopefully they will take off and start growing more. They were doing really well for a while but for some unknown reason they started dying off. Same with my water lettuce but thankfully the die off hasn't been as drastic as the frogbit.

This bucket experiment has been really interesting for me too. Thank you for sharing it with us.
I really should do the frogbit experiment again, from scratch, to make sure of the numbers and see if the process is repeatable, but I am pretty happy with what I've seen.

Surely someone, somewhere, has experimented with this before. Which plants soak up the most? Floaters? Hornwort? Cabomba? Water sprite and water lettuce (are they the same?) would be fun to try.
When the stand for my quarantine tank gets here, I will set it up and cycle more media in it. It would be easier to experiment with different plants in a proper tank. The bucket is stuffed to the gills with media
 

Most photos, videos and links are disabled if you are not logged in.

Log in or register to view



Top Bottom