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Dark start with used soil

dennish

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Joined
25 Feb 2021
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15
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Netherlands
Hi everyone,

I'm interested in starting my new ADA mini M using the dark start method.

Since the dark start relies on a soil that is leaking ammonia to get the cycling started, how would I get this started with a Tropica soil that already has been used? And probably not leaking that much anymore.

I assume I should add an ammonia substitute, but what would work best in your opinion? Some food or just pure ammonia? And even more importantly, how much would I need to add to the Mini M to get things started?
 

Toby C

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19 Mar 2021
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31
Location
Warwickshire
The aim of the dark start is to give time to allow for the ammonia levels to decline/not spike and therefore minimise plant melt. (This wouldn’t be a concern with soil that isn’t new)

From a cycling perspective, you may as well cycle with a planted tank, and once planted do a larger water change to remove any organics/detritus.

The above applies if your soil isn’t really old / doesn’t hold its form.
 

dw1305

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UKAPS Team
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nr Bath

dennish

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25 Feb 2021
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Netherlands
Thanks for the responses. Good thing I asked it here. In that case I'll just get it going and wait a couple of weeks when plants are showing some nice growth.

And thanks for the links, Darrel. Those were indeed some interesting reads!
 

Fiske

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5 Oct 2016
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Denmark
Thanks for the responses. Good thing I asked it here. In that case I'll just get it going and wait a couple of weeks when plants are showing some nice growth.

And thanks for the links, Darrel. Those were indeed some interesting reads!
You're on the right track then. All you really need is plants. They will inevitably cycle your tank (if they grow). No need to add household ammonia etc.
The usual caveats regarding light, nutrients and CO2, if used, apply, of course.

Full disclaimer, knowing some might beat me upside the dome for doing stuff this way: I have never tested for ammonia. Never for nitrate or nitrite neither. I have also never used any other test aside from KH, GH or pH. Partly because most hobbyist test sets are thoroughly unreliable, partly because I don't see any need. Plants will usually tell me if things are heading in the right direction, or else algae will shout it in my face... And yeah, I can be an awful miser at times. I never have used a dechlorinator ( although if danish tap water continues its ongoing decline, I might have to in the future!), do be aware that this depends on your location, though!

I have never lost a fish to an improperly cycled tank, nor to a waterchange with properly temperated water while doing stuff this way.

Most test sets and various other stuff in fancy bottles are best for parting the buyer with his/her money, and not much else.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
And thanks for the links, Darrel. Those were indeed some interesting reads!
You are more than welcome. There is a huge amount of scientific literature that covers all the areas we are interested in, but relatively little <"has trickled down to aquarists">.
Full disclaimer, knowing some might beat me upside the dome for doing stuff this way: I have never tested for ammonia. Never for nitrate or nitrite neither.
Same for me now. We have the <"capability in the lab.">, but I haven't tested any of the water for several years.

I actually started with the <"Duckweed Index"> because of the difficulties in getting <"accurate and consistent results"> for monovalent ions with <"soluble salts"> and <"dissolved gases">.

cheers Darrel
 

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