Cycle A Planted Tank?

SystemOfEleven
  • #1
The guy at my LFS has been... kind of spotty about the information he's given me. Some of it matches up with what I've found on the internet (particularly here and some reputable aquarium channels on youtube) but other things he's said don't match up with anything I've found anywhere, reputable sources or otherwise. Something in particular he said confuses me, and I'm not sure whether to count it as reasonable information or not.

Store guy said that I should cycle my tank before adding any plants, as they don't tend to respond well to going from an established aquarium or growth tank to the "sterile" environment of a new tank. I've seen a lot of youtube videos where people just plant the tanks before even filling them with water, but since they're all already well into the hobby, for all I know they could just be reorganizing and re-using tanks that have already been in use for a long time and have bacteria and whatnot on the glass and in the filter media.

This is my first tank period, and LFS doesn't sell seeded filter material or bottled bacteria to help jump-start the cycling process. It does sell used tank water at $1/gallon with the instructions to "fill 20% of tank volume with seeded water, fill tank rest of the way with tap water, run tank filter system for two days, then add fish." Which is why I now question pretty much everything the store guy tells me, because that makes no sense and goes against pretty much everything I've read on here...

But returning to my question: How do I best cycle a planted tank without seeded material, and should I add plants before or after the cycling process?
 

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Kevin Dennis
  • #2
A planted tank is cycled the same way an unplanted tank is. There are many fishless cycling instructions online.

In my experience plants require fertilizer.

Try to avoid getting fish store water in your tank and certainly don't pay for it.
 

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Suzanne2
  • #3
It does sell used tank water at $1/gallon with the instructions to "fill 20% of tank volume with seeded water, fill tank rest of the way with tap water, run tank filter system for two days, then add fish." Which is why I now question pretty much everything the store guy tells me, because that makes no sense and goes against pretty much everything I've read on here...
That sounds like a very business savvy store owner! Making money off of dirty tank water! Sounds fishy to me (pun intended).
 
Seasoldier
  • #4
Hi, I think you're right to take what the guy at the store says with a large pinch of salt. You can cycle a tank with plants in it no problem, it won't harm them, you will probably get a bit of leaf melt where the plant will die back a bit before making new growth but this is natural & happens to plants even when you place them in established tanks also many aquatic plants these days are grown out of water as it's easier for the producer & again they die back before flourishing again. When you pick your plants as a beginner go for the easy low maintenance varieties like crypts & anubias they're pretty bomb proof & don't require specialist lighting or CO2 systems although you will need to use either root tabs or liquid ferts to feed them. As for buying water from the store in a word DON'T you never know what nasties it will bring with it & very little beneficial bacteria actually populate the water column so it won't seed you filter media by any appreciable amount.
 
-Mak-
  • #5
Sooo actually what he said about cycling is true to a certain extent. However it’s more about controlling organics and algae than actual plant establishment.
I’m going to quote Dennis Wong from his article on growing carpet plants without CO2. If you have seen Dennis Wong’s work (his YouTube channel and website) you are probably, like me, ready to believe basically anything he says.

step 1: perform full pre-cycling
This means completing ammonia cycling for the tank, and allowing the tank bacteria colonies to mature, typically letting the tank's filter run and the water to settle over 2-3 weeks. This process can be hastened if using starter bacteria culture to about 1 week. This step is often ignored by eager aquarists who are impatient, to great peril.

Giving time for the tank to become biologically mature also reduces algae issues. This is an important point especially if one is starting out using higher amounts of light.”

People who set up brand new tanks likely have old filter media or are more experienced and able to balance the tank from day 1.
 

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