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Cycling question

1647 Views 5 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  AbbeysDad
Setting up a low tech planted 20 gallon tank,

In it are snails maybe 4 or 5 one nirite
3 amazon swords
1 red red tiger lotus
1 Aponogeton Ulvaceus
1 huge annubias
A bunch of small grass like plant

Organic potting soil Dirt capped with small rocks

2 fluorescent lights sitting directly on top of the glass
1 hang on back biowheel filter

Set up for two to three weeks, checked the water parameters today they were off the chart, did a 75 % water change now they are

PH 7.4
Ammonia 4.0
Nitrite 0.5
Nitrate 2.0

Since there are no fish in there yet will the tank cycle faster if I leave it alone or should I do more water changes?

If there are no fish in the tank providing CO2 should I be dosing with flourish excell (even though I want a low tech tank)? And ferts?

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Also, I could take the sponge filter out of my five gallon beta tank and put it in the 20 gallon to speed up the process, I have a spare filter the same size I could put in the 5 gallon, but it's been dry for 5 months so it may cause the 5 gallon to cycle again?

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Doing more water changes won't speed up cycling, but adding used filter will. In the substrate there's more bacteria than in the filter, so changing it shouldn't make 5 gallon tank cycle once again (but be careful, some mini-cycling may occur, do a water change if params go crazy). You could add this filter to 20 gallon tank to speed cycling up.
If you want to go LT style ferts shouldn't be needed, soil should be enough. You may add some excel to prevent algae, but it shouldn't be needed.
So I don't need to worry about the high water parameters hurting the plants?

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MMM, agree with all nel said. I am doing my first fishless cycling on a dirt tank right now. My plants are loving the high parms. I had to prune after just two weeks. :)

How do your plants look? They should tell you if they are not happy. Personally, I would not touch the water until the cycling is complete. Then I would know what I am working with.
I'd suggest another water change to get ammonia down to 2ppm or less. Ammonia is toxic not only to fish, but in higher levels to beneficial nitrosomonas and nitrospira bacteria.

Then I would take the sponges from the other tanks sponge filter and give them a good 'cleaning' (rinsing) in this tank to seed the tank with BB (then put the sponge filter back in the 5g).
This should give you nearly an 'instant cycle'.

Good luck and keep posting!

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