Is it ok if I start my cycle and then add plants in a few weeks?
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Is it ok if I start my cycle and then add plants in a few weeks?

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Is it ok if I start my cycle and then add plants in a few weeks?
Old 02-13-2011, 09:55 PM   #1
 
Is it ok if I start my cycle and then add plants in a few weeks?

Hi,
I just bought my first aquarium, and it has been sitting in my living room for a few days now. I don't make a lot of money to buy a bunch of plants and gravel all at once, so I was wondering if I could buy gravel and start cycling and then buy plants and slowly add them in a few weeks? I am in no rush to add fish, I want to make sure everything else is done first, but I wasn't sure I needed to add all the plants first or if it was ok to wait.

I'm not sure if its important but my tank is a 20gal, and it came with a filter (Tetra whisper EX20) and hood.
Thanks!
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Old 02-13-2011, 10:00 PM   #2
 
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That's about the way I did it. Set up the tank, put in gravel, added water (and just a few fish!), and started the tank cycling. I added plants about two weeks later and the plants actually improved the water clarity a few days after planting. The only thing I wonder is if you'll have enough light. The generic off the shelf hoods don't often put out enough light. I added a high output light fixture to my tank in place of the hood that came with my setup, but it was not inexpensive. Fish don't need the high intensity light like plants, so it's something you could save up for and get plants later on!

David
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Old 02-13-2011, 10:03 PM   #3
 
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By the way, welcome to the forum!
Make sure you rinse the gravel before adding it. It may slightly cloud the tank at first, but nothing to worry about.
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Old 02-13-2011, 10:10 PM   #4
 
Thanks for the welcome David!

I definitely need new lighting, the lights are incandescent, so I'm going to get a good fluorescent light strip to replace the one it came with when the time comes to get plants. Thanks so much for the help!
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Old 02-13-2011, 11:10 PM   #5
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paigeypie View Post
Hi,
I just bought my first aquarium, and it has been sitting in my living room for a few days now. I don't make a lot of money to buy a bunch of plants and gravel all at once, so I was wondering if I could buy gravel and start cycling and then buy plants and slowly add them in a few weeks? I am in no rush to add fish, I want to make sure everything else is done first, but I wasn't sure I needed to add all the plants first or if it was ok to wait.

I'm not sure if its important but my tank is a 20gal, and it came with a filter (Tetra whisper EX20) and hood.
Thanks!

Welcome to the forum.
It was good advice to rinse your gravel. I rinse mine 3 or 4 times just to be safe and decrease cloudiness. It also helps to add the water slowly into the tank so you don't disturb the surface much. I use a bowl in the bottom to help spread out the water when i'm pouring it in.
You can add plants anytime, but you'll need fish help to start the tank to cycle. The beneficial bacteria needs a catalyst. Some people use "stuff" to do fishless cycles.....i don't like this "stuff". In my opinion the best method is to use some filter media from an established tank along with some gravel from that tank(a handful). I've done it this way and always had great success. I'd just start with 1 maybeeee 2 very hardy fish to provide the ammonia to feed the bacteria you need to successfully cycle. Other people may have different opinions, that's where research comes in handy. The more research you do, the more money you save. I don't have a lot of money to pour into it either so i read and read to explore lots of options and see what's most comfortable for me. Good luck you found a great forum, lots of knowledgeable people. Ask lots of questions! Good luck
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Old 02-14-2011, 12:42 AM   #6
 
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Welcome to TFK.
I started my tank with fake plants and off the shelf decorations, and slowley migrated to live plants and more natural decor.
Just a word of caution.... the plants can be as addictive as the fish.
We would all like to see pics of what you have so far... and how it progresses.
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Old 02-14-2011, 02:13 PM   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paigeypie View Post
Thanks for the welcome David!

I definitely need new lighting, the lights are incandescent, so I'm going to get a good fluorescent light strip to replace the one it came with when the time comes to get plants. Thanks so much for the help!
Save your money. There is nothing at all wrong with incandescent fixtures, now that we have the compact fluorescent bulbs. And over a 20g a fluorescent (tube) fixture will be a waste of money. I have a two-bulb incandescent fixture over my 20g with two 10w "daylight" GE bulbs and the plants thrive. Get a CF bulb with a kelvin rating of 6500K or close, usually they call them natural daylight or similar. GE, Phillips and Sylvania make them, and you buy them at hardware stores. They only cost a couple dollars for a package of 2. Ideal plant light; a photo of my 20g is attached--this is just a "plant" depository, so not aquascaped or anything.

On the cycling, add some live plants first, then a few fish. With live plants and very few fish, there will be no discernible cycle and no resulting stress on the fish. You need a good number of plants. As you are going to have plants, get them first.

Be careful buying plants in fish stores, esp chain stores. Many sell terrestrial plants and they will not last. We can help you with plants, and there are many of the common ones in our profiles, second tab from the left in the blue bar across the top of the page. Lots of fish and plant profiles so you can find out all about them and avoid acquiring plants and fish that will not work in your setup.

And, welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum. Glad you joined us.

Byron.
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Last edited by Byron; 02-14-2011 at 02:17 PM..
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Old 02-14-2011, 03:16 PM   #8
 
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Good advice from Byron, I happily defer to his expertise (his responses and stickies have saved me a lot of time and $$$). I didn't consider the CFL's as an option, I'm going to try them on my 10 gallon tank.

Last edited by DKRST; 02-14-2011 at 03:18 PM..
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Old 02-14-2011, 03:36 PM   #9
 
Adding plants without fish is probably even better than adding them both at once since it gives the plants a good opportunity to establish themselves in the gravel without fish nipping at them or pulling them out. Plants can be added at any time regardless of what point the cycle is.
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