What to Expect Now That Your New Tank is Up and Running

Article by Thomas Olsen, President

New Tank Syndrome aka, “The Break in Period”

In established tanks, just as in nature, toxic ammonia from lobster waste is broken down by bacteria into nitrite, which is itself broken down by a different group of bacteria into nitrate. In a new tank, those bacteria are not present in any quantity, and it takes time – 8 weeks under normal circumstances – for those bacteria to multiply to the point of being able to keep up with the waste output of the lobsters. New Tank Syndrome or “The Break-In Period” describe the time in which ammonia and then nitrite levels rise to dangerous quantities before being converted into relatively harmless nitrate.

  • New tanks are broken in by adding hardy lobsters and simply waiting out that first 8 weeks. These are the most critical and patience is crucial. This process CAN NOT BE RUSHED. It is a scientific process, and not that of the equipment.
  • The cycling process does not begin until lobsters are added High ammonia (4.0 or more) and nitrite readings shortly after lobsters are added is normal. About 3-4 days after
  • Lobster fatality most likely will occur during the 8 week break in period
  • After 2 full weeks of operation, lobsters can be added to the tank at a rate of 3lbs per every other day along with 4oz of liquid nitrifying bacteria. LOBSTERS MUST BE PURGED REGARDLESS OF WHERE THEY CAME FROM, AND PURGED WATER MUST BE DISCARDED/REPLACED
  • Check the ammonia daily. If the reading is high (above 2.0) then perform a partial water change (about 2 purge tanks of water), and replace with freshly made salt water. Add 16oz of a liquid nitrifying bacteria for every 100 gallons of water.
  • Ammonia must be monitored daily and if at any time is above 2.0, do not add more lobsters until the level falls below 2.0 THIS IS CRITICAL! ANY DEVIATION WILL CAUSE LOBSTERS TO DIE AND SPIKE THE AMMONIA. ONCE AMMONIA IS SPIKED (above 8.0) A TOTAL WATER CHANGE MUST BE PERFORMED AND THE 8 WEEK “BREAK IN PERIOD” BEGINS ALL OVER AGAIN.
  • Cloudy water in 2-3 weeks of a newly started tank is normal. This “Bacterial Bloom” is microscopic free floating bacteria which will eventually settle and colonize in the bio bed of the tank. Please do nothing during this naturally occurring and totally normal process. Once settled, the water will clear up.
  • High rates of lobster fatality are not a sign of faulty equipment. Examine your handling procedures, and product supplier should any unacceptable amount of lobsters die. In any or all instances Lobster Life Systems will not be held responsible for water quality or lobster fatality.
  • Trace readings of ammonia are normal in an established system as lobsters are added
  • It is important to note that, if a fully established (cycled) system is left empty (without lobsters) for more than a day the bacteria will begin to die as they have nothing to feed on. Lobsters must be slowly introduced back into the system to allow the bacteria to re-grow and strengthen. In this instance, the rate to add lobsters into an empty system is no more than 25% capacity per day. FATALITIES WILL OCCUR IF MORE IS ADDED

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