Adding plants during fish less cycling?
Is it OK to add live plants during the cycling? This is the beginning of the second week of the cycle. The ammonia is at 5ppm, ph is 7.6, kh and gh both report 100. Would this help accelerate the process? I'm using swimming pool sand for the substrate and a canister filter. It's a 55 gallon tank.
Absolutely! Actually, if you add enough plants then you can add 2-3 hardy fish right away. The plants will eat up the Ammonia turning it into a safer form. When I say enough, I don't mean one or two plants and adding no more then 2-3 hardy fish until it is cycled.
+1 even in a fishless cycle the plants will do well. Heck I don't even cycle anymore, when I redo a tank I only start with a really light stocking for the tank size, and put tons of plants in, monitor water quality, if ammonia goes over .25 then I add in more plants, so at most my tanks do a light mini cycle. My favorite plants for this are anarchris, hornswart and duckweed. Though most people don't like duck weed for the fact it multiplies to quickly and is hard to get rid of, this is exactly the reason I use it, the faster a plant multiplies or grows the more nutrients it absorbs.
Fast growing plant's and lot's of em would be needed, or I fear with 5ppm ammonia, plus light left on too long, or too much light..would result in large algae bloom.
That's a lot of ammonia for newly established plant's to uptake, much more than would be found in most tapwater.
In my expierience thus far, light plus excess ammonia nearly always result's in algae and lot's of it.
Agree. You need to keep light minimal. No mention is made of light--what type do you have (please be specific, including type, watts, kelvin, etc). A shorter duration at the beginning will achieve this balance better, then you can gradually lengthen it as fish and nutrients are added.
I just came across the other thread on this tank and spotted something. When you put the plants in, don't add any more ammonia. In fact, I would do a water change to dilute it. Once the tank is reasonably well planted, and the ammonia reads zero, add a few fish to get things going. The plants grab the ammonia and there is no discernable cycle.
Thanks for the feedback...As far as plants, I was considering buying a bunch of plants from Thatfishplace. They have "plant packages" and I was considering the "jungle assortment". Since we have only a few petshops in the area and not too many plants, I'll buy online. Anybody have recommendations of where to buy and what to buy? OK, as far as the lighting , it's a perfecto light assembly with TWO 48" 32 watt T 8 bulbs with 5500K.
How much of a water change should I do, or rather, what ammonia level should I achieve? I just took a reading before writing this and it's 5 ppm.
Oh, one more thing: I want to put a piece of wood in the center and a few plants anchored to it.....Is there a "best" type of drift wood?
Trust me, I don't want to be a pain, but asking these same questions to a fish store guy and we both know you'll get different answers, and he/she may not have YOUR best interest in mind.
Thanks again for your help
Until you have the plants, I would continue what you're doing, but not add more ammonia. When the plants arrive, you can do a water change. And as I said before, once the plants are in and ammonia is zero, add a few fish. Something you want in this tank, but preferably not a super-sensitive species.
For wood, I highly recommend the dark brown/almost black heavy wood that I've seen under names like Mangrove Root, Ironwood, Malaysian Driftwood. This is ideal. It is heavy enough to immediately sink. It has tannins but not bad, and if you soak it or boil it first, these are reduced further. And it seems free of fungus issues. I have a lot of it, all the wood in my tank photos is this stuff.
Thanks Byron: So let me ask you this; What I would do is leave the lights on 8 hours/day and use plant food, then monitor the situation. If the algae starts to build up, what's the best way to getting rid of it? Should i cut back on the light or plant food? How would you define "established water" as compared to "unstable water" since they're not the same as cycling?
When I get some plants what level should I lower the ammonia to? Should I continue with the cycle process and consider it complete when the nitrates spike?
As plants are now in the picture, I would not "continue" cycling by adding ammonia. Just leave what's there. For one thing, with live plants you do not want much biological filtration, so don't encourage it. The whole idea of plants is they do all the filtration, and if fish are balanced with plants and volume, they can. The filter is just a means of clearing the water (removing particulate matter, different from "cleaning") and moving it around a bit.
Your first question we should review again when you have the tank planted (the type of plants has a bearing on nutrients). And I would need to know about the planned fish. And your tap water hardness. Nutrients come from all these, plus of course fish food.
Established means the tank's biology is fairly stable, and this usually (should) occur after 2-3 months. Fish load is balanced with water volume, plants. Nitrates are steady (probably low, with plants), and pH is stable. The hardness of the tap water again has a bearing on this, as the KH buffers the pH. Other things impact too, like wood, substrate type. I guess with me it is almost a "feeling" I get from observing the tank, I seem to sense it is or isn't balanced. Hard to explain.
Hi Byron: That's really interesting! So, when I get the plants, I'll do a water change aiming for 2 ppm ammonia in the tank. Then let the plants acclimate to the water and the stress of replanting. Then I'll add several fish. It'll mostly be common tropical fish, nothing exotic or super expensive.
Is it fair to say you can create a biological filtration by either having live plants OR having nitates remove the nitrites?
So, let me ask you this: Could you create a biologically balanced new tank, that would be fish friendly, just by planting live plants and feeding the plants?
I find this really interesting Byron, if there's any articles out there that describe this, let me know...I don't want to waste your time...with all these questions, because I'm going to have a lot more once I get the tank established and going!
Thanks again, you're a wealth of knowledge!
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