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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello everyone,

I've been reading up on silent cycling and I think this might be the way to go for a beginner like myself. I have a 20g tank that I recently set up and the only things I have added to this tank are 2 lily bulbs and 1 grass like plant (forgot the name). I was wondering if any of you have done a silent cycle and what type of plants you might recommend?

I will need hardy, low light, fast growing plants. This is a pretty low-tech aquarium. No CO2.

Any recommendations?

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You'll have to add a LOT of plants and minimal bio load for it to be silent.

Anubias nana
Java fern
Java moss
Water wisteria
Water sprite
Any floater will suck up a lot of nitrogenous compounds.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for your reply! I know of most of those plants so that is helpful. How long would you say a silent cycle takes after adding all of those plants?

You'll have to add a LOT of plants and minimal bio load for it to be silent.

Anubias nana
Java fern
Java moss
Water wisteria
Water sprite
Any floater will suck up a lot of nitrogenous compounds.
 

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The beauty of a silent cycle is it doesn't matter haha. But it all depends on multiple things: amount of ammonia from livestock or from fishless means, temperature of tank, ph of tank, etc.

Probably between 3-6 weeks.

Tank looks good btw!
 

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The beauty of a silent cycle is it doesn't matter haha. But it all depends on multiple things: amount of ammonia from livestock or from fishless means, temperature of tank, ph of tank, etc.

Probably between 3-6 weeks.

Tank looks good btw!
Thank you so much! I spent the better part of 3 hours rinsing that dang black flourite sand! Lol! :icon_mrgr I'm hoping to order plants and a API test kit this Monday. Do you recommend any good websites to order plants from? My local fish store is awesome, but they don't offer a good variety of plants.

I have another question for you (slightly off topic) if the plants start to get out of control in the tank is it okay to trim them from the top or generally is it better to uproot the out of control plants?
 

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Thank you so much! I spent the better part of 3 hours rinsing that dang black flourite sand! Lol! :icon_mrgr I'm hoping to order plants and a API test kit this Monday. Do you recommend any good websites to order plants from? My local fish store is awesome, but they don't offer a good variety of plants.

I have another question for you (slightly off topic) if the plants start to get out of control in the tank is it okay to trim them from the top or generally is it better to uproot the out of control plants?
You're very welcome. Yea I hate rinsing new substrate. My best recommendation is this site right here. Go to the swap and shop section and either look around for people selling stuff or post a want-to-buy thread. Great prices and better quality than most websites or local places.

It depends on the plant how you trim them. Some of them you can cut and replant the trimmings, others you have to cut from the bottom. Plants like Anubias and Java fern you can't bury the rhizome (long thick thing at the bottom) or else they will die. You can make more plants by cutting it into sections at the rhizome.
 

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I did a silent cycle with my tank too. You'll want as many fast growing stem plants as possible. Wisteria did very well for me, anacharis is great at sucking up ammonia as well. Ludwigia, moneywort, hornwort etc. Floaters like water lettuce and duckweed work too. You can plant your crypts and anubias etc. as well, just make sure the bulk of your plants are floaters and stems.

Make sure you stock your tank slowly. I never added more than two small fish a week. It took almost two months to get my tank stocked. I would recommend testing your water at least every few days. I did get a small ammonia spike once or twice during the process, which resulted in the need for a 50% water change. But all the fish came through just fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
This is great advice. Thank you!

One more question, when we are talking about getting a lot of plants/ heavily planted tank exactly how many plants should I plan on buying? So far I am thinking of buying java fern, amazon sword, hairgrass, water wisteria, and anubias. If I were to order one of each would that be considered a lot?

Thanks again.


I did a silent cycle with my tank too. You'll want as many fast growing stem plants as possible. Wisteria did very well for me, anacharis is great at sucking up ammonia as well. Ludwigia, moneywort, hornwort etc. Floaters like water lettuce and duckweed work too. You can plant your crypts and anubias etc. as well, just make sure the bulk of your plants are floaters and stems.

Make sure you stock your tank slowly. I never added more than two small fish a week. It took almost two months to get my tank stocked. I would recommend testing your water at least every few days. I did get a small ammonia spike once or twice during the process, which resulted in the need for a 50% water change. But all the fish came through just fine.
 

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I did get a small ammonia spike once or twice during the process, which resulted in the need for a 50% water change. But all the fish came through just fine.
Which is why fast growing, hungry floaters like water lettuce are so great. If there's no spike, there's no problem. If there is you just make more floaters and the spike never manifests itself to the fish - you just have more watter lettuce.
 

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1) Plant the tank so densely that you cannot see the back of the tank.
2) 75% of the plants need to be the fast growing species.
3) Make sure the light, CO2 & fertilizer levels are in the right levels to encourage fast plant growth.
Then you can add more fish, faster.

The silent cycle can work so well that the tank can be reasonably stocked from the first day. But note item 3). An experience planted tank person would know how to set up a thriving planted tank, and have it take off running from day 1. A person who has not had a planted tank might not get things going so well so fast.
I would suggest continued research, and keep working with the plants and your equipment until you have the tank well under way.
While you are doing that, do the fishless cycle, adding ammonia as per the instructions below, so that the nitrifying bacteria will be well under way while you are continuing to work with the plants and equipment.

Fishless Cycle

Set up tank and equipment.
Fill with water, including dechlor.
Optimum conditions to grow these bacteria the fastest:
GH and KH at least 3 German degrees of hardness, and higher is just fine.
Add some other minerals, for example plant fertilizers: KH2PO4, trace minerals.
High oxygen levels.
Good water movement.
A place to grow. They grow on surfaces, not drifting free in the water. Filter media is great. Sponges, floss, bio-media are all good places for these bacteria.
You can add a starter culture of the right bacteria if you want. It is optional. The cycle can go faster if you add something. Media from a cycled, healthy filter. Bottled bacteria containing Nitrospira species of bacteria. Do not waste money on anything else.

Add ammonia (no surfactants, no perfumes) to test 5 ppm.
Test daily. Add more ammonia to keep the test at 5 ppm through the first few days.
Test for nitrite. When nitrite shows up allow the ammonia to drop to 3 ppm.
Test daily, adding enough ammonia to bring the test to 3 ppm once a day. If you are growing plants that do not like this level of ammonia then test twice a day, and add enough ammonia to bring the test to 1 ppm twice a day.
If the nitrite gets to 5 ppm do a water change. Perhaps add less ammonia for a few days. The nitrite removing bacteria (Nitrospira species) are slower growing, and the ammonia removing bacteria might be making more nitrite than they can deal with.

When the ammonia returns to 0 ppm after 24 hours, and no nitrite shows up at that same 24 hour mark, then the cycle is done.
A fishless cycle with no plants might have VERY high nitrate. Do a BIG water change, or even a couple of them to get the nitrate way down before adding the fish. You can fully stock the tank.
A fishless cycle with lots of plants might show almost no nitrate. The plants are part of the bio filter, and are removing a certain amount of the ammonia before the bacteria even have a chance to turn it into nitrate, and then the plants are removing some or all of the nitrate produced by the bacteria. I would still do a big water change.

If the fish you want to keep need water different than the hard, alkaline water that grow the bacteria so well, now is the time to change that to softer, acidic water. While you were trying to grow the bacteria as fast as possible you wanted optimum conditions for the bacteria. Now that the colony is well established you can change the conditions. They might not grow so fast, but that is OK.
 
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