Plants during a cycle...

Bruce Leyland-Jones

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For starters, there are many instances when the potential fishkeeper will not be wanting plants in their final set-up and, for these, the chemistry-set cycle is ideal.
But people, especially newbies, do need to be informed of the alternatives with equal vigour, so as to be able to make an informed choice.
Ok, I see your point.

We are well aware the Fishless cycling is not the only way to cycle we do also have articles on silent/planted and fish-in cycles.
But there is only one method repeatedly promoted.
The article on fishless cycle written by TwoTankAmin and number of years ago may be a little dated but the information and method is still correct and valid.

The Fishless article is a good article, it is very hard to explain what a Fishless cycle exactly is and how to proceed to complete a successful cycle to people who are completely new to the hobby.
Granted, it IS an excellent piece of work, though it intrigues me that this is actually aimed at newcomers, many of whom don't realise that they're moving straight into a chemistry class. This can be off-putting, which is why I prefer the infinitely more natural plants.
Another issue is the insistence on the use of the word 'fishless'.
Fishless, to most English-speaking peoples on the planet, means 'no fish'.
I have seen other Fishless articles on other website and some are just as, if not more, complicated than this one on this forum.
No argument from me on that one. I've also seen many planted cycles far less complicated.
The main reason we advocate Fishless cycles is that it’s more of a foolproof way to ensure a tank is cycled with ZERO harm to any fish, simply because there are no fish in the tank to harm. If mistakes are made, they simply can do a near 100% water change and start again, the bonus is, no fish will suffer from any mistakes.
Yes it’s complicated, it’s not a simple process, but once one learns how and why the cycle works, the science behind this becomes simpler over time.
There are no fish in a planted cycle. Again, that 'glued to the fishless cycle' idea as being THE 'fishless' cycle.
The process of the Nitrogen Cycle is well described and illustrated, but...
I'll disagree that the detailed sequence of events, with prescribed doses of ammonia and a determined sequence of testing is the easiest to learn, when compared to a planted cycle. As for 'success', there are way too many examples of failed 'fishless' cycles in this Forum for it to be promoted as the best way to learn about cycling.
When I first started and did my fishless cycle, was on way over my head, am no science geek whatsoever in any shape or form, but I learned, and am glad I learned this way as think it educated me more using this method to be entirely honest.
Fine...but you used the method shown to you and worked your way through that particular, detailed and prescribed method.
Silent/planted cycle, ok it’s simple in principle for us, but for a newbie, they have little idea on what is a good planted tank for carrying out a silent cycle and what plants should they get, should they get specialised substrate for the plants, the type of substrate which can contain ammonia which will play havoc to the tank cycle and any mistakes will surely have a detrimental effect on livestock that’s in the tank.
A 'silent/planted' cycle, which is actually a fishless cycle.
It depends on the Newbie. Just as newbies have little idea about plants, they have little idea about chemistry. There's no specific essential plants and a whole range of plants could easily be suggested. Ditto on substrate, which is one of the first things anyone puts in a tank.
There will be many fishkeepers who successfully cycled their tank using plants, many of whom would've been wholly unaware of the Nitrogen Cycle and why their metod of cycling worked.
Now, we know the science, it doesn't make those methods less effective.
Bear in mind, a lot of new fish keepers on this forum are young folks, under 18 years old and still at school/college/Uni and have no source of income, spending lots of money on plants may not be practical and their knowledge on plantkeeping in aquaria may be very restricted.
These will be the same people who have spent money on a tank, a filter, a heater, substrate and probably a host of plastic toys AND bottled ammonia? I'll easily accept that setting up a tank is not the cheapest of hobbies, but plants do have a habit of reproducing themselves.
I struggle to understand the aversion to teaching about plants, just as we inform about fish and every other aspect of the hobby.
Most want to see an aquarium set up as soon as possible and a plant-less tank is NOT an aquarium to most. (Malawi Lake Cichlid owners, please hold back the ire! ;) )
For experienced or knowledgeable folks, go for it using the silent method, we are certainly not stopping you or going against silent/planted cycles. I have used this method myself and did not have any difficulties but I only did this when I was confident that I could keep aquatic plants alive!
That’s why I advocate Fishless cycles, more than silent / planted cycles.
Again, the ONLY method that seems to be advocated for the inexperienced, or those apparently lacking knowledge, is the fishless/plantless cycle.
I think this is unfair on those folk.
We certainly don’t recommend fish in cycles as that’s a far more risky and complicated method.
No argument.
 

itiwhetu

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Not quite 100% accurate.

What about cichlids and cold water set ups, cichlids and goldfish makes it very hard to have plants in this as they basically ruin any plant that’s in their aquarium.

How about those who have betta tanks, some keepers like to have silk plants rather than live plants.

How about those keepers who simply don’t want live plants, preferring to have fake / silk plants for various reasons but certainly want to keep fish.

So to say a statement like that which is not strictly true is confusing and demeaning to those fish keepers who do not want or cannot have live plants, so please keep this to the thread topic in hand which is the OP is asking if they should have plants or not for cycling purposes.

A healthy debate is fine as long as it’s civilised and part of the topic.

A very educational and interesting subject truth be told for those who are reading about the various methods of cycling and should plants be included, lots of good points for both sides.
I have never had a problem keeping Cichlids with live plants. Betta's are even less of a problem. If you you want to keep freshwater fish, live plants are part of the equation. Simple as that. My opinion. You don't have to agree.
 
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Rocky998

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The cycling thing on this forum site is way to complicated for any of us to understand. Simply add 30 -50% of the volume of the tank with plant once that starts to grow add fish a few at a time. Easy as that. Please make sure that you run your tanks slightly acidic and then you never have to bother about Ammonia.
Well since my parents bought the ammonia instead of me buying it... I'm going to be using ammonia
 

xxBarneyxx

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But there is only one method repeatedly promoted.
I think the biggest issue here is that it is the most robust method and has less failure points/less to explain or understand then any other method.

It is not exactly complex chemistry, there are calculators that tell you how much to put in. Follow the guide, test until the right numbers hit zero and your done.

The biggest issue about advising newbies to "cycle" with plants is that there is so many variables to having a successful planted tank it's a whole separate part of the hobby.

For example you have to explain:
What plants to use.
What ferts to use (if any).
What lighting to use.
What lighting schedules to use.
Balancing everything to give the best growth without getting overrun with algae.
They still need to learn about the nitrogen cycle anyway.

Compared to "Put X amount of ammonia in every X days until ammonia and nitrite hit zero".

Also what happens if someone is going the planted route and their light isn't as good as they need, or they picked the wrong plants. They may get 3 weeks in then their plants start dying off. By this point they have fish in there already and now their going to have ammonia spikes with no idea how to deal with it.

With the standard fishless cycle when done correctly you have proof that your tank is ready and that shouldn't change unless you do something silly.


Don't get me wrong, I don't disagree with you. I would never run a FW tank without plants now unless there was a good reason for it. However I also remember years ago my parents constantly replacing live plants because of them dying off and myself having the same issue when I first got into fish keeping. Things are easier now for plant growing but its not exactly fool proof.
 
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Rocky998

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I think the biggest issue here is that it is the most robust method and has less failure points/less to explain or understand then any other method.

It is not exactly complex chemistry, there are calculators that tell you how much to put in. Follow the guide, test until the right numbers hit zero and your done.

The biggest issue about advising newbies to "cycle" with plants is that there is so many variables to having a successful planted tank it's a whole separate part of the hobby.

For example you have to explain:
What plants to use.
What ferts to use (if any).
What lighting to use.
What lighting schedules to use.
Balancing everything to give the best growth without getting overrun with algae.
They still need to learn about the nitrogen cycle anyway.

Compared to "Put X amount of ammonia in every X days until ammonia and nitrite hit zero".

Also what happens if someone is going the planted route and their light isn't as good as they need, or they picked the wrong plants. They may get 3 weeks in then their plants start dying off. By this point they have fish in there already and now their going to have ammonia spikes with no idea how to deal with it.

With the standard fishless cycle when done correctly you have proof that your tank is ready and that shouldn't change unless you do something silly.


Don't get me wrong, I don't disagree with you. I would never run a FW tank without plants now unless there was a good reason for it. However I also remember years ago my parents constantly replacing live plants because of them dying off and myself having the same issue when I first got into fish keeping. Things are easier now for plant growing but its not exactly fool proof.
OML THANK YOU!!!
 

Slaphppy7

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For the record, I have cycled 6 different tanks, fishless with bottled ammonia, planted all of the tanks during the cycle, no plants died, cycles took around 3 weeks for all tanks

If you want to plant before, during, or after the fishless ammonia cycle, the choice is yours
 
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Rocky998

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For the record, I have cycled 6 different tanks, fishless with bottled ammonia, planted all of the tanks during the cycle, no plants died, cycles took around 3 weeks for all tanks

If you want to plant before, during, or after the fishless ammonia cycle, the choice is yours
Thank you so much! I love it when people just give me a straight up, easy to read answer. Thank you again!
 

WhistlingBadger

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I personally agree that a planted "cycle" is the way to go. But I see no reason to jump on someone who does differently. There are cases where plants don't work (my dreamed-of Wyoming Foothill Creek comes to mind--cold water, extremely low nutrients, destructive bottom critters), and some people for their own reasons simply don't want to deal with live plants. That's OK.

Options, options.
 

Myraan

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My tank set up would have been simpler, and I've got my fish sooner if the silent plant cycle had been more heavily "promoted". On the other hand I dread to think how much I might have spent at Pets at Home on tropica stuff all in one go to have had a well planted tank. Though if I add up how much I've spent in total adding new plants, replacing old plants smothered by black algae, replacing healthy plants that no longer looked pretty.... I might have better spending the money in first place which might have prevented the black algae problem in the first place.
 

Bruce Leyland-Jones

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My tank set up would have been simpler, and I've got my fish sooner if the silent plant cycle had been more heavily "promoted". On the other hand I dread to think how much I might have spent at Pets at Home on tropica stuff all in one go to have had a well planted tank. Though if I add up how much I've spent in total adding new plants, replacing old plants smothered by black algae, replacing healthy plants that no longer looked pretty.... I might have better spending the money in first place which might have prevented the black algae problem in the first place.
Back in the day, new fishkeepers said exactly the same as you, although 'plants' was substituted for 'fish'.
Now, we now how to look after fish better.
There's quite a way to go before the approach to plants catches up with fish.

I recently bought some plants off eBay and the same from Tropica.
The eBay purchases were a complete waste of money, whilst the Tropica is splendid.

As for algae, managing that effectively is another skill that has to be learned and plants are involved. ;)
 

Byron

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My tank set up would have been simpler, and I've got my fish sooner if the silent plant cycle had been more heavily "promoted". On the other hand I dread to think how much I might have spent at Pets at Home on tropica stuff all in one go to have had a well planted tank. Though if I add up how much I've spent in total adding new plants, replacing old plants smothered by black algae, replacing healthy plants that no longer looked pretty.... I might have better spending the money in first place which might have prevented the black algae problem in the first place.

This is getting at the real problem. In this hobby most beginners see fish in the pet store, and based upon the inaccurate information from the staff the beginner buys the tank and equipment, adds water and plunks the fish in, and the fish usually dies shortly thereafter. Then the individual comes to the forum, and is told "this is what you should have done." Same holds for plants...the beginner is advised to buy this and that, but this and that make things far more difficult and again lack of success as the plants weaken and problem algae is rampant, and they come to the forum.

It really is very simple to maintain a tank of healthy fish and plants, but it takes some advance research to learn the factors that allow success. Until pet store staff are properly trained--and I know, this is not very realistic--problems that need not occur will continue to occur. Look at all the people who buy small mammals, or reptiles, and the poor creatures rarely thrive. Teaching the unwashed public on animal care is not easy when we are continually being undermined by stores that put profits ahead of animal welfare.
 

Ch4rlie

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This is getting at the real problem. In this hobby most beginners see fish in the pet store, and based upon the inaccurate information from the staff the beginner buys the tank and equipment, adds water and plunks the fish in, and the fish usually dies shortly thereafter. Then the individual comes to the forum, and is told "this is what you should have done." Same holds for plants...the beginner is advised to buy this and that, but this and that make things far more difficult and again lack of success as the plants weaken and problem algae is rampant, and they come to the forum.
Have to concur with this statement, this is when things begin a vicious circle of misinformation from staff and even from online forums spouting out myths and simply wrong advice that leads the new fishkeeper down the wrong path and having to learn the hard (and usually expensive) way.

How does one start to break this circle, perhaps a good starting point is LFS staff and owners being trained or having experienced keepers becoming LFS staff and thus start to give out better advice for the beginner to this hobby. Perhaps an unlikely outcome at the present time but in future, who knows.

Think most of us have fallen for LFS marketing sales on fishkeeping things, I know I've been misinformed by LFS staff on plants way back when I was a newbie, and actually once I knew LFS would sell anything for profit or given poor advice, then I don't go back to the same LFS again.
 
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Rocky998

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This is getting at the real problem. In this hobby most beginners see fish in the pet store, and based upon the inaccurate information from the staff the beginner buys the tank and equipment, adds water and plunks the fish in, and the fish usually dies shortly thereafter. Then the individual comes to the forum, and is told "this is what you should have done." Same holds for plants...the beginner is advised to buy this and that, but this and that make things far more difficult and again lack of success as the plants weaken and problem algae is rampant, and they come to the forum.

It really is very simple to maintain a tank of healthy fish and plants, but it takes some advance research to learn the factors that allow success. Until pet store staff are properly trained--and I know, this is not very realistic--problems that need not occur will continue to occur. Look at all the people who buy small mammals, or reptiles, and the poor creatures rarely thrive. Teaching the unwashed public on animal care is not easy when we are continually being undermined by stores that put profits ahead of animal welfare.
I started researching wayyyy before I got my betta and I was looking at a ton of info... sadly the ONE thing I somehow missed was cycling the tank... And now fast forward a few years since comet's death, I have been researching for more than I year and I know now how my fish died and what I did wrong. So, now I feel extremely well that I will succeed in this.
 

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This is getting at the real problem. In this hobby most beginners see fish in the pet store, and based upon the inaccurate information from the staff the beginner buys the tank and equipment, adds water and plunks the fish in, and the fish usually dies shortly thereafter. Then the individual comes to the forum, and is told "this is what you should have done." Same holds for plants...the beginner is advised to buy this and that, but this and that make things far more difficult and again lack of success as the plants weaken and problem algae is rampant, and they come to the forum.

It really is very simple to maintain a tank of healthy fish and plants, but it takes some advance research to learn the factors that allow success. Until pet store staff are properly trained--and I know, this is not very realistic--problems that need not occur will continue to occur. Look at all the people who buy small mammals, or reptiles, and the poor creatures rarely thrive. Teaching the unwashed public on animal care is not easy when we are continually being undermined by stores that put profits ahead of animal welfare.
This is also why it is very important for those of us with more successful experience to speak very kindly to bewildered newbies. It does get a bit tiresome giving out the same advice over and over, and feeling like we're always trying to undo someone else's mistakes. But we need to remember that the new people are here for help, and even though we've heard it all a hundred times before, it is distressing to the newbies. And it usually isn't their fault.
 
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