The Dreaded Nitrogen Cycle - Help! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-06-2020, 01:39 PM Thread Starter
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The Dreaded Nitrogen Cycle - Help!

I have just purchased a (Fluval) 30-gallon tank, which I am really happy with, I am going to be the proud owner of Betta's soon, which will go into the tank along with Java Moss.

I am a beginner when it comes to fish keeping and I am about to embark on my first cycle of the tank, I think I understand the process, however, any tips or help would be greatly appreciated. I am getting a little bit lost with the difference between nitrate and nitrite!!!

Suggestions, thoughts are very welcome.

Thank you
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-06-2020, 01:51 PM
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I have just purchased a (Fluval) 30-gallon tank, which I am really happy with, I am going to be the proud owner of Betta's soon, which will go into the tank along with Java Moss.

I am a beginner when it comes to fish keeping and I am about to embark on my first cycle of the tank, I think I understand the process, however, any tips or help would be greatly appreciated. I am getting a little bit lost with the difference between nitrate and nitrite!!!

Suggestions, thoughts are very welcome.

Thank you
Hello and welcome. It goes from Ammonia -> Nitrites -> Nitrates. Anyway check this thread out about how to do a fishless cycle.

Just remember it will take weeks to do a proper cycle. Just be as patient as you can and keep monitoring your ammonia and nitrite. Good luck!
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-06-2020, 01:54 PM
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Ammonia is converted into Nitrite by bacteria.
Nitrite is converted into Nitrate by a different population of bacteria.

To cycle the tank, you'll need both populations of bacteria to fully convert ammonia into nitrate with no traces of nitrite.

Ammonia and Nitrate are available Nitrogen sources for plants. I suggest planting the tank from day 1, and establish a good fertilizing and water change regime over a couple weeks. When you have the plants thriving, it is more than likely safe to add a betta, especially if it's in 30 gallons of water. You can avoid formally cycling the tank this way.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-06-2020, 02:03 PM
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Ammonia is converted into Nitrite by bacteria.
Nitrite is converted into Nitrate by a different population of bacteria.

To cycle the tank, you'll need both populations of bacteria to fully convert ammonia into nitrate with no traces of nitrite.

Ammonia and Nitrate are available Nitrogen sources for plants. I suggest planting the tank from day 1, and establish a good fertilizing and water change regime over a couple weeks. When you have the plants thriving, it is more than likely safe to add a betta, especially if it's in 30 gallons of water. You can avoid formally cycling the tank this way.
That's the silent cycle no? Sounds way easier than the fishless cycle. Found a thread about it here on the forum.

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/8...ent-cycle.html


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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-06-2020, 02:07 PM
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That's the silent cycle no? Sounds way easier than the fishless cycle.
Essentially yes. That's what I've always done. If the plants are growing well and you have a good water change schedule after the tank has been running a few weeks / months, there is enough cycling capability to support a small fish load.

Obviously I wouldn't stock the tank to its max potential all in one go using this method, but for a single betta in a 30 gallon tank, I am more than confident this method is safe.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-06-2020, 02:27 PM
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Essentially yes. That's what I've always done. If the plants are growing well and you have a good water change schedule after the tank has been running a few weeks / months, there is enough cycling capability to support a small fish load.

Obviously I wouldn't stock the tank to its max potential all in one go using this method, but for a single betta in a 30 gallon tank, I am more than confident this method is safe.
Man, thanks for pointing this method out. I completely forgot about it. I'm in the process of a fishless cycle myself.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-06-2020, 07:02 PM
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I always do something similar to what @Quagulator detailed. Plant from day one and get the tank going. I never even think about the cycle. I usually just wait a month or so as the plants get dialed in. By having growing plants and doing regular water changes the tank can easily support few fish at a time. So I would add a few fish every few weeks after that. The tank has always read zero ammonia by the time I add the fish.

BTW just by adding plants your adding bacteria as well as ammonia (dying/damaged leaves.)
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-07-2020, 02:49 AM
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I'm confused! How is this "silent cycle" any different to a normal fishless cycle in a planted tank? Only difference seems to be in the mindset of the tank-keeper whereby the focus is on enjoying the plants grow for the first month or two, rather than impatiently testing for and worrying about ammonia / nitrite / nitrate levels.

There is also an important distinction to be made depending upon the substrate used. With inert substrate I can see that it is (possibly) ok to add (a small number of) fish on day 2 as heavy planting should be able to soak up the low levels of ammonia produced by the fish and decaying leaves. But if the substrate is active soil (e.g. Amazonia) that leaches soooooo much ammonia for the first few weeks / months, then no amount of planting is going to be able to instantly soak it all up, so fish shouldn't be added for some time. Think it is important to be clear about this BIG difference depending upon the chosen substrate.

In that linked "About The Silent Cycle" thread, one post says:
"Also, IMO, Silent Cycle has not been adopted to a great extent by the planted tank community, in favor of other methods. I think that contributes to some nervousness around this method."

But is this not exactly how every single ADA style planted tank is setup? Plant heavily from day 1, do lots of water changes, wait a few weeks before adding fish, and enjoy the plants rather than worrying about the cycle. I thought that this was pretty much the basic instruction that comes with Amazonia soil? Am I missing something here, or is this just a geographic difference in what's considered normal? Here in Singapore, the Japanese (ADA) approach to pretty much anything and everything seems to be favourite!


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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-07-2020, 03:42 AM
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Well you don't dose any ammonia. Wait a month or so for the planted tank to stabilize, introduce a fish or 3 and voila.

But yes I see your point @en7jos . I'm using organic soil. Not sure how much ammonia will leach out if at all any. But I'll stop dosing ammonia for now. Wait a couple weeks to test my water. Then add 3-5 fish. Small fish.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-11-2020, 11:26 AM
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Hi Sid,

Think everyone above has got it spot on. But just remember it always goes Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate. And the way to gauge when you are into the next phase is when you start to see a drop for what you are specifically testing for. Regular testing is vital though to accurately understand what stage you're at.

Came across this article which explains it pretty well. https://needyfish.com/how-to-cycle-a-fish-tank/

Shout if you have any questions, can be daunting but actually not too hard to get your head around.
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