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Will fishless cycling harm plants?

Deisler

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23 Oct 2014
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I will prepare all the scape and plants, before starting the fishless cycling. I dont think ammonia is harmful to the plants but want to double-check here if high ammonia (~4ppm) would be harmful for plants?

Thanks,
D

I've also seen some products on ebay, which claim 'an immediate establishment of biological environment'. I guess they introduce bacteria directly into the aquarium? Has anyone tried those products before? Are they really that good?

PS: Another concern is: I've heard that starting a planted tank is quite different from a normal tank without plants. So perhaps adding ammonia will introduce algae problem?
 
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Michael W

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Hi welcome to the forums,

It is not necessary to add ammonia to do a fishless cycle. In fact by having a filter and the aquarium filled with water, leave it for a few weeks and it will be cycled. Ammonia if anything will kill bacteria. Note that house hold products advertised for cleaning/removing bacteria will more often than not contain ammonia.

Those products that you see is there to punch holes into your wallet, feel free to ignore those. ;)

There is no need to be concerned about plants in a fishless cycle, go ahead and throw them in, they will help with the process for sure!

Michael.
 

parotet

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The best way to cycle a tank is adding plants. Forget about adding ammonia, your microbes need first of all oxygen to thrive (they are highly demanding organisms in terms of oxygen consumption). The snake oil on eBay won't do anything in your tank but a hole in your wallet. The time needed to cycle a tank is 2-3 weeks and nothing will make this period shorter. Plants will produce oxygen in the water column and will drive oxygen to the substrate. Plants also can uptake ammonia (ammonia contains nitrogen). Actually they will uptake ammonia, nitrites and nitrates... So you want them in your tank from the very beginning. No need to buy ammonia or nitrites tests. Plant densely, wait for one week, add some shrimp, wait two weeks more and add the fish you want.
Google 'ukaps fishless cycling' (works better than the search engine) and you will have brilliant explanations to learn why adding ammonia is not the best idea in a planted tank.

Jordi
 

darren636

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Leaving water in a tank doing nothing will leave you with 3 week old water

Using soil or adding 2 ppm ammonia will cycle the tank .

But then we get into the age old test kit brouhaha... Jeesh.

Its like giving an Uzi to someone who has no concept of firearms.
 

darren636

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And then let's consider aquasoil
This stuff and others , releases vast amounts of ammonia ( off the scale last time I used it)
Much more ammonia than I cycle with (2ppm)

So what's it gonna be chaps?
You can't denounce cycling with ammonia
When many of the most expensive and fully loaded substrates release much more ....
Curious...
 

Michael W

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Hi all,

I advocate not using ammonia due to my father's fishkeeping experience, when I got into the hobby he had just told me to leave the water with the filter running and have your substrate in there and what have you. He didn't even tell me to change the water, we never used test kits and what have you. I did question him after reading about adding ammonia/fish food and what have you, he just said that it was a load of rubbish. So i trusted him and did as follows for many years without and trouble. I've always wanted to advice this but I was too scared of saying, just because it "contradicts" a lot of the teachings online... that is until I read this thread http://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/bacterial-colony-or-algae.31254/#post-330006 which confirmed what my father said.
 

ian_m

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Even better than ammonia, widdle in your tank...
http://www.skepticalaquarist.com/fishless-cycling

I once posted a dirty filter sponge to my mate to get a tank started. He chopped it up in amongst the ceramic balls of his new Eheim filter for an emergency replacement tank.

I have also used daily dosing on AmQuel+ to start a brand new tank with fish. Worked fine.
 

darren636

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Even better than ammonia, widdle in your tank...
http://www.skepticalaquarist.com/fishless-cycling

I once posted a dirty filter sponge to my mate to get a tank started. He chopped it up in amongst the ceramic balls of his new Eheim filter for an emergency replacement tank.

I have also used daily dosing on AmQuel+ to start a brand new tank with fish. Worked fine.
That is ammonia
And a whole bunch of human related nastiness which you don't want in a tank.

And in case you're wondering,
My 2ppm ammonia method happens to be backed by a professor of microbiology/ Scientology/ I've got a brand new combine harvester.
 
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dw1305

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Hi all,
And then let's consider aquasoil. This stuff and others , releases vast amounts of ammonia ( off the scale last time I used it)
Much more ammonia than I cycle with (2ppm) So what's it gonna be chaps?
You can't denounce cycling with ammonia
When many of the most expensive and fully loaded substrates release much more ....
Curious...
I've never used any of the complete substrates like "Aquasoil", but if you have a high nitrogen environment (particularly with high ammonia) the answer is just to increase the plant mass (and particularly plants with access to aerial CO2) and add extra aeration. You can then use the colour and growth rate of the floating and emergent plants to give you an approximation of the nitrogen content of the water.

This is the original "Duckweed Index", where is was developed for high nutrient situations. The great advantage of a large plant mass is that you have a negative feedback loop <"Growing Duckweed to Recover Nutrients from Wastewaters and for Production of Fuel Ethanol and Animal Feed">, where increased nutrients drive increased plant growth, and increased plant growth depletes the available nutrients.

There is more in these threads on UKAPS <"bacterial colony or algae?"> & <"N2, harmful or not?">.

The real difference between plant/microbe systems and microbe only systems, like an un-planted tank without a substrate, (or with regularly vacuumed gravel) and a filter is that the maximum potential capacity of the "microbial only" system is only about 10% of the plant/microbe option.

Theoretically you can improve nutrient removal in microbe only systems by adding anaerobic denitrification in a plenum or deep sand bed. This is possible, but has a number of practical disadvantages. <"Alfagrog for reducing nitrates">

The same applies to building up your microbial denitrifiers by adding ammonia (either via direct ammonia/urea addition, or by heavy stocking with fish). You can do this successfully by adding "Amquel" or "Prime", where the NH3 is combined into non-toxic compounds, or by frequent water changes - "the solution to pollution is dilution", or by waiting for the microbial biomass to complete "the cycle".

It isn't that these methods don't work, they just introduce additional risks, mainly because ammonia is a toxic compound, even at low concentrations. We can't see the filter bacteria, and it is difficult to accurately measure the ammonia in solution with the test kits available to us, but we can see plants, how green they are, and quickly they are growing.

Plants are an obvious visual indication of nutrient status, it's a KISS solution.

cheers Darrel
 

darren636

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To a large extent, I agree Darrel

I am confident in my experiences now to know the signs of fish and plant distress.
Beginners don't have that luxury though.
I am vehemently against fish in cycling, because I've seen the legacy a poor cycle leaves.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
My 2ppm ammonia method happens to be backed by a professor of microbiology
I'm not saying that "cycling", anaerobic plenums, having both aerobic and anaerobic processes in your filter media etc. don't work. They all work, and you can find references from scientific journals for all of them.

My argument would be that if you have a series of simple, robust, low risk KISS solutions why would you want to do anything else?
Why would you want to do things like adding ammonia, or having anoxic filter material, that adds extra risk and complexity?

Personally I feel the same about adding CO2, why would you want to add a factor that has both the potential to kill all your fish and make your plants grow more quickly? For me it is a no-brainer I want my fish a live and my plants growing slowly.

cheers Darrel
 

darren636

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I like your method , Darrel
It's progressive and simple.
 

darren636

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My concern and observations are based on the old. " neon, guppy, danio and goldfish- floating upside down in 5 litres of water'
Help urgently !
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I am confident in my experiences now to know the signs of fish and plant distress.
Beginners don't have that luxury though.
I am vehemently against fish in cycling, because I've seen the legacy a poor cycle leaves.
Very true, nothing beats experience and I'm not recommending cycling with fish either.

In some ways I want to get rid of "cycled" or "non-cycled" as categories, I want people to see them as part of a continuum, where you look at systems in terms of their potential to deal with ammonia (which has a huge oxygen demand), and the objects they put into their fish tanks (including fish) are seen with regard to their potential oxygen demand.

If you can "guestimate" the balance between oxygen supply and demand you are sorted. Water management just becomes a case of making sure that oxygen supply always exceeds oxygen demand.

I want to promote simple, cheap methods of doing things that reduce the likelihood of things going wrong, particularly for beginners.

You are never going to cover all eventualities, but if you can cover the most likely ones hopefully more people will be successful and not give up.

People who have planted tanks start with a great advantage, and I try and persuade non-planted aquarium keepers that plants will make life a whole lot easier for them.

cheers Darrel
 

Tim Harrison

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KISS works for me every time. I've never used ammonia. Deliberately poisoning a fish tank seems a bit counter intuitive to me. Just plant heavily and plug the filter in and...hey presto...a few weeks down the line you've got a cycled tank. If you add critters slowly, and don't dump a load in at the same time, you won't overload the system.
 
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I've cycled most of my tanks fishlessly using pure ammonia in a bottle. I dose to 2-3ppm max at a time as I don't see why people dose any higher. It doesn't harm plants, neither it has caused algae while cycling. Once cycled, these tanks have never killed a fish because of how they are cycled.
I just don't see why is everyone so afraid of fishless cycling with ammonia. I think its just another thing to moan about without having experience doing it. But if you use soil instead as a substrate, I guess even easier as one doesn't need to dose every other day.
 

Michael W

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I guess it is alright if you use ammonia because people will still get the desired result at the end, but for me because I am someone who doesn't like to go extra to achieve something that could also be done without much hassle even if it takes longer. I like to keep it safe and reach the destination. This is also why I stay low tech, I would hate to stress myself over CO2 and I know I am the kind of person who could not stick to a schedule.
 

Deisler

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23 Oct 2014
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Thanks guys for your input! Can't wait to start my new 60P! Plants are coming next week, hopefully sooner..
 

drodgers

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If you're added soil let it soak for a couple weeks drain and then flood the tank this will rid most of the toxins soil releases until acclimatized.
Then add fish and do daily 10% water changes for a week and you should be off to the races.
 
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