Cycle Before Adding Plants ?
In an article in Tropical Fish Hobbyist, the author stated that the tank should be cycled before adding live plants. While I can see where this certainly wouldn't hurt, it somewhat contradicts the theory of partially circumventing the traditional cycling with the use of plants, in my opinion. The author also promotes the use of surface agitation to increase CO2 in low tech set ups. Don't know if there is a connection within her approach. I'd be interested in hearing members' comments.
Plants circumvent the cycle making it unnecessary. The nitrifying organisms still will grow and multiply creating a full cycle but they are not needed to accommodate the ammonia with plants in place.Although with enough plants the cycle would not be needed but it happens anyway, just in the background. Plants can, depending upon the variety, consume ammonia between 5 and 50 times faster than nitrifying organisms... I wish I could find that study again but I failed to retain the link.
Why bother cycling the tank when you can plant and add fish quite safely right away?
I do also believe that the cycle will happen faster with plants in place than in the empty tank.
As far as aeration is concerned... agitation will serve to offgas any CO2 beyond the saturation level that the water can maintain given the setup. If there were only plants it would increase CO2 (tried this myself and it works in a plant only environment) as the plants would, during the day, use the CO2 faster than the air/water transfer will make it up. With fish, decomposing waste and the normal air/water transfer, aeration will serve to potentially reduce the CO2 available to the plants in the tank unless the tank was kept extremely clean and a very low level of fish stocking were maintained.
Will it hurt to cycle first, no. With a new tank I would prefer to not have to wait the month or two for the cycle to start playing in the sand.
I concur with Jeff. In more than 20 years I have started dozens of tanks by planting well and adding fish immediately, I have never "cycled," and I've never had ammonia or nitrite issues.
I subscribe to TFH but I can't recall reading this, can you point me to the article and issue? I would like to see it to know the exact context.
The issue as shown on the spine of the magazine is November 2012 Volume LXI Number 3 #680. Setting Up a Successful Low-Teck Planted Tank Like a Pro, Part 1: Planted Tank Basics. Author is Lea Maddocks.
I agree with you both...was trying not to use universal terms.
Thanks for the reference.:-)
I firmly believe that you should "cycle" the tank with plants not cycle the tank then add the plants.
I use no mechanical filtration or circulation and my tanks all have high pH (purple 8.4-8.8 with the api high range test kit) after a few weeks. So it could be entirly true that adding circulation would increase the CO2 through surface gas exchange. But I don't really care or simply cannot see why a system that reduces CO2 could be anything but beneficial to the fish.
But then that's just my .02
There is nothing little about your effort, Byron. At times, I bring these articles up for the sake of discussion and when I see information from people with beautifully planted tanks doing things contrary to my opinion.
Like everyone else, I plant my tanks immediately and have never really had to cycle any of my tanks.
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