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Fishless Cycle with a few plants - advice needed.

Discussion in 'Cycle your Tank' started by Qwooks, Dec 2, 2016.

  1. Qwooks

    Qwooks New Member

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    Hi All,

    This is my first proper fish tank. It is 160litres, lit by two T8 36" 30watt tropical daylight Tubes (will change these for ones with a higher spectrum once they arrive - on order atm), Filter is an Interpet CF3 which has biomedia, mechanical floss, and carbon filter pads, along with an algaway pad. Tank is lightly planted with 2 anubias nana, 3 cryptos, 1 java fern, some java moss and an Echinodorus Radicans. The substrate is play sand. There is a large wood root and 2 chunks of sandstone.

    It has been set up for jsut coming up to 2 weeks now.. To cycle the tank I seeded the tank using my old filter medium and also running the old filter alongside the new one for 48 hours. I have been adding fish flakes each day to 'feed' the cycle. The past couple of days I have also added Aquacare Bioboost.

    My water reading have been as follows (Using JBL combi test kit)

    PH 7.5
    Hardness KH 12

    28/11
    NO2 - 0.4
    NO3 - 5
    NH4 - <0.05

    30/11
    NO2 - <0.3
    NO3 - <5
    NH4 - <0.05

    2/12
    NO2 - 0.15
    NO3 - 1
    NH4 - 0.1

    Overnight I have had a sudden bloom of Brown Algae.

    My question is... where am i with my cycle? Does this seem to be going ok with the reading I am getting? Having plants has thrown me a little as am not sure what reading I should be getting.. I know normally you wait for a rise in Nitrates... do you think this has happened yet but the plants are soaking them up? Or are the Nitrates I have seen so far more likely just ones occuring in the tap water? ( local authority paperwork suggests local nitrate levels are quite low)

    Photos of my setup and of the brown algae below.

    Thank you for any advice x


    planted tank.jpg brown algae.jpg

     
  2. Byron

    Byron Member

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    I commented on the "algae" in the older thread, so will leave that. Discussing the same issue in more than one thread is confusing for members, so try to keep that topic separate.

    To the cycling issue. With live plants, you will not "cycle" the same as without. The nitrifying bacteria will obviously still appear and establish themselves, but it will be invisible with respect to test kits, generally anyway. Your JBL tests are quite different from the API that I have used; API doesn't go as low as the JBL into decimal places, but that doesn't matter. The ammonia and nitrite will be zero or next to zero.

    The reason is the live plants. These need nitrogen, and most species (including the ones you have) prefer nitrogen in the form ammonium. Studies have shown that plants can take up ammonia/ammonium faster than the bacteria. Provided you don't overload the system with ammonia, the plants will readily use it. Fast growing plants, and especially floating plants, are the best at this since they need more ammonia/ammonium being faster growing. One of the reasons I strongly recommended floating plants in the other thread.

    The ammonia that does get taken up by the Nitrosomonas bacteria will produce nitrite, but it will be very minimal because of the live plants. This will be taken up by the Nitrospira bacteria that produce nitrate. Plants will use some of this nitrate too, depending upon the species and situation. Nitrates will normally be low in planted tanks that are low-tech or natural, sometimes zero or around 5 ppm. This is where all my tanks run, and have for decades. The more fish, the more nitrate might be above zero with our tests, but not much.

    So, you may not see nitrate due to "cycling" at all, and that is not a problem as I've explained. Nitrates in the source water is a very different matter, and you should pin down the number if there are any.

    Byron.
     
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  3. Qwooks

    Qwooks New Member

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    Great. Thanks again @Byron I think it is the plants that are confusing me a little as there isn't as much info out there about cycling with planted aquariums. I was worrying if my tank was cycling at all really!

    I am really struggling to find any floating plants.. none of the LFS I have been in sell any at all (apart from Egeria... but as it prefers colder water will only get this if I cant find anything else... and will certainly put something in before I add any fish).

    Thanks
     
  4. Byron

    Byron Member

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    I have used this method so many times in the past 20 years and never with a problem. It just takes some care, having the plants growing and starting with very few fish and building. After two weeks, with the "seeding" you did, you have the bacteria present.

    The better lighting will help all this (and likely with that algae issue too). We can discuss "first fish" as you proceed.

    Byron.
     
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  5. Qwooks

    Qwooks New Member

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    Plan so far fish wise is now

    3 mollies to begin with (of the type that grow up to 10cm ish)

    Then a group of 4-5 male Platies followed by more male Platies later on to take the total to 8.

    Finally a group of 6 false Julii cories once the tank is mature 6-12 months from now.

    And that will be it.. :) (apart from perhaps a handful of snails)
     
  6. Byron

    Byron Member

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    In terms of fish additions, this is fine. But there is perhaps an issue with mollies.

    Mollies are especially sensitive to ammonia, so normally such fish would go in later rather than sooner, just in case. However, the way you are proceeding here, this should not be an issue. But that brings me to the hardness of the water.

    I went back in the other thread and found it given as 228 ppm, or roughly 12.7 dGH. This is fine for most livebearers (including the platy) but is a bit low for mollies, who should be in harder water, 15-30 dGH. But I would not increase the GH if corys are planned, as they will be affected.

    There are so many varieities of platy available, you might want to think of more varieties of them without the mollies.

    Byron.
     
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  7. Qwooks

    Qwooks New Member

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    That is disappointing. Had decided on a couple of Mollies to just give me a little variety in size of fish without getting too big as to be too big for the tank. On a couple of online sites that I checked (including here http://www.fishlore.com/Profiles-Mollies.htm ) the dGH was listed as 10-25 and this is what I based my choice on. I wish there was some place to get definitive information.. it really does seem as if the biggest foe to fish is misinformation!!

    Where do you go to get your information? Do you have a specific point of reference or is it mostly just based on your many years experience (which i value more that an unreferenced web page!)?
     
  8. Byron

    Byron Member

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    I hesitated a bit over my last post, but decided in the best interests of the fish to advise against mollies. This is difficult to predict, and after all, the numbers any of us (individual or site) gives for GH and pH and temperature are not cast in stone. But they are the result of considerable research and experience by ichthyologists and hobbyists over decades, in the wild, in the laboratory, and in the aquarium. Mollies are often kept in marine tanks, which has high GH including the sodium salt. What all will say is that they need harder water than most any other commonly seen freshwater fish. I mentioned salt, as does that linked site, but as I believe I went into earlier in this or another thread, salt is not needed, but mollies can tolerate it. Other freshwater fish cannot.

    To the question of informational sources. I have researched in depth the habitats of many (but certainly not all) aquarium fish. I authored over 200 species profiles for another forum as part of this research. I am sure I read pretty much every informational site at the time (about 5-6 years ago now) and I corresponded with several authoritative individuals, and I have been continuing this research ever since. One thing I discovered is that the professional ichthyologists rarely disagree over data about fish husbandry. The contrary information is almost always from sources that either won't disclose who wrote it, or they present such contradictory opinions that one has to seriously question it. So my first question when I come to a site is, who wrote this, or reviews it? The source is imperative to know in order to gauge the reliability factor.

    My primary site for data is Seriously Fish. This site is owned and maintained by ichthyologists, primarily Matt Ford who has two degrees in marine biology. I have known Matt for some time, online, and I am now a contributor to the knowledge base on SF. There are other sites that are more species-specific, like Planet Catfish or Corydoras World for catfish. The nice thing is that all these sites have among their members not only highly experienced aquarists but professionally-trained biologists and ichthyologists, which is the best peer review you can get. Then there are individuals, like Dr. Neale Monks, whose advice wherever it appears (in PFK articles or online) is highly reliable. I am honoured to say that Neale is a friend to whom I often turn for advice. And I have frequently corresponded with Heiko Bleher, and I doubt anyone on this planet has a more in-depth knowledge of the natural habitats of our fish than Heiko, who has himself discovered over six thousand new species in his decades of exploration.

    A nice anecdote from Heiko, who was a tremendous personal friend of Dr. Jacques Gery, one of the most significant ichthyologists and the authority on characins until his death in 2004/5. Heiko told me that he could name any river on this planet, and Dr. Gery could, off the top of his head, name the fish species that inhabited it. That is knowledge.

    Byron.
     
    #8 Byron, Dec 2, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2016
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  9. Qwooks

    Qwooks New Member

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    I may not have any credentials as a biologist of any form.. however, I am an academic and an historian. As such, reliability of any source of information is something I always question... very pleased to see that there are places out there where I can find fully researched information. Thank you for signposting these to me.

    Back to a tank of platys and corydoras!! (And some snails )
     

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