What is the best way to cycle a planted tank?

Carissa

Guru Class Expert
Jun 8, 2007
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Hi,
I just set up a 32g. I want to cycle it now but I heard that any trace of ammonia will start bga growing. I had a huge problem with this in my other tank and I would like to avoid it if at all possible. What's the best way to go about cycling this tank? The plants have been in it for about two weeks and I'm fertilizing (following ei). Right now it's non co2 but I'm trying to get diy going before I add any fish. Also I heard somewhere that if you have it planted, you can add more fish right away than you could with a non planted tank since the plants absorb ammonia. Is this true? I'm planning on getting some mollies to start it off since I've had much success with them in my other tank but I'm wondering how many I should safely start with.
 

phanmc

Lifetime Charter Member
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Sep 22, 2005
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Plant heavily enough and you don't have to go through the cycle process, the plants will act as the biological filter and take care of ammonia and nitrates. I like using lots of fast growing stem plants like hornwort, anacharis, and hygrophilas to start a tank. Wait a few days to a week where I make sure the plants are growing (adding ferts and such) and then add a light fishload, then add a few fishes per week until I reach my desired fishload.
 

Tom Barr

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Jan 23, 2005
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Add lots of plants, they directly take up NH4, adding CO2 amplifies the uptake of NH4 by about 5-10X, also amplifies algae growth as well:)

Add Zeolite, removes the NH4 and acts as biomedia ater after about 1 month, the same time it takes to cycle.

Do 2-3x a week 50+% water changes for the first month. ADA suggest this, so does Jeff Senske and so do I.

Add mulm, that flithy brown soupy stuff from the filter sponge, or from a deep vacuuming. This adds precisely and instantly what is missing from an estblished tank.

If you use ll 4 items, you will never have any issues.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

Carissa

Guru Class Expert
Jun 8, 2007
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Great! Well I can do the water changes and I can add stuff from my other tank too to get it going quickly. The plants I had to special order so what's there now, is all I'll have. I have three hygros so hopefully if I can get co2 going soon they will start growing a little faster. Another option is removing the plants from my 10g and putting them in the bigger tank for a while. The 10g is cycled so no problems there with removing them.
 

Carissa

Guru Class Expert
Jun 8, 2007
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Just a question after reading some comments on other boards. Won't zeolite prevent cycling from occurring? Also I read that if there is salt in the water zeolite will not absorb ammonia, and will actually release the ammonia that it has absorbed. I have 3 tbsp of salt in my 32g, would this amount of salt prevent zeolite from working?