Cycling Day 1
Our first task is to get some ammonia in the water.
Turning Up the Heat
Before we do that, we're going to raise the temperature of the water to 86°F. I've never tried this, but it should help speed up the process. It may take several hours for the temperature to get to that point, but it's OK to continue now.
With the Cobalt heater, you simply press the single button on the top of it until the green LED lights up at 86. Another LED will blink at 78 until the temperature of the water reaches the set point.
The higher temperature may cause more evaporation, so check that the ATO reservoir doesn't reach empty and that the water level in the tank stays consistent.
Ghost feeding is when we add food to the tank but there's no one there to eat it except for saltwater ghosts.
I'm going to add a whole cube of frozen brine shrimp as well as some pellets. I'll be using 1/2 teaspoon of Hikari Marine A pellets that I feed my larger fish but anything should work. The brine shrimp are natural while the pellets are packed with all sorts of nutrients and vitamins. By mixing the two, we should cover a wide spectrum of compounds that will decay to produce ammonia.
It doesn't matter too much where you dump the food and a lot of it should end up in the filter sock eventually, which is fine. While we do this don't clean the filter sock: we need to let the food decay.
I'm going to dump it in the display section of the tank so we get some good coverage and maybe some of it ends up stuck in the crannies of the rocks. I don't think this will make any difference, but...who knows...
Here's a picture of the mess I made in the tank:
As a side experiment, I decided to put a Seachem Ammonia Alert badge in the tank. This is a small badge with a special tab that changes color when the level of ammonia in the water rises. They are commonly used in quarantine tanks to keep an eye on ammonia. I had a spare one and I've always wanted to see one turn toxic, which is what should happen if we do this right. As you can see in the picture, it is yellowish right now since there is no ammonia:
Now We Wait
A word of warning: all this rotting fish food is going to have an odor, hang in there.
Once we're done, we will wait at least 2 days while nature takes its course and then we'll test for ammonia. This is where patience starts to play a role. Let's go on to day 3.