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Discussion Starter · #81 ·
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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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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Discussion Starter · #83 ·
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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Discussion Starter · #84 ·
When I woke up on sunday I went down to check on things and the airstones were making bubbles throught the bioballs:


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.


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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Discussion Starter · #85 ·
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 :) )


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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Discussion Starter · #87 ·
:)

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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Discussion Starter · #89 ·
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 said:
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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Discussion Starter · #90 ·
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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The suds interest me. I don't know why I didn't mention it before. My guess is that you had no cycle going and I assumed things - let me explain.

When I had my media cycling in the box in the garage, I absolutely DID have a ton of foam and "sludge" in my box. Anecdotally speaking, it seems that the more ammonia I added, the more foam I got. I also added a bunch of fish food. I had assumed at the time that this was a product of the fluidized media knocking incredibly fast growing "beneficial bacteria" and associated biofloc getting trapped in the air bubbles. In fact, the resulting sludge that formed on the end of the box opposite the air stone looked most like protein skimmer scum. Here's why I bring it up - I assumed at the time that it was from the BB, but it's quite possible it was that and the fish food. It left a film on the box I used. This foam would NOT dissipate with time. In all senses, it acted like protein skimmer foam.

When I say cycling from air, yeah, you got it. I mean just letting whatever archaea exist in the house to fall in the tank and get the cycle going. I used to brew beer, and the idea of just letting whatever get in there instead of inoculating with my intended yeast gives me shivers. This from the guy who suggested compost. LOL. My brain is broken, I admit it.

Oh yeah, wiring story. Once, in a past life, I was tasked with wiring up a dormitory block in South America with basic lights and switches. Super simple stuff. Building was made out of red volcanic brick.
While leaning against the wall working on wiring the light switch, I got shocked. Thinking this was strange, I went back and checked the breaker. It was off, so I went back and got back to work. A few minutes in, shocked again. OK - this is getting weird. I got the multimeter to figure out what in the world was still hot. After testing all the wires, I concluded that nothing was hot. Then I tested the wall. The wall was completely soaking wet. To lay the volcanic brick, it has to be completely soaked in water. Otherwise, the firing process causes the brick to turn to almost pumice, and it would just soak the moisture right out of the grout and the wall will crumble. I poked the lead into the wet brick and discovered it was feeding 78 volts back through the pre installed Romex. I informed the custodian of the property that his building was possessed and immediately ended my American expatriate south-American electrical career.
 

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Discussion Starter · #92 ·
When I had my media cycling in the box in the garage, I absolutely DID have a ton of foam and "sludge" in my box. Anecdotally speaking, it seems that the more ammonia I added, the more foam I got. I also added a bunch of fish food. I had assumed at the time that this was a product of the fluidized media knocking incredibly fast growing "beneficial bacteria" and associated biofloc getting trapped in the air bubbles. In fact, the resulting sludge that formed on the end of the box opposite the air stone looked most like protein skimmer scum. Here's why I bring it up - I assumed at the time that it was from the BB, but it's quite possible it was that and the fish food. It left a film on the box I used. This foam would NOT dissipate with time. In all senses, it acted like protein skimmer foam.
So did you ever get rid of them? Did they go away on their own eventually? Or did you just change water after finishing cycling and they went away? Difference with mine is they do dissipate quickly on their own, if the air is shut off. Now that ammonia is going away I can conclude it's not caused by the ammonia. And if it's protein or something organic I would like to think that some kind of bacteria would eventually grow to eat it. The end opposite the airstones in mine got the surface film that I skimmed off and that film hasn't come back since. There was something that settled on the bottom on the pump side and I just stirred it up and sent it back through to get trapped in the filter or something. A little bit more is accumulating since. Not sure if it's just gunk or bacteria or what.

I poked the lead into the wet brick and discovered it was feeding 78 volts back through the pre installed Romex. I informed the custodian of the property that his building was possessed and immediately ended my American expatriate south-American electrical career.
haha! Did you ever figure out what happened? idk about wet volcanic brick but apparently concrete is a pretty good conductor and unfinished concrete basements, being buried in the ground as they are, make a great connection to "ground" (why unfinished basements need GFI but finished basements don't. Apparently carpet or whatever flooring makes a good enough insulator.) Maybe a short from another circuit traveling through the brick?
 

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I didn't ever care to get rid of it, as I assumed it was the biofloc that I wanted, so I actually would stir it back into the K1. I eventually took the K1 out of there and ran it as primary bio on my reef for about a month. It seemed/seems to have affected nothing. I now have a few liters fluidized, but it's all out of my system otherwise. Then again, remember, I had no fish in this box. Just a foot of K1 and some seriously toxic water I was growing bacteria in. I could water change it out but more food and ammonia and it came back. It actually left a film on the box.

Sludge.jpg


Unfinished basement wall would be a great analog for the wall in question here. I never did figure out what happened. I left shortly after that incident. My guess was aliens. Probably the ancient kind. Perhaps gremlins - there was no bell on the building, so...
 

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Discussion Starter · #94 ·
I didn't ever care to get rid of it, as I assumed it was the biofloc that I wanted, so I actually would stir it back into the K1. I eventually took the K1 out of there and ran it as primary bio on my reef for about a month. It seemed/seems to have affected nothing. I now have a few liters fluidized, but it's all out of my system otherwise. Then again, remember, I had no fish in this box. Just a foot of K1 and some seriously toxic water I was growing bacteria in. I could water change it out but more food and ammonia and it came back. It actually left a film on the box.
hmm. My foam seems to be a little different then. Mine dissipates and doesn't leave a film. I probably didn't add as much stuff in as you, maybe mine is what you get with just a little bit of organics. Ah well, I'll stop worrying about it.

Perhaps gremlins -
Aha! wet brick! makes sense.
 

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Discussion Starter · #95 ·
Guess it's time for my weekly update. I haven't been obsessively counting days since it was confirmed that the cycle was actually progressing, which has been nice. But, today is now 3 full weeks since I first saw nitrites. So, I expect/hope that any day now nitrites should drop back down to zero. I've been dosing 4-6ppm ammonia about every other day. On friday I tested KH again and it was back down to about 6.5 drops, so when I topped off yesterday I added another tbsp of baking soda. Still seeing the suds, and it took a while but another thin protein film formed on the pump side which I skimmed off prior to topping off.

Much of last weekend was spent preparing for a garage sale that will be this weekend. That actually helps me because it cleared a bunch of stuff out of the (fish room) storage room where I need to frame the wall and do the plumbing, even though it's taking up the time I need to get it done. Then the weekend after that is memorial day weekend and well be out of town again. I'm going to have to find some time during week days to get it done I think.

Been trying to plan a visit down to visit my brother in Columbus but we've been holding off until the tank is ready because he's going to give me a couple bristlenose plecos from his tank where they won't stop breeding. Looks like June 5/6 weekend is the earliest that can happen now, so hopefully the filter finishes cycling and I can get everything else done by then to start getting fish in that weekend and/or early the following week. :fish: :fish:

Finally remembered to order some new bulkhead gaskets. I went with lifeguard aquatics gaskets, they're smooth and one side, and the other side has 2 concentric raised rings surrounding the hole. I'm assuming the smooth side goes against the glass and the side with the raised rings goes against the plastic bulkhead. I'm thinking that way because I think I remember reading about how the rubber is supposed to somewhat bond with the glass when installed clean and dry to make a semipermanent seal and the raised rings should make a better contacting seal with the plastic where the bonding doesn't happen. But if anyone can confirm that or tell me why it should be the other way I'd appreciate it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #97 ·
haha I guess so. I don't really have much of an update now though. The sale went well. Mrs. Rhinox said we sold over $400 of junk we weren't using anymore.

I still have a sump full of nitrites. now it's been 4 weeks. So that makes it 10 weeks total since starting to cycle. Been wondering recently, if maybe there are different strains of the beneficial bacteria and the ones in my area or that found their way into my tank are just a slower growing strain? Considering adding some bottle product to introduce some alternate strains. I'm not sure I trust the ones I have now to adjust quickly enough if anything ever happens to disrupt them and cause an ammonia spike.
 

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Discussion Starter · #98 ·
weekly update time... and it's a good update. after 11 weeks (6 for the ammonia half and 5 for the nitrite half) I tested this morning and observed 0 nitrites! So it appears I have finally established a cycle!

Now to stop dragging my feet on the rest of the work and get this tank running
 

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