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so basically this is the first time ive decided to plunge into the world of nature aquariums. just have a few questions about how to get started.....

during the cycle should i have plants in the system?

is co2 injection a necessity? if so how many bps for a 4 gallon finnex?

what's substrate do you recommend? i am torn between ada amazonia and eco complete which do you prefer?

thanks for you time this is really gonna help me out :icon_wink
 

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Well I'm not sure about those two substrates, but I do know it's ok to have plants while you're cycling and CO2 is not a necessity but if you don't use it you'll want to search around the forums a little more and make sure you get plants that can still thrive w/o it. I would find the list for ya but gotta run to work :p
 

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plants help cycle aquariums. the have beneficial bacteria on their roots. they absorb ammonium/ ammonia. definitely put ur plants in
bps is relative to your equipment only. each system will have a different bubble size, pressure rate and the innacuracy of the person counting.
i can flip my bubble counter over to the way its supposed to go and i get like 9 bps on my 29 gallon i flip it backwards for big bubbles, and i get 2- 3 bps.. HUGE difference.. same flow
c02 is not nessecary with most plants provided u give proper fertilizer and lighting conditions. water has a carbonate and c02 equilibrium the plants use without C02 injection. the best thing to keep that going is surface agitation of the water. and weekly water changes :)

also LESS LIGHT means less need for c02.. if u fertilize properly, have good water movement and u have algae. reduce light :)
 

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Plants are no problem during cycling, and in fact, a heavily planted tank may not even have a noticeable "cycle" at all.

How much lighting you have will determine the need for fertilizers and CO2. With low lighting, little or no fertilization may be necessary, and CO2 would not be needed. With higher lighting, ferts and CO2 become essential for healthy plant growth. DIY CO2 would be very effective on a tank of that size. Another option would be to dose Excel, a liquid carbon source.

I've never used Eco-Complete, but I have used Amazonia and been very happy with it. If you use Amazonia, be aware that it does give off an initial ammonia spike, so you cannot add any livestock right away.
 
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