07-21-2012, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by sidluckman
I read that post, too, and since this is your first tank I just wanted to let you know I am not sure the information was accurate. I did a little reading, as I mentioned, and did not uncover anything that assured me that plants can be made to work in place of a fully cycled filter.
It may be a misunderstanding as to exactly what occurs, so I'll try to elucidate.
All new aquaria will go through a "cycle" during which nitrifying bacteria (Nitrosomonas and Nitrospira) become established. This takes time, and rather than go into all that, have a read of my article: http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/f...quarium-74891/
The benefit of live plants, provided there are enough of them and they are reasonably fast growing (floating and stem plants generally supply this), is the uptake of ammonia from day one so that fish can be put in the new tank with no harmful effects to the fish, provided they do not overwhelm the ability of the plants. Lots of plants and few fish, with the fish increased gradually. There is thus no waiting, and no detriment to the fish. The bacteria will still establish, but minimally by comparison to having no live plants. You will not detect any ammonia or nitrite using our test kits because the ammonia is grabbed quickly by the plants and any left gets taken up by Nitrosomonas bacteria.
That covers the initial "cycling" period. Long-term, live plants can replace the filter, again provided there are sufficient plants and the fish load is balanced. Plants can take up pretty much anything likely to appear in the aquarium in the way of natural toxins. Nevertheless, most of us do have a filter; the primary task is water circulation and removal of suspended particulate matter (the mechanical filtration aspect). Chemical filtration (carbon and such) is never required with plants, since this competes for nutrients. And biological filtration will occur in any aquarium, but should not be encouraged. The plants will do the job if allowed to.