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Fish Fanatic
Aug 2, 2004
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New York
Do u put plants in before or after cycling?
Do u put the filter on during cycling?? Wont it suck in the ammonia??
How long after putting the ammonia in do u test the ammonia, nitreate, and nitrite?

How will you cycle the tank? This is a major factor is deciding when to add plants.

One method is to add the plants, give them a week or two to become established. No testing during this time, just monitor the plants, make sure they are growing well, and getting enough light and food. Once the plants are established, you can begin to add fish, slowly, 2-3 every week until the tank is fully stocked. Pros: plants use ammonia for food, so the fish are never exposed to toxic levels, plants prevent the development of lots of nitrates so algae doesn't get a chance. Cons: No fish in the tank for quite some time, have to pick plants that will do well in your lighting conditions and with the fish you want to have (okay, so this last applies to all planted tanks! :) )

Fishless cycling is another method. You setup the tank and filter, with all decorations but no plants. Obtain ammonia, and add enough ammonia to the tank to read 5ppm. Test for ammonia each day, adding enough to keep the titer at 5ppm. In a week or so, start testing for nitrites. When the ammonia reading, taken 24 hours after the last addition, reads 0, halve the amount of ammonia added each day. Continue testing for nitrites. Once they hit 0, you can immediately stock the tank with the full amount of fish, and begin planting. A large water change can be done to reduce nitrates, but enough plants, with adequate nutrients, light and CO2, will use it up as well. Pros: no fish are harmed, tank can be immediately fully stocked. Cons: no fish in the tank, may have a bit of an algae bloom if there's a nutrient imbalance while the plants establish themselves.

Fishy cycling: setup the tank. Add a few, hardy fish (which canbe tough, since you may not want these fish long term, but sensitive fish tend to die and have diseases if used for cycling). Danios are a good option, but not if you want a calm, serene tank. Also add plants--not a full load, but many fast growing plants. Monitor the tank daily, and do water changes as needed to prevent ammonia and nitrite levels from exceeding 1ppm. Continue until ammonia/nitrites = 0. Then add 1-2 fish per week, monitoring and waiting longer if the ammonia/nitrites spike at all. Pros: fish are in tank the entire time. Cons: Fish are exposed to toxins which may kill them or shorten their lifespan. Algae blooms more likely to occur.

With either method, you want the filter in the tank immediately. The beneficial bacteria that consume the ammonia and nitrites preferentially colonize the filter media, since there is a good flow of both food and oxygenated water. The filter does not 'suck up' either chemical, it just houses the bacteria that consume them. There are chemical filtration options, but I discourage these, as they cost more to replace frequently enough and result in instablility--cycles of waste spikes.

I plan on doing a fishless cycle.

Are you sure i
Chasing Puck said:
can immediately stock the tank with the full amount of fish
Wont that cause a big ammonia spike??

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