How to cycle low light low maintenence plant tank
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Old 11-11-2012, 07:55 PM   #1
plantastic37
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How to cycle low light low maintenence plant tank


I was reading rex crigg's recommendation. The thing is I cannot support any of those plants. All of the plants in my tank will be low maintenence plants so not sure how to proceed. Will probably do this:
Neon rasboras, badus badus, shrimp or two

So how should I proceed tyvm in advance!
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Old 11-11-2012, 09:10 PM   #2
Diana
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I would do the fishless cycle no matter what tech level the tank will be, or what the livestock level.
Here is the fishless cycle.

Fishless Cycle
You too can boast that "No fish were harmed in the cycling of your new tank"
Cycling a tank means to grow the beneficial bacteria that will help to decompose the fish waste (especially ammonia). These bacteria need ammonia to grow. There are 3 sources of ammonia that work to do this. One is fish. Unfortunately, the process exposes the fish to ammonia, which burns their gills, and nitrite, which makes their blood unable to carry oxygen. This often kills the fish.

Another source is decomposing protein. You could cycle your tank by adding fish food or a dead fish or shellfish. You do not know how much beneficial bacteria you are growing, though.

The best source of ammonia is... Ammonia. In a bottle.

Using fish is a delicate balance of water changes to keep the toxins low (try not to hurt the fish) but keep feeding the bacteria. It can take 4 to 8 weeks to cycle a tank this way, and can cost the lives of several fish. When you are done you have grown a small bacteria population that still needs to be nurtured to increase its population. You cannot, at the end of a fish-in cycle, fully stock your tank.

The fishless/ammonia cycle takes as little as 3 weeks, and can be even faster, grows a BIG bacteria population, and does not harm fish in any way.

Both methods give you plenty of practice using your test kit.

How to cycle a tank the fishless way:

1) Make sure all equipment is working, fill with water that has all the stuff you will need for the fish you intend to keep. Dechlorinator, minerals for GH or KH adjustments, the proper salt mix, if you are creating a brackish or marine tank. These bacteria require a few minerals, so make sure the GH and KH is at least 3 German degrees of hardness. Aquarium plant fertilizer containing phosphate should be added if the water has no phosphate. They grow best when the pH is in the 7s. Good water movement, fairly warm (mid to upper 70sF), no antibiotics or other toxins.

2) (Optional)Add some source of the bacteria. Used filter media from a cycled tank is best, gravel or some decorations or a few plants... even some water, though this is the poorest source of the beneficial bacteria.
Bacteria in a bottle can be a source of these bacteria, but make sure you are getting Nitrospira spp of bacteria. All other ‘bacteria in a bottle’ products have the wrong bacteria. This step is optional. The proper bacteria will find the tank even if you make no effort to add them. Live plants may bring in these bacteria on their leaves and stems.

3) Add ammonia until the test reads 5 ppm. This is the non-sudsing, no surfactants, no-fragrance-added ammonia that is often found in a hardware store, discount stores, and sometimes in a grocery store. The concentration of ammonia may not be the same in all bottles. Try adding 5 drops per 10 gallons, then allowing the filter to circulate for about an hour, then test. If the reading isn't up to 5 ppm, add a few more drops and test again. (Example, if your test reads only 2 ppm, then add another 5 drops) Some ammonia is such a weak dilution you may need to add several ounces to get a reading.

4) Test for ammonia daily, and add enough to keep the reading at 5 ppm. You probably will not have to add much, if any, in the first few days, unless you added a good amount of bacteria to jump start the cycle.

5) Several days after you start, begin testing for nitrites. When the nitrites show up, reduce the amount of ammonia you add so the test shows 3ppm. (Add only half as much ammonia as you were adding in part 4) Add this reduced amount daily from now until the tank is cycled.
If the nitrites get too high (over 5 ppm), do a water change. The bacteria growth is slowed because of the high nitrites. Reducing the level of ammonia to 3 ppm should prevent the nitrite from getting over 5 ppm.

6) Continue testing, and adding ammonia daily. The nitrates will likely show up about 2 weeks after you started. Keep monitoring, and watch for 0 ppm ammonia, 0 ppm nitrite and rising nitrates.

7) Once the 0 ppm ammonia and nitrites shows up it may bounce around a little bit for a day or two. Be patient. Keep adding the ammonia; keep testing ammonia, nitrite and nitrate.
When it seems done you can challenge the system by adding more than a regular dose of ammonia, and the bacteria should be able to remove the ammonia and nitrite by the next day.
If you will not be adding fish right away continue to add the ammonia to keep the bacteria fed.

8) When you are ready to add the fish, do at least one water change, and it may take a couple of them, to reduce the nitrate to safe levels (as low as possible, certainly below 10 ppm) I have seen nitrate approaching 200 ppm by the end of this fishless cycle in a non-planted tank.

9) You can plant a tank that is being cycled this way at any point during the process. If you plant early, the plants will be well rooted, and better able to handle the disruption of the water change.
Yes, the plants will use some of the ammonia and the nitrates. They are part of the nitrogen handling system, part of the biofilter, they are working for you. Some plants do not like high ammonia, though. If a certain plant dies, remove it, and only replace it after the cycle is done.

10) The fishless cycle can also be used when you are still working out the details of lighting, plants and other things. If you change the filter, make sure you keep the old media for several weeks or a month. Most of the bacteria have been growing in this media (sponges, floss etc).
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Old 11-11-2012, 09:41 PM   #3
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Wow thanks Diane! Appreciate your effort on that!
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Old 11-11-2012, 09:51 PM   #4
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Sure thing. I typed that several years ago, based on a site that is not longer on line. A couple of scientists figured out the fastest way to grow the maximum bacteria population.
Their goal: Worst case scenario: Fully stock, and over stock an African Rift Lake Cichlid tank, all in one swoop, no plants. Gotta have 100% cycled tank for that!
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Old 11-12-2012, 02:20 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plantastic37 View Post
I was reading rex crigg's recommendation. The thing is I cannot support any of those plants. All of the plants in my tank will be low maintenence plants so not sure how to proceed. Will probably do this:
Neon rasboras, badus badus, shrimp or two
If your tank uses soil as the substrate, the tank is already cycled. Thus, no need to cycle the tank. See Diana Walstad's book Ecology of the Planted Aquarium.
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Old 11-12-2012, 03:42 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
Sure thing. I typed that several years ago, based on a site that is not longer on line. A couple of scientists figured out the fastest way to grow the maximum bacteria population.
Their goal: Worst case scenario: Fully stock, and over stock an African Rift Lake Cichlid tank, all in one swoop, no plants. Gotta have 100% cycled tank for that!
Ah okay thanks for the details, very good stuff! In regards to the nitrospira in a bottle can you PM me a brand? I know of a well known brand but I am thinking that your hinting at this is the one to avoid.
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Old 11-12-2012, 03:56 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zdnet View Post
If your tank uses soil as the substrate, the tank is already cycled. Thus, no need to cycle the tank. See Diana Walstad's book Ecology of the Planted Aquarium.
Ah okay makes sense. Point well taken! I am using Carib Sea Flora Max. So does not apply.
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Old 11-13-2012, 07:50 PM   #8
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Default the road so far.

So I have started. On day two now. I am using DrTim's One and Only product which is supposed to have nitrospira.

Unfortunately here on Day two and I seem to have a bacteria bloom. Very, Very weird. I do not think it is the gravel as it was prerinced and tank was fine for a few days after initial setup.

Anyway I used almost half a new bottle of DrTim's per recommendation from elsewhere now questioning if that is good advice.

Got it up to 4ppm Ammonia yesterday after dosing DrTim's no trouble. This morning reading was 0.25. Brought it back up to 4ppm today.
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Old 11-13-2012, 08:05 PM   #9
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Go to the LFS in your area and get some used filter media and add it to your filter. This will speed up the cycle a lot!

You mentioned "bacteria bloom". Do you mean algae?
Are you cycling with plants or not? If no plants and you are running lights -turn them off, bacteria doesn't need lights to populate. If with plants, decrease the light period.


Quote:
Originally Posted by plantastic37 View Post
So I have started. On day two now. I am using DrTim's One and Only product which is supposed to have nitrospira.

Unfortunately here on Day two and I seem to have a bacteria bloom. Very, Very weird. I do not think it is the gravel as it was prerinced and tank was fine for a few days after initial setup.

Anyway I used almost half a new bottle of DrTim's per recommendation from elsewhere now questioning if that is good advice.

Got it up to 4ppm Ammonia yesterday after dosing DrTim's no trouble. This morning reading was 0.25. Brought it back up to 4ppm today.
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Old 11-13-2012, 08:12 PM   #10
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Oh and just to add I have 1 anubius nana on one of my driftwood pieces now.
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Old 11-13-2012, 08:14 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bubba_Shrimp View Post
Go to the LFS in your area and get some used filter media and add it to your filter. This will speed up the cycle a lot!

You mentioned "bacteria bloom". Do you mean algae?
Are you cycling with plants or not? If no plants and you are running lights -turn them off, bacteria doesn't need lights to populate. If with plants, decrease the light period.
Hey Thanks for your reply Bubba! I do have one anubius nano with 9 individual leaves on it. I actually started the cycle with it in the tank.

Well I am pretty sure its a bacteria bloom because it has turned the water a bit white or cloudy but not too bad. Its definitely not a green tint like green water.
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Old 11-13-2012, 08:20 PM   #12
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Java ferns ( you can get some very interesting variants ) moss and anubias. Overplant the tank. Buy more plants than you think you need. This will provide for a healthy tank from the onset and help prevent algae going forward.

A single anubias nana with 9 leaves is enough if you have a half gallon tank or so.
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Old 11-13-2012, 08:31 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by TexasCichlid View Post
Java ferns ( you can get some very interesting variants ) moss and anubias. Overplant the tank. Buy more plants than you think you need. This will provide for a healthy tank from the onset and help prevent algae going forward.

A single anubias nana with 9 leaves is enough if you have a half gallon tank or so.
I know right! I definitely will do that, just limited on funds at the moment so got what I could for the time being after tank expenses and all. Although I am having trouble finding quality plants from any source right now. Drove 2 hours round trip to a location I thought would be beneficial but they did not have what I was after.
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Old 11-13-2012, 08:45 PM   #14
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h4n here on the forums carries a lot of different ferns, anubias and mosses at a reasonable price. Send him a PM to check his current stock. His stuff will be better quality and more reasonable than anything you can buy from a LFS. It may be a stretch now, but properly planting your tank from day 1 will provide you with a better experience in the longrun. Many folks try to save a buck, underplant, and end up with algae issues. I have been guilty of this. It can really sour your experience quickly and you end up behind the eight ball in the end buying stuff to battle the algae or just giving up on a tank.
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Old 11-13-2012, 10:45 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TexasCichlid View Post
h4n here on the forums carries a lot of different ferns, anubias and mosses at a reasonable price. Send him a PM to check his current stock. His stuff will be better quality and more reasonable than anything you can buy from a LFS. It may be a stretch now, but properly planting your tank from day 1 will provide you with a better experience in the longrun. Many folks try to save a buck, underplant, and end up with algae issues. I have been guilty of this. It can really sour your experience quickly and you end up behind the eight ball in the end buying stuff to battle the algae or just giving up on a tank.
Do you think I ought to cancel the cycle at this point and wait till I can stock the tank with a full compliment of plants?
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