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Starting over what do I use to cycle?

886 Views 12 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  weimers75
Alright let me start from the beginning. My husband has tried over the past 3 or so years to keep a SW tank. I will say things NEVER went well because we rushed EVERYTHING. We would set up a tank and within 2 days stock it with fish. Yes we know HUGE mistake. It has been about a year since our last tank because we gave up. We should not have giving up because honestly our failure was out fauls to begin with. Lets start over. The other day we were given a new in box 29g Bio cube that the in-laws we going to set up and never did. We decided that we wanted to try again at SW. We went and bought 20 pounds of live rock and 20 pounds of live sand yesterday along with some salt to start it up. We are using RO/DI water and as of now have the tank set up. For lighting we have 1 36 watt 10,000k and 1 36 watt Actinic bulb. The temp is 77.4 and the salt is 1.025. We would like to put in a few corals some day when the tank is ready which we know is not now. My question is I have seen people post they used a piece of shrimp to help start the cycle. If it would help we will do the same as well except we dont know what kind of shrimp or where to get it from which is why we are asking. Thanks!
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welcome to the forum! I always start with a raw (uncooked) shrimp. If it looks pink it's cooked.
I have never done it with shrimp but with my newest tank I used a pure ammonia method. Here

It worked really well, the starter bacteria I used was "Microbe-lift Nite Out II".

I found that it was better to use the API Ammonia test kit that I had at first to see how much PPM of ammonia that I was putting in. You dont want to put to much ammonia in or else it could stunt the cycle.

I got the ammonia from ACE hardware Here they sell them individually for a few $ in the store.
Yea I think we are going to use the shrimp method. How big of a shrimp do I get? Should I peel it or just throw it in? Last question how long do I leave it in for? Thanks.
you could just toss in some fish food as well frozen or not.
Just use a pinch of fish food. In a small tank, you only need a small amount - a whole shrimp is way too much.

As you found out, nothing good happens fast in this hobby. Your future fish and livestock depend on you to be patient and do things right:)
Alright if I do the fish food method do I just throw in a pinch on a daily basis or is it a one time only thing?
you dont want to keep adding it daily, as every time you do you start a new nitrogen cycle. I'd say with fish food add a pinch or two a day for the first two or three days. that should spike your ammonia. from there your sand and rock should start breaking it down into nitrites and nitrates. i found this page (this IS a link) to be one of the more useful I had seen in describing the cycling process in a tank.

Myself? i found the die off (the dying organisms, the majority of which are on the outside of the live rock) k to be enough to start the cycle in my 10g, then again this differs from person to person based on the rock you use, how you transport it, and how long its out of the environment it's used to.

the key is to add something to decompose and rot. from there the bacteria you've added should do the rest :)
Welcome to MR. You did it right by posting here and asking for advice, props. A small piece of uncooked shrimp or a pinch of fish food will be enough to start the cycle. Be patient and expect this to take a few weeks to complete.
Have you purchased any test kits yet. You will want to be testing for ammonia at a minimum every couple days. Once you seem the ammonia spike, give a couple days and start testing for Nitrite and Nitrate. Once the tank has fully cycled, the ammonia and Nitrite will be readying zero. Start doing your testing to get a handle on the husbandry and maintenance.
During this time you do NOT want to be doing any water changes! Remember, with a small tank like yours. Adding new LR or too much food or too much livestock at any given time, even after the cycle is complete could potentially shock the system and start a mini cycle.
Sounds great! Yes I bought an API saltwater master test kit and will start testing tomorrow. I also saw that API has a Reef master test kit. Should I buy that as well? My final question is one method better than the other rather it fish food or a shrimp?
If you want to save yourself a lot of hassle of testing and putting fishfood/dead shrimp in your tank, you could just wait about a month. Then after you see the diatom bloom recede you should be good to go. Otherwise you may think you had your spike and jump the gun, which happens quite often in this hobby.
If you want to save yourself a lot of hassle of testing and putting fishfood/dead shrimp in your tank, you could just wait about a month. Then after you see the diatom bloom recede you should be good to go. Otherwise you may think you had your spike and jump the gun, which happens quite often in this hobby.
I agree for the most part. The live rock you put in will have some die off and that will be enough. Typically most cycles take about 4 weeks some longer some less. You will see brown "dust" covering rocks and sand, that is the diatoms dying off because the nutrients are depleted ie end of cycle. This is when you need the test kit. Make sure your parameters are in the green. If nitrates are high do a water change give it a week and test again. Now that the system is cycled you can start adding animals. Do it slow as your system is new and to much to fast will have a bad effect and could cause another cycle. Start a list of what you want now and know size and temperment of your fish that way you have an idea who to add first and last. Remember with that small of a tank the 1 inch to 3g rule is a good to go by rule almost 1 inch to 5 gallons would be better. Your tank is small and filtration on stock biocubes is adaquate at best look into a nano skimmer and chemical filtration like purigen. IMO both things will help you be sucessful in keeping of salt water animals in a small tank. Once the tank is cycled start doing regular water changes of 10% weekly to help remove nitrates and get on a schedule this will also help you be sucessful. Hope this helps welcome to MR and welcome back to the hobby. Hope you are sucessful this time and are able to stick with it!
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At this point, you won't need to test every few days - you'll be wasting your test kit. It hasn't cycled, so no need to test. I would test after a week. You'll see ammonia. That means it has started...test again in a week, and so on. When ammonia and nitrites are zero, do a water change. Then when nitrates are zero as well it is safe to add ONE fish. At this point, you should be testing daily or every-other-day, things can change fast in a small system.

Choose all the fish you want now, post it one here, and we can tell you what will work, won't work, and when to add them. A small tank (like yours) needs to be stocked very carefully - it does not mean that any small fish bc its small can go in there. Also, bc of the small area, you want to minimize aggression, so fish order will be important. Check out liveaquaria.com. They have a nano section - that's a good place to start to check out fish.
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