Monday, May 9, 2016

Fishless Cycling Process

As any newbie 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 had been fully cycled finally after 32 days. 

Since I did not want to see the fish "suffering" from high level of toxic substances like Ammonia or 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 was not necessary to add in additional Ammonia daily as stated on some "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 might affect the nature process a bit by faster developing beneficial bacteria to convert Nitrite to Nitrate, whereas, beneficial bacteria to convert Ammonia to Nitrite was developing slower. Hence, whatever Nitrite was produced, it would be 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 Ammonia that leached out from ADA Aquasoil constantly a lot that makes the bacteria overloaded and could not convert it 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 brought the whole cycle being complete. 

During the cycling time, many anxious might occurred to the new hobbyist. Most importantly is to remain calm and being patient. The tank would naturally goes 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 the same as text book said. That is OK. Every tank is different and the speed of beneficial bacteria developing 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 stable before introducing fauna stage. And do remember not to introduced any fauna in the tank until you really sure that Ammonia and Nitrite Level is 0ppm. At the end of 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:
"Being patient. It will be paid-off."
"Being curious and plan well ahead".

Thanks for being patient :)

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