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Re: Cycling a new planted aquarium -- or - Stew over this

Lorenzo Rota said:

> Im finding conflicting information regarding setup of new
> planted aquariums 
> and would like some clarification.
> Basically...when initially setting up a new
> tank....should I fill it, add 
> some hardy 'cycling' fish and "Cycle"( or similar
> bacteria additive) and 
> wait for the "30 day cycle" to complete before I add
> plants....OR...do I 
> plant right after I fill it...then add the hardy fish and
> bacteria additive?
> One source that I found recommended waiting the full 30
> days for the tank to 
> cycle before adding plants, claiming that plants can
> 'throw off" the cycle 
> process.
> Any clarification appreciated.

It only appears to be conflicting information because the
presenters are probably being didactic. Aquatic folks
didactic?  couldn't be! 

These are just different approaches to setting up a tank.

An established tank is warm stew rife with bacteria. 
cycling a new tank with jsut water and a few fish is one
way to make the stew -- slowly growing the ingredients, so
to speak.

I say, cycle shmycle, put mulm from an established tank
into your tank or filter right from the start -- if you
don't have a tank or a friend with a tank, the local fish
store must have loads of the stuff. You instantly infect
your tank with a high dose of good bacteria and stuff to
feed them.  Mulm is like instant stew, just add water :-) .
 You can buy bacterial cultures but why buy what grows just
about everywhere for free?

I also like to plant heavily right from the start, and lots
of fast growing easy plants like, say, water sprite and
amazon swords.  I might replace them with other plants once
the tank is going well.  Karen Randall suggested this (or
something like it but much more eloquent) and that's good
enough for me.

If you don't have lots of plants, you will have to be more
aggressive about keeping after the algae that will grow in
their absence -- something green is going to grab all that
ammonia/nitrates.  What the plants don't grab the bacteria
can have.  What the plants don't leave for the bacteria is
just fine wtih me.  I prefer lots of plants and only want
bacteria for the leftovers anyway.  Plants can be the main
filter in a planted tank.

But without any plants in the tank, it will be easier to
clean the algae.  Certainly the tank will be less
attractive without plants ;-)

I've only had bacteria blooms (milky water) when I've tried
to cycle a tank without plants.  Some folks get bacterial
blooms or green water (water loaded with waterborne algae)
even with plants in their new tank :-(

But mulm and plants make such things much less likely.

Good luck,
Scott H.

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