Aquarium Setup • Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby Auballagh » Wed Apr 21, 2021 10:09 pm

....Inoculation? :D
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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby Rhinox » Thu Apr 22, 2021 4:36 pm

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So about this dirt... can't just be any old dirt I surmise? Would want some kind of "live" dirt from soil where plants are growing, probably close to plant roots? Do I like, go dig up some dirt from my lawn, or landscaping, or some indoor plant potting soil, or what? Outside dirt, we have a lawn service and weed control so like probably not the best choice...

But... if the problem is after 5 weeks I just don't happen to have a beneficial bacteria seed make it naturally into my sump, how do I explain the biofilmy stuff growing on my wires and tubing? Why am I not seeing that same biofilm stuff growing on my filter media too? Doesn't the presence of that biofilm mean I'm already seeded? I'm also allegedly adding seed bacteria in the fish food I've been tossing in. If it's just not reproducing or multiplying fast enough, what does additional seed in the form of dirt or inoculate accomplish?

I really thought it was going to happen this week, but still no nitrites today. I also did a quick KH test and if anything I got an extra drop or 2 probably due to evaporation and top off, so while I didn't check pH (other vials were upstairs) I doubt it has crashed somehow. I did a chlorine check during a 4 liter top off. Tank prior, nothing detected. 2L bottle, after filling, capping, and carrying downstairs was only reading trace levels. After dumping all 4 liters into the tank, no detectable chlorine. So, I don't think I've been carelessly nuking my budding bacteria colony every time I top off. Water temp has been consistently mid-80's forever. I think I originally had it set at like 86F and turned it down to 84F because everytime I looked at the tank the heater was on. Must be getting close to the max rise out of that 100w aqueon.

Does flow velocity play a role? <snipping a lot of rambling> I calculated flow velocity through my sump filter media to be 0.75 inches per second, compared to 1.0 inches per second through an aquaclear 110 (what I cycled before from scratch like this). Feels like those numbers are close enough together that I wouldn't expect drastically different results.

Could my O2 be low? is there a test for that? I have high turnover but not really using it to agitate the surface. There is a big swirling vortex on the return side, I can see it when I throw food in. But compared to a HOB where the flow was being dumped back onto the surface creating a surface wave, I'm sucking water from close to the bottom and returning it all close to the bottom so maybe I'm not getting as good oxygenation as I think? Should I try rigging up some kind of spray bar or just try to rearrange the tubing so it's breaking up the surface? DJR said airstones aren't efficient, but I have that air pump sitting in a box, is there something I can be using it for?

I think if I'm being honest, I am starting to get frustrated and a bit demotivated by the lack of cycling progress. I feel like if I was cycled or near cycled by now I'd feel more urgency to get the rest of the stuff done I need to in order to get up and running, but without a cycled filter I'm taking my time more than I wanted to. Yesterday was the end of 5 full weeks waiting for nitrites. Today starts week six, but it feels more like:
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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby SenorStrum » Thu Apr 22, 2021 5:51 pm

Yeah, go ahead and throw the air stone in. I actually disagree on that particular point. Bubbles have a tremendous amount of turbulent water around them as they rise, creating gas exchange. However, if they just make turbulent water at the top, the effect is the exact same, and the argument is immaterial. There is no way it could hurt anything to bubble it through the media. If you don't want to do that, then bubble the water in the return side. Even though I think that air stones are very effective, I don't use them because they are noisy.

Dirt - I mean, yeah. Live dirt. Or compost... Or dirt out of the bottom of a year-round ditch (I'm gonna get yelled at for this one), or a pond or some sand and stones from a stream. This is actually an approach advocated for in Matthew Owens' "An Alternative Aquarium." You are not going to pick up anything crazy that will kill your fish and pollute the sump forever. Probably. Don't collect from a ditch that could have runoff containing pesticides though.

You could get a handful of gravel from a friend's tank. Around here, you can get little anubias plants from (Local big box store) from their tanks, not the emerged grown in the tubes with the gel. Could inoculate with that? I'm a fan of Fritzyme 7. It actually works. Saying that makes me feel like a shill, but I've used it, and it works.

Biofilm - It's super possible that you have biofilm growing that's not converting nitrogen...I guess. The wrong biofilm?

Hang in there though! All the time is a sunk cost. I bet it's going to happen super soon.
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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby SenorStrum » Thu Apr 22, 2021 8:28 pm

Also, as promised. Here is the write up on the simplicity battery backup. I hope it makes sense.
https://www.cichlid-forum.com/phpBB/vie ... 1#p3147291
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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby Auballagh » Thu Apr 22, 2021 10:40 pm

+1 on the aquatic plant recommendation from El' Hefe'. 8)
-
The brown foam stuff they pack those plant roots in, is usually loaded with the beneficial bacteria you need. Inoculation. Just vigorously apply it like you would with established, foam filter media. And yes, if you can run an air stone under your filter media somehow and have it bubble up through it? That effect WILL definitely enhance growth of the beneficial bacteria you need. And yes, Old School/Old Tech air stones can absolutely provide a lot of extremely beneficial service to an aquarium. SenorStrum nailed it for a lot of people when stating his own reason for not using an air stone is because of the noise produced when in operation. :?
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What matters most is how well you walk through the fire...
- Charles Bukowski -
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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby Rhinox » Fri Apr 23, 2021 10:09 am

I live basically right up against Lake Erie so I've got access to shoreline substrate for example or there's a few little streams though my neighborhood I could go dig up some dirt or plants from. I actually considered digging up a couple buckets of sand from our "beach" access to use as my substrate at one point.

I do like the plant idea a lot though. I suppose I would probably just rub all the potting media into my filter and then not really care about the plant itself? It would consume ammonia and wouldn't really live long anyways without light.

I can very easily drop some airstones under the bag of bio balls. I'm not sure I can do anything for the foam. at least not as easily. I don't want to leave a gap underneath. But if I put an airstone just upstream of the foam the flow should push the air into the foam anyways. I can leave a gap between the foam stages and put airstones inbetween. I could theoretically cut some pockets in the bottom of the foam to recess some airstones in there to really get some air directly under the foam. Or I can cut a little slot and just shove some airlines into the foam. I don't think I care too much about the noise. I especially don't right now while cycling, and if somehow the air is louder and more annoying than I remember my overflows being I can probably shut the air off once I'm cycled and be ok at that point. I was sorta thinking I could always have a sponge filter running in my sump that I could move to a different tank for quarantine or isolating in a pinch if needed.
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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby SenorStrum » Fri Apr 23, 2021 10:41 am

I wouldn't worry about cutting the foam and all that, just aerate the water really well before it goes through the media, and you'll accomplish the same thing.

I was able to find little anubias nana petite in rock wool substrate inside a little terra cotta pot. The plant should be removed from the rock wool anyway. Be a little careful with this stuff because after a good squeeze or two it will begin to fall apart, but squeeze it and rub it around on the foam and stuff. Should be easy and GTG. I have a huge soft spot for these plants, and many folks say they can get haps and peacocks to leave plants alone. If you want to keep it, just get some super glue gel and glue it to a rock and leave it in there. Anubias will survive for quite some time even with no light at all - they are very hardy plants.

I also have been wondering about sump sponge filters. I have not yet tried it to see how loud it may or may not be. I'll probably try it this afternoon. I have some sponge filters out of quarantine tanks that now need a long term life support.
I am not convinced, however, that the sponge filter needs air to stay alive.
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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby Rhinox » Sat Apr 24, 2021 11:58 pm

I got some air running. I bought 3 pick style air stones and 12" strip. But only had enough airline tubing to get 2 pucks going. I put them under my bioballs. Yeah the air is loud. Probably won't run it permanently. I also threw in every old sponge from my old aqua clears. Wherever there was an empty space. I know it's said the bb don't go dormant and survive once dried out. Figured can't hurt tho, more surface area and maybe let's me set up a hob on another tank in the future.

I looked at the plants in petsmart and wasn't impressed by the tiny little pvc cuts they had the roots growing in. Not a lot of media to seed my filter with for $5/$6 a plant.
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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby Rhinox » Mon Apr 26, 2021 10:10 am

When I woke up on sunday I went down to check on things and the airstones were making bubbles throught the bioballs:
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I thought maybe I didn't want them under the bioballs after all, I'd just set the airstones up on the same side as the outlet to make sure the water going into the media was all fully aerated and oxygenated as well as could be. I was able to get all 3 airstone pucks going that way. The 12" airstone strip was underwhelming by comparison to the pucks. After pulling the bioballs out again and trying to shove them back in between the 2 blue foam blocks I had the realization that even in the mesh bag it's annoying to get the bioballs in and out. I need to build a little box for them or something if I'm going to keep using them. For now, I actually just took them out. I shoved all my old aquaclear sponges in the gap. There's 5 AC110 sponges standing on end which fill the width just about right. On top of those I stacked 6 AC70 sponges. They don't fill the space as well so water can flow around them some but I figure this might be better than having the bioballs there anyways and if I want or need to set up one of the HOB's sometime down the road maybe I'll already have some cycled filter foam. That is, you know, if BIOLOGY still works in my house and my filter ever cycles. It does mess with my OCD a bit though. I want to impulse buy another poret block and cut it to fit there just right instead.
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As for the bioballs idk what I'm going to do with them. Maybe build a little box for them and try to get them back in, maybe sell them, maybe go back to plan A and throw them in a bucket with some ammonia and an air pump and try to get some bacteria growing on them that way. Maybe try the dirt thing in the bucket with them. Idk. They didn't have any sort of detectable biofilm growing on them when I took them out that I could see or feel.

Ammonia still high. Nitrite still non-existent. Whatever biofilm that was growing on my heater and electrical wires hasn't grown back wherever I scraped it off last weekend. There's still some inside the vinyl tubing. The airstones in the outlet side are still making a lot of foamy bubbles at the surface that still don't seem quite like soap. I've been trying to scrape/skim the bubbles off to remove them and as soon as I do they just fall apart. It it's just from the ammonia then maybe with all the fish food I've added the ammonia has climbed a lot higher than I've realized. Definitely doubting the aquarium science site's claims about high ammonia speeding up cycling rather than slowing it down as conventionally believed.

In other news, at least I got to see some fish at petsmart. I'd never buy from there but I was surprised to find maybe 5 nice looking demasoni for sale amongst some interesting tankmates haha.
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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby Rhinox » Wed Apr 28, 2021 4:31 pm

This caught me totally off-guard today but...

HOLY #%$& IT'S FINALLY HAPPENING!!!!!
(sorry cichlid-forum automatic all caps popup it's a justified use of all caps this time :) )
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Full story, I went down to investigate a couple things.

1) my old bottle of prime, did it still work (it does)
2) what ammonia concentration am I truly at (diluted 10 to 1 tap water to tank water and reads about 1ppm, so 10ppm-ish)
3) does a super dose of prime still block ammonia from being shown in the API test (sort of - a 50-50 mix of tank and super primed tap water only registered about 1.5ppm when it should have registered about 5ppm based on the first result)
4) does the water in the tank still foam up if I dilute it with tap water (yes it does, a cup full of tank water mixed in to about 1L of tap water foams up quite a bit when shook)

Since I still had a high amount of ammonia I figured it was still (lack of) business as usual but out of habit and did the nitrite test. At first it looked like it was going to stay blue as it's always been. So I started cleaning up and got ready to head back upstairs, looked again, and whoa, purple!

It caught me off guard because in the past, by the time I saw purple, the green was back to yellow, and when nitrites appeared for me before they turned the vial dark purple as soon as the drops hit the water. But, yay!

(I hope the 2nd half of the cycle doesn't take as long......)
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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby SenorStrum » Wed Apr 28, 2021 4:43 pm

Here we go.jpg
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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby Rhinox » Wed Apr 28, 2021 8:46 pm

:)

My leading theory (with help from another online community) is that excess proteins in the water from the food breaking down is both causing the sudsing and interfering with gas exchange. I added aeration last weekend and shortly after things started progressing. Correlation may equal causation sometimes. If true I think the proteins should eventually get converted to ammonia by the heterotrophic bacteria and if that happens the sudsing should go away. Until then I probably shouldn't throw any more food in.
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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby SenorStrum » Wed Apr 28, 2021 10:25 pm

Seems plausible to me. I never tried cycling from air, so perhaps the technique requires seeding? Who knows.
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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby Rhinox » Thu May 06, 2021 12:45 pm

Haven't updated in a little bit. Cycle is still progressing. Took a few days after seeing nitrites but ammonia finally dropped to zero. Haven't been keeping good record (shame on me) but wanna say it was friday/saturday when I tested and was still finding ammonia (nitrite got darker purple so I knew it was still progressing) then monday I think when I tested again and ammonia was yellow. I added about 4ppm ammonia then and haven't checked again yet. Meant to do it yesterday. Will do today and likely need to add more ammonia (and get on a better regular schedule every day or every other day). I checked my KH when ammonia dropped to zero and it has already started reducing. I've lost about a drop, drop and a half (instead of changing color between 5-6 drops, it changed a little bit at 4 drops and finished at 5 drops). So, planning to add some baking soda next time I add some top off water just to make sure the cycling process doesn't drop my pH and stall out. Assuming normal progression, I should see nitrites getting back down to zero in a couple weeks. If whatever caused the first half to take so long also affects the 2nd half, who knows?

Since cycling is progressing I'm feeling more urgency to get the rest of my projects done. Last weekend I finally had no visitors or other obligations so I had the time I needed to get my basement lights wired into switches so that's another project off the to-do list.

(sidenote: never make assumptions about how things appear to be wired... I got a bit of a surprise, a 12/3 romex cable was carrying power from the box to the first light in the chain - the black supplied hot to the lights, the red was spliced to the sump pump line in the light box on a different breaker, which of course I overlooked. Both circuits shared the common neutral back to the box. Well I unhooked light number 2 in the chain first, after tripping the lights breaker only. Diligently, I used a no-touch wire tester and couldn't understand why it kept intermittently beeping a faint detection. Long story short I'm fortunate I didn't create a short between the "live" neutral and ground with me providing the connection in the middle. Don't be dumb like me kids, call an electrician. Or, at least remember that you thought there was a separately labeled "sump" breaker in the panel and figure out how the lights and sump can be on 2 separate breakers when there's only 1 line coming out of the box that goes to both, BEFORE starting to disconnect wires.... anyways, enough of this PSA. no harm no foul... this time...)

Next major project is going to be to frame a wall in the (fish room) *ahem* I mean, "storage" room between the storage side and future basement bathroom side. That wall will have the requisite plumbing (supply and drain) in order to install the utility sink in the (fish ro-) STORAGE room to have a better, temperature controlled water supply to fill the tank with. Currently my only option is to fill with an outside cold garden hose spigot and bring the hose in through the window. Which is exactly what I did when I filled the sump. I can do the same for the 125 but it will be a lot more cold water to bring up to temperature. If the wall/plumbing/utility sink project drags on too long, I may do just that just to get water in the tank, get sand and rocks in, etc. But I can't do water changes that way (without another tank to bring water up to temperature first) and I can't set up my drip system until I get the drain line in (which is part of the plumbing project) so... yeah, need to get that project done.

SenorStrum wrote:Seems plausible to me. I never tried cycling from air, so perhaps the technique requires seeding? Who knows.


If by "cycling from air" you mean not using anything to seed just letting the bacteria naturally form... idk I did things the same way conceptually that I did when I fishless cycled my first 55g in 2009. I wouldn't have expected the differences between then and now to change the results so much. Took 14 days to see nitrite back then. No seeding.
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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby Rhinox » Fri May 07, 2021 3:18 pm

Today I went down and tested and found the ammonia I had added last time had dropped to zero as expected. A little bit more KH was consumed but not a full drop. I went ahead and added a tablespoon of baking soda with my topoff water and that brought the sump up to 10 drops. That should be sufficient for a while I would think. Dosed ammonia back up to like 6-8 ppm. I'm going out of town tomorrow and won't be back until sunday night so hopefully I'll remember to test and see if all the ammonia gets consumed by then. While the concentration is high in terms of ppm, that's about the right amount of ammonia to add to have 1-2ppm in the full system volume once set up.

I also did my first "sort of" water change. Really only changed 4 liters. I used a cup to skim as much of the suds that are still present as could fit into two 2L bottles. The suds don't stay sudsy once the aeration is removed and the resulting liquid is generally clear. so... not sure what exactly the suds are. A water soluble protein maybe? On the return side of the sump I had a film of the oil slick protein that I'm used to seeing build up. I skimmed all that out as well. Skimming all that out doesn't seem to have much changed the quantity of suds forming above the airstones. But seeing as cycling is still progressing and I'll eventually dump 100% of the water in the sump to move it under the stand I'm not really too concerned about the sump looking a bit like a bubble bath currently.
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