Plants and cycling
I was wondering that if you have live plants do you even need to cycle your tank? Sorry if this is a dumb question.
yes and no. It really depends on the amount of plants you have. Just few slow growing plants like anubias or java fern are not going to do much. If you have moderate to heavily planted tank with medium to fast growing plants, then yes you don't need to cycle. Typically though you stock lightly and build up the bioload slowly. In the beginning you are dependent completely on the plants to consume the ammonia, eventually a biofilter will develop. Done correctly you won't experience any ammonia or nitrite spikes.
I lovethe fish in your pic is that an actual fish?
Think of it like balance or buffering... the more plants you have, the less dependent on bacteria for the N2 cycle. More importantly, since plants will utilize the ammonia, nitrites and nitrates are not created (reducing nitrates is always a good thing!)
So in theory, if you have enough plants, you'll never have large colonies of bacteria as there won't be enough ammonia/nitrite to support them .... the balance.
Yeah, I had zero nitrates for at least 10 weeks in my fully cycled 10 gal. planted tank. I think that means that no ammonia got into the Nitrogen cycle to end up as nitrates. The plants took it all.
I heard that when there's nothing to process, the nitrifying bacteria become inactive until some ammonia becomes available. It is also possible that nitrifying bacteria die and their numbers get smaller if they have nothing to process. I think I've heard both explanations.
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