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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I just finished my 56g stand, and *technically* I could set up my tank today. I have the eco-complete, heater, a temporary HOB. But I just ordered the driftwood. Plants are not ordered yet. Waiting on my eheim. Still need to build the lighting fixture.

Should I go ahead and set up, or wait for the driftwood? Once the driftwood gets here, I am going to soak it in my pond until it hopefully sinks and leaches a bit, so we're talking 2 more weeks at least. And then, should I put in plants before or after it's cycled? I've read that they can slow down cycling, and read that they speed it up, and I don't know what to believe. I want this thing cycled yesterday, LOL. I can use filter squeezings from my daughter's 10 gallon when I set it up, but it's still going to take weeks, correct? Sigh.

I set up my daughter's 10 gallon with loads of plants right from the beginning and it never even seemed to cycle. It's been decades since I set up my last tank before that- I feel like I'm learning from scratch!
 

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I like to wait until I have all the hard scape material on hand so you can see it place. This might affect what plants you choose and how many.

As far as cycling, if the NH3/4 source is from your fish and subtrate it shouldn't harm your plants or slow down the cycling. Whatever NH3/4 the plants dont use will be used by bacteria and this process wont change for the life of your tank.

But if you want to cycle before planting just buy some ammonia and cycle it. :)
 

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If you start with a heavily planted tank and add a few fish from the beginning...you likely won't even see a cycle because the plants will consume ammonia and not release nitrites. They also use nitrates but you will still eventually get low nitrate readings. It's like an instant cycle. You just have to be careful because it's hard to judge how much ammonia the plants will use so if you add too many fish, the could produce more ammonia than the plants can use in a period of time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yeah, maybe I could set it up dry with the driftwood, then order the plants and remove and soak the driftwood while waiting for the plants. The ammonia method scares me a little! LOL.
 

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If you start with a heavily planted tank and add a few fish from the beginning...you likely won't even see a cycle because the plants will consume ammonia and not release nitrites. They also use nitrates but you will still eventually get low nitrate readings. It's like an instant cycle. You just have to be careful because it's hard to judge how much ammonia the plants will use so if you add too many fish, the could produce more ammonia than the plants can use in a period of time.
As I recall ammonia isn't a nutrient for plants unless that ammonia is turned into ammonium by the introduction of co2.

Introducing a few fish to a heavily planted tank from the start is sound advice.
 

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when i set up my 55, it was set up very heavily planted, with plain old organic top soil, eco complete, and tap water. 4 days later i introduced some guppies that the g/f no longer wanted, and then a couple days later 5 black neon's. the guppies lasted a long time, i think eventually being snuffed out by the tiger barbs that had grown to 2"... and the 4/5 neon's are still doing well.

so yeah, adding fish from the start worked out very well for me and i would recommend it... or at the very least, not NOT recommend it
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Sounds like a great plan to me! Instant gratification and all that, LOL.

My most anticipated fish are the 2-3 juvenile koi angels I'm ordering, but which of these other fish would be better to add first? A pair of rams, some rummynoses, some cories?

I'm thinking the cories, because I know the rams and rummynoses are pretty sensitive to water quality. And I'd rather wait until I know that fish are doing well in the tank before I add the (pricey) angels.
 

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I'd set it up now just so I could get started on it - start the fishless cycle (no need to fear ammonia if there's no fish in the tank) and just play around with it. Add the plants when you get them and the driftwood when it's ready. If you set it up now you can just go ahead and soak the wood in the tank itself while it's doing the fishless thing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Still waiting for the driftwood to get here. It figures that I live clear across the continent from Manzanita country! LOL So I started my fishless cycle on the 14th and am JUST beginning to see some nitrites. *whistles* *drums fingers on table*. At least I'm starting to see pretty colors when I test :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Patience is what this hobby is about, all that prep work you've done IS the hobby just as much as the finished aquarium. The trick is to enjoy the whole process.
Wise words! And I *have* enjoyed it- from building the stand, even to this slow part of the procedure. In the meantime I'm building my light hood and shelving to suspend it from, and deciding what plants to get (besides the ones that I ordered a little too soon and had to stuff into my daughter's tank)!
 

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I boiled my driftwood for about 12 hours instead of soaking it. This significantly speeds up the tannin removal. While I was doing that I set up my dirt tank, filled it with water, and started filtering it with a pair of HOBs. Once the driftwood was ready I set up the aquascape and heavily planted the tank (get some floaty ones, fox tail, duck stuff, etc). Mine ran overnight with plants and dirt alone. Next day I tested the water, did a 50% water change and added fish. The tank cleared up completely in about two days with two 25% water changes. I have had no extreme spikes of anything. :hihi:
 

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In my opinion the best thing you can do when you're first starting up a tank is to take it slow and get it right the first time. Sooooo many people are in a rush - they don't do enough research and they don't take the time to do things right and half the time they don't even know what they really want the tank to look like, and they end up a month down the road with a disaster on their hands. A little bit of patience in the beginning can save you from alot of hassles later on.
 

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Wise words! And I *have* enjoyed it- from building the stand, even to this slow part of the procedure.
I really do understand, I've pushed back my display tank start up from Aug 1, to Labor Day, now Thanksgiving weekend. But, in the mean time all my plants are in grow out tanks, I've taken my time to think about my "vision" and it has morphed a little. I know it will be well worth the time invested.

... Sooooo many people are in a rush - they don't do enough research... A little bit of patience in the beginning can save you from alot of hassles later on.
That's so evident in all the, "my tank is cloudy, my fish have ick, my plants aren't growing" threads. There is an incredible amount of knowledge in the threads on this site. I really like to see more people pull up old threads and reopen discussion vs. the "which button do I push" threads.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Yup, this isn't my first tank by far, but it is the first time I did a fishless cycle. And besides the 10g we just set up, it's been about 10-12 years since my last tank! I've been spending far too much time than I should, looking up old threads and trying to find answers to my questions before bugging everyone here. The most baffling to me has been the lights- everyone has a different situation so that's really hard to find a good answer to, even with Hoppy's chart.

Unfortunately my driftwood will be too big to boil, but I figure I can soak it either directly in the cycling tank, one of the two outdoor ponds or the stock tank pond downstairs. I'm waiting until it arrives and I see how much it darkens the water before I add plants. If I'm going to have to soak it for awhile, I will keep the tank covered and hold off on ordering the plants.
 
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