Cycling a planted tank. Am I kidding myself? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-22-2019, 07:08 PM Thread Starter
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Cycling a planted tank. Am I kidding myself?

I haven't cycled a tank in about 10 years or more. For this tank I did the following:

1. I bought used driftwood from tanks at my LFS and kept them wet until I set the tank up.
2. I heavily planted the tank
3. I added two filters worth of sludge to the entire tank mixed into the water and it went everywhere covering the plants, driftwood, and substrate
4. I added a bag of green water i got with some scuds
5. The tank is setup as a riparium with two anthuriums emerging

The current occupants of the tank are scuds and snails. They have been in the tank from day one. They are all doing fine and the scuds are active and breeding. After about a week I did a test and all the numbers looked good. Does that mean that tank has cycled/is cycling? I wasn't planning on doing water changes just top ups. Is that nuts?

Obviously I'll keep testing but I'd like to know if my plan moving forward is sound.

I was going to add about 25 cherry shrimp in about a week. That would be two weeks of cycling.

After that the plan was to add about 5 male Endlers in another two weeks.

The tank is a 20gal high with a small powerhead restricted down for some circulation and no filter.


Last edited by rakali; 09-22-2019 at 07:23 PM. Reason: Forgot a photo and some more details
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-22-2019, 09:51 PM
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What are some of the submerged plants, some of them donít look like true aquatic plants?
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-22-2019, 09:55 PM Thread Starter
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They are all true aquatics as far as I know. They are from AZ Garden's "Freshwater Assorted Potted Aquatic Plant Collection".
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-23-2019, 01:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rakali View Post
I haven't cycled a tank in about 10 years or more. For this tank I did the following:

1. I bought used driftwood from tanks at my LFS and kept them wet until I set the tank up.
2. I heavily planted the tank
3. I added two filters worth of sludge to the entire tank mixed into the water and it went everywhere covering the plants, driftwood, and substrate
4. I added a bag of green water i got with some scuds
5. The tank is setup as a riparium with two anthuriums emerging
Is the water consistently cloudy, or had you recently been messing with the tank before that photo? I certainly wouldn't say from the description or photo that the tank is shrimp-ready, but presuming bacteria from the driftwood and filter sludge survive the change over you should be off to a good start. Are you adding any ammonia?

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Originally Posted by rakali View Post
I wasn't planning on doing water changes just top ups. Is that nuts?
Yes, that is crazy talk from the care of Neocaridina shrimp side of things. I would say no if you just wanted plants and common snails but shrimp are going to do great then crash if you do that route for long. I've made that mistake and very much want to keep it from happening to you.


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Originally Posted by rakali View Post
I was going to add about 25 cherry shrimp in about a week. That would be two weeks of cycling.
While I'm certain that is doable, I would strongly advise to hold off another 6 weeks or so. At least let the tank settle down and run clear, in my opinion.

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Originally Posted by rakali View Post
After that the plan was to add about 5 male Endlers in another two weeks.
Fan of endlers myself. I'd be inclined to give the cherries time to breed a new generation, but it really depends on what you want. Alert fish such as livebearers will out-compete cherry shrimp 10 times out of 10. For food as well as they are really good at finding their babies.

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Originally Posted by rakali View Post
The tank is a 20gal high with a small powerhead restricted down for some circulation and no filter.
It looks like pea soup from the photo, but I can't tell if it's a bacterial bloom (tank isn't ready for shrimp) or green water (tank isn't ready for shrimp either) or both. I would suggest at least for now a mechanical filter of some sort if you are so inclined -or being very patient before adding livestock.

Nothing good happens fast in an ecosystem.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-23-2019, 02:26 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for your response.

I have not added ammonia. I was hoping the scud and snail waste would be enough to kick things off. I remember cycling a tank in a similar way years ago.

The water is cloudy because I added greenwater to the tank. There will be daphnia in the tank shortly and I wanted some greenwater for them. Also there are already scuds in the tank and they like greenwater too. I would imagine cherry shrimp like greenwater too. Also I'm adding a bunch of infusoria to the tank so the greenwater is important for them too.

The tank has a refugium where some of the cherries will be. My hope is that the adults in the refugium will breed and the fry will swim through the screen to the main part of the tank.

Have you read about Tom's Bucket o' Mud? He had cherries and he wasn't doing water changes. I'm going for an approach like his but I'll keep in mind what you've said and maybe push the shrimp off a few more weeks to be sure things have settled down. That will also give the scuds and infusoria time to settle in and not compete for resources.
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-25-2019, 09:19 PM Thread Starter
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Been testing every day and things still look good. Tank is now a bit more than two weeks old. Scuds and snails are happy. Saw some copepods today. Greenwater is happy. Also added Indian almond leaves and oak leaves in the refugium. Also Java moss. Anyone see anything to worry about in these numbers?
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-25-2019, 09:53 PM
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I only trust strips so much, but parameters look to be okay. My inclination would still be to hold off on shrimp until things settle down.

Nothing good happens fast in an ecosystem.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-26-2019, 12:14 AM Thread Starter
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At the suggestion of my LFS I'm adding crushed coral to raise the PH and hardness. They recommended that for the shrimp. Yes I will still be holding off on adding the shrimp for around another 3 or 4 weeks.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-27-2019, 04:19 PM Thread Starter
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So let's talk about cycling. Most people want a "clean" tank visually. They add a filter which eventually holds a mass of bacteria and water is forced through it so that anything bad in the water gets neutralized.

But in this setup I'd argue the whole tank is the filter. I took filter media from two filters from an established tank and added it to the entire tank. All surfaces were covered in filter sludge; wood, plants, glass, substrate. There's a layer of sludge on the substrate that most people would want to vacuum up. In addition the wood and plants came from established tanks. Then I added scuds and snails which add to the bio load. In addition there's greenwater and emergent plants (two anthriums and two peace lillies) which are sucking up available nutrients too.

I think this tank is more along the lines of a Walstad or Silent cycle. Numbers have been rock solid for two weeks.

Yesterday I added daphnia, copepods, ostracods, and blackworm. Everything looks happy.

I think I'm going to add shrimp in another week. Thoughts?

This is what the tank looks like today.


Last edited by rakali; 09-27-2019 at 04:31 PM. Reason: added image
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-29-2019, 06:11 AM
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Are you actually adding anything that would produce ammonia? The numbers being good only matter if you are checking against it with an input of ammonia.

As for shrimp it is generally recommended that a tank be established for a couple of months long post cycle as they are quite picky/fragile. A tank can be cycled and still not quite stable.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-29-2019, 06:52 AM
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By 2 months in my tank I already had baby shrimp. I would just throw a couple amano in and see how they do. IMHO they will be fine.


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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-29-2019, 04:24 PM
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I have a greenwater culture going currently and once it is established I will be adding copious amounts to my DT and grow-out tanks. I have loads of pods in my 10 gallon grow-out. Even though I have fish in my 45 gallon GT I am going to try to make pod-safe zones using lava rock and have a HOB refugium filled with small bits of lava rock. I will need plenty of greenwater for them but I am getting ready to purchase a couple clams too. There will soon be much greenwater brewing here. You are right about the "clean" tank thing. It's one thing to want to see your fish and all but I love to see ecosystems as they really are in nature. There is definitely some greenwater in ponds, lakes, probably in streams and rivers too. Now a tank that has so much green algae in it that it is tough to resist the urge to throw some ham hocks, salt, and pepper, that is going to the other extreme. Rakali's tank though is not nearly that bad and the little bit of greenwater in there will be gone pretty quick with the planktonic patrol. Although I don't believe it will be an issue in Rakali's case, the addition of too much greenwater at once in a system can create an ammonia spike for sure. It all depends on what's being kept. With clams though as well as pods though instead of only adding enough to cloud the water, I will need to add enough to make it a slightly opaque green. It is a matter of figuring out how much the denizens of a tank will consume in a day. I believe it would be best to feed several times a day if large amounts of greenwater is needed every day.
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-29-2019, 07:19 PM Thread Starter
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I believe the prolific snail waste would add to ammonia would it not? Also scuds waste.
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-29-2019, 07:24 PM Thread Starter
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@N7QL Did you read Auban's post about making greenwater from Astaxanthin powder. I bought some and I'm going to try it when I get home.
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-30-2019, 09:06 PM
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@N7QL Did you read Auban's post about making greenwater from Astaxanthin powder. I bought some and I'm going to try it when I get home.
Yes I read about it and I will be buying some. It will be a few months though with Christmas and several birthdays coming up. It is a bit expensive but so is not having greenwater when you need it lol. My culture is looking greener but I wouldn't mind having several strains to tap into. Let us know how long it takes to go from red to green.
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