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Fishless Cycling!!

This is a discussion on Fishless Cycling!! within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> I've never done fishless cycling, only use plants, so I'm being theoretical here. Maintain the ammonia addition daily and when ammnia measures zero and ...

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Old 05-24-2011, 05:54 PM   #11
 
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I've never done fishless cycling, only use plants, so I'm being theoretical here. Maintain the ammonia addition daily and when ammnia measures zero and then nitrite is zero for consecutive days, you're cycled. I would expect this to take more than 4 days though.
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Old 05-24-2011, 07:39 PM   #12
 
I'm so sorry I have so many questions but I really don't want to screw up this tank! :) Here's another question: The gravel doesn't seem to be too deep. Maybe an inch deep. Should I buy another 5 lb bag of the same gravel to put in the tank so that the plants have a deeper gravel substrate? And if I do end up getting more gravel, can I put it in the tank after I take out 75% of the water after my cycle? It'll be before I put in the plants. Then I will fill the tank and put the fish in....

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Old 05-25-2011, 11:45 AM   #13
 
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I'm so sorry I have so many questions but I really don't want to screw up this tank! :) Here's another question: The gravel doesn't seem to be too deep. Maybe an inch deep. Should I buy another 5 lb bag of the same gravel to put in the tank so that the plants have a deeper gravel substrate? And if I do end up getting more gravel, can I put it in the tank after I take out 75% of the water after my cycle? It'll be before I put in the plants. Then I will fill the tank and put the fish in....

Thanks!
Substrate depth is important for rooting plants but even more for providing a good site for bacteria, and here we are thinking of bacteria aside from the nitrifying species. Bacteria "co-operate" with plant roots to break down organics which mainly becomes nutrient food for the plants and keeps the aquarium more naturally balanced biologically and thus healthier. One inch of substrate at the front is fine, but I would have it deeper towards the back, maybe 2 inches depending upon the type of plants.

I would add the additional substrate now. Mix it in with the existing.
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Old 05-25-2011, 05:18 PM   #14
 
I'd rather take one trip to the pet store, but if it is essential to add the gravel now, then I will. Does it need to be added about now?
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Old 05-25-2011, 05:25 PM   #15
 
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I'd rather take one trip to the pet store, but if it is essential to add the gravel now, then I will. Does it need to be added about now?
I would simply because bacteria will colonize it. Can you get the plants now too? Plant them if you can, much better.
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Old 05-25-2011, 05:28 PM   #16
 
Well, wouldn't that kind of make it harder to see when the cycle is done? I'm afraid if I add the plants, then I will loose where I think I am in the cycle....
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Old 05-25-2011, 06:30 PM   #17
 
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Well, wouldn't that kind of make it harder to see when the cycle is done? I'm afraid if I add the plants, then I will loose where I think I am in the cycle....
With live plants, you have no "cycle" as such. By planting the tank well initially, you can immediately add some fish and you will not have detectable ammonia or nitrite. The plants need nitrogen, and prefer it as ammonium which they obtain from ammonia (in basic water). They use so much that the ammonia produced by a very few fish is readily assimilated. Some will still be take up by bacteria, but it will be very little by comparison. Ammonia is also produced by the decomposition of organics by bacteria. The advantage of this process is that nitrite is not produced. As the tank matures and ammonia increases, some bacteria will appear but none of this is detectable with test kits. As long as there are enough plants, and particularly some faster growing species (these use more nutrients icluding ammonium) with just a few fish.

The idea behind this is to start the biological system from the beginning, the system that will maintain a balanced biological equilibrium throughout the life of the tank.
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Old 05-25-2011, 08:23 PM   #18
 
I know you have never done fishless cycling, but do you think that if I continue to add pure ammonia, it will harm the plants? If I put in the plants, I'll probably observe it for up to a week and see what adding ammonia does with the plants.....
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Old 05-25-2011, 09:50 PM   #19
 
Actually, plants LOVE ammonia. It is one of their primary food sources, so if you dose ammonia, you'll be feeding your plants. Plants eat up ammonia/ammonium *harmless form of ammonia* and nitrates. Its really hard to say if you add in plants, as they do eat up ammonia and nitrates. But all in all, adding in plants now won't really harm the cycle, and if anything, it'll help. Add away!
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Old 05-26-2011, 10:20 AM   #20
 
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True, but one has to remember that plants require 17 nutrients, and if any one of the essential is missing (not available) they can't use the others. And, ammonia is toxic.

I would not add ammonia to a tank with plants. Ammonia is toxic to all life, be it fish, plant, bacteria (not the nitrifying spec ies here), etc, and while plants can "take up" [which is different from "assimilating" as a nutrient] toxins like pure ammonia, there is a limit. Ammonia at 1 ppm will kill plants.

If you add live plants, I would do a major water change to dilute the ammonia, and add a couple fish.

Byron.
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