Cycling a saltwater aquarium with aquaroche decors

Our rocks, ceramic rocks, eco reef plates and ready for use bases, have a big porosity, which can be pre-seeded in bacteria, micro-organisms, algae, for a quicker cycling. Here is a suggestion of protocol, knowing that each aquarium is a particular case.

Very important: once rocks are seeded, they have to be put in water very rapidly, with heater, pumps and skimmer.

This means that everything should be ready: sufficient sea water, at the right temperature, to fill up the aquarium, or a temporary tank (with good maintenance conditions).

For the setting up, it’s better to make a trial without water, with all the new rocks, to avoid to loose time when your rocks are ready.

Colonisation of aquaroche rocks: do not rinse them, do not soak them

Do not rinse aquaroche rocks. Do not cure our ceramic rocks.
Our ceramic rocks have been specifically elaborated to be totally neutral : they do not leach silicates or phosphates. So you can use them without soaking.

Besides, if rocks are dry, they have the particular capacity to absorb water as a ‘wick’ would do, which makes it possible for water loaded with nutriments and bacteria to penetrate deep into the rock.

If you rinse the rocks with sterile and pure water, the milieu will be sterile and it will take much longer for cycling.

Sculptured rocks  and reef system rocks can absorb 15 to 20 % of their dry weight, ‘ceramic rocks’ and ‘eco reef plates’ from 25 to 30 %.

Different stages

  • 1 – Prepare in a separate container a sufficient quantity of water (minimum 30 % of rocks weight): sea water, right temperature, with ready for use bacteria solutions (ex: Prodibio Biodigest…), skimmer juice, sump water or water from water changes of another aquarium. It is also important to bring some crushed live rock to bring some more bacteria and micro fauna. It is possible and advised to let the rocks absorb at this stage the total amount of bacteria solution corresponding to the volume of the aquarium.
  • 2 – To feed the bacteria and avoid that they « starve », bring them nutriments: ex Prodibio Bioptim or any other source: fish food or crushed fresh mussels.
  • With this method, bacteria will be introduced into the different parts of rocks, together with nutriments and will do their « job ».
  • 3 – Let the rocks soak in the container or pour this mixture (sea water + bacteria solution) on the rocks.
  • 4 – Let the rocks absorb the mixture and (after half an hour) put the rocks and the residue of mixture in the aquarium.
  • 5 – Set up the decor. (Reminder: it’s easier if you have already tried to build up your arrangement with the different rocks, when they were still dry). Introduce your rocks in a partially filled up aquarium. Then add sea water to the right level, start heater, pumps and skimmer.

First week and lighting

1) new aquarium :

  • Bring very few live rocks at first to limit pollution and leave time for bacteria to be active; 4 to 8 weeks are necessary for efficiency of bacteria.

Use skimmer and pumps from the beginning, to bring oxygen.

Do not light for 2 or 3 weeks, minimum time for a biofilm to settle on the rocks as this biofim is essential to good algaes setting.

Keep a close eye on nitrites pike, and when it’s finished, if necessary, bring some more live rocks.
Introduction of live rocks brings pollution which is going to be absorbed by the skimmer with a lot of foam and by aquaroche rocks already activated in bacteria.

Check again nitrites rates. When they have gone down, introduce snails and start lighting 1 hour per day, then 1 more hour each week.

Progressively introduce corals, and then fish when all parameters seem stabilized.

  • Possible variant with more live rocks at the beginning, but a greater amount of ammonia could restrain bacteria development. Bring light progressively after 2 weeks. Check nitrites…

2) Introduction of aquaroche rocks in an already complete aquarium:

If it is a big new arrangement, first of all, in the previous weeks, clean and siphon debris, to avoid a possible high nitrites level, which could happen each time you move sands and muds under the live rocks of an old aquarium.

« Seed »the rocks as indicated above and if possible let them in a tank without light for 2 weeks, minimum time for biofilm to settle on the rocks.

Set up the new decor, without stressing fish.

If possible limit lights in the first weeks. So good algae will settle and avoid proliferation of unwanted algae, diatomees, cyanobacteria (present in the tank and ready to develop on any new accessory or decor.)

3)You had an aquarium and want to set up a new and bigger one, using your previous decor + new aquaroche rocks

Leave fish and corals in another aquarium.

« Seed » the aquaroche rocks as indicated above.

Set up your decor.

Bring water and live rocks of the old aquarium. Add new saltwater (equilibrated, at the right temperature)

Connect heater, pumps and skimmer.

No lights in the first 2 weeks and then progressive lighting so good algae will settle and avoid proliferation of unwanted algae, diatoms, cyanobacteria (present in the tank and ready to develop on any new accessory or decor.)

Check nitrites level, and when everything is balanced, introduce progressively corals and then fish. Minimum of 4 weeks are recommended before bringing fish.

Maturation time and fisrt coralline algae

1) Nitrogen cycle and new tank.

Development of different bacteria requires 4 to 8 weeks before aerobic bacterial populations are established and efficient, after following steps: nitrites rise, then reduction and finally week values. At this point you can introduce progressively live stock: algae eaters, corals, fish. If you do not bring population at this stage, go on bringing pollution (regular but not too important), to keep bacteria alive.

Second phase is reduction of nitrates (nitrates are the result of transformation of nitrites) in gaseous nitrogen by anaerobic bacteria.

This last transformation is the sign of the beginning of a complete display.

You can consider 3 to 4 months for this maturation time, which is similar in an aquarium with all live rocks.

2) Coralline algae

One should not make confusion between presence of coralline algae on rocks with efficiency of these rocks as biological filters.

It is difficult to give time for colonisation with algae and especially coralline algae: very short time if introduced in an old tank, several months in new aquariums. It depends on parameters of each aquarium and on lighting technique.