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Maintaining A Cycle With Snails


Frusciante

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Hello everyone,

I plan on upgrading to a 60-80 gallon tank for my 3 goldies, but I still want to hold on to my 12-gallon for either a hospital tank, or for perhaps keeping other fish that aren't compatible with goldies.

My question is: Can I maintain the current cycle in my tank with 1-2 snails in my 12-gallon without any fish in the tank?

I'm still wondering what I'm going to do with the tank, so any advice would be great.

Thanks,

- Frusciante

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Can I maintain the current cycle in my tank with 1-2 snails in my 12-gallon without any fish in the tank?

I would say 'Yes' as long as you leave your filter on. Snails are poop machine so there is enough food for bacterial.

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So much depends on the type of snails and their size..... remember that your bacterial population can only be as big as the volume of waste the snails produce. Compared to goldies, they really produce nothing, unless they are large snails. So when you wanted the cycle for fish in the future, you would need to realize that there would not be a large enough population of beneficial bacteria in the filter to support goldies right away. The bacteria population in the filter could grow, though, since there would be a small population there. It would take a few days to a week, though.

What about, instead, hanging the filter that goes to the 12 gallon tank over the back of your large goldie tank. It will run, staying cycled for you there. When you need it, you can simply pull it off the large tank, pop it on the smaller tank and you have an instant cycle.

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Daryl - That's a great idea. I agree completely with your assessment of the snail-maintenance idea. Not enough "food" for the nitrifiers. Frusciante does raise a good point though. Many here recommend quarantine tanks, but I haven't seen much advice on how to manage the water quality in a quarantine tank. Unless one is constantly buying new fish (which is not a "sustainable" practice), the need for a quarantine tank is very infrequent.

Dennis

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I have kept a small 10 gallon tank running with up to 3 HOB filters and many bags of biomedia on the bottom, for a year or more. (Lost it during a power outage once (the tank is not on battery/generator), and during one business trip, my fish sitter did not feed the tank - it turned foul with nasties quite quickly!)

I "feed" the tank ammonia each morning when I feed the fish, change out the water on a weekly basis, but keep no fish in the tank whatsoever. That way, whenever I need extra media or a cycled filter, I can pull a filter off the tank or scoop a bag of media out to be used.

This creates guaranteed "sterile" cycled media - no parasites and no bacteria that may compromise the populated tanks. (Cross contamination is easy to do - but luckily, not much lives without a host fish).

This is also a lot of work if you do not have a need for constant cycle turnover - as you said, adding fish is not a sustainable activity (providing you keep the ones you have alive!). I get a lot of "Save Him!" fish - fish that people bring to me to cure..... I have a constant need for sterile media :)

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Daryl - An impressive amount of effort to keep a quarantine tank up to speed. Probably gets you some quizzical looks from your friends when they see your fishless tank.

Question for you - By adding pure ammonia, you are providing an energy source for the Nitrosomonas/ Nitrobacter community. However, to develop such a community (i.e., for them to grow) the bacteria need to add biomass, which requires a carbon source. I don't think that there is enough dissolved carbon dioxide (from atmospheric/aqueous equilibrium) in the water to provide enough carbon for growing microbes. Normally, the fish would respire CO2 providing ample carbon.

Therefore, is it appropriate when doing a fishless cycle, or in your case maintaining a nitrifying community, to add a pinch of fish food from time to time? That would decay via normal heterotrophic bacteria, respiring CO2, providing carbon.

As one who feeds pure ammonia, is this an issue?

Dennis

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It has not been an issue in my sterile tank. The tank is not "pure" in the sense that it does develop green algae (I keep it lit for that purpose) and my tap water also contains a great deal if inclusions and such. I use 1/2 well water and 1/2 RO supplemented with additional minerals and such....

I can hold a nice colony of bacteria for indefinate time spans. The only time I have lost it is when it is not fed properly or changed properly - when the nitrates get far too high, or the ammonia is mis-dosed and is way too high. In those instances, I simply dump all the water, swish the media, add water and set the tank again. It is usually up to speed in less than a week. I generally add 15ccs of ammonia every day to the 10 gallon tank. This goes to zero in 24 hours and the tank will carry about 40ppm nitrate each week.

(I put a little plastic fish in the tank - just so I have something for people to talk about! ;) )

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15 cc is equal to 0.5 ounce

Yes, green algae in the tank will fix CO2 (shifting the equilibrium toward the aqueous phase), act as a sink, and then respire CO2 for uptake by the nitrifiers. OK, makes sense to me now. If I were doing a fishless cycle (from scratch), I'd add a little carbon source though to get things going.

Dennis

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Thanks for your insight, guys.

I was just asking if I could hold it long enough (perhaps a week) with snails, because I was planning on making the 12 gallon a tank with a small community of tetra's or guppy's.

I don't have any snails larger than 1-2 inches, so that probably wouldn't be enough to keep it going, so I'd prolly have to get the new fish in right away while maintaining my new tank with the goldies.

But really great advice!

I knew I should have taken marine biology. Haha, bad time to be an art major.

Thanks,

- Frusciante.

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In the case of an Eclipse, the cycle is held in the biowheel alone (I stuff my Eclipse with an extra bag of media stacked on top of the filter pad....). You can take the biowheel off and drop it into the tank with the fish to maintain the beneficial bacterial colony during down time if you wish.

(I happen to have a set of plastic pipettes that measure 5, 10 and 15 ccs each. That is why I use those increments. Good translation, Denniss!!!! :) )

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