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Silent Cycling New Planted Tank Questions

2068 Views 12 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Torji
Hi all, new to planted aquariums and to this great site!
I started by buying a 37 gallon tank (22” deep, minus a few “ of substrate), putting down some carib eco complete substrate, and got planting. My goal has been to do what I guess would be considered a “silent cycle.” Basically I just planted several, fast growing plants, mostly stem plants, and provided them with root tabs and seachem flourish, as directed. I also added a somewhat decent LED light (keeping it lowtech, no CO2, plants only need low to moderate light). It’s been just one week now, and I detected maybe 0.25ppm ammonia, somewhere between 1-5ppm nitrite, and ~5ppm nitrates. I haven’t added any source of ammonia, so I’m thinking that the tank is sort of doing it’s thing with the plants alone? Im wondering if I should do a small water change soon if the nitrites don’t go down and if ammonia climbs? I did also add some API quickstart once I saw those levels, to see if that would do anything to help speed up this process. At this point, if plants continue to grow and if nitrites go down, would it be safe to add just a few fish at first, after a partial water change?
Thanks!
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The silent cycle is a pretty broad term and can be applied in different ways. Although I understand @minorhero and his call to add ammonia, it isn't always necessary IMO and it really depends how patient you are.

For some reason many can't wait to put fish in their planted tank. I never add fish before 2 months and I also never use "ammonia" to start the cycle. Once you add plants you are adding a source of ammonia and bacteria so the cycle does start. I let the plants get settled and show me that conditions are good for their growth. During this time you can move things around if you want to change things up without worrying about fish or anything being released from the substrate. I always do large water changes during startup. This keeps ammonia to a minimum so the cycle really becomes mute. After testing ammonia I gradually add fish a few at a time and the bacteria will build up and adjust. As you keep changing water, again it keeps ammonia in a safe range and you continue to add fish until the setup can tolerate a full load. Remember water changes don't affect the cycle to any degree since the bacteria adheres to surfaces.

I have done this for years including with my current setup and never lose fish or shrimp to it.
 

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Thanks for your wisdom! I’m being surprisingly patient about the fish, I’m willing to wait another few weeks, if necessary, of course. Yeah it’s daunting when you first start out because there’s so many different methods and so many different people swearing by different methods. But I’ve seen some experts speak from experience that having a good amount of established/growing plants in a new tank can take the place of having to add ammonia. Good point about the water changes, I have heard that it will not affect the cycle, since bacteria grow on surfaces. I’ll probably stick to weekly 15-20% changes as I monitor my levels. I’ll probably add a few more plants and even some snails soon before adding fish.
It sounds like you have a good plan. Patience is always the key and everything does better in a mature tank. If you add slowly the tank will adjust. The water changes and actively growing plants will rid the tank of excess ammonia and will keep the water pristine for the fish and other critters.
 
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