10 Gallon Planted Fish-less Cycling

NinaB

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Hello!
On Monday (April 23), I purchased and set up my very first aquarium:
- 10 gallon Top Fin tank
- Top Fin Silentstream 10 Power Filter
- 50W heater
- LED lights
- Fluval Stratum Mineral Rich Substrate
- Plants: x2 marimo moss balls, x2 anubias, x1 water wisteria, x1 mondo grass plant (will be purchasing more in 2 days)

My plan is to stock it with one male betta and possibly some smaller tank mates? (rasboras, snails?, or maybe just him alone)

I read up thoroughly on cycling a tank and it seems that adding an ammonia source and letting it cycle seems to be how to do it. I also read that if you have more than 50% of the gravel is covered in plants, you don't need to do a "proper" cycle, but rather let the plants grow out and see that they are thriving.

24 hours after setting up the tank, I added some crushed up freeze-dried bloodworms to add ammonia and did so once again today.

So my question is, is it better to continue to add ammonia into the tank and test the water for the ammonia/nitrates/nitrate, or should I stop adding the ammonia and let the plants grow out so that I can eventually add my fish? I'm just not entirely sure what route will be safer for when I add my betta in. This is my very first time doing anything like this, so I want to make sure I do right by this future fish!
 

Caleb Smith

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Freeze dried bloodworms won't be a great source of ammonia and will probably be more of a mess than they are worth. What you are talking about with the plants is called a Walstad Tank and it is essentially replacing the bacterial colony/filter with plants to maintain quality. In a 10 gallon, with just a Betta, this is pretty easy to do but needs a decent amount of floating plants as they consume the most Ammonia. So basically, yes, if you add alot of plants it is possible to not need to cycle. If you add ALOT , you can move the Betta in immediately with.
 
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NinaB

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That is really helpful information, thank you!
I think when I stop by my aquarium store is pick up a bunch more plants and then add the betta in maybe a week or so later.
Before adding in the new fish, should I do a partial water change?
 

Caleb Smith

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NinaB said:
That is really helpful information, thank you!
I think when I stop by my aquarium store is pick up a bunch more plants and then add the betta in maybe a week or so later.
Before adding in the new fish, should I do a partial water change?
The partial WC is only necessary if your parameters are unfavorable. As far as plants, you want the fastest growing plants possible some good choices are: duckweed, water lettuce, hornwort, water lettuce, and you can also immerse the roots of pothos. The use of some of these plants with an airstone to circulate water is more than enough for a single Betta and it isn't necessary to wait before introducing him(assuming everything else is stable).
 
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NinaB

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Caleb Smith said:
The partial WC is only necessary if your parameters are unfavorable. As far as plants, you want the fastest growing plants possible some good choices are: duckweed, water lettuce, hornwort, water lettuce, and you can also immerse the roots of pothos. The use of some of these plants with an airstone to circulate water is more than enough for a single Betta and it isn't necessary to wait before introducing him(assuming everything else is stable).
Oh, perfect. Thanks so much for the help, I really appreciate it!
 

Ryan P

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Mondo Grass is not really an aquatic plant and will just die submerged I'll remove it now than later.
 
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NinaB

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Ryan P said:
Mondo Grass is not really an aquatic plant and will just die submerged I'll remove it now than later.
That's frustrating, it was sold as one. Can't trust any chain pet stores haha. I'll definitely take it out then and replace it with a more suitable plant then. Thank you!
 

SFGiantsGuy

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Yeah, crushed up flake food works quite well for fishless cycling, as alot of freshwater flakes tend to be a bit high in phosphates as well. In addtion to plants helping accelerate the process, may I suggest acquiring some used media from your lfs as well. That will therefore increase your starting cycle tenfold, at least! And your plants will suck up a bit of ammonia, and also help to get your premise of everything processing nitrogen as well. Yeah, I'd wait for any fish just yet. And IF you decide on any "bottled" BB, do be wary, as it's usually hit or miss with that product, because many times it's effects usually only last for about 24-48 hours, tops. Metaphorically speaking, it's like shooting at a large target from about 50 ft. away, blindfolded: Usually there's about a 50/50 chance to nail the bullseye. Same concept goes with bottle BB. Bacteria can either double in number in a day, but unfortunately, it can also die off just as fast. However, IMO, used media's THE most ideal and most promising method to start your new fishless cycling agenda. Live plants are always great helpers as well.
 

Ryan P

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NinaB said:
That's frustrating, it was sold as one. Can't trust any chain pet stores haha. I'll definitely take it out then and replace it with a more suitable plant then. Thank you!
Yes they've always done that. Try Dwarf Sagitaria if you don't have a strong light it's gonna grow longer and not spread faster. Make sure not to get Valesenaria too because it's gonna outgow your tank. Good luck!
 

Fahn

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If you can get it, I highly suggest Amazon frogbit. It looks like tiny lily pads and it's long hanging roots keep water pristine while also providing cover for your betta.
 

SFGiantsGuy

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Yeah I agree. I love Dwarf Sag! And oh YES...Vall. can get MASSIVE. I have some that's about as tall as I am! lol Too many runners is driving me nuts...they're almost as big 'o fert pigs as Swords! Almost.

Yeah frogbit's kinda hard to find lately, (even online) but yeah it's good stuff, and not nearly annoying as Wisteria or duckweed can be...
 
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NinaB

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I picked up the Top Fin Bacteria Supplement (woman suggested it and I didn't know enough about it to say otherwise, so I just grabbed it in case), but upon reading a bunch of reviews online, it seems that it does more harm than good. I guess I'll be returning both that and the Mondo Grass to them!

I do plan on getting some sort of surface plant, and if I can find frogbit, that'll be my first choice. If not, I'll attempt with the duckweed and hope it doesn't overrun my tank if I monitor it.
 

SFGiantsGuy

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Yeah, I actually used (as an experiment lol) TSS+ and it actually worked quite well. Yeah, get frogbit. Duckweed's just annoying...ended up using a Shop-Vac to get most of it out, almost WEEKLY! SUCKS!
 

Fahn

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SFGiantsGuy said:
Yeah, I actually used (as an experiment lol) TSS+ and it actually worked quite well. Yeah, get frogbit. Duckweed's just annoying...ended up using a Shop-Vac to get most of it out, almost WEEKLY! SUCKS!
Can't beat duckweed for water quality control though. As annoying as it can be my tanks stay crystal clear.

Amazon frogbit is much more manageable.
 

SFGiantsGuy

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Mine too! Ehhhhhhhhh yeah you're right though. Not really a big deal to clean it up. It can cover a lot of high lighting required plants though which is kind of annoying heh...
 

Iamstupid

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Can’t give advice, but just wanted to say, I had the same issue with the “mondo grass”. Petsmart sold it to me as a beginner aquatic plant. Got it home, did some research; found out it’s not an aquatic plant at all. Super annoying! It’s crazy that they can get away with it.
 
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