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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I started my fishless cycle for my 10 gallon on May 24, and ammonia has been at 4ppm since then. My last test results on June 1 were: ammonia 4, nitrite 2, nitrate 20. Yesterday (June 3), I added some duckweed, frogbit, and a couple baby java fern and stems. I tested again today, and the numbers are: ammonia 0.25, nitrite 2, nitrate 5. I tested again to verify.

I understand that plants use nitrates, although I didn't think it would be that significant. But what's throwing me off is the ammonia. Do plants absorb ammonia? Obviously I'm not cycled after less than 2 weeks (not to mention the nitrites haven't changed), so I assume it has to be the plants. Should I dose back up to 4ppm? Will I even be able to complete the cycle if the plants are using up all the ammonia?
 

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Carpe Diem
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Plants will consume ammonia before anything else and that is one of their primary functions as part of a "natural filter".

Personally, I would dose up to ~ 2 ppm ammonia for another week or so and watch for nitrate drop to 0. That will give the plants and the bacteria a good head start. After that, it is up to you how soon to start adding critters. I would also start your plant fertilization now and keep nitrate between 10 and < 40 ppm.

I think you are to a good start - keep it up and enjoy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you very much for the info. The ammonia thing really threw me off because all the cycling guides I read said that plants shouldn't have an effect on the cycle. I was expecting the ammonia to drop off slowly over time as the bacteria built up. I'm still a little shocked the plants were able to eat through almost 4ppm in a single day.
 

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Carpe Diem
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You are very welcome. Don't underestimate the power of plants :)

A while ago I put a single Water hyacinth in a, I think, 12g tank. That plant brought *everything* down to 0 in under 12 hours. I have a post somewhere on TPT with my results. That plant is widely used in water purification plants. It even consumes cynide.

Floating plants are the best at using up nutrients as they are not limited by co2 in the water - they use atmospheric co2.
 
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