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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I'm setting up a new tank 135l Aqua One, with external filter, protein skimmer, 12kg live rock that has a few things growing on it. I have now been maturing for about 4 weeks.

For the first 2 weeks nothing happened so taking some advice I placed a prawn in the tank, this kick started the cycle and today , Amonia levels are back at zero , nitrites at .25.

I have a few queries As follows:

1. The protein skimmer was skimming initially but for the last 4 days the bubbles are not getting up to the collection cup, there's lots of small bubbles in the chamber but that's it. I've adjusted flow etc with no difference.

2. The water has gone a little cloudy, white in colour

3. I went to a different shop today and asked for their advice on introducing fish (probably a mistake as every shop so far has a different way of doing things) they told me that as I hadn't used a maturing solution then chances are any bacteria in my filter would die off as I don't have fish in there producing waste. They basically said that I needed to get hardy fish in there but it was risky and were generally not much help. They also didn't rate live rock as a maturing method.

I felt as my live rock appeared alive that the tank was doing okay. I had also been advised that you should get a hermit crab or similar in to get to work before putting in any fish.

Any advice would be helpful.
 

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Anything that can rot can be used to start a cycle, and as long as the water parameters are what they will be for the fish, then the strains of bacteria that survive are going to be the ones the tank will depend on for the biological filtration. A piece of shrimp or a dose of flake food or even outright ammonia are all capable of rendering your substrate and other surfaces 'live'. Obviously, a fish will produce higher levels of waste that a single piece of shrimp: every time you add a new source of detritus into your tank, you are going to get a mini cycle as it balances itself out.
It sounds like the person at the LFS you talked to didn't really understand the process.
The live rock, if it was already or had been once, live, also likely would have kick-started the cycle. Cleaned or dry rock with nothing decomposable or creating detritus in would not have done the trick.
Adding cleaning crew first gets you into the realm of debatability. Anything live in your tank needs to have its food sources available. If you used lots of flake food, left the shrimp, or have started to see algae growing, you may have this, otherwise, if you put it in, you'll have to feed it, but... adding life tends to add detritus, so you'll ramp up the levels of bacteria at least slightly if you start this way. My opinion is that htis type of advice is a way to trick you into starting a little slower than you would have, but bypasses the understanding of why you add things slowly.
(Basically, adding a hermit crab to start a cycle is as cruel to the crab as adding a fish is to the fish.)
If you've had a cycle already, go for the fish, just try to add one or two small ones first and watch the cycle for a few days, as long as it is stable or stays fairly quick and at low levels, you're in good shape.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Many thanks John. Yes I think over the next few days I'll look to add a couple of clowns to start off.
 
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