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Old 02-22-2014, 05:00 PM   #1
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Cycling Planted Tank

Trying to cycle my planted tank (Echinodorus spp., A. reineckii, Micro Sword, Mayaca, Pennywort, Dwarf sag & Cabomba to start with). Have EcoComplete & CO2 (had problem, returned & waiting for new system…dosing Florin Axis in the meantime). My LFS suggested cycling my tank w/bloodfin tetras, since none of my permanent occupants are hardy. So I'm 7 days into this, nothing happening yet, starting to ponder bacteria in a bottle. Ammonia has been stuck at 0.25 for the duration, and no nitrite or nitrate to speak of (using API Master). Did a 25-30% water change @ day 6.

Should I remain patient, or is bacteria in a bottle (Dr. Tim's, etc.) worth it?

Thanks
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Old 02-22-2014, 05:50 PM   #2
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If you want to use plants to cycle your tank for a fishless cycle, you need to use real soil, and not the eco-complete stuff.

Take a medium size ceramic pot from home depot, fill the bottom with a thin layer of gravel. Then fill with ORGANIC and non fertilized soil. Plant a aquatic plant, then cap with sand. Gently fill the pot with water over a sink so that it gets heavy with water then place in your tank. Make sure you have proper plant lights and the right wattage. Your tank will be cycled in 2 to 4 weeks. I would also increase your temps to 80. When your tank has cycled, take the pot out. Easy.
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Old 02-22-2014, 06:10 PM   #3
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If you want to use plants to cycle your tank for a fishless cycle, you need to use real soil, and not the eco-complete stuff.

Take a medium size ceramic pot from home depot, fill the bottom with a thin layer of gravel. Then fill with ORGANIC and non fertilized soil. Plant a aquatic plant, then cap with sand. Gently fill the pot with water over a sink so that it gets heavy with water then place in your tank. Make sure you have proper plant lights and the right wattage. Your tank will be cycled in 2 to 4 weeks. I would also increase your temps to 80. When your tank has cycled, take the pot out. Easy.
I'm not sure I understand your reasoning behind this.. why would you need soil to cycle a tank?

Cycling with plants is called the silent start method. It basically involves filling your tank up with quick growing stem plants and stocking lightly so there isn't ever a high ammonia level. You can do it with just about any setup but you will likely need to add fertilizers during the process depending on your light level.
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Old 02-22-2014, 06:17 PM   #4
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I'm not sure I understand your reasoning behind this.. why would you need soil to cycle a tank?

Cycling with plants is called the silent start method. It basically involves filling your tank up with quick growing stem plants and stocking lightly so there isn't ever a high ammonia level. You can do it with just about any setup but you will likely need to add fertilizers during the process depending on your light level.
I actually learned about this technique with one of the big aquarium magazines. The organic soil contains alot of dead plant material already and bacteria. When placed in the tank, the organic material starts to rot, producing the required ammonia to cycle your tank. And it's fishless! If you have a large tank, you would need more than one planted pot to speed up this process.
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Old 02-22-2014, 06:20 PM   #5
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Ahhh I gotcha. Interesting methodology. I haven't heard of trying that before.
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Old 02-22-2014, 06:32 PM   #6
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Ahhh I gotcha. Interesting methodology. I haven't heard of trying that before.
It's fairly new (I read the article last year I think) and there is alot of resistance to it. But I've tried it a few times and it WORKS like a charm, esp. if you increase the heat in the tank.
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Old 02-22-2014, 11:51 PM   #7
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Thanks Berylla & Mebbid…

I'm already planted & the 4 bloodfins have been in the tank for a week. I think I had my canister running with substrate & driftwood for 5-7 days prior to that. I hoped with the substrate & all of the plants I'd have enough bacterial growth to get my biofilter started quickly, but nothing as of yet?

I've read that Dr. Tim's seems to be the best bacteria in a bottle.

Just wondering if I should stay the course, or go to plan B?

Thanks!
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Old 02-23-2014, 12:11 PM   #8
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I've done both dirted and non-dirted tanks since the 80's before dirted tanks became the "in" thing to do. You can do a silent cycle with or without the tank being dirted. Either method works. The biggest thing when doing a silent cycle is to be sure a minimum of 80% and preferable more of the substrate is planted with mostly fast growing plants, especially stem plants. When doing a dirted tank it is even more important to have as many fast growing plants in there as possible due to the fact the newly breaking down organics in the soil literally saturate the tank with ammonia. You also have to be very careful about not having a photoperiod over 6 hours for a couple months are algae can be a real issue in dirted tanks, compared to other substrate tanks.

OP remember that with the plants being in the tank you are not going to show high levels of ammonia since the plants use ammonia and nitrates. I personally wouldn't waste my money on bacteria in the bottle. People have mixed results when using these type of products so you'll have people on both sides of the fence.

What size tank is it?
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Old 02-23-2014, 12:50 PM   #9
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I've done both dirted and non-dirted tanks since the 80's before dirted tanks became the "in" thing to do. You can do a silent cycle with or without the tank being dirted. Either method works. The biggest thing when doing a silent cycle is to be sure a minimum of 80% and preferable more of the substrate is planted with mostly fast growing plants, especially stem plants. When doing a dirted tank it is even more important to have as many fast growing plants in there as possible due to the fact the newly breaking down organics in the soil literally saturate the tank with ammonia. You also have to be very careful about not having a photoperiod over 6 hours for a couple months are algae can be a real issue in dirted tanks, compared to other substrate tanks.

OP remember that with the plants being in the tank you are not going to show high levels of ammonia since the plants use ammonia and nitrates. I personally wouldn't waste my money on bacteria in the bottle. People have mixed results when using these type of products so you'll have people on both sides of the fence.

What size tank is it?
Hi Rivercats,

It's a 26 gallon. My plants are doing ok, growth will pick up later this week when my CO2 is running

I've almost over-researched planted tank cycling to where I've confused myself with all of the various opinions on the topic.

If my plants are taking up most of my ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates…how do I confirm that my tank has actually cycled?

Thanks for sharing your experience
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Old 02-24-2014, 09:29 AM   #10
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This is a great thread. I am starting a 125gallon planted, going to use organic potting mix capped with eco-complete fine.. just waiting for it to arrive.

I have a 10 gallon crammed with plants just waiting for the eco complete to arrive to transfer to the big tank.. It won't be heavily planted to start.. hoping the current plants divide/fill in.

I was planning to cycle with maybe 10 tetras...
will the organic soil under the eco-complete cycle the tank? I'd rather not kill fish...
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