Do I need to cycle a planted tank

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The real problem for me is that I'm just not sure that the whole cycling concept is very useful, partially because it promotes the idea of a binary switch between "non-cycled" and "cycled", and partially because it promotes the idea that the paraphernalia of water testing is going to give you consistent and reliable results that will allow you to manage your tank.
I think the "cycling" concept is a great way of one "learning to walk before they start running". Being stuck to testing water for a while isn't a bad thing and it won't harm. The only thing I don't agree with the original advise on old school cycling out there is using a nitrate test as a measure of general water quality which just doesn't work well in reality and pretty much doesn't matter. ( A TDS/conductivity meter is way more useful and easier/cheaper to use) Ammonia and nitrite test is a waste of time for an established tank too but it does help when there's a serious water quality issue. It is still more beneficial to observe and read the signs rather than read a test but it takes time to be good at this and knowing your own tank(s) and fish enough to notice subtle changes....otherwise its too late....

With the High tech tanks obsessions and EI, people actually take even longer to learn how everything works...I think that high tech people find it hard to learn how most common plant deficiencies look like on their plants, they just increase or decrease the dose of whatever..change the fertiliser brand, the flow, the co2,,etc....but they don't know which worked(although claiming a particular thing worked denying the fact they did dozen of changes at a time) and don't risk trying things one by one patiently in fear of algae....... and nitrogen cycle remains a total blur for majority of them...People just learn a method of growing plants but if the method needs changing....they get confused....Regardless, whatever the approach...one will eventually learn....The difference is at what cost and what bitter memories.....
 
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HiNtZ

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I'm more inclined to side with those who chose to cycle with ammonium being added. Always had great results, and quickly too. I wouldn't do it any other way now.
 

JMorgan

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I think its sad that there should be talk of "siding" with one side or another - clearly there are various methods that have the end result of an aquarist being able to introduce fish safely without fear of them being harmed. The first couple of tanks I set up a few years ago, I used Kleen-Off, despite having deep reservations about adding even a small quantity of such a corrosive chemical to an eco-system. But I read and re-read the "how to cycle your tank" guides, searching for hours for the ones that seemed to be clearest and most well-thought through, and largely driven by the fear of the massive distress it would cause my wife and daughter (and of course myself) to wake up to a tank of dead fish, I was scrupulous in following the procedure and the testing process very precisely. Not because I really understood what I was doing, but because such guides are phrased with such absolute authority that they give the raw beginner confidence.

It was therefore a bit of a shock to stumble on this forum a few months later and discover that a great many people with long experience and with obviously professional-level scientific know-how to inform their points of view, were quite dismissive of the same test kits I'd invested such tremendous faith in! Looking back, 'faith' really is the appropriate word because it was very much about belief without adequate proof or direct experience.

If there is indeed a division I think it is between those (I hope relatively very few) aquarists who are willing to sacrifice, or at least risk, the health of a few so called "hardy" and probably pretty cheap, fish to the greater good - I'm supposing that's how they justify it - and those who categorically refuse to knowingly place any fish's health at risk, however hardy or cheap.

The misunderstanding I read time after time in the various forums I frequent, is that those of us (including myself these days) who do not choose to use household cleaning products to prepare their aquaria for livestock, are therefore by definition guilty of a "fish-in" cycle, with the further assumption that we do so either because we just don't care enough about our fish (or at least consider some species 'disposable'), or are too impatient or lazy to do it "properly" !!

As I have read Darrel and others explain time and time again, something pretty special happens when one creates an aquatic environment in which plants can grow and thrive: Typically what happens to me, is that some plants thrive and others melt as they adapt, and both are observable indicators of the presence of non-observable factors at work, namely bacteria and other micro-organisms LIVING in the aquarium. That said we're specifically interested in this discussion in establishing a foundation colony of nitrifying bacteria that can grow in response to the presence of ammonia and nitrites: These bacteria are strictly aerobic, meaning that their nitrifying ability is totally dependent on adequate supplies of oxygen. I wish this critically important fact was much more universally understood in the hobby, because it far outweighs most other factors.

But even in optimum conditions nitrifying bacteria multiply relatively very slowly by comparison to other bacteria:

Nitrifying bacteria reproduce by binary division. Under optimal conditions, Nitrosomonas may double every 7 hours and Nitrobacter every 13 hours. More realistically, they will double every 15-20 hours. This is an extremely long time considering that heterotrophic bacteria can double in as short a time as 20 minutes. In the time that it takes a single Nitrosomonas cell to double in population, a single E. Coli bacterium would have produced a population exceeding 35 trillion cells.
http://www.bioconlabs.com/nitribactfacts.html

Which is why the one thing that perhaps everyone can agree on, is that patience is the real key to success. Whether you use plants and their attendant microbial populations to 'seed' your tank or ammonia from a bottle, or both, or mature filter media, or one of the products that claim to contain nitrifying bacteria, they all take time to respond to changes in bio-load. When you get to the bottom of most "disaster" stories involving "new tank syndrome" its most often impatience that's actually killed the fish, ammonia and nitrite poisoning is just the symptom.

When I go back 40 years to my first tank, my parents were sold the tank, a UG filter, a bag of gravel and a load of cabomba, swords and elodea and told to come back the next weekend for a few fish and then more the weekend after and so on. Despite complete ignorance - because to my knowledge there was no explanation ever given as to WHY he told us to do it that way - those fish lived for many years, and being mostly guppies, mollies and platys, reproduced like crazy throughout.

Cheers
 
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alto

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It was therefore a bit of a shock to stumble on this forum a few months later and discover that a great many people with long experience and with obviously professional-level scientific know-how to inform their points of view, were quite dismissive of the same test kits I'd invested such tremendous faith in!
Not to worry :cool:
In my professional life I measured enzyme kinetic parameters ranging from milimolar to picomolar (with accuracy & precision ;)) & had no difficulties getting most hobbyist test kits to perform to specifications :D
I generated standard curves, performed serial dilutions etc - most aquarium water test kits CAN work; kits using same methodology are often marketed for other water test applications, even strip test technology can deliver rather good (reproducible, accurate within limitations) data
It's fairly simple to look at the specific kit chemistries & known interferences & infer how likely these are to occur in aquaria, if you're on municipal water, it's very easy/simple to obtain tap water parameters ... bit more costly to obtain if on private well etc water.

As for "cycling", throw water in a glass box & THEY (bacteria etc) will come ;)
I prefer ammonia cycling for Malawi/Tanganyikan tanks - you can generate filter colonies to suit the bioload that's often added to the tank in one go
I'm back in soft water country now so I just go planted & suitable fishes
:)
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I'm more inclined to side with those who chose to cycle with ammonium being added. Always had great results, and quickly too. I wouldn't do it any other way now.
It isn't that using ammonia to cycle a tank doesn't work, lots of people use it and if you don't have plants or a substrate you don't have any other option.

The problem for me is really with the idea that tanks are either "cycled" or "non-cycled".
It was therefore a bit of a shock to stumble on this forum a few months later and discover that a great many people with long experience and with obviously professional-level scientific know-how to inform their points of view, were quite dismissive of the same test kits I'd invested such tremendous faith in! Looking back, 'faith' really is the appropriate word because it was very much about belief without adequate proof or direct experience.
I think that is another factor, relying on test kits is often a "faith" position.
I generated standard curves, performed serial dilutions etc - most aquarium water test kits CAN work; kits using same methodology are often marketed for other water test applications, even strip test technology can deliver rather good (reproducible, accurate within limitations) data It's fairly simple to look at the specific kit chemistries & known interferences & infer how likely these are to occur in aquaria, if you're on municipal water, it's very easy/simple to obtain tap water parameters .
I also agree with "alto", I've no doubt that he can obtain accurate results, because of the scientific procedure he follows, but I would also be prepared to bet that relatively few of the quoted NO3 values on forums are even in the right ball park.

The strange think is that scientists, who are interested in water quality, don't rely on water testing. When you are assessing water quality in streams and rivers etc. you use <"biotic indices">, biological indicators and bio-assay techniques, mainly because they give you a holistic over-view.

Water quality might be really good 99.9% of the time, but if you have an isolated pollution incident involving a pesticide, or a short period of low dissolved oxygen levels, or continual low level organic pollution, it leaves a long lasting marker on the invertebrate assemblage. Experimentation has shown that certain groups of <"invertebrate are only found in non-polluted water">, find a <"Stonefly (Plecoptera) nymph">, and you don't need to look any further, water quality is good.

I'm not advocating using sensitive fish (rheophilic Plecs or Chocolate Gourami etc) as our "Stonefly", but you can still use a similar approach.
The misunderstanding I read time after time in the various forums I frequent, is that those of us (including myself these days) who do not choose to use household cleaning products to prepare their aquaria for livestock, are therefore by definition guilty of a "fish-in" cycle, with the further assumption that we do so either because we just don't care enough about our fish (or at least consider some species 'disposable'), or are too impatient or lazy to do it "properly" !!
It is just a divisive area, for whatever reason there is real animosity towards plants on certain forums, and that inevitably colours the "cycling debate".

This article by Dr Tim Hovanec (from 1997) on <"Aquatic plants and the nitrogen cycle">. It should also be noted that <"Lobelia dortmanna"> is a plant from cold, <"oligotrophic"> lakes, with a very low potential growth rate.

cheers Darrel
 
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xim

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Maybe too much ammonia is detrimental to plant's as well as bacteria that we try to cultivate.?
I think it is. There are many studies about it. And one of them I've found is about Vallisneria natans vs NH4.

"indicating that a moderate NH4 -N concentration (<0.3 mg L−1 ) benefited the plant, whereas the high NH4 -N concentration (>0.56 mg L−1 ) eliminated the plant completely."

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.318.4291&rep=rep1&type=pdf

By the way, NH4 = NH4-N * 1.28786. So the PPM's of NH4 in the above quote are <0.386358 PPM and >0.7212016 PPM.
 
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alto

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Chocolate Gourami etc
yes those are my "sensitive fishes" :D

I've followed the "recommended" protocol of limited water changes
It naturally inhabits sluggish or still environments therefore filtration, or at least water flow, should not be very strong. Very large water changes are best avoided with 10-15% weekly adequate provided the tank is lightly-stocked.
(from Seriously Fish whom I hold in very high regard - I also keep S vaillanti, who again come with the minimal water change recommendation - & not just at SF)
& then gone over to my own preferred methodology of 70% every few days ... there's no doubt the fish respond well to the large frequent water changes, despite no ammonia, nitrites & minimal nitrates (5ppm range) measured, (my TDS broke & I've never replaced it)

As Darrel says, the standard aquarium kits are really just a very superficial/limited perspective of water character

(note my tap water is very soft & suits Choco's well, if you're in an area with harder water, limited volume changes may be a better option - ie, get to know your own water & tank & livestock & sort out what works best)
 

Gill

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Can I just say that this has been a most enlightening thread, So many views and sources used to convey both side of the issue.
Now I myself don't cycle not even my picos.
Heavily Plant, Clone the media but since i found Colony, use that now.
Works wonders, no cloudy water from bacterial bloom. No NTS and no loss of inhabitants even down to micro crabs.
I also Use the Smell of the water to indicate health. I like the water to have a sweet earthy smell to it. anything other than that to me is showing a problem that needs fixing. And again that isjust me.

I am due to set up a new tank next week. And for the 1st time in years I have no Tanks running to use as a Cloning method. So will be using Colony from the start, and can't forsee any issues.
I do believe that nutrient hungry plants play such a major role in the health of the tank. And Floating plants are a go to for me. as well as Marimo Moss.
 

JMorgan

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Hi all,
I just read another Dr Tim Hovanec article <"Water Quality: A Holistic Approach">.

It is quite interesting, it is very "bacteria biased", in that it doesn't mention plants or Archaea, but it covers some of the same ground as this thread.

cheers Darrel
Hi Darrel - not sure if you were aware as its not so obvious to find and navigate to, but there's also a few papers he's published listed
http://www.drtimsaquatics.com/resources/library-presentations/scientific-papers

cheers
 

alto

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Colony doesn't looks so good in this presentation ;)

After 5 days tank is "cycled" despite 0.25ppm ammonia :eek:
and where'd that 20ppm nitrate come from :confused:

- my Choco's wouldn't be impressed with that either :wideyed:
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Hi Darrel - not sure if you were aware as its not so obvious to find and navigate to, but there's also a few papers he's published listed
Yes, I have had a look through them, they predate the widespread use of PCR and RNA sequencing, and the discovery that a large proportion of ammonia oxdising organisms in aquariums are from the Archaea.

There is more on this in <"Best way to cycle a ...."> and in Dr Hovanec's article <"Bacteria revealed">.
Dr Hovanec has carried on with his work on biological filtration, and in <"Bacteria revealed"> he talks about why they couldn't find any Nitrobacter (NH4+ > NO2-) in aquarium filters (although Nitrospira (NO2- > NO3-) was present. It is a good read and an objective review of his earlier work.
Colony doesn't looks so good in this presentation ;)

After 5 days tank is "cycled" despite 0.25ppm ammonia :eek:
and where'd that 20ppm nitrate come from :confused:

- my Choco's wouldn't be impressed with that either :wideyed:
Yes, I agree with what they say, it is back to the "cycled" or not argument. I certainly wouldn't be putting livestock into that water.

I suppose people just want (or are being sold) instant gratification.

I think one of the problems for the "add plants and wait" method is that there isn't any profit in it. I have a real problem with certain companies in the aquatics industry, they are, at best, economical with the truth.

I would put in a word for Dr Tim Hovanec, he doesn't make outlandish claims for his products, there is a scientific back-ground to his work and he is reviewing what he has said (and presumably his products) in light of the new techniques for identifying nitrifying micro-organisms.

cheers Darrel
 
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I think it is. There are many studies about it. And one of them I've found is about Vallisneria natans vs NH4.

"indicating that a moderate NH4 -N concentration (<0.3 mg L−1 ) benefited the plant, whereas the high NH4 -N concentration (>0.56 mg L−1 ) eliminated the plant completely."

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.318.4291&rep=rep1&type=pdf

By the way, NH4 = NH4-N * 1.28786. So the PPM's of NH4 in the above quote are <0.386358 PPM and >0.7212016 PPM.
Interesting study... In line of this I've also come across NO3 toxicity although it relates to a marine species called Zostera Marine, killed by a concentration of 0.60ppm nitrates. Same as the suggested preference of v.natans for NH4, zostera marina has an uregulated preference for NO3 and doesn't know when to stop...leading to toxicity. The paper I read suggested such plants have evolved in environment with very low nitrogen and as a result don't do well in polluted environments.

From a different perspective, the above quoted study by xim has used sediments from the lakes, and lake water too in some, for the experiment in determining NH4 toxicity on V.natans. The study revolves around the measure of NH4-N but nothing about other nutrients besides NO3 and P. To me, given this little information, their results could have been skewed by a number of other factors....

I have no doubt that ammonia in its NH4 and NH4 forms is toxic at certain levels/ratios depending on plant species, length of exposure and other factors...but the info is confusing. The below paper on v.natans suggests way higher levels of ammonia tolerance than the previous one and takes into account heavy metals sediment pollution not taken into account in the above..

This study provides new and important insights into potential methods of ecological restoration after an environment has been damaged by heavy metals. Experiments assessing ammonia-N stress on V. natans showed that high ammonia-N content (>8 mg L−1) in the water column lead to severe plant damage (Zhu et al., 2015). Compared to previous studies, our experiments evaluated relatively lower ammonia-N content in the water column and further narrowed the tolerant water ammonia-N content to <6 mg L−1. Moreover, this study suggests that cross effect of various factors are non-neglectful, even this cross effect seems less significant. Moderate to high sediment Cu levels intensify ammonia-N stress on submerged plants and yield much lower tolerant water ammonia-N content (<3 mg L−1) for V. natans.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4846802/
 
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Hi all,
I just read another Dr Tim Hovanec article <"Water Quality: A Holistic Approach">.

It is quite interesting, it is very "bacteria biased", in that it doesn't mention plants or Archaea, but it covers some of the same ground as this thread.

cheers Darrel
It is a very basic paper paper in my opinion, nothing new..But it suggests methods you disagree with :)

Maintaining good water quality requires diligence and observation. A regular schedule for testing the critical and major water quality characteristics should be established. The values should be noted in a logbook and, if possible, graphed so any changes from normal can be easily spotted.

And the concluding sentence is where it comes to the most important factor in my opinion.

Maintaining a constant stable environment will go a long way towards ensure your fish live long, healthy lives. The easiest way to do this is by regular water changes.
 

jameson_uk

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When I setup my 180l tank I used ammonia. I set it up as a tank with plants rather than a planted tank and all the knowledge (especially here) makes me think I wouldn't next time.

I guess part of my original thought process was that I could understand adding ammonia. It wouldn't stress any fish and I could see that X ppm of ammonia was gone within 24 hours. Now fish produce ammonia thus if the tank is nitrifying pure ammonia is will deal with fish waste. Now how much of this was due to the plants and how much was due to bacteria I will never know.

A lot of threads elsewhere about using plants talks about things like silent cycles and planting enough of the right plants and doing some/none/loads of water changes and this starts to add unknowns which puts people off.

The bit that I still struggle with is how things will just develop if left and how you know it is ready. I guess tap water should provide enough nitrogen to feed the plants but does a bacteria colony establish itself without the food you are adding in a fishless ammonia cycle?

I still have my betta tank to setup. The sponge filter has been sat in my main tank for several weeks and when I get time (read when my five month old / wife lets me) I will end up flooding it, adding plants (with floaters) and leaving for weeks before I find time to buy a fish. I am hoping that the sponge filter will have bacteria from being in my relatively established tank but I do have concerns that this will die off without any food.
 

JMorgan

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Don't put the sponge filter into the betta tank until you add the fish. Or buy an identical sponge filter to add when you start up the tank and then just swap the sponges over when you add the fish.

I don't recall if I've said this here so forgive me for repeating myself if I have. My personal theory is that the whole fishless cycling thing came into the hobby at roughly the same time as the popularity of rift lake cichlids took off. i.e. tanks with none or very few plants and tanks that needed (ideally) to go from zero to pretty heavy bioload overnight in order to minimise aggression. That was a definite problem that needed to be solved and the 'fishless cycling' approach with household ammonia is one such solution. Another is well establishedVallisneria which grows in rift lakes.

However as with many such ideas human beings have a way of taking a reasonably good idea and making it into some sort of gospel TRUTH to which you either subscribe or get branded a heretic. This seems to especially apply to things you can't see (God or bacteria/archaea). Thankfully we can at least prove the existence of bacteria/archaea and biology tells us that they are EVERYWHERE - provably so. They are the foundation of life, quite literally. All we have to do is to create an environment in which plants are clearly growing, or a combination of melting and growing, and by definition the eco-system is establishing. This is extremely rapid with floating plants. You know its ready, when you see plants are growing - at least to begin adding fish gradually. With betta splendens, unless your LFS is truly exceptional, just providing it with a decent volume of water containing plants will so immeasurably improve its living conditions, I wouldn't worry!
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
... Or buy an identical sponge filter to add when you start up the tank and then just swap the sponges over when you add the fish.
I would go for that approach, you can squeeze out the old filter sponge into bowl of water, and then swirl the new filter sponge about in the mulm etc and that should give it a very good start back in the old tank.
I guess tap water should provide enough nitrogen to feed the plants but does a bacteria colony establish itself without the food you are adding in a fishless ammonia cycle?
Yes it does, as the tank matures you get a complex and diverse community of micro-organisms, this will include the organisms that oxidise ammonia and nitrite, they don't disappear without added ammonia, they just remain as a minor component of the micro-flora in the upper levels of the substrate and rhizosphere around plant roots. When the ammonia loading increases they will respond, and your plants should take up enough ammonia to cover the lag period.

Problems are likely to occur only if your plant growth is severely carbon limited, or if you don't have sufficient dissolved oxygen.
I still have my betta tank to setup. The sponge filter has been sat in my main tank for several weeks and when I get time (read when my five month old / wife lets me) I will end up flooding it, adding plants (with floaters) and leaving for weeks before I find time to buy a fish. I am hoping that the sponge filter will have bacteria from being in my relatively established tank but I do have concerns that this will die off without any food.
This will work, but I would follow @JMorgan's advice for "belt and braces".
My personal theory is that the whole fishless cycling thing came into the hobby at roughly the same time as the popularity of rift lake cichlids took off. i.e. tanks with none or very few plants and tanks that needed (ideally) to go from zero to pretty heavy bioload overnight in order to minimise aggression. That was a definite problem that needed to be solved and the 'fishless cycling' approach with household ammonia is one such solution.
I think you are right, it isn't that fishless cycling can't work, it obviously does, and if you want to keep a large bioload in a tank with a canister filter and no plants, you don't have any other choice.

My position would be that keeping a lot of fish in tank with-out plants and with a canister filter is untenable in the long run, and even with micro-management by the aquarist, disaster is eventually inevitable. It is down to probability, you have a single point of failure (the filter) and you are always balanced on the edge of low oxygen levels, potentially leading to a positive feedback loop of increased ammonia leading to lower oxygen, leading to increased ammonia etc.

I never kept Mbuna, but if I did I would keep them in a tank with a wet and dry trickle filter, a lot of water movement and a planted sump (or an over-tank planted trickle filter).
Thankfully we can at least prove the existence of bacteria/archaea and biology tells us that they are EVERYWHERE - provably so. They are the foundation of life, quite literally. All we have to do is to create an environment in which plants are clearly growing, or a combination of melting and growing, and by definition the eco-system is establishing. This is extremely rapid with floating plants.
That is the answer, it is the "shades of grey" argument.

Cycling isn't a black and white, non-cycled to cycled, switch, it is shades of grey, dependent upon the capacity of the system to deal with the bioload.

Plants, a substrate, an establishment period, high oxygen levels, a tank with a high surface area to volume ratio etc. all give extra capacity to deal with the bioload, and the plants give you a negative feedback loop where increased ammonia leads to increased plant growth which leads to lower ammonia levels. There is more in @Bart Hazes, <"Interesting blog">.

cheers Darrel
 

jameson_uk

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Don't put the sponge filter into the betta tank until you add the fish. Or buy an identical sponge filter to add when you start up the tank and then just swap the sponges over when you add the fish.
That is so obvious now I have had it pointed out :oops:
Just had it in my head, need gas exchange must move filter to new tank... Picked up an identical filter today and will just swap the sponges over when adding fish. Might actually keep the sponge filter running in the main tank and use it if I ever need to setup a hospital tank.

However as with many such ideas human beings have a way of taking a reasonably good idea and making it into some sort of gospel TRUTH to which you either subscribe or get branded a heretic. This seems to especially apply to things you can't see (God or bacteria/archaea). Thankfully we can at least prove the existence of bacteria/archaea and biology tells us that they are EVERYWHERE - provably so. They are the foundation of life, quite literally. All we have to do is to create an environment in which plants are clearly growing, or a combination of melting and growing, and by definition the eco-system is establishing. This is extremely rapid with floating plants. You know its ready, when you see plants are growing
Yes it does, as the tank matures you get a complex and diverse community of micro-organisms, this will include the organisms that oxidise ammonia and nitrite, they don't disappear without added ammonia, they just remain as a minor component of the micro-flora in the upper levels of the substrate and rhizosphere around plant roots. When the ammonia loading increases they will respond, and your plants should take up enough ammonia to cover the lag period.

Problems are likely to occur only if your plant growth is severely carbon limited, or if you don't have sufficient dissolved oxygen. This will work, but I would follow @JMorgan's advice for "belt and braces". I think you are right, it isn't that fishless cycling can't work, it obviously does, and if you want to keep a large bioload in a tank with a canister filter and no plants, you don't have any other choice.
I was more pointing out why I can see that people new to the hobby go down the ammonia route.

The one thing I have always wondered about though is choice of plants. ISTR when I did a load of research when setting up the tank I found an article about silent cycles which basically said about 90% of the substrate needed to be covered with fast growing stems and you could then replace them with the plants of choice. In a low tech tank with your ubiquitous LFS fare (amazon swords, java fern / anubias on wood and moss balls) would you get the same effect? The swords will probably melt when they are added and transition to life under water and the java fern / anubias are so slow growing that I wonder how long it would take (ie. how would you know when you could start adding fish).
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
ISTR when I did a load of research when setting up the tank I found an article about silent cycles which basically said about 90% of the substrate needed to be covered with fast growing stems and you could then replace them with the plants of choice.
You want fast growing plants, but it is really floating (or emergent) plants that are important.

Diana Walstad calls this the "aerial advantage", the title of Chapter 9. in <"The Ecology of the Planted Aquarium">. The real issue is that because submerged plants are CO2 limited, there is the risk that lack of carbon (C) will limit the amount of nitrogen (N) they can take up.

Also floating plants don't have the problem of acclimatization when they switch from emersed to submerged, their leaves are always emersed.

I like <"Ceratopteris"> and particularly <"Ceratophyllum"> as "stems", because they are sub-surface floaters and have access to the higher levels of CO2 nearer the surface.
The swords will probably melt when they are added and transition to life under water and the java fern / anubias are so slow growing that I wonder how long it would take (ie. how would you know when you could start adding fish).
I would definitely have some plants with strong roots in the substrate, I've got <"Nymphaea">, <"Echinodorus"> and <"Cryptocoryne">.

I like a growing in period, that allows the plants to start active root and leaf growth under-water, and that is going to take longer with <"Java Fern"> and <"Anubias">.

cheers Darrel
 

roadmaster

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+One ^
My low tech tanks are a couple months running with plant's before I consider placing fishes in the tank even though I may have planned the tank around their need's.
Fast grower's like water sprite,anacharis,Vals,ludwigia,hygros ,are found fairly often in Fish stores here.
I plant slower grower's also and is usually month's before I trim anything for I much prefer overgrown jungle look.
If I float the Water sprite,or anacharis, I might have to trim or remove some fairly frequently for it grows so fast as to choke out any free swimming space and considerable light .
 
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