1st Time Cycling Tank with Seeded Media, need Help - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-27-2020, 06:28 PM Thread Starter
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1st Time Cycling Tank with Seeded Media, need Help

I have a 5 gallon that has been home to a single betta and just 2 Anubias Nana for the past 5 months. I have decided to dive in after browsing this site for awhile and just started my 1st true planted tank. A 6 gallon glass bowfront. I used Safe T Sorb for substrate, rinsed and screened through a fine mesh sieve. The tank has a large piece of Mopani driftwood I boiled for 3 hours and covered with Java moss harvested from my betta tank. I purchased my plants that were all submerged in a "plant only" tank from Petco. I have some Rotala Rotundifolia, Red Ludwigia, Alternanthera Reineckii Telantera, Anacharis, Java Fern, a baby Anubias Nana (from betta tank), Cryptocoryne Undulata, Dwarf Hairgrass and some Monte Carlo. I stuffed the filter box with pillow stuffing for 1st 24 hours. Also seeded with bag of Seachem Matrix that had been in my betta tank for 3 weeks, along with old carbon pad I had in his tank for 5 months (carbon dumped out). I used RO water charged with Seachem Equilibrium and dosed with Stability along with some of the water the plants came in. (I tested it first Am 0, No2 0, No3

I set up my betta tank last year as a total newbie and knew very little about the nitrogen cycle. I used Prime and Stability along with my well water that had gone through a water softener and whole house filter. I tested Ammonia, N02 & No3 regulary and somehow I never had a problem with ammonia or nitrite spikes. The betta did well but I couldn't figure out why my snails kept dying and plants kept melting. I have since learned the importance of GH & KH and now use the Equilibrium product with RO.

So with my new tank, obviously I want to do everything right. Researching all over the web I see varying advice, and even some saying not to bother with cycling a planted tank. I don't feel comfortable with that though. So I planted and flooded the tank on Jan 25. I put 3 root tabs in and some API Leaf Zone.

Today I removed the pillow stuffing, replaced with coarse sponge, blue bonded floss, a piece of 100 micron Filter Maxx, and added a bag of Purigen on top of my Matrix. I tested with API and found Ammonia .50, Nitrites hard to read, I think around 20... Nitrates 10. PH 7.6, GH 5, KH 16

Here is where I have a couple questions. Idk why the ammonia is so high. I didn't add any household ammonia. Does the fact that I already have Nitrates mean I just need to get ammonia and Nitrites to 0 with PWC? Or do I have to keep a small amt of ammonia to "feed" the bacteria until I stock the tank? TIA for any advice
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-27-2020, 06:33 PM
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Nice photo fix. Nice tank!

Cheers
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Style: Organic potting soil, sand, gravel, wood, plants, moss, algae, biofilm, snails, shrimp, small fish, dual siestas
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Last edited by Streetwise; 01-29-2020 at 02:12 AM. Reason: Fix.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-29-2020, 01:55 AM
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Hi Shoregirl,

I'm no expert but sometimes I play one on the internet.

Anyway, If I am understanding correctly, and correct me if I'm wrong; you just set up the tank and put water in on 1/25, 2 days before the post?

If this is the case I think it is way, way, way, WAAAAAAY to early to be expecting the tank to be cycled. I don't feel strongly either way about intentionally cycling a tank that will never have fish. I do feel that whether you want it or not, a planted tank with no fish will eventually cycle one way or another it just may take a longer than intentional cycling. IMHO leave it hang, trust the process let those ammonia levels spike if you don't have any critters you'd be poisoning. Keep testing your levels to know where you are in the process.

In my experience you watch your ammonia to spike, after awhile (idk weeks) you will see your nitrites spike in conjunction with your ammonia zeroing out and then on to the nitrates. There are ways so speed up the process, a little, but I don't believe in any miracle products like "instant cycle" or "cycle in just one week." I guess a tank can be realistically cycled in 6-8 weeks but in my experience for a tank to cycle and become truly stable it takes months, so be patient.

On the bright side it won't be months of freaking out testing your water daily hoping all your expensive and beautiful tropical fish don't die, doing ridiculously frequent PWC (like every other day), to remove the dangerously high ammonia in turn prolonging the cycling process and weakening your stock's immunity so that disease moves in...don't ask me how I know...let's just say "I have a "friend"" (*-*;]
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-29-2020, 02:50 AM
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Quote:
1st Time Cycling Tank with Seeded Media,
If you are using seeded media that means the media has been cycled and is full of beneficial bacteria that means your tank is cycled.

With one Betta as long as you do not overfeed and have lots of plants including floating ones and do regular water changes you do not need to cycle a tank first.

Also please note.

The API test kit cant tell the difference between Ammonia and Ammonium always test your water at least 24 hours after adding Prime.

Prime will bind ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate for 24-48 hours. At which point, if they are still present, will be released back into the water column. By still present they mean not used by the plants beneficial bacteria or removed by a water change.

Last edited by HairyNoseWombat; 01-29-2020 at 04:27 AM. Reason: typo
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-29-2020, 08:31 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by fortyneck View Post
Hi Shoregirl,

I'm no expert but sometimes I play one on the internet.

Anyway, If I am understanding correctly, and correct me if I'm wrong; you just set up the tank and put water in on 1/25, 2 days before the post?
Ha ha sometimes reading all the stuff on the internet just confuses me more!! All those rabbit holes.... But yes, I put water and plants along with media from existing tank.

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Originally Posted by fortyneck View Post
If this is the case I think it is way, way, way, WAAAAAAY to early to be expecting the tank to be cycled. I don't feel strongly either way about intentionally cycling a tank that will never have fish. I do feel that whether you want it or not, a planted tank with no fish will eventually cycle one way or another it just may take a longer than intentional cycling. IMHO leave it hang, trust the process let those ammonia levels spike if you don't have any critters you'd be poisoning. Keep testing your levels to know where you are in the process.
At this point, I would say it is a partial cycle. I do want to have fish. Haven't decided yet whether it will be another betta or maybe a little school of Harlequin Rasbora and a few shrimp. I didn't dose any ammonia and in all the info I have read to do a fishless cycle you need to dose with ammon 4ppm til nitrites show up, then wait for nitrites to spike while still dosing ammon to keep at 4ppm. Then start testing for nitrates. But since I already have healthy amt of nitrates my thoughts are just do water changes to get 0 ammon and then add a stock. But if I don't add stock or dose with ammonia the bb will starve. But this is just a guess...I really don't know.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by HairyNoseWombat View Post
If you are using seeded media that means the media has been cycled and is full of beneficial bacteria that means your tank is cycled.

With one Betta as long as you do not overfeed and have lots of plants including floating ones and do regular water changes you do not need to cycle a tank first.

Also please note.

The API test kit cant tell the difference between Ammonia and Ammonium always test your water at least 24 hours after adding Prime.

Prime will bind ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate for 24-48 hours. At which point, if they are still present, will be released back into the water column. By still present they mean not used by the plants beneficial bacteria or removed by a water change.
Thanks HNW. I was kind of thinking along those lines. The cycled media, low bioload, lots of plants I should be good. And I thought I woud be, but when I tested and had all that ammonia idk what to think!! Where did the ammonia come from? There are no critters in there. Did it come from the plants? I didn't put prime in tank this time. I used prime when I set up my FIRST tank months ago. Just used prime and stability and threw the betta in there with a couple anubias. Did weekly pwc and he has been fine.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-30-2020, 01:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Shoregirl View Post
Ha ha sometimes reading all the stuff on the internet just confuses me more!! All those rabbit holes.... But yes, I put water and plants along with media from existing tank.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Shoregirl View Post
At this point, I would say it is a partial cycle. I do want to have fish. Haven't decided yet whether it will be another betta or maybe a little school of Harlequin Rasbora and a few shrimp. I didn't dose any ammonia and in all the info I have read to do a fishless cycle you need to dose with ammon 4ppm til nitrites show up, then wait for nitrites to spike while still dosing ammon to keep at 4ppm. Then start testing for nitrates. But since I already have healthy amt of nitrates my thoughts are just do water changes to get 0 ammon and then add a stock. But if I don't add stock or dose with ammonia the bb will starve. But this is just a guess...I really don't know.
Okay partially cycled... I guess every tank on it's way to being cycled is partially cycled in one way or another.

Sounds like you have a head start. And maybe my definition of cycled is a little different than others'. I think we both feel that ammonia and nitrites reading zero at the very least must be true though.

As you noted you are still registering ammonia and nitrite and nitrate, and you are wondering where it is coming from. My guesses would be ammonia and nitrite from decaying vegetation and your biological filtration, being partially established can't handle it, yet, and nitrate from leaching from plant food or substrate.

Have you tested your source water after it has sat for a couple days to see if it is contributing?

I just tested my planted 10gal. that has been stable for years. It has 5 emerald eye rasboras(3 years old) 5 threadfin rainbows(2 years old) 2 otocinclus (about 6 years old), 1 bamboo shrimp (just got him in there to mix it up couple months ago), and a [email protected]@ZZ spiny head hillstream loach (star of the tank, 5 years old) I just did a gravel vac and PWC a week ago and confirmed today it is zeroed out with minimal nitrate and no algae problems.

I can post some pics if you want!

Again, I preach patience above any silver bullets cuz that's what works for me. Many different ways to plant a tank though! cheers!
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-31-2020, 02:21 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by fortyneck View Post

My guesses would be ammonia and nitrite from decaying vegetation and your biological filtration, being partially established can't handle it, yet, and nitrate from leaching from plant food or substrate.

Have you tested your source water after it has sat for a couple days to see if it is contributing?
Yes, now that you mention it the moss I attached to driftwood from betta tank had a lot of brown areas on it. I should have bought new. My substrate is inert Safe t sorb, water is purchased RO which I replenished with seachem equilibrium.

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Originally Posted by fortyneck View Post
I just tested my planted 10gal. that has been stable for years. It has 5 emerald eye rasboras(3 years old) 5 threadfin rainbows(2 years old) 2 otocinclus (about 6 years old), 1 bamboo shrimp (just got him in there to mix it up couple months ago), and a [email protected]@ZZ spiny head hillstream loach (star of the tank, 5 years old) I just did a gravel vac and PWC a week ago and confirmed today it is zeroed out with minimal nitrate and no algae problems.

I can post some pics if you want!
Yes, ABSOLUTELY!!! Sounds like a very cool tank!!
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-01-2020, 03:06 AM
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They are shy guys with lots of places to hide but in this pic one of the Otos and the spiny head hill stream are stuck to the glass in the front.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-01-2020, 04:05 AM
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Some of the rest of the gang:

Kreetch and the boys!

Loach E. Min a.k.a. Kreetch has the most personality I've ever seen in a fish. He's a pint sized powerhouse @ 1.5", a real character.

The LFS I got him from told me he would never survive in my tank due to the species need for cold ultra oxygenated fast moving water...

Anyway...years later...he's quite happy here.
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