Reefer gone planted! - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-23-2004, 02:21 AM Thread Starter
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Hello everyone!

I have absolutely no experience whatsoever with planted tanks, none. I will be setting one up in the next few weeks and wanted to ask a few questions. I am an experienced reef aquarist and I do see some similarities. I have enough experience, however, to realize that I am getting into something completely new and that I need to be respectful of the challenge that is ahead of me.

I am gonna set up an AGA 55 with a Coralife Aqualight 2X65 PC 6700K, Eheim 2126 pro canister and Eco-Complete substrate. I used the substrate calculator and I need 5 bags. Not a problem.

I have been reading quite a bit and saw a few articles about the instant cycle, or whatever you want to call it. The theory being that the plants will suck up all the ammonia and a fish load can be added immediately as long as there are plenty of rooted plants within the display. I have some concerns with this theory as far as the lack of efficient, colonized bacteria at that point. Will they just build up slowly? Would I ever see a cycle on a test kit? How do I know where I really am in terms of bacteria with this process?

I would like to hear from some of the experienced planted tank aquarists on this board with regards to the initial cycle of a planted tank. If you were to set up a new 55 how would you cycle it? Would you use any additives to speed it up?

Thanks so much in advance for any responses to my questions. I am sorry that I am posting this in the General forum but I didnt see a forum for Newbies!
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-23-2004, 02:26 AM
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Quote:
I have been reading quite a bit and saw a few articles about the instant cycle, or whatever you want to call it. The theory being that the plants will suck up all the ammonia and a fish load can be added immediately as long as there are plenty of rooted plants within the display. I have some concerns with this theory as far as the lack of efficient, colonized bacteria at that point. Will they just build up slowly? Would I ever see a cycle on a test kit? How do I know where I really am in terms of bacteria with this process?
You should look into BioSpira...its "bacteria in a baggie" and it actually works. You won't see much of a cycle (especially if you have BioSpira and plants) at all--the stuff "instantly cycles" the tank. I've only used it on smaller tanks, but I've heard it works just as well for larger ones. Its refigerated, so you'll probably want to find some locally.

^iMp^
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-23-2004, 02:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Caterham
If you were to set up a new 55 how would you cycle it? Would you use any additives to speed it up?
First off, let we extend a warm welcome to the forum. Your in for a lot of great information and really nice people!

If I were to set up a 55 I would fill it with full of plants and a couple of fish and let it rip... You have to remember not only will the plants eat the ammonia like it is all you can eat buffet, every inch of those plants is going to be covered in that good bacteria that also enjoys a snack of ammonia, or nitrite. I guess the closest analogy would be like live rock is covered with bacteria in the reefers world..... I highly doubt you will even see any thing more than a trace of ammonia or nitrite on your test kits, and if you are concerned about that, I suggest the above post concerning the bacteria additive... Of course I am assuming you will be adding small tropical fish of a few at a time and not 5 full grown tiger oscars in one afternoon :lol:

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120g, Flourite & Sand. DIY Stand and Canopy. CF lighting 3wpg, Pressurized C02, DIY reactor. 2-XP3's, 500watt heater.
Heavily planted
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-23-2004, 03:30 AM
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Welcome!
The initial cost for plants can be pricey if you want to fill the tank up from the start. Do not skimp too much though, especially on the slow growing plants such as Crypts that may take a year or so to get a nice lush growth.

For the start, you may want to add mostly easy and fast growing plants. Battling algae is quite tough without them. Slow growing or difficult plants should be added when there is a bit of stability so you have control over the tank. I was cycling a a 65g awhile back and it took a month and a half! I finally gave in and started using some additives with bacteria in it.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-23-2004, 04:34 AM
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Good grief, another reefer doing a planted tank. It's like a plague! When will the reefer madness end?

I can say that because I started my planted tank after I did two nano-reefs.

Yep, with lots of (fast-growing) plants and a few (small) fish, you can insta-cycle. Cool, huh? Just add the remaining fish slowly and watch your levels...
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-23-2004, 11:27 AM
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Hey I like reefers, they are a great source of cheap equipment!

Sean

Aquascape? I'm a crypt farmer.

It's a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore looking like an idiot.

That IS an aquascape, it's titled "The Vacant Lot".
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-23-2004, 12:52 PM
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I cover the "silent cycle" quite well in my FAQ.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-23-2004, 01:29 PM
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With the eco-complete and a heavy plant load, you won't reall need to worry about a cycle at all if you only add a few fish. I was daring when I setup my 12 gallon using eco-complete and a high plant load. I fully stocked it with fish and shrimp within a week and had no problems. (I don't recommend you try this! Your mileage may vary!)

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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-23-2004, 01:55 PM
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Welcome to the forum, Caterham. You bring up a good point. It's quite possible for a planted tank to never fully "cycle". By cycle, I suppose I would define that an appreciable bacterial colony would develop that would be capable of supporting a full fish load of ammonia production in the given volume. The truth is, plants will consume ammonia first, foremost and fast. So most planted tanks do not have the intense colonization that typical community tanks enjoy.
This doesn't cause the fish any harm unless you remove a significant portion of the plant mass at one time, leaving the ammonia to accumulate while the bacterial colony goes into a feeding frenzy, trying to adjust to the newly available food source.
This could also cause green water (I speak from experience, unfortunately!) so one popular adage in the reefing community applies here... only bad things happen quickly. Take it slow!

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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-23-2004, 03:29 PM
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I am also a reefer who went to planted tanks :-D

Honestly, I'm enjoying the plant tank more. I think it's prettier and it's actually more of a challenge than my reef was :shock:
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-24-2004, 12:35 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks to all of you who commented. It is greatly appreciated.

OK then, the new 55 gets slammed with fast growing plants and a few fish right off the bat. I will surely be uncomfortable with the whole process as it goes against everything that I am accustomed to.

However, this hobby is supposed to fun and I think this new planted tank sounds like a lot of fun!

I will post in a few weeks and show you the results :shock:
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-24-2004, 05:18 PM
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Jread,

Agree with you about the challenging part 100%!!

Although I think Tom Bars methodology, and a pythonesque diy water changer make it real easy!

While I personally dont really like to support walmart, if you are absolutey on a very strict budget, they have a python for $30, its the real thing too!!

29 Gallon Standard Moderate Light Planted tank
Lighting: 2x27 Watt 6500k P.C. Lights of America Outdoor Fixtures. 2x 20 Watt N.O. Flor. w/ Sylvania Gro Bulbs (9350k I think). Both are retrofited into a diy 12" tall canopy, with a 4" Diameter Clip on fan facing the opening in the back to circulate the excessive heat from the lighting.
Filtration: Tetra Tech 150 (modified to make very little disturbance.
Aquarium Systems Mini-jet for more circulation.
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-25-2004, 04:33 PM
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Caterham-

Nother long time reefer here!

Just think of the plants as being the "live rock" of the aquarium. I ran my planted tank for a while before adding any fish or shrimp.

Actually, in all my reefs, I have never really detected a classic "cycle" always preferring to slowly ramp up the livestock additions at a pace the bacteria can keep up with, so there is no ammonia spike.

Planted tanks are a nice contrast to a reef, I have mine right next to each other...
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