08-02-2013, 10:06 AM
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Using dirty water does nothing much more than transfer dirty water as the micro organisms are adhered to the various surfaces in the tank creating a biofilm, not free floating in the water. While there may be some stragglers that do get transferred, they are not enough to make any significant difference in the cycling process.
With 10 plants, even the plants that you have, if you haven't added a bunch of ammonia directly, you could expect to see little to no spiking in ammonia and little to no spiking of nitrites either. Also, the nitrates will build up much more slowly as the plants circumvent the whole cycle by absorbing ammonia before it gets oxidized into nitrite and will use some amount of nitrate on the backside. I have yet to test anything over 5ppm nitrate in one tank even after extended periods between water changes. Some higher energy tanks (lots of light, CO2 injection and fertilization) will run dry of nitrates as well... as mentioned already.
The idea behind not doing water changes during a cycle is to maximize the amount of ammonia concentration for the ammonia oxidizers... which is counter productive if you are in a hurry or trying to do a fish in cycle.
As soon as there are fish involved, water changes should commence:
- If levels are measurable, then every day or two while using a conditioner like Prime that renders the ammonia and nitrites non-toxic to the fish.This allows the fish in cycle to provide ammonia to the growing micro organisms while protecting the fish from the effects of the toxins.
- If levels are not measurable then whatever your schedule may eventually be.
Doing changes will not stall or affect the cycle if there is a regular source of ammonia production in the tank (fish and fish waste). In pure ammonia cycling you are effectively bringing the concentration up by adding ammonia and in that case changing the water is only advisable if the concentration reaches or exceeds 1ppm.