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I'm truly at a loss here, please help (cycling low KH tank)

Seisage

New Member
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10
Leave it. The organisms in your tank will not grow faster with more ammonia, they lack other nutrients. Also too much of it raises pH as ammonia is a base. It counters H+, resulting in ammonium. And this in turn is mostly used by plants.
I did know that it can alter pH, which is partly why I asked. So, basically, adding any ammonia to a 0 KH system that's slightly acidic will simply result in ammonium, which won't feed the bacteria anyway?

This is all very interesting, because the person on the other forum has said they've accomplished traditional "fishless cycles", with added ammonia, using 0 KH RO water... I'm now wondering if this might be a case of finding correlation where there isn't any, and that the necessary organisms in their RO tanks grew anyway, regardless of the additions of ammonia. They've said leaf litter won't be enough to feed nitrifiers, but the whole fishless cycling concept revolves around maintaining ammonia concentrations at certain levels, usually 2-5ppm, until the bacteria grows enough to process it. My ammonia is at 1.0ppm already with just wood. If the decaying leaves bring that up to 2.0ppm, then adding additional ammonia becomes irrelevant, no?
 

MacZ

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I'm now wondering if this might be a case of finding correlation where there isn't any,
There is a correlation (ammonium of course still feeds the organisms) but not a causation (the organisms were there all along and develop no matter what), yes.
 

Ben Rhau

Apisto Club
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588
Location
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Would you recommend adding liquid ferts straight away, or wait for the system to establish itself first and use the plants as a barometer without outside help?

Just as well with the inverts, I suppose. I haven't been able to find any Amazon inverts for sale, let alone blackwater ones from the Ucayali.
Whether or not you add ferts is a decision. I believe @MacZ does it in order to have vigorous plant growth, but consciously doses low enough that it's all being consumed the by the plants and doesn't contribute much to the EC/TDS of the tank. @dw1305 does this as well, using the duckweed index to only feed plants to the edge of starvation.

For true blackwater tanks, the approach I take is to let the plants grow with essentially nothing aside from decaying botanicals, water movement (aerial CO2), and light. Water sprite, salvinia, and mosses (both java moss and susswassertang) will definitely grow, as will true blackwater plants like Mayaca fluviatilis. The growth won't be as fast as it would be with ferts. Once you add bioload, there willl be more nitrogen for the plants to consume. I couldn't grow a pothos forest the way Mac does, but it works for me.

I've not tried to find inverts native to Amazon blackwater, but I have never seen them listed for general sale. I would imagine you need to find another hobbyist who has them.
 

Ben Rhau

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588
Location
San Francisco
Okay, sorry, I do have one more thing that I'm curious about. Someone on another forum told me that without feeding the bacteria (or nitrifiers in general), the tank can never be "cycled". This makes scientific and logical sense, but would the leaf litter and humic substances be enough of an ammonia source for the nitrifiers to grow? Based on this whole conversation, I imagine the answer from people here is "yes", but I figured I'd ask.

If I were to add ammonia directly, as a sort of insurance and to speed up the process, would that hurt?
Not knowing where this came from, my advice would be to determine whether the person who said this has had success with true blackwater species.

The bacteria and archaea needed are everywhere. They will find their way into your tank, particularly if you add plants. I'm extremely skeptical of adding bacteria from a purchased bottle. @dw1305 has more knowledge about this, but I think the likelihood that you will hit the composition of species you need for your environment from a premixed bottle is basically zero. Adding ammonia also doesn't work, because doing so will select for species that thrive at high ammonia concentrations. In both cases, the combination of flora will necessarily rebalance once you stock your tank. Starting with the wrong combination of flora doesn't yield any advantage that I can see.

If you have healthily growing plants, you will be able to absorb the bioload of your animals, both because it's consumed by the plants and also because plants are symbiotic with the nitrifying organisms you need.
 

Ben Rhau

Apisto Club
Messages
588
Location
San Francisco
This is all very interesting, because the person on the other forum has said they've accomplished traditional "fishless cycles", with added ammonia, using 0 KH RO water... I'm now wondering if this might be a case of finding correlation where there isn't any, and that the necessary organisms in their RO tanks grew anyway, regardless of the additions of ammonia. They've said leaf litter won't be enough to feed nitrifiers, but the whole fishless cycling concept revolves around maintaining ammonia concentrations at certain levels, usually 2-5ppm, until the bacteria grows enough to process it. My ammonia is at 1.0ppm already with just wood. If the decaying leaves bring that up to 2.0ppm, then adding additional ammonia becomes irrelevant, no?
There isn't a lot of nitrogen in botanicals, because plants tend absorb sugars and nitrogen compounds from leaves before they shed them. The ones you're adding are the shedded, dead leaves.

I don't doubt that one can create a traditional "fishless cycle" with added ammonia. I just don't think the result is useful for reasons I stated previously. In a functioning aquarium, 2 - 5ppm ammonia would be disastrously high, and therefore doesn't replicate any realistic scenario for your stocked tank. It's not simply a case of "more is better." You want the composition of species (likely dozens or more) that are optimized for your actual bioload.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,187
Location
Germany
Whether or not you add ferts is a decision. I believe @MacZ does it in order to have vigorous plant growth, but consciously doses low enough that it's all being consumed the by the plants and doesn't contribute much to the EC/TDS of the tank
I did in the past. Haven't touched the bottle in months.

Otherwise I fully agree with Ben. :)
 

dw1305

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
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2,791
Location
Wiltshire UK
Hi all,
Someone on another forum told me that without feeding the bacteria (or nitrifiers in general), the tank can never be "cycled"
They've said leaf litter won't be enough to feed nitrifiers, but the whole fishless cycling concept revolves around maintaining ammonia concentrations at certain levels, usually 2-5ppm, until the bacteria grows enough to process it.

This is all very interesting, because the person on the other forum has said they've accomplished traditional "fishless cycles", with added ammonia, using 0 KH RO water...
Unfortunately you are going to get this.

Point them at <"https://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads...nces-university-of-wisconsin—milwaukee.71023/"> and ask them to read the referenced scientific paper(s). They may know better than Dr Newton's research group, but I'm going to take a guess that they don't.

Since I started writing about cycling (about 15 years ago), I've been called an idiot, a moron and plenty of other things that I can't post on this forum. I've been thrown of forums, I've been accused of deliberately trying to kill people's fish, I've been threatened with legal action and received what can only be described as a torrent of hate mail, which has now slowed to a mere trickle of hate mail.

So it would be fair to say it hasn't made me universally popular, but I'd also like to think that it has helped people and allowed them to become better aquarists, with healthier fish.

cheers Darrel
 

Ben Rhau

Apisto Club
Messages
588
Location
San Francisco
Besides Euryrhynchus shrimp you will barely find anything in the trade, sadly.
Out of curiosity, I searched for Euryrhynchus, and did find a seller in the US. They are $10 each.

I probably would have bought these when I set up my Parosphromenus tank had I known about them. They are 3x the cost of Tangerine Tigers (a Caridina species) which now live in that tank. The benefit of Euryrhynchus is that they can live in near zero TDS, whereas I needed to raise my TDS to around 80 for the Caridina to survive. I've also tried Asellus aquaticus. I find that they persist and breed (slowly) in soft water, but could not survive zero TDS. They're also not easy to find for sale in the US.

The other thing I'm reading about Euryrhynchus is that you seldom see them out and about in the aquarium.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,187
Location
Germany
Out of curiosity, I searched for Euryrhynchus, and did find a seller in the US. They are $10 each.
10.99€ here. Still less than non-Amano-Caridina shrimp.
Only one shop within 200 km has them unless they are sold out .... again. I haven't seen them in the flesh (or rather exoskeleton) in quite a while. At the moment they are out of stock in every online store here.
 

rasmusW

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Messages
489
I briefly had those shrimps (Amazon zebra shrimp from Peru). Didn’t see much of them as they are nocturnal.
I think i bought 3-5. One was dead in the bag and the others slowly dwindled away.

-but it was sorta fun as long as it lasted. Though i’m not sure i would do it again.


-r
 

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