what should i see during cycling?

Discussion in 'General Discussions and Advice' started by neo, 8 Feb 2010.

  1. neo

    neo

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    Hi,
    with so many threads and questions on cycling cant we have a sticky consolidating everything ??
    Anyway..

    My tanks cycling for a week now, seeded the dsb thanks to riaanP and bought some LR (small amount).

    My q, what should I see and expect during the weeks of the cycle? i.e. how long does it take for something to happen in the DSB and on the base rock I have?

    Very little is happening at this point, I tested the water Saturday and everything is 0 except for nitrate that is sitting at 2.
    Ph is at 8.3 ank alk at 2.5.
     
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  3. viper357

    viper357 Admin MASA Contributor

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    Each tank is different but generally over the next couple of weeks you should see some brown diatom algae covering the rocks and substrate, you might also get some small tufts of green algae on the glass, both of these should disappear over time, you may also see some small, 1mm, creatures scurrying around on the glass.
     
  4. fly*

    fly* MASA Contributor

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    In the same vein.

    How should I maintain the tank while its cycling? I have brown algae, tufts of green algae and a small amount of coraline starting to show face. How often do I need to clean the brown and green algae out ???
     
  5. FDB

    FDB

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    Fly, Gooi some snails in there maybe?
    Maybe a hermit too and feed the hermit.
    You get Stress Zyme from the LFS which contains the bacteria you need.

    Neo, you are in good hands with Riaan. I owe riaan BIG time. I assume you live close to him?
     
  6. fly*

    fly* MASA Contributor

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    Hey FDB,

    Yeah I think it still may be a bit early for the snails, i'm currently feeding the tank so waiting patiently for the Ammonia levels to spike.
     
  7. neo

    neo Thread Starter

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    FDB, I stay about 20km from riaan but our office is close to him, i thnk you are closer as he pointed you out driving past when i got some sand from him.

    There's some 'goggas' crawling around on my LR, but that's all, think it's to early to put snails/hermits in cause there's nothing to eat for them, starting to see the brown stuff on the sand - forgot what it's called now.
     
  8. FDB

    FDB

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    Yea Neo yours is too young to host livestock.
    In my opinion (and i may be wrong), you need to put some food source in the tank for the little critters to nibble on.. (If you have a live rock, you will have critters)
    But (and again... this is just my opinion) when you have algea growing in the tank, you should be ok if you add one snail?
    But hey. Play it safe rather..

    An article:
    By Robert Lashlee

    A clean-up crew consists of snails, crabs, shrimps, and starfish in your saltwater aquarium that perform the following tasks:

    · Clean-up detritus (non-living organic matter)
    · Sift through your sand
    · Keeps algae under control on a day-to-day basis




    You can think of the clean-up crew as the janitors for your tank. Having a proper clean-up crew can help keep your tank sparkling clean while limiting the amount of work you have to do in terms of scraping the glass or picking algae of your live rock. However, there are some things to keep in mind when establishing your cleanup crew.

    When Should I Introduce my Cleanup Crew?

    If you are cycling your saltwater aquarium with live rock (as most saltwater aquarists do) then you will want to add the cleanup crew right after the cycle is complete (add them before you add fish). There will be die-off from the live rock and probably some algae from the cycle that will need cleaned up immediately. The clean-up crew can take care of this.

    You only want to start off with snails and crabs as they are the hardiest and because starfish need an established food source in order to survive. Only after a couple of months (once you start to see a build up of algae and detritus) should you add sand sifting starfish.

    Also, you want to start slowly. Only add a portion of your total clean-up crew and then ramp up to the total crew over a period of months. This will ensure there is an enough food to go around so they do not all die.

    What Are the Best Species for my Clean-up Crew?

    You really need a combination of species in order to do all of the tasks described in the bullets above. Some will sift sand, but not touch algae. Others will eat only a specific type of algae, but will not sift the sand. Obtaining a nice mixture will ensure your tank stays clean.

    The most common snails for clean-up crew purposes include:


    • Turbo snails – These are very large snails and are great at algae grazing, but be careful because their size can topple live rock. Some people avoid them for this reason. If you have a large aquarium though, these snails can cover a lot of area and keep you from buying hundreds of smaller snails. Just make sure your live rock is secure. You also need to make sure there is enough for these snails to eat because they are so effective at eating algae that they can starve before enough algae grows back. For this reason, you should also not add these snails immediately after your tank cycles. Instead, wait several months for a food source to develop.
    • Asterea snails – These are good snails for getting rid of brown and green algae from the walls of your tank, from your live rock, and from your substrate (they will not eat longer hair algae). They are also useful for smaller tanks because they do not grow larger than an inch. They do have problems, however, when they are flipped over as they cannot get back to their correct orientation and will die. If you see one on its back, you should flip it over.
    • Trochus snails – Trochus snails are very similar to Astereas in terms of their algae eating, but they can rescue themselves when they are flipped over. They also stay small, making them a nice addition to smaller aquariums.
    • Nerite snails – Again, this is a small snail (less than an inch) that is very good at eating algae off the tank walls. They will even come out of the water from time-to-time. They are also included in many hobbyists’ refugiums as they do great with marine plants.
    • Nassarius snails – These are one of the most interesting snails you can add to your clean-up crew (even though you will not be seeing much of them) and they target an area of the tank not addressed by the snails listed above - in the sand bed. These snails actually bury themselves in the sand and are excellent at sifting and stirring the sand as they burrow through it. They have a long siphon tube that protrudes from their front and you can often see it sticking out of the sand if you look closely. They will also come out of the sand bed to eat (again, a neat thing to watch) and will feed on many forms of detritus that other snails ignore. They do require a deep sand bed (at least 4”) for their survival and should only be added after the tank matures for several months after the cycle. These snails are relentless eaters and are a must for agitating your sand bed.

    The most common crabs for clean-up crew purposes include:


    • Red-legged Hermit Crab (also known as the Scarlet Reef Hermit Crab or the Red Reef Crab) – These crabs do an excellent job of scavenging and keeping algae under control (they will even eat hair algae which most snails avoid). They will also eat fish food. They stay small and are very hardy. Unlike most hermit crabs, they are generally peaceful towards others in the tank. They can sometimes attack snails although the Red Hermit Crab is much less likely to do this than the Blue-legged hermit. To mitigate this problem, toss some spare shells in the tank so they are not fighting the snails for theirs. As they grow and molt, they will look for new shells so it is important to offer these larger spares. They are considered reef safe.
    • Blue-legged Hermit Crab – Another popular crab that will relentlessly eat just about anything in your aquarium (algae, scraps of food, etc.). They are reef safe (although some people do report they can kill specimens that are injured or dying), but have been known to be aggressive towards snails (although not to the point where you’ll be losing snails every day or anything. Usually the snails can fend them off). Adding spare shells of a variety of sizes to the tank will help reduce this aggression. Their bright blue legs are stunning and they are a great addition to a reef tank.
    • Sally Lightfoot Crab – Again a relentless eater. It will scavenge around the tank looking for bits of food or detritus and pick at algae constantly. They are generally considered reef safe although the larger ones have been reported to eat injured or dead fish if they cannot find other food sources (you should, therefore, use caution). They also will crawl around on the corals a great deal, but this does not generally lead to problems. They get to be about 2-3” in size.
    • Emerald Green Crab (also known as the Emerald Mithrax Crab) – This crab stays fairly small (1.5”) and is considered peaceful and reef safe. The only time they have been known to munch on corals or fish is if their food supply runs out (you can supplement their diet with dried seaweed, fish food, and meaty foods). If well fed, they get along perfectly well with other inhabitants. It is also well known for its ability to eat bubble algae, something very few reef safe species do.

    Other species generally used for clean-up crew purposes include:


    • Cleaner Shrimps – The most popular cleaner shrimps are the Pacific Cleaner Shrimp and the Scarlet Cleaner Shrimp (also known as the Red or Fire Shrimp). These shrimps do an excellent job of scavenging for leftover food, but they also pick parasites off of fish and are used to control saltwater ich.
    • Coral Banded Shrimp – Again a very popular scavenger and a very beautiful shrimp in general. They are considered reef safe, but some have reported that they kill fish. However, most people disagree with these reports saying they are aggressive towards their territory and will chase fish away, but they will not actually kill a fish.
    • Peppermint Shrimp – Make sure you get a true Peppermint Shrimp and not the similar looking Camelback Shrimp because only the true Peppermint Shrimp is reef safe. These shrimp are excellent scavengers and are one of the best methods for controlling Aiptasia.
    • Sand Sifting Starfish – These can reach sizes up to 12” so they should only be used in larger aquariums with deep sand beds. You also need to ensure there is an adequate food supply so they should only be added to established aquariums. They do an excellent job of sifting through the sand and turning it over. They also consume uneaten food and detritus.

    How Many Specimens Should I Have in my Clean-up Crew?


    The general rules are:

    · 1 snail per gallon
    · 1 crab per 4 gallons

    However, these rules do not mean you can put 20 Nassarius snails in your 20 gallon aquarium. Instead, you want to mix and match the snails, crabs, and shrimps to get a good combination. Regarding how many of each species for the snails, consider these general rules:


    • Asterea snails are usually kept at one per six or seven gallons due to their annoying habit of dying when they are flipped over.
    • Trochus snails can be kept at as many as one per gallon.
    • Nerite snails can also be kept at as many as one per gallon.
    • Turbo snails should only be kept at one per every seven or eight gallons due to their size and extreme algae eating ability.
    • Nassarius snails are generally kept at one per three gallons, but they depend more on the area of the substrate. If you have a tall tank then perhaps only keep one per five gallons.

    These levels are for established tanks with a generous food supply of detritus and algae. In a newly cycled tank, you will want to start slow and then ramp up to your full stocking level or else they will all starve and you will end up buying a new clean-up crew.

    As you can see, a clean-up crew can be quite expensive to establish and then you need to keep it up-to-date by replacing dead specimens. Take this into account when you calculate the cost of your aquarium.
     
  9. crispin

    crispin

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    thats a good read FDB thanks for that :)
     
  10. RiaanP

    RiaanP Moderator

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    sorry Neo, only seeing your question now.

    Now for the BAD news. You will get algae all over your live rock, diatoms, and all other things ugly and green. Well mostly green. Depending on the quality of the LR you got. If it dried out at all, during transit, there will be die off. And this will feed the ugly stuff. but the algae will eventually remove all the nutrient provided by the dead stuff in the rock. Wait for weeks 2 to 4, then its at its worst.

    Spend my weekend in front of a guru's new setup. Tank at the end of the cycling period. And you should see the variety of algae in that tank. A lot.

    In my opinion:
    On the DSB, because you got sand with life in it, you should feed a SMALL amount of flakes to the DSB. Or else whatever is there will starve. Same applies in my opinion if you got good live rock. There are critters in there, and they need food. so I believe a small amount of food is needed.
     
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