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  1. #1
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    Cycling a Brackish Tank

    Greetings fellow AC members - new member here! =)

    Thanks for taking the time to read my posting. I've been an aquarist for.....well, not very long. Hehe.

    Here's my deal and hopefully someone, who has much more experience than I, could give me their opinion:

    Currently, I have a 20-gallon tank with a Green Spotted Puffer and a Blue Gourami. In another 10-gallon tank, I have just one Green Spotted Puffer (They were both together originally, but the bigger one kept taking chunks out of the smaller one, I needed to separate them immediately). Puffers are doing great (eating well - brine shrimp, snails, frozen plankton, etc.). Happily buzzing around the tank in their little "blimpish" bodies, checking out decor and occasionally "napping" in a corner. I keep them older one in a medium SG (~1.010) and the smaller puffer and gourami in low-end SG (~1.005). The older puffer is kind of stressed (no stress-lines, but he possesses a dark face....therefore I need to take immediate action to get this puffer in his rightful home and environment). Eventually, the Gourami will have to be in a tank that does not possess the SG the puffer will require as he matures (sad, they get along so great).

    I recently came across a 55-gallon tank (With stand! How rare!). I understand that GSPs require AT LEAST 30-gallons a fish - therefore I am taking the necessary steps to do so. I understand tanks should be filtered at a rate of 10 times an hour (meaning a filter that cycles 550 gph). I wish to add substrate (aragonite) instead of gravel (what a pain).

    In order to get this tank cycled properly - I have but a few questions:

    1 - Bio-Spira / Turbo Start: Bunk? Which would you suggest to use, or not to use, and why? Or any other suggestions pertaining to cycling a tank.
    2 - Safe to put both of the puffers in the same tank again? Given that I provide plenty of hiding spaces, heavily stocked, etc., would it be wise to keep them separate or safe to try?
    3 - Substrate: aragonite. Okay, this is where I'm a newbie - I've been using the gravel and cleaning with a gravel vacuum. How in the world does one clean sand? Do you stir it (I can't imagine that it would be very effective in terms of floating particles)?
    4 - Sufficient water movement: how much is sufficient? I understand the proper aeration of the aquarium is not necessarily "bubbles", but rather the gas exchange at the top (bubbles that pop at the top). How much is sufficient aeration for proper dissolved oxygen in the water? Is there such a thing as "too much"?

    Again, I greatly appreciate your time in reading this post. Newbie here. Hehe.

    Thanks in advance,
    Emily





  2. #2
    resident boozehound Sploke's Avatar
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    Good work in trying to do the right thing for them. You're right the gourami is not a brackish fish, and won't do well with the puffers. That one should be rehomed sooner rather than later.

    In the 55, you might be able to try them together again, like you said, with lots of caves and structure to break up line of sight. That will help curb aggression. I have a single GSP with mollies and BBGs, so dithers may or may not make a difference.

    Bio-Spira is effective for brackish, just dump it into the filter when you get the new tank set up.

    substrate is pretty much your choice. Crushed coral or gravel is easy to vacuum, but it traps a lot of gunk. With sand, you just hover the vacuum over the top of the sand and suck up anything that's settled on top.

    If the tank is properly filtered, gas exchange at the surface is generally not a concern.

    One thing you can do to speed up the cycle is to use the filter on one of the tanks, or at least the media to seed a new filter. Here's what I would do - get teh 55 set up at SG of about 1.010. Put the filter from the higher-SG tank onto that tank, along with whatever filter you're eventually planning on using. Then, over a period of several hours (4-6 hours maybe) drip acclimate the other puffer to the higher SG, then add it to the tank. Keep the old filter running on the tank for at least 2-3 weeks to seed the new filter enough, then you can take it off.
    -Matt

    Bowls are for soup. Get a fishtank.

    LEGALIZE AROWANA



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    Hi Matt -

    I thank you so much for a quick response to my post! =) Most helpful.

    As far as I know - pertaining to Bio-Spira - it's impossible to come by at any of my LFS. So, either I have to order it or do an actual fishless cycle. If I were to do a fishless cycle, is there anything I could do in order to kickstart the bacterial colonization that does NOT use pure ammonia (I can't even get that) or Bio-Spira?

    Thanks!



  4. #4
    Slave To The Fishes! brackeeper75's Avatar
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    Just put a raw shrimp in there. Let it decompose!



  5. #5
    resident boozehound Sploke's Avatar
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    Yep. a raw cocktail shrimp will provide pure ammonia to do a fishless cycle. Also, squeezing out the media from your higher-SG tank will be a huge help as well.
    -Matt

    Bowls are for soup. Get a fishtank.

    LEGALIZE AROWANA



  6. #6
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    A raw shrimp? Really? Just let it..........rot? Do I need to take it out a certain mark?

    Matt - when you state "also, squeezing out the media from your higher SG tank will be a huge help as well" - squeeze it straight into the filter or straight into the tank? I'd assume the filter would make more sense......



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    With this "shrimp" method of cycling a tank, a complete cycle would take about about 6 weeks? And the cycle is complete basically when the ammonia / nitrites are at zero and nitrates are up?

    Then do a 50% water change and slowly stock the tank?

    One last question - since I'm getting a used 55-gallon tank, I kind of wish to re-caulk the corners to ensure no leaks. Silicone - any kind okay or should I be using a specific kind?



  8. #8
    resident boozehound Sploke's Avatar
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    Into the filter might make a small difference, but just into the tank would be fine as well. the bacteria will colonize anyplace in the tank where there is good water flow. Do you have ammonia and nitrite test kits? After you add the shrimp, the ammonia will spike up, and then the nitrate, and they will then both drop to zero. This process can take up to 6 weeks, but with squeezings from an established filter, the process can be substantially shortened. When ammonia and nitrite are zero, do a large water change, because nitrates will be high, then you can start stocking the tank and start a regular water change schedule.
    -Matt

    Bowls are for soup. Get a fishtank.

    LEGALIZE AROWANA



  9. #9
    resident boozehound Sploke's Avatar
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    For resealing tanks, I generally use GE Silicone I for windows and doors. Don't use the tub and tile stuff, it has anti-mildew chems that are bad for your tank. When you reseal a tank, don't just redo spots - scrape out all the old silicone and redo the whole thing. New silicone doesn't adhere very well to old silicone and you're likely to end up with leaks. Better to just do it right the first time.

    This is a handy chart Ace25 posted the other day - if you use bio-spira or established filter media, the timeline can be substantially truncated.

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    -Matt

    Bowls are for soup. Get a fishtank.

    LEGALIZE AROWANA



  10. #10
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    Matt - thanks for the speedy response! =)

    Squeezings from my established filter - I am using the AquaClear types (the one with the little white bags filled with charcoal/sponge, etc.). Should I squeeze each bag into the tank - or would the sponge that collects that bacteria be enough?

    Thanks for the info on the silicone sealant - definitely will scrape off the old stuff and reseal the entire thing. Good move.



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