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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have seen references in a few places stating that one way to get a reef tank's biological cycle going is to put a dead shrimp in the tank.

I can understand the (perverse) logic of this, but it sounds like a bad idea.

Does anyone have any experience with this? And if so, would you recommend this?

Thanks in advance.
 

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I have done it. It works fine. Just make sure you have some flow and surface agitation so your tank doesn't smell.

Keep your lights on the cycle you will be normally running them

Introduce at least a cup of substrate, water, and a rock or two from an established tank to kick start the bacteria cycle. It will go much faster if you do it this way.

Do NOT add a thing for at least a few weeks, the amonia, no2, no3 are 0, and then not until you see some kind of algae bloom. Then you can start adding inverts. Once your inverts can get a handle on some of the algae or have been surviving for a couple of weeks you can add fish.

Dont rush, be patient. The nicest tanks were not set up overnight. This is the most important stage in the tanks existence and will determine how well your tank thrives in the future.

The biggest mistake you can make right now is having an incomplete cycle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Ok, I'll give it a shot. But, what about substituting some brine shrimp instead? Letting them go through their life cycle and then die off.

@deputyo, I think you are jumping to conclusions. "Perverse" in the sense of allowing decaying material to sit in the tank. Usually, you want to remove decaying material from the tank as soon as you find it, at least that's what I do in my freshwater tanks.
 

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Te reason you want the decaying material is so it can be food for the "good" live bacteria. If it was live the bacteria would not feed on it and you wouldnt be cycling your tank.

I think you are misunderstanding the concept of a tank cycle, and you have some research to do.

The reason why people use fish is because they eat food a produce waste. It usually takes much longer to cycle. The ammonia does not spike as high, you wind up with less good bacteria leading your tank to mini cycle every time you increase the amount of waste in the tank by adding waste by fish and food.

In order to cycle your tank with a fish people use the most hardy species. The problem here is not only is it extremely inhumane to subject your fish to a tank cycle but also generally speaking the more hardy the fish the more aggressive. Once the fish is subjected to the cycle and if perhaps it survives it will be extremely aggressive towards any new tank mates.

You need flow. If you let decaying material sit in the tank with no flow the water will get stagnant and produce scent. If you have flow the material will move, dissipate, and if you have surface agitation you will introduce o2 into the water column and not smell. The flow will also circulate nutrients from the dead shrimp to other parts of the tank increasing nitrifying bacteria growth.

Freshwater tanks can not have decaying material because they do not have any real means of removing it unless you have a great filtration system. The material raises the ammonia levels and stresses the inhabitants. In marine tanks we have biological filtration, flow, skimming ect...All aid in removing excess waste and ammonia....

Do some more research.

Do you have rock in the tank? Filling the tank with rotting waste without any way of housing bacteria wouldn't be smart.

Its is very smart like I said previously to introduce established water, sand, crushed coral, rock....from a very established tank from a friend or LFS a cup is really all you need of each but the more the better. IT will populate your tank much faster.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I understand the concept, it's the amount of decaying material represented by an entire shrimp that was my concern. That's why I asked.

At this point, I have live rock in a small tank under low light. I'm about to turn on brighter lighting and I'm just planning what to do next.

Also, no one is talking about cycling the tank with fish. That's what some other person wrote. I can't understand how people can continue to put words in my mouth and start jumping to conclusions about me and fish torture.

I never put fish into any tank until it has cycled for at least 6 weeks and for this saltwater tank, I don't plan on adding ANY fish for 8-12 months.
 

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I had 2 jumbo going in the 150 now that their gone just feeding a couple pellets a day to maintain food supplies for bacteria. Still cycling :)
 

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Perfect! Exactly what I needed. Image saved to hard drive.

Also, I'm on the TX Gulf Coast, so the "Texas Prawn" is what I imagine when I think "Shrimp", which is way too big for the tank of rock I have. I will adjust accordingly.
Ya the TX shimp is a big one :)
 

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I used a medium cut in half in two small filter socks for my 55. It worked fine.

I also used a cup of LS, a small LR, and a gallon of water from an extremely established tank from the LFS. Along with 45LBS of live rock from live aquaria.com

Once the ammonia spike started to drop and the prawn was gone I added some mashed flake food and water emulsion to squirt into the tank which continued to feed the bacteria. Testing a few times a day for a month I had tiny spikes that got gradually smaller until tank was ready in slightly over 1 month.
 

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How did you cycle the fresh water tanks if you didn't allow matter to decay in them before adding fish? Did you use pure ammonia instead? I cycled my salt the same as I did my fresh, by throwing a hunk of organic matter in there and letting it rot. Cycling the SW tank isn't that different from the FW tank, it's the same idea, so how did you cycle your FW tanks?
 

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Cycling a FW tank compared to a reef or fowlr tank is actually a lot different. The difference in biological filtration is tremendous. Generally freshwater tanks use filters/media to trap excess organic matter and dispose of it. HOB filters generally have few different chambers of filtration and are cleaned quite often. Generally not to much is involved in cycling a freshwater tank unless you intend on creating an extremely natural environment with sand/gravel bed, woodwork, planted ect...Most fresh water tanks can be ready for fish in less than a week. Heck I have seen people come from the store fully furnish an aquarium and house fish the same night.

Same goes for a saltwater FO tank. Not much is involved as far as cycling. Some RODI mixed with salt, a decent filter, some bio-spira and you can have your display in 24 hours.
 

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Let me clarify.
The general concept is the same. The general concept is that you are growing a bacterial filter and in order to do so you will need a food source for said bacteria. I fully understand the difference in pace at which it occurs and that the bacteria is living in a different medium than in the FW tank. At no point was I suggesting that a SW tank should be set up in the exact same way as a FW tank.

I was referring to the idea that the bacteria must be fed with waste, during the fw cycle you still see, as with the sw cycle, the spike in ammonia, followed by the spike in nitrites, followed finally by the presence of nitrates and the reduction to ideally zero in ammonia and nitrite all before fish should be added to the system.

Adding fish without feeding the cycle is not a fishless cycle, letting a tank sit empty and run for several weeks doesn't complete the cycle unless the bacteria has a food source no matter if you are starting FW or SW. The cycle cannot begin until there is a food source for the bacteria either as decaying matter in the tank in the case of a fishless cycle, or in the form of fish poop in the case of a fish cycle. That is why I was asking what the OP used to cycle his FW tanks, as they said that they cycled their fresh water tanks before adding fish. I want to know what they fed the bacteria in order to do that? IE, how can the SW process be explained in terms the FW aquarist already understands.
 

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Using a fresh water fish to aid in cycling a fresh water tank is not as inhumane as saltwater FOWLR or Reef tanks. There is a lot less living organisms and the system only needs to produce enough bacteria to support the fish waste. It doesn't take long at all before a FW system is able to compensate for one or two fishes waste at a time.

Much more life exists in a FOWLR and reef tank and that is why many people to not understand why it should tank so long to cycle compared to a FW tank.

FW tanks are very easy in certain instances and they can cycle themselves. Filter media is changed weekly and no unnecessary fouls occur. Many people who have FW tanks do not even know what a cycle is.
 

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Many people who have FW tanks do not even know what a cycle is.
That's a really broad brush you're painting with, the nitrogen cycle is one of the very basics of FW fish keeping. Also the more you talk about fresh water setups the more inaccuracies I see in your statements, changing filter media weekly for one is a huge noob mistake in fresh water fish keeping. But this isn't a fresh water forum so I will not get in to detail about it out of respect for the OP and the forum in general, this isn't the place.

For now I will assume, since the OP was the one who brought it up, that they do understand what the nitrogen cycle is. If not, then there is a great thread on here that explains it in detail. What I did was ask a question in order to help form an analogy to explain things because for me, my understanding of how my fresh water systems really worked, has so far made the change to salt 100% painless (except for my wallet).
 
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