Live Rock Cycle? What change needed?

HardcoreGamer

New member
Sup everyone. Got my 15 gallon tall up and running last Wednesday with LR and sand from FL it came 2 day :( . testing the water daily now and I'm reading at day 3 NH3-5.0 ppm and NO2-0 and now, todays tests are NH3-0.0 NO2-3.3 PLUS(card doesnt show that dark) I havent changed the water at all only top offs. Nothing but floss as a filter changed it once. Temp 79.2 salt level 1.024-25. Had alot of die off with sponges, but NH3 levels are totally gone. Anyone have any advise of when to change water and maybe this tank might be having a short cycle? Cause this rate the NO2 will be gone in a week or so. maybe? i dont know anyone... ty

The tank water smells kinda like septic tank run off. :( Will this fade off or do I need to change the water?
 

vyerous

New member
Maybe I am reading this wrong, sorry I didn't get much sleep last night, but did you have the LR and sand in the tank since last Wednesday or did you just put water in it, and today you are putting in the LR and sand?

The tank is going to smell bad, that is because the die off is decomposing and creating the nasty stuff that will turn into beneficial bacteria. If you have a protein skimmer definitely get that going on your tank because it will take time to break in and it will help clean the water. I also recommend putting the media in the filter just to help make a home for the bacteria to colonize and for extra filtration (carbon is a big one, especially in a small area). People like to take them off but I personally like having a HOB filter, you can use it on a QT further down the road and its just added filtration on top of your LR.

Its going to smell, yes you can get rid of it by doing big water changes but I think you should just tough it out and let the process take place. If it is horridly rancid and you can smell it by being in the room, sure, do like a 5 gallon water change, but ideally you want the original water it is cycling with the set in there for (IMO) a month to get the most out of the cycling.

Also if you're not running a protein skimmer be prepared to do water changes every few days once you get a good bioload going. After a while you can take the ceramic and sponge out of the HOB filter and just use it to run carbon. Good luck.
 

HardcoreGamer

New member
Thanks, I Put the live uncrured rock and sand in the tank about a week ago. It smelled to high heaven. The ammonia was through the roof on day 1. Due to die off. The tests are now 0 on ammonia but through the roof on nitrite. I dont have a test yet for nitrate. So I should just let the tank sit and keep just topping off for the next few weeks or until nitrite hit Zero then do how much of a water change? Its a 15 gallon with 15 lbs of rock and 5 lbs of crushed coral.
 

vyerous

New member
Wait, did you put any live rock in there or just dry rock? If you have a local fish store, hell I hate to say it but if you have to as a last resort petco, I'd pick up a nice piece of purple live rock. The purple is coraline algae with will eventually help spread and make your rocks live. Even if you ordered "live rock" I doubt they were shipped in water which would mean certain death. While I have never ordered live rock online, I don't know from personal experience.

I'm not sure why your nitrites would be so high but your ammonia is at zero, I haven't had that issue so I don't know the answer for that, someone else will have to chime in. My guess is there might be something directly contributing to your nitrites and because you don't have the beneficial bacteria established there is nothing to convert it to nitrates and nothing to converter the nitrates into nitrogen. Try doing a 5 gallon water change (make sure you match salinity and temperature even if you don't have livestock its a good practice), check your levels. It should bring your nitrites down some but it won't get rid of it. I need more info on the rock you got because it sounds to me there isn't anything in your tank that is really beneficial to you yet, you really need a fresh living piece of live rock, the more the better.
 

HardcoreGamer

New member
Hello again, sorry it was Live Rock outta the ocean floor from Florida, It had sponges and chiltons and fan worms and worms all over it when it arrived. Had a Pistol Shirmp but it moved on. lol Sorry I gave few details the first time around.. Maybe that info can help with what I need to do?
 

vyerous

New member
Ok so we know it HAD life on it, you need die off to start the nitrogen cycle, but you don't want total die off. When you put the rocks in the tank did there appear to be anything alive after the trip? Did any of the fan worms open back up? How did you receive it? As in did it just arrive with damp towels in a Styrofoam box or what?

It sounds to me you had so much die off that it pretty much overwhelmed the ecosystem and it cannot or it has not caught up yet. I think you should put your protein skimmer on (if you don't have one, buy one, its worth having), put all the media in your HOB filter, do a 5 gallon water change today and see where you stand, definitely get some living live rock from a local fish store. Adding this live rock will have the beneficial bacteria on it (live rock is actually a biological filter) so it will help not only kick off the cycle properly but help get your tank under control before it gets even more out of hand.

A nitrate test kit will be essential but not right now, your nitrites are high it doesn't really matter what your nitrates are doing since the cycle is = dead stuff -> ammonia -> nitrite -> nitrate -> nitrogen in this order, which is the cycle. I don't mean to harp on you or anything but make sure you DO NOT add anything until the cycle is complete and is stable. It says 2 yrs of reef keeping in your profile but this water needs to be pristine... you wouldn't want to live in a house with a carbon monoxide leak would you? I am an advocate of being nice to the fish =D
 

HAMsmith

New member
Also in my experience even after nitrite/nitrates and ammonia come down you still go through some nuisance algae outbreaks.

+1 to vyerous on water changes, skimmer, media, etc.

I also usually buy a piece or two of live rock and even some live sand from my LFS to seed the live rock/sand.

I've cycled three tanks and each time I rushed it. In hindsight I look back and see where my cycle really finished...a month or two after I started adding critters.

Patience and observation are your friends!
 

HardcoreGamer

New member
I agree on the be nice to fish, I already have my 2 clowns in a 10 gallon fish only tank without anything but a oven cured flower pot, they are ok in there for now. Been in there for about 3 weeks aready. I saw them and couldnt pass them up. Yea its been about 2 years since I started any tank up. The rock came in and is beautiful. I dont have a skimmer, on the live rock, I will be adding a few pounds from an established tank when I can, kinda hoilday broke if you know what I mean. :D I dont think the rock I can get local is worth what they ask, I will find someone that has a tank local to see if they want to part later on just to get some pods in the tank, I might be able to buy some from somewhere. There is alot of fan worms that are opened and 2 of the chiltons that I have seen are doing well. Purple algae all over the rocks. This is alot better looking than anything local to me. Should I change 5 gallons of the water or should I wait it out to see if it will level off itself. I thought on my last tank that I left it alone for about 2-3 weeks and it was totally cycled. ? I dont remember and I was just thinking it best to ask than guess.
 

GoBigOrGoHome

New member
I have never heard of live rock being shipped in water, as shipping costs would be outrageous. It's standard practice to have live rock shipped to you in a styrofoam cooler in a cardboard box, the rock being packed in wet newspaper. That rock, by the time it reaches your tank, whether it was airshipped of fedex 2-day ground, has been out of water for upwards of a week. That certainly doesn't mean certain death. You could leave live rock out of water for several weeks, as far as I'm concerned, and you'd have a super nasty cycle, but 99% of the micro-organisms, and a small number of multicellular organisms will come back in a relatively short period of time(anywhere from 3 months to a year). Your live rock is fine, and it is perfectly normal to have NH3 depleted before NO2 is depleted, as there are 2 different kinds of bacteria for this process, one that feeds on NH3 and one that feeds on NO2. You are at a point right now where your NH3 bacteria are established, and the NO2 bacteria population will soon start to grow. You could do a water change here, but its not really necessary. The worst part has passed. What you should do, IMO, is use your filter for carbon rather than filter floss at the moment. In the future, if you have rock shipped to you again, I would mix a 5 gallon bucket of saltwater and scrub the rocks and rinse them in that bucket before putting them in the cycle tank. Sponges are what cause a major portion of the cycle, and they are a lost cause after the shipping process. They might come back over time, as a few cells may survive, but sponges do not tolerate air exposure very well at all, so it's almost certain death for the sponges. Get rid of them before you cure the rock, and your cycle time will be reduced in the future. Good luck with your project! Post some pictures sometime! :)
 

IslandCrow

Reef Monkey
Premium Member
With uncured live rock, I'd wait a minimum of 1 month regardless of test results before I put anything in the tank. Then, if the test results are looking stable for at least 2 weeks straight, I'd start with a cleanup crew. The clowns should be just fine where they are for as long as you have to wait. I'm assuming that rock is aquacultured from a dealer who has a license to do that. If not, you don't want to answer that question, since collecting wild (for lack of a better term) rock from Florida waters is illegal. As you've noted, there is going to be a lot of die-off, so it's going to take some time.

You'll get various opinions on the water changes. Personally, I think water changes during a cycle are a good thing. The bacteria have more than enough to keep them happy, so changing out a few gallons isn't going to starve them. Also, if you haven't started already, start your protein skimming. It will help get some of those dissolved organics out of the water.

Last thing, be sure to check the tank at night for any undesireable hitchhikers. Florida waters are notorious for mantis shrimp. From what I've heard, I'd say there's a 50/50 chance you've got one hiding in one of your rocks.
 

HardcoreGamer

New member
GoBig sounds like you've been here. This is what I need to hear. My rocks did come 2 day and where wet with newspaper and in styrofoam and had a heat pack. :) I was in a hurry to get the rock in the tank. Was hoping to get a free critter or two like an urchin or crab, nothing so far :(
 

HardcoreGamer

New member
Ok, Sounds great! I will do a 5 gallon change to see where that puts me and might help anything left alive in the rock survive and help with lowering the levels of nitrites. Someone asked about pictures I think I have a few I took and my camera lens jammed up and gave me a lens error and now just makes a grinding noise! :( I will try to get a pic.
 

HardcoreGamer

New member
heres a pic tell me what you think, this was of course day 1:

ws60j9.jpg
 

GoBigOrGoHome

New member
That rock is gorgeous. Sad to think that a lot of it will die off. If I ever get really nice rock, I usually separate it from the rest and treat it very nicely, using ammo carb, refreshing every day or two, and doing large water changes on a daily basis, sometimes even placing an established biofilter on there, cured live rock or an established canister filter. A good portion of that rock falls into that category, IMO. The thing on water changes now, though, is if whats in there has already been through a week of 5 ppm NH3, whatever's not dead isn't going to be seriously harmed by 3-4 ppm of NO2. If you haven't been doing water changes from day one to prevent major die-off when most of it is happening due to NH3 exposure, there's not much of a point to starting once the cycle is half done. You should do a water change before you add additional livestock, but I don't see a big reason for it right now. Sounds like the last of the major NO2 addition to the water has already occurred, and now you're just adding to the bacteria population to get it down to zero. Water changes won't starve the bacteria, like IslandCrow said, but a disruption in the water consistency (if your salinity, temp, pH, or alk are off) can cause small die-offs in the bacteria population. Don't wait too long after the NO2 disappears to add a small cleanup crew. 2 weeks is an okay recommendation, but i'd add a couple little critters 5-7 days after you start to see stability, or the bacteria will begin to starve. The rock will continue to produce minimal amounts of NH3 and in turn NO2, but not enough to sustain the large bacteria population that you will have established by this time next week. Just my .02.
Nice looking stuff, and its pretty well arranged within the tank. Keep us posted on progress.
 
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