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Old 07-17-2003, 01:03 AM   #1
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Setting up plants in uncycled tank

I just set up my tank 1 week ago and my water is finally clearing up and my ammonia and nitrite has finally dropped back down. I've planted in a variety of aquatic plants and I wanted to know if plants could be harmful to my fish. How many plants are too many? Should I remove leaves as they die or should I let my fish pick at them? I always thought plants were good to have but someone mentioned in passing that they could be harmful especially to a newly established tank.
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Old 07-17-2003, 10:24 AM   #2
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Re: Setting up plants in uncycled tank

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xenos
I've planted in a variety of aquatic plants and I wanted to know if plants could be harmful to my fish.
Not in the slightest ... the opposite would be more likely true - many fish are extremely destructive to plants.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xenos
How many plants are too many?
Well, it's hard to say ... if you are keeping large fish that like to swim, then having a tank crowded with plants will not make them happy.

However, if you have smaller fish, or fish that don't swim much, then the more plants the better!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xenos
Should I remove leaves as they die or should I let my fish pick at them?
They should be removed when you do water changes, as they'll just contribute to the waste product in your tank. If the fish aren't eating your plants while they're alive, they won't eat them after they're dead. (Well, some algae eaters might eat the decaying plant matter, but they're not too likely to clean it all up for you)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xenos
I always thought plants were good to have but someone mentioned in passing that they could be harmful especially to a newly established tank.
If anything, plants will slow down your nitrogen cycle, meaning it will take longer for the bacteria to develop.

You mention the tank is just a week old? The nitrogren cycle has probably not even begun, or started, ran out of ammonia and halted. Read up on the other posts in "Getting Started" forum ... you need to have a constant source of ammonia for a tank to cycle, either a few fish, or a few drops of ammonia, or even a small rotting shrimp.

it takes at least 3 weeks to cycle, and considerbly longer if you're heavily planted.
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Old 07-30-2003, 11:21 AM   #3
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If one starts a tank with a very high amount of fast growing stem plants then you can avoid the ammonia cycle. Doing so is called a "silent cycle". I have set up three tanks this way and have not seen any ammonia or nitrite in any of the tanks. The idea to use ammonia in a tank during a fishless cycle works great on FISH tanks but lousy on planted tanks. Take the average 55 gallon FISH tank. It has at most 40 watts of light on it. A 55 gallon PLANT tank will have at a minimum of 110 watts of light on it. Adding ammonia to the PLANT tank is just asking for algae problems due to the much higher amount of light.

If you go with the "silent cycle" method then you need to add a lot of fast growing stem plants, turn on the lights, filters, and CO2. Depending on your local water you may also have to start fertilizing the plants in the first few days. Remember you want the nitrate levels to be in the 5-10 ppm range, phosphates in the 0.5-1.0 ppm range, potassium in the 10-20 ppm range and an adequate supply of iron and other traces in the tank to support the fast growing stem plants. In the first 3-5 days you will have your first algae outbreak. It normally will be brown or diatom algae. I have yet to be able to avoid it. At this time add some Ottos to get rid of this algae. In a few more days you might start getting some hair algae, this is more likely if you have not kept your nutrients in balance. At this time you can add your Amano shrimp or your SAEs. After about a week or so if everything is running fine then you can start adding your normal fish load. If you were going to stock the tank with say 25 Cardinals then add them in three batches about two-three days apart. I had my 55 gallon tank fully stocked in less then two and a half weeks. And within the first four weeks I had pruned out over three gallons of fast growing stem plants.
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Old 07-30-2003, 01:52 PM   #4
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There is no such thing as too many plants!! In my planted 10 gallon I often have trouble finding all of my fish. But they seem very happy swimming amoung the leaves. But as was said it depends on the fish. A tank of cichlids and plants does not always work. But tetras and plants are great!!!

However, it is important that the plants you pick are true aquatic plants. Sometimes fish stores sell bog plants as aquatic plants. They will survive for a time under water but then die quickly. If you are unsure then ask on this webpage about plants.

Some easy to carefor plants for beginners (in otherwords they worked well for me) are water sprite, hornwort, java fern, amazon sword (will get huge).

Good luck. And if you add fish right away to your tank make sure to keep an ammonia test kit handy and test quite often at first, until you get all the fish you are planning to into the tank.
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