Why We Should Not Fishless Cycle Planted Tanks.

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RustedKnight

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To all those myth spreaders and sooth sayers:

I put fish in as soon as the water is up to temperature!!!!
I have not done a water change for 8 months!!!!
I add nitrate and phosphate if I need to and will add excess if I want to!!!!
I will add CO2 to a very high level without fear of killing fish!!!!
I have nearly 20x the tank volume in circulation without fear of blowing fish away!!!!
I use excessively low amounts of light to achieve heavy growth!!!!
My fine sand substrate is over 3 years old and is not cleaned or stirred!!!!
I ignore the 'tolerant temperatures' that are given for each particular fish. Between 22 and 28 suits all the fish I ever had :)

I am sure there are more, but the point that this post was making is:

There are rules that are suggested. They can be quite useful to follow BUT it is not a 1 rule suits all scenario. Once you go from a 'decorative' tank to a planted tank You have changed the system. You have added natural filtration. You have probably just given your fish an environment that they will love more and more.

In essence read the articles, look into things with open mind and sort the myth from the reality. Take the rule but then research if it applies to your setup. Thats how most of us in planted learnt that the majority were wrong. That they had transferred a rule from 1 setup to all other setups.

Rant over :)

AC
I do feel for you, i just read over the last 5 pages of this thread and wonder how you can be so patient.People ask the same question over and over again and you keep your cool. People please read the last 5 pages! You have answered so many of the questions that i have had going round in my head over the whole "cycling" business. I wanted lots of plants in my new tank and this has been an inspiration for me. 18 years ago when my parents had tanks they didnt do the whole cycling process BUT they had loads of plants! Fish didnt die all the time and ive been trying to explain this to my son and trying to get him to put in way more plants than he has, and is getting loads of problems with his nitrates ect. You just made me a happy( and smug) Mum

Interesting.

Makes me think of my mothers tank.

She has a fishtank, she cleans the algae off it every now and then, if the filter clogs up she cleans it out. Never does a water change. Never did a cycle. Never lost a fish.

My, constantly cleaning, constantly water changing, constantly fussing over nitrates and etc, lost many many fish.

...I may start ignoring my tank. I don't know if I have enough live plants to consider it planted, have atleast 20 seperate storks of planted foliage in my 100 litre tank.. surely enough??
 

UNV_Rasta

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So basically, if I don't want all that hassle of monitoring all the millions of level like nitrates and nitrites, just plant up my tank heavily and my fish should thrive??
 

ian

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can i just but in a min...it's not as easy as 'just fill your tank up, plant it and leave it', in a planted tank we don't tend to use test kits as our ferts and C02 can give us false negatives on test readings. A lot of this all depends on your lighting, ferts, flow and C02.

if your wanting to go down this road (which i personally wouldn't recommend to a newb), give us some more details about your tank.
 

UNV_Rasta

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K I have 2 25g tanks (which i've had for 15 years now, but have been away from rish rearing for maybe 10 out of those 15). I have 2 cichlids in 1 tank but I am about to give them away; I want to start fresh with platys so you could say I have 2 new tanks. Only thing that concerns me is lighting: I have a philips 20w bulb, and after doing some research today, I realize that they are designed for the home. I know I have to up the wattage, but can i still use the same type of bulbs? The lights I see in my fish stores are much thinner and don't fit into my light fixture (as I said the thing is ancient). Maybe I just have to put out some $$ and get new fixtures and lighting huh? All this cycling and stuff is really new to me, back then I never heard of such a thing. So that's why this planted tank thing really caught my interest. Just doing as much reading and research as I can, and this seems to be an excellent place. Thanks for the reply btw
 

fishy16

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UNV Rasta, me and you both (Fishy16's Mum)Things have changed so much since back then its so confusing! I have 2x 30w Bulbs in my new Aquatropic 100(is this ok for the plants?). Im setting it up slowly and have my bog wood soaking but i want to plant loads and have a more natural than decorative tank. Im not using CO2 and im interested in the fertalisation, is it weekly and do you have to have anything under the gravel or will the plants take without it and do well?
 

SuperColey1

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ive been trying to explain this to my son and trying to get him to put in way more plants than he has, and is getting loads of problems with his nitrates ect. You just made me a happy( and smug) Mum

Show him pictures of high end aquascaping, IAPLC / AGA competition tanks. Maybe the competitive edge added to the beauty of some of these creations will sway him :)

My, constantly cleaning, constantly water changing, constantly fussing over nitrates and etc, lost many many fish.

...I may start ignoring my tank. I don't know if I have enough live plants to consider it planted, have atleast 20 seperate storks of planted foliage in my 100 litre tank.. surely enough??

Think of old practices and new practices as an old piece of engineering verses a new piece of engineering (I have cars in mind here.)

The old car was pretty simple, all mechanical essentially. Something goes wrong and a replacement part fixes it. A new car has so much gadgetry in it there is more to go wrong, however does it really need all that gadgetry?

The fear factor and marketing plays a heavy part. Years ago you bought what you needed. These days we are told (by marketing) that we also need X, Y, Z oh and all the other letters. Do we really need it? What has changed since those old days?

On the statement above I can assure we don't ignore our tanks. All we are saying is that we do not follow the scaremonger tales, the myths or anything else. The time that people faff about testing, worrying, reading etc we spend looking at our fish and plants. Guess what. That is the only test kit we need. We can see if something is wrong.

Also hobby test kits are notoriously inaccurate, not just in their readings but in user perceptions with colour matching etc.

Those who test and test often get an inaccurate or false reading and then try to correct something which then leads to another problems and they end up further away from their starting place which in many cases may be not that far from perfect.

You shouldn't ever think we are ignoring the tanks.

I would tend to agree with Ian in not suggesting the method to newbies. Not because it needs an experienced hand but newbies tend to underestimate just how many plants we have in our heavily planted tanks.

For example if I gave up tomorrow and pulled all of my plants out and listed them on ebay or forums I could easily fetch circa £500 for them. maybe more. Did I start it with that many? No I am a little tight with money, however I didn't cycle the tank. I knew I had enough to cover any problems.

The experience is knowing that you have the setup capable of dealing with the ammonia that would cause a cycle in a non planted setup.


So basically, if I don't want all that hassle of monitoring all the millions of level like nitrates and nitrites, just plant up my tank heavily and my fish should thrive??

Nope. If you are going planted so you can be lazy then you may have a torrid time. You need to learn to grow plants underwater first. After that you will more likely than not be able to be very very lazy. No water changes, nothing aded apart from food etc.

25g tank with 20W lamps.
I assume the lights are T8 20W (2ft). They are more likely running at 15W or 18W. However that should be fine for a low light non CO2 setup.

For a non CO2 method check this out, get the substrate right and planting right and then forget water changes:
http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/433-Non-CO2-methods

AC
 

UNV_Rasta

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Hey Coley, thanks for the response. Yea they are 2ft bulbs, but they are T12 if I'm right, Philips F-20 Day Light, that's the bulb. I don't mind putting in the time to be honest, I just don't like the idea of having to do all these chemical tests, that's all. I much rather spend my hard to come by free time behind the plants themselves. I want to up the wattage to 1.5 per gal, as most plants from experience have problems with my light, including the hardy Anarchris. But they don't seem to make 40W 2ft bulbs, so my only option really is to 2 20W bulbs right?? That would mean a new fixture, hmmmm. And yea fishy's mum, its crazy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

fishy16

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Hey Coley, thanks for the response. Yea they are 2ft bulbs, but they are T12 if I'm right, Philips F-20 Day Light, that's the bulb. I don't mind putting in the time to be honest, I just don't like the idea of having to do all these chemical tests, that's all. I much rather spend my hard to come by free time behind the plants themselves. I want to up the wattage to 1.5 per gal, as most plants from experience have problems with my light, including the hardy Anarchris. But they don't seem to make 40W 2ft bulbs, so my only option really is to 2 20W bulbs right?? That would mean a new fixture, hmmmm. And yea fishy's mum, its crazy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"This rate of growth is such that the fish waste alone is enough to supply the needs for the plants. If we added more light then the CO2 would start becoming a more limiting factor and allow algae to grow better (algae need higher light to grow well in non CO2 enriched systems wereas the plants are much more limited without CO2). A lower light level is required, generally about 1.5 to 2w/gal is good."

After reading the above am i right in assuming my 2x 30 watt are too high and i need to get some new lower watt ones?(Aquatropic 100 35gallons) Darn i just bought the tank too.
 

SuperColey1

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"This rate of growth is such that the fish waste alone is enough to supply the needs for the plants. If we added more light then the CO2 would start becoming a more limiting factor and allow algae to grow better (algae need higher light to grow well in non CO2 enriched systems wereas the plants are much more limited without CO2). A lower light level is required, generally about 1.5 to 2w/gal is good."

After reading the above am i right in assuming my 2x 30 watt are too high and i need to get some new lower watt ones?(Aquatropic 100 35gallons) Darn i just bought the tank too.

Thats one of the problems with manufacturers. They are always way behind the people actually running the tanks that test/research etc.

They have all upped their lighting based on what we were thinking a few years ago and yep, they altered what we now know didn't need altering :) Great world we live in hey. lol

If the statement r.e. Algae was from Dave then I will have to differ from that suggestion.

Algae will grow in any light, they need much much less of everything to thrive as they are much simpler organisms.

If you put 0.01WPG over a non planted tank for 1 hour a day you will get algae. You won't be able to grow 'higher' plants though. (Algae is a plant so we call the plants we want to grow 'higher' plants)

I would suggest the way it works is this:

If the plants are growing very well and there are enough of them growing well then algae doesn't take off.

Nothing to do with light, nutrient levels or CO2. If you supply what the plants need and they have no problems at all then you avoid a mess of algae. Why? Something I need to learn as do all the top people who research and test in the hobby . It is not understood why yet as in essence algae are plants but need minimal of everything and therefore should always be the first to benefit. So lets just say heavy planted tank, healthy plants beats algae.

The way light, CO2 and nutrients come into it is that You need to supply the exact needs for the plants to thrive. That means the higher the light is the more CO2 and nutrients are needed. So it becomes harder to get this right the higher the light is.

Nutrients are easy to sort. Just add too much (excess) and then forget about nutrients. CO2 is much harder. It wants to escape the water and therefore is hard to maintain the levels.

Light is the driving factor. It is the throttle. The CO2 and nutrients are the fuel. Push the throttle and you need to supply more fuel.

Therefore if you have lower light, you need less CO2 and less nutrient for the plants to thrive. If you have higher light then it becomes harder to keep the CO2 levels up and then the plants run short of fuel.

Also with CO2 it will speed up growth of both plants and algae if something else is not right which is why I always argue against suggestions of adding liquid C to a tank that is struggling with algae. Why speed up things when there is a problem. It is much easier to deal with at a slower rate.

So it is not that algae needs highlight. It is that it is easier to give the plants the necessary fuel at a lower light and therefore (for whatever the unknown reason is) algae is beaten off by the plants.

This is often a failing with many hobbyists that they follow the excess nutrients, no CO2 causing algae myths when in fact we don't actually know why plants beat algae off when they are both in essence plants.

Those who have beautiful tanks with highlight have got their systems set up to perfection, circulation, nutrients, CO2 all sorted and therefore they run by the same understanding as above. They are managing to keep the CO2 levels up and therefore negate the highlight problem. This however is very very hard to do even for many experienced scapers and in most cases unneccesary.

To the poster above you. If you need to up the light from T12 I would suggest removing the T12 and just buying a 2x18W electronic ballast, 2 sets of 'lamp leads' and then 2 T8 18W tubes (plus reflectors.) Should cost circa £40 including tubes. Then you can position them with equal spacing and gain good spread. This will be enough light for virtually all plants unless you are wanting super turbo speed growth to rescape every 4 months.

60W over 100 litres I am (posiibly incorrectly) assuming is T5HO x 2. That is not super high light but IME is a lot. I used to run 1 x 30W T5HO over my 125ltr and that was more than enough. Can they be used individually? (2 switches)

AC
 

fishy16

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60W over 100 litres I am (posiibly incorrectly) assuming is T5HO x 2. That is not super high light but IME is a lot. I used to run 1 x 30W T5HO over my 125ltr and that was more than enough. Can they be used individually? (2 switches)

AC
[/quote]

Lol i had to find out what T5HO was (my bulbs dont have anything on them other than interpet tropical reflecter 30w)but yes i see the point. My tank is 160 ltr. No i cant switch them seperatly so either i loosen one so it doesnt come on or replace it with a lower light.
 

UNV_Rasta

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To the poster above you. If you need to up the light from T12 I would suggest removing the T12 and just buying a 2x18W electronic ballast, 2 sets of 'lamp leads' and then 2 T8 18W tubes (plus reflectors.) Should cost circa £40 including tubes. Then you can position them with equal spacing and gain good spread. This will be enough light for virtually all plants unless you are wanting super turbo speed growth to rescape every 4 months.

AC

Wow!!! WIsh I had some electrical knowledge. Hope this isn't a dumb question (and please believe I'm about to look it up now), but how do I go about setting that up? That's all I need, the ballasts, da lamp leads, and the tubes??? Would I be able to put that into my current hood? Sorry AC, total noob here. Now if u told me all i had to do was balance a couple books or do some taxes, now we'd be talking :hey:
 

SuperColey1

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Lol i had to find out what T5HO was (my bulbs dont have anything on them other than interpet tropical reflecter 30w)but yes i see the point. My tank is 160 ltr. No i cant switch them seperatly so either i loosen one so it doesnt come on or replace it with a lower light.

Guess what I added in 2007 ;)

2 x 30W T5HO. lol

I broke one after a bout a month and had superb results with just the one. That was what started my journey into exploring light :)

If the tubes are an inch diameter they are T8. If they are 5/8 inch then they are T5HO. I would expect a 30W tube to be a 30" or so T5HO. T8 24" is 18-20W, then they go up to 24W and then 32W (as standard)


Wow!!! WIsh I had some electrical knowledge. Hope this isn't a dumb question (and please believe I'm about to look it up now), but how do I go about setting that up? That's all I need, the ballasts, da lamp leads, and the tubes??? Would I be able to put that into my current hood? Sorry AC, total noob here. Now if u told me all i had to do was balance a couple books or do some taxes, now we'd be talking :hey:

It's wuite simple really. Was my first journey into electrical thingys so I had as much knowledge as you when I did it.

Basically the ballast is hidden away in your hood somewhere at the mo. I wouldn't even bother trying to put a new one in. Just screw it into the cabinet below. The lamp leads will be circa 1.5m and these attach to the tubes, then the reflectors can be screwed into the canopy and the tubes clipped into them.

Wiring the leas into the ballast is pretty simple. Like clipping wires into the back of hi fi speakers. The pull down the red and black, poke the ire in and then let go of the red/black clips to grip the wire. Very simple. Then do the same with the live/neutral on the other end of the ballast, wire a plug onto the power cord and then plug it in :)

Personaly I would get 2 individual 18W ballasts so I could turn them on/off independently but then that means buying 2 ballasts and a 1 x 18W will be a similar price to a 2 x 18W so will add more cost.

I always favour 'retrofitting' rather than buying retail because the retail lighting units tend to be pretty ignorant of need in favour of aesthetic of the unit, squeezing multiple tubes next to each other rather than spacing them well. That is possibly the consumers fault as they don't understand the light so well but they do get all excited about beautiful slimline units. lol

Check in the hardware and DIY subforum below the planted subforum on the main index and there is a pinned article on replacing the ballast in an I-bar. Not written by me although I did advise on it prior to the job completion.

AC
 

UNV_Rasta

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AC omg that's it??!! WOw, thanks alot man, didn't know it was so simple. Yea i looked into that Hardware forum but must have missed that article. Well i'll be sure to tackle this project later this week, and be sure to let you kno how it goes. Btw, I'm guess T8 tubes are the thinner ones I see now at my LFS, since two tubes the same width as my T12 wouldn't be able to fit in a regular I hood. Thanks again dude, super helful
 

SuperColey1

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They may be T5 if they are really thin (5/8ths of an inch)

The 'T' number we refer to is actually the diameter of the tube in inches.

T5 = 5/8 inch
T8 = 8/8 inch (1 inch)
T12 = 12/8 inch (1" inch)

pretty simple really.

AC
 

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