Originally Posted by JenThePlantGeek
The best way to cycle a tank is to pack it full of fast-growing plants
I keep reading this over and over and over, and I just don't get it.
"Cycling" a tank refers to establishing bacterial colonies in the tank with species of bacteria that convert ammonia to nitrite, then other species which convert that nitrite to nitrate.
If you were to "pack" a tank with fast growing plants, with the concept being that the plants will absorb ammonia from fish waste very quickly, then you would be slowing down
the process of establishing bacterial colonies because their food source (ammonia) would be more limited.
In reality, I don't think an extremely large plant mass in the tank would be able to remove all the ammonia produced from a fully stocked tank. If anything, they provide a bigger surface area for bacteria to colonize. (Bacteria don't "swim," they must be attached to a surface.)
I also don't think it's practical... if I have an aim to create a certain look for a tank, and I have a number of plant species I want to use for that, you're saying that in order to "quickly cycle" the tank I must purchase a lot of "fast growing" plant species I may not necessarily want, then keep them in the tank for one or two months, and add only a few fish at a time. Then, after that, I'm guessing I'm supposed to remove them then aquascape the tank the way I really
In the above case, I don't believe those plants helped speed the cycle. I think the bacteria took the same amount of time to become established as it would have with no plants at all. I think it could be replicated simply by using a very good filter with a filter substrate that has a lot of surface area, such as Eheim Ehfisubstrat Pro. By using the "fast growing plants" approach, I end up with a ton of plants I don't want, plus the extra work of planting them then removing them, keeping them trimmed them during that time, etc.
It would be cheaper, quicker, and much more practical to simply use a good filter, aquascape the tank the way you intend to from the beginning, and use Bio Spira along with a full fish load to establish the bacterial colonies immediately. These bacteria work best with lots of dissolved oxygen, so running aeration at night is also very good at helping with rapid bacterial colonization.
I also have no clue why doing a "fishless cycle" is considered wrong for a planted tank. Again, in order to establish the proper
bacterial colonies for reducing ammonia and urea, you have
to have a food source. Even if you use the "fast growing plant" approach, what's the difference if the ammonia is coming from a few fish in the tank, or a dosed amount?