Plants during a cycle...

TwoTankAmin

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OK lets see if we can get the "facts" straight. Fishless cycling is usually done in a tank with no plants. However, like everything else in this hobby, there is more than one way to skin a cat(fish).

In order to make sense of all of this it helps to start with the plants here since the fishless cycling method on this site doesn't involve plants.

1. There are a variety of plants and they differ in many ways. However, most of the plants we use in our tanks have a preference for ammonium- NH4. The bacteria have a preference for ammonia- NH3. When ammonia is dissolved in water it separates into NH3 and NH4. How much of each is present depends on the pH and the temperature of the water. But pH is the more important factor. However, most of what is there is NH4 and at a pH of 6.0 there is no NH3 at all. The bacteria are then forced to use ammonium and they do so less efficiently.

2. Most hobby test kits measure Total Ammonia (TA). You need a special calculator to know how much any given TA is in each form. Next, the plants can uptake NH4 much faster than the bacteria can uptake NH3. So the more plants in a tank, the less bacteria there will be with one exception that is not relevant to cycling. The plants also host nitrifying bacteria on them. So when you get plants, you are usually getting some bacteria as well.

3. Some plants are sensitive to higher ammonia levels- even 3 ppm can harm some. So if one wants to do a fishless cycle in a planted tank, you should using less than 3 ppm of ammonia to be safe, 1 or 2 ppm will do. But the first step in a planted tank you are thinking of cycling is not to add ammonia. You plant it first and you allow the plants to settle in. Healthy plants store ferts so you do not need to worry about that initially. You want rooted plants to grow more roots, you want attached plants to settle in some. This takes at least 2 weeks. You hpe to see signs of new growth on some things.

4, Now comes the time for ammonia. What you want to do initially is to determine if you even need to do much of a fishless cycle at all. The way to do that is you use the site ammonia calculator to determine either a 1 or a 2 ppm dose. The more stocking and/or the fewer plants you plan to do, the better it is to use 2ppm. What you want to know is how much ammonia is left 24 hours later. The goal is still 0 ammonia in 24 hours or less in order to add the fish. If it takes more than that to zero out ammonia, wait to see 0, and then repeat the process until you do get 0 in 24 or less..

Why have I not mentioned nitrite or nitrate? It's because of the plants. When they use the ammonium they do not produce nitrite or nitrate. So unless your idea of a planted tank is one small anubias and a couple of stem plants, you do not have to worry about nitrite building up to where it stalls the cycle or nitrate building up to where it starts dropping the pH.

5. Plants grow. When they do they need more food. So they eat more ammonium. So in a planted tank the balance between the bacteria and the plants is somewhat flexible. And this brings us to the other factors. The substrate in a tank is only aerobic to somewhere down to between 1/2 and 1 inch ( 1.27 and 2.54 cm), However, plant roots go much deeper, they are in anaerobic areas. Some of them will transport oxygen down to their roots where they release it. This turns the zone around the roots aerobic and that fosters ammonia which in turn, you guessed it, fosters nitrifying bacteria and this means nitrate. What happens next is anaerobic zones above and below this activity develop denitrifying communities which convert the nitrate to nitrogen gas.

6. All of the above is not to be confused with the silent cycle from a well planted tank. Once the plants settle in you begin stocking gradually. There is never more TA than the plants and the bacteria present can handle. The plants grow and what they cannot cover will trigger the bacteria to reproduce and they will handle it. This works like the old fish in cycle but faster. You are able to add more fish sooner than if there were no plants.

7. The reason to combine the plants with a bit of fishless cycling is that one can fully stock as soon as the tank clears the ammonia dose in 24 or fewer hours.

8. Of course you can try doing a full fishless and then adding plants. But this is sort of a waste. You will get the tank cycled for a full fish load, but then you need to plant. You need the plants to settle in and you will also have more bacteria coming in with them. If you add fish soon after make sure they are not bottom feeder who will likely uproot plants as they hunt for food. Bigger fish can do damage to new plants as well. Besides, you will lose some of the bacteria you worked to cultivate with the fishless cycle as the plants begin taking in the ammonium which leaves less ammonia for the bacteria.

This is it in a nutshell. If you have a basic understanding of how the plants works and how the bacteria work, you can figure out how best to proceed. Bear in mind that there is a good variety of plants one mught consider. Some are more delicate or need added co2. Some need lots of ferts and trace minerals/elements others have much simpler needs. And yes, some are sensitive to ammonia levels at 3 ppm or higher.

I hope the above helps make the processes involved a bit easier to make sense of and gives one a decent idea of how to proceed.
 

itiwhetu

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OK lets see if we can get the "facts" straight. Fishless cycling is usually done in a tank with no plants. However, like everything else in this hobby, there is more than one way to skin a cat(fish).

In order to make sense of all of this it helps to start with the plants here since the fishless cycling method on this site doesn't involve plants.

1. There are a variety of plants and they differ in many ways. However, most of the plants we use in our tanks have a preference for ammonium- NH4. The bacteria have a preference for ammonia- NH3. When ammonia is dissolved in water it separates into NH3 and NH4. How much of each is present depends on the pH and the temperature of the water. But pH is the more important factor. However, most of what is there is NH4 and at a pH of 6.0 there is no NH3 at all. The bacteria are then forced to use ammonium and they do so less efficiently.

2. Most hobby test kits measure Total Ammonia (TA). You need a special calculator to know how much any given TA is in each form. Next, the plants can uptake NH4 much faster than the bacteria can uptake NH3. So the more plants in a tank, the less bacteria there will be with one exception that is not relevant to cycling. The plants also host nitrifying bacteria on them. So when you get plants, you are usually getting some bacteria as well.

3. Some plants are sensitive to higher ammonia levels- even 3 ppm can harm some. So if one wants to do a fishless cycle in a planted tank, you should using less than 3 ppm of ammonia to be safe, 1 or 2 ppm will do. But the first step in a planted tank you are thinking of cycling is not to add ammonia. You plant it first and you allow the plants to settle in. Healthy plants store ferts so you do not need to worry about that initially. You want rooted plants to grow more roots, you want attached plants to settle in some. This takes at least 2 weeks. You hpe to see signs of new growth on some things.

4, Now comes the time for ammonia. What you want to do initially is to determine if you even need to do much of a fishless cycle at all. The way to do that is you use the site ammonia calculator to determine either a 1 or a 2 ppm dose. The more stocking and/or the fewer plants you plan to do, the better it is to use 2ppm. What you want to know is how much ammonia is left 24 hours later. The goal is still 0 ammonia in 24 hours or less in order to add the fish. If it takes more than that to zero out ammonia, wait to see 0, and then repeat the process until you do get 0 in 24 or less..

Why have I not mentioned nitrite or nitrate? It's because of the plants. When they use the ammonium they do not produce nitrite or nitrate. So unless your idea of a planted tank is one small anubias and a couple of stem plants, you do not have to worry about nitrite building up to where it stalls the cycle or nitrate building up to where it starts dropping the pH.

5. Plants grow. When they do they need more food. So they eat more ammonium. So in a planted tank the balance between the bacteria and the plants is somewhat flexible. And this brings us to the other factors. The substrate in a tank is only aerobic to somewhere down to between 1/2 and 1 inch ( 1.27 and 2.54 cm), However, plant roots go much deeper, they are in anaerobic areas. Some of them will transport oxygen down to their roots where they release it. This turns the zone around the roots aerobic and that fosters ammonia which in turn, you guessed it, fosters nitrifying bacteria and this means nitrate. What happens next is anaerobic zones above and below this activity develop denitrifying communities which convert the nitrate to nitrogen gas.

6. All of the above is not to be confused with the silent cycle from a well planted tank. Once the plants settle in you begin stocking gradually. There is never more TA than the plants and the bacteria present can handle. The plants grow and what they cannot cover will trigger the bacteria to reproduce and they will handle it. This works like the old fish in cycle but faster. You are able to add more fish sooner than if there were no plants.

7. The reason to combine the plants with a bit of fishless cycling is that one can fully stock as soon as the tank clears the ammonia dose in 24 or fewer hours.

8. Of course you can try doing a full fishless and then adding plants. But this is sort of a waste. You will get the tank cycled for a full fish load, but then you need to plant. You need the plants to settle in and you will also have more bacteria coming in with them. If you add fish soon after make sure they are not bottom feeder who will likely uproot plants as they hunt for food. Bigger fish can do damage to new plants as well. Besides, you will lose some of the bacteria you worked to cultivate with the fishless cycle as the plants begin taking in the ammonium which leaves less ammonia for the bacteria.

This is it in a nutshell. If you have a basic understanding of how the plants works and how the bacteria work, you can figure out how best to proceed. Bear in mind that there is a good variety of plants one mught consider. Some are more delicate or need added co2. Some need lots of ferts and trace minerals/elements others have much simpler needs. And yes, some are sensitive to ammonia levels at 3 ppm or higher.

I hope the above helps make the processes involved a bit easier to make sense of and gives one a decent idea of how to proceed.
This post serves no purpose unless you are going to name the plants in all the situations described above. Or are you just trying to confuse everyone, so we can have a good laugh.🤣
 
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Rocky998

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All the plants im going to have are slow growing except the java moss and red root floaters... And ALL my plants will NOT be rooted in the substrate (I just wanted to keep it simple). So, I definitely dont have the money to go and buy ALL the plants at once and put them in, I was hoping that I could just add maybe some in before the cycle and some after. Ya know, just slowly add them in... But I do want to do the 3ppm "version" of the cycle. I thought I had this all settled and then I'm thinking not...
 

Myraan

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I think there is np to advice you don't need or do not plan following to the letter; this thread will be read by hundreds of lurkers and plenty of members who are too shy to ask their own questions for fear of criticism. (I am one of them)
 
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Rocky998

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I think there is np to advice you don't need or do not plan following to the letter; this thread will be read by hundreds of lurkers and plenty of members who are too shy to ask their own questions for fear of criticism. (I am one of them)
Its been hard for me to ask quedtions as well, out of fear that all the "pros" would just laugh me off or whatever. But I have been surprised that I have actually been getting proper help. Although some questions I ask dont get the answers I'm looking for...
 

Ch4rlie

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This post serves no purpose unless you are going to name the plants in all the situations described above. Or are you just trying to confuse everyone, so we can have a good laugh.🤣
There is no need for saying something like this when a member is actually giving very good advice and information.

If you want to know what plants do best, or what you are confused about, simply ask rather than making a statement like this.

TTA’s post, I think, has been one of the best answers regarding the question the op asked, far better than my own responses so I don’t mind admitting this and would like to learn more.

Its been hard for me to ask quedtions as well, out of fear that all the "pros" would just laugh me off or whatever. But I have been surprised that I have actually been getting proper help. Although some questions I ask dont get the answers I'm looking for...
No experienced keeper will or should not laugh at your or anyone’s else’s questions because all of us have been in the same position as you when we were new to the hobby however long ago that may be.

I certainly won’t laugh at anyone’s question, and am happy to help and answer where I can and am sure many other members are as well.

This is how new keepers learn, by asking questions and researching.

There has been a number of very good answers on here. If you’re still unsure, research and see if you feel comfortable about any of the answers and proceed with that.


Don’t worry about other people opinions, just worry about the good and helpful information given.
 

AdoraBelle Dearheart

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Its been hard for me to ask quedtions as well, out of fear that all the "pros" would just laugh me off or whatever. But I have been surprised that I have actually been getting proper help. Although some questions I ask dont get the answers I'm looking for...

Don't be afraid to ask questions - both here, and anywhere else in life! Anyone who would mock or dismiss you is instantly someone you know isn't worth listening to. So please, try not to let that fear stop you!

You'll know just from reading around the forum whose opinions you respect, and that most posters here genuinely want to help people learn. So look for those people and tag them if you have questions. I know I've made loads of threads where I've tagged people I know are good with planted tanks or certain fish, and I'm pretty sure they don't mind! They've always given me kind, thoughtful answers for sure.

There's nothing wrong with not knowing, or with wanting to learn! There is something wrong with anyone who would try to make you feel small. So try not to let anyone like that get under your skin. They're not worth stressing over ;):)
 
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Rocky998

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Don't be afraid to ask questions - both here, and anywhere else in life! Anyone who would mock or dismiss you is instantly someone you know isn't worth listening to. So please, try not to let that fear stop you!

You'll know just from reading around the forum whose opinions you respect, and that most posters here genuinely want to help people learn. So look for those people and tag them if you have questions. I know I've made loads of threads where I've tagged people I know are good with planted tanks or certain fish, and I'm pretty sure they don't mind! They've always given me kind, thoughtful answers for sure.

There's nothing wrong with not knowing, or with wanting to learn! There is something wrong with anyone who would try to make you feel small. So try not to let anyone like that get under your skin. They're not worth stressing over ;):)
Thank you. That made me feel much better about asking questions on here...
 

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