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Cycling without plants?

Cor

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Little question:
someone advised me to start a tank (200L) without plants, only with aquasoil and filled with water for 2 or 3 weeks so the bacterial culture wil mature. And after3 weeks to put the plants in...
I personally think it's 'no-go' but I like to hear the opinion from experienced scapers

greetz, Cor
 
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I have seen ppl do it this way, I guess help avoid the plants being effected by super high levels of ammonia
 
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Cor

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But if you do the water changes as prescribed, does this approach have any use?
Is not it better to start with a plantvolume of + 80%?
 

zozo

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Regarding bacterial culture it works ok, it would be the same as fill abottle with water and wait. After a few weeks a biofilm will form which are these bacteria. Ask (bi)cyclist who sometimes forget or never clean their water bottle on the bike. Just do not think it's necessary because it's only clean water in it they think and one day discover and wonder why it feels slimy on the inside even sometimes green with algae if the bottle is opaque transparant. Than you could say the bottle is fully cycled.. :rolleyes:

For the rest the whole cycling part is a bit of a question mark all over. If the substrate contains and leaches unwanted elements into the water than water changes are needed to flush it out what you previously did put in for the fish sake. This stands apart from the time needed to grow a bacterial population in the substrate etc.

Bacteria will grow anyway they already reside in the tapwater, putting plants in from the start will actualy only adds more, because the bacteria also live on and in plant roots... 90% of the plants you put in are likely emersed nursed plants, they need a few weeks to transition to submersed form, in this plant cycle it will suffer some melt anyway regardles the water content and how long you wait to put them in.

Planted tank keeping and the urge to speed things up or make it beter, also still is in a way for a big part a believe system. Maybe always will.. Than you think you found some Eureka.. But remember it takes more than one swallow to make a summer. :)
 
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Cor

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I still don't get it.
I have read here a number of times that plants are net producers of oxygen and therefore an efficient converting NH4 + / NO3 into plant material whereby they bind nitrogen (nitrogen fixation) from the water column.
So we create a situation where increased levels of ammonia lead to accelerated plant growth, which increase the oxygen levels and increase the area where nitrification can take place, and through nitrogen fixation directly lowers the level of nitrogen in the system. Because of these factors, plants (microbe systems) are potentially many times more efficient than microbe systems like filter/substate alone.

So, is it smart to start up a tank with no plants at all?
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Because of these factors, plants (microbe systems) are potentially many times more efficient than microbe systems like filter/substate alone.
Yes, that is true.

I wonder whether people are concerned about the high levels of ammonia leading to an algae bloom? If you don't have any plants you can leave the lights off, and then get past the ammonia spike in the dark?

I've not used aquasoil, but I would definitely <"have a lot of Frogbit">, right from the start.

img_6631-jpg.111021


cheers Darrel
 

zozo

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So, is it smart to start up a tank with no plants at all?

As said the whole concept starting a tank up is rather controversial and endlessly debated. The whole startup idea is mainly aimed towards "When is it fish ready?. Most hobbyist assume a tank is ready, cycled, started up or how you like to name it, when it is done spiking ammonia and or nitrite, because these 2 are toxic to lifestock. It still doesn't mean when it's done spiking it is completely biologicaly matured. There also is no way to see or measure if it is.

In general consensus it is said 6 weeks into the startup it should be matured/cycled enough. That is what 99% believes if that is realy true is and stays the ?.

IMHO i always think what the and why the hurry.. I like to kinda always wait over 2 months till i see the majority of the plants are done sheding ad melting and happily growing new growth. But then i never used any kind of fertilized substrate, only inert and never realy measured any spikes or what so ever. But still wait at least 2 months. And than start stocking it very slowly, never at once. It takes a few months more before it is fully stocked.

So to the question is it smart to startup without plants?.. I do not see a pro nor a con, you certainly can. I only see the question to what end would you do that? Ask the person who adviced it to clarify his idea, what is the theory and alledged benefit behind it?
 

Tim Harrison

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Hmmm...given the choice of looking at a tank with just AS, or one that's been planted, for the best part of a month...I know which I'd choose :rolleyes:
I do find it strange the way people seemed to love inventing new and interesting ways of reinventing the wheel o_O
 

Cor

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Ask the person who adviced it to clarify his idea, what is the theory and alledged benefit behind it?
The reason to start-up, in the dark, for 3 weeks, without plants were as suggested:
- no need for the waterchanges
- no fluctuations in water parameters caused by WC: that would be very negative for the plants
- chance for algae will dramaticly be reduced
 

Tim Harrison

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- no need for the waterchanges
Well I reckon you'll need to do the water changes after you plant anyway. It takes a while for the plants to transition from emersed (usually how they are grown in the nursery) to immersed growth forms.
During this phase there is a lot of melt and accordingly plants release a lot of organics which can lead to algae.
- no fluctuations in water parameters caused by WC: that would be very negative for the plants
I'm not sure plants could give a monkeys either way, including the spurious CO2 fluctuations associated with water changes - which if the tank is injected wouldn't have any effect anyway.
chance for algae will dramaticly be reduced
See my response to the first quote...

If a tanks parameters are well balanced and it's planted densely from the start, it'll be fairly robust. The bacteria already on plants will inoculate the tank and help cycle it quicker.
Plant roots will oxygenate the rhizosphere, increase microbial activity, and provide favourable conditions for growth and reduce the ammonia spike.
It's how I do it, and overall my tanks usually cycle in a week. And I don't usually have any lasting problems with algae either.

So my question is...why bother cycling without plants?
 

zozo

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I'd propose on the contrary, rather consider a dry start.. :) No beter way to pre mature the substrate biologicaly and chemicaly.

Than still you run into a transition periode after it is flooded. but with a beter developed root system on the plants.

So even after the so called 3 week starting in the dark.. If it is planted after that, it needs lights, but it still contains for the biggest part plants in transplant shock in need of a transition periode. This will cause melt, that requires extra water changes to minimize algae issues.

So after 3 weeks doing nothing and looking at a dark flooded tank, you start doing what everybody does, only 3 weeks later. Not so sure if you did win anything significantly to write home about. :)
 

Hades

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Ask the person who adviced it to clarify his idea, what is the theory and alledged benefit behind it?

Since i think i am the one that Cor is referring too i step out of the dark with a try to clarify. :lol::p

Having said that i'd first of all like to add that i just stated that i do it like that with aquasoil, everybody should do it the way they like best.
Honestly: i don't want to suggest that i reinvented the wheel at all, at most i made a rather shaggy, slow and bumpy rolling wheel for my own crappy wheelbarrel :joyful::D

But i have a few reasons to do what i do so here i go:

-It's a sure way to avoid any algae blooming during the ammonia spike period of the cycling soil.
I don't think the newly placed and still adapting plants are going to profit that much of the ammonia spike just because they are still settling in. Sometimes the majority of plants used are new and still in emerse state. So they will have little grow at first because they are busy adjusting to the life under water.
Algae will be the first to profit from this spike since they are the first to feel setted in.
So giving them no light is simply giving them no chance to bloom during these weeks filled with fluctuations and waterchanges. I prefer avoiding them in this stage over having to battle them from the word go.

After these weeks you start to get some sort of a balance in the tank and you have more grip on the parameters because the WC has come to a normal rhytm... The filter is starting to work and the soil is getting stable...
So i presume that this level of balance provides a better starting situation for the plants. And I know: they can take a lot, for sure, but they do like things to be stable too i think...Some melting will occur because of transit to submerse state but sometimes plants tend to melt because of other instabilities so i try to minimize those...
Anyway i have to add that i avoid using only new plants in a new setup, i start with max 40% newly bought (emerse) plants and add more plants from other tanks at the start. Just to avoid too much debree from melting plants/leaves and to avoid too much buildup of un-used nutrients.
Actually i buy some of the new plants on beforehand and i tend to keep them in a well cycled and stable tank for a few weeks to get them adjusted more or less. That is actually the main idea behind it: avoid having a cycling tank filled with cycling plants...

-I believe that the plants (especially newly bought plants) have a pretty hard time anyway when placed in to a new system so i like to make their start as easy as possible. Knowing that the AS leaks a lot of elements in the water during the first weeks makes me think that this is not the easiest of start to begin with. It's also not so easy (and a bit of a waste) to dose nutrients and provide a stable environment for the plants if you are changing 80% of the water every day or every other day. Co2 can be injected but you have to time the waterchanges more or less to make sure you don't cause to many fluctuations in de gas-levels, so i find it easier to start dosing co2 after the WC period...

-I really don't think you should skip the WC by the way! It's just because those WC are necessary that i start without the lights on... I find it much easier to do those big WC's without having to care about plants loosing their (newly) grip on the substrate.

-I do the WC's with tap water and start with RO water at the and of week 3. That way i don't spill too much RO water and avoid any plants suffering from the suddenly changed waterparameters because of the RO. My tapwater is very hard so that makes adequate co2 dosing much harder in pure tap water.

-I have to admit that i use this period without plants also to evaluate the hardscape. I know from before that i tend to feel the urge to make adjustments the first weeks so before every WC i have a good look and think about the scape as a whole to spot the weaknesses and find the right adjustment.
That way i can easily make adjustments because there are no plants in the way... And, since i was planting a rather large carpet of HC I decided that planting the small plantlets was going to be more effective and easier when the heavy WC shedule was over...

So i see some advantages in it and applied this method a few times and because i had no algae or diatomes during the startup i tend to do it like that.
Needless to say: i have a lot of patience and prefer the slow appraoch so i don't mind this approach. Some people are in an endless hurry so they should not even consider this.

But again: i really don't claim to have invented a new way of algae-free cycling or anything like that. I merely found a way that suits me... :thumbup:
I even have to add that i didn't invented this but based it on some advice from a fellow plant-enthousiast so even if it were a revolutionary idea i couldn't claim it after all... :happy:
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
So i see some advantages in it and applied this method a few times and because i had no algae or diatomes during the startup i tend to do it like that. Needless to say: i have a lot of patience and prefer the slow appraoch so i don't mind this approach. Some people are in an endless hurry so they should not even consider this.
I think it is like the others have said "good things come to those who wait". I don't think it matters how you got there, once the plants have grown in the tank is much more stable and resilient.

An interesting point is that the more recent research on nitrifying organisms suggest that their assemblage shows a fluid response to varying ammonia loadings, with a stable core of archaea and an ever changing cast of nitrifying bacteria. This is described in <"Freshwater Recirculating Aquaculture System Operations Drive Biofilter Bacterial Community Shifts around a Stable Nitrifying Consortium of Ammonia-Oxidizing Archaea and Comammox Nitrospira">.
Sometimes the majority of plants used are new and still in emerse state. So they will have little grow at first because they are busy adjusting to the life under water.
That would be one of the reasons for using a floating plant, it isn't CO2 limited and will start taking up all forms of fixed nitrogen straight away. Adding a really robust emergent plant (like <"Cyperus papyrus">) would be ideal as well, but is less user friendly for most tanks.

cyperuskingtut-jpg.jpg
Anyway i have to add that i avoid using only new plants in a new setup, i start with max 40% newly bought (emerse) plants and add more plants from other tanks at the start. Just to avoid too much debree from melting plants/leaves and to avoid too much buildup of un-used nutrients
If you have plants that are already grown submersed (or floating plants) it makes things a lot easier.

cheers Darrel
 

Zeus.

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When I went to The Green Machine I was informed they normally hardscape the tank fill with water then leave the lights off for serveral weeks with the filter on whilst the ammonia levels drop, then plant the tank, in the vids they do its just a small pause OFC
 

Tim Harrison

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Hades

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When I went to The Green Machine I was informed they normally hardscape the tank fill with water then leave the lights off for serveral weeks with the filter on whilst the ammonia levels drop, then plant the tank, in the vids they do its just a small pause OFC
I consider myself less a smurf now! Thx! ;)

Hi all,
I think it is like the others have said "good things come to those who wait". I don't think it matters how you got there, once the plants have grown in the tank is much more stable and resilient.

An interesting point is that the more recent research on nitrifying organisms suggest that their assemblage shows a fluid response to varying ammonia loadings, with a stable core of archaea and an ever changing cast of nitrifying bacteria. This is described in <"Freshwater Recirculating Aquaculture System Operations Drive Biofilter Bacterial Community Shifts around a Stable Nitrifying Consortium of Ammonia-Oxidizing Archaea and Comammox Nitrospira">. That would be one of the reasons for using a floating plant, it isn't CO2 limited and will start taking up all forms of fixed nitrogen straight away. Adding a really robust emergent plant (like <"Cyperus papyrus">) would be ideal as well, but is less user friendly for most tanks.

cyperuskingtut-jpg.jpg
If you have plants that are already grown submersed (or floating plants) it makes things a lot easier.

cheers Darrel

Thx for the link, it will take some more reading but very interesting!
I totally agree on the importance of floating plants at kick-off!
 

zozo

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I can imagine having an enormous tank like Findley's 1600 litre Natures Chaos and maybe a rather crapy water quality from the tap that needs a lot of preps before it ca be used than doing a lot of water changes is a pain in te neck. Even with a good tap water quality a 50% WC twice a week is a hassle if it means draining and filling 800 litres each time. Than trying to think of methods to avoid this makes a lot more sense.

That's probably the reason why he never mentions it in his videos.. It probably aint a common practice and more of an occasional desicion based on the tanks dimensions.. :)
 
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Zeus.

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No big tanks was there when I went, big disappointment really, place was a bit of a dump, toilet seat was even hanging off. Don't think he likes parting with his money

Sent from my Moto G (4) using Tapatalk
 

zozo

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No big tanks was there when I went, big disappointment really, place was a bit of a dump, toilet seat was even hanging off. Don't think he likes parting with his money

Sent from my Moto G (4) using Tapatalk

Doing a quick count on the scape i mentioned above is stopped counting at about 4500 pounds for setting that tank up without the cost of the lifestock and the tank and the energy bill.
https://www.thegreenmachineonline.com/blog/natures-chaos-aquascape-james-findley-journal/

And this wasn't his first and last mega project.. He probably did already part a little to much on making a name for himself. Seeing it from a bussiness point of view you need quite some customers to break even with investments in temporary displays like this. I guess even in the UK this hobby yet aint popular enough, you can't live off a name only. A typical case run to fast fly to high.

Still respect the guy, he was my inspiration to get back into the hobby.. But what you describe TGM and it didn't meet your expectations doesn't realy surprise me.
 
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