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Re: cycling planted tank

Chuck Gadd wrote:
>I'm getting ready to set up a new 75g tank.  It's going to be
>heavily planted.   Will I still see the normal ammonia and 
>nitrite spikes during cycling?  My thought is that the plants
>will consume the ammonia and nitrites, so the bacteria don't
>end up with any, and therefore, the bacteria colony won't grow
>as it would in a non-planted tank.  Is this correct?  

>Should I cycle the tank without a full plant-load?  Or will it
>cycle just fine even with the plants.  It seems that if it will
>cycle normally, the ammonia and nitrite levels will probably be 
>kept much lower by the plants.

I recently set up a 40 g planted tank. I seeded the filter with a 
sponge from an established tank. After 4 days, I added 4 cherry 
barbs. At one week, I added 3 dwarf neon rainbows. At 3 weeks, 4 
otos and 3 cories were added. And so on, until the tank was 
stocked. At no time did any ammonia/nitrite/nitrate register on 

I consider the tank cycled (it's 5 months later now) even though no 
spikes occurred. It consistently test at 0 nitrates.  I suspect there 
is a low level of nitrifying bacteria present, which pick up any 
nitrogen not used by the plants, and which could take over if there 
were a sudden plant die-off. But mostly the plants are the biofilter, 
rather than bacteria. 

Cathy Hartland
Middletown, MD