Question about filterless cycling and adding livestock? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 08-08-2020, 01:49 AM Thread Starter
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Question about filterless cycling and adding livestock?

Hi everyone! I recently set up a 5 gallon low tech planted tank and had it for a week now. I’m going for the Walstad method type of tank. I was wondering, when/how should I introduce livestock? I have some fish keeping experience, but I’ve never had plants before. I’d like to have shrimps and snails and a betta. But I don’t have a filter, and I’m not sure how that would affect the cycling process. And I’m not sure if or how I should do water changes since there’s no livestock.

My tank has no tech except for a cartridgeless filter used to stir the water a little for aeration. At least, I think so. The water stream was disrupting the duckweed on the surface and making a mess, so I hung some java moss on the filter and the water is running but silent now.

I use plant substrate and there is some melting going on in my tank, so there should be some ammonia release and surfaces for bacteria to grow on right? I’m basically leaving the tank alone save for occasionally brushing dirt off plant leaves. But since there are no animals, save for like 3 runaway bladder snails that hitched onto the plants, wouldn’t the cycling process take forever? I read some people say with the Walstad method you don’t need to cycle, but personally I don’t feel good sticking animals in new tanks like that.

I’m most worried about my future shrimps since I hear they’re more sensitive to water parameters. I want to get a handful of RCS. I’ve only kept Hardy ghost shrimps before. I hear RCS are more delicate. My plan is to get a Ramshorn and/or trumpet snail for my tank soon. Then add in 5-8 RCS in 2-3 weeks, then lastly a female baby betta. My idea is : Snails are first bc they’re hardier, will eat plant debris, and might help with cycling the tanks (although idk if this would be significant bc they’re so few in number. But people say they poop a lot for their size.) Add Shrimps afterwards once the tank is more established (And the local guy who sells them has more stock). Then finally a baby betta last so hopefully it’ll accept its tankmates easier. I’ve kept an adult betta with shrimps before and they got along, but I hear mixed opinions amongst people. My hope is a tiny baby girl betta will be less aggressive than an adult and won’t bully the shrimps if she’s only a little bigger than they are. Plus, it’d be cool to watch her grow.

I’m nervous and excited about this. I kept fish as a kid but it’s been over 10 years since then. I’ve learned from previous fish keeping mistakes and I like to think I’m a lot more patient and responsible as an adult. But plants are a whole new dimension Haha. I think the tough thing to accept is that I will make more mistakes along the way and some plants (and probably but hopefully not animals) will die. A bit of knowledge might help avoid less mistakes though. Thanks in advance! 😊🐠🦐🐌🌱&#x1f 495;
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 08-10-2020, 12:25 PM
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Hello and welcome!

Dirt tanks have a lot of ammonia being released by the soil plus bacteria already in the soil which is why you are hearing that they are instantly cycled. That said the best way to determine if your tank is cycled is to test for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. If you do not have a test kit yet then you should buy one. API Master Test Kit is sold in most pet stores and online for around 30 dollars. If your ammonia and nitrite are zero and you have some amount of detectable nitrate then tada you are cycled. With other tanks I counsel letting it sit longer, but dirt tanks cycle quicker in my experience so a week is probably sufficient.

You should be doing water changes of 50% every day to every other day for the first couple of weeks and then every few days for another couple of weeks. This will help with nutrient leeching your soil is doing right now. It will not hinder your cycle.

I've had bad luck with cherry shrimp and bettas. Some bettas see them as delightful snacks, others ignore them /shrug. My advice is either way you should get at least 1 and preferably 3 amano shrimp. They are bigger then cherry shrimp, do a much better job managing algae, and in my experience are too big for bettas to eat.

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