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Thread: Scrubbers and Cycling

  1. #1
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    Scrubbers and Cycling

    Although it was not an original benefit, enough people have now cycled there tanks using only a scrubber that it is now the recommended way. This means no skimmer, and no waterchanges. What generally happens is that you don't get a "cycle" at all, and you can add livestock in just a few days, after double and triple checking to make sure there is zero ammonia and nitrite.

    Cycling your tank has the purpose of letting the dead stuff "get out" of the rock. This stuff died because the rock was out of the water for too long during shipping, and is now forming ammonia. Well, the favorite food of algae is ammonia, and next comes nitrite, and then nitrate. So since the ammonia will be kept low during cycling, more of the natural inhabitants in the rock will survive because they are not being poisoned. Also, this extra time that the scrubber gets to develop during the cycling will allow the screen to be more ready for when you start stocking. You can then start feeding your tank heavier, sooner, since the algae will already be available to absorb a lot of ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and phosphate. Growth on the screen, however, will be limited until you start feeding, because there is just not that much to filter during cycling, since a lot of the ammonia etc that develops during cycling is actually from animals that die during the cycling itself (because of high ammonia) and not from the shipping. So after you stock and start feeding, the screen will have much more growth. Usually takes just a few days to get all zero readings.

    And you don't need to add anything to get a cycle going, either. Matter of fact, you don't want a cycle at all. A real "cycle" (meaning high ammonia readings) kills the things that were living in the "live" rock. The best situation would be to get a rock from the ocean and put it in your tank in 5 minutes. Everything would still be alive, and there would be no cycle at all. But the shipping process kills a lot, and when the dead stuff gets in your water, you get your cycle. So you certainly don't want to make more ammonia by adding anything to make it worse. Just let the scrubber eat the resulting ammonia, so that the water does not get any worse. A skimmer, amazingly, actually does more harm than good, because not only does it not remove any ammonia (which is what is killing the few things still living), it removes the living critters as they get out of the rock and start swimming around, before they can get back into the rock to hide.

  2. #2

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    Hello santamonica, just read this, many users of my scrubber have done this with no problem but I was wondering what about cycling a tank with dry rock, not live rock, would the scrubber be ready to receive fish, coral, etc. after a few days ?

    My bet would be against... since there are no nutrients, the screen would be kind of "sterile" and void of any form of algae...

    What would you recommend for cycling a tank with scrubber and dry rock?

  3. #3
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    I'm not sure a few days is enough to grow the bacteria you need to control ammonia. And the scrubber won't be grown much either.

    You should probably go the recommended amount of time for cycling; the scrubber will just help keep the algae under control.

  4. #4
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    Cycling a brand-new tank with dry rock and no bacterial seeding is going to result in the standard cycling effect. If you start with a bare screen scrubber, it will likely take just as long (3-4 weeks) for the scrubber to ramp up as it does for the bacterial cycle to happen.

    Theoretically you can cycle a tank without seeing the ammonia/nitrite/nitrate spikes if you install a scrubber with a mature screen. Some have done it and said it works, others still see the spikes but they are more muted. But the cycle still happens.

    This nitrogen cycle is only part of the overall tank maturing process, things will still be in a state of great flux for the first 6 months of the system

    Go to #15 http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2004-01/eb/

    I would recommend using Microbe Lift Special Blend right from the start, this will at least give your tank some bacteria and speed up the process. Not to mention it's a great product.

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