No Cycling? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-10-2015, 06:20 PM Thread Starter
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No Cycling?

Is it possible to setup a tank that's heavily planted and add the fish on the same day?

Tank: 29g (30 x 12 x 18 inch)
Filters: Eheim 2215
Lights: Finnex Planted+ 24/7
Heater: EHEIM Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater 150W
Substrate: CaribSea Eco-Complete 60 lbs
Fert: 1x each week of AquariumFertilizer's MacroMicro Mix
CO2: None

Selected species:
3 x Apistogramma borellii (Apistogramma borellii)
12 x Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon innesi)
8 x Oto (Otocinclus vittatus)
6 x Amano Shrimp (Cardina multidentata)
6 x Malaysian Trumpet Snail (Melanoides tuberculata)

Name (Placement)
Balansae Crypt (Background)
Bacopa (Background/Mid)
Dwarf Sagittaria (Background/Mid)
Java Fern (Mid)
Nana (Mid/Fore)
Nana Petite (Fore)
Dwarf Hairgrass (Fore)
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post #2 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-10-2015, 07:38 PM
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it is possible but you need it really heavily planted. you will need to use fast growing plants which i dont see any on your list that are fast growing.also i wouldn't put that many fish in to start off and you will need to watch your parameters closely. things like ammonia, nitrite and nitrates. if you go with that setup and add many fish i see you having a die off of fish. dwarf sagittaria is not really a background plant. use it as a mid or foreground plant.

Last edited by somewhatshocked; 10-26-2015 at 08:30 PM. Reason: .
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post #3 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-10-2015, 07:49 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by goatnad View Post
it is possible but you need it really heavily planted. you will need to use fast growing plants which i dont see any on your list that are fast growing.also i wouldn't put that many fish in to start off and you will need to watch your parameters closely. things like ammonia, nitrite and nitrates. if you go with that setup and add many fish i see you having a die off of fish. dwarf sagittaria is not really a background plant. use it as a mid or foreground plant.
Thanks for the feedback. I'm thinking of slowly introducing fish (3 Apistos on the first week) and then adding more fish over the course of each week (maybe the otos 2nd week and then the schooling fish over the 3rd to 4th week). I'll add in Tetra SafeStart to help the process.
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post #4 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-10-2015, 10:27 PM
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Sure its possible. But you wont have a cycled tank. You'll just have a potentially heavily planted tank which will likely have dying/dead fish pretty quickly. The safestart might help jumpstart the cycle but it probably wont be an "instant cycle". If you dont have it already, invest in a test kit before buying fish and dont introduce any livestock until you know the tank/filter can handle the ammonia and nitrite. Or, be prepared to do daily water changes for a while.
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post #5 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-11-2015, 12:06 AM
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Why the rush?

Is there any particular reason to rush it with the livestock?

If you are planting, the month or so that it takes to cycle the tank can be used to great advantage by the plants ie they're gonna grow and establish, you'll be learning how they respond to your conditions, you can clean off algae and do WCs a little more easily, and you can adjust/rescape/reposition when something is not performing well or to your liking.

Definitely some advantages to waiting!

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post #6 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-11-2015, 12:23 AM
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For what its worth, you can do a fishless cycle on you new filter using a 5 gallon bucket suspended above you filter. Let it grow bacteria while you play around with your hardscape ideas. You can even start planting your plants before moving the filter over.
Bear in mind though, once your filter has cycled it only means your "filter" has cycled. Your substraight, hardscape, and everything else in your tank will also grow bacteria eventually.

IMHO, it is usually a better idea to cycle the whole tank BEFORE adding your fish.


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post #7 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-11-2015, 04:29 AM
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You can set up and plant the tank and add fish as soon as the water clears (often 24-48 hours). Adding Tetra Safe Start, Dr. Tim's One and Only or other Nitrospira source is a very good way to add the nitrifying bacteria. These products have the correct species, and establish themselves very quickly. You might see just a blip of ammonia and maybe a bit of nitrite. If either lingers or gets too high, be ready to do some water changes- the bacteria may have been mishandled, and might not be alive. For this reason it is better to start with a smaller fish load, just in case the bacteria are not up to handling a full fish load. Then you are not stuck doing a fish-in cycle with a full load of fish.
If the bacteria are good, then add the next load of fish in a few days, maybe a week, with another dose of bacteria.

I would simply hold off on the otos and shrimp. They eat all sorts of growth on the surfaces. Especially algae, but also bio film. You could add them if you are ready to feed them with something like vegetables and algae based foods.

I would add fish in this order:
Plant, allow water to clear.
Add Nitrospira and 6 Neon Tetras. (the tetras are the mildest temperament, and should go in before the Apistos. Also, most Neons are tank raised, and better able to handle less than perfect water parameters)
Monitor conditions. When the ammonia and nitrite are both zero...
Add Nitrospira and the other 6 Neon Tetras.
Monitor conditions. When the ammonia and nitrite are both zero...
Add the snails and Apistos
Monitor conditions.
When the tank has been running for at least a month (and this is really pretty short time)
Add Shrimp and Otos, with some more Nitrospira.
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post #8 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-11-2015, 04:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AboveBeyond View Post
Is it possible to setup a tank that's heavily planted and add the fish on the same day? ...
People have done this, but it's really not a good idea, unless you have an emergency situation to deal with. In all other cases, take your time, let the system cycles, and take far fewer risks. Why start a tank where you induce a lot of problems day 1 because you didn't cycle the system?
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post #9 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-12-2015, 03:48 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks to everyone for their feedback.

I'm thinking of getting a larger tank, 50 gallon. I know down the road I would regret not going for larger tank so it makes sense to get it from the start.
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post #10 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-13-2015, 12:46 AM
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WHOA- first and foremost- do NOT cycle your tank with apistos- they are expensive and they are not that hearty when it comes to surviving bad water conditions.

I've heard that if you jam a tank with fast growing stems- in a high tech CO2 injected high light aquarium you don't need to worry about cycling- and about 10 years ago I tried it- no dice, did not work. The plants flourished, but I still had detectable ammonia and fish losses. I think its an old wives tale.

the best way to start immediately is to get your hands on some established media. Do you know anyone near you with a tank? grab a good handful of media from their filter and viola!

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post #11 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-13-2015, 01:25 AM
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Vicious cycle

I believe any Apisto will devour shrimp....cycle or no cycle.

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post #12 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-13-2015, 03:57 AM
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If I were to introduce fish, I would probably introduce them in reverse order of what you want to do.

You can probably introduce your tetras a few at a time, and it might be okay because you're building your bioload slowly. And I would introduce them before the apistos, even in a cycled tank, so they can get comfortable before introducing a more aggressive fish that can stress them out.

You probably don't want to introduce otos until you have some algae growing for them to eat, otherwise they will starve to death.
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post #13 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-13-2015, 04:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AboveBeyond View Post
Is it possible to setup a tank that's heavily planted and add the fish on the same day?
I do it all the time. Sort of. Probably have to do it again Monday since it's society meeting night.
I get home about 11 pm. And true to form I bid on fish. And win some. Every time I do I don't have tanks ready to go. I grab a tank. Fill it. Add fish. I have never lost one because of it.
Talking to others a couple meetings ago I find that is more common than I thought.

That being said I am on well water.

Dilution is the solution for the pollution.
Quote me as saying I was misquoted.
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post #14 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-13-2015, 04:28 AM
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Fishless cycling is easy and cheap; cheaper in fact than "throwaway fish" to cycle a tank. Go to a hardware store, or even wal-mart, and get a bottle of straight ammonia. Ace hardware sells it in most locations. It's labeled "Janitorial Strength Ammonia". A few bucks. Just avoid any with perfumes or other additives. Add enough to generate 3ppm of ammonia, about a capful worked in my 75g, so that should be similar in your 50g. Dose whenever ammonia drops back down, and once it starts turning into nitrite reliably after 24 hours, scale it back to every other day, and dose to 1ppm. Continue until ammonia and nitrite return to 0 after 24 hours. Big water change, boom, you're done.

If the tank is heavily planted you're probably doing some form of ferts, right? The constant water changes, it's my understanding, will make that essentially impossible.

It's better for you, your tank, your plants, and future livestock to just do a fishless cycle.

It usually takes me about 3 weeks if I have NO "assistance". Using filter media from an established filter, or a nitrifying bacteria starter, etc., it may take as few as a couple of days. I once used "Dr. Tim's live nitrifying bacteria" and added fish after a week, though 24 hours after dosing 3ppm ammonia and the Dr. Tim's I saw 0ppm ammonia, 0ppm nitrite and was measuring nitrate. I just did this for a week to 'confirm' my results. My own general practice is to wait to stock fish until I have 0 ammonia/nitrite (24hrs after dosing) for one full week. The other advantage of this setup is that you're generally dosing quite a bit of ammonia (3ppm, in the beginning, is a lot! Some even do as high as 5ppm). So you can essentially completely stock the tank with your full planned stocking list when it's complete. Using fish to cycle, you run the risk, if adding a lot of livestock afterwards, of having a 'mini cycle', which usually is the result of the bacteria colonies being too small for the new bioload.
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post #15 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-13-2015, 04:44 AM
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Here is the fishless cycle with more details about optimum parameters for raising the bacteria as fast as possible.

Cycle: To grow the beneficial bacteria that remove ammonia and nitrite from the aquarium.

Fish-In Cycle: To expose fish to toxins while using them as the source of ammonia to grow nitrogen cycle bacteria. Exposure to ammonia burns the gills and other soft tissue, stresses the fish and lowers their immunity. Exposure to nitrite makes the blood unable to carry oxygen. Research methemglobinemia for details.

Fishless Cycle: The safe way to grow more bacteria, faster, in an aquarium, pond or riparium.

The method I give here was developed by 2 scientists who wanted to quickly grow enough bacteria to fully stock a tank all at one time, with no plants helping, and overstock it as is common with Rift Lake Cichlid tanks.

1a) Set up the tank and all the equipment. You can plant if you want. Include the proper dose of dechlorinator with the water.
Optimum water chemistry:
GH and KH above 3 German degrees of hardness. A lot harder is just fine.
pH above 7, and into the mid 8s is just fine.
Temperature in the upper 70s F (mid 20s C) is good. Higher is OK if the water is well aerated.
A trace of other minerals may help. Usually this comes in with the water, but if you have a pinch of KH2PO4, that may be helpful.
High oxygen level. Make sure the filter and power heads are running well. Plenty of water circulation.
No toxins in the tank. If you washed the tank, or any part of the system with any sort of cleanser, soap, detergent, bleach or anything else make sure it is well rinsed. Do not put your hands in the tank when you are wearing any sort of cosmetics, perfume or hand lotion. No fish medicines of any sort.
A trace of salt (sodium chloride) is OK, but not required.
This method of growing bacteria will work in a marine system, too. The species of bacteria are different.

1b) Optional: Add any source of the bacteria that you are growing to seed the tank. Cycled media from a healthy tank is good. Decor or some gravel from a cycled tank is OK. Live plants or plastic are OK. I have even heard of the right bacteria growing in the bio film found on driftwood. (So if you have been soaking some driftwood in preparation to adding it to the tank, go ahead and put it into the tank) Bottled bacteria is great, but only if it contains Nitrospira species of bacteria. Read the label and do not waste your money on anything else.
At the time this was written the right species could be found in:
Dr. Tims One and Only
Tetra Safe Start
Microbe Lift Nite Out II
...and perhaps others.
You do not have to jump start the cycle. The right species of bacteria are all around, and will find the tank pretty fast.

2) Add ammonia until the test reads 5 ppm. This ammonia is the cheapest you can find. No surfactants, no perfumes. Read the fine print. This is often found at discount stores like Dollar Tree, or hardware stores like Ace. You could also use a dead shrimp form the grocery store, or fish food. Protein breaks down to become ammonia. You do not have good control over the ammonia level, though.
Some substrates release ammonia when they are submerged for the first time. Monitor the level and do enough water changes to keep the ammonia at the levels detailed below.

3) Test daily. For the first few days not much will happen, but the bacteria that remove ammonia are getting started. Finally the ammonia starts to drop. Add a little more, once a day, to test 5 ppm.

4) Test for nitrite. A day or so after the ammonia starts to drop the nitrite will show up. When it does allow the ammonia to drop to 3 ppm.

5) Test daily. Add ammonia to 3 ppm once a day. If the nitrite or ammonia go to 5 ppm do a water change to get these lower. The ammonia removing species and the nitrite removing species (Nitrospira) do not do well when the ammonia or nitrite are over 5 ppm.

6) When the ammonia and nitrite both hit zero 24 hours after you have added the ammonia the cycle is done. You can challenge the bacteria by adding a bit more than 3 ppm ammonia, and it should be able to handle that, too, within 24 hours.

7) Now test the nitrate. Probably sky high!
Do as big a water change as needed to lower the nitrate until it is safe for fish. Certainly well under 20, and a lot lower is better. This may call for more than one water change, and up to 100% water change is not a problem. Remember the dechlor!
If you will be stocking right away (within 24 hours) no need to add more ammonia. If stocking will be delayed keep feeding the bacteria by adding ammonia to 3 ppm once a day. You will need to do another water change right before adding the fish.
__________________________

Helpful hints:

A) You can run a fishless cycle in a bucket to grow bacteria on almost any filter media like bio balls, sponges, ceramic bio noodles, lava rock or Matala mats. Simply set up any sort of water circulation such as a fountain pump or air bubbler and add the media to the bucket. Follow the directions for the fishless cycle. When the cycle is done add the media to the filter. I have run a canister filter in a bucket and done the fishless cycle.

B) The nitrogen cycle bacteria will live under a wide range of conditions and bounce back from minor set backs. By following the set up suggestions in part 1a) you are setting up optimum conditions for fastest reproduction and growth.
GH and KH can be as low as 1 degree, but watch it! These bacteria use the carbon in carbonates, and if it is all used up (KH = 0) the bacteria may die off.
pH as low as 6.5 is OK, but by 6.0 the bacteria are not going to be doing very well. They are still there, and will recover pretty well when conditions get better.
Temperature almost to freezing is OK, but they must not freeze, and they are not very active at all. They do survive in a pond, but they are slow to warm up and get going in the spring. This is where you might need to grow some in a bucket in a warm place and supplement the pond population. Too warm is not good, either. Tropical or room temperature tank temperatures are best. (68 to 85*F or 20 to 28*C)
Moderate oxygen can be tolerated for a while. However, to remove lots of ammonia and nitrite these bacteria must have oxygen. They turn one into the other by adding oxygen. If you must stop running the filter for an hour or so, no problem. If longer, remove the media and keep it where it will get more oxygen.
Once the bacteria are established they can tolerate some fish medicines. This is because they live in a complex film called Bio film on all the surfaces in the filter and the tank. Medicines do not enter the bio film well.
These bacteria do not need to live under water. They do just fine in a humid location. They live in healthy garden soil, as well as wet locations.

C) Planted tanks may not tolerate 3 ppm or 5 ppm ammonia. It is possible to cycle the tank at lower levels of ammonia so the plants do not get ammonia burn. Add ammonia to only 1 ppm, but test twice a day, and add ammonia as needed to keep it at 1 ppm. The plants are also part of the bio filter, and you may be able to add the fish sooner, if the plants are thriving.
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