Jump to content

using established filter media to help cycle...


Recommended Posts

  • Regular Member

I typically take some of my media from the cycled filter (filter floss or ceramic noodles) and put it into the new filter with it touching the new filter floss or other media and within a few days it has a nice strong cycle. I don't remember the last time I cycled a tank from scratch, seeding is the easiest way! :rofl

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Regular Member

Another thing I've done in addition to the postings is run a new HOB filter in an established tank for a few weeks - months, then transport it to the new tank for a near instant cycle. Seeding new tanks and filters is a real god-send when it comes to cycling quick and easy.

Also, taking a scoop of "dirty"gravel from an established tank and dumping into a new tank's substate is another method I've done in the past to help kick-start the nitrifying bacteria colonies.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Regular Member

Also, taking a scoop of "dirty"gravel from an established tank and dumping into a new tank's substate is another method I've done in the past to help kick-start the nitrifying bacteria colonies.

While there certainly be some beneficial bacteria in this "dirty" gravel, there isn't likely going to be that much, since all but the top 1/4 inch will be inhospitable to BBs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Regular Member

Also, taking a scoop of "dirty"gravel from an established tank and dumping into a new tank's substate is another method I've done in the past to help kick-start the nitrifying bacteria colonies.

While there certainly be some beneficial bacteria in this "dirty" gravel, there isn't likely going to be that much, since all but the top 1/4 inch will be inhospitable to BBs.

I've always understood that the greatest population of beneficial bacteria lies within the substate, granted that your tank does have an established, mature substate, and actually contains more bacteria than the filter itself. Here's some excerpts from a credible article:

"The floc or humic compost that collects in the substrate is the host for the biofilms; this is why the substrate in planted tanks should never be disturbed, and many aquarists apply this to non-planted tanks as well.

In very general terms, aerobic nitrification takes place in the top 1-2 inches of the substrate; anaerobic de-nitrification takes place approximately 2-4 inches down, and anaerobic bacteria producing hydrogen sulfide occurs in substrates deeper than 3-4 inches. In all three cases, it will be deeper in coarse substrates (like pea gravel) and more shallow in finer substrates such as sand. These generalities will also vary with the presence of live plant roots and substrate “diggers” such as snails and worms, since these factors result in more oxygen being made available in the substrate, reducing anaerobic bacteria activity. An oxygen level in the substrate of as little as 1 ppm promotes nitrogen reduction rather than sulfur reduction (hydrogen sulfide).

Maintaining a substrate of fine gravel or sand no deeper than 4 inches, having live plants rooted in the substrate, and keeping Malaysian Livebearing snails are the best and safest methods of providing a healthy biological system for aerobic and denitrifying anaerobic bacteria."

I can provide sources if needed, but I believe it explains itself. I know it is very unique to the tank, in terms of how one has their substate set up, and what material they use, but in the typical aquarium, with 2-4 inches of gravel, most of the beneficial bacteria will lie within the substate.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Regular Member

I've always understood that the greatest population of beneficial bacteria lies within the substate, granted that your tank does have an established, mature substate, and actually contains more bacteria than the filter itself.

While the article may be credible, we also have plenty of evidence that substrates, while certainly playing a role in nitrification, are far from being the major contributors to beneficial bacteria population:

1. There are many aquarium systems that are without substrates. Yet, these systems have very stable and robust cycles.

2. In the systems where there are substrates, removal of substrates either caused no effect in the nitrification of ammonia and nitrite, or there may be a very slight bump that is corrected within a few days. This points to the fact that while there are beneficial bacteria colonizing the substrate (as there are everywhere), the contribution of substrate BBs is not as substantial as one might be led to believe.

This makes sense to me. Filters are much better aerated than the substrate, and also, if you use your media correctly, there should be tons of porous media providing a huge amount of surface area for BBs to colonize in the filters. I would consider premium space. Moreover, given that filters trap waste through physical filtration, this waste would decay and cause a gradient of ammonia in the tank, with the highest amount nearest the place where ammonia is formed, mainly in the filters.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Regular Member

I've always understood that the greatest population of beneficial bacteria lies within the substate, granted that your tank does have an established, mature substate, and actually contains more bacteria than the filter itself.

While the article may be credible, we also have plenty of evidence that substrates, while certainly playing a role in nitrification, are far from being the major contributors to beneficial bacteria population:

1. There are many aquarium systems that are without substrates. Yet, these systems have very stable and robust cycles.

2. In the systems where there are substrates, removal of substrates either caused no effect in the nitrification of ammonia and nitrite, or there may be a very slight bump that is corrected within a few days. This points to the fact that while there are beneficial bacteria colonizing the substrate (as there are everywhere), the contribution of substrate BBs is not as substantial as one might be led to believe.

This makes sense to me. Filters are much better aerated than the substrate, and also, if you use your media correctly, there should be tons of porous media providing a huge amount of surface area for BBs to colonize in the filters. I would consider premium space. Moreover, given that filters trap waste through physical filtration, this waste would decay and cause a gradient of ammonia in the tank, with the highest amount nearest the place where ammonia is formed, mainly in the filters.

Great points. And as I was not trying to prove you wrong, I was simply taken a little aback by you saying substrates ie: gravel, contained "not that much" bacteria, and only in the top 1/4 inch, I wanted to make sure my understanding made sense and was accurate, that not just the first 1/4 inch contains bacteria, but all the way down to 4 inches deep. Like I said at the end of my previous post, it really does depend on the set up of the tank like you stated; a lot of tanks that have no substrate are able to sustain a robust cycle and maintain a healthy environment, simply with mainly the filter. Sometimes I don't think people realize just how much bacteria is actually thriving in the substrate.

Edited by JouteiMike
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Regular Member

Great points. And as I was not trying to prove you wrong, I was simply taken a little aback by you saying substrates ie: gravel, contained "not that much" bacteria, and only in the top 1/4 inch, I wanted to make sure my understanding made sense and was accurate, that not just the first 1/4 inch contains bacteria, but all the way down to 4 inches deep. Like I said at the end of my previous post, it really does depend on the set up of the tank like you stated; a lot of tanks that have no substrate are able to sustain a robust cycle and maintain a healthy environment, simply with mainly the filter. Sometimes I don't think people realize just how much bacteria is actually thriving in the substrate.

What I was trying to say is that beyond the first 1/4 inch of substrate, you aren't going to get that many beneficial bacteria. This is especially true with people using things like moon sand or other sands.

What you WILL have however, are plenty of anaerobic bacteria, which can be pathogenic, or they can produce dangerous hydrogen sulfide gases.

As you said, it will vary depending on the individual system, and I certainly don't mean to say that there isn't any BBs in the gravel. There certainly are, but I do maintain that the bulk of the BBs are in the filters. So, if you are going to seed another filter, take some media. It will be faster that way :)

Having said that, when people decide to go barebottom from a substrated tank, I always suggest that they remove the substrates over a period of time, so as to create a potentially big loss in the number of beneficial bacteria.

I do have a question for you. When you've seeded with substrate in the past, how much did you use, and how quickly did the cycle establish itself from the seed?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Regular Member
What I was trying to say is that beyond the first 1/4 inch of substrate, you aren't going to get that many beneficial bacteria. This is especially true with people using things like moon sand or other sands.

While it may be true for sand, it is definitely not true for gravel, and that is what I was trying to make my original point with. In no way do I mean for this offend you or sound like a lecture. But there are 2 main types of bacteria, which I am sure you are familiar with: autotrophic and heterotrophic. Autotrophs synthesize their own food which requires O2, so they are aerobic, while heterotrophs cannot synthesize their own food, and mostly facultative anaerobes. Both of these types are in vast quantities in a healthy, cycled aquarium.

The “nitrifying” bacteria are autotrophs and simply use nitrogen waste as their food source and carbon from CO2. And I’m also sure you know these are the bacteria strictly involved in converting ammonia to nitrite, and then finally nitrate. While that’s all great and extremely important for the health of our fish, in order for a cycle to be complete, there needs to be “DEnitrifying bacteria”. These are heterotrophs that take the converted nitrate and convert it to nitrogen gas that is released back into the air. Since the denitrifying bacteria do not require O2, there are typically found in the lower level of the gravel or sand.

So from my understanding, in a healthy aquarium, with 4 inches of pea-gravel, the top 1-2 inches will be filled with colonies of aerobic nitrifying bacteria, and the bottom 2-4 inches, will be inhabited by anaerobic denitrifying bacteria colonies. This is the type that most likely is not found in your average filter, and what caused me to be concerned and want to type this all out. Also, those numbers are primarily for gravel, sand would be shallower, but both still very much present. But again, I really hope you don’t get the wrong impression and think I am just trying to prove you wrong, or implement that my opinion is superior or anything… I just want to share my opinion.

What you WILL have however, are plenty of anaerobic bacteria, which can be pathogenic, or they can produce dangerous hydrogen sulfide gases.

I’m not too sure I understand this. My understanding is that anaerobic bacteria that produce hydrogen sulfide occurs at a much deeper level than just 3-4 inches. I also was under the impression that an O2 level as little as 1ppm allows the nitrogen to be reduced, instead of the sulfur being reduced which would result in hydrogen sulfide. So I can see this happening if you have greater than 4 – 5 inches of sand or gravel, no snails, no plant roots, never vacuum your gravel, or have extremely poor water circulation. With pea-gravel, this would be very difficult to get I believe. But I just wanted to make sure my understanding is legitimate.

I do have a question for you. When you've seeded with substrate in the past, how much did you use, and how quickly did the cycle establish itself from the seed?

Good question! I wish I kept better track of this sort of thing in the past. But I can tell you how much I used on different occasions. Like I said in another thread, I’ve had my main 75 gallon tank for roughly 10 years, so it’s been very established over the years and I have always used it to seed new tanks, whether it’s from filter media, plastic plants, rocks, or gravel. Pretty much anything that the biofilms of the bacteria can stick on is fair game. But I did notice must quicker cycles, instead of normally taking sometimes over a month, I noticed the tank was stabilized in just a few days. The main reason why I can’t tell you specifically how quickly the cycle established is because 1. I can’t remember, and 2. I usually used the gravel method in addition to other methods like filter media. But I would typically use roughly 2-3 cups of gravel. I would scoop it and get all the layers so I brought over the aerobic bacteria and denitrifying anaerobic bacteria that most likely would not be found on the filter media where the water has such a high current.

In my opinion, I still would recommend using gravel or sand alone or with filter media to anyone as a great way to kick-start cycles. And also it gets you closer to a complete cycle which includes the denitrifying bacteria that are anaerobic, and basically mainly found in the lower levels of the substate.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...